Friday, October 5, 2012

the ceremony (or, what a quaint tradition!)

From Style Me Pretty

Wedding planning has sort of been put on the backburner for the time-being. Probably until next year (by which I mean January 2013, not next October!). People don't often talk about the Whys of why wedding planning can be so difficult, only that parts of it will be difficult. And trying. And exhausting. And, frankly, utterly discouraging. Because beyond All The Things and Wedding Elves and Endless Lists...the real people causing stress are often our loved ones. That is a post that's been percolating with me for awhile, now but I'm not quite ready to go there yet.

Instead, I've been avoiding wedding magazines like the plague but keeping with a few of my favorite blogs, which got me thinking about what it all means, and why we put up with it at all. When one of my sister's got married two years ago, she proudly exclaimed that her ceremony was going to be ten minutes, tops! And then it was going to be all party-party-party. At the time, I was relieved, and didn't question this. Woohoo! I thought. I don't have to stand up in front of about eighty people in heels that were comfortable for the first half an hour but quickly killed thereafter.

Likewise, I'm in the wedding of two friends coming up in a week and a half, and the bride also had this nonchalant attitude about the ceremony. This, let's get it over with and be done with it! Ceremonies are boring! Ours will be 15 minutes IF THAT! And when she first mentioned this, I didn't think twice. Nobody goes to weddings for the ceremony! Of course it should be short. It's courtesy, isn't it? To not make your guests sit in uncomfortable folding chairs when all they really want to do is chow down on your awesome finger food hors d'oeuvres and take serious advantage of the open bar?

And today, it dawned on me: this mentality, for me, is...well...decidedly NOT for me. The ceremony IS exactly what it's all about. The reason for the reception is to celebrate the marriage of two individuals, a marriage that most often (though not always) occurs in a meaningful ceremony prior to the crazy party.

So why is it becoming the least significant part of the day? Why are people eager to rush through this *once-in-a-lifetime experience?

From Style Me Pretty

I'm planning on keeping our ceremony around 25-30 minutes, and our guests will just have to deal with it. This is what it's about, this sharing of vows and love between two partners, the birth of a baby family, the support of our families of origin, friends who are like family, and everyone inbetween.

How long was your ceremony? What was your favorite part?

*even if it's not your first marriage, it's likely your first marriage to a particular person, and that in itself is a novel experience

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

i contain multitudes

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then - I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes. ~ Walt Whitman

Isn't that just an elegant concept? I love it. It would make an excellent tattoo, I think. Might have to shelve that one for later!

I think one of the reasons I'm not overly-enthusiastic about posting is that my enthusiasm for all things weddings is only one small glass shard in the mosaic of Me. And since it's not something I'm thinking about all the time, it's not something I want to blog about all the time. Indeed lately, it's been far from my mind. Most of this is intentional on my end. It seems like every time I make a decision, suggest an idea, or solicit opinions, I regret it. It's like there's this little orb of wedding light glowing softly in my chest, and every time someone in my life makes this process more difficult, it grows a little dimmer.

And I'm worried I don't have enough energy to sustain it right now. I texted my fiance just today, declaring that I no longer wanted a wedding (we're still over a year out, for goodness sakes!) and frankly, it just sucks to feel that way! Especially when it's the people whom you love most stamping out that little light, the people whom you least expected it from.

So! What can we expect from here on out? In addition to wedding talk, there will be Geek Speak. I'm into video games (currently Star Wars: The Old Republic) and Dungeons & Dragons, as well as table top strategy games. There will probably be Ink Speak. I love tattoos. I have three (...four, technically I suppose!) and am going to get more. I love to read, though I've read precious few books this year. I hope to remedy that, and maybe brush up on my book review skills. I think it's important to really be able to articulately express why I liked a book, instead of just fangirling until I'm breathless. There will most likely be talk of my cats, who are my fur babies, less talk about my family and friends, and perhaps a bit here and there about what I'm doing to get healthy, physically and mentally.

Oh, and expect a lot on fantasy football. This is my first year as an owner, and I've completely embraced it.

That's still not the entire mosaic, but it's sure a start!

Not me. But if she was shorter and a tad less curvy, with a pixie crop...well it could be close ;) So Pretteh.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Treasures!

Wherein I attempt to force myself to post more frequently and consistently under the guise of a corny theme.

While I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about our wedding, I've not done much to actually plan anything. Partly this is because every time I mention making any kind of decision, my parents overwhelm me with "IT'S OVER A YEAR AWAY WHY ARE YOU RUSHING??!1?" and partly because I just haven't developed a cohesive "wedding vision" yet (whatever the heck that is).

And frankly, partly because I feel like I have some elements so under control ( my head, anyway) that I'll run out of things to plan six months out (which intellectually I know is unlikely, but emotionally is hard not to fear).

So I backed off. I made a conscious effort at first, and then just became naturally distracted by other things. Things like Fantasy Football and Star Wars: The Old Republic and moving four buildings over, within the same apartment complex (we WAY outgrew our teeny one-bedroom of the past two and a half years).

In looking back through some old wedding magazines, purging for the move, I've found that they don't interest me at all anymore (who knows how long THAT will last). They bore me to tears or frustrate the bejeezus out of me, and I don't have time, patience, or money for that. I used to buy them frequently (both pre- and post-engagement) for the advice columns (which were always so fun and illuminating at the time, but which now I rarely agree with) and for the featured weddings, viewing the thousands of advertisements featuring shiny lush fluff as a bonus.

And it dawned on me that what I love about wedding magazines truly is the real weddings they feature. More and more recently, those sections are where I turn first. But even those "real" weddings in the magazines are rarely ever what I would consider practical weddings. They're hardly ever the type of wedding I would want to go to, and even less often are the type of wedding I actually want.

When they do feature decor or flowers or a neat little quirky favor and I source it, inevitably the total cost is astronomically more than I can afford to spend (and sometimes, as is the case with the two caterers I'm comparing, is just plain more than I'm willing to spend. A crucial distinction).

And that's ok in the realm of wedding magazines. Wedding magazines for me, up until now, have been a lush chocolate truffles dusted in gold glitter (chocolate and sparkle. COME ON). The "inspiration" within was never really something I considered practical or feasible. But I've only just recently been able to begin understanding what that truly means.

For the time-being, I'm swearing off wedding magazines. Instead, I'm going to turn my attention to wedding blogs that feature REAL weddings. And I'm also going to focus on pulling my own pictures from real weddings - the ones that are featured in portfolios of the wedding photographers I've been discovering on a regular basis.

And I am really, really excited to see where this takes me in terms of my "wedding vision". I'm by no means There yet, but I'm on my way!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Plunge Project

Exciting news! I was accepted as a contributing blogger for The Plunge Project! And, my first post went live today! Check it out!

The Wedding Registry Round-Up

I know I've been horribly neglectful of my poor little blog, but I intend to remedy that soon. Long story short, work has been frantic, we've been booked solid with social obligations over the past few weekends, and to top it off, we moved apartments this past weekend.

Now that we're mostly settled in, I hope to get back to blogging regularly.

Upcoming topics include, but are not limited to, Wedding Colors (or Why They Make Me Want to Pull My Hair Out), The Dress, and Fantasy Football.

See you soon!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I have to post this now, because if I don't, if I sit on it any longer, I don't know that it will get posted. At least, not with the solemnity with which it deserves. I don't think I've fully been able to articulate my feelings yet...but...well.

I have experienced some pretty deep self-loathing over the past couple of weeks. I look at my engagement ring and I love it. It takes my breath away. In certain light. When the normally gorgeous, bright, blue topaz doesn't look fazed or cloudy. And when the beautiful, matte finish yellow gold band doesn't look brassy.

And I had a plan. We had our wedding bands all picked out.

It's Aldine by Bario Neal. I was going to get the thinner version, and he was going to get the regular. I love the symbolism of my blue gem (true blue, and all that), as well as the symbolism of the braids (though our lives are entwining and tangling with each others', and we're starting a new baby family, we're still individuals, and our roots are still tangled within our own family trees). Besides, since no band would sit flush against my bezel-set topaz, the braids were a fabulous solution, because the bezel could nestle in the braid grooves.

And yet...

And yet.

I tried not to seek out pictures of other engagement rings, but inevitably, in flipping through magazines or blogs or wedsites...there they would be. And slowly I realized: though it's against much of what I believe in (practical spending, ethically and environmentally-friendly sourced materials), I wanted a diamond.

I couldn't - or rather, I can't - get a white gold diamond engagement ring out of my head. And I hate myself a little bit for this. Because it's become clear to me that it's a need*, not a want. I've been reconciling this for the past two or three weeks, at least.

Because we have an open, honest relationship, when I first suspected this was something I couldn't get past, I mentioned it to C. And he was sad, because it's what he wanted to get me in the first place; he was sad, because I told him not to; he was sad because to him, it was what I was supposed to have, what our friends and family expected him to get me (to provide me, what I deserved), and it's what he originally wanted me to have - it's what he's always wanted me to have.

And I was crushed, naturally, because I don't like being the cause of his sadness. But this is one of the many reasons why I love him: he let me speak. He let me reassure him that he did nothing wrong, and let me reiterate that he actually did everything right. He listened to me, for Pete's sake, when I said I didn't want a diamond! He heeded my preferences in light of what the WIC tells us. And he listened when I said we could proceed with however he was comfortable. We could tell everyone that I changed my mind and decided that, because now we can actually afford to buy a diamond ring, we did (I reminded him that, had he waited to afford a diamond originally, we probably still wouldn't be engaged, and as a result we wouldn't be getting married next September, and THAT's the important thing).

Or, we could tell everyone that he couldn't get a diamond engagement ring out of his head, so once he was able to afford it, he got me one and said "keep it or don't, at least now it's your choice" and I was so overwhelmingly touched by the gesture that I of course kept it.

And he's...relieved, I think. Relieved that I finally came around to what he wanted me to have (and what he knew I secretly wanted deep-down, apparently) in the first place. We ordered the diamond two weekends ago. It's a stunning .5 carat, cushion cut, sparkly little thing, and I now have to decide on a setting.

He's actually thrilled, I think.

Sometimes I wonder if we made the right decision. I'll be outside, and the light will catch my little blue topaz just so, and it will look just brilliant; just beautiful; just breathtaking. And I'll be sad that I gave in. Sad that I couldn't be satisfied with it. Sad that I will be replacing it within the next couple of months. Because it's me; it's him; it's us.

I think ultimately what I'll do is get my current engagement ring re-sized and wear it proudly on my right hand. It will absolutely be my "something blue" at our wedding. And C likes that I so desperately want to continue wearing it, in some fashion or another (we had talked about getting me a thin golden chain to wear it around my neck, but I think I like the idea of getting it re-sized better. Then I can see it all the time!).

It's been rough. But I think we're figuring it out :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Wedding Wit & Wisdom: Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding

The first wedding-related book I plowed through was Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding. Mostly because when someone inevitably offers their "opinion" on something, I wanted to be able to say, "Well actually, Miss Manners says this..."

Because you don't argue with Miss Manners. Period. While the book is chock-full of good advice - and as such, I highly recommend to everyone, even guests - here are some portions that really gave me pause, and made me rethink my initial perspectives.

Do not worry that you need devote a year of your life to planning a festival that will showcase your personality and squander everyone else's vacation time and resources...Do not worry about developing a "theme" for your wedding; the theme of a wedding is marriage. And nobody notices or cares whether the postage stamps on your wedding invitations pulsate with love. (pages 11-12)

This, I think, was the first time it really clicked that I don't HAVE to choose colors, or include the same pattern/symbol/font on every single bit of wedding paraphernalia. In fact, I realized I had become so stressed with trying desperately to think of a theme, that I was losing sight of the whole point. Beyond "end-of-summer-relaxed-chic" we don't have a theme. We'll include little personal touches here and there, and yes, our invitations will probably match the rsvp cards and the thank you notes, mostly because I'm neurotic like that.

Miss Manners hates that bridal canard about My Day - as if getting married, of all things, gave one the right to suspend normal consideration of others. Here you are contemplating using My Day as an excuse to dis-invite guests or to rate your friends and relations on whether they will be able to produce suitable facial expressions...(page 69)

I never understood the revulsion towards the My Day mentality until I became engaged. Don't get me wrong, it's not something I'd ever say to anyone ("Well, it's MY DAY, so screw your opinions and feelings!" - Incidentally, my sister used this on me once prior to her wedding, and in addition to wanting to throttle her, I've never looked at her quite the same since), but there's a definite assumption in the WIC that it's ok - encouraged, even - for the bride to completely disregard everyone's opinion, including and perhaps especially the groom's. I realized that it's not just Our Day, it's a day to celebrate both of our families and friends as we become the two common knots tying this wide circle together. It's sort of equally empowering and humbling when you think of it like this.

Exactly what I'm going for!
**This one is copied from my Pinterest Board**

It is not Miss Manners' function to save people money they want to spend. So she would happily ignore this attitude were it not for the accompanying insinuation that the driving force behind such spending is poor old etiquette. Etiquette thus becomes the villain - the handmaiden of commercialism, whose insidious ceremonial and emotional arguments always favor the spending of extravagant sums of money. It is called rude to ask prices for commercial services and incorrect to limit wedding expenditures, even when they include planting tulips in the snow and making live swans waddle across the lawn. Miss Manners is outraged. Etiquette does not practice extortion. Etiquette loves simplicity. (page 119)

Take that, WIC.

Why, instead of drawing on the power of the ritual, do officiants as well as bridal couples now use the wedding ceremony to summarize the love story, roll the credits, and supply biographical material? Why do they undercut the formality with colloquial chatter and kill the solemnity with jokes? Why do they think that ti is fitting to go public with the kind of love patter that should be whispered in private? (page 251)

**This one's from The Knot**
This really resonated with me. I am mainly responsible for crafting our ceremony, and originally there were going to be some inside jokes and some intentional levity, because I wanted to make sure our ceremony was entertaining.

Full stop.

I was confusing wanting it to be entertaining with needing it to be meaningful.

If she still doesn't sound like a fit for you, consider this: Miss Manners actually defends tattoos. She opines that unless they are utterly obscene or offensive, we have her stamp of approval to wear them out and proud.

I, for one, cannot WAIT to tell my step-mother THAT little tidbit :)

**All other pictures courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

what we accomplished this weekend

Booked our venue and set our date! Our ceremony and reception will take place at the Stone Mill Inn on September 8, 2013!

Decided to start making time for a walk together every weekend. On today's walk, we brainstormed logistics for the rehearsal and for who could potentially be responsible for getting us to the airport after the reception.

Uploaded the addresses of all my NM invitees to my guest list spread sheet.

Tweaked our budget a bit, allocating more money for the photographer, after speaking with my mother.

Applied to be part of Offbeat Bride's Tribe (YAY) and think I submitted a pretty kickass application, if I do say so myself. We'll see what happens!
*eta* WOW that was fast. The ladies at Offbeat Bride already approved my application! Woot!

Created our wedsite. Whee!


Played catch-up with a couple good friends.

Played a round of Dominion with C. I have no idea how I won. WHOMP WHOMP.

Enjoyed the weekend at large. It passed too quickly. Why does the workweek never pass as fast?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

the evolution of my engagement ring

This post has been percolating in my head for awhile now...I think since even before I was engaged. Or rather, since before the engagement was "official," since we've known for almost a year now that this is where we were headed...(well...since *I've* known for almost a year now...he's known for much, much longer).

I considered presenting pages upon pages of information. I wanted to educate myself - and you! - and indeed spent about an hour Googling every variation of the phrase "history of the engagement ring" I could think of, but I decided that sort of defeats the purpose. What I want to convey is why I went through an engagement ring evolution (revolution?). My goal here isn't to convince you that my way is the only way, or the best way; it's not to preach, judge, or even educate (there are plenty of informative sites out there that do it much better than I can!).

It's to explain why it's my way.

The diamond is the quintessential, universal symbol of love. Of all its many roles, the diamond as messenger of romantic love - beginning with the belief that Cupid's arrows were tipped with diamonds - has resonated through the centuries to emerge today as powerful as ever.

Lovely, isn't it? It's from the DeBeers web site. Ah, consumerism. How romantic. Nevermind that sapphires, rubies, and emeralds are the stones that have truly been considered precious gems over the centuries, and were the original gems in engagement rings (which, by the way, in itself is a very recent trend), and that diamonds gained popularity when DeBeers created a very successful marketing campaign.

A diamond is forever...

I digress. The characteristics I wanted in an engagement ring evolved, on average, every two weeks over the course of no less than six months. When I'm learning about something new, I throw myself into the research, trying to absorb anything and everything that I can as quickly as I can. The hunt for the perfect engagement ring was no different. I educated myself about the 4 C's - Clarity, Cut, Color, Carat - and developed an idea of the diamond I was looking for.

Early last fall, my then-boyfriend and I started looking at engagement rings. I was finally ready to think semi-long term (at the time, I was ok with the idea of being engaged, but not necessarily ready to comprehend marriage). Interestingly, my boyfriend and I each had our own idea of what we wanted (expected?). Both of our expectations had been perpetuated by the WIC. His instinct was to easily spend three months' salary on what would supposedly be the most expensive and significant token of affection, ever, and I knew I wanted white gold and a brilliant cut diamond, and that it had to be at least .5 carats (what was the point of anything smaller, amirite?).

In our quest to educate ourselves, we took to the mall.

The first ring was this one, though I was going to opt for a black diamond center stone to keep costs reasonable (...ha.). We found it at Bailey Banks & Biddle.

If I am completely honest, I still swoon over this ring. It was absolutely perfect. Just the right amount of sparkle, so dainty on my slim finger and small hand. Beautiful. And I loved the kite setting. I still do. I love everything about it, and a part of me yearns for it, and I hate myself for that.

Then I started delving into more research on diamonds and mining practices, and of course came upon The Great Diamond Debate. I realized that if I was to feel good about my ring, if I was to gaze upon it without any guilt, without any taint, it needed to be ethically sourced. And, if possible, so did the gold.

So I turned to Brilliant Earth and Blue Nile. Right around this time, I realized that - while most of the jewelry I wear is sterling silver - yellow gold is much more flattering on my hands. It glows, whereas white gold just looks cold, somehow.

So I spent the next few weeks flip-flopping between these:

18K Yellow Gold Heirloom Diamond Ring (1/4, top view18K Yellow Gold True Heart Ring, top view

Slightly less expensive than the A Jaffe, because "ethical" diamonds are quite expensive. I put that in quotes not because I doubt the validity of sites like BE and BN, but because the more research I did, the more I learned that it's really, really, really hard to trust that a diamond is truly ethical. Many certification programs site it as ethical if it was ethically sourced, but don't measure how it's transported, and vice versa. It became too tricky to tell if a diamond was truly ethical and environmentally friendly; there were too many loopholes, too many corners that could be cut.

The amount my boyfriend was willing to spend on my engagement ring was also starting to make me queasy. I am not exaggerating. Here he was, saving $50 every week, frustrated with himself that it wasn't accumulating faster (because man, have we been ready to be engaged for a while) and desperate to get me what I "deserved," to prove he was a man, while I'm sitting over here writing out checks to pay for my credit card debt, college loan debt, and budgeting like crazy because car payments start in June.


And so I inevitably discovered moissanite. I still kind of dig the idea of moissanite. A stone that only exists naturally on meteors? How freaking cool is that? Most moissanite jewelry, of course, is created in a lab, but that was ok - less environmental impact, and at least I could be sure no violence tainted it's history.
Round Moissanite Petite Milgrain Wedding Set, 0.25ct
This was the set (engagement ring and wedding band) that I had decided on (truly, boyfriend, this is the last time I'll change my mind, I swear!!). In yellow gold, of course. At last! Something that wouldn't break the bank! The entire set was less than $1,000! I didn't have to feel sick at the thought of spending a stupid amount of money on a teeny tiny trinket that I was slowly coming to realize I didn't NEED.

Then one day, I was browsing the mother of WIC sites. And I found this.

And just like that, all the brainwashing broke through the barriers I had been slowly, painfully erecting. It stole my breath. I showed my boyfriend: it was perfect. It was beyond perfect. It was so beyond perfect, there was no way to articulate it. I inquired from the designer if it came in yellow gold, and oh gods be good, it did. The setting itself - not including the center stone - also starts at around $4,000.

I told my boyfriend. His face fell. It was far above and beyond what he could afford. And I was disappointed. I was crushed. This was IT. IT was PERFECT. It was me, and it should be mine. I sulked for maybe ten minutes, and then I snapped out of it.


I am not ok with being disappointed that my boyfriend can't afford a ring whose payment would nearly clear my credit card debt, whose payment would put a significant dent in my student loans, whose payment would cover almost a full year of car payments.

And if that isn't perspective, I'm not sure what is.

I wanted to spend under $100. We compromised, and I adore my ring. It's perfect, because it's utterly me.

It's a yellow gold, matte finish bezel set London Blue Topaz. Because I spent about a day and a half looking into sapphires - they are one of the original precious gems - and I loved their symbolism: Sapphire is the original "true blue," symbolizing honesty, fidelity, and the soul. When I discovered they were nearly as prohibitive as diamonds, I researched other blue gems - because why not? - and rediscovered London blue topazes. Then I went straight to Etsy, because I knew I wanted recycled gold and handmade, and wanted to support someone who was doing what they loved.

Because isn't that really what it's all about? It makes me smile every time I see it, it sparkles like crazy every time it catches the light, and I love that it's utterly personal. No one (at least, more than likely, no one I know) will have this ring, and you can't find it in stores. While it may not be right for some people, it's perfect for me. For us. Because we embody the true blue spirit, we practice honesty and fidelity every day, and shortly after I met him, I told him that I thought we were kindred spirits. I wanted to say we were soul mates, but I had a different boyfriend at the time, and the notion was too romantic. But...everything, in the end, fits snugly where it's supposed to.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dress-capades: David's Bridal

Yesterday was my first wedding dress shopping experience. The entire hour and a half was utterly surreal. I haven't spent years imagining my wedding vision; even when I would go crazy with purchasing wedding magazines, it was always the dresses that captured me. So I suppose it's only natural that, after all the unintentional anticipation, my first go left something to be desired.

I wanted to start at David's Bridal. It's a place I've been before, once with my sister, who at the time had already picked out her dress and was getting fitted, and once with a friend who was trying on dresses for the first time. It was a place that I at least had a frame of reference for, and even if I cringe at the notion of purchasing from them (this has a lot to do with both what the WIC wants me to believe and with the fact that my previous experiences there were not the greatest) I wanted to give them a try.

I still don't know exactly how to articulate the experience. My consultant was a cute young thing, and it was not crowded at all, so I was only overwhelmed by the fact that this was actually happening omg breathe I'm actually trying on WEDDING dresses than by having a suffocating consultant or being surrounded by way too many shoppers.

Of the 8-10 dresses I tried on, I was ambivalent at best, horrified at worst, at all but one. I don't know if they make the sample dresses with materials of lesser quality than what the actual dress would be (I seriously doubt this) but I hated the feel of all but one, I couldn't wait to get out of all but one, and I wonder if the one only looked amazing on me in comparison to the others, which were decidedly atrocious. Don't get me wrong, this was due mostly to the fact that the corset I had been provided was peeking out in both the chest and back area, and the straps were loose so weren't sitting properly, and it had clearly been worn by several people who were too big for it.

It's a gorgeous dress. I tried it on three or four times. It's the only one I didn't want to take off, but considering how much I truly loathed the others, I'm not sure that's an entirely winning review. In any case, C's mother (my future mother-in-law) offered to pay for my dress, so even if I had found The One on my first attempt, I wouldn't have bought it, since she wasn't with us.

I was melancholy most of the time. It's weird, having all this anticipation (that I hadn't realized I possessed). And then I got sort of panicky, and realized that I didn't want to find The One yesterday. I will (gods be gracious) be a bride only once, and I kind of want to soak everything in and live it up. I don't want it to be over after an hour and a half.

More than anything, I find myself wanting to try on more dresses like the one I favored yesterday. It was ivory lace over champagne fabric and had just enough sparkle. It was a modified a-line, which is basically a sheath with some flare. It was the perfect silhouette for my body, and had straps but not spaghetti straps, which I loved, and it was the only dress I could see feeling like me in. So because I need to exhaust all possibilities before I make a decision (I think this is a Capricorn thing), there are three (possibly more, but let's start with those) bridal boutiques I want to try.

The one good thing I can take away, is that full a-lines and tulle/organza (as whimsical as they may be) are not for me. Nor are natural-waisted dresses. I need some serious structure, so I need the dress to hug me to at least my hips. I've got curves, but they're slight, so I need something that really enhances them.

This is the dress that I liked, shown I believe in ivory/champagne on the left, which is what I tried on, and the colors I would get. White/white is not really my thing, and I like the contrast of the ivory/champagne more than I think I would the ivory/ivory, though I wasn't able to see it. (This is not me - the sample on this lovely lady looks way more fitted than mine did). The right one is a detail shot of I'm guessing white/white from the David's Bridal website.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

celebrate what you want to see more of

I've been struggling with reconciling the WIC and reality, and this week it's manifested in whether or not I should create an account on The Knot (and subsequently, a web site).

In the end, I did create an account (you can find me under AndeeC09). Because even though the 700+ To Do List is a bit over the top (understatement of the year?), and even though a lot of the content comes off as competitive propaganda (throw the best reception evar!!1!), and even though the "Just Engaged" badge makes me want to quit altogether (it's an obviously female hand displaying a diamond that's practically the size of her fist...because, you know, it's not an engagement ring unless it can feed a third world country), this is where most people turn first.

It took me months to discover what I affectionately call the Wedding Underground, and even then it was only because I was so fed up with the WIC (have you SEEN the Not Yet Engaged boards? They are exactly what is wrong with the WIC*) that I was close to tears at the sheer unrealistic nature of it all.

But if only one person finds me on The Knot, if only one person visits either my little blog, or is moved to search for alternatives, or is reassured that the WIC way is not the only way, and that they are not alone in feeling thus, then awesome.

As Tom Peters puts it best: Celebrate what you want to see more of.

I want to see more offbeat, practical, creative minds coming together to have their day, their way. Not the way that has been marketed to them as the Be All, End All.

*Which isn't to say there shouldn't be a Not Engaged Yet board or community. But my god, I found this community specifically to be the epitome of cattiness and opinionated self-indulgence. Not to mention that posters can get away with being - frankly - rude as hell to each other. It is not a safe place, in short, and I think it fosters a lot of ugliness that we should not be enabling.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

You Are Not Alone

My fiance and I have been engaged since April 25 (*SQUEE!*). I haven't talked about it in much detail to anyone, really, I think because I have felt so cocooned by love since the experience, and I'm terrified of releasing some of that joy, of relinquishing it to other people. It's certainly protected me over the past three and a half weeks, dealing with all the drama that seems to be part and parcel of announcing an engagement (and believe me, has there been drama).

But things are slowly starting to resettle. There were a lot of hard conversations, and many more tears. And I guess the main point I'm trying to make is, if the start of your engagement wasn't, or isn't what you expected, do not despair.

You are not alone, and this too shall pass.


*Incidentally, he proposed at the only time he could have possibly surprised me. It was simple, thoughtful, and utterly, breathtakingly perfect.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pre-Engagement Is Apparently A Thing (WHO KNEW?)

I certainly did not, at least not before today.

I spent a lot of time on APW today, just bouncing from blog to blog, depending on what caught my fancy. I started with the most recent posts, and wandered leisurely from there. For whatever reason, I tend to not browse any of the categories, but today, my mouse scrolled over "Dilemmas" and there, as though waiting for me, was "Engagements & Proposals" - I hadn't even known the tag existed, but I am so very glad I found it.

Apparently, to be Pre-Engaged is to be in the restless limbo that lingers after you've discussed The Future in excruciating detail with your significant other, but before he has actually popped the question (or, before you have popped the question - in my case, I have had moments where I've wanted to propose to him, but we discussed it, and it was very much something that he has been looking forward to doing). Whether or not you've been ring shopping seems to vary depending on the individuals involved, but it seems like most of us have at least expressed a style we like.

I've been ring shopping since October. And that is an entire post in and of itself, but I wanted to wait until I actually had the ring to post it. Regardless, I picked out a ring (several times...) and just last week he ordered it. I think it was shipped today, which means we will (hopefully) get it soon. I won't know, because he had it shipped to his parents' house (I can't decide if this is more or less maddening) so he'll be able to hang onto it for as little or long as he wants.

Logically, this is ok with me. He - unbeknownst to me at the time - went down to Maryland this past Saturday to ask my dad for his blessing, and it went about as well (maybe even slightly better) than we had been hoping. And that was such an integral part of this process for me, that really everything else feels like it wall magically fall into place.

Emotionally, I'm kind of a mess. Because I'm the kind of girl who would be perfectly happy if, one evening while we're cozy on the couch watching a movie, he put his arm around me and asked me then. No fanfare, no production.

But he has a plan. And I am desperately trying to respect this because I know it's going to happen Sometime This Spring, so really I've got, at worst, two and a half agonizing months looming ahead of me - he taunts me on occasion about Spring continuing through the Summer Solstice. And because The Proposal is something he's been thinking about, probably for years, I want to let him have this. So I have to be patient, and let him orchestrate whatever production he wants.

But it's hard.

I'm more at peace with it now than I was this morning, but I still have a long way to go.

We were at dinner for his mom's birthday when he told me he had gone to Maryland that morning (I thought he was having a boys' day with his pals). And I sort of - froze. I went through the motions the rest of the evening while we were at dinner, but once we got home I kind of...shut down. And I felt so ashamed and so worried that this was some kind of Sign, and so panicked because suddenly, after eight solid months of really discussing this, it was becoming real.

I'm lucky, because he told me that we could wait to get engaged. That I could take all the time I needed. But it wasn't that I needed time. It was just the overwhelming emotions that come with such life-altering transitions. And I am at peace with that, thanks to the ladies of APW.

There is a story about one girl who vomited when her boyfriend proposed. Meg was giddy and then burst into sobs - like, ugly, heart-wrenching sobs.

And there are more stories of women reacting in ways that we aren't supposed to react. Or at least, society would have you believe. And because of that, they felt shame. They felt like something was wrong with them. And I felt like something was wrong with me, and he hasn't even proposed yet.

Lucky for me, I read all of these comments and blogs prior to The Proposal, and I mentioned to him that my reaction, apparently, appears to be somewhat universal (perhaps moreso than the giddy, perfect euphoria we're told we're supposed to experience?), and that when he asks, while I will most certainly say some variation of YES OF COURSE OMG FINALLY, he must not be deterred when I undoubtedly go quiet and distant, and at worst, sob ugly, heart-wrenching sobs.

Lucky for me, he trusts me enough to believe me :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I'm Not Engaged (YET)

So Wot's This, Then?

You can call me AndeeC. I'm 27 years old, and live on the outskirts of Philadelphia with my boyfriend (also known as my Future Husband :) ), three kitter-kids, and a corn snake who thinks she can eat everything. Especially the kitties. Regardless of the fact that she's no thicker than my index finger.

I graduated from college in 2007, and moved here in 2008 for a Master's Degree that I rarely put to use. Come to think of it, I'm not really putting my undergraduate degree to use, either, but that's another story. I worked at a major bookstore from 2007 to 2011, and just this past November finally, finally got a job that I can mold into a career. I work for an ever-expanding bank as, what my friend and I affectionately call, a cube monkey. Basically, I'm the one who creates the loan documents that you sign. It's boring some days, to be sure, but challenging most days, and I think my only complaint is that it's so terribly uncreative.

Which is one of the reasons I'm starting this blog: I'm sort of desperate for some kind of (affordable - read: free) creative outlet. 

 Backstory (But only a little bit!)

I was never the girl who envisioned her wedding at the age of four. In fact, until I was 22 and in a long-term relationship, I fluctuated between believing marriage was just Not For Me and having a vague notion of it being a possibility in the VERY distant future.

I was led to believe that my then-boyfriend wanted the same things I did, with me. I was wrong. But, before I figured that out, the combination of helping one of my best friends plan her wedding and working at a bookstore meant I had weddings on the brain, and a whole arsenal of wedding magazines and resources at my disposal.

Ironic that I had *weddings* on the brain, and *not* marriage. Telling, no? Hindsight, and all that :)

Anyway, who doesn't like looking at pretty things and fantasizing about the possibilities? It's only been over the past six or seven months that I've shifted to a perspective of planning *my* wedding. And man, is it ever difficult to reconcile five years of wedding "research" telling me the Way Things Should Be with the Way *I* Want Things To Be.

WIC & Me (A destructive relationship)

The short of it is a very small part of me suspected that I couldn't possibly be the only one who was not OK with the Wedding Industrial Complex. Every time I tried to do things by the book I would end up frustrated and depressed, and just utterly uninterested with getting engaged, much less with the whole fanfare of a wedding.

So, fed up, I literally Googled "alternative bride" and found my salvation. Offbeat Bride and A Practical Wedding, here's to you! I think it's incredibly important to cultivate, support, and enrich the communities and conversations started by women like Ariel and Meg. They - and their followers! - helped me realize that it's OK to want something different than what I've been told I'm supposed to have. The realization process has been slow and utterly transformative, but that too is for another day.

So Why Blog Now?

I have opinions and ideas - some similar to those that came before me, some different - and I wanted a place to keep track of them all. Mostly, though, I want a way to be a part of these fabulous communities and conversations. 

That being said, comments with your thoughts, experiences, and advice are ALWAYS WELCOME! I would LOVE to hear from you!

My main rule of thumb is to write as though you are speaking to someone face to face, and write as though anyone and everyone you know will see it, and know you wrote it.

I feel strongly that no person planning a wedding - or anything, for that matter! - should feel like a pariah for wanting to do it their way, and I am SO excited to be one more voice in opposition of the WIC dictating the way things HAVE to be. Don't get me wrong - if you are all for everything the WIC throws at you, rock on! I just hate feeling like if I want to deviate at all and do my own thing, add my own personality, that I'm doing it wrong. That's what I don't agree with.

So...hi! And WELCOME!!