Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sticky Situation

After fretting for weeks about the who-walks-Jules-down-the-aisle conversations, they went great. Mr. Mama, with whom I lived growing up, was more than happy to share the honor(duty?) with Pop. And Pop graciously did the same, with nary a ruffled feather or word of complaint. Whew!

Then I started thinking about what would happen when we got down to the altar. The officiant usually says something like, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”

The tradition of giving the bride away apparently came from the days when marriage was as fiscal a transaction as a relational one. One set of parents was giving money to the other set, and the act of giving the bride away signified that the arrangements were complete. It also meant that the bride was no longer financially dependent on her parents, and was now dependent on the groom.

I am a feminist. And by that I mean that I try to differentiate the position of women from that of a doormat, to paraphrase Rebecca West. So I gave no small measure of thought to the idea of nixing the “Who gives this woman” part of the ceremony. First of all, I’m not a possession to be given away. I’m a person, for heaven’s sake! Second, to the extent I “belong” to my parents, they’re not giving me away--they can’t get rid of me that easily! They’re just marring me off. (Wink.) Finally, I’m not going to be dependent on my groom! I don’t like being dependent on anybody. (Does anyone else have trouble clicking on the “Submit” button on internet forms? Can’t the button say, “OK” or “Enter” or something?! I do NOT want to submit! (I guess that makes it clear whether we’re going to say “obey” in our vows.) Humph.)


But the Mister is nothing if he’s not traditional, and if I wasn’t going to say “obey,” he wanted the “who gives this woman” yadda yadda yadda in the ceremony. I do like tradition as much as the next gal . . . so I agreed.

But I wanted to change the response! “I give myself freely!” seemed just about right to me. It effectively says, “I own myself!” Mama and Pop were horrified. Horr. If. Fied! Apparently, the idea of a ukulele band was more palatable to them than me giving my own self away. They might not agree on much, but they backed each other up on this one. Who am I to fight this kind of parental unity?

Besides, I realized that this is their one really active role in the ceremony. I’m not doin’ the unity candle. If I take their speaking part, they might feel compelled to speak now rather than forever hold their peace, if you know what I mean.

OK. So what WAS the response going to be? I didn’t want to leave anyone out of the equation, so the usual, “Her mother and I do,” wasn’t going to cut it. I belong to Mr. Mama and Mrs. Pop as much as I do to Mama and Pop! If I’ve done nothing else in this blog, I hope I've made is abundantly clear. I also wanted to avoid the dads talking over each other or murmuring different things. So, with the help of Mama, I came up with a two main options:

Pop and Mr. Mama: We do.

Pop and Mr. Mama: Her parents do.

I pitched these to Pop, who murmured something about it not sounding very official. He doesn’t get to be too involved in the wedding planning. And this is his speaking part! He’s not the type to come up with ceremony wording, but he does like to vote on the options. So I called Mama to brainstorm. And she came up with a winner! Without further ado . . .

Officiant: Pop, do you and Mrs. Pop give this woman to be married to this man?
Pop: We do.
Officiant: Mr. Mama, do you and Mama give this woman to be married to this man?
Mr. Mama: We do.

Sticky situation . . . well . . . unstuck.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Out Loud

My favorite part of planning the wedding so far has been the opportunity for people to say nice things to each other. After my twin died, I realized that while people say lovely things ABOUT their friends and family, people hardly ever say those things TO their loved ones. I made a conscious decision to communicate all the nice things I heard about others directly to them. Life’s too short to only hear the spiteful gossip, no? And when I’m thinking something nice, I go on and say it. Why not share the love?

When parts of the wedding involve saying kind things, it makes me even happier than I already would be planning a giant hoedown with a big white poofy dress and lots o’ cake. That’s pretty danged happy.

One opportunity we had to say the good stuff was at our awesome engagement party. First of all, it was a party to celebrate that another party is comin’ up! (The wedding. Duh!) If a party on its own is great, then a party to celebrate another party is great squared.

My MOH planned the shindig. It. Was. Amazing. We had about forty people there! Nearby friends . . .
. . . and family.

I wore the special locket with my twin’s picture inside, so he could be there too. Here I am showing it to Mrs. Pop.

Super-MOH didn’t do it all on her own – this lovely lady (I’ll call her Soul Sister) helped with the preparations and laughed so much, she got us all in on the act.

Did I mention there was cake?

But my favorite parts of our engagement party were when people got to say and write nice things. My MOH put engagement pictures of us on each table, along with bottles of wine, which the guests signed with well-wishes and funny quips.

My MOH and Pop each gave a toast.

And I toasted the host, my best girl.

My neighbor once said that he didn’t want flowers at his funeral. “Don’t wait ‘till I’m dead,” he said. I sent him the biggest bouquet I could find the very next day.

There are lots of chances to say the really important things in life. I like the few moments just before I drop off to sleep, because the good thoughts swim to the surface of consciousness like little silver bubbles. But there are regular every day moments too – in the car at a stoplight. When you’re cooking dinner. Sometimes I think nice things when I’m brushing my teeth, but no one can understand what I’m saying through the globs of toothpaste. (Mrph toodee, schlobbr!)

Don’t forget the big moments too, especially at a wedding. Saying your vows. Whispering to your spouse just after you recess back down the aisle. Toasting your parents.

The next time you hear or think something nice about someone, just go on and say it. Out loud.

And now, to end this post on a less sentimental note, here’s my favorite photo from the engagement party. Pop. Being . . . Pop. Love it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Link Between Earth and Sky

After my twin brother died, I had a dream. It was about designing and making jewelry in memory of him. I started a jewelry business and began selling my jewelry locally. This creative outlet helped me make something lovely out of my grief. Holidays, which were especially painful times without my twin, became times of anticipation and happiness. Just knowing that people were opening gifts of my jewelry from their loved ones made those days seem lighter and better.

I paired each piece of jewelry with a card bearing the meaning of the primary gemstone and a quotation that relates to the meaning. I hoped that the recipients of the jewelry would find meaning in their gems, but also in the world around them.

While I will never be fully healed from the loss of my twin, I have had a different sense of wholeness since I met the Mister. Instead of continuing to expand my jewelry business, I began to focus on building a life with him, which included planning our wedding. The wedding planning became a new creative outlet, and I focused less on my jewelry. Part of me even wondered whether the work of my jewelry was nearing completion.

This week, however, I received an email that reminded me why I design my jewelry and sell it in places where it can reach people I don’t even know.

Here is the email:

My Fiance (Charlie) purchased one of your necklaces for my birthday which was September 11, 2008. Our wedding was to be on November 15, 2008 and we are both Scottish so we were using the Celtic theme for the wedding. This necklace follows on that theme you could say. One of the things on the enclosed reading material really hits home more than ever, "The Tree collection contains wood, which symbolizes life. In the Celtic tradition, trees represent the bridge between earth and sky, between mankind and God." My Fiance died on September 20th in a hit and run accident, he was on his way to his second job to help with our wedding. This necklace means the world to me and I wear it everyday. I would like to get a similar necklace for Charlie’s sister.

This incredible woman is only a month from the loss of her fiancé (and less than a month until the day she was to marry him). Her pain must be acute and unfathomable. That the necklace represents her continued link with her beloved is amazingly, heartbreakingly beautiful. I am humbled to play a tiny part in a love that lasts beyond death.

That she wants to share that link with his sister awes me further. I know that God will bless her giving spirit and mend her heart.

I responded that I would be honored to create a similar necklace for his sister. And I told her that, while she will never forget Charlie, in time it will become easier to remember him.

As the Mister and I continue to plan our wedding with Scottish traditions, we are reminded that each day is a gift. We will remember our lost loved ones on our wedding day. Although we never met him, Charlie will undoubtedly be among them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Speaking of pencils . . . the Mister and I are trying to come up with a cute phrase to put on the pencils for our pinwheels.

Here are some options, most of which were suggested by Ellie over at the lucky nest. Which do you like?

love makes the world go 'round

life without love is like a pencil without lead -- pointless

love is the signature of our lives

write your own love story

Friday, October 17, 2008

Million Dollar Pens

As I was scribbling notes in the middle of the night last night, I started thinking again about practical weddings. I was on my back in bed, writing on a scrap of paper, glad I was using a pencil, because pens don’t work upside down.

Then I remembered the
urban legend that NASA spent $11 million to develop a pen that would work in zero gravity, while the Russian Cosmonauts simply used pencils. While the story isn’t actually true (regular pens do work in space, after all), it got me thinking about “solutions” that the wedding industry has dreamt up for problems that don’t actually exist.

Like flowers. They were originally used as wedding decorations because they were plentifully available and free. Church ladies used to pluck stems from their own gardens. Now we buy them from florists who fly them in from the other side of the world. You already know about my eco-friendly plan to
pick flowers out of my neighbor’s backyard.

And clothing. People used to wear their best dress clothes to their weddings. Now brides (including me!) buy dresses that we wear once. And we make our friends do it too by selecting bridesmaids dresses that will never be worn again.

I’m guilty of the one-time-use dress, but I did ask our female attendants to select their own black dresses in the hopes they’d choose one they already have or buy one that they’ll wear them again. The men are wearing the tuxedos they already have. Only one or two of them don’t have tuxes; most everyone else can get dressed right out of their own closets.

And my dress (named Alice Bell, after Mama’s namesake) cost $250. I found her online. I thought she’d be perfect, if only her skirt were made of a different material. I went to the store that carried her, and found that her skirt was made of the very material for which I had hoped! Angels began singing, and lights from heaven shone down on us, as we ran in slow motion across the room toward each other. Maybe it was just elevator music, compact fluorescents, and me stumbling over jeweled slippers and tulle underskirts, but it sure did feel like a spiritual moment. There were scores of other lovely dresses there, but I tried on Alice Bell first. I knew she was the one.

Unfortunately for my MOH, we hadn’t planned on going dress shopping that day, so instead of wearing my everyday undergarments, I had on something fancy I got from the Mister for Valentine’s Day. She was more than a little surprised when she helped me in the dressing room. I think I heard her scream, “My eyes! My eyes!” but it may have only been a polite, “Oh! My goodness!” I haven’t worn those bloomers since.

My MOH told me I couldn’t buy the first dress I tried on, and made me try on a bunch more dresses. I know she was looking out for my best interest, because she certainly didn't want to see more of my skivvies. I tried on ones that looked like costumes from Swan Lake – feathery bodices and tulle skirts poofing out from the waist so much that I had to turn sideways to get out of the dressing room. I tried on ones that were covered in elaborate beading that scratched the undersides of my flabby arms as I waved them around, imitating dance moves for the reception. And ones that looked like rumpled bed linens. Ones that imitated bordello curtains. Dark champagne ones. Blinding white ones. Satin, organza, chiffon ones. Heck, I even tried on ones that had huge bows on the butt, just to show some solidarity with the 80’s brides who had no other choice.

But Alice Bell and I were made for each other. I asked about ordering her, and the saleswoman told me that my beautiful girl had been discontinued. “Either buy her now for $250, or never see her again.” So I paid her paltry ransom and took her home that very night. To be perfectly honest, I would have bought her if she had cost four times that much. But my conscience and my pocketbook are oh-so-glad she didn’t.

Alice Bell has moved into my neighbor’s guestroom, far from the prying eyes of the Mister. In fact, the window of her room looks out over the garden where the flowers for my bouquet will grow.

No, friends. I don’t need $11 million pens. I like my pencils just fine.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


So sorry to have fallen off the face of the earth lately – the Mister and I have had a series of visits from our dogs-in-law who have decided that pooping on our rugs is the height of propriety.

First, Momma Mac visited with Opie. God love him, Opie is one hundred and sixty three and a half years old. He just couldn’t help the pooping. Then Pop and Mrs. Pop dropped off Tilly, who is recovering from a life-threatening bout of rocky mountain spotted fever. (No, I’m not kidding.) The poor gal was completely traumatized by her illness, and wasn’t really up for visiting quite yet.

Opie and Tilly are both poodles. And the first three letters of “poodles” are . . . .
‘Nuff said. :)

Anyhoo, we’re still cleaning the rugs and mopping the floors. I promise more wedding blogging soon. But in the meantime, here’s a picture of Tipper (our dog) with Opie.

Friday, October 3, 2008


I realized this week that I’m in wedding planning limbo. Somewhere between brides who plan weddings for $1,000 using 1970’s mugs from the Salvation Army as their stemware, and brides who spend $20,000 on their table linens alone.

The brides in the first category think it’s absolutely insane that I’m considering giving away vintage handkerchiefs at the ceremony. Isn’t the money better spent elsewhere? Why am I even thinking about such an inane detail?! The brides in the second category are probably scoffing at the fact that I’m not having hankies monogrammed for each individual guest.

Isn’t there something to be said for moderation? Why can’t I be fiscally conscious while still dreaming up personal little details? For me, the best part of the wedding planning has been using my budget as an inspiration.

For example, I could order an entire letterpress invitation suite, but I would have to cut half the guest list to pay for it. Instead, I’ve figured out a low-cost way to get the wedding stationery we want. The Mister and I designed the invitation, RSVP, and thank you cards. I put all the documents in one 8.5”x11” print-ready .pdf document. Soon, I’ll upload the document on the low-cost letterpress printer’s website. He’ll send me the letterpressed copies, and I’ll cut them myself (or have Kinkos do it). I’ll order more paper and envelopes from another high-quality, low-cost source. Then the Mister and I will assemble the invitations using the magical xyron machine. Lovely, custom letterpressed invitations at a fraction of the cost of ordering them. Yeah. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

I don’t think any couple looks back on their big day and thinks, “I wish we’d spent more on the wedding.” But it’s easy to get dazzled by the wedding industry and start shelling out buckaroos like there’s not a recession comin’ down the pike.

I guess most brides in the planning stages see a budget as the most restrictive part of the wedding. I think it’s the most freeing! I’m very grateful to have some money to spend and that I get to use the right side of my brain to orchestrate the wedding we want within the amount we’ve got. It’s so much fun to stretch myself by trying out new creative roles: florist, stationer, makeup artiste!

Thrifty. Stylish. Personal. That’s what we’re going for. How ‘bout you?