Thursday, December 31, 2009

Introducing the So-and-Sos!

Someone recently asked me to write about how we plan to be announced during the reception. I thought about it for a second, and then I decided I didn't really want to be announced at all. I came home and said to Mark, "Do you think we can just not be announced and just join our guests for the cocktail hour and then walk into the tent with them? Why the theatrics?"
This offended Mark's sense of Tradition and he said that we had to do the introduction. Ever since, like with everything else in our wedding and our lives, we've been trying to come up with a compromise. I finally agreed to some kind of introduction (which I traded for having the processional down the aisle being done my way), but so far we are still sorting out a few kinks.

1.) Bridal party. At my sister's wedding, the bride and groom were announced but not the party. At every other wedding we've been to, the entire party has been announced. I'm not a fan. It's too much production, and I think too much pressure on the bridal party. Much better, I think, to finish doing bridal party portraits as quickly as possible, and then to release the bridal party to go hang out at the cocktail hour with their dates and friends. Then they can just walk into the tent with their dates and sit down at the table and wait for us to come in.
2.) Timing. We were talking about maybe being introduced onto the patio at the tail end of the cocktail hour, partly to allow the DJ to make an announcement to get everybody into the tent. This is a little awkward, so I imagine it will end up being that everyone gets seated in the tent and then we walk in.
3.) Names. Mr. and Mrs. Mark HisLast? Um. No. We will go with the standard feminist introduction, which is either: "For the first time as a married couple, Mark and Ellie!" or "Please welcome the newlyweds, Mark and Ellie!" Or we will have them introduce us by our made-up family name that we use for return address labels and as our wedding website.
4.) Introductory music. I think it may need to be to the Star Wars theme.

What are you doing to be introduced? Is anyone foregoing the introduction entirely? Is your bridal party coming in with you?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bouquet toss pinata

After thinking about this and this, I'm wondering if there is any way to combine the two. Can we have all the single ladies attack a bouquet shaped pinata?
Brainstorm with me. How does this work? I mean, I could make the pinata. But that's a lot of work. Or I could put a bouquet inside the pinata. Also, I don't really want everybody to take turns - just give everyone a stick and have them go at the pinata to the tune of "single ladies" and call it a day.
Thoughts? Bad idea and I should start from scratch? Also, what songs besides "all the single ladies" is a good bouquet toss song? I found this list, but most of them seem insulting.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Focus

I've had a few conversations with people recently about "overly engineered" weddings. The best way to sum these up are weddings where somebody "thought of everything". Where their logo is on everything from the matchbooks to the napkins. Where every single item is finely tuned to the color palette. Where it is clear that the couple did nothing for the past 12 months but plan their wedding. (I swear, I have hobbies, although that might not be obvious.)
I talked earlier about going overboard with our tree theme. But what about just going overboard with the DIY crafty-goodness?
Yes, I love craft projects. Yes, as I talked about before, I am shameless in my desire to impress people with my mad skills. But I don't want people to look at our wedding and think, "jeez, Ellie is pathetic. How desperate was she to get married that she needed to craft the wedding within an inch of her life?"
So I think it's time to take a step back. To ease up on the BIC kool-aid. To never go near the Martha Stewart website. To sit back down with my list of DIY projects and consider what is achievable and what is simply a ridiculous undertaking for us. (My wedding is not your wedding. Do whatever makes you happy.)
Achievable:
  • semi-DIY invites (meaning buying these pocketfolds and getting 5x7 invites printed and then putting them in the pocketfolds.)
  • bouquets/flowers
  • programs/place cards/menus (if we think menus are necessary)
  • veil & hair accessories
  • awesome wooden signs
  • Thank You notes
  • Centerpieces
  • Table runners
  • OOT bags/boxes
Not Acheivable:
  • Handmade favors.
  • Escort cards made of individually cut leaves that will be tied to a tree branch that match the programs and the menus
  • Handmade napkins.
  • Fully handmade invitations (or custom handmade pocketfolds)
  • Handmade dress
  • Envelope liners (these got bumped to the "hell no" list when I attempted them for christmas cards and gave up after about 5 seconds).
  • A candy buffet (yes, this is acheivable for some people, but the amount of effort it would take to set-up and take down would simply be enormous.)
  • Potted plant favors (from personal experience, these appear to be more trouble than they are worth.)
  • Making our own overlays.
  • Monogrammed matchbooks. There are 3 smokers coming to our wedding. And they own their own lighters.
The thing that I think will help us the most though, is to not go overboard on our color palette, and to use all four colors for projects. Weddings in which everything matches kind of disturb me because it seems unnatural. It seems to me that the best thing to do is focus on projects I enjoy (sewing, stamping) and details that people will notice, find useful, or remember (signs to the bathroom = important; progams = important) or that save us a lot of money (bouquets, invites) and scrap the projects that would only matter to me (envelope liners, tree escort cards.)

How much DIY are you doing and how much "screw that" are you doing? Did you also make a To DIY list?

Monday, December 28, 2009

It should be ALL RISE, baby!

I'm talking, of course, about playlists.
Weddings, especially iPod weddings, are a great way to show off your musical tastes as a couple. You can put in favorite songs, or some really nice, meaningful, romantic songs. You can put in funny songs or songs that mean a lot to your girlfriends or your college buddies.
But where a Get Psyched mix should be all rise, I say a good wedding mix has some rise and some fall. (Any HIMYM fans?) I have been to a few weddings now that had no fall (meaning slow songs). Which is fine, as long as you aren't then going to complain about how nobody over the age of 35 was on the dance floor shaking it.
I understand the hesitation to put slow songs on the playlists - they make single people feel isolated, they don't contribute to the "party" feeling, whatever. But I'm here to defend the slow-dance, because it seems to be fading in wedding playlists. Here is why you should include a bunch of slow songs on your playlist:
1.) Slow dance songs get a different group of people out on the dance floor. The guy that doesn't want to disco dance with his girlfriend to the YMCA will get out to do the awkward bend-and-sway to a soft love song. And the bend and sway is more fun than sitting at the table.
2.) Slow dance songs allow for recovery. Dancing all night is exhausting. Absolutely exhausting. It's hard on your feet and your ears and if you play slow songs, people will either stay on the dance floor, or they will sit one out without feeling guilty. They will also be able to talk and hear themselves think.
3.) Slow dance songs are more romantic. It's a wedding. It's like a high school dance, but way more romantic, and you know the punch is spiked. You want to gaze adoringly into your date's eyes. You want to think about love and how much it matters. Weddings can be extremely romantic, and the slow dance helps bring that out.
4.) Slow dance songs lessen the likelihood of crashing and burning. The night is over, the music shuts off, and suddenly you're spent. You've been dancing like a crazy person, you're sweating, and you're exhausted. It's like sprinting to the finish line and collapsing. Slow songs are like taking walk breaks during a marathon.

Now, in fairness to those people who hate the slow songs, I will say this: there are "fall" songs, and then there are "middle of the road" songs. Middle of the road songs are mostly old classics that you can either slow dance to, or do the group shuffle to. They are also often songs that everybody (or most people) know and don't totally hate.
Some ideas? When I'm 64, Brown Eyed Girl, My Girl, Piano Man, Shameless, Moondance, Dancing in the Moonlight, etc. Upbeat but still danceable, sing-along songs.
You also don't have to play 20 slow songs. If you really hate slow songs, well, it's your wedding and people can quit bitching, but if you only sorta hate slow songs, or your nihilistic friend told you that he/she hates slow songs and you better not play any, stagger them. It's part of the rise-and-fall.
Any suggestions for good slow or middle-of-the-road songs? How are you planning to work your playlist?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

How much of a good thing is too much?

I read this article about photography and I found it fascinating. I happen to agree with the writer - my ideal photographer is one that can get all the posed portrait shots in one location in 5-10 minutes, from all angles with all possible lighting. I don't want 500 images to sort through that all look almost exactly the same. I'm not saying I don't want a lot of pictures, but I want a lot of different pictures. I would also rather have more different pictures than more of the same. But the point that rang the most true for me is this, "For me, the big deal is that some are going out there and not putting much time or thought into capturing the essence of a scene. They just lift the camera, point in the general direction of what they want and just fire away. I’ve actually heard the term “spray and pray” used for such shooters. The idea of slowing down and taking your time to both enjoy the moment and to really take into consideration all the nuances of things like lighting, shadows, and minimizing distractions has benefits."
I also loved this point, about giving fewer images to the client, "It makes the choices easier for the client. In a world where time is an increasingly valuable commodity, getting bogged down in sorting through hundreds of images trying to find one or two to print and hang can be more frustrating and lead to inaction."

Do you subscribe to a less-is-more school of thought or do you want as many pictures as possible?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Charity Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! Hopefully you all had a good holiday (or enjoyed your Chinese food and a movie.)

If you got some lovely or not-so-lovely Christmas gifts, remember to check out our suggestions for disposing of older items or unwanted gifts. Also, check out this post over on Wild and Crazy Pearl about Grassroots Gourmet, which may be one of the coolest ideas I've heard of in awhile, and would be cool for catering a bridal shower or next event.

We're off to the Carribbean for a week. Posts are scheduled, so we won't be totally silent, and we'll see you in 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tradition!

When Mark wrote about how we made our holiday plans, he mentioned that the first year we visited them, I "was missing my family". Folks, he was being generous. I had a Total Nervous Breakdown and started crying because I missed my family and I felt like I had abandoned them and it was all very upsetting. Oh wait, did I mention that this was at Church at midnight mass on Christmas eve? Yeah. Wait, wait, it gets worse.
I started crying after the minister told a story about a little kid and his father and grandfather on Christmas eve. Which made me think about my grandfathers, who I had lost in the previous year. Which made me think about how I'd now abandoned my still-healing family to go to spend Christmas with Mark's family. Which made me feel like a terrible person. So I started to cry. Then, I tried to get a grip. I tried to act like I wasn't crying. And instead of having the courage to run out of there crying, deal with my issues alone in the bathroom, and then come back and sit in the pew like a normal person (with very red eyes), I did not do this, because I didn't know where the bathroom was and I was sandwiched in the middle of the pew.
So I'm sitting there, sobbing, and poor Mark has no idea what is going on or going through my head and helplessly hands me his handkerchief so I can mop up the flood going down my face. Then, the entire church stands up to take communion. Being a non-christian, I don't take communion. So I was pretty much alone, with the entire congregation lining the walls, still crying.
I eventually got a grip, as services were ending (if you were counting, yes, I cried through 30-45 minutes of a Church service).
It is possible that it was too early for me to spend Christmas apart from my parents, or too soon after my grandfather's death, or something, but truthfully, I think something like this would have happened anyway. Holidays are hard. And even though I spent holidays out of town as a kid, I spent them with my parents and my sister. I write this, not to embarrass myself by putting my feelings out on the internet, but because I think some of you will be in my position, and it's normal. It's normal to feel sad that you are not spending the time with your family, that you have to use somebody else's traditions instead of your own.
Mark's family goes to church on Christmas eve every year. It's important to him. Early on, possibly the first Christmas we spent together, he mentioned that it's something he wants to do with his children. Christmas-eve services are non-negotiable, so it doesn't matter to me how very badly I do not want to go back to this place that holds such a painful and embarrassing memory for me. This place where I do not feel that I belong, where I am not among my people. I'm going, because this is a part of marriage.
The language for the ketubah that I want (Secular Humanist 2) includes this line: "Together, we shall create a home filled with learning, laughter, and compassion. A home wherein we will honor each other's cherished family traditions and values." So I'm going. I'm going to honor this tradition, and my future husband, and his family, and I'm going to do my best to build a place for this tradition in my heart and also I'm going to try very hard to not cry this year, or to at the very least find out where the bathroom is and bring some extra tissues.
Very Merry Christmas to you and yours, and if you are Jewish, let me know how Meet the Morgans is, I really want to see it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

DIY Flowers: Fabric Flowers

Remember this post about these? Well, I started playing with the idea of having them as part of my fabric flower bouquet (which I am test-running now to see if it is viable.) So I set out to make a smaller version, and the object of the game was to...not purchase any new fabric. I'm a fabric hoarder, and I'm on a mission to reduce the amount of fabric that I have in my arsenal.
Supplies:
glue gun
flower stem (you can buy these at any craft store, I purchased a bunch last June when I did my first test run)
large bead (I used one that is about 1/2 inch across)
wire cutters
fabric (I used about a quarter of a yard of 45" wide netting)
scissors or a rotary cutter & mat
2 pieces of paper cut in the shape of a circle (I used my circle cutter to cut a 2 3/8ths circle and a 3inch circle)

I started by cutting out the fabric. You could painstakingly pin the "pattern" in place and cut out individual circles, but instead, I folded the fabric over so I was cutting through 6 layers at a time. I cut it using my rotary cutter - if you don't have one, you can certainly use scissors, or you can use a die-cut machine and a circle die. I cut 12 3" circles and 6 2 3/8ths circles.

Next, I fired up my glue gun. Mine has a low and a high setting. I kept it on the low setting, which reduced the amount of hot glue leaking onto my craft desk. I trimmed a bit of the excess paper from the flower stem, so that the bead I was using would fit onto the end of the stem. I glued the bead on.
I then started to fold the circles into quarters and glue them onto the bead. I continued doing this until the sides of the bead were covered. Then I realized that the top of the "flower" was just looking a little flat.

I took five of the 2 3/8ths circles and folded them into quarters, stacking them together. Then I applied glue at the points of the quarters and jammed all five small circles onto the top of the flower. The result? A round flower!
I'm really happy with the way that these came out, and I think they would look nice in any fabric flower bouquet.
Cost? For me, $0 since I used stuff I already had on hand. For most people who already own glue guns, probably just the cost of the fabric plus the stems and beads, so about $5 would get you a dozen flowers.
Next up? Trying to learn to make these guys.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Balancing photography

Reader Cupcake Wedding recently pointed out on her blog that we don't pay for professional photography for most events in our lives, so why do we hire them for events like this? We actually have at least 3-4 guests coming who are big camera people, and another 10-20 that care a lot about taking pictures, so it is possible, and likely, that we could get some good photos, especially because our ceremony will be outdoors during daylight and there will be no issues with flash or lighting until the dancing is well underway.

(This is my favorite picture of me, ever, taken by my mom's cousin at my sister's wedding.)

There are a few reasons, for me, to not just ask a guest to photograph the wedding. My main reason is that it interferes with the guest's right to have fun, and that's an imposition I'm unwilling to make. Another is that I've seen these guests pictures from other weddings we've been to with them, and like me, they get about 25% good shots and 75% shots where the lighting or angle is wrong or just off. Yes, if I asked them to photograph the wedding, they would be more careful, but still.

(Image taken by me at my cousin's wedding. This was with my good, prosumer camera. I just have no sense of lighting.)

Then there are the advantages to hiring a professional photographer. These are different from not just asking a guest to photograph the wedding. There is more freedom when you hire somebody, versus asking them to do you a favor. Yes, you can treat them like an employee, and while that makes me sound like a shitty person, it's important. You can call them and yell at them because they are running late. You can demand that they be early. You can set up a payment schedule in which you pay a certain amount at the time of the wedding and a certain amount after you receive the images.

If you don't plan on taking a ton of pictures post ceremony, then this isn't a big deal. We do. For us, this wedding may be the first time in a long time that most of Mark's family is in one place at the same time. It will be the first time that my cousins bring their new babies to our wedding (I'm counting that as plural until otherwise informed.) I know when I was a kid, I loved looking through old family photo albums. I know as an adult, I love looking through old family photo albums. So it's important to me that yes, we line up and do the posed portraits. Because candid shots are great, but my Dad's family never stops talking long enough to take a picture unless somebody tells them to shut up. And I don't want to forget to get a picture of one side of the family. I want somebody who can take 5 pictures really quickly, and we'll hope that everybody's mouth is shut and eyes are open in them. With a non-pro, I would feel bad saying, "no, take another!" With a non-pro, there will be one person that is missing from one of those group pictures.

The other thing that occurs to me, about the fact that we don't hire professional photographers for other events in our lives, is this: why the hell not? There are enough events in my life that I wish were well captured and I wish it was less weird to pay a photographer to capture them. I hope that as I get more into photography, I can serve as my own personal photographer, but sometimes I would rather have fun than have pictures, so it's a tough balance.

How are you balancing? Are you hiring somebody or are you having a friend take the pictures? Does photography matter a lot to you, or will you be happy with one frameable picture and just say "eff the rest"?

Monday, December 21, 2009

PWD

I felt my first twinges of post-wedding depression the other day, when I realized we are less than 300 days away. In 300 days, I will be married and this will all be over. I don't think I'll miss the planning. I don't intend to miss the planning, or even the crafting (I'm feeling overwhelmed with what I have for Christmas to get done, let alone the wedding), but I will miss writing. We haven't really talked about whether we will keep the blog going after the wedding, but even if we do, a number of you will stop reading it because you too will be married.
Sure, I'll start another blog, and hopefully start getting more into photography, but it won't be the same. I could hang around here and write about being married and about our relationship and whatever house we buy and how we'll decorate it, but believe it or not, I'm not sure how much I want to talk about my personal life on the internet. Oh, and I hate decorating. I mean it. I really want to paint the walls and walk away. I don't do knick-nacks or matching towels. I don't do "nesting".
I could write about being a real live lawyer (if I pass the bar), but that's not fun, and confidentiality becomes an issue. I also can't necessarily get away with writing a wedding blog after I'm married. Now if it comes up on say, a job interview, I can explain why I started this blog and why I write it. But it will be weird after I'm married. Yet the thought of not writing here anymore totally bums me out.
Any ideas for how to enjoy PWD? Does anybody share my anxiety about not getting to blog about their wedding anymore? Does it come from anything more than a total need to be the center of attention?

Training is something I do for races, not for marriage.

read this post over on Project Subrosa awhile ago and found this quote to be particularly true:
"I didn't train him, we're equals. I never would have married a man who expected his wife to do all the cooking and cleaning, or more than her fair share even, especially if we both worked full-time, which has mostly been the case since we set up home together." This post by ThatWife also had me thinking about the gender roles in our relationship.
(source, but is this available on a t-shirt?)

If anyone in our household has needed training, it's me. I am really surprised that nobody has shown up at our front door asking me to turn in my apron and my female membership card. (Please don't take my apron, I can't cook without getting flour everywhere!) I leave my breakfast dishes in the sink instead of just putting them in the damn dishwasher, don't ever vacuum (I hate the noise, and ours smells like kitty litter), rarely do the laundry even though I generate most of it, hate making the bed, leave tonight's dinner dishes for me to do tomorrow, and have turned what would have been an extremely neat office into a hovel of lawschool and crafting.

Before we moved in together, I worried that Mark would try to change me. (Everyone always tells women that they can't change a man; but nobody ever tells men to quit trying to change women, even though they do it just as much.) This was based almost entirely on comments about how he would "fix" my shortcomings as a housekeeper once we moved in together, because he would set a good example by being neat. (Also because he's a nag. I know it's poor form to air our dirty laundry on the internet, but I think it sometimes helps people to know they are not alone, and that is part of the point of the blog.)

I see our dynamic reflected in other couples, but in most of them, the guy is the slob and the woman is the neat freak. The biggest difference, that I have found, in my anecdotal and unscientific research, is that women will clean up after men. Men, or at least Mark, won't clean up after women, or at least me. Instead, he stands over me while I try to do work or am watching TV and reminds me that while I promised to clear the kitchen counter or do the dishes, I have not done it yet. For the first year we lived together, my response was usually a childish "if it's bugging you so much, just do it yourself. It's not bothering me." (See How I Met Your Mother for why this is not a good response.) In my defense, for the first year, Mark wouldn't mention something was bugging him until it had been bugging him for four days. Now we have an advance warning system, in which he says, "the counter is starting to make me crazy," and I try to get to it before his head explodes.

Every once in awhile it becomes apparent that one of us is doing a substantial share more of the chores, or does a certain chore all the time. For awhile, Mark was taking out the trash most of the time. I was pretending that this was not a problem, and that he liked doing it. Then he mentioned that I was misguided. So I started trying to make sure I, at the very least, put a new trash bag in the trash can every time he emptied the trash. Lately, I've been trying to take the trash out more. Which paid off a few weeks ago when Mark mentioned he realized he hadn't had to take the trash out, and he appreciated that. I've also been doing more of the laundry, because, well, I took that marriage survey and the best part is they have you rank who does what percentage of each chore and what you want that ratio to be, and I had to really sit and think about who does all of our chores. (Go take the survey. It's really fascinating.)

The fact that Mark has does most of our laundry for the last year is a factor of two things. One has a lot to do with the unequal distribution of time in our relationship. I'm freer during the week - I get home early in the day most days (by 3pm, usually.) So I do the housewife stuff. I make dinner. I'm the one that waits for the cable guy, the landlord, the exterminator. I used to do the grocery shopping, and then we moved to the city where every grocery store in a 10 mile radius is horrible or horribly overpriced. I really miss grocery shopping, and now Mark gets to do it on his way home. I'm the one who cleans up before we have people over if we have them over on a Friday. I'm the one that cleans the bathroom, because since I spend more time at home, I spend more time using the bathrooms and I notice that the tub is looking a bit...green. I frequently wipe down the counters after my lunch at home because we don't have time to get to it after cleaning up after dinner. However, on weekends I will have project meetings or volunteering or hockey or my weekly long run with my teammates, and laundry gets done on the weekend. The second factor is that I have more clothes and run out of clothes less, and if Mark wants clean pants, well, he either has to do laundry or shop.

I'm really excited to start working full time. My logic is that when I work full time, I will feel less guilty about the house being messy, because I won't have time to clean it. I also hope that when I work full time, I'll have less time at home to make messes. This is also partly why I want to wait so long before having children - I want a chance for us to develop a new partner dynamic regarding housework, so that when tiny messy things come along, we can deal better. Or have enough money to hire somebody else to help. (Some people see this as lazy. I see this as "if I can spend more time with my spouse/kids and less time cleaning up after them, that's worth it.")

I think that I come into the gender-roles-and-housework discussion with a different perspective than other people, in that I do not feel as if it is or should be my job to take care of my man. I feel that we should take care of each other, do better for each other, try harder for each other, but at the end of the day, we also have to accept each other for our flaws and failings, housewifery included.

What's the division of labor in your household? Did anyone have to train anyone?

Friday, December 18, 2009

First Looks

We met with a potential photographer the other night and she asked if we were doing a first look. We said no. Then I read this by East Side Bride and she accurately explained why I don't really want a "first look".
"What you get is those incredibly stagy "first look" photos, where the bride and groom just end up looking like they're posing."
Not to mention the part about robbing your guests of seeing the looks on your faces. What a good point. I love seeing the look on the groom's face when the bride comes down the aisle.
But there is another point she makes - after the ceremony, you are overflowing with happiness. The planning is over, and you are married. Not nervous about standing up in front of 130 people and saying your vows. Not stressing over the programs. Not late. Just there.
I know that this can work, that this does work, for plenty of people. But I'm going to say that I would rather have fewer pictures of us after the ceremony than do a first look.

Are you doing a first look?

Charity Friday: Give Life

*Reposted and somewhat edited from last year, because there is still urgent need and because weddings, as well as the holidays, are about family, and community, and blood donation helps all of us. So please, roll up your sleeves and save a life this holiday season.*
This holiday season, if you want to make a charitable donation, save some money while you give somebody another chance at life. Give somebody more time with a person they love. Save a life. The holidays are tough times for most people, especially if somebody they love is sick. Please make it more bearable for them. The holidays are also a good time to sit around and remember those moments with lost loved ones. You can give somebody those memories by making a donation at your local Red Cross.
In the years preceding their deaths, both of my grandfathers became sick at different times and required blood transfusions.
My father's father, who suffered from a chronic bleeding condition, required several transfusions because of it. Specifically, I remember he became fairly sick about two years before he died and required at least 4 blood transfusions (over a two day period). He made a full recovery and lived another two years at full strength. (Requiring at least one more transfusion during that time, I think specifically of platelets.) I cherish every extra moment I got with him because of those transfusions. I cherish every extra lunch, every extra phone call asking me how to use the computer, phone, tivo, every family holiday. Eventually, after living a full life to the age of 87, he passed away one morning during his nap. My grandfather lived a full life, and anyone that met him would tell you how much they enjoyed his company and how big a difference he made in the community around him. Three years later, all I have are memories, and I cannot begin to express my gratitude to the people that rolled up their sleeves and gave us more time.
My mother's father had heart issues and metastatic prostate cancer. He got really sick about six months before he died, and he was in between the hospital and the nursing home. About every two weeks, he would go back to the hospital for another blood transfusion. The transfusions always made him feel better, and they gave us just a little more time. I am so grateful to everybody who gave blood to give my grandfather even a few more weeks. It was a chance for us to sit in the nursing home with him and listen to him talk about the great depression and his family and his work. All stories we hadn't heard before, all memories that would be lost if not for those transfusions. I understand that to some, keeping the elderly sustained is a waste of time and resources, but it gave us time to spend time with him, and it gave us time to get his affairs in order. At the end of somebody's life, time is everything.
So that is why I give blood. I give to give back, I give to give others the same chances I had, I give to give children, grandchildren, spouses another chance with somebody they love. I don't care whether the recipient is a good person, a bad person, liberal, conservative, whatever. I firmly believe that everybody deserves a second chance. I started giving blood long before I even realized what it meant, but now that I have firsthand experience with how important it is, I believe in giving even more strongly. In my life, I knew these two amazing men, men who believed in public service, in good works, in kindness, in charity, in honesty, in humor, and in me. In giving back, I honor their memory, and I carry their spirit forward.
So this winter, give somebody else the gift of life. Please visit www.givelife.org to schedule a donation. It is pretty painless, and if you are afraid of the needles, just look away. I used to be afraid of needles too, but through blood donation, I have conquered that fear. It takes maybe two hours. And the juice and cookies are excellent.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

OOT Boxes

These came to my attention last week through a link from Weddingbee and I've considered them before, but lately I've been considering them even more. On the one hand, I would love to use reusable bags, but on the other hand - I own about 7 reusable bags, and so does everybody else I know - they are definitely the hot item to give away at conferences and races these days, so why contribute?So what is an easy and cheap solution? Brown paper bags. However, since we would have to buy 250 (and won't have more than 100 OOT guests), these gable boxes are actually cheaper, as well as being sturdier and cuter! They will also be easy to decorate, probably with some kind of stamp (like the one we used on our Save-the-Dates), and they are made of recycled materials as well as being recyclable.
Plus, they would allow for our guests to easily go out and pick up a picnic lunch at a local restaurant and then head over to Ft. McHenry or Federal Hill for a picnic before the wedding, which could be really fun. I'm hoping we'll have time to get coupons and stuff from local sandwich places and include a map so they know how to get places.
What are you using for your OOT bags?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

We've moved!

Wedding for Two has a new home! If you're reading this anywhere except a feed reader, you should be seeing our new domain, wedding-for-two.com, in your URL bar. Our plan for the future is to secure hosting and move the blog over to Wordpress, but for now we're just pointing to the existing Blogger blog. Further updates as events warrant!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tools: Papercutters

I have a mediocre paper trimmer. After a little while, the blade went dull. It came with another blade, so I replaced it. It serves its purpose for light crafting and other projects. It's also easy and portable. But for anyone who is considering DIY projects that involve cutting paper, I beg you - invest in a proper paper cutter.
Growing up, my mom had a professional paper cutter. Not the guillotine style that they use in art class, but a professional one nonetheless. It boasts a rotary cutter, a wide plate, a band to keep the paper flat, and a heavy magnet to keep the paper perfectly aligned. It also has a ruler and a grid on the surface, so aligning is easy.
It is a bad-ass paper cutter. It is also older than I am, and still works perfectly. The only problem is that the magnet has become a bit worn. But the blade is strong and it still cuts perfectly.
So when you are making your Christmas list, consider putting an industrial paper cutter on there. Not a guillotine style, but something like this or one of these.
Buying a good paper cutter is an investment in the future. Growing up, we broke out the paper cutter for every science fair project and poster, for trimming photos and cards, for invitations and Christmas letters. Paper cutters actually get a lot of use if you have one, and having precise presentations and perfect right angles goes a long way towards looking like a professional did your project.
I know that your wedding isn't an excuse to buy new fun toys, but I guarantee you, 100%, a million times over, a super-duper paper cutter will get more use in your household than a Gocco, a Cuttlebug, or any other crafting supply. Consider it an investment in your sanity because, without one, you'll notice 4 hours into your DIY invites that the edges are starting to burr and things overall are looking pretty ragged. You will then try to trim the burrs with scissors and I think we know how this ends. So please! Save yourselves! And your future children's science fair projects!

Too Cute!

Omg. Check out these centerpieces! Via Wedding Belles:
Especially if you are serving family style, this is like, the perfect centerpiece. The fabric square gives it color and dimension, the little lantern provides just the right amount of focus, but there is still plenty of room for food. You can also do different tablemats at every table and they probably cost about $5 each. Similar lanterns are $5 at ikea and you have yourself a centerpiece. If your venue doesn't allow fire, fill the lantern with flowers!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Book Reviews

So I'm done with exams, which means pleasure reading!
I actually read I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley over the summer, but I've been waiting until "I had time" to post about it, because it's just too good to simply send an offhanded review of. There is one particular essay that you should read, because you are getting married (except for the 2 of you who read the blog even though you're already married because you think I'm awesome - thanks Dad and Margaret!)
The particular essay is about her experience as a bridesmaid, and while I sometimes feel a twinge of regret about not calling up my best friend from middle school out of the blue, this essay assauged all of those fears. There is an excerpt available here, and I've pulled some of my favorite quotes.
Regarding calling on your oldest friend, who you are not currently friends with, to ask them to be a bridesmaid: "In order to get married these days, God isn't witness enough. You have to have someone present who helped find your retainer after a sleepover. Although some overlap is permitted, the women you see each week are almost never the same set of women lined up behind you at the alter. Your current friends are wild cards and while they may be invited, they are not to be tortured with envelope licking. Marriage is about the permanence of one's future and it can't proceed without a well-earned past of trick-or-treating and bloody ten-speed accidents."

Regarding bridesmaids dresses: "Here's a tip for brides everwhere: tell us what to wear and be done with it. A huge mistake is to tell your women that "any dress will do" as long as it's turtleneck and taupe. Do you think we can't see through this faux democracy? It's a bridetatorship. It's fine; it's what we signed up for. A wedding is about assumptions - the assumption of forever and the assumption of expenses. Understand that we will be purchasing a dress we would not normally purchase and there's nothing you can do to change that."

Regarding being a single guest at a weding: "Beholden to no one, being a single guest also made me ripe for labor. I understand the need for programs but why must I be the one to fold them into paper cranes? Is this not why God created immediate family or at the very least, interns? And if you're going to rent 250 folding chairs, why not get the kind that don't splinter into your girlfriends' hands when said girlfriends stand in the rain propping them into rows?"

Also consider this interview. I love the advice about not trying to manufacture a friendship that fits into your idea of a wedding. And while I'm risking being gender-sterotyping here, boys don't do this. Yes, plenty of guys call up their best friends from their childhood to have them stand up beside them. But they just tell them to put on a tux and show up at the wedding, and maybe come to the bachelor party. There is no program folding, no envelope stuffing, no shower, no getting your hair done, no alterations involved. Being a groomsman is less of a responsibility. So if you are asking an old friend, don't force your wedding to be what brings you back together. Just tell her what to wear and what hair salon to meet you at. (And the answer is not "you can pick your own dress, as long as it's baby pink plaid!")

Has anyone else read this?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Symbolism

I have been particularly bad about forgetting my e-ring lately. Partly because it desperately needs to be resized, and my fingers shrink so much in the cold that it very nearly fell off the other day, and also it's a little uncomfortable to wear. Also, metal conducts cold and my finger gets very chilly!
The real reason though, is that I've been trying to hit the gym and then get to school pretty quickly in the morning, which means leaving my ring on the nightstand for spin class and then I forget to put it back on once I get out of the shower.
Mark noticed the other night and called me out for not wearing it, to which I tartly replied that he was not wearing his either. Mark has, in fact, lost! his engagement ring. In all fairness, his ring was $25 and not more than I have spent on textbooks in law school. I offered to buy him a new one, but he so far has not taken me up on it, making me think that maybe it is not so much lost as hiding. He wore it for the first 6 months or so, and the funny thing about mengagement rings is that nobody notices them. I think one person asked about his.
What was funnier though, was my friend who made fun of me for getting him one, and then in the same sentence mentioned how excited he was about his wedding band and how he kept trying it on before the wedding. Which made me realize something: men are also excited about this!
When I thought about it, I realized - I get to wear shiny ring that says "I'm getting married!" and while some people would argue that an engagement ring and a wedding ring are different things for women, since I don't plan to wear a wedding band, I say, whatever. People look at my ring and they don't think "she's engaged" - most people think that I'm married. So I don't really care that people would look at Mark's hand and think that he's married, not engaged. (And does it matter anyway?) So why should we, as a society, deprive men of that special feeling that comes when you look down at your left hand and think of your partner and get that warm, fuzzy feeling about being married to them?
(And I will also say that the original plan was to buy a big screen TV that was the same value as my ring and have that be Mark's engagement TV but he seemed willing to settle for a $25 ring instead....)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Squish!

Oh man, these are totally awesome. They would be great on the shepherds hooks at our venue! Or on chairs going down the aisle. I love any project that gives me an excuse to use up leftover fabric that I already have, because that seems greener than buying anything new. Plus they can be done in advance. Plus, opportunity to burn yourself on a hot glue gun - always a plus!
I am so excited to get my paper done and start doing fun crafty projects!


Charity Friday: Clean Drinking Water

The Charity Friday posts for December will be NWR, and will instead focus on charitable giving this holiday season. I like to make charitable donations during the holidays, and I know I'm not alone. I usually pick a dollar amount, and then split that up between various organizations that I support. I like to pick charities that aren't political and that I don't normally support during the year, but that do good work which I think is important. A friend of mine recently brought this to my attention.
I wrote my seminar paper on the effects of clean water and the empowerment of women and girls. I'm not kidding you when I tell you that with clean water, we can change the world. More children around the globe die from waterborne diseases than HIV or malaria. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by this, both as part of their caretaking role and because girls are less likely to be given medical treatment, and when they do get it, they get it later than their brothers. Women and girls do the backbreaking work of collecting water and trying to sanitize it by boiling water over woodstoves.
Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of clean water on the planet (take shorter showers, people!) and we will be on the brink of a global water shortage in about a decade. Water will be the new oil. It will be purchased and hoarded and become unbelievably expensive. But for right now, we need to work on making sure it is clean, and then we can talk about desalination techniques.
The CDC has partnered with Pur to create the Pur Packet, which can purify up to 10L of water at once. It's a cheap and effective way to purify water for families in developing countries, and you can donate here. (Note - you can also put "A year's supply of clean drinking water for a family in need." on your alternative gift registry!)
Happy Holidays and if you have a charity you would like to see featured, please comment below!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Proposal Fake Outs

I have very strong feelings about the process of getting engaged, which I've avoided talking about before but I wanted to address during the holiday season when I know a lot of people expect or hope for proposals. I think too many years of tradition, of great proposal stories, of stupid movies and ads for rings, have led to (a lot of) men feeling like they have to do an elaborate proposal, like the moment has to be perfect and a total surprise. And some girls expect the perfect proposal as well. (Erm, whereas some of us just wanted our damn rings already.)

One guy friend of mine said the best thing to do is to fake your girlfriend out as to whether you are going to propose - i.e. take her out to a fake romantic dinner and don't ask. DO NOT do this. Don't get her anything in jewelry box for Christmas knowing that she will think it's a ring, because you're really planning to propose in March. This is mean. This is toying with your girlfriend's feelings, and it's deliberate meanness. I've heard of guys who fake-propose with ugly ugly rings or something to send their girlfriends a message to get off their case. Girls, please, please, I beg of you - break up with any guy that is so territorial about his proposal and his manhood that he feels the need to treat you like crap and disrespect your desire to be engaged so you'll be surprised when he does finally does deign to ask you and to offer you the privilege of being his wife.

Word of advice to guys: If you have been dating for more than 1-2 years, and you're out of college, and you've talked about potentially getting married, or more specifically about marriage, give up on the surprise! She already knows it's coming. If you've been dating even longer than a few years, trust me, she knows you like clockwork and she will know the instant you start to act slightly funny. As soon as we left the apartment the night Mark proposed, I knew it was coming. Most of my other friends have told the same story - he wanted to find a specific tree, they went to the place they first said "I love you", he took her up to the roof, etc. She knows.

So maybe, instead of focusing on the surprise and misdirection and "throwing her off the scent" (which, may I remind you, is how Chandler nearly lost Monica), focus on making the context of the proposal itself a surprise, or really awesome. I know a guy who proposed to his girlfriend when he took her skydiving for her birthday. That, no matter what, results in an awesome story. Or the guy who did a really awesome proposal scavenger hunt - you know it's happening, but the elements of the hunt are a surprise. I'm not saying, tell her you're going to propose tomorrow night. But maybe don't try to throw her off the trail. Don't be mean. Don't get all cagey when she asks something about it. I think you'll find that once you let the "surprise" go, and just worry about making it special and amazing, the proposal will still be special, and at the end of the day, you'll still be engaged. And if you blow the surprise and mess everything up, you get an even funnier proposal story. And truthfully, yeah, it's great to have a "story", but anybody only ever cares for the first week, so don't risk your relationship for a story.

Does anybody else share my possibly-unorthodox views of proposals and surprises?

[EDIT: To clarify, I think the main problem that I'm trying to get to here is that, like weddings have become more about the details and the pretty! than about the marriage, I think proposals have become more about the surprise and the story than the actual question that is being asked, and the decision that is being made by TWO people to spend their lives together.]

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I love packages!

Guess what came in the mail today? My rehearsal dinner/whatever else I need to wear a white dress to! It's also great because it's not that white. It's really cute and very flattering. It's a little loose at the shoulders but the hips fit just fine, so whatever. It's fully lined and a nice thick material too, which is much nicer than a summery sun dress. (Although I would still wear some kind of "foundational garment" with it.) It's about knee length (sorry none of the pictures have a full shot, but our apartment is not a great place for self portraiture.)
The stitching below the bustline is very flattering and, as Stacy and Clinton would say, "puts emphasis on the narrowest part of you"
Looks cute with the bolero too!
Get yours today! (Sadly, not on sale anymore, but still reasonably priced compared to anything else we spend on weddings.)

Theft-Deterrent Gift Receptacles

So I've assumed we would have some kind of card box or basket for gifts - and that we would come up with some way to guard or protect it - not because I don't trust our guests, but because our venue is a public space and we may very well have the gift table inside while most of us are outside and because yes, you hear the horror stories about stuff getting stolen. (And I would hate it if a gift got stolen and the guest fumes about it for years because they didn't get a thank-you note, and we fume because they didn't give us a gift!)

The question is, what is the best way to make a gift box or area theft-deterrent? I thought about making a cardbox that is extremely heavily weighted, and somehow locked or sealed. Or just using a massive log that we have hollowed out and cut a slit in the top of. Sure, there are cute ways to do card boxes, but they aren't necessarily theft deterrent unless they are huge and bulky, and I don't want to carry that to the venue.

I think the best solution for the gifts will be our ushers - when people arrive with gifts, they can take the gifts and bring them straight into the getting-ready room, or put them directly in one of their cars (the ceremony area is directly off the parking lot). The same will go for cards, and we will have some kind of envelope so none of them get lost (some did at our e-party and we had to hunt them down later in the boxes of stuff). Is it safe to assume that if people have gifts, they will give them before the ceremony or at the beginning of the cocktail hour? Will it look rude to immediately squirrel away the gifts instead of leaving them out on display so that everybody can know that the giant box in the shape of the KitchenAid stand mixer is from Aunt Irma?

Have you overthought the card and gift theft issue?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wise Megs

I'm pretty sure that most of you already read A Practical Wedding. If you don't, you need to. Especially today's post. I'm going to repost a few of my favorite parts here, because well, the writing is just too good.

"I think we each have a fundamental right to joy at our weddings. I think that joy is about the simple things, and about paying attention to what you have."

This idea - paying attention to what you have - I think we lose it while we are lamenting the fact we cannot afford chivari chairs and letterpress invitations. So lets bring it back. Let's take a page, literally, from Little Women. You can read it online, and you need to read the chapter (25) about Meg's wedding to Mr. Brooke. And you must, because I think it speaks to the heart of what so many of us want, and what is truly available to us.

My favorite thing that Meg Brooke says is this, about not looking too fancy on her wedding day, "I don't want a fashionable wedding, but only those about me whom I love, and to them I wish to look and be my familiar self."*

And my favorite thing that others said, which sums up the beauty of the simple wedding quite nicely, "'That is the prettiest wedding I've been to for an age, Ned, and I don't see why, for there wasn't a bit of style about it,' observed Mrs. Moffat to her husband, as they drove away."

And my favorite thing that Meg of APW says, "So figure out what your doing with your wedding, what simple elements it boils down to, and then do those things well. Take a deep breath, slow down, pay attention. Put care into the things you value, and no one will ever notice the things that you don't have."**

*And why my hair is staying put.
**How I hope our guests feel about our vegetarian/mostly meatless wedding.

Mossy goodness

The more I think about it, the more in love I am with moss centerpieces. There is something so earthy and natural about them. (Oh, and moss is free.)
These little ornaments from OneGiftOneWorld are so cute - I realize that these jars are only 3 inches high, but in taller mason jars, maybe with a single flower standing upright, and a ribbon in one of our wedding colors wrapped around the neck? I think it has potential.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The latest addition to the things I don't plan to do at my wedding: tweeting from the altar.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5B24SI20091203

That's mostly because I don't use Twitter in the first place, as I don't often have anything particularly interesting to say, but if I did, I can't even remotely imagine taking it that far. Who would even see it? Everybody who cares should be there! I guess you have to be marrying somebody with a special sense of humor to get away with that...

DIY Corsages

So I've established that DIY Bouts aren't out of the question, but I always thought corsages would be way too difficult to figure out how to do, which is a shame, because it would probably be pretty easy to do those in advance, and they can also run pretty expensive. ($20-30 per person.)
My cousin's flowers at his wedding were gorgeous, and when his wife (very kindly) told me how much they cost (after some totally inappropriate prying on my part) I realized that we could, in fact, squeeze bouquets into our tiny floral budget, but that corsages and bouts would put us over the top.
I briefly considered not doing corsages, but then decided that wouldn't be right. My mom and Mark's mom both love flowers and there is no reason why they shouldn't get corsages. (Although, to be honest, I'm not sure why they need them - is the concern nobody will know who the mom's are? I'm pretty sure that whole "walking us down the aisle" thing will make it fairly obvious.) I had figured that if we did the bouquets and stuff, we would have a local florist/grocery store (I'm not a terrible person, I just think our moms care more about food than flowers) do up the corsages.
Imagine my surprise though, when I found out the whole corsage thing is at least a little easier than anticipated. My main stress was "OMG how do you attach the corsage to the elastic? It makes no sense!" Well, apparently it's a lot easier than whatever I was thinking of in my head:
This, my friends, is a wrist corsage holder. For instructions on how to use it, check out this very informative tutorial. (I did not know they made glue for flowers.)
Has anybody ever tried making a corsage? Is it a terrible, terrible idea?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sales

I'm all about full disclosure here, so I figure you should all know about this too. I just purchased a dress for a possible bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, or job at a salt mine. It came to me last week via my Shop it to Me sale alert and I fell in love with it. I don't want to wait until next September to buy a rehearsal dinner/shower/bachelorette party dress and get stuck paying $80 for something I don't love.
I know, I know, it's kinda stupid that whole "white dress for other wedding functions" thing, but whatever, I'm totally in love. Also, I'm pretty sure it's good for me to practice wearing white for stuff so I can learn to eat without spilling:
I love v-necks, pointe knit, and dresses with structure. Sure, this could be interpreted as a little too "businessy" but I think with some shoes and chunky jewelry (which I don't own...) it can totally be dressed down. I also love dresses that cost less than $40. I ordered a couple of shrugs to add to my collection (so I could get the $25 off for spending more than $75) in a bright red (yay Terps!) and a bright green.
So the next step is to wait for it to arrive, try it on, and then figure out how to scotch guard it. I wasn't planning to post about it until it came in the mail, but then I realized that if I waited until then, they would probably have sold out and you wouldn't have a chance to grab your own fabulous LWD. So go forth and order, fellow cheepskate, pointe knit, v-neck lovers!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Flowers!

In my recovery from my first exam, I am soothing my anxiety over the admissibility of illegally seized evidence and the rights of officers to enter a home without a warrant by looking at pretty pictures of flowers. These are from the Knot, whose website and attitude I don't usually care for but I love because they are all a reasonable size and easy to repost.

These have lots of berries and those fun orange flowers whose names I don't know. It's so bright and fall-tastic! Or summary. Even though we didn't go with a green and orange color scheme, I don't really care if our flowers match our colors, as long as they look good.

I like the hangingness and greenery of this bouquet, but it doesn't really go with the feel of my dress, which is a little too princessy for such a hippie bouquet. Also, since I'm walking down the aisle with both my parents, I think I need a small, compact bouquet that will stay securely in my hand while I wrangle my parents. (My mom walks really slow and my dad walks really fast.)

Something like this is small and compact. This bouquet is a great example of how you don't really need that much. I think I would do soemthing like this, but with a couple dahlias (okay, I actually don't really like dalhias, so I would probably use some kind of mums, roses, or carnations) and then surround them by the hypernicum berries and some small colorful flower. Like whatever those tiny orange flowers are in Bouquet #1. The bridesmaids bouquets would look more like this one.

This bouquet is amazing. I didn't know hydrengea came in that deep purple. I kinda immensely dislike the white flowers though. But with maybe some small orange flower...also I feel like it's symmetrical.

Do you also make yourself feel better by looking at pretty things?

Charity Friday: Buying Handmade to Help

Several members of the Baltimore Etsy Street Team will be donating a percentage of the profits from their sales to the Maryland Food Bank - so consider buying handmade Christmas gifts, or buy your attendant's gifts or wedding jewelry from one of these Etsy sellers.
Consider necklaces for your bridal party, handmade soaps, fun kids stuff, kids apparel, hairbands for you or your flower girl, and some eco-friendly sandwich bags for your favorite WeddingforTwo blogger or other hippie in your life.
So go on, shop for good!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday Weddings

I am, truthfully, a big fan of the holiday wedding. We originally talked about having a holiday wedding, entirely for a one reason. I wanted gingerbread house centerpieces. I kid you not. I wanted a winter wedding solely for that. Also, my red cashmere coat would look great with a white dress in outdoor pictures.

But there are other reasons to want a winter wedding. First of all, there is cost. It's cheaper to rent places, there are usually great deals, and it's the low season for some event people (although you have to book either fairly far before Christmas, like the first or second weekend in December; or in January/February to get the good deals.) It's also a cheaper travel season if you pick the right dates. There are fantastic invitations, great decor elements like snowflakes and twinkly lights, big red pointsettas, etc. I always thought the ideal color combo for a winter wedding would be red, icy light blue, and silver or champagne.

If you want to go totally overboard with it being Christmas though (which works when your family is not half-Jewish), you can't go wrong with these guys -

And probably one of my favorite guest book ideas ever is this - ornaments where the guests can write their names and best wishes. (Can we do this anyway for our October wedding...it would be so great to hang these on our tree that year and read all the things people wrote...)

For any couple that is into Christmas, this is actually a really cute idea, even if you have them at your June wedding. You'll pull them out at Christmas and remember your wedding, and your kids will love reading them someday as they help hang the ornaments, unlike a typical guestbook which might sit, unread, on the coffee table until it gets moved. Yes, they might break and you might lose the heartfelt wish from Aunt Irene but I can't help feel like it's worth the risk.
Are you having a holiday wedding? What's your favorite holiday wedding idea?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Is a wedding worth it?

When planning my sister's wedding, I often found myself thinking, "good grief, a wedding cannot possibly be worth all the stress that goes into it." But then it was. I can't explain it, but somehow, it was worth all the time and the stressing over the food, the ceremony, the tablecloths, the centerpieces, the dance floor, the photographer, the contracts, the videographer, the dresses, the Dress, the bar, who was paying for what, etc. It somehow was all worth it to get to see my sister that happy and our friends and family that happy for her.

I think there is a lot of pressure from the BIC to have a small and unique wedding. I've talked about fighting that as hard as we fight the WIC. So I have to thank Mrs. Cheese, as always, for her wonderfully articulate points about why a wedding is a good thing, an important thing, a thing that is worth the money and time and effort. Yes, after our wedding day we will be considerably poorer, and I will probably have a few more gray hairs, and yes, our wedding could go horribly wrong and I could develop horrible post-wedding depression and not be able to sleep thinking about how horrible our centerpieces looked.

But we aren't even a year into our engagement, and we are a little less than a year away from the wedding, and already I have learned a lot through this process. I have learned about being a better friend, daughter, sister, and partner; I have learned about settling and about holding out;
I have learned a lot about compromise and some stuff I never knew about gender roles, expectations, and society. I have learned it is one thing to buck tradition and another thing to insult it. I have learned to not tell the people that read the blog about how I feel or think about something before I tell my fiance. So I think that Mrs. Cheese is right, that the planning and the skills it develops can help enhance a marriage. It makes me think of those cheesy inspirational posters about success being a journey, and not a destination - that marriage is a journey, and engagement is part of that. The journey doesn't start on the platform of the train station - it starts loooong before that - when you first think about the trip, when you buy the ticket, when you pack your bags, when you wake up to get ready to go. All of these are key steps in making sure that the journey actually happens and is enjoyable. (Particularly packing. Has anybody else ever forgotten all of their underwear on a trip?)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One more reason not to hyphenate

I'm hoping that NARAL is tweeting the CPC hearing in Montgomery County, since I can't be there tonight, so I finally signed up for twitter. I'm not sure if I'll find it annoying or like crack. Some of you may notice me following you, btw, and if you would like to follow me, leave me a message but I imagine that my "tweeting" will be more feminist and law school ranty and less wedding-y, so be forewarned. (Oh, and in more feminist law school rantyness, DC PASSES GAY MARRIAGE!)

Anyway, I signed up and typed in my name, all 24 letters and characters, and I got an error message! My name, it seems, is too long to Tweet! My last name and I are not welcome on Twitter, although we are welcome on Google, Facebook, and most major airlines. I would like to invite Twitter to come join the rest of us in the 21st century in which you can put 5gb on a flash drive and people's names are frequently more than 20 letters long.

(Yes, I caved and used only one last name. I am that excited about the bill. Although it does not appear to be being tweeted.)

The head table

So we sat down with Mark's mom last week and talked through some of the broader details of the wedding - the color scheme, our overall vision, our expectations. She's been to a few weddings recently and was telling us what they had seen there, like a sweetheart table.

At that point, both of us said that we don't really care for the sweetheart table, but that we aren't wild about a "king and queen" table. We also, frankly, didn't really want to sit with our families. We tried to say this nicely. Fortunately, Mark's mom was totally cool with this - I think that they would rather sit with the friends and family they see once or twice a year than with us anyway.
At my sister's wedding, we all sat together at a 10 person table - the bridal party was small enough that we, and our dates, could fit together at the table. At my cousin's wedding, the bridal party sat at two tables, I think with their dates.
We puzzled over this, then pulled out the seating charts from the venue and Mark started to play around in his fancy-pants engineering software. At the same time as we were talking about this, I mentioned my love of long tables. So we began to put long tables into the drawing, and Mark wanted them to be smaller long tables - 8 feet long, seating 8-10 people, and our wedding party will be 16-18 including us and dates. So we were debating whether we should only seat some of our guests with us (the ones without dates) or how to make sure everyone got a seat.
Then we remembered something. It's our wedding and we can do whatever we want. We stuck another 8 ft table next to ours, and will be putting our entire wedding party at our long table, with dates. (It's a wedding, and it's not fun for wedding party members or their dates to sit apart.) So basically what we landed on is having a king and queen table (it's even at the top of the dance floor) but we're planning to use our guest's dates to shield us from people staring at us and watching us eat, and it avoids sitting our wedding party's dates separately.
I'm pretty happy about this arrangement, because honestly, this is what I imagined when I first started picturing long tables - us, surrounded by our friends, laughing and enjoying the food and fun and celebrating our marriage.
What are you doing about the head table?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pushover Bride

So I finally got to win a wedding issue, instead of compromising or giving up. I say finally because well, I'm a bit of a pushover. More so as a bride than anything else - I find that I rarely say no, because I'm so afraid of being deemed a bridezilla that I tend to give up and relent on what I really want.
Wedding planning is mostly about picking your battles and deciding what is worth it, and where you can really let things go. Some people will tell you that it's your day and you shouldn't have to compromise. That is bull. Wedding planning is very similar to other aspects of life.
One battle I picked was long tables. I really really want long tables. I think they help keep things conversational, I think they help make things feel more intimate. It also feels more like Thanksgiving dinner than a corporate banquet. I go to enough corporate events, I don't want our wedding to feel like another charity fundraiser. When you go to a restaurant, you usually sit at long tables and it's fun and it's easy and it's a little different. On the list of things that mattered to me, this was up there.
Another reason to use them is because you can easily dress up plain white fabric with some fantastic table runners and because you can use small centerpieces (or tiny gourds!) spread out down the table and have as much impact as bigger centerpieces. I love the look of the burlap, because even if it's not one of our wedding colors, we could use cranberry thread to tie it in. We could also just do patterned fabric for some variety and fun with color. Or we could do plain colors.
However, life is not without some compromises, no matter what. To get long tables, I was willing to do whatever it took to make Mark more comfortable with the setup. He wanted to have shorter long tables, so they would only be 8 people long. He also wanted to have them more angled. But I'll let him talk about how he got on board with the setup, and the nifty engineering program he used to do it.
What battles have you picked? Did you win them?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Things I'm Thankful For: People that give to charity

Thanksgiving in my house is a two day holiday - right now, there is a raw turkey sitting on the table waiting for my dad to throw it in the oven, and tonight, all of my Dad's family is coming over for our usual "off-day" Thanksgiving. I love this tradition and I don't understand why more people don't embrace the idea of having a family get-together on the Friday, to take the pressure off of having Thanksgiving on a Thursday. If you have a family that is flexible about times, and would rather everybody got together than everybody was there On Thanksgiving Day, consider suggesting the Thanksgiving Friday.

Anyway, since Thanksgiving is continuing, and since today is Friday, I wanted to skip Charity Friday and write, instead, about why I'm thankful for the million nameless, faceless people that donate money to causes they believe in. Because I've worked for a lot of charities, and at the end of the day, we remain absolutely dependent on the kindness of strangers to open their wallets. It is the only way that we can continue to do incredibly powerful work that truly helps people in need.

I am thankful for the students at my school that donated over a thousand pounds of canned food to feed people in need this winter. I am thankful that there exist organizations like Team in Training which exist to encourage ordinary people to reach their goals in extraordinary ways. I am thankful that organizations like Goodwill exist, both because I have bagged up 3 bags of goodwill donations while I am here at home, and also because they serve a dual mission of helping people and providing low cost clothing and household goods. I am thankful for the Red Cross. I am thankful that organizations like UBSPI exist, which is an organization at my school which raises goods and services through an annual silent auction. I am thankful that every day, in every way, there are organizations dedicated to watching over our planet and the people on it.

I could not be more thankful for the people that keep these fantastic organizations going. Between the people that donate an extra dollar when they are at the grocery store and the cashier bugs them at checkout, to the people that donate used clothes to Goodwill, that donate new or used kitchen appliances, that give blood, that make a donation to their friend's Team in Training program and the people that simply open their wallets and write checks, we keep the world going. We make it a cleaner, greener, brighter, better, happier, more hopeful place.

So if you've given to charity lately, please know that on the other end of that donation of goods, services, food, blood, or money, please know that on the other end of that donation is somebody who is as thankful as I am.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hotels - How much does proximity matter?

So we are looking into hotel blocks now, because somebody pointed out to me that our date is extremely popular and we should book our hotel blocks early. Which means making a crucial decision.
Our venue is out in the suburbs, about a 30 minute drive from the heart of Baltimore. We aren't really expecting people who come in from out of town to rent a car. We have a number of people traveling from out of town. (Don't marry a foreigner. This is what happens. If you can, strive to marry somebody with a tiny family and minimal friends, all of whom live within a 10 mile radius of your venue.) We have two options. Well, three, but the third one is cheating.

Option A: Book hotel rooms at a hotel near the venue. This is a good option for people who will come into town on Sunday, go to the wedding, and leave the following morning. It is not a good option for anybody who comes in Friday or Saturday night, and then stays for the full 3-day weekend. Additionally, it would limit us for the rehearsal dinner to a location near the hotel, of which there are limited options.

Option B: Book hotel rooms at a hotel in the city. This is a good option for people who would stay for the full weekend (especially since it isn't race weekend), but not a good option for people who would stay only for the night after the wedding. This also would probably involve providing some kind of shuttle bus, which gets expensive. Additionally, anybody coming by car would have to pay to use the hotel garage.

Option C: Book both. I was totally down with this, but then we went to my cousin's wedding over the weekend. They used the Peabody Court as their hotel, and all wedding-related activities were centered out of the hotel. All the guests were in the same place. Everyone knew where to meet up and where things were going on. Both the pre-wedding cocktail hour and the post-wedding brunch were there. It was nice to have it as a base camp; for weddings with a lot of out-of-town guests that don't often see each other, it's particularly convenient to have them all in one place.

So who do we inconvenience? Do we stick our family members out in the suburbs for a full weekend? Do we go for city-slicker fun so out-of-towners don't have to rent a car to drive into the city and pay to park just to go to the Aquarium or Science Center?

Things Mark is Thankful for

I'll be maintaining my standard ratio of one post for every 4-5 of Ellie's (or is that giving myself too much credit?), and putting down all my expressions of gratitude in this slightly longer post.

I'm thankful to have a decent job (and that almost nobody I know has lost theirs), despite my company going through a pretty slow period this past year. I'm also thankful to have a job that many kids and young engineers dream of, and which makes such a great conversation-starter at parties.

As I pointed out at our first Thanksgiving dinner with Ellie's friends last weekend, I'm thankful that for the first time since 2001, I have gone for more than a year without moving, and I'm thankful that even with our complaints about draftiness, lack of storage space, and the parking scenario, we nevertheless have a good apartment in a great location - one where we're (fortunately) happy to be staying for more than a year.

I'm thankful that my family, both immediate and extended, have all been not only willing but enthusiastic to meet Ellie, to get to know her, and to treat her as part of the family (contrary to FOB's standard joke, in our family that doesn't mean 'like dirt'). My parents and sister (aka Bridesmaid L) are excited to be involved with the wedding, are supportive of our decisions, and all around happy for us.

I'm thankful that Ellie's family is equally accepting of me - particularly Margaret, who could have shown me the door before we had even really started to date but instead learned to live with her little sister showing up to hang out with our mutual friends.

I'm thankful that this blog seems to be going so well, and that it has put us in contact with so many other people who are willing to share their experiences - though that is probably helped by the volume of posts, which, again, I can't really take credit for.

And of course, most of all I'm grateful that I have found a woman who puts up with my occasional ranting, is willing to take on an unfair share of the cooking, and is taking on a slightly more than equal share of the wedding planning and doing an amazing job. She makes me happy to come to her every day and to wake up next to her every morning, and I'm thankful that I have a lot more mornings with her to look forward to.

Things I am Thankful For: My big sister

There are all these things in my life I'm thankful for, which I have been writing about here. And then there is my sister, for whom thankful does not cut it. My sister, my maid of honor, my neighbor, and our biggest cheerleader, even back when we just started dating. Some sisters wouldn't take well to their annoying little sister dating their friend, but my sister took it in stride. My sister, who always told me when I liked somebody who wasn't good enough for me. My sister, who always told me when she hated my boyfriend. My sister, who befriended my ex-boyfriend after he dumped me and then passed along all the juicy gossip about how miserable he was with the girl he dumped me for. (And now I really hope none of them read this.) My sister, who helped me with my homework and with my art projects and tried to help me learn to play the flute. (Some things are a lost cause.) She helped me pick out dresses for dances and do my hair and makeup. There are no words, really, to express how thankful I am for her, but I thought I would post the toast I gave when I was maid-of-honor at her wedding.

"Anyone who knows me knows that I love and worship my big sister. She
has been my family and my best friend, she has always been there for
me, the only one who can make me laugh when I cry, the person I turn
to when I'm in trouble, the person who cheers me on in everything I
do. I have tried to be the same for her. I am so proud to call her
my sister. She is kind, caring, smart, thoughtful, funny, and
incredibly special. She makes the best mashed potatoes in the entire
world.
When Margaret first met somebody who loved her and worshiped her more
than I did, I was upset. I thought I might lose the person who
mattered the most to me. I secretly thought that J. was to be
waited out. Eventually I realized that J. wasn't going anywhere.
Over the past eight years I have come to know J., and I am
genuinely happy to stand up here today and hand over the job of loving
and worshipping my sister to the one person who does it even better
than I do. I know that he will be the one to cheer her up when she is
sad, he will make her feel like she is worth the world to him, because
she is, he will be her family and her best friend, he will support her
in everything she does, he will be everything she wants and everything
she needs, he will stand up to her and he will stand up for her, and
she will do the same for him, and I know that they will do that for
the rest of their lives.
If you would please raise your glasses to my big sister and my brother-in-law."