Big Wedding, Small Budget

Writing about the wedding.

I’ve found it much harder than I expected to write about the wedding. Several times, I’ve sat down at my computer, preparing to write a blog post, only to realize that I have nothing positive to say. Every time I think about writing about the wedding, all I want to do is list the things that went wrong, the things that didn’t quite live up to expectations, the disappointments. And who really wants to read about that?

I think I’m giving the wrong impression here. Of course, there were things that went wrong, starting with the weather. I’m not the kind of person that can ignore those kinds of details (more on that in a future blog post). But overall, the wedding was absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t really have asked for a better day. I had such a good time all day long. I felt so much love. Just thinking about the wedding, and the entire day, makes me happy.

So, why do I find that so hard to talk about? Even in person, when someone asks how the wedding was, I usually make a generally positive statement and then talk about the rain. Why can’t I talk about how great it was instead?

The truth is, the wedding was one of the most emotional days of my entire life. The moments that stand out in sharp focus live so close to my heart that it’s hard to talk about them casually. It’s hard to explain. I mean, how can I just tell someone I barely know how it felt to walk out to the ceremony and look at all of those faces, all of those people who had come to witness, to celebrate with us? How can I talk about how it felt to look into Steve’s eyes while he vowed to stand by me for the rest of our lives? How can I describe how it felt to sit down in the sunshine at the end of the day with some old friends I never get to see, and to look around, to see my relatives and friends playing cornhole, running around with their kids, doing shots, talking to each other?

I can barely talk about it here. It’s impossible to even type this without getting choked up.

One of the first wedding recap posts I ever read was by East Side Bride at A Practical Wedding. She wrote, “Part of me doesn’t want to share my wedding with the world. I think I’m afraid if I shake it too hard the glitter will fall off.” I never really understood that sentiment. I mean, once you had such a happy occasion, wouldn’t you want to share it with everyone? But now, I understand perfectly. For me, it’s not so much about keeping things private as it is about protecting the emotion. Talking about things in such concrete terms moves me from feeling to thinking, from emotions to words.

I do want to recap the wedding. I want to share those sharp focus moments. But I think I need to live inside the wedding for a little longer. I need to seal those feelings on my heart before I start talking about them.

So, I apologize if you were looking for details, and a description of the day. That will come later, probably after I’ve gotten the pictures back. I do plan to discuss some things I learned from the wedding in the meantime. And if I seem overly negative, well, now you know why.

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This is it!

I’m sitting here writing this blog post from the bed in my hotel room. It’s the day before my wedding. Who can believe this day has actually come? Unsurprisingly, this post will probably be a bunch of disjointed thoughts, reflecting my brain right now, but here’s where I am in general:

We’ve had a hell of a time with the weather this weekend. The forecast started saying rain for Sunday a few days ago, and since then, it’s basically all we’ve talked or thought about. I mean, it’s an outdoor wedding where my main rain plan was for it not to rain. The final decision wasn’t made until this morning. And I’m proud to say I’ve found a little Wedding Zen in the process. Now that we’ve decided what to do, I’ve let it go, even though I don’t know exactly how it will work. I let Steve take care of it and trusted him to make the final decision (which we all know is hard for me). This victory was hard-fought, and only happened after a lot of tears, a lot of shaking my fists at the sky, and more than a lot of saying, “This isn’t fair!” But the wedding will happen, rain or shine, so I’m moving on.

My to-do list is almost done! There are literally three things on it. That’s it. So that’s a really good, but sort of strange feeling. I’m not worrying too much about what I have left to do. I’m feeling a bit more present, although not as much as I would like. Hopefully, once I finish the last big task this morning and the open house starts, I’ll be there, just enjoying everyone’s company.

Weddings are crazy, y’all. It was impossible to predict the combination of emotions I would be feeling as the day approached, and I’m sure it’s even harder to predict the way I’ll feel once it all really gets started. I’m just going to ride the wave and enjoy it. Everything else will get figured out somehow (but think dry thoughts for us)!

So, what about this blog? What happens next?

Well, I have to say, keeping up this blog has been a really enjoyable experience. I’ve had so much fun writing it. I forgot how much I got out of writing, since I haven’t really done much since I was in school. It’s also been a really good outlet for me to talk incessantly about wedding stuff. And it’s been a great way to connect with others—hearing about people being excited about something I wrote in the blog has made me so happy!

So, the blog will not go away right after the wedding. I’m sure I’ll post some recaps once I get the pictures back. I also have loads to say about what I’ve learned through this whole process, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. But once that’s done, I have no intention of keeping up a wedding blog. I’m sure I’ll be wedding-ed out very, very soon.

I will keep writing, though, just somewhere else. I’ll let you know when it happens, and feel free to move over there if you’re interested. For now, let’s get this party started!

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Changes

Well, the day is almost here. Although right now I hoped I would have found my wedding Zen, it has not happened yet. Instead, I’m worrying about the one thing that’s completely out of my control—the weather. I’m spending hours getting my house ready for everyone to come over, and I’m driving from one end of town to the other running errands. I’ve basically become a mad woman. I haven’t given up yet on wedding Zen, though; by Wednesday, most things will have calmed down and maybe, just maybe, the weather forecast will have changed.

All this stress hasn’t left me much time for reflection on what is actually happening here; namely, the huge life transition of getting married. In moment of stolen calm, though, I find myself a little, I don’t know, nostalgic? Sad? Wistful? I find myself thinking back to my last apartment and how much I loved it, to all the time spent bonding with my dog when it was just the two of us, to the excitement of the beginning of my relationship with Steve. Since we have lived together for so long, it has felt like not that much will change after we get married, and I think that has left me a little in denial as to how big of a life step this really is.

Getting married does mean a change in my identity. It means I will now be a wife. And although that mostly thrills me, it’s a little scary too, a little unknown. Even though Steve and I have been making decision together for a long time, now we’ll have to. Now, I really can’t just decide things on my own without taking anyone else into account. Now, I’ll have my own family.

Frankly, these feelings don’t surprise me at all. Even though I’m super excited to get married, I also feel a little sad at transitions, even happy ones, even ones I have been looking forward to. A new chapter in life always means turning the page on an old one, both the good and the bad. It means saying goodbye to a little bit of who you were before and saying hello to who you will be. And my focus on being emotionally present at this wedding means honoring all of my feelings, the happy and the sad, the excited and the wistful, the optimistic and the nostalgic. After all, life is ever-changing, isn’t it? And so are we.

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Single Digits

Well, people, we have just nine days to go. I really can’t believe it. In this engagement, time went by so slowly, then sped up, then went slowly again. But the last month has absolutely flown by. Our first wedding guest is actually already here! And that’s just crazy.

As you may have noticed, I have been absolutely terrible about posting on this blog last week and this week. Things have been incredibly busy around here. People have been asking if I’m excited and the truth is, right now I’m just focused on getting things done. As we get closer, though, there have been more and more moments where I start to be really excited. Mostly, I think I’m trying to suppress my excitement until I can really enjoy it and not just be stressed out and overwhelmed with emotions.

Something about wedding planning that I never quite got were the “after-wedding blues.” I couldn’t really understand what people were talking about, because I was determined not to make this wedding the focus of my entire life. And I’ve been successful with that. I have a lot going on at work right now. I’ve spent mental and emotional energy pursuing new opportunities, changing things around, making plans for the summer. I have not defined my life by the wedding. But the wedding has certainly defined the last couple of weeks. And although I don’t expect to have a hard time shedding the identity of “bride” (especially since I’ve had a hard time picking it up to begin with), I do have this huge thing to look forward to. I’m especially looking forward to seeing all of our friends and family, since that is really the point of having a wedding vs. going to the courthouse. And then, they all go home. That special time with each other and the ones we love comes to a quick and abrupt end. So I do expect to be sad when it’s over.

I’m trying to be proactive to prevent the blues from lasting too long or going too deep. I definitely have big things to look forward to over the next couple of months. In June, we’ll have our annual beach weekend, my favorite two days of the year. In July, one of my best friends will get married. In August, one of my favorite cousins will get married. So there are reunions and happy times in the near future.

I’m also thinking about how I’ll spend my time once I’m done working on wedding stuff. I’ll be able to be more productive at work, which will be a blessing, especially since my caseload has doubled over the past two weeks. I’ll be able to read books that make me think instead of sticking to magazines. And, most importantly, I’ll be able to play video games again! I’m thinking about picking Skyrim back up or maybe buying Far Cry 3 as a post wedding gift for myself (any suggestions?).

On top of all that, Steve and I will be building our baby family and our marriage from the ground up. Even though our day-to-day lives won’t change, I expect some shifts in our relationship and I’m really excited to explore those and see where it takes us. Life is good now, and it will be good after the wedding. And, we can always look forward to getting the pictures!

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Reflections

It’s hard for me to write anything profound or reflective about the wedding right now. With only 12 days to go, I’m drowning in errands, phone calls, and arrangements. Over the past week, I’ve spent more hours than I would like to admit just going through bags of stuff, literally sorting things out into different Ziploc bags (this will all make more sense after the wedding, I promise). I spent all day Sunday running around town shopping, ordering the alcohol (so glad that’s done!) and making copies at Kinko’s. I’ve actually stopped counting down until the wedding. Instead, I’ve been counting down until next Wednesday, which is when I’m giving up on my to-do list. I know there will be a few small tasks after that, like picking up my dress, making a Publix run, and packing, but the rest of it will be let go. So, really, I only have 8 days until the festivities start! Yay!

I thought that everything would feel the same as we got closer to the wedding and then there would be a big shift after the ceremony, after we officially became husband and wife. Now, I realize how wrong I was about that. Instead, it’s been a transition, a slow one that has sped up considerably over the past few days. I looked over at Steve last night and thought, “He is going to be my husband.” And I wasn’t thinking about it in the abstract, someday sense. It was concrete and immediate. It was real.

I am prepared for a shift to happen after the wedding. But it already has started. I can feel my mind and heart beginning to prepare for the transition of becoming a wife. It’s happening almost unconsciously, and I think it speaks to the importance of ritual to make the movement between two stages of life. It’s not only the day that makes a difference, though. All of the planning of logistics has helped move me in the direction toward marriage. Looking forward to the day has signaled my unconscious self that something big is coming, and I better get ready for it. It’s almost too big to grasp, so right now I’m just trusting myself to be present, to do it right.

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Is it March 24th yet?

Things are a bit stressful in wedding world today. It’s starting to feel like do-or-die time on several projects I’ve been putting off. I forgot to do a fairly major wedding related task this weekend while I was busy having a life. I’ve been watching the RSVPs come in, which has been a roller coaster of extreme proportions (feeling excited people are coming/sad others aren’t coming/sad that the numbers will be smaller than we expected/relieved that the numbers will be smaller than we expected/stressed because c’mon people, RSVP already! all at the same time is exhausting). I have a couple of things I have not been able to take care of because there is no way to actually predict the final numbers. I’m waiting to hear back from a few vendors to set up final meetings. And the to-do list keeps growing.

So now, I think I’m starting to understand that feeling people get at the end, where they just want it to be done already. I hadn’t gotten to that point yet in all the planning; I had been enjoying myself. But now, most of the decisions are done (at least, the decisions that have any substance), and it’s just a question of doing things. And that’s where the wedding has started to feel like another job, of course just when my real job has gotten super busy.

So, I get it. As the wedding gets closer, and I get more excited, I also have been feeling more and more ready to just get to the actual day. To just get married already. To stop having to get things done, stop worrying about what the weather is going to be like, stop wondering who is coming. I just want to order the guest book and the table linens and meet with the caterer and be done. Be ready to celebrate.

But all is not lost, of course. Each check on the to-do list feels great; each time I finish something I get a little more excited. I have a mini-bachelorette this weekend which I am super excited about. And I know that time will fly by until the wedding.

This feels a lot like the end of the semester in college. I remember how we all used to freak out about finals and papers and packing; we would say to each other, “I just don’t know how I’m going to get it all done!” And someone would always respond, “But you will. You will get it all done because you have to. So don’t worry about how.” Wise advice from my Brandeis days that I will be carrying forward for the next seven weeks.

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A Shift

I don’t know if you guys have noticed it, but there has been a definite shift of tone on this blog. As the wedding has gotten closer, I’ve been writing less inspiration or philosophy posts, and more hardcore planning posts. There’s a reason for that—most of the thinking and decision making is done. We’re now in the checking things off the list part of planning (thank god). And just like I’ve been interacting differently with my wedding blog, I’ve been interacting differently with the planning as well.

For example, I’ve spent a lot less time on those inspiration-heavy wedding blogs. I still like to look at them, of course, but now, it’s more a case of flipping through them quickly while I’m watching TV. I’m still on Offbeat Bride, of course, mostly because the Tribe provides lots of concrete planning help. The thing is, I don’t need to look at pictures anymore. What I do need is to write the ceremony, but that is a topic for another day.

This all came to a head at the end of last week, when we mailed the invitations. Anyone who has planned a wedding can tell you, this is a big step. First of all, there is so much planning that leads up to the actual mailing. Before we could send invitations out, we had to have the place and time nailed down. The website had to be completely finished, especially important for us because so many of our guests are from out of town and we are using the website for all of the information and RSVP. The wedding weekend events had to planned and included. Also, we had to choose, design, and order the invitations. And my mom had to address them all.

So, just being able to send out the invitations means that a lot of the planning is finished. But besides that, spending all of that time stuffing and stamping the envelopes, putting them in the mailbox, and actually imagining people receiving them made this whole thing so much more real. It felt like a point of no return, for lack of a better phrase. People have already started RSVP’ing, and that means that people are really attending. This wedding is really happening.

It’s thrilling and stressful, exciting and anxiety-producing. Now that it’s 2013, now that invitations have been mailed, it’s finally starting to hit me. The wedding is not just a big project, an event to plan. There is a huge to-do list, but that’s not the half of it. A wedding, a marriage, is a big life step, a colossal transition. Intellectually, I knew this all along, but I’m only starting to feel it now.

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Stress and Excitement

Well, the time has finally arrived. I’m starting to get really excited about the wedding. Celebrations start this month, with my shower and the engagement photo sessions, plus I’ll be taking Emily to shop for her dress while she’s here for winter break.

I’ve written before about the lull in planning and my inability to sustain excitement over our long engagement. Once I reached the four-month mark, my to-list got seriously longer and more involved. It is now time to actually start making decisions about details, ordering things, and making concrete plans. I’m trying hard not to think about the big checklist; instead, I’m focusing month by month on what exactly needs to get done, and everything else can wait. I will say, though, that is getting harder to do.

A side effect of the stress that I didn’t anticipate, though, is the excitement. Making decisions about smaller details means that I am thinking about those details, envisioning them in the wedding. Finally making myself sit down and start hashing out the ceremony means that I’m spending time picturing the getting married part of the wedding. Planning the wedding weekend events means that I can imagine hanging out with our very spread out friends and family.

The stress and excitement have become completely wrapped up with each other. So I’ll work on reducing my stress (putting back burner items on the back burner), and then I’ll get excited about something, and then I’ll be stressed again. It’s a cycle, but I guess in the end, it’s a good thing. I’m not really that stressed, and I can’t feel anxious without also feeling excited. As determined as I’ve been to have a good time planning the wedding, this is a new dimension, a new wrinkle in the process.

The wedding is coming closer and closer. Soon, my countdown will be in the double digits. I relish the fact that there is so much to do, because it will make these three and a half months go by really quickly. And it will keep the excitement of the wedding on my mind. For me, the anticipation is half the fun.

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Trusting Myself

I’ve always been a decisive person. Once I make a choice, I stick with it. I do take a long time to make a decision, though. I like to explore all of the options and think about the advantages and disadvantages of each. I try to imagine how each choice would work out in the long run, and how each would make me feel. I think about issues again and again, moving slowly toward a decision. And when I’m finally finished, I relish the accomplishment of moving forward, of making a choice. I don’t look back.

For some reason, I thought planning a wedding would be a little different. I read posts from so many women online second guessing their decisions, especially after getting negative feedback from other people. I’ve heard about so many people completely scrapping their wedding plans after changing their mind.

So yeah, I thought wedding planning would involve a lot of self doubt, second guessing, and questioning myself. Luckily, I was wrong. Each decision I’ve made has left me feeling good, feeling resolute, and feeling ready to move forward.

Yesterday was the first time, though, that I made a really emotional decision for the wedding. I asked a friend to be our officiant. And this was a difficult decision. I always imagined getting married by one of our Rabbis (not an option now because Steve isn’t Jewish). I really had to examine whether or not I wanted to hire a rabbi who would be willing to officiate our wedding. And I had to do some research into what Jewish law requires (not that our interfaith marriage is recognized, but I am nothing if not contradictory).

It turns out that I didn’t love the idea of paying someone to marry us that we didn’t know. And Jewish law only requires that someone educated and literate in Judaism perform the ceremony; clergy is not required, since the couple actually marries each other rather than having someone else marry them. So, slowly, after imagining how it would feel to get married by a friend, we made our decision.

And then, I waited a couple of weeks to ask her. I expected to feel uncomfortable with such an untraditional choice, to regret it, to feel the loss of the wedding ceremony I had expected to have. I didn’t want to ask until I was sure.

But the truth was, I was really sure all along. So yesterday, I asked. And she said yes. And afterwards, I felt absolutely no regret, no sadness. I felt like a weight had been lifted. I felt nothing but immense excitement and joy.

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Choices

Choosing to do certain things always means choosing not to do others. It means letting go of other ideas, ideas that would probably be great. This is certainly evident in wedding planning.

Having a casual, outdoor weddings means letting go of the black-tie ballroom wedding that I envisioned when I was 19. Marrying someone not Jewish means giving up using the beautiful chuppah that our synagogue has, and it means not getting married by the rabbi who was there at my bat-mitzvah. Wearing a modern, comfortable dress means giving up the huge tulle skirt.

Lest it sound like my wedding is nothing but sacrifices, I would like to point out that having a casual outdoor wedding means a beautiful setting and lots of relaxed fun. Wearing a dress that is me is wonderful. And of course, I get to marry Steve!

These choices were all the right ones, both for me and for us as a couple. I don’t regret any of them, not even a little bit. I’m so excited and happy about what our wedding is turning out to be, and I’m pretty sure it will be awesome. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had any moments of sadness for what I had to let go of.

Every time we choose to go one way, we have to let go of the other way. And that can sometimes entail a bit of mourning. This becomes especially clear when I let go of what my past self envisioned in favor of who my current self is. Having the wedding I wanted when I was a teenager would not be authentic now that I’m 33. I mean, anyone who knows Steve and me should have a hard time picturing me in a princess dress and Steve in a tuxedo, in a ballroom. Come on.

I’ve learned with this wedding that it’s not enough to only focus on the positive aspects of the choices I’m making. That doesn’t tell the whole story, and it doesn’t honor my true feelings. It’s been really important to let myself mourn (just a little) the path not taken. That has helped me recognize the right path, the right choice and to go forward joyfully.

And this is a good lesson for life, isn’t it? When we choose one career path, we give up the others (at least, for now). When we buy a house and settle in one place, we give up on living somewhere else (again, for now). When we choose one partner, we give up dating and all the other potential partners out there. And, in my opinion at least, it is important to recognize the loss. It’s important to understand the emotional value we’ve attached to other options. That’s the only way to move forward with our whole hearts into the life we choose.

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