Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Getting Married

Our family and friends start arriving from out of town tonight. We're picking up our marriage license tomorrow. Our first ceremonial moment begins Friday night, at our synagogue. And on Sunday, I'm getting married to the person who means more to me than anything in the world. He is my partner, in every sense of the word. He is the person who inspires me to live up to my own hopes for myself. He is the person who helps me be my most honest self, and with whom I can share and experience the world more completely.  And on Sunday, he becomes my husband.

Even with all this happening around us, I wouldn't feel right about getting married without stopping by here for a huge thank you to all my readers. You and this blog have become an integral part of my wedding experience. You have written emails and left comments when I've been emotionally stuck. You've cursed with me as I navigated emotionally fraught wedding decisions and ran screaming from the pressures of mainstream and indie wedding expectations alike. You've cheered with me when I had wedding breakthroughs and triumphs. Some of you emailed with local resources that helped save our sanity and budget. Some of you became official members of my wedding team, making my hairflowers, becoming my photographer, and helping me plan and manage the day. Some of you sent actual real gifts and wedding items for us to use (you ladies made me cry). Some of you have jumped in to physically help with our wedding crafts and projects, like the chuppah or wedding dress shopping. All of you are amazing. All of you have enriched this wedding experience in ways I could never have imagined when I started writing this blog a year and a half ago.

All of you are part of my wedding. You have helped me build the physical and emotional day, and I can never thank you enough. Even if we can't physically host you at our wedding, please know that I will be carrying you all with me in my heart, all day long. You are my wedding community and, beyond even this one day, you have all made a difference in my big-picture life and in helping me navigate this transition point. Thank you. I'm looking forward to sharing our wedding and the next phase of my life when I return from our honeymoon.

In the meantime, I'm going to leave you with a photo from my bachelorette party this last weekend. It may not be a "beautiful" photo, but I love it because it captures the sheer joy I felt when surrounded by my girlfriends and experiencing the strength of our friendship. It captures the barest smidgeon of the excitement I feel as I head into this weekend. And heck, it's a big ol' giant smile, because that's what I'm feeling right now for all of you, for this wedding, and for the post-wedding adventures to come.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Silence

Things here are beyond hectic. Jason got home from South by Southwest (for work) on Sunday night. I left for a business trip in Utah on Monday. We're both completely swamped with wedding errands, projects, emails, and last minute coordination. It's not that I don't have a lot to say about what's going on, but I simply don't have the time to say it. We're up until 1am every night with work and wedding stuff (and that's an improvement over Jason's recent spate of 5am/6am nights). We're on track to get this thing done and we've broken down our tasks into daily to-dos, but these tasks all require our full attention if we are going to finish everything in time for April 3.

So I apologize for the radio silence. I wish I could take the time to really share this time with you. To talk about how it feels to be planning a wedding when your partner simply can't be there for an important stretch of wedding crunch time (because his career is definitely more important), how much more you value your relationship when he comes back to you, how every errand went off the rails in one stormy weekend (which set us back at least one precious day on the task list) and how food is not the answer (even if I've been treating is as a cure) for my stress.

So, in closing, I will say:
  • If you are buying your beer at Coscto and have about 150 guests, you need more than one car and more than one person. You cannot fit beer for 150 people in a single Costco cart or a normal hatchback car. Also, while one person can certainly lift all those cases of beer, it's simply not fun. Learn from my mistake. 
  • If you live at the top of a steeeeeeeeep long driveway, perhaps one that's too steep for your car to drive up, ask a friend to store your BYOB drinks and booze. Or rent a dolly. Or enlist friends to help with unloading. Because carting all those cases of wine, juice, beer, and sparkling water yourself is a backache waiting to happen
  • I hate rain. Rain is evil and will leave you in the middle of a blacked-out Target when the power goes out. By the way, Target has no windows. It is NOT a fun place to be in the middle of a rainstorm. I understand that the real lesson here is don't save your honeymoon and wedding shopping until two weeks out, but I prefer to focus on how horrid a pitch-black Target can be.
  • DIY logistics are overrated. The Border Grill quoted me $350 for a chips and salsa appetizer buffet. My cheap self decided I could do it better and cheaper. Well... several trips to Costco, Party City, Chipotle, and now Gallegos Mexican Deli later, I have to say this might not have been worth my money-for-sanity tradeoff. We'll pull off appetizers for about $150 (I have to get 20 pounds of salsa. And 12 pounds of chips. And servingware.) but I'm not sure the 87 exploratory trips were worth it (or all the discarded non-chips-and-salsa DIY appetizer plans I ran through along the way).
  • Don't listen to anyone who says brides always lose weight from stress before their wedding. If you are like me, and have long-term issues with stress eating, assume you will stress eat. Find ways to stop yourself before the binge takes control. And if the binge takes control, do NOT, under any circumstances, try on your dress. This is a recipe for panic and disaster.  Also, if you binge two weeks before your wedding, that's probably a good amount of time to recover from your setback and get back on the healthy eating bandwagon. Avoid sodium and overeating and the dress thing should workout okay. 
  • If you're having trouble loading all the decor and alcohol in your car... assume you need a uhaul and reserve one now. We reserved a cargo van and I'm sleeping better at night. 
  • Rank your projects in order of priority. Some are going to get tossed, even if you don't want to believe it now. Really. Just trust me here.
  • Don't be afraid to let things go, even if you already spent money on them you were really attached. When we actually mapped out our timeline for the weekend, we made space for the things that are really important (family, friends, people traveling from out of town, quiet time with my partner) and regretfully said goodbye to other plans. We are no longer doing karaoke in Koreatown on Friday night for any out of town and in-town friends. It was too much hassle to plan another RSVP event and collect money and hope we didn't hit our capacity of 30 people. We're going to hang at the hotel bar instead. We are no longer doing a pinata (even though we bought one for the wedding) because it just didn't make sense when we looked at the actual wedding timeline (we may do the pinata at our rehearsal barbecue, but maybe not. Maybe we'll just save it for our next party. We like pinatas. It will get used.)
  • Make time for yourselves, alone. Even if it's just an hour a day. I had a mini-breakdown after I did the Thursday-Sunday timeline and realized we are scheduled for nearly every meal and every moment. I thought about having to entertain at four pre-wedding gatherings (some quite large) and run around like a headless chicken taking care of last minute errands at every other moment, and I lost it. Our rabbi helped by telling us to plan time for ourselves, each day. We will turn off our phones. We will not be accessible. We will spend time with each other taking a walk, heading to a spa (on Thursday night), or even just eating breakfast outside, by ourselves, the morning of our wedding. These moments are sacred. They are necessary. We need our space to fully appreciate the incredibly outpouring of noisy boisterous love from all around us. There's not much that I've been able to set aside as mine in this wedding process, but these few hours will be my selfish time with Jason. Like our post-ceremony 20 minutes of alone time, these are sacred moments.
I don't know if I'll have a chance to write again. I will try. I miss the way that writing helps me process what's happening. I miss this community and your support and feedback. I miss reading your comments and blogs. I miss our conversations on twitter. I miss you all. But I have to pull back and take care of us. I'll check in if I can, and then we're off for the honeymoon on April 4 where I won't be able to check in at all.

But I'll be back. I promise. I'll have recaps - and not just of the "this happened" sort - and I want to get around to some posts that I never had the chance to write, and then I plan to stumble my way through the next phase of this blog. I'm sticking around, but I just need to take a short break so we can make it to our wedding on April 3.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Strange Habits, Wedding Edition

Our registry presents get delivered to my office, so that we don't lose any presents to neighborhood thieves attracted to giant boxes on our doorstep.Although this was a smart decision, theft-wise, it also means that I increasingly spend entire workdays thinking "Gift Gift GIIIIIIIIFT. I wonder what it is? I wonder who it's from? GIIIIIIIFT"

It doesn't feel right opening the gifts without Jason. So I don't. Instead, I open the box, read the card, and snap everything shut again so I don't see what's under the bubble wrap. Of course, this misguided attempt at responsibly delaying gratification simply leaves me thinking  "GIFT from X!!! Gift from X!!!" all day long.

I still think it would be worse to not read the card. But maybe that's because I need to justify my confused approach to wedding gifts. Sigh.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Words That Matter

This poem is the one I'll miss most at our wedding.  For a few reasons, we came to an agreement that doesn't work in our ceremony. But I feel like I'll be carrying it with me. It captures something of the awe and fear and wonder. Of the hugeness. Of how this is a ceremony that changes nothing about our commitment to each other - one we forged years ago - but that it matters. Of how our parents marriages echo for us (even if the metaphor here isn't a precise fit). Of how weddings are fulcrum points in a life, making you pause and look back to birth and forward to death. Of how weddings and relationships aren't about mushy love, but also about passion, deeply terrifying promises, and hope.


The Wedding Vow

I did not stand at the altar, I stood
at the foot of the chancel steps, with my beloved,
and the minister stood on the top step
holding the open Bible. The church
was wood, painted ivory inside, no people—God's
stable perfectly cleaned. It was night,
spring—outside, a moat of mud,
and inside, from the rafters, flies
fell onto the open Bible, and the minister
tilted it and brushed them off. We stood
beside each other, crying slightly
with fear and awe. In truth, we had married
that first night, in bed, we had been
married by our bodies, but now we stood
in history—what our bodies had said,
mouth to mouth, we now said publicly,
gathered together, death. We stood
holding each other by the hand, yet I also
stood as if alone, for a moment,
just before the vow, though taken
years before, took. It was a vow
of the present and the future, and yet I felt it
to have some touch on the distant past
or the distant past on it, I felt
the silent, dry, crying ghost of my
parents' marriage there, somewhere
in the bright space—perhaps one of the
plummeting flies, bouncing slightly
as it hit forsaking all others, then was brushed
away. I felt as if I had come
to claim a promise—the sweetness I'd inferred
from their sourness; and at the same time that I had
come, congenitally unworthy, to beg.
And yet, I had been working toward this hour
all my life. And then it was time
to speak—he was offering me, no matter
what, his life. That is all I had to
do, that evening, to accept the gift
I had longed for—to say I had accepted it,
as if being asked if I breathe. Do I take?
I do. I take as he takes—we have been
practicing this. Do you bear this pleasure? I do.


by Sharon Olds

Williams-Sonoma Giveaway Winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway. I wish I could give something to you all but, hopefully, your family and friends will be generous with some of your favorite registry items instead. As for the contest, I used a random number generator to select JLP as the lucky recipient of a $150 Williams-Sonoma Gift certificate! Please email me to claim your prize, and I hope this helps with those Wusthof knives!

UPDADE: Since JLP didn't contact me by Sunday night, I selected a new winner: LIZ! Congratulations, and I'll be emailing you today!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Reminder

Just reminding you that today's your last chance to enter the $150 Williams-Sonoma giveaway. Make sure to register or add something to your existing registry here before 6pm PST today. Then head back to this post to comment, per the instructions. Good luck!

I'll be back to announce the winner tomorrow, along with a new post!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Centerpieces and Generosity

It turns out that succulents aren't as inexpensive as we had hoped. In going to local nurseries and garden stores, the small succulents were about $5 apiece. With 27 arrangements needing two succulents apiece, we panicked and managed to find a muuuuuch less expensive source on Craigslist. So last weekend, we trekked to the other side of the city to meet an internet stranger and his backyard wonderland of succulents.

We couldn't have been luckier. We met a man whose primary hobby is succulent growing (he's entered them in shows) who loves sharing his passion. He sells his homegrown succulents at a tiny markup to help finance his hobby and spread interest in something he's passionate about.  He was thrilled that we're planning a sustainable wedding and helped us pick great plants combinations of textures, heights, and colors. We met his new puppy. We heard about his new infant foster child and how he won't have as much time for succulent growing, so he wants his plants to find a good home. And at the end of the two hours, he gave us two boxes full of succulents for free. As our wedding present. He refused to take our money. We've started looking for baby presents to send as a thank you instead.

All along this wedding journey, people have surprised us with their incredible generosity. People want to share in the joy of a wedding, even in a small way. They like contributing to that feeling of hopeful new beginnings It's reminded us to contribute back in small ways, and to be generous in the way we live our daily lives. To pay it forward. To remember that small moments of generosity matter in huge ways. They rescue hard weekends in ways that matter more than $100 savings on centerpieces. 

We love our centerpieces. We spent this weekend finally potting and arranging the plants and we love them.  They fit our values, our budget, and our aesthetic. We loved the process of planning and planting them together. And with a big-small moment of generosity, our wedding details have been layered with yet another level of emotional resonance.





Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wedding Zen: Dance It Out

Life is certifiably crazy right now, which means stealing moments of stress relief where we can. Like by playing Mario Kart at 11:30pm, because that's the first free moment you have. Or by calling your best girlfriend to vent on the drive home. Or by cooking on Sunday night with a big glass of wine while you blast the stereo.

In case you're one of the people who favors the cooking-dancing-sipping method of relaxation (I am), do yourself a favor and go buy the Flashdance's new mix CD. NOW (you can listen to a sample here too.)  His last mix CD is on permanent rotation at our house and, every time I listen to it, I remember our wedding is going to ROCK SO D*MN HARD with the Michael the Human Jukebox (the Flashdance) at the musical helm. It's like stress-zen and wedding-zen all at once, all for a measly $5 (the CD, not the DJ package, obviously.) So I just went and bought his new mix CD, because I could use a little bit of rocking-out zen in my life right now and the reminder that all this wedding work is building us an incredible wedding.

Photo from The Flashdance

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One Month From Today...

...I am getting married. I am entirely ready for this, and yet so behind on our task list I want to cry. It's like I'm getting pulled in 723 different directions all at once, and my brain is no longer has the ability to retain or analyze information. My weekends are now entirely full from 8am - 10pm with the wedding. The wedding seeps into my workday. The wedding is stealing my sleep, as my brain runs through unfinished to-do list needs and calendar availability panics. The wedding to-do list also has a unique ability to multiply: for every item I cross off, five more suddenly appear.

I'm taking comfort in the ceremony. I'm taking comfort in the tangled, nuanced readings I've found about the complexity of love, the complexity of this process. For me, this wedding has been such a hugely important and yet entirely despised effort, all at once. It's simply huge. It's about love, family, obligation, desire, authenticity, painful negotiations, incredible generosity, and new beginnings in ways I still haven't wrapped my head or heart around.

The focus on our ceremony brought me back to poetry, which I've strayed from for a long time. It brought me back to authors that I love, like Margaret Atwood. Her poem, "Habitation," is a reading that I've seen used in other weddings. "The Moment" isn't a wedding poem, but its words and images connect me with the raw truth of this wedding process. They capture a bit of the awe, the elusiveness, and yet the wonder at this huge thing we're undertaking. And somehow, they feel perfectly right.


Habitation
Marriage is not
A house or even a tent
It is before that, and colder:
The edge of the forest, the edge
Of the desert
The unpainted stairs
At the back, where we squat
Outside, eating popcorn
Where painfully and with wonder
At having survived even
This far
We are learning to make fire.



The Moment
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

-Margaret Atwood

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sponsored Post: Williams-Sonoma Giveaway!

I'm so excited to welcome Williams-Sonoma back to this blog for two reasons: one, it's about time to talk about my own registry experience and two: they're offering you guys another $150 giveaway! Which makes me happy (and a little bit envious) for all of you, because I have a slight love affair with Williams-Sonoma. Seriously, walking into one of their stores is like a little bit of life-zen mixed with the sliiiightly aspirational belief that I can really achieve cooking goddess powers.

So let's talk registries for a moment, because there's hard emotional stuff about registries. It took me time to accept and appreciate them because I hate feeling like we're asking for gifts, or that gifts are expected. I find all the gift-value calculations about weddings really crass (if they spent $X per head, I should get them a gift of $X). I hate making less financially stable guests feel obligated to give a gift when I'd be just as happy with a thoughtful card and simple gesture.

However, I'm also finding that weddings bring out true generosity. I got teary at both my showers, not because of the gifts, but because the gifts were a tangible expression of such incredible love from our community. Registries provide a signpost for gifts that will matter to us for the long-term, for gifts that are valuable and meaningful to us, for gifts that contribute the emotional and physical home Jason and I are building together. Otherwise, our friends are shopping blindly, without knowing whether you already have a blender (we do) or might really love a crystal bowl (we wouldn't.)

And so, we made the decision to register for high-quality items that honor our friends' and families' generosity. We included durable items in a range of price points.  And we can honestly say that the new gifts have already improved our lives. Although we've been too busy to unpack everything (!!) the items below highlight some of the squee-worthy, life-improving gifts we've received so far.

Everyday-Use Gifts 

I didn't realize how easy chopping could be until we received our new Shun knife. I am now far less grumpy about cooking prep. 

We like wine. Unfortunately, our cats like wine glasses, meaning they knock them over and break them. So we especially love our stemless glasses. And the decanter nicely aerates the inexpensive wines we've been favoring lately as we save for the wedding.


Winter-Friendly Gifts

Our immersion blender has transformed soup-making. We can now make hearty, creamy soups without a blender mess. Added bonus: herb chopping attachment. 

Le Crueset blue stockpot. Oh my, I love this thing and the delicious slow-cooked food it produces. Color shouldn't matter, but somehow it does. It really does.

Brownie tin with a lid! So I can indulge in baking (and eating) but also take the leftovers to the office!


Excellent Non-Essential Gift

 We both put one item on the registry that was a fun non-essential. Something we actually desperately want, but didn't fit into the "lifetime durable" item category. We both agreed that, if no one decided to buy us these items, we're buying them for ourselves after the wedding. My splurge gift was a Sodastream machine to make sparking water at home and we received it (Jason's still waiting on his wireless speakers)! This machine means I never have to pay for store-bought, chemical-flavored, plastic bottle sparkling water again.


The Little Things Can Be Huge

 
Lemon juice, lemon zest, and parmesan. I don't really need to say any more, because those tiny details can help transform a dish from okay to amazing, and these tools help me extract those flavors.


The "I'm Happy I Caved" Gift

I didn't think I wanted a KitchenAid Stand mixer. We have limited counter space. We do just fine making our pizza dough by hand. But I'm happy I listened to my mother and grandmother and caved. I'm looking froward to making my mother's trifle recipe with homemade whipped cream, in addition to exploring all the pasta and ice cream maker attachments I will eventually buy.


I feel so lucky to have received gifts like this, which is why I'm thrilled to offer one reader the chance to win $150 from Williams-Sonoma. You could buy any of the items listed above from Williams-Sonoma, your own personal non-essential must-have, or an overlooked everyday essential you'd been hoping for. To enter, all you need to do is:

1. Visit Williams-Sonoma here and create a registry. If you already have a registry, you can still enter by adding another item to your existing Williams-Sonoma registry.
2. Leave a comment saying that you registered and letting me know your favorite registry non-essential.
3. You can get an extra entry if you leave another comment with your registry link.

The contest closes at 6pm PST on Tuesday, March 8. The randomly selected winner will be announced on Wednesday, March 9. So head on over here to start exploring and dreaming about your registry possibilities...