Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Turning in Circles

Ah ... the first dance. When the slow song comes on and all eyes are focused on you and your betrothed while you turn in high-school-dance circles, whisper nervously to one another, perhaps exchange a kiss or two, and everyone applauds when the dance is over and you are left glowing with memories.


Okay, maybe not gag for everyone but gag for me. I was conflicted because slow dancing in front of a room full of people is totally not my thing. I was willing to try it out though so Matt and I spent an evening listening to slower-tempo songs and moving around the kitchen to them. Nothing felt natural to me but Matt really wanted to have a first dance. So, like everything in our relationship, we talked about it and then compromised.

"What is it you don't like about it?"

"It feels forced, common, and uncomfortable to me."

"Yeah, it does feel a little weird. Even though the songs are great, they don't feel like us."

"We are both excitable people. The slow thing doesn't feel right. Maybe we should try something with a slightly faster tempo. Nothing too outrageous, just something that lets us move a little more."

"That's fair. Hmmm, how about Modest Mouse's People as Places as People?"

I thought this was an excellent idea so Matt put the song on and we tried it out. We loved it! It will allow us to mix a little bit of the slow stuff in with a more rock n' roll style dance. We'll be able to shake off our nerves and cut loose a little bit without offending anyone.

Although we might go with Van Halen's "Jump." One never knows ...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Who Says a Man Can't Have an Engagement Ring?

For the past month, Matt has been wanting a ring. When I thought about it, it seemed unfair to me that I had a ring and he didn't. What's the big deal? The man wants to wear a ring. I'm okay with that, in fact, I think it's sweet; however, I didn't want him to wear his wedding ring because that felt too special.

I went to the mall and browsed through the jewelry carts in search of a suitable placeholder/engagement ring. At the fourth cart, I happened upon a plain, black-anodized steel ring.

"Cool," I thought, so I bought it and I gave it to him. He was totally floored by the gesture and he liked the ring a lot. I can't say "he loved it" because Matt only loves the following things:
  1. Me
  2. Our two cats (whose birthday is today!)
  3. Hot Dogs and
  4. Tater Tots
I'm sure our families will find this gesture unusual but, well, they all know me and I'm kind of unusual. Matt, well, if you know him, he's Matt. The Matt-truly a breed of his own.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tradition with a Twist

A winter wedding has forced us to be creative in our planning and has also helped to save thousands of dollars on wedding expenses. The most important thing we decided was "Keep it simple."

We decided to honor tradition as closely as we could while working our personalities into the celebration. After all, that's the kind of couple we are, traditional-with-a-twist. Here are some things we have planned so far:

  • This dress. Contemporary but still very much a wedding dress. It was on sale for $350, thus leaving us with loads of cash for other things we want. Also, since there is no train, it's light-weight enough that I can dance all night in it without getting tired. It is very much my style.

  • Matt is considering buying a suit. I really want him to wear a tuxedo though. *pant, pant, pant* I'll keep on the DL about this one and see if I can find a way to let him think a tux was his own idea.

  • Spring flowers seem out of place in winter and I think cranberries in an arrangment slightly larger than my hand will be striking against the dress I chose. Other arrangements will possibly include cranberries and white chrysanthemum. A nice winter theme, I think.

  • To go with the cranberry idea, my mom and I are going to make cranberry preserves as a wedding favor. Delicious, homemade, and cost-effecient! I am rather fond of the culinary arts so this is just another opportunity to explore new ideas.

  • The Ceremony: The room and the enclosed atrium have huge skylights which will let in the afternoon light. The atrium also has a big, round fireplace-perfect for a winter wedding. It might be cold and grey outside but it will be warm, lovely, and bright inside.

  • We are having a cupcake cake! Enough said! I wanted a croquembouche but everyone told me that no one will eat it. Meh.

  • We are getting married on a Sunday in January. This allowed for flexibility in start times so we could plan the day around our wishes and our travelling guests. Not to mention it saved us tons of cash on the site fee (we even got a fifth hour for free) and has dropped the price in other areas as well.

  • We have one member each for the bridal party. This was one of Matt's requests and I was totally okay with it. I chose my friend, Tess, to be my matron of honor. I have several close, UH-mazing friends but she's the closet thing in the world that I have to a sister. My own mother gets us confused sometimes. Matt is still in limbo about his best man. He'll figure that one out.

  • We have not defined colors for the bridal party. Most likely, Tess will wear a black dress that flatters her and Matt's Best Whatever will wear a classic tuxedo, just like Matt.

  • For our personal till-death-do-us-part touches: Matt's wedding ring is 6mm and made out of tungsten carbide, which is a shiny, blackish grey, and friggin' NEAT! It's a super cool ring that will hold up well to the beating it will take. Matt works with his hands a lot and tunsgten doesn't scratch or dent. I'm still not sure what I want. My engagement ring is friggin' fancy and I've been having a hard time finding somthing I like.

We still have quite a bit of planning to do but for the most part, we feel like we have things under control. We have eleven months to figure the rest out.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I thought I was actually going to write more in this thing but I've been preoccupied in the kitchen.

Matt and I have made some solid plans for a nice, budget wedding that we like to call traditional-with-a-twist. I was feeling a lot of pressure to either bend completely to tradition or bend completely away. All of this bending made me feel like I was going to lose my mind. I wasn’t getting anywhere. There had to be a way to combine both. After all, as much as I am an individual, I still respect and admire tradition. So I sat down and thought about what I had to work with, wrote out some lists, and began to move forward.

Matt’s business only allows him a small window of time in which he can get away so it was either January or August. August = TOO BLOODY HOT, so it had to be January. I had a tough time dealing with this at first. I kind of envisioned an outdoor wedding and instead found myself having to do something entirely indoors. While most people said, “You should just do it in the fall like you want,” I was thinking of anniversaries and celebrations in the years to come. Granted we can’t guarantee what the future may hold, it was important to me to consider it. Fortunately, Matt and I both love winter. A January wedding would force me to be creative and by gum, I was going to make this thing happen. Here it goes:

About a month ago, I went to try on dresses with my mother. I felt like this would help me to make some decisions; I needed to see myself as a bride. I was right. The second dress I tried on was the one for me and it was on sale for $350 so I went ahead and bought it. Yes, a year early but I loved it so much and there is no doubt it is the right look for me, elegant yet contemporary. My dad nearly cried when he saw it and Matt smiled and said, "My baby." Yes, Matt saw the dress. We aren't superstitious about things like that. Besides, it will be hanging in our house for the next year, he was bound to see it anyway.

Once I bought the dress, the rest of the logistics planning came to me like a flood. Here are some of the things we have nailed down:

Matt and I chose to get married on a Sunday, for the following reasons:

  1. While everyone will tell you, “It’s your day, you can have whatever you want,” that’s a load of malarkey. You can have what you want between specified hours, with the approved caterer and production team, this DJ company, etc, etc. This completely sucks.
  2. We get an entire wedding weekend. Yes, an ENTIRE wedding weekend. Complete with pampering, time with family and friends, and a chance to absorb everything that is happening to us.
  3. No Central Maryland rush hour traffic on Friday night, no busy Saturday afternoon shopping traffic. No stress. Done.
  4. Site rental fees drop SIGNIFICANTLY for Sunday receptions. For example, our reception site wanted $5000 for a Saturday rental but only $1500 for a Sunday. SCORE!
  5. Start times are usually flexible for both ceremony and reception. We can have an afternoon into evening wedding no problem! This is excellent since the ceremony site has a giant skylight. Let the sun shine in, or the rain beat down on the glass, whatever.
  6. It's different without being off the wall.

The ceremony is in an interfaith center. My father really wanted a Christian ceremony, which I was not opposed to, and an interfaith center is a nice compromise. The room we will be in is minimalist and non-denominational. I found a rather awesome Protestant minister to perform the ceremony, who offers readings from poets like Rainer Maria Rilke—see again, awesome. The room has lovely art glass windows but the best part is the previously mentioned HUGE skylight that is set in a vaulted ceiling. I can bring the outdoors inside and this was the selling point for me. There is another skylight in the atrium, as well as a fireplace so there will be a fire burning for our wedding, which is cozy, inviting, warm, and passionate.

Our reception is in an old manor house/restaurant. Matt and I both knew this was the place we wanted to have our party even before we talked seriously about getting married. A river runs through the woods behind the manor house and the grounds are lovely even in winter. It’s easy to get in and out of the house and tent so, again, there is that element of bringing the outside in. The following is provided:

  1. An event manager that is present at the event to ensure things run smoothly. This is SO incredibly important.
  2. And outstanding, phenomenal, glorious, wide variety of food.
  3. Exceptional service.
  4. An event team that is willing to work with you as opposed to having you work with them.
  5. Four beer options, one of which can be seasonal beer. Mmm … rich, hearty winter ale.
  6. We can make our own CDs to play in the manor house and hire a DJ to run the dance party for us out in the (heated) tent. Perfect.
  7. Flexible Sunday hours.
  8. Fires in the gas fireplaces.
  9. Since we are getting married in January, we got the fifth hour for no charge.

To make this happen, Matt and I cut the guest list to family and a smattering of our oldest friends, which still ended up being around 120 people (sheesh!), and chose to do it on a Sunday. It’s totally affordable this way. In addition to being affordable, we get to have a smaller wedding than originally planned (by my parents), which is what we really want, and my parents still get to have a decent-sized event, which is what they want.

Remember earlier when I spoke about having to be creative? Well flowers are one item I had to think long and hard about. I am opposed to a bouquet of spring flowers in winter so I started working on winter themes and came up with Cranberry and White Chrysanthemum. Not only is this strikingly simple and indicative of winter, it will save us a ton of money. In addition, my mom and I are going to make cranberry preserves as a wedding favor. How delicious! Looks like I’ll be spending more time in the kitchen. Hooray!

We have lots more planning to do but I’m really excited how things are coming together. It’s nice to have a year to think, plan, and execute. I have a supportive mother and a fiancĂ© with yea or nae opinions about what he wants—no questions asked, no reasoning needed. He either likes it or he doesn’t—he’s a guy, after all. I’m grateful that he is being a part of this as much as he can because really, while all eyes are on me coming down the aisle, it’s not just my day. This day isn’t just for me, it’s for Matt, our families and our friends. It's a time to celebrate who we are and I'm doing my best to make that happen.