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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hiatus

I know it's been a little while since I've posted, and in large part, recently, it has been due to some unfortunate family circumstances and to my general hiatus on wedding planning and wedding-related obsessive thoughts.  I am also likely going to be continuing the pause on posts through the holidays, as I get more focused on spending time with my family and enjoying this time of year.

Regarding the unfortunate family circumstances, I am sad to share that my paternal grandfather passed away very recently.  He had been in poor health for a while and then more recently, he broke his hip and was unable to have surgery for it due to his generally poor health status.  After being in the hospital for about a week and a half, his condition deteriorated and, ultimately, my family chose to take him off life support, per my grandfather's previously-stated wishes.  So, just a little over a week ago, my grandfather passed away surrounded by his wife, children, and grandchildren.  I went to Florida, where that part of my family lives, and was there for about a week participating in services and spending some healing time with my family.

I know that, typically, my posts are almost exclusively wedding-related and this post may seem more directly personal.  What I came to realize, though, during my grieving process - one which is ongoing and very challenging - is that his passing is very impactful on the wedding.  My grandfather would not have missed my wedding for the world; there is no question that he would have been there, would have been telling stories, and creating new ones for his descendants to tell with laughter.

When my wedding day comes,  I will feel his loss poignantly.  While I would not characterize my relationship with him as particularly close, he was still my grandpa and my first family member to pass away (excluding my great-grandmother when I was very young and who I had only met a handful of times).  I have been thinking about how unfair it was for him to go so close to the wedding and how I will honor him now that he cannot be there with us.

Re-reading what I have written thus far, I realize that my thoughts are not particularly well-organized or -written...and I'm choosing not to change that because it reflects how I have been thinking about how I have been feeling.

In the end, what I really mean is that I love him, he will be missed, and I will feel his absence on the day I wed.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Itsy Bitsy and Profound

Another reason why I love Chris:

He wakes up at 4am to go to work and, before he leaves, he brews a pot of coffee so that it is ready for me when I wake up.

Such small things make up who he is and remind me of how those small things remind me of why and how much I love him.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Bridal Shower

As it says on all signs in stores and in all elementary school classrooms this time of year, Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to spend time being thoughtful about the blessings and gifts in one’s life.
This Thanksgiving, I spent the few days leading up to the holiday with Chris, his immediate family and his mother’s side of the family in upstate New York.
It was lovely.
I had only been to visit with this part of his family once before, during Christmas two years ago.  Then, we were not yet engaged so because of this and because it was my first time meeting any of Chris’ extended family, I was more nervous and not quite at home (but not because his family was anything but welcoming).
This year, I felt much more comfortable.  What’s more is that his mother coordinated for me a bridal shower the day before Thanksgiving.  All the women – from Chris’ 93-year-old great-grandmother to his 1 ½-year-old cousin – attended a breakfast.  Just the fact that this was something that they all wanted to do and took time during the busy holidays to attend was heart-warming.
The shower had the effect of further facilitating my feeling of becoming part of the family in a very significant way. Something about the process of sitting down, purposefully, with these women and their great caring and warmth kindled in me a great thankfulness to be so lucky.  I am lucky not only in my partner, but in his family who have been thoughtful and welcoming to me.  This trip was only my second time seeing everyone, save for my soon-to-be mother-in-law, but I already felt included.
So, today, as I sit in the airport awaiting the flight that will carry me and Chris toward our way home on this Thanksgiving Day, I am inestimably grateful to be adding so many wonderful folks to my own family tree – folks who will be there to witness our wedding and share our happiness, who share with one another much laughter and love.

Plus, you know, as my bridal shower gift, this is what they got me:



Because, it seems, they get me.
And I’m definitely taking those bad boys dancing very soon…just to break them in before I wear them on the big day.

In all seriousness, though, I am lucky and joyous (and maybe a little teary) to be joining this family and folding them into the concept of my family…not just Chris’.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

On Names

I know that I already posted about, but one of my favorite [political/feminist] bloggers just posted an article that explains my perspective more eloquently, although not all of it applies to me.

As I noted before, I do plan on changing my name and taking Chris' surname.  I am choosing this having given it much thought and reflection on the various aspects of the consideration.

This blogger, offered a list of ten potential reasons that a woman who identifies as feminist (which I do) would choose to take her husband's last name as her own (which I plan to do).

She makes many good points, but here are some of my favorites:

 ...
6. Because her maiden name was her father's name and keeping it did not feel like any more a rejection of the patriarchy than taking her husband's name did, and she liked her husband's name better.
  ...
9. Because she and her husband want the same last name, but the law makes it infinitely easier for her to change her name to his than for him to change his name to hers, or for both of them to choose a new name they share altogether.
 ...
10. Because despite knowing it comes from a weird, fucked-up patriarchal tradition, there's still some weird, fucked-up place inside her that likes the idea of taking her husband's name—and no feminist/womanist lives a life free of compliance, consciously or not, with weird, fucked-up patriarchal narratives and expectations. But unlike privately calling another woman a bitch or playing the role of Exceptional Feminist with a group of male coworkers or secretly doing all the housework in her own home, the name thing is there for everyone to see and question, every day of her life.
...Every time we publicly castigate or question women who have taken their husbands' last names [we judge and castigate them] —because there are reasons, not always evident and none of our fucking business, for that choice which can and sometimes do trump political statements on a personal, individual level.
This is not to argue that taking one's husband's name is inherently a feminist choice (although I'm not sure it's inherently not a feminist choice, either, depending on the circumstances). It is merely to say that we cannot (and should not) axiomatically assume anything about a woman who has taken her partner's name, rendering this yet another subject on which the casual passing of judgment is a pernicious affair indeed.
Quite evidently, we each have a responsibility to think critically about our individual decisions, and not pretend they happen in a void even when we make choices for no one's pleasure or security but our own. just because one is doing something for herself doesn't magically turn it into a choice without cultural implications.
But it's eminently possible to critique the culture in which individual choices are made, and the cultural narratives that may affect our decision-making processes, without condemning those individual choices. Or the womanists/feminists making them.
Not every feminist/womanist will make the same choice, nor should they be thus obliged in order to prove feminism's value. Feminism has sufficiently demonstrated its own worth by providing that spectrum of choice in the first place.
In general, I recommend this blogger's writing and find her insights quite interesting (although I do not always agree with her).   I like that she put this in terms of feminism and how we, as persons with strong ideals and points of view, forget that others can make choices that are not 100% in line with ideologies and are still legitimate and do not negate a person's identification as feminist (or belonging to some other ideology).

I just like this post and wanted to share, particularly as it pertains to me and my own personal decision...and one that I clearly felt like required an explanation of some kind.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Two Hundred

As of today, there are exactly two hundred days until the wedding, and it puts me in a reflective mood.

I know that I spend much more time and mental energy on the pragmatic details of the wedding -- planning, meetings, decisions, and ideas -- than on the emotional impact.  I'm trying to change that.

Being in the mental health profession, it is incredible how much even I use the pragmatics to bypass the psychological impact of transitions and needs.  A lot of this is about control and about our culture.  Our culture focuses on getting things done, on results, on tangibles, and quantifiable actions.  This is not the most helpful or healthful way to live, from a psychological perspective.

It is much simpler to spend energy on deciding which one of these to buy and whether or not I want this or that.  And honestly, it feels like these decisions are of eminent importance.  For example, Chris and I went browsing from wedding bands the other day.  We found a few that we like, but I cannot for the life of me make a decision about what I would like to do.  I have spent a good amount of time looking at photos of the rings on the internet, and felt anxious that I will make the wrong decision.  Upon reflection, though, two things become clear: (1) I don't need to make this decision for another couple of months yet, and (2) it doesn't really matter which of the rings I choose.  If I pick the "wrong" one, I will either come to love it or we can just get another one if I don't.  Essentially, there is no wrong ring.  Whichever ring I choose, I will wear along with my engagement ring and it will still stand as a symbol of our love.

With so many messages from the media and questions from others in my life about the decisions and details of the wedding, it becomes so easy to convince myself that the anxiety I feel about choosing a wedding ring is about the wedding ring.  It is not.  That anxiety is not about the physical band and its qualities.

That anxiety, that fear of making the incorrect decision, is about me and how I am feeling in general regarding the wedding.  Before I continue I want to be clear: I love Chris, I want to marry him more than I want to do anything in this world.  And still, I cannot help but feel an impending sense of doom.  By that I mean that, in making each step towards the realization of such an important decision, transition, and step in my life, I worry.  I cannot pinpoint all of it at this moment, but I know that it's there.  And it's not about Chris.  It's not about our relationship.

It's about me and what this wedding and marriage means to me as a woman transitioning from my family being my family of origin (my parents and siblings) to "my family" first and foremost meaning me and Chris.  Even though, in reality, this has been the case for a while, the wedding represents the formal transition just as, after completing all my coursework during undergrad, pragmatically, I was just as finished with college as I was after I walked across that stage to shake hands with the provost.  The ceremony is important.  It is a marker.

As a person, I am much more likely to feel anxious when I am uncomfortable than depressed.  Most people have one tendency or another: I have the former.  I tend to get into the 'doing' or the 'avoiding of doing' and putting a lot of mental and physical energy into something other than the most important task at hand.
I often make decisions quickly and decisively, but until a decision is irrevocable (or as near to it as possible), I will question it, feel ambivalent and anxious about doing the 'wrong' thing about 'failing'.  I also worry about whether or not I will do something correctly.

To help, I make lists and I check and double-check.  I color-code, schedule, and create redundant systems.  I organize, make boxes, make labels, and go over the same ground multiple times until I'm too irritated with myself to continue.  This is how I handle stress and uncertainty.  This is what has helped me get through graduate school insanity and all the bombs that have exploded in my life.  I start with the practical and, often, this makes the anxiety go away.  Not anymore.  I know now that, while I do still need those lists, due dates, and highlighters, that is not the only thing I need to do to make my wedding day successful.

I need to spend more time on my emotions themselves.  I need to be okay with acknowledging, even just to myself, the pain of this transition and the fears of the unknown that plague me.  I need to remind myself that this anxiety is not about the fact that I'm three days late in ordering the invitations.  I also need support in the fact that, while I am enduringly thrilled about marrying Christopher, it is not simple or easy.

I need space to prepare in more than just losing weight or test-driving lipsticks.

You know what else helps?
Reminding myself of something that I heard and that resonated with me: "He always makes me feel like the prettiest girl at the party."
And he does.
I love our love.
And I love him.

That eases it, but doesn't mean that the pain and anxiety aren't there or aren't going to crop up again.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Kick Your Heels Up

Thinking about going dancing tonight with my darling fiance, and I got to thinking about dancing at the wedding.
So, obviously, I started shopping online for brand new cowboy boots in which to do some kick-ass stomping.

WANT:
For the record, I already have these.

AND:

BUT WAIT:



OMG:


ALSO:




The only "problem" is the price tag on these.
Especially the last two, which I LOVELOVELOVE.  And would look SO cute with what I plan to change into for dancing.
A couple of these have more reasonable price tags, particularly considering that they're cowboy boots and totally cute....but I really want the last pair, which, of course, are the most expensive.  Super-crazy adorable, right?
Even with the excuse of the wedding, though, I have a hard time justifying the cost investment.
But I would wear them LOTS!  Like until they fell apart.  And they're well-made and would probably last for years.  And I probably won't spend much on the shoes I'll wear for the ceremony, since I don't wear fancy heels NEARLY as much as I wear boots.
And these are amazing.

BUT.

$410.

On sale.

LUST.

HELP!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Siete!

Exactly seven months from today, Chris and I will be married.

The thought alone is thrilling.

The song that, early in our relationship, Chris learned the lyrics to just so that he could sing it to me while we danced:



That is all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Oh, I Like The Way He Looks

We decided long ago that Chris would be wearing a nice suit for the wedding rather than a tuxedo.  It's less taboo now to do so, especially because our wedding is going to be on the less formal side.  Plus, why rent a tux when we can just buy a suit that he gets to keep and will be able to wear again and again.

So when we noticed that Men's Wearhouse was having a huge Columbus Day sale, we jumped on it....Chris somewhat more reluctantly than than I.  Let me tell you, the experience was not what I expected, but it was definitely good.

Now, I've never been suit shopping - you nearly fell out of your seat with shock, didn't you? - and Chris had only ever been once. Just a few minutes after walking in, we were helped by one of the very talkative salespeople.  Thankfully, he was able to tell us a lot about what we should look for fit-wise, and helped us select everything Chris needed.

The only other time I have shopped with someone helping like that is when I went wedding dress shopping, which was still an entirely different experience.

This guy just kept bringing out different things for Chris to try without us asking for them, sharing too much about his own personal life, and giving us his preferences and opinions on things.

In all, the experience was really nice.
We left having purchased more than we expected, but a prudent amount of clothing.

The most important piece of the purchase was Chris' wedding suit - including the shirt, shoes, belt, socks, tie, and pocket square for him to wear.
He.
Looked.
GOOD.
Even though we didn't put the whole look together at once, I know it will look even better then.

I can't wait to see it all together and see him standing, 7 months from now, waiting at the end of a pathway among our family and friends.

Love.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Love to Eat, Eat, Eat

First, I want to contextualize the title of this post.  I was pondering the upcoming (now passed) catering tasting a couple of days ago and I started hearing this song - which hearkens back to my childhood - in my head:

I like to eat, eat, eat
Apples and bananas.
I like to eat, eat, eat
Apples and bananas.


I like to oat, oat, oat
Oh-pples and banonos.
I like to oat, oat, oat
Oh-pples and banonos.

I like to ite, ite, ite
I-pples and banainais.
I like to ite, ite, ite
I-pples and banainais.

I couldn't get it out of my head, so now it's my post title.  I also want to add that it bugs me that, in the first verse, the pronunciation of 'apples' and 'bananas' is normal, despite the fact this defies the rule of vowel-matching necessary for the remaining verses.

Aaaaaaaaaaaanyways.

I had the tasting with the caterer!!
And my dad, and his wife, and my mom, and her husband.  Oh yeah, and Chris.  (That guy again.  Ugh.)

And it was....anticlimactic...even for what it is.  I ended up being frustrated by two things: (1) The person we have been working with - and the person in charge - was not there, despite having confirmed the event (but not specifically his presence) by email only hours before, and (2) we were only served the appetizers, which were from the standard catering menu...and that was all - none of our custom dishes were made for us, which was kind of the point.

*Deep, vociferous sigh*

On the good side, we picked our appetizers and there is one in particular that is super-perfect for our menu and super delicious.
Also, my family were very supportive and upbeat about the missteps.

It's also important for us to remember that, in this case, with this vendor, we've seen the final product and have a history with the company that is all positive....the only unfortunate things are what has been happening with our catering meetings.  Which sucks, because that's not fun, but doesn't make me worry in the way I would in most other circumstances.

Now, I'm finding myself feeling frustrating the more I write and wanting to erase the memory of the irritating parts of the tasting and just focus on the fact that now we'll be going back again for more free food and free drinks (yes, they served us -- ALL of us - complimentary beverages throughout the tasting, and even while we were waiting).

Let's keep our fingers crossed that it gets better in this vein.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Free Wedding Graphics and Templates

Last night, I was having difficulty sleeping; I was ruminating heavily on the wedding and its details.
Naturally, I jumped onto my computer and began working on wedding stuff.
In the process, I came across a wedding website that I haven't perused before: www.theweddingchicks.com
Among their items, they had some free, customizable, downloadable graphics for the wedding.

Here's some of what I made:



Their templates can be customized by color and by some words.   You fill in what you want and they email you the product in .png format.  The templates can be found directly here.

Hella cute, right?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Love Is A Beautiful Thing

I though, in the interest of laziness, I would post another set of lyrics from a song I absolutely love and will 100% be incorporating into the wedding somehow....as of yet I'm not sure on that front, so I'm open to ideas!!!

Every time I hear this song, I get choked up.  It's lovely and sweet and still full of life and joy.

"Love Is A Beautiful Thing" by Phil Vassar

Video.

Lyrics:



Looks like everybody’s here
Had to put some foldin’ chairs in the vestibule
Yeah, it’s gettin’ full
Even old Aunt Ruby came
Her first time on an airplane
It’s her sister’s girl
She wouldn’t miss it for the world
And all them kids jumpin’ in the pews
And Mr. Charlie in his lime-green suit
‘Is a handsome man’
Remarks Widow Callahan
Uncle Joe and Uncle Jake
Haven’t spoken since ’98
Just said, ‘Hello’
It’s a good day to let it go
Chorus
So let the angels gather
Let the music play
Let the preacher get to preachin’ all the “do you take”‘s
Love is a beautiful thing
Throw the rice in the air
Let the church bells ring
Tie the cans to the back of that limousine
Love is a beautiful thing
Daddy’s waitin’ with the bride
Yeah, she helps him with his tie
She sees a tear
He says, ‘Man, it’s hot in here’ hhmm
He hugs his little girl and asks,
‘How did you grow up so fast?
God, I wish your Momma could be here for this’
And everybody stands and smiles
As she goes walkin’ down the aisle
In her Mamma’s gown
And Daddy breaks on down
Gran and Gramps in the second row
Stood right there fifty years ago
And said their vows
Yeah, I guess it’s workin’ out
Chorus
A little table full’a gifts
Catering’s covered dish
And the wedding band
Well, that’s on her hand
And Tommy’s teasin’ Lorelei
He pushed her down and made her cry
And neither one knows
A day will come
When the angels gather
And the music plays
And the preacher gets to preachin’ all the do you takes
Love is a beautiful thing
Throw the rice in the air
Let the church bells ring
Tie the cans to the back of that limousine
Love
Two people in love is a beautiful thing

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Stamp!

I'm definitely late on posting about this, since it happened several weeks ago, but that's what happens when I'm consumed by dissertation work and working on my application for internships for next year.

As you know if you've read my other post, I had Chris create a custom logo for us/our wedding soon after we got engaged.  And then, I found Rubber Stamp Champ.com -- among other things they will make a custom stamp for you from an image you send them.  So I, of course, ordered a custom stamp of our logo for use in ostensibly many different ways!  

When, a few weeks after I placed the $15 order (yeah, way less expensive than I thought it would be!!), the stamp arrived in the mail.  Obviously, I went directly to Michael's to get ink pads, other stamps, and blank notecards to test out my pretty new custom stamp. 

Pics:
The custom stamp in many different colors.  It's  little bit difficult to see the silver and white ink on these colors, but I'm super happy with how it turned out!

The assortment of items that I simply had to purchase at Michael's.  The blank ink will apparently stay on any surface once you let it dry.  Might be a good choice for some slippery surfaces.



A sample stamped Thank You card - some of which we sent out after the engagement party.  I'm not sure that I'm in love with the design, and next time we'll get smaller cards because the stamps are rather dwarfed by the size here.

Another view of the cards: front and interior.

We also recently got bags in that we'll use for the candy buffet (more about that another time, I'm sure), and we'll definitely be stamping those!!

I'm certainly not the craftiest person in the world, but this is the kind of thing that I really enjoy.  I feel like things like this are what will make our wedding personal and a reflection of us.  Also, the crafting supplies can be used for more than just the wedding.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Then

A song just came on my Pandora as I'm working on my dissertation and applications for next year's internship.
I couldn't help but get dragged out of my productivity mode and into feeling choked up and so incredibly fortunate and in love:


"Then" by Brad Paisley
on YouTube


Lyrics:


I remember, trying not to stare the night that I first met you
You had me mesmerizedAnd three weeks later, in the front porch light
taking forty-five minutes to kiss goodnight
I hadn't told you yet
but I thought I loved you then

Chorus:
And now you're my whole life
now you're my whole world
I just can't believe the way I feel about you, girl
Like a river meets the sea, 
stronger than it's ever been.
We've come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then

And i remember, taking you back to right where I first met you,
You were so surprised
There were people around, but I didn't care
Got down on one knee right there once again,
I thought I loved you then

Chorus:
And now you're my whole life
now you're my whole world
I just can't believe the way I feel about you, girl
Like a river meets the sea, 
stronger than it's ever been.
We've come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then

I could just see you, with a baby on the way
And I could just see you, when your hair is turning gray
What I can't see is how I'm ever gonna love you more
But I've said that before

And now you're my whole life
now you're my whole world
I just can't believe the way I feel about you, girl
We'll look back someday, at this moment that we're in
And I'll look at you and say
And I thought I loved you then
And I thought I loved you then





Like in the song, I can't imagine loving him more than I do at this moment...but I know that it will happen as we hit our milestones together and spend our lives side by side.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Now I Lay Me Down

So who knew that finding a place for our myriad out-of-town guests to stay for a reasonable price was so difficult?!??!
I certainly didn't, until now.

Chris and I went to visit the Hampton Inn & Suites in Suisun City (a scant 4 miles to our venue) to view all the rooms, check out the premises, and make a decision about whether or not to commit to having our guests stay there.
That part went fine; the hotel is very new (not even open a year yet) and modern.  The amenities are good (pool, free wireless, free breakfast, and a fitness room) and the service personnel were friendly.

The problem came when we got down to some numbers.
And it wasn't entirely a 'problem' it was just....confusing.
See, I'm not a business person.
I'm not an event planner.
I'm not a hotelier.
I'm a clinical psychology graduate student.

We sat down to hammer out additional questions and I'm trying to keep my cool and see what we can do to make sure we're getting the absolute best price and deal possible since everything I read tells me all about how much people gouge brides and grooms when they're planning things for weddings.
Hard as I tried, I had difficulty understanding what exactly their policies are regarding reserving blocks of rooms.  I want to have enough rooms that everyone who needs one gets one, but I don't want to overbook by so much that I end up having to shell out my own hard-earned cash for rooms that will sit empty.

They wanted me to tell them how many rooms I wanted, and of what type they were.  That's a toughie.  We've got a 150-person guest list.  About 75% are out of towners, which means about 100 people who'll need a place to stay.  Well, how many people will put 4 in a room?  And how many people will stay with a friend? And how many non-out-of-towners will want to stay here anyways so that they don't have to deal with driving the hour+ home depending on where, generally, they live in the Bay Area.  How many family people who are military service members might want to stay on nearby Travis Air Force Base at a much lower rate?
And to qualify for the group rate, people must book 2 months before the wedding...which means we need to send our invitations much earlier than previously planned.

These questions and more made my head spin.
Then comes the questions I actually asked and got no satisfactory response to: (1) How much room do I have to change my mind/numbers after the contract is signed? [The contract must be signed in the next 6 weeks, btw.], (2) Why can't I get the meeting room for the rehearsal dinner comp'd if half the people in the hotel are solely there because of me?, (3) Do I have to split it up according to room type?, (4) What's the deal with people using their military rate?

I kept getting all these caveats and some "poor me" business from the lady who showed us everything, playing up how this is as low as she can go and how I'm getting such a good deal.

I'm not so sure I'm impressed by the deal, but it's hard to tell.

I just want a place for Chris and I to stay the night of the wedding and a place for our guests to stay that is close to the wedding and reasonably priced.

I do not want to get taken for a ride just because we're a wedding and not a family reunion.3

This is the kind of wedding chore I do NOT enjoy.  Blech.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Conscious Bride

I am finishing the last few pages of a book that was recommended to me by a colleague: The Conscious Bride: Women Unveil Their True Feelings About Getting Hitched (Women Talk About).
The book is all about the process of going from girlfriend to fiancĂ© to bride to wife - not planning-wise or functionally, but emotionally and psychologically.  

I resisted ordering this book initially because I know myself to be a do-er rather than a be-er and this book seemed to be about the being rather than doing.  That is, I schedule things, and make to-do lists, and organize.  I do not spend copious amounts of time in reflection, contemplation, or processing.  Certainly a weakness of mine  an area in which I could do with some growth overall.  
So, obviously, I put off ordering it.  
Then I put off reading it.  
And then I have been putting off finishing it.

Now, I am quite close to finishing it and I have to say that I love this book.  I highly, highly recommend that any woman who is engaged - or planning to be engaged soon, or recently married - read it.  Now.  Certainly, there are times that I disagreed with the author, but overwhelmingly, the book spoke to me and how I have been feeling.

I feel torn between explaining now the entirety of the book and the idea that I might make writing about the book a multi-part post, since there is so much to get into and one post might be overwhelming.  I think the latter is most appropriate, but I do want to provide more of a sense of the book's basic premise.

The author's bottom-line philosophy is this:
(1) Getting married is an inherently huge transitional experience.
(2) All transitional experiences are painful, stressful, and difficult.
(3) Our society tells us that getting married should be the happiest time of her life.
(4) The combination of these have led to getting married being a cycle of feeling badly and then feeling badly about feeling badly -- so on and so forth.

That's the best overall summary I can give of the author's estimation of the 'problem' at hand.
There are six different chapters, all of which address different topics and ideas.

I am enamored of this book right now, and I reaffirm my recommendation to read this book.  

Link below to purchase.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Naming

With our impending marriage, the decision about whether or not I will change my name has been an important and ever-present one.
First, I want to be clear: this post is not meant to be about the general practice of women changing their names, it is about me in my personal decision about what I plan to do.  In no way is this meant to be commentary upon what other women choose to do.

There are many thoughts out there about the practice of the new wife swapping her father's last name for her husband's.  As someone who very much identifies as a feminist, I had thought about this decision long before beginning my relationship with Chris.

Some of the ideas against a woman's changing her name at marriage are compelling.  Opposers of this practice note the origin of this practice and how it is linked to women being treated as property, and as such, the last name becomes a mark of ownership - first on the part of the father and then on the part of the husband.  In this light, it is also seen as a women abandoning her previous identity for the sake of a new one in which she is subordinate.  Less grandiose philosophers also note some aspects of simplicity; that is, if Emily Post changes her name to Emily Stewart, her friends from high school may have a difficult time finding her.  Similarly, if a woman is already established in her career, changing her name may produce confusion - for example, if a researcher publishes under the last name Brown and then changes her name to Green, her previous publications may not be as easily recognized as her own work.

Some of this thought seems to be what has led to the more common practice of last name hyphenation.  This way, a bride may retain her own, pre-martial, identity while still acknowledging her new identity as a wife.

Traditionalists mark not only the history of the practice of a woman changing her name, but also the cohesion that having one surname in a marriage - particularly if that couple intends to have children - in the creation of one family unit.  There are also many religious traditions on this matter, but I am choosing not to go down that long and sticky road.

While in some countries, women may have little choice about changing their names - and often in whom they marry - in the United States, persons may choose to change their names essentially whenever they like and for nearly any reason; it is also by no means mandatory that a woman change her name following marriage.
Still, the current default expectation is that a woman changes her name.

I made my decision about what I wanted to do quite a long time ago, but have felt the need to explore this choice.  I have a habit of making decisions on instinct, and then searching out information to check in with myself about what I really prefer and why that is.

I am choosing to change my name.  I am also choosing to keep my current last name, but without hyphenating.  I will be taking, instead, my current last name as a second middle name and taking Chris' last name for my own.

First, something about doing this, with him, feels right to me.  We had conversations about this early on, and, to be clear, this decision what 100% my own; Christopher wanted me to do what I want to do.  There are pragmatic considerations: no matter what, when we're married, people will call me Mrs. Langsdale; we plan on giving our children his last name; it is simpler given that this is the default expectation; it makes financial endeavors simpler, since it makes it more clear that we are married.  Similarly, some concerns are non-applicable to us at this stage; for example, my career has not begun and I can have my diplomas reprinted with my new last name at any time.

Primarily, however, this decision was an emotion-based one for me.  Something about getting married, to me, speaks of one-ness; it is about moving forward with our relationship in a way that makes us the primarily family unit in our lives...instead of our families of origin.  We become closer and more unified through this allegiance, and it speaks to others that my name has changed to his.  It feels like the right thing to do for me, for us, in our lives.

I don't feel like I will be losing part of who I was, who I am now.  It feels like growth - like having people call me Dr. instead of Ms. (when that time comes).  I'm not ignoring or denying who I have been for the past 25 years; I am taking a new step towards becoming a true adult.

One problem: I'm having trouble practicing my new signature...it's so much longer!!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Another One?

Here in Killeen, Texas - about an hour outside of Austin - it is exactly 100 degrees outside, and approximately 71 degrees indoors.
And why am I here?
In a word: wedding.

Ok, so maybe more words would be helpful: Chris' father got married last night.

Chris and I flew into the great state of Texas Friday afternoon so that we could be here to take part in his father's wedding.
It was lovely.
They had the wedding on the family property (which is mostly like a compound), with about 70 guests and BBQ dinner.

Since we're still in vacation/visiting mode, I cannot write too much, but I've just been reflecting on how many weddings I've been to lately and how many of my friends (like, a million of them!!!) are showing off new engagement rings on Facebook.  As I get older and as I spend more time thinking about them, I have realized how much I love weddings and what they mean to me.

In the past three and a half years, I have watched both my parents get married, one of Chris' get married, my brother's wedding, a close friend, and a couple of other more peripheral people.  I have also had my best friend get engaged, and have perused through at least 50 albums of wedding photos for Facebook friends for either weddings or engagements.  Oh yeah, and  I got engaged :).

I love weddings because they are all about hope, promise, love, and celebration.  It's a time to celebrate not only the couple who are committing themselves to one another, but for friends and family to come together for a purpose, and a joyful one.  Married wedding attendees have an opportunity to reflect upon their own wedding and years of marriage; engaged and single folks get a chance to dream about the future.
It marks an enormous transition in one's life.  It's no wonder it's such a huge and fruitful industry -- no matter what, people will always be getting married.

Watching the wedding last night made me look forward even more to the day just under 9 months hence when I get to go from calling Christopher my fiance - always a temporary title - to calling him my husband - something I will get to do for the rest of our lives.


Congratulations, Chuck and JJ!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Well, We Gotta Eat

If you're really smart, I bet you figured out from the title that this blog post is going to be about the food at the wedding.  And it is.  Subtlety is not my forte.

Chris and I went over to Girasole restaurant last night to have a meeting with the restaurant's owner, Skip, who is also owner of the catering company: A Pampered Palate.  We chose to meet with him for a few reasons: (1) the restaurant is less than a mile from the home I lived in during middle and high schools, so we'd eaten there a few times, (2) I always liked the food there, (3) my brother had his rehearsal dinner there last year, and (4) they catered my mom's wedding and did a great job -- in fact, Chris and I went with my mom and her then-fiance to their food tasting and had spoken briefly with Skip about our own wedding and the possibilities, including a cutsom BBQ-style menu.
So, with all that to back it up, it wasn't difficult to decide on them as a clear front-runner and likely final decision. 

Over the past several weeks, I had been trying to get a hold of them to schedule a meeting to no avail.  After three or four emails and no response, I called and left a voicemail on a Saturday.  Sunday afternoon, Skip called me.  We scheduled our meeting for yesterday, and Skip asked me to email him to confirm the time and date, which I did.  He also said that, instead of doing a tasting like he would typically do, we would need to meet first since Chris and I are asking for a custom menu.

Good on our word, Chris and I arrived at the restaurant last night at 5:30, per my agreement with Skip.  The hostess seated us graciously. 
Five minutes later, the hostess came back: "Skip would like to speak with one of you for a moment." 
I got up and got on the phone and proceeded to have a conversation with Skip. 
A conversation in which I felt as if he thought I was some foolish, irresponsible person inconveniencing him by having the gall to show up to the appointment he made with me....and on time, too!  He even asked me, "why aren't we doing a tasting?"  as if that were my idea.  At the end of the conversation, he said he would be there in 20 minutes.  This was said no later than 5:40.

The hostess returned to our table with an appetizer (delicious) and a glass of white wine for me.
I checked my phone for the time.  6:10.
Chris and I decided to leave at 6:15 if he did not show up.

Needless to say, Chris and I were extraordinarily irritated.  The entire procedure was not indicating to us that this guy really wanted us to spend several thousands of dollars on his services.

He arrived at 6:13.
Nick of time.

When he sat down, he began the conversation with a lukewarm apology and a few excuses.  Typically, if someone is late and apologizes for the tardiness, I will respond with "It's alright," or "Don't worry about it."  Not then.  Hells to the no.  This was serious lateness and unprofessional behavior.

I reminded him of who I am, that we'd spoken via phone, that I had emailed him confirming the time per his request at the email address he'd given me at that moment, that we had met previously and discussed what we were looking for.
It was only after several minutes of asking questions that he seemed to understand and remember who we were and that, perhaps, we were responsible, kind, and reasonable potential customers.

Once we got rolling with our ideas about the food itself and what we were looking for, things went very well.  He had some great ideas, listened to ours, made suggestions, and was overall very flexible considering that we were essentially asking for an entirely new menu.  He even brought his head chef from the kitchen to consult with us about his ideas and some options (including a roasted vegetable dish with tomatoes, red onions, and cactus...yeah!  cactus!).

He asked us about the beverage package we wanted...and suggested that we bring our own water, soda, beer, and wine and have his bartender serve it (at the cost of only the bartender's wages).  He told us, flat-out, that he would be glad to provide whatever drink we wanted, but that we would save tons of money by bringing the drinks ourselves.

Near the end of the meeting, he wrote up a cost proposal that was very reasonable considering what we were asking for and what the package contained.  We ended up with a list of brand new things to try that will be brought out at the tasting for us to make some decisions.  The list of potential menu items fits with our upscale BBQ idea and we ended up very excited about the food and somewhat mollified about the whole tardiness and feelings of being unimportant.

Just before he left, he had the hostess bring out two menus and encouraged us to order off of it, which we did, taking his "I might as well feed you," as an indication that it would be complimentary.

We ordered and Skip left with more apologies all around - this time more sincere-sounding. 
The food arrived, we ate it (super-duper delicious!), and the hostess informed us that all of our food (and my three glasses of wine) were "taken care of." 
My thought at this? "They had damned well better be!"

This morning, I found that Skip had returned my email and confirmed the date (in early October) we had set for the tasting along with what we would be trying.

At this point, Chris and I are still most likely going to be going with this company for the catering despite the exceptionally rocky start.  There will definitely be an update after the tasting, but in the meantime we are very much open to other options - particularly ones that are located closer to the actual venue.

Phew! 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wedding Dress Ordered!

Yesterday - Monday - I went with my mom, her husband, and two of my bridesmaids to the bridal salon where I had found My Dress in February (my stepmom was only unable to make it due to injury, :(  ).  I didn't purchase then because my mom wanted to pay for it and, as you may remember, she herself was getting married in June; there was no way I was asking her to pay for my dress at the same time everything was needing paying for during her wedding.

So I went back, this time with more people in tow.  Even though I had already found what I was certain would be My Dress, I decided to have some fun and try on some others....just because.  I mean, this is the only time in my life when it's remotely acceptable to try on wedding dresses, so I'm going to have at it at every opportunity.  Ultimately, however, The Dress won out; not only in my estimation, but in that of those who were seeing me in The Dress for the first time.

I tried it on for the second time -- the first time being, remember, *gasp* six months ago -- and emerged from the dressing room with an entirely different look on my face than when I had come out with the others on.   The reaction by my entourage was immediate and lovely.  They love it.  I love it.

It helps me feel exactly how I want to feel on my wedding day: beautiful, timeless, confident, and romantic.

I'm avoiding describing the dress itself for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Christopher is decidedly not allowed to see the dress before the day of the wedding.  We're making this choice not out of superstition, but because it's fun and we like the tradition.  Links to photos are posted below, with a spoiler warning.  If you'd like this to be a surprise, by all means, don't click through and I won't ruin anything.

Anywhoodle....

We placed the order for the dress and it will come in sometime in January or February.  Yeah.  That's how long it takes for wedding dresses to be ordered....you know, unless I have a bajillion dollars to spend on it  I get a rush order.

Oh!  Other good news, I won't have to hem it (90% sure on that one).  It's just long enough that when I put my shoes on with it, the dress ended up being just the right length.  Hopefully, this means that the alterations will only be minor and thus, less costly.

Bad news, and related to a previous post: my dress is being ordered in a size 16.  Now, typically, I wear a street size 12.  Lately, I've gained some weight, so some of my clothes are a size 14.  And, even when ordering the 16, based on the measurements, it's still a bit too small for my hips and bust.  It's also a bit too big for my waist, which I find helped soften the blow somewhat. 

Although the idea of ordering the size 16 didn't actually impact me emotionally at all (thankfully!), the same ideas about vanity and weight continued to come back to me.  Because, also, at this moment, I am heavier than I like being, I will be losing some weight between now and the time my dress comes in...but probably not tons (as per my plan).  I guess I don't have a whole lot more to say about it, except that it's the case.


On the happier side once again, I am so amazingly excited about my dress.  Even though he has no idea what it looks like (or shouldn't!!!!  and I'm trusting him not to look at it before the wedding!!!), I know Christopher will love it and love me in it.


SPOILER WARNING:
ANYONE WHO WANTS TO BE SURPRISED BY THE DRESS: DO NOT CLICK ON ANY OF THE LINKS BELOW - THEY WILL TAKE YOU TO PHOTOS OF ME IN THE DRESS!!!!





You sure you want to see it?



Really?


You'd better be, because it's not something you can un-see.



And Christopher, if you've made it this far, you've gone too far!!  Go play video games or something!  I managed to wait more than a YEAR and a HALF to open a note that was in my hands - you can manage the suspense of seeing me in a dress.  Plus, I will [ostensibly] look way better on the actual day than I do in these photos.




Alright.


(I had waaaaay too much fun writing this massively unnecessary spoiler alert!)


Here it comes:



So here are the links to the dress from different sides and with different veils:
(and please keep in mind that the dress I'm wearing is 4 sizes smaller than the dress I'm ordering.)
[OH! And please try to leave specifics out of any comments, so that Chris doesn't accidentally get info.  Thanks!]

The dress as it is in the catalog.

In the dress with a birdcage veil.

Two different views (one and two) with a longer, fingertip veil.  The first one is, I think one of the best views of the dress from these photos.

With another veil (hard to tell in the pic, but it's one-layer with scalloped edges and beading on the edges).

A decent-ish photo with the same veil as above.

I'm making an awesome face.  Also here.  :)

Don't I look happy?

AND, about that alteration, I'm going to add a wide-stance classic halter strap.

Hope you enjoyed the photos!!!
And, if you don't like the dress, I don't want to know :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Dress

Short post today, just to share some excitement.

Having found my dress months ago, we finally have a day set aside for myself and other important people to go and BUY MY WEDDING DRESS.

I'm feeling strangely nervous about it, honestly; I want to put it on again and I can't wait to take photos of myself in it (because they don't let you unless you purchase) and add maybe veils and whatnot to make some decisions.
I love the dress and I remember the feeling I had when I put it on for the first time.

I also know that I've gained probably 10-15 pounds since, and when I originally tried it on, the sample dress fit me beautifully (for once!).  I'm also nervous about committing to the decision of one dress because that means I don't get to try on other dresses anymore and that this is the dress I want to see myself in for the rest of my life...because wedding photos last forever.

Either way, I'll have photos on Monday and will post them as soon as possible after that.

Just another turn of the page in the wedding planning process.  I love it.