Tuesday, April 29, 2008

And a Brief Pat on One's Own Back

After posting in detail about how woefully behind-schedule we are, I should note that we have accomplished some very important steps:

1. Hired a caterer who still has us very excited, especially when we snack on her hush puppies late at night.

2. Rented a goat farm, the location of our dreams, an amazing business run by cool people who have made us feel more welcome than we ever expected.

3. Hired a photographer whose work is stunningly beautiful, and who has been a very good working partner so far.

4. Booked lodging for ourselves and arranged lodging for many guests, in spite of the totally bad customer service around here.

5. Invited three dear friends to read scripture passages in the ceremony, and been lucky enough to have all three accept the invitation.

Even if we accomplish little more in the next 165 days, we have done enough to ensure a pretty good wedding.


Outstanding Work, Gentlemen!

Did you know our wedding is less than 6 months away? Or, as Crate & Barrel puts it, "Only 165 days til the big event!" (This is right next to their red-typeface exhortation, "Add more gifts!")

I feel as if we are way, way behind where we should be at this point. I know that many people, including my amazing sister, succeed in planning weddings on a very tight timeline. But, I still feel anxious and panicky that we have so few things finalized.

If there's one thing I know for sure in this life - and it took me about 30 years to learn - it's that things get done when you make a schedule for doing them. Below is our to-do list, with deadlines, and we will keep you updated as we accomplish these objectives.

List of Totally Non-scary Objectives

1. Invite the Officiant. It's embarrassing that this isn't done already. We practically have the entire ceremony planned, the readings (and readers) picked out. At least the person we have in mind is already coming as a guest. I assume the answer will be "Yes," but I wonder if my procrastination is somehow a sign of avoidance, rather than over-confidence. Deadline: this Friday, May 2.

2. Hire a DJ. It's probably time to get busy with this, since wedding season is in full swing now, and we don't want to be left with some cheeseball DJ and his old Abba records. I'm leaving this to Michael, who has identified at least one good prospect and can also potentially write a good Craigslist post for recruiting more possibilities. I give him a deadline of May 22.

3. Plan Ceremony Music(ians). I have a co-worker who is not only a real liturgical singer, but also a music librarian. I want to invite her to sing, and to help "music direct" the ceremony. I have a feeling she could be very helpful with recruiting instrumentalists and choosing songs/hymns/arrangements that she knows we'd like, but can't find for ourselves. But the asking has been delicate, since I've been keeping this whole wedding on the DL at work. (See, there's another bride in the office, and I don't want to detract from how much she's relishing the Princess thing.) I have to find an appropriate occasion and way to make this request, though. So, I'll give myself a deadline of May 22, just before I leave for NYC.

4. Walk-through with the Tent Guy. This, at least, is already scheduled. We should be prepared, though, with some ideas about what we want, and we should be psychologically ready to fight for our budget. The walk-through will take place on May 23.

5. Design and Print Invitations. Our talented twosome are eager to spring into action. We will meet with them in the last week of May, and hopefully we can make enough progress in planning and collaborative design that they will be able work over the summer, and we'll be ready to put invitations in the mail during August. Deadline for conceptualization: May 28.

6. Book the Buses. We approached the bus issue back in March, and the vendors clearly thought we were a little too early to worry. But, there is a sweet spot between too-early and sorry-we're-booked-up. I think that sweet spot is now. We got an estimate and chose a vendor, we just need to sign a contract and make a deposit. Deadline: June 1.

7. Finalize the Menu. Our farmer friends out in Orange County have confirmed that they can provide us an heirloom pig for the wedding feast. There are two questions that remain to be answered: Can we afford it? And, will the caterer embrace the plan? Deadline for answers: June 6.

8. Get a Florist. Michael spoke to the owner of an organic flower farm (who, unsurprisingly, never replied to my email). She was enthusiastic about doing the wedding, although she demurred on the issue of expense. I'm not sure how to move this forward, since email is obviously not effective. I think we'll have to call and schedule a visit. Although we're swamped with travel next month, I'm saying, Deadline: June 30.

9. Figure out the Bar(tending) Situation. We spoke with the manager of our wine "superstore" on Sunday, and he had good ideas, information, and advice. He says we only need a few weeks' notice to put in an order, and is happy to work with us in fulfilling our plan of serving European wines in magnum. We brought home a few more bottles to taste, and I hope we will make our selections soon. On the cocktail side, we need to have a serious conversation with the caterer about the logistics of this, and I need to figure out if we can buy liquor in New Hampshire on one of our trips up there this summer. Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of that plan (as it requires driving that booze 1,000 miles in a rented car) will take some math. On the whole, the booze situation seems like the least urgent, so I'm giving it a deadline of August 15.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

When You Care Enough...

So I haven't cut my hair in weeks. This is partially due to being lazy and partially due to being busy writing my grant (I call it my "grant hair", like "strike beard"). It is also partially due to not really having found a good place to get a haircut. But ultimately it is because I have this stupid idea that I will grow my hair really, really long and then when I go to New York next month I will get a kick-ass haircut at Bumble and Bumble. However, my laziness and apprehension may have been a fortuitous event that will help me with my new idea (but more on that later...)

Another seemingly unrelated issue is wedding rings. I'm too lazy (notice the theme) to check to see if we've blogged about rings yet, but suffice it to say we've batted a few ideas around. We'll probably have our engagement rings bonded together. I know, it's cheesy but also really sweet and awesome because we'll probably have Little King, the jewelers who made my ring, do it since they are quite talented and do some amazing things with palladium. What, however, does this have to do with my hair?...

Enter, Life Gem ("because love lives on..."), the company that will, for an exhorbitant fee, turn your loved one's ashes into a diamond. Oh yes. You did not misread that. They will take your loved one's cremated remains and using a patented technology of high pressure in a low oxygen, high nitrogen environment, turn your dead spouse into a gemstone.

But why wait until death! Love lives on now! So for those customers who are impatient and desperate to have their loved one's carbon molecules fashioned into an ordered crystal array, Life Gem can use hair! So all I have to do is grow a bunch of hair, and save it when I get it cut off, which I'm sure will go over real well when I tell my hairdresser at Bumble and Bumble that she can't spill any of it on the floor because I'm going to turn it into a wedding ring.

And of course, this really won't work for Emerson, who has no real hair to speak of. Perhaps if he gets started now he can save up enough fingernail clippings by October. They should be just as carboniferous as hair. Or maybe some dessicated blood. Somehow that seems even more romantic! Really the opportunities are endless.

Now as I haven't run this past Emerson yet, you may not be seeing diamond rings made out of our extraneous organs. But if he comes asking one of you for advice, play up Life Gem. And make sure to emphasize that it is absolutely, positively not the slightest bit creepy...


Monday, April 7, 2008

A Fine Day for English Majors (and Those Who Love Them)

Stanley Fish, about whom I harbor no strong feelings or opinions, has written an agreeably simple review of a forthcoming book called "French Theory" (&c. with a long subtitle). Dr. Fish's review appears as part of his blog on the New York Times website. He devotes most of the review describing what we would have called (in grad school) the "contours" of French theory, which is to say that "French theory" is shorthand for something very diverse and hard to define, and quite special without being too important.

Dr. Fish points out that "deconstruction," which is really just a way of reading, became a weapon of choice for many participants in the "culture wars," which made and lost many fortunes and careers. He also points out that the "culture wars" are simultaneously more amusing and more frustrating when viewed through the lenses of deconstruction.

A wedding, too, is the very sort of thing that deconstruction is a good tool for examining.

As I read, I was reminded of a lovely text that appeared in Harper's several years ago, and which often comes to mind when I feel that I have to explain why we are having a wedding that has no legal meaning when all our friends and family already know the strength and value of our "united state."

The text I remember is the wedding ceremony of a college professor and an artist, as delivered by the judge who officiated at the event. I hope you will read the whole thing, because, although it is quite heady, one gets a sense of the sweetness that the couple shared. Maybe the most important passage is the one that says this:

It is misguided to think that what validates a wedding ceremony is the making public of innermost feelings, and the sincerity or earnestness thereof. That may be a satisfactory performance, but it is beside the point of the wedding vow.

This is one of the things that I tried to express in my earlier post about sacraments. And, it is also one of the reasons why we have chosen to cleave as closely as possible to a traditional Catholic ceremony, rather than a personalized one: it is not "as if somehow the more heartfelt and confessional your ceremony is, the more married you are."

Indeed, although our feelings that have brought us to this point, we still believe that marriage has a permanent, objective value for us, for our families, and for our community. So the wedding ceremony has to have a bigger scope, and it truly should not be "all about us."

We will take some small advantage of having a wedding outside the traditional institutional structures of Church and state. Our Scripture readings, for example, are some that you are unlikely to have heard at any other wedding, but they probably won't leave you scratching your head either.

I plan to write more about the legal, social, and political meanings of our wedding over the summer -- and, like it or not, it will carry some meanings in each of those realms. I hope that by deconstructing this thing, this event, this day -- at its heart it should always be mostly a party -- we can do a better job of getting down to the core business of making something happen.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

"Beware all enterprises that require new clothes."

If clothes make the man, then I am bound to be Gregory Peck on my wedding day. Except without the height, gravity, Oscar, and jawline. What I mean is, I found the Gray Flannel Suit. And, I love it. My first eBay purchase may be the most important I ever make.

The suit is from Hickey-Freeman, but not their very poshest custom lines. I have no idea how old it is--probably from the 1980s--but it combines many of the best modern details from mid-century and classic English riding suits. I'll have to get it fine-tuned in a few months, when I have a better idea how much I'm going to weigh. Meanwhile, I have to find a really good tailor around here. I miss Leung's, but I don't think they're good enough to merit two trips to New York.

Also: Is it justifiable to spend seven times more money on shoes than on one's clothes?