[caption id=”attachment_95” align=”alignnone” width=”385” caption=”Even horse lovers need thank you notes. And friends, too. “][/caption]
As the wedding draws near, it is likely that the gifts will begin pouring in. It’s Christmas every day and this year Santa got everything on the list. And he looks a lot like certain family members. Except thinner, in some cases. I kid.
Roughly three times a week your mother/mother-in-law notify you of the arrival of yet another package containing something you wanted but did not pay for. You will unwrap the pretty paper and know exactly what it is because you check your registry habitually every hour but still act the required level of surprised.
Ahh, the beauty of gift registries. Bask in it.
And then get back to work.
In this time of plenty I cannot help but remember my father’s timeless advice every time I fell for some tricky sales pitch.
"Nothing is free."
(Apparently the “BO” is required before the “GO” in the ice cream coupons. Who would’ve known).
It is only reasonable and decent and considerate and right and tradition that each gift and favor needs a proper thank you. People deserve to know you not only received the towels/dishes/grill/fill-in-the-blank with your choice of kitchen utensil, but that you like it. And that you like them. When you consider some of the presents cost the greater part of your monthly wage, trust me, you’re getting the better end of the deal.
From the shower to the lingerie party to the just-because stuff, you likely have several lists of people to thank. That list will only continue to grow so best get on it.
Our wedding hasn’t even happened yet and I’m already over 40 notes in the hole and counting.
You’ll first need to buy/make a set of thank you cards that express your personality without scaring grandma, if both aren’t mutually exclusive. Making them will save money if you are capable with a computer or know someone who is. It helps if they also allow you to pay them by the hour in six packs (Might as well save us both some time Rachel and just go ahead and keep one of the notes for yourself. Thanks.).
And then the hard part. Filling them in. Hopefully you have a list somewhere of who gave you what. If not, you are too disorganized to get married. Save time and money and call things off.
If that’s not the case, the next step is filling them out.
The classic thank you starts pretty simply. “Dear blank, Thank you for the blank.” Easy.
It’s what comes after that that gets tricky.
You may find yourself struggling to stay creative, considerate and personal when you hardly even know some of the receivers. Don’t panic and revert to the How to Write a Thank You Note page. You’re not that desperate. No one expects life advice and revelation and stories of happiness and love and joy in a 5x7 envelope. Unless you buy really fat envelopes. Don’t do this.
Keep it simple. Keep it sweet. Let them know that without their thoughtful gift you would be drying off with the same towel mom bought you for the dorms or looking much less sexy in the three-pack, full butt undies for $9.99 you got at Target last year. Trust me, Steven will thank you too.
Say thank you. Tell them what for. Tell them you like who they are (if you know who they are). Close with a caring salutation. Be sincere. Don’t over-think. Buy yourself a latte in your favorite a shop and just get it done. You’ll feel better.
[caption id=”attachment_83” align=”alignnone” width=”335” caption=”What I would like to avoid. (From whybenormal.today.com)”][/caption]
After some of the major wedding plans have been set in place - i.e. the caterer, the venue, the guest list, the dress, etc. - you may feel quite accomplished and will therefore sense a slight wave of relief.
Don’t start breathing normally yet. This is only the beginning.
As you can tell by the frequency with which I’ve been blogging (roughly never), the smaller details of the wedding tend to start to feel big when stacked one on top of the other. And then on top of you. Apparently, the rest of the world doesn’t stop when you get engaged. Or even slow down to a reasonable pace.
In fact if you’re reading this and engaged get off your bum and get to work. Things are stacking up as we speak. Just kidding. Finish the blog first.
From favors to flowers to placement of salsa (we went with next to the chips), decisions are waiting to be made on things I have to google to even know the definition of. For instance, it’s tradition to wear both a “toss garter” and a “keepsake garter” so you will have something to more permanently remember that time your soon-to-be husband made grandma uncomfortable. A photo just won’t do.
A common mistake is to try and take everything on yourself. Not only will this lead to premature wrinkles in the wedding photos, but will also prove impossible. So don’t try. It’d be a shame to miss your big day due to heart failure.
One alternative is to hire a wedding planner/coordinator. And for those of you with money falling out of your ears and nowhere to put it, this may be a valid option.
For the rest of us, it’s time to utilize those dear friends and family who have always claimed they’d be there for you. Even if it was during drunken renditions of “Lean on Me” at the last reunion. (Or maybe that’s just my family?)
As it turns out, several women in my life - and yours too - have done the wedding thing before and are more than willing and even sometimes insistent on helping. Take it.
Tackling one thing at a time will also reduce the risk of crazies. Steven has applied the ancient art of list making, and found it quite helpful. The trick is to make sure that making a list doesn’t become something on the list. Trust me, it’s happened.
When it comes down to it, this will ideally be the only wedding you have to plan and it’s important you don’t lose sight of the marriage due to the distraction of the wedding. That advice has served me well.
At the end of the day, you’ll be married. And that’s what will matter.
So go ahead, and put “enjoy every moment” as item 5,000 on the list. And then cross it off.
Like death and taxes, meeting the in-laws is an inevitable for a bride-to-be. Except in comparison to the anticipation, death and taxes seem pleasant.
I met Steven’s parents and brother just a few months into our relationship, and felt with family immediately. They were supportive and insightful and always offered to feed us. Which we always accepted. A perfect fit.
But meeting the entire extended clan at one time without the safety net of my own family to blame for the way I am seemed daunting.
Nightmare scenarios plagued my mind the week before our road trip out to New Mexico for Steven’s cousin’s wedding. What if they don’t like me? What if they’re all crazy? What if they think I’m crazy? What if I forget to pack an underwear change and I become known as the smelly fiance? Or, worst of all, what if they’re all Texans?!
Upon arrival, I glanced in a mirror and immediately realized, with impending doom, that I had forgotten to fix my hair. The nightmare was already beginning.
I knew what everyone would be thinking. “How can she take care of our Steven if she can’t even take care of her roots?! Not a girl we want in this family.”
I was destined for failure.
As it turns out, I had nothing to fear. Not a single one of my worries proved realistic. Aside from the Texan issue. But no family is perfect. Kidding. And if I smelled, it was the heat, not my undies.
They were accepting and encouraging. They greeted me with hugs and laughs and plates of Mexican food. I instantly felt a part of the celebration and by day two felt comfortable enough to shamelessly get seconds on Grandma’s homemade pie without fear of judgement.
The only thing sweeter was Grandma herself.
I left the trip more sure than ever that this was a family I not only wanted to love, but wanted to be a part of. Wanted to celebrate my own marriage with. Wanted to exchange recipes and stories and embarrassing photos with. Wanted to be in embarrassing photos with (riding the mule statue in Muleshoe, Texas. Check.)
Even if your accent and home team are different from your in-laws, that doesn’t mean you can’t be family. You love the same man, and that’s enough common ground to stand on. And maybe even dance.
Men and women are different.
This may not sound like breaking news, but it definitely has the capability to break something. Especially in the China section of Bed Bath and Beyond.
About the same time invitations are sent, almost-weds have to register for gifts so that guests know why they’re invited and exactly what to buy for you.
Okay this is an exaggeration. But it is a respected and efficient way to ensure that you don’t spend your first month as newly weds returning piles of appliances your family thought you needed. With an 80s pink floral pattern.
[caption id=”attachment_66” align=”alignnone” width=”300” caption=”photo courtesy of Johnson88o”][/caption]
Various nation-wide stores offer wedding registery, and make it simple enough that even first-time homemakers like us can figure it out. A few popular options are Macys, Bed Bath and Beyond, Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn.
The first step is to sign up with a few of the stores that most meet your needs (which you may realize you don’t even know what those are), and then start adding gifts (with details down to the quantity and color) to a wish list the company keeps for you. No gift receipts necessary.
We chose Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. Steven is still pushing to add Ace hardware. I want colorful towels and a new mixer. Steven wants lumber. Difference number one.
My original thoughts of registering were pleasant and exciting. We would get to explore an entire store, picking out things we like without paying for anything. What could be better?
Our first stop was dishware. Difference number two.
"Couldn’t we just find some plates and stuff at a thrift store or soemthing?" he says.
"Um, you’re kidding right? Last I checked Goodwill hadn’t started doing wedding registeries yet. Honey."
"I’m just saying. It’d be a lot cheaper. Dear"
"We’re not paying for it. Love. It’s a gift."
"Lets go look at knives."
And this is how it went. I care about patterns, coordinating colors, ambiance and level of cuteness (in the most practical way). He cares about sharp things and things that require either fuel or fire. Differences three through 45.
Okay this is also an exaggeration. But what I am trying to illustrate is that neither partner is capable of doing all the registering solo, and neither partner is capable of doing all the registering together.
Things that Steven knows to be important I have not thought twice about. Things that I think are must-have’s he doesn’t know the purpose of. And yet other decisions are dependent upon us both caring and agreeing on (for instance, the bedspread or the coffeemaker).
This could be a stretch, but I’m going to make a claim: Registering was an incredible lesson and practice in marriage. Working together to get something done, giving on some issues and taking on others. Making one beautiful thing out of a combination of each other’s strengths. And trying to love each other through the whole process. Cheesy, yes. But true? I think so.
When planning a wedding or any big event, many suggest learning flexiblilty. And for the most part, I have been.
We’ve compromised on several things, from guest list to cake flavors (apparently 17 unique layers in the shape of a life size dinosaur is asking too much), and learned to bend some of our “must haves” for what will ultimately be only five short hours of our lives.
But when our classy Scottish restaurant reception venue calls us three months out from the big day to tell us their changing ownership and the new management have envisioned a “real-life Corona commercial” complete with lawn chairs and sand, we finally reached our breaking point. (Read more here).
Steven in a Hawaiian shirt drapping a lay over me as we eat mediocre seafood on a bed of fake sand wasn’t exactly the wedding I had always imagined. Or even close.
[caption id=”attachment_59” align=”alignnone” width=”219” caption=”This could’ve been us. Dang. “][/caption]
And so, our new reception venue search began. Turns out, we didn’t have to go far.
Right around the corner from Everyday Joe’s (the ceremony venue) is the Rio Grande, a mexican place known for good margaritas and food that’s also good as long as you’ve had a margarita. Or two.
After one look at their “Agave Room,” an upstairs ballroom-like area, we were sold. And not just because we had no plan b.
The place really is beautiful. It has large windows lining the pale-yellow walls, high ceilings, a dance floor and a capacity of 275. Plus they have great salsa. And you should never compromise on salsa. Never.
What I learned through this debacle: Yes, it’s good to be flexible. The wedding will not be perfect no matter how many hours of planning and practice put in and no matter what, something will go wrong. Such is life.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do what you can to get what you want. Yes, we could’ve stuck with Lauer’s and probably would’ve had an okay time (most of our friends have great senses of humor). But with a little research and an open mind, we found a place that suits us both. And is lawn chair free. Which is nice.
So guests, please don’t come with hawaiian shirts and sunscreen. Unless that’s just your style. And then please just don’t come.
Cancer is a scary word.
It brings to mind thoughts of illness and baldness and tears in hospital waiting rooms and our fraility and vulnerability and the temporariness of everything we think to be stable.
Now put the word in the same sentence as your fiance’s name and scary doesn’t even scratch the surface.
While driving to a friend’s bacholorette party Wednesday evening, I got a call from Steven that no woman is ever prepared to take.
"So I just heard from the doctor babe," he said. "And it’s cancer."
I would like to say that my first reaction was calm and collected and filled with words of inspiration and wisdom worthy of a senior class quote.
Instead I cried. I cried and drank a bottle of wine. Quote that, seniors.
The truth is we are very lucky. He caught it early, and testicular cancer is very curable. Steven went in for surgery the next day and two hours and one ball later he was cancer free and in great spirits. Although that could have been the percocet.
Needless to say, he is much stronger than I am.
In retrospect, I actually think we’ve learned as much about each other, and about us together, in the last three days as we have in the last three months.
We’ve seen how we react in an emergency, learned how fragile we both are, gotten to spend time with each of our families and recieve their support and love in new ways, spent hours talking (there isn’t a lot else he can do right now. Plus he is even funnier on drugs) and I’ve gotten to see him in a white gauze jockstrap (yes, we’ll be taking it on the honeymoon).
Through it all, cake flavors and napkin ring colors don’t seem as important anymore.
I’m still marrying Steven on August 29th (well, most of him anyhow). Wedding planning will recommence tomorrow.
Lets get the ball rolling (Too soon for cancer jokes? Probably).
Last year, I lived in a laundry room.
Not because I was impoverished or desperate or even just really passionate about the smell of tide. But because I was flexible. And when a converted laundry room in a house full of friends opens up for just under $200 a month, a single woman whose only concern is walking distance to class doesn’t hesitate to sign up. Even if what you sign isn’t exactly legal.
But after it flooded with sewage twice I decided - while scrubbing my roommate’s excrement from my bedroom floor - that the next place I lived would be nice. Or at least free from human waste. And maybe humans in general.
And then Steven asked if I would be his permanent roommate, and a few things changed.
One. I no longer can just look to friends with free basements or closets or enough backyard space for a tent.
Two. Steven can no longer just look to his friends with free basements or closets or enough backyard space for a tent.
Three. Now that our living situation doesn’t fit into one of the above descriptions, “cute” is out of our price range.
The first day of our home-hunt was eye opening.
We started with several criteria. It had to be in the perfect neighborhood with a certain amount of space within a small price range with a particular color door. And a bay window.
After looking for a few days of what seems like endless and fruitless searching, we’ve widdled down our requirements to one: indoor plumbing. And even that could change (I was a girl scout and am in no way a stranger to Indian toilet paper).
It turns out, living costs money. Quite a bit of it. And our taste is much more refined than our checkbooks.
But not all hope is lost. There are numerous options for twenty-somethings without money-somethings. However, compromises must be made.
Firstly, couples must first separate what they really need from what they can do without. For us, this meant possibly letting go of the bay window, fireplace and spiral staircase.
This change in home must-haves opened up our options. Numerous apartments, duplexes and even a few one bedrooms were workable. And with a little imagination, possibly even likable. Possibly.
We found several sites dedicated to finding renters a property match. One of the most helpful was Northern Colorado Rentals, which offers online tours and contact information for almost every property listed. Craigslist also gave us a lot of good leads.
The best method, however, seemed to be exploring neighborhoods we could see ourselves in and looking for rental signs. That way we could really get a feel for whether or not we wanted a full showing, as well as have an excuse to drive by Sonic for Java Chillers. A must for house-hunting.
Although we haven’t found the perfect match yet, what we have found is that we have options. One of which we will go see tomorrow morning. Cross your fingers.
Much like my American Literature class, the first thing women seem to ask when I tell them I am getting married is what my wedding “theme” is.
Neither men nor I have any idea what this means.
The deer-in-the-headlights look is not so becoming on the bride-to-be, and so began my research.
As it turns out, the theme sets the foundation for the entire event. From flowers to colors to the cut of the dress, the theme will help you determine everything else.
After browsing popular wedding themes, I was quick to lose faith in the human race. From “medieval” to “Hollywood glamour” and even “Star Wars” (that was actually Steven’s idea) I could not help but have nightmares about myself in an iron maiden costume marrying Darth Vader.
This was not so scary for Steven.
Moments before I started looking up the cost of chain mail trains, I was given some advice that I couldn’t help but take.
"It’s your wedding. Do what you want."
Revolutionary, I know. But true. Yes, there are certain wedding guidelines that must be followed, but trying to live up to every tradition and rule and color code will make a wedding into something other than your own. And they don’t make Advil in engagement strength so that headache will last to the honeymoon.
Rather then try to pick and stick to a wedding theme from weddingthemes.com (yes, this site exists) I started writing down all of the things that I wanted, from certain colors I like to candles and flowers and even styles of decor. And it all started to come together.
Candles are a must. Both Steven and I like classic looking things. Lace. Greens and browns and ivories and antiques. The words vintage and romantic. And cut-up fabric napkins. Duh.
So pick the things you like. Ditch the ideas you don’t. Tactfully saying “those colors make me violently ill,” is a good thing to practice.
Yes, my wedding will have style, but it wont be from the color book at David’s Bridal. It is themed Steven and Maggie. And it will be one-of-kind so don’t try and look it up for napkin companies or table centerpiece vendors. You might not like them anyways.
But we will, and that’s what matters.
You can pick your nose and you can pick your friends. But it’s almost impossible to pick your top thirty friends and their plus ones. Or any of their noses.
We finally got the date saved and the venue set, and now it’s time to compile the guest list. According to my mom, invites should have already been out a half year ago if we wanted the extended family to come. I’ll make sure to give better notice for my funeral.
None the less, we’ve started the list and realized a few things:
1. We are very blessed to know so many wonderful people that we want to celebrate our union with.
2. We are very cursed to know so many wonderful people that we want to celebrate our union with.
3. We are very required to invite some people that we dont really care one way or the other about celebrating our union with but they’ve been grandfathered in due to a past or present relation or relation to a relation. Which is fine.
Our method for putting together the list may not have been the most efficient, but it worked for us. As of now.
First, we started with waffles. Yes, this part was necessary.
Then, we brainstormed family. As it turns out, I have a lot in this category. Family must all be invited, whether or not they’ll actually come, because bloods are shoe-ins for weddings and/or funerals. And the latter is less fun.
Next, we started brainstorming friends. It helped me to put people into categories based on the context that I know them. For instance, work, school, church, high school, etc. I also made a category for honarary invites to people who I know wont be able to make it but would love them to still feel a part of it.
And then there is the “maybe” category (don’t worry, you weren’t in that one). A necessary evil, the maybe category holds those we would love to see, but then we picture them as an empty stomach with dollar signs for eyes and we start to think we could do without.
Between church and family, Steven and I could have had double the size wedding and still not fit everyone we would love to see. And the cake pieces would be way too small.
So cuts have to be made and such is life. And it goes on.
And you know what I’ve found out? I’m not the center of the universe. Surprise, surprise. When someone finds out they didn’t make the cut, chances are they don’t care. Or they do, but for less than five minutes.
Each person that is able and willing to come will be a gift and their presence will be cherished. And their presents, too. Joke.