Finally. A post about weddings! It’s about time, Heidi. Some people who read this blog are surprised by the fact that I’m getting married in two months, not because I’m a shrew, but because I’ve been annoyingly terse about my wedding plans. I’m one of those writers who details her life better in rewind, but last night I managed to crank out this in-the-moment post for The Stimulist about the things I never knew about wedding planning.
(UPDATE: The Stimulist folded in late 2009. Here’s the post as it appeared on the site. I should point out that despite my disdain for The Huffington Post, the news aggregating giant picked up the story shortly after it went up. I was flattered, but slightly irritated. HuffPo built its brand by plucking content from other websites and paying NOTHING to most of the writers who submit original content.)
From to-do to “I do” (The Stimulist, July 2009)
No one told me when I got engaged that I would have to bring my own cake knife to the wedding.
I never daydreamed about my wedding day. I never closed my eyes and pictured myself teetering down the aisle in a cloud of tulle. I never stared longingly at my left hand, with its nibbled-on fingernails, and envisioned the space above my knuckle bedecked in anything other than the scar I got when I was 12 from a jagged can of cat food.
I never paged through bridal magazines in line at the grocery store. I never ached to be a bride. Sure, I’d get married—absolutely. But the technicalities of the affair have always been hazy, underscored by what some people might call a no-frills attitude. I would fall in love. I would wear white. I would sign my name. I would kiss my groom. I would not belabor the day with bouquet drama and centerpiece woes.
I would plan, skimp and save for only one thing: my honeymoon.
So why am I sitting in my home office, surrounded by 25-count wedding invitation kits, stacked with envelopes hand-stamped with a brown leaf and adorned with prissy return-address labels custom made for me by a graphic designer in Nova Scotia?
Why is my sister, the maid of honor, calling me from New York to ask whether or not I’m cool with her wearing a flower hairclip when all my bridesmaids are going hair clip-less? Why have I bookmarked a website on how to make 150 paper mâché birds nests? And why, dear holy mother of wedding gods, did I burst into tears last month when my fiancé Joe told me he didn’t want pine cone place card holders and sunflower boutonnières?
Because my wedding is in two months and appears that somewhere between picking truffle bridesmaid dresses and snubbing fondant frosting, I sneakily and insidiously became the bride I never thought I would be.
I used to come across stories like this and pity the woman sweating in satin, but I promise you no fiancée is spared the burdensome task of wedding planning. Here’s a CliffsNotes version of what this one learned in the first six months of her engagement:
You can buy your wedding dress alone
While I would have loved to have my mother at arm’s length as I clumsily zippered the skin on the sides of my boobs into two-ton gowns with vintage beading, she lives seven states away. Of all the tedious wedding tasks, purchasing my dress was the easiest of them all. I promise, it doesn’t have to be a weepy or expensive undertaking. It can be as simple as running to the supermarket for a half-gallon of milk—whether or not you want to treat it as such is totally up to you.
You handwrite your guests’ addresses
According to theknot.com—the go-to source for every piss-ant wedding tradition every concocted—it’s in bad taste to stick computer-generated address labels on the outside of your wedding invitations. One of the few things Joe and I both agreed on was that we wanted tidy-looking envelopes with people’s addresses printed on transparent labels. Had we never nosed around The Knot looking for font suggestions, we’d have printed off 150 transparent labels in what we thought was an attractive typewriter font.
You will be bullied into registering for stupid things
Long-regarded as a thrill by newly engaged couples, registering for shower gifts sent cold chills of gluttonous consumerism down my spine. Not only did Marcie, our customer sales associate at Bed, Bath & Beyond, horde the scanner the entire time, she trailed Joe and I for two hours, steering us toward any gadget with a plug, directions and a $300 price tag. Feigning my zeal for brass toothbrush holders and bamboo shower rings, I edited my registry the next morning on the store’s website. After consulting with another newly engaged couple, I learned that the screaming match Joe and I got into over a $179 garbage can was completely par for the course.
You must purchase a wedding cake serving set
Another tradition I’m not familiar with. Not only do caterers nail you with a cake-cutting fee, they also assume you’ll shell out unnecessary cash on your own Williams-Sonoma serving set. Many brides register for these things. Retailers hawk them as “keepsakes.” I told my mom I wasn’t into bulbous ornamental handles on my knives and that she should go with whatever she finds marked down to $10 at Pier 1.
And don’t forget the toasting flutes
Many engaged couples register for champagne flutes embellished with ribbons, charms and lace. Like the cake serving set, his and hers glasses are sold as mementos, often with engraving options. My parents have monogrammed toasting flutes. For years they collected dust on the top shelf of a cabinet beside the Care Bear drinking glass collection we got from Pizza Hut in 1989.
CC your bridesmaids on all shoe-related emails
As a journalist you’d think communication would be my forte. But it seems I’m no good at dictating what kinds of dress-shoe-hair ensembles my bridesmaids should wear. Just last week I told my future sister-in-law Rosey to purchase gold high heels and my best friend Ro to purchase brown. They both dutifully followed my orders. Whoops.
You can break tradition where you see fit
Wedding blogs are the new bridal magazines. Ask any newlywed. The Internet is swimming with posts on do-it-yourself favors, centerpieces, place cards and invitations. Looking for a rustic bouquet wrapped in twine and dried anise? Your dream arrangement is only a Google search away. Clever brides and grooms showcasing highly personalized soirees have planted wild ideas in my head and loosened the reigns on what I perceived as an industry fraught with “rules.” Thanks to the addition of a few subtle and quirky touches, I’m still chipping away at the to-do list. Joe and I are using a typewriter in lieu of a guestbook. Our guests are arriving at the mountain-top ceremony via chairlift. I’m crafting bird’s nests as placeholders. And at this very moment Joe is strumming the song that will play when I walk down the aisle.
PS. Special thanks to Heather at alis grave nil, who let me interview her yesterday for an education story I’m working on. It was the first time I’ve actually talked to a Lance reader, and as a journalist mucking around in social media, I was both relieved and thrilled to use my blog for work-related matters.
PPS. I’m currently sitting at a coffee shop in Sarasota, between interviews, eating a Caprese sandwich that is causing me to sweat profusely. I’m considering going to the restroom to splash water on my face. Anyone have suggestions on how to cool off? I’m usually impervious to heat. What the freak?