Saturday, June 28, 2008

This Is Why

Michael is in Boston right now for somebody else's wedding and yet somebody else's bachelor party. I'm here getting the house and yard ready for a July 4 cookout, and enjoying some one-on-one puppy time.

Earlier in our relationship, I used to relish Michael's periodic trips. I'd chow down on junk food and watch hour after hour of home improvement shows.

No longer. What I've discovered this weekend in particular is that I very much need the structure and support of married life. On my own this weekend, I don't feel so much "free" as disoriented. I never know when, where or what to eat. I stood in the beer aisle of the grocery store for about half an hour, dumbfounded. And, in the past 18 hours, I have broken, um, a few things. I'm even wearing Crocs . . . outside the house!

Get your party on and come home quick, monkey of love! I am a useless schmuck without you! Come home soon, and we'll get married, okay?


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Howard Beale Moment

I am not going to bad-mouth our caterers in public. Seriously. They are almost certainly the best caterers in this area, and they are going to do a great job. They make damn good food; they understand and play along with our crazy ideas (e.g., heritage pigs); and, they know how to get the details just right in achieving a beautiful event.

But, as you may know, we were having some problems. It was like pulling teeth to get the clear, detailed answers we needed to keep our budget under control. We felt nickled-and-dimed by unexplained surcharges and exorbitant bartending fees, among other things. We were losing trust, not to mention our savings. To be frank, we contemplated postponing or canceling the wedding for fear of going too deeply into debt.

Finally, yesterday, we channeled our frustration into action. In a very firm but very clear way, we delineated exactly what expenses we refused to pay. We requested the discounts to which we felt entitled because of reserving the date so early. We insisted on a complete, clear, detailed spreadsheet of charges. We insisted that the catering staff coordinate more closely with the farm staff to find cost savings, such as eliminating unnecessary rentals.

You know what?

It worked. Just by doing the bold, grown-up thing, we have shaved at least 10% off the cost of this wedding, all in a matter of minutes.

On the one hand, it feels great to have "beaten" the system that takes advantage of every couple's desire for a perfect, magical day. But more importantly, it feels good to have taken responsibility for getting what we needed, putting our concerns first and communicating clearly.

Now, maybe for the rest of the week, I want to take on the world, with the voice of Peter Finch ringing in my ears: "You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, Goddammit! My life has VALUE!'"


Thursday, June 19, 2008

And It Begins...

We are psyched. We got our first wedding present in the mail, yesterday. Whoever sent it, and we know who you are because it told us, gets a gold star for being the first out of the gate, proving once and for all that you do not actually need to have received an invitation to send us gifts. In fact, if you send us a gift early, we promise that we will still invite you to the wedding, even though each person we cut from the invitation list gets us that much closer to a toilet at the wedding.

And speaking of firsts, I'm glad I got to post this before Emerson because we are in a highly competitive relationship and I very rarely get to win. And he's been checking the registries daily, hoping that someone will start the gifting, so it probably will pain him to no end to learn that I got to post about it first!

Yes, that is the kind of relationship we have. I win, sucka!!!!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Stitch in Time

I believe that I have, in the past, mocked brides for obsessing over the size and shape of their bustles. My thought - and I'm about to apologize for it - has always been, "Buy a shorter dress!" Getting dressed should be fun and easy!

I say I am ready to apologize because, as wedding things start falling into place, I have a little bit of breathing room to think about what I'm going to wear. As I have mentioned before, I found the perfect suit. I have even found a tailor, who works in-house for the eminent menswear store Julian's in Chapel Hill.

I even believe that I have found the right shoes - the saddle-tan version of a black pair I already own and love. So what's the sticking point? What is my own personal bustle dilemma?

Top stitching.

The shoes have brown top-stitching, which looks appropriate for daytime and outdoors, but is still dressy.

But the only belts Cole-Haan produces in the same tan leather have white top-stitching or (gasp!) braiding. Can you imagine? My country wedding is not an episode of Hee Haw!

Check out the shoes and the "coordinating" belts. Will any of them suffice? Should I look for a different shoe? This one is such a nice shoe for the price. Or, should I look for a belt that almost-but-doesn't-quite-match colors?
(Do note that the colors on the screen are not true to the colors in person.)


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Breathless Anticipation

So, we set out a work plan, and it did us a world of good. We made a lot of progress, but there are still many open questions, and we are 128 days (gasp) from our wedding day.

We haven't blogged in a couple of weeks because we like to wait until things are settled, and right now, almost everything is in a state of uncertainty.

As promised, here is an update on our objectives - I hope this doesn't give you hives as it gives me:

1. Invite the officiant by May 2. Status: Almost settled. Officiant invited in a long, emotional conversation. Officiant accepted invitation, but there are some lingering complications involving the superior of his religious order, and some very valid concerns about public perceptions. This is "settled enough" but of course we are praying very hard that we don't end up with no officiant at the last minute.

2. Hire a DJ by May 22. Status: Complete! And we are thrilled with the young, cool, enthusiastic DJ we found at a price almost half of the "prestige" DJ that our caterer suggested.

3. Plan Ceremony Music by May 22. Status: Totally unsettled. We spoke to musicians for the first time last night, and not only are they more expensive than we hoped to pay (for students, no less), but it's not certain that they can fulfill our musical wishes. On the other hand, this may be a case where compromise is totally acceptable. In other words, it will be awesome to have a brass ensemble, even if they play more traditional music than we would prefer.

4. Walk-Through with the Tent Guy on May 23. Status: Limbo. We had our walk-through, and it was not a happy day. The tent guy had utter disrespect for our money and our budget, which was quite disturbing. He and the caterer seem to think that we need to rent a $1,200 outhouse, and separate chairs for the ceremony and the reception. We are still awaiting a quote that was due last week. This is either going to turn into a tooth-and-nail fight to protect our budget, or we are going to have to betray the caterer (whatever, this is business) and go with another rental company altogether.

5. Design and Print Invitations beginning May 28. Status: Good progress. We had a really fun meeting with the designer and artist who are working on this project, and they were both exactly as enthusiastic and creative as we hoped they would be. The "edition" that will come in the envelope is going to be really cool, and the invitation itself is going to be beautiful. We even visited the paper supplier, and discovered that paper is going to be really affordable! Our next step is providing the final text for all the pieces so these guys can get to work.

6. Book the Buses by June 1. Status: Complete! Our guests who stay in downtown Durham or in the Hillandale area will be able to enjoy themselves with abandon since they have a ride to and from the wedding. As this was the subject of my worst nightmare earlier this year, I am relieved to have this task finished.

7. Finalize the Menu by June 6. Status: Incomplete but not urgent. We have been in ongoing communication with the caterer about the menu, but really it does not need to be finalized until a few weeks before the wedding. The pigs, as you know by now, are secured, though we still don't know how much we're paying - presumably about two or three times the budget, given the pattern we've seen. And, we need to decide if we are going to serve fried hors d'Ĺ“uvre, since those require special rentals.

8. Get a Florist by June 30. Status: Incomplete and getting urgent. You know we want to keep this simple, and our moms are going to help out a lot. Michael spoke with one farmer who said, "Sure," but I hope we can get a more secure agreement and a freakin' quote. Why's it so hard to get a quote here? Is everybody in North Carolina secretly rich?

9. Figure out the Bar by August 15. Status: Good progress, with a bump in the road. Here's the bump: we thought that by providing our own hard liquor we could save money. Au contraire! Not only are we required by law to provide and deliver our own liquor, but we also have to pay $4 $5.25 per pour for cocktails! Where I'm from this is known as a "scam." In any case, it helped us plan the bar! One hour of butlered cocktails is it. And, we're doing well on the wine selection. I believe we actually have delicious, affordable wines picked out, and the incomparable (if slightly tacky) Total Wine & More is giving us a case discount on specially ordered magnums. Finally, somebody willing to help us out!

After writing this list I have to tell you I am more than a little bit tempted to lump the catering, the rentals, and everything else and turn this wedding into a backyard barbecue picnic. That would be equally fun, right?


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Favorite Email So Far

Now, it's obvious that I'm as easily delighted as I am annoyed. And you know that my stimuli are different than other people's stimuli.

I hope our caterer won't mind my posting this note she sent to our farmer/friend, and cc'd us:

I just got off the phone with one of our chefs (the pork guru). And, he said that for 105 people we would need two 60-pound hogs. Does this sound alright to you? We would want it delivered to our shop on Wednesday October 8th, sometime that morning. He said if you could cut it up in primals, that would be ideal (said you would know what that meant).
Truly one of the most exciting things I've read this year!