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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.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Skype Officiant

I had a really lovely Skype meeting with our wedding officiant, Heather.  She's a close friend of ours...and currently living in Turkey.  Yeah.  That's kind of far away. We couldn't even video chat because her internet access hates it; the service was dropping the call every 10 minutes or so, too.
Still, it was wonderful.
Not only to catch up with an old friend, but it was so nice to catch her up on what is going on with the wedding plans (her internet also won't let her look at webpages....go figure).  I was thrilled to be able to tell her about all the decisions we'd made.  I did have to send Chris out of the room so that I could tell her about my dress.

The reason we made they Skype date was to have a conversation about the ceremony itself and what we wanted.  To be honest, beyond choosing her for our officiant, I had given almost no thought to the ceremony itself; I've been focusing on more or less everything else.

Heather started asking me questions about what we wanted, and, for the most part, I was considering them for the first time.  I don't know why I haven't been thinking so much about the actual getting-married part of the whole wedding deal.  Perhaps because I've just been assuming that there isn't much difference once the basics are decided.  Fortunately for me, however, Heather had been giving her duties some thought.  She asked about formality and tone (not formal, by the way), readings, vows, and introductions.
I think I don't add the details here, because I don't want to give everything away (not that anything about the ceremony will be shocking), but I will say that our ceremony follows these:

  1. Informal
  2. Non-religious
  3. Short
  4. Fun
  5. Personal
  6. Self-written vows
Also, when we were talking, the sense of the impending nature of the wedding continued to build within me.  Even now, as I type, I can feel myself tearing up at the thought of getting to marry Christopher.  Thinking about the words I want to say to Christopher on the day that I make those life-long promises, I am overwhelmed by all we have had together and all I anticipate we will have.  I'm sure I'll have more to say about this later, as I get to the actual place where I'll be putting pen to paper (paper that may well be covered in ink smudged by tears).

I am so excited about having Heather marry us; I wouldn't have anyone else.   She's been my friend for 7 years, Chris' for 4, and she was there the moment we first met one another.  I can't wait to see what she does, and I can't wait to marry my love.

Monday, August 2, 2010

It's Really Happening

As I sit in the Orlando airport, having just spent the long weekend with my immediate and extended family at the Shades of Green DisneyWorld Resort (reserved for military members only), I am thinking over the weekend's events.
The primary reason for our trip here is my cousin's wedding; it was the first wedding on that side of my family that I was able to attend.  We also came to celebrate my little sister's 21st birthday by going to Harry Potter Land (which was amazing and so much fun, even if I was melting the whole time).

More of what I'm thinking about, though, is what awaits me when we land back in Oakland tonight.

For the past months and weeks, I have been dabbling in wedding planning either because it was too early to be able to book certain things or because I was too busy with school+practicum+work.  But now, I look at the upcoming weeks and there are no classes coming up (no more classes forever, yay!), I have transitioned out of my past year's practicum, and into my current one.  I'm working, but not a whole lot.  I have my dissertation, but I'm in a bit of a waiting pattern.
I also took a look at the wedding date countdown I have running here on the top of the blog.  Nine months and change before the big day.  That seems so much closer than 10 months.  It means that this really is the time for me to be making things happen.

This is exciting, most certainly; I am definitely a planner, I enjoy making things happen like that and adding my personal touches to such an important day.  At the same time, I've been engaged for more than a year and....well....now is when I'm really starting to feel engaged.  My cousin's wedding is over, so I'll be mailing the remainder of the Save-The-Date magnets as soon as we get home.  I have plans to purchase my dress next week, set up meetings with the caterer, go visit a hotel where I'll book a bunch of rooms, a scheduled time to talk with our officiant, have additional meetings with our florist, and have visions of table runners (rent? buy? neither?) dancing through my mind.

The venue is booked, the photographer and videographer and booked, florist booked, Save-The-Dates on their way to some, already arrived for others.

For so long, it felt like: "yeah, we're getting married, but for a while yet."  Now it feels like: "it's happening so soon, and there's still much to do."

The ball is rolling, and it's not too early for us to be tacking any part of the wedding.
It's an exciting time, and I am so thrilled when I think about marrying the man who now sits next to me with a chemistry book in his lap and a pen in his mouth.
I am also starting to feel a bit gobsmacked as the realization comes down that it's happening....and much, much sooner than I realized it would feel.

Wish me luck (and safe travels)!