Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bring in Extra Dough for Your Wedding

As our economy dives into the depths of despair, I wanted to pass along a money-making strategy that Matt and I employed as we were planning our wedding: Sell your extraneous stuff on www.craigslist.com.

Now, I wish we didn't have extraneous stuff in the first place. It's unnecessary and wasteful. And so much energy and resources go into the production of stuff.

But we had extraneous stuff, so it made sense to sell it. Of the three Rs, reducing is the best, but reusing is the second best. We were happy to give our stuff a second chance in life.

Here's a running tally of what we sold:
  1. Two palm pilots (we bought them to track our students' progress in our classrooms, but we both ended up using our regular computers instead) = $300
  2. One inflatable pink kayak (purchased when I lived on the bayou in rural Louisiana) = $150
  3. One old Mac computer = $500
  4. One unopened kids' microscope I never used in my classroom = $75
  5. One math curriculum program I also bought for my classroom = $100
That was some serious cash. We financed half our wedding with our unwanted stuff!

Definitely consider this option if you're hard-pressed for cash. And definitely look on craigslist for random wedding items you're looking for.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Real Fun at a Wedding

I know Emily's wedding from EmilyStyle has already been blogged about by Jordyn over at Oh Happy Day and Meg at A Practical Wedding.

I don't mean to regurgitate. My goal is to simply highlight.

I love, love, love to see fun at weddings. So often, we limit ourselves to thinking about wedding fun in very traditional ways: a good meal, good drinks, good dancing, and good cake.

Don't get me wrong. All of these things are very fun (I especially love dancing and baked goods!). But they start to feel formulaic as we get older and accumulate many weddings under our belts.

I wish I had been a guest at Emily's wedding where she had an actual variety show. A variety show! What a fun way to build community, connection, and FUN!

I am also jealous of her tap-dancing aunt. Simply adorable.

I'm still trying to update my List of Ways to Have Fun at a Wedding. If you think of any new ones, please add it to the comment section of that post.

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Wedding Advice

One of the British newspapers has this mother-daughter advice column and the subject pertained to weddings, so I thought I would share:

Dear Vicki and Octavia,

Our only daughter is getting married and we've always said we would pay for the wedding. However, everything seems to cost a lot more than we had anticipated, and our budget of £20,000 [Editor's Note: I think that's $37,500 in US dollars] appears insufficient. We are thinking of remortgaging the house because we want the day to be perfect. Is this madness?

Vicki Hmm. We've just been asked to an engagement party: the wedding is next summer; her parents are of sufficient means to contemplate a doubling of the five-figure sum you first thought of. My own unmarried daughter (see below) was brought up knowing that her parents' means were insufficient to blow £23,000 (the average annual British salary) on One Perfect Day...

Octavia Yes, it's utter madness. I have yet to encounter these costs but when I do I'll do everything I can to slash them. The best weddings I've been to were those with personal touches: when the bride made her own favours (pots of jam - we were collecting old jars for her for weeks). Or when we turned up to find relatives making the buffet and laying a table for 150. Cheap weddings are a good lesson in marital finances. (Do have a free bar, though: it does impress the guests).


My own two American cents?

I would add a piece about how a wedding doesn't need to be "a perfect day." It puts too much pressure on everyone to frame it in those terms. Instead, the goal should be to create a wedding that is meaningful and memorable. And money is not the most effective way to make something meaningful and memorable. Instead, try things like sincerity and creativity. If you bring your closest friends and family together, let your personalities shine, and figure out how to make the whole thing fun, you're much more likely to have a meaningful and memorable event.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Words of Wisdom

A reader had some words of wisdom that should be taken to heart by anyone immersed in Wedding Planning Madness:

As a bridesmaid in five weddings, she remarked that she was "disappointed at how quickly even the most laid back of my friends get swept up in the must have lots of THINGS in my wedding instead of thinking about the actual ceremony and the actual marriage."

She went on to explain that one of her friends "was almost having a panic attack complaining about the little details on the way to the rehearsal dinner and I had to turn to her and say 'I love you but - You're missing it. This is your wedding and you are totally missing the Big Picture.'"

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Q & A: Doling Out Jobs and Save the Dates

Reader Questions: Did you ever feel uncomfortable asking friends and family members for help and giving them jobs? I think some people seem laid back enough to not mind, and others seem all offended that I want to “put them to work” – I wasn’t sure how to proceed, so I’ve kind of put things on hold for now. . .

Great question! I addressed this issue here. Additionally: I think the trick is asking people in a really straightforward way like, "I'm asking you this because I think you have a lot to contribute, but my number one goal is for you to enjoy yourself. So if doing this job interferes with that, then please say no! Seriously. My feelings won't be hurt. I promise to appreciate your honesty."

Also, am I understanding right that you did your save the dates by an online survey? Did you have issues with people weren’t into emails and computers (grandparents, etc.) and did people know it was a save the date?

Another good one. You can find my thoughts here. Additionally: we entitled the e-mail message "Save the Date," so it was pretty apparent. Also, back to your first question: we used the survey as a way to gauge who might be interested in helping out!

E-mail your questions to saracotner@yahoo.com

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Q & A: Professional Photography

Reader Question: I have fallen prey to the wedding photography hype and wanted to ask you if you were happy with your friends doing your pictures?

My future sister in law is not a professional photographer but she has been taking photos for years, she knows all about the different lighting and effects and all of that and she has a camera that takes incredible pictures. She has offered to do our wedding photos for free (woo hoo! don't you love that word?) but I guess I am just a little hesitant after seeing the amazing photos on some of the wedding websites. I am also concerned that she won't get to enjoy the time, but she would love doing the pictures, it's totally her and she assures me that she would be completely content in her own little world.

Do you regret not having a professional for your pics? Did you miss out on the photojournalistic effects or are you completely happy with them?

I just don't want to be disappointed, but $1000 for the cheapest photographer I could find and be happy with versus free is a huge difference! I could definitely put that money to a better use.

I want to start by saying that our wedding was a really important day for us. We brought together our nearest and dearest and planned a big event that was focused on connection, community, commitment, and fun.

But we acknowledged at the beginning of the planning process that it wasn't the most important day of our lives, or even the most important day of our relationship. Acknowledging this up front took us off the hook. We didn't feel pressured and stressed to create the ultimate day.

The irony of feeling like you have to plan the "happiest day of your life" is that you end up feeling completely stressed and anxious as the day unfolds. You worry that it won't live up to your expectations and then the day "flies by." You're left to relive it with photography and videography.

We just wanted to create a really meaningful and memorable experience. And we documented it with photographs of three friends who functioned as "designated photographers" and the rest of our friends and family who uploaded their photos to a centralized flickr account.

We went this route for several reasons:
  1. We didn't want to spend a small fortune on one day. There are lots of good causes out there in need of money (including a down payment on our first house!).
  2. I often find professional wedding photographers annoying. I've interacted with lots of them at friends' weddings over the years. They often choreograph situations in order to get the best shot. Or they are in your face when you're having the most fun in order to capture the action. (Of course I'm not saying every professional photographer is like this! It's definitely possible to find a cool one.)
  3. We wanted to limit our wedding to our closest friends and family. The only outside vendors were Cathy and Cory, the owners of the Sunshine Mountain Lodge where we held the reception. We spent our 7-month planning time building a relationship with them, so by the time the wedding rolled around, they actually felt like family. (Of course, some people do form friendships with their photographers, too.)
  4. We have never hired a professional photographer for other important events in our lives and never plan to. College graduation, birthday parties, the birth of our first child--we are fine with all of these things being captured by an amateur's click. Our wedding didn't seem any different. In fact, we were afraid that hiring a professional photographer might make our wedding feel like a show.
Before you make your decision, you should figure out what the purpose of wedding photos are. Then you can figure out the best route for you.

For us, we wanted to have lots of pictures that we could look back at, reminisce with, and share with people who were unable to attend the wedding. That's pretty much it. In the end, we have over 2,000 photos collected from our designated photographers and our friends and family. That works for us.

The only time I have even a modicum of self-doubt is when I see all the beautiful wedding pictures by professionals posted on the web. But then I remind myself that a wedding is not a competition. It's an incredibly personal thing. We all have to plan the very best wedding for us.

When I look back at my own wedding photos, they are beautiful to me because I experience all the feelings I had while it was happening.

Readers, please chime in with your own insight into this situation: Are you going with a professional photographer? Why or why not?

E-mail your questions to saracotner@yahoo.com

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Our Saga

Wow. Yesterday was really, really hard.

Our dog, Hoss, was hit by a car at 8:50am. I watched (and heard) it happen. I ran to him, but he took off running from the shock.

I jumped in the car and tried to find him, but wasn't able to. I tried to call Matt at work, but someone else answered his cell phone number and explained that Matt now had a new cell phone number but he didn't know what it was.

Then my phone died because we still don't have power and I haven't been able to regularly charge things.

Then I tried knocking on one neighbor's door to beseech him for help, but he wasn't home. I tried another, and she immediately wanted to help. She let me use her outlet to charge my phone, and she jumped in her car to scour the neighborhood.

I was finally able to get in touch with Matt. He said he would come home right away.

After a futile search through the neighborhood, I called all the animal hospitals and clinics in the area to ask them to call me if anyone brought in an injured bloodhound.

Matt continued to search by car, bike, and foot. We were convinced that he was hiding under someone's house (we live in a neighborhood of old bungalows, most of which are on raised, pier and beam foundations).

My friend Christina came to help, and she checked under every house she could. We also passed out 300 flyers to ask people to be on the lookout for him.

After Hoss had been missing for eight hours, we started to get desperate. Christina and I called a pet psychic, but her phone went straight to voicemail with a message about how she has a lot of back log since Hurricane Ike. We then drove to a local psychic who said she didn't do that sort of thing.

My mom posted an ad on craigslist, and I tried getting in touch with the SPCA, which was an incredibly bureaucratic and frustrating process. I was on hold for 20 minutes and eventually got connected with an answering machine.

I called all the animal hospitals and clinics one more time to make sure they still had my contact information.

At 6pm, my friend, Camella, and I were just sitting on the front porch feeling utterly and completely helpless. We debated about making bigger posters for the neighborhood. We crossed our fingers that people would start returning home after work, read the flyers, and check under their houses.

Then we got a call from one of the animal hospitals. The doctor told me not to get excited. He said one of his nurses had seen a bloodhound running around outside. He directed me to the particular intersection where the dog had been spotted.

Camella and I jumped in the car and sped away, only fastening our seat belts when we had reached the end of the street. We drove a mile to the spot, and Camella spotted Hoss first. I rolled down the window and said his name, afraid that he would keep running. I then opened the front door to get out, and he jumped on my lap, licking us both up and down.

It's miraculous, really. He was hit by a car but sustained no major injuries. He basically went on a 9-hour adventure through town, crossing several major intersections, and trotting along for many miles. He is limping a little and he has some scrapes, but we are so, so lucky.

The day also reminded me that I am so, so lucky to have married a wonderful, wonderful individual.

Matt and I dated for three years before we got married, and I have to confess that I broke up with him three times during that period (more toward the beginning of our relationship).

I never knew my real father--he didn't want to have anything to do with me or my pregnant mom--so I have abandonment issues. My dating history basically goes like this: if a guy is emotionally unavailable and isn't all that into me, I want him like nobody's business. If a guy is kind, emotionally available, and into me, I'm not the least bit attracted.

Matt was different. He was kind and emotionally available and within a few days of meeting him, I called two separate friends in different states and said, "I think I found the guy I want to marry." I was so inspired by his kindness and generosity. I wanted to live up to the high bar he set.

But once we started dating, I fell back into my old habits. I wanted to push him away because I had difficulty letting someone love me (hence the three break-ups). Once I worked through my issues and we decided to get married, I never had second thoughts (which surprised my indecisive self!).

Yesterday was yet another reminder that I am so, so lucky to have married a generous, compassionate, humorous, persevering soul. Matt was so responsive, so supportive, and so hard-working yesterday. He scoured the neighborhood, looked under houses, introduced himself to the neighbors, and just didn't stop. Even when Camella and I were defeated and just resting on our front porch and Christina had taken off to get a bite to eat, Matt was still out there.

He is such a good father for our canine son.

I am so lucky to be married to him.

P.S. Dear Readers, thank you so much for your supportive comments yesterday. I really, really appreciated all your well-wishes and your prayers. Please let me know when you need me to return the favor!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Our Dog is Hurt and Missing

My trusty dog, Hoss, and I were on the front porch this morning. Power still hasn't been restored post-Ike, and it's much cooler outside.

Hoss somehow managed to slip out of his collar. He ran toward another dog across a busy street, was hit by a car, and continued running. Now we are unable to find him. We worry that he is hurt and hiding.

We have scoured the neighborhood for several hours, by car, bike, and foot. We have also called all the animal clinics and hospitals. We are currently getting flyers printed so we can pass them out this afternoon.

I will be taking a break from blogging until we resolve this crisis.

Please send your telepathic well-wishes our way....

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trying Out Inkubook

I'm taking Inkubook up on their offer for a free book (with only $6.99 for shipping) for first-time members. I think it will make an excellent Christmas present for my parents and my in-laws.

[Editor's Note: Hm...I'm not very fond of the phrase "in-laws." What about "newfound family"?]

I sure hope neither sets of parents are reading this blog right now...

I'll let you know how the process goes. I'm currently trying to upload photos into my account. It's a little slow-going, but the good news is the program let me import pictures straight from my flickr account. That's a huge time-saver! I don't have to save them all from flickr unto my hard drive and then upload them. I have a massive flickr file folder where I asked all my guests to upload their pictures (see a description of that process here).

As a side note, if you're looking for gift ideas, you might consider making a calendar of photos through Snapfish. It's a super-easy process, and I do it every year for my mom. I simply upload 12 photos from that year. Snapfish turns it into a beautiful calendar. She hangs it in her office at work, which gives her fodder for what many mom's like to do: talk about their children with passerbys.

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Win a Free Green Wedding

Not everyone wants to turn their wedding into a spectacle, but if you're looking for a virtually free wedding, this contest might be a good option:

Clay Hill Farm’s Green Wedding Giveaway is a contest of commitment.

The contest challenges couples on the verge of a major life commitment to explore the parallel of a commitment to each other and a commitment to the earth. This is not a contest measuring green. Not at all. This is a creative challenge of exploration and awakening.

Marriage is about commitment and compromise, so is green. How can these two concepts be explored in conjunction? Is there a place for green at your table? Tell us your story in a play, a video, a painting, a poem, a song, an essay or whatever suits your fancy. Be creative, be poignant, be green (or not). Pick your shade and shout it to the world. Do this and you could win a green wedding prize package valued at over $40,00.

The Green Wedding Giveaway will be a daytime wedding ceremony and reception at Clay Hill Farm on June 21, 2009, the summer solstice. Rehearsal dinner, ceremony, catered reception, hand-painted watercolor invitations, flowers, photography, DJ services, live cocktail music, cake, hybrid bridal transportation, spa services, organic beverages, tuxedo rentals, wedding-night suite and a honeymoon week.

It sounds like you'd have to give up most of the creative control over your wedding, but if you're looking for a stress-free, classy affair, this might just be it.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

The Wedding Formula

Nowadays, a lot of teachers feel pressure to ensure that their students pass the standardized tests that determine whether schools pass or fail, according to the No Child Left Behind legislation put in place by the Bush administration.

A lot of teachers actually insist that their students follow a rigid formula for writing an essay, in order to help boost their writing scores. The formula usually goes: one-sentence introduction, three paragraphs with one reason each, and a one-sentence conclusion.

Teachers spend so much time teaching and practicing this formula that they neglect to teach more important things like: voice and uniqueness, establishing a purpose for writing and then making strategic decisions that align with the purpose, or organizing ideas in a way that most compels and engages the reader.

I see the same thing happening in the wedding world. There's so much pressure to follow a common formula for weddings. The formula looks something like this:
  1. Rehearsal dinner for a select few the night before
  2. Ceremony (with walking down the aisle, single-sex wedding parties, bouquets, readings, vows, and a ring exchange)
  3. Reception (with toasts, dinner, first dance, dancing, cake-cutting, and something fun like a photo booth or a scrap booking table)
  4. Brunch the following day
There's nothing inherently wrong with this formula. In fact, you can have a perfectly meaningful and memorable wedding by following this formula.

However, I think our weddings could potentially be even more meaningful and even more memorable if we put each piece of the formula under a microscope and genuinely asked these questions:
  1. Is this tradition something we want to keep?
  2. Is this tradition something we want to modify?
  3. Is this tradition something we want to throw out entirely?
  4. What other entirely new and different elements would we like to add to add to our wedding?
There are no set rules. There are definitely expectations (from the Wedding Industrial Complex, our family, our friends, and society at large). But there's a space between others' expectations and our actions. Ultimately, we decide what to do with others' expectations. The choice is ours.

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Family Farm Wedding

Mmm....this wedding (featured in a Detroit newspaper) makes me smile. It was held on the bride's family farm.

The rehearsal dinner was a simple picnic, followed by croquet, horseshoes and badminton. Later that night, they retreated to the barn for an open mic night, replete with guitars, poems, and serenades from 5-year-old nephews. So fun!

I also very much appreciate and respect the fact that they have been saving money for their wedding for a few years and, with family, pulled together $9,300 for the shindig. So many couples go into debt to finance weddings that are beyond their means.

They married on a Sunday morning at a state park on the shores of West Okoboji Lake, near the family farm.

They had a brunch reception for 130 guests at $11 per person. And, instead of cake, they paid $200 to a local resident to serve frozen ice-cream treats from her 1967 vintage Ford ice cream truck. What a fun surprise!

The fun continued as the wedding participants changed into comfy clothes so they could swim and play more games, including Wiffle Ball.

I love the emphasis on good ol' fashioned fun. I also love the bride's seeming laid-backness (she used the state park restroom right before her wedding). The whole affair feels relaxed and fun. It seems like they created an environment that was conducive to focusing on what really matters--community, connection, and commitment.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Selecting a Meaningful and Memorable Wedding Venue

Today is my last day in Florida. I'm here visiting my best friend in our old college town.

My mom, brother, and cousin drove over from Tampa to visit me, and we trekked to one of my favorite restaurants in the entire world: The Sugar Mill.

Yep, it's an old sugar mill in the middle of a state park that has been converted into a restaurant. Griddles are built into the tables, and the best thing to order is a pitcher of pancake batter and all the interesting sides you want: chocolate chips, blueberries, pecans, bananas--just to name a few.

Everyone sits around the table cooking their own breakfast. And the meal comes to about $5.

[Editor's Note: You can create something similar at your own house with an electric griddle and an extension cord. Seriously! I've had pancake parties, make-your own quesadilla parties, and grill your own grilled cheese sandwich parties.]

The restaurant is situated on a natural spring that is used for swimming and diving. They even have manatees swimming in the lake during the winter.

I have such fond memories of the place and I thought to myself: "Wow, this would have been an amazing place to have a wedding, even though it doesn't feel like a wedding spot at all!" It would have been so fun to have a morning ceremony and then cook breakfast and spend the rest of the day swimming, sunning, and kayaking.

It got me thinking about locations that don't seem like wedding venues on the surface but actually have a lot of meaning for the couple and would therefore make excellent locations.

Then I read about a couple who got married in a hospital because the bride had been going there since she was a baby to overcome a brain tumor. She was friends with the hospital staff and also wanted to inspire the patients: "We really wanted to give the kids here . . . an ounce of hope that their lives will come full circle like mine did."

Then a commenter on this site left a post about friends in Minneapolis who got married on top of a parking ramp overlooking the cityscape "because the couple spent a great deal of their time hanging out with homeless people around the city and wanted a locale for their wedding their homeless friends wouldn't feel intimidated by."

The commenter went on to say: "It ended up being an absolutely beautiful day, an incredibly fun and relaxed wedding, and the diversity of the guests was a testament to the love that this couple has for everyone they meet."

I am so inspired by weddings that are meaningful and memorable.

What weddings have you been to at locations that are very meaningful to the couple? I'd love to hear about them!

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Rules from the Wedding Industry

I was intrigued by this headline on The Knot: 10 Rules for Every Bride.

I'm not a big fan of "rules" and I certainly don't like rules that come from the Wedding Industry, but I actually found many of their ten items very helpful.

A few of my favorites:

1. I can live without lady's slipper orchids.

2. I won't make my bridesmaids look like clones.

3. I won't invite my second cousin's fling.

4. I won't obsess over my registry.

8. I won't have unrealistic weight expectations.

Their explanations are very compelling and insightful. For example, I very much appreciated this recommendation:

"If you find that you're being attracted to things that will have your budget bursting at the seams, it's time for a reality check. Ask yourself: What will those fragile flowers (or whatever your expensive obsession is) truly add to my wedding? If the answer is just 'impressed glances from five in-the-know female guests,' then you're better off spending that dough on something more people will appreciate."

Unfortunately, I was disgusted by one in particular:

"I won't stress out about his bachelor party.

What happens on his stag night is totally out of your control and not for you to know or ever find out. He wouldn't be marrying you if he didn't vastly prefer being by your side instead of being surrounded by 10 intoxicated buddies and expensive entertainment named Bambi. 'Nuff said."

What? You're going to build your marriage on a foundation of dishonesty? This recommendation makes me queasy.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Bride Who Is Just Being Herself

I am absolutely tickled by this bride who rode the public bus to her own wedding.

She didn't do it to be different. Or make a statement. Or draw attention to herself.

She did it because it's a deep expression of who she is, and she didn't change herself to fit anyone else's preconceived notions of what she ought to do on her wedding day.

She rides the bus daily and has formed relationships with the friendly bus drivers. She's also committed to the environmental benefits of public transportation. Additionally, she said, "Using the bus is a nice part of my day. I get to relax while traveling to where I need to go, so why not make it part of my wedding?...Also, the bus route runs straight past the wedding venue, so it just made sense."

Hooray for a practical bride! I feel like it's so easy to lose ourselves in the pressures of wedding planning. It's easy to feel like we need to conform to our families' expectations because we love them and want them to enjoy the day. It's easy to fall prey to the subtle (and not so subtle pressures) of the Wedding Industrial Complex and societal traditions/expectations.

It's so refreshing to hear about a bride who is just being herself and making sure that her wedding day reflects who she is in "real life". Now that's something to celebrate!

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Why do weddings fly by?

I hear this sentiment in the wedding world over and over:

"Be advised, brides and grooms, your wedding weekend will be a rush of activity, a blur of emotion, and suddenly you’ll be in the car, headed out to your first night, man and wife...it was like trying to catch clouds—they are much too big and much too elusive to be contained. You will, however, take back some vivid memories—moments when time stood still enough for you to really feel them. Those are sweet, sweet, sweet memories, but for the rest of them, I suggest hiring a good photographer."

This newlywed from Washington, D.C. continues:

"The reception was even more of a blur. I ate two bites of food, got three sips of wine, but then met, talked to, and danced with our guests the rest of the evening."

And sums it up:

"And it was done. Eight months of planning for a flash of an event. There wasn’t enough time to catch up with loved ones who had traveled long distances to be there, nor was there time to even eat, but still, our wedding was so much better than we could have even imagined and we feel so blessed."

I don't know what I get sad when I hear stories about weddings "flying by." Maybe it's because they typically take so much time, money, and energy to plan. And many of your friends and family come from far distances to gather together and celebrate.

I want weddings to be things that you immerse yourself in, settle into, and savor.

But how do we create the kind of wedding that lingers?

I feel like Matt and I achieved it, but I'm not exactly sure how. Here are a few ideas rolling around in my head.
  1. We set aside multiple days to celebrate our wedding: We spent a day hiking with my family and another day horseback riding, spent two nights with Matt's family, went hiking and ate dinner with early arrivers and late departers.
  2. We gave ourselves multiple opportunities to spend time with our guests: Because we stayed in the same location with half the guests, we ate relaxed breakfasts together every morning. We also had an inclusive Welcome Picnic, so we basically had two formal opportunities to party with our guests. Also, because our friends were involved in the wedding preparations, we got to spend time with them as we hung white lights and prepared food for the reception.
  3. We limited our guest list: Because only 80 of our closest family and friends came, we had more time to spend with everyone, and conversations didn't pass by in a blur. We could actually sit down and talk. It didn't feel like a "meet and greet.
  4. We delegated: Our wedding was full of details, most of which got delegated to different friends and family. My mom, for example, had to pick up four balloons from the grocery store and tie them to the road sign to indicate where to turn for the ceremony. Christy and Chris had to unload the cakes and the margarita machine. Erin and Loren had to direct cars at the ceremony. Marie had to pack the ceremony drinks (root beer and water) into the cooler and bring it to the ceremony. Gail, Brittany, and Kristin had to pass out the programs. Dustin had to help my family find their seats. Noah had to help Matt's family find theirs--you get the idea! There were lots of details, but they were all divvied up well in advance of the actual wedding weekend. Everyone took a small piece, so no one felt overwhelmed with responsibility and they could all enjoy the day, too. We primarily used friends instead of vendors, but the principle of delegation is the same. Appoint someone to make sure the catering people arrive. Appoint someone to direct the florist, etc. Delegating allows you to shrug off stress and just be present. The added bonus is that the delgatees are often thankful for their small role in the process because they feel like they've contributed and helped make the day possible.
I'm honestly not sure. There's definitely a correlative relationship; we did those four things and we were able to savor our wedding as we experienced it. But I have no evidence that there's a causal relationship. I can't assert that those four things are the reason why our wedding lingered. I'm not sure why we had a wedding that we could immerse ourselves in, settle into, and savor.

Argh! I wish I had more insight into this phenomenon.

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Separate Is Not Equal

For a significant period of time, racial discrimination against black people was perfectly acceptable to many white people. Separate water fountains, businesses, schools, etc. Some actively enforced the discrimination while others complacently accepted it and went about their own business because it didn't really affect them.

Now, the majority of white people are appalled when they look back at the blatant discrimination. We think, "How unfair! I can't believe they discriminated against people based on the color of their skin."

And yet here we are, in 2008, and we are once again discriminating against an entire group of people. Gay people who are eager to formalize their commitments to each other are told by most states that it's illegal. And we have to be honest. Marriage is more than a formalized commitment between individuals. It comes with many rights and benefits, ranging from
hospital visitation to taxes to inheritance.

The otherwise lovely and progressive California is now threatening to pass Proposition 8, which would amend the state constitution to read: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

I honestly cannot understand any argument against the legalization of same-sex marriage. It's an issue of equal human rights.

Brad Pitt just donated $100,000 to help oppose the ban. If you, too, are interested in donating, visit the Vote No on Prop 8 website.

Also, there's an option to set up a wedding registry, so your guests could also donate money to support the equal marriage cause.

I'm glad the tide is rolling in. I'm just waiting for it to sweep the country.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

A Non-Traditional Wedding Cake

Ha! This picture makes me smile. According to the BBC, a couple in Norfolk wanted to do something other than traditional wedding cake, so they served a giant hamburger.

I personally love, love, love baked goods, but I can appreciate their creativity (and sense of humor).

Or would that be humour?

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Comic Relief During Ceremonies

Mmm, mmm...Our Labor of Love has a lovely shot of comic relief during a wedding ceremony.

I am a big fan of laughter during wedding ceremonies, either intentionally (through readings, speeches, etc.) or unintentionally (through small bloopers). I think laughter erases the anxiety and helps everyone feel connected to one another as they share a chuckle.

Apparently Brad and Kim had to use butter to get the ring over Brad's knuckles (and even then it was on the wrong finger!). So endearing.

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Tribute to the Summer of 2008

I am lamenting summer's imminent end. [insert sigh]

Indeed, we have one official weekend left before September 22, the autumnal equinox, which is the official start of Fall.

As a Tribute to the Summer of 2008, I would like to share my guacamole recipe with all of you.

Matt and I are avid fans of guacamole, and it was fun to share one of our favorite foods with our nearest and dearest at our wedding.

Our close friend, Nick, Matt, and I had an assembly line going in the main kitchen of the B&B where we all stayed (and where the reception was held). We divided and conquered--each of us chopping up something to put into the big punch bowl that held a lot of servings at one time. When the bowl was full, we would divide it into smaller containers that eventually found their way to the reception tables for an appetizer. (I promise it tasted much better than it looks in the photo!)

All around us, our other friends made black bean and corn salad, salsa, seven-layer dip, and fajitas.

For simple wedding favors, we sewed some cilantro seeds into a paper pocket and included directions for growing cilantro on the front and our guacamole recipe on the back. We wanted to share something important to us with our guests (and encourage them to grow something!).

[As a side note, I have to confess that I started to feel like I crossed the line into "Obsessing About the Details Territory" when Matt and I put together the wedding favors. They were meaningful to us, but they were time-consuming, and not all of our guests even took one from the self-service area. If you do have wedding favors, you should make sure you spend at least an equal amount of time focused on ensuring that guests take away much bigger and more important things from your weddings, like new friendships, connections, fun memories and inspiration.]

Without further ado:


  • 4 ripe avocados (be conscious of the carbon-footprint of imported avocados)
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • ½ tbs. diced jalapeño pepper
  • 1/3 cup diced tomato
  • 1/6 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1 tbs. lemon juice
  • ¾ tsp. sea salt
  1. Scrape the inside of the avocados into a bowl.
  2. Add the onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lemon juice, and sea salt. Mash and stir with a fork to your desired consistency (we love chunky!).
  3. Add the tomatoes and stir slightly.
  4. Serve! (with chips that aren't too flimsy).

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Good Marriage Quote

"It is in the shelter of each other that the people live."
--Irish Proverb

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tip #7: Ideas for Building Successful Relationships

Admit when you're wrong.

Matt and I both like to be right. We frequently find ourselves disagreeing about the littlest things: What's the fastest way to get to our favorite restaurant? What time does the art store close? How do you pronounce "inchoate"?

There's definitely an element of competition as we wait and see who is right.

Just yesterday, we were debating about the fastest way to get to the airport. I argued that we should pay $1 to take the toll road because it was 4:50pm, which was close enough to rush hour. Houston traffic is something you don't want to mess with. Matt argued that we should take the regular freeway because it was still early enough.

As we approached the regular freeway on our way to the toll road, we realized it didn't look too crowded, so we decided to save the dollar. As we made our merry way to the airport, it was clear that Matt was right. So I went ahead and stated for the record, "Baby, you were right about the traffic. I'm glad we went this way."

It's not easy to admit defeat, but I think it's a super-important element of a healthy relationship. I think it prevents bitterness from developing, and it shows that the truth is more important than someone's ego.

As important as it is to admit wrongness about the little things, it's even more important (and infinitely more difficult!) to admit wrongness about the big things.

Just the other day, Matt and I were fighting about his job. I wanted him to come to Florida with me since school was going to be canceled post-hurricane. He, on the other hand, wanted to stay and help get his school cleaned up. I was hurt by his willingness to prioritize his job over me. In the end, however, I apologized to him for not understanding and respecting his commitment to his job (a job that fully represents his deepest passions and commitments to the world).

It often comes down to a battle between my super-ego and id (a few of Freud's ideas about personality really resonate with me). My id never wants to apologize. It's childish and immature. My super-ego, however, is much more rationale and mature. It urges me to do the right thing.

My poor ego is caught in the middle. It listens to both sides and then makes its decision. On a good day, it decides to apologize.

Find other tips here

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Seeing the World Through "Wedding Glasses"

What a whirlwind travel schedule: Houston to New York for work. Then back to Houston (after two flight changes, due to Hurricane Ike). Then three days in Houston with no power (but at least candles are oh-so romantic). And now I'm in Central Florida for a week to celebrate my best friend's birthday.

Although we've got fun stuff on the docket (e.g., a walk on the beach, a film festival, a dinner party, a run at Gemini Springs, etc.) we've also got lots of work time.

I've brought along the other half of our thank-you cards, and I worked on them diligently (only because I couldn't figure out how to get my wireless internet to connect!).

Matt and I divided the list in half. I started with the cards to my friends and family, and he started with his. We've both finished our original set, but now we're flip-flopping so we can write on each other's cards.

The process is the same thing we did for our wedding invitations. We wanted to write personalized notes to our guests to genuinely convey how important they are to our lives and how ecstatic we would be if they could join us.

Being able to compare the invitation writing process to the thank-you writing process has led me to an interesting realization.

I noticed that I am much more relaxed and sensible about the thank-you cards. I simply write the message, read over it once, and send it.

On the other hand, when I worked on the invitations, I was much more neurotic and insecure. I would read each message multiple times to ensure I hadn't made a mistake. I tripled-checked them to make sure there were no smudges.

It makes me wonder if a special phenomenon exists. I'll call this phenomenon "Wedding Glasses." It's as if we see the world through a different lens when we're planning a wedding. This lens has a tendency to make us more neurotic, more obsessed, more insecure, and more anxious.

Ironically, those feelings are the exact opposite of what you actually want to feel on your wedding day. Argh!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Photographs with Energy, Emotion, and Action

While our house made it out of Hurricane Ike relatively unscathed, our dear friend, Camella, can't say the same.

A tree crashed through her house during the Hurricane. At least half (if not her entire house) must be rebuilt.

In the meantime, we're storing some of her stuff at our house, and I had the opportunity to look through her wedding album. I was a bridesmaid in the wedding this past April, but I haven't looked at all her pictures in one place since then.

I wrote a post a while back complaining that most of the "wedding porn" I see on the internet focuses more on the surface details of the wedding rather than the energy, emotion, and action of a wedding. I loved looking at her photos and seeing exactly that!

P.S. Everything is going to be fine with Camella. We packed up her stuff today, and she found a temporary apartment. She's actually excited about the prospect of redesigning her house. Kudos to her for her optimism, positivity, and resilience!

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Hurricane Ike

Wow. It's been an interesting couple of days.

My flight arrived without any problems yesterday (well, there was a moment when it felt like we were careening on the runway and I accidentally elbowed the man next to me as I instinctually reclaimed the armrest to hold on for dear life).

Being reunited with my partner and dog was a huge relief.

A tree fell in our backyard and crushed our fence while also ripping the electrical wires from our house. We have about $800 of total damage. It would be easy to get wrapped up the inconvenience of living without electricity or the daily fear of running out of gasoline (the line at our neighborhood gas station was literally two miles long this afternoon).

But all of these difficulties are so, so minor when juxtaposed with the fact that all of my friends and family are well. When I start to get stressed, I need to remember what is really important.

It reminds me a bit of the wedding planning process. When I started to get wrapped up in minor details that actually felt huge, I had to remember that my relationship was bigger than any of the smaller stresses.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Potential Absence

I'm hopefully getting on a plane back to Houston tomorrow (knock on wood). Continental has resumed flights, so I'm optimistic.

I'll try my best to find internet access in the coming week. Please excuse my potential absence!

Happy Monday,


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Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Complete Story

Blogs are a funny thing because they are essentially stories told backwards.

If you're interested in reading our wedding story right side up, you can find a summary below. This series ran last week at Elizabeth Anne Designs.

Post #1: Overview
Post #2: Our Planning Philosophy
Post #3: Location and Guest List
Post #4: Vendors and Rings
Post #5: Wedding Attire
Post #6: The Welcome Picnic
Post #7: The Ceremony
Post #8: The Reception
Post #9: Advice for Other Couples

A big thanks to EAD for hosting me last week!

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Inspirational Weddings

Kathryn featured a delightful wedding over at Snippet & Ink this weekend.

If you haven't seen it yet, you should make haste over there to check it out. It's a very detailed post about how the couple took on creative DIY projects and allotted their wedding budget.

There's also a link to the bride's blog where she details all of her DIY projects. She provides tons of insight into the process.

Her relaxed perspective is really refreshing. For example, here's what she says about her bouquet:

Although I'd been collecting clippings for months of tons of different beautiful, full bouquets, even a week before the wedding I didn't know what I wanted to do for mine. I seethed with jealousy of brides who got to carry peonies or daffodils and tried to figure out every possible way to find them in mid-July, but buying them out-of-season would have cost me a small fortune. I finally decided I just didn't really care. I'd only be holding my own bouquet for a few minutes while I walked down the aisle. It wasn't worth worrying about and I really just wanted something small, monochromatic and hand-tied, so I did the unthinkable in bride-land....I bought my bouquet flowers from a grocery store.

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Resilience of Love

I'm in New York to work with new teachers, and it's so difficult to be away from home (Houston) as my partner, Matt, and dog, Hoss, are left to weather Hurricane Ike and its aftermath.

I was originally scheduled to leave on Friday morning, but Matt convinced me to reschedule my flight for Thursday to ensure a smooth departure.

As the storm moved toward Houston, Matt and Hoss decided to stay with our friends, Camella and Kevin, because they had boarded up their windows.

They had four adults and four animals packed in their two-bedroom, one-bedroom house. In the middle of the night, a tree crashed down on the house. Everyone was okay, but they had to flee to the neighbor's house through the stormy conditions. Matt had to carry our 70-pound dog through the standing water. I can't even begin to imagine how scared he must have been.

When things calmed down, he walked through our neighborhood. We were very, very lucky. A big tree fell down in our backyard and took out the electrical wires, and our doors may be a little cracked and damaged, which may indicate some foundation shifting/damage, but that's it.

Our neighborhood seems to be in bad shape, though. Apparently, lots of trees have fallen on houses.

I'm not sure how to get home or what we'll do once I actually get there. The airport is currently closed. I'm scheduled to fly out Monday morning at 6:30, but I'm just not sure. Continental isn't being straightforward about which flights are canceled/delayed; they are still showing that all of their flights are on for today, even though the airport is closed. Even if I do make it back to Houston, I'm not sure if the highways are going to be too flooded or too congested to get home.

We're not yet sure when power will be restored or when Matt is required to return to work.

I am just so, so thankful for for the safety of my family. Commitment and connection are such powerful things. It reminds me of a piece of our vows:

When life challenges us, I promise to focus on the resiliency of our love.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Donate Out-of-Town Guest Bags

A reader request:

May I make a request? I've been struggling with something for the last couple of weeks because of a couple of things: I am a Red Cross volunteer and I am reading wedding blogs in preparation for planning a spring wedding and I've seen a bunch of how-to posts for out of town guest bags. I can't get them out of my mind.

When our shelter housed Gustav evacuees, we got so many requests for bags. Folks donate clothes and the Red Cross provides basic necessities, but people need to pack and organize their belongings and all we had were flimsy plastic Wal-Mart bags.

Perhaps you can recommend to brides, wedding guests, and the general public that they can make a Red Cross resident incredibly happy if they donate those same bags. The bags used for testing the gocco, the bags that everyone hopes their guests use later (but the guests know that they won't), or even an extra reusable bag you buy each time you go to the grocery store-- donate them. Ask that your destination wedding guests to put bags they won't use (anonymously, of course!) into a container and drop the whole thing off after your wedding. Order an extra 10 just for that purpose. Or (I'm on a roll here) ask your guests to write a brief "good wishes" note, stick it inside, and THEN donate them. "Best wishes from the family and friends of the happy couple. May your path be well-lit and your luck great."

I only recently started with the Red Cross, and while I understand the motivation that leads brides to want to provide everything for their guests' comfort, perhaps a bit of that (or even just the throwaways from the effort) can be diverted to people who are left without much.

What a great idea!

It looks like the National Red Cross "is unable to accept small, individual donations or collections of items such as clothing, food or cleaning supplies." But I bet your local branch would very much appreciate it. Thanks for the suggestion.

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Controversy and Compromise


I have to confess my stomach felt a little queasy all day. I really don't like to make people mad.

Once, when I was in college, I wrote a brief letter-to-the-editor of our campus newspaper asking him not to use the word "he" to refer to all students in the generic sense because I didn't feel represented. A baseball player read the letter and basically created an I-hate-Sara-shrine in the hallway of his dorm. He said I was a "lesbian bitch whose boyfriend probably just broke up with her."

That made me feel queasy, too.

But now that I'm done working for the day and have had a chance to read over everything again, I feel less queasy. I feel good about the fact that we're having a genuine dialogue. I'm sorry I may have driven some people away. I agree with Kate's comment: "Condemning a group for bad behavior will NOT grant you the audience that you want, nor will you be able to educate them."

I particularly appreciated how Meg of A Practical Wedding complexified the dress issue. She's absolutely right to raise the idea that my $15 dress from Target is good on the budget but not so good for the world (in terms of the questionable labor practices that go into producing cheap goods).

But that's exactly the kind of thing we should be talking about! I don't feel angry or judged (maybe that's because she phrased it so nicely?). I very much appreciated that Meg raised an interesting and insightful idea that challenged choices I made.

Planning a wedding is about compromises. We have to make compromises when certain things don't fit within our self-proclaimed budget. We have to make compromises when things don't necessarily align with our values. We have to make compromises when our partners' tastes and preferences deviate from our own (or when we involve families in the process and their tastes deviate from our own).

In our case, our budget had to trump our values in several different ways: 1) my dress was not necessarily produced with sweatshop-free labor 2) we bought a lot of our food from Sam's Club, which is associated with Wal-Mart and puts high-fructose corn syrup in their food 3) we couldn't afford to rent real plates and dishes, so we had to go with disposable tableware (the best we could do was make sure they were compostable).

Those compromises were difficult for Matt and I to make. Every couple needs to set their own wedding budget and determine their own priorities. I just think we need to continue discussing our choices and our compromises in a candid way. Thank you to all of you for your comments and insight!

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A Rant About Weddings

A funny thing is happening in my life.

Now that my wedding is over, I find myself thinking and talking about weddings way more than I ever did as I was planning it (although I did talk about it a lot as I was planning it, too).

In college, I majored in American studies (with a minor in gender studies). Let me attempt to summarize some of the most salient points of my major:
  1. The world is messed up in a lot of ways (I know it's American studies, but we talked a lot about the rest of the world, too). Wow, I'm overwhelmed by the prospect of even beginning to describe all the ways the world is messed up.
  2. We can make the world better, if we choose to examine it, question it, and then commit to doing something about it. As cliched as Gandhi's phrase has become, we must be the change we wish to see in the world. Our actions shape the world.
  3. The personal is political. The power structures within families and schools, our consumer habits, what we eat (and how we eat it)--and even our weddings--deeply reflect our assumptions, our values, and our vision for what the world could be. If we want to change the macrocosm (i.e., the big things), we should start with the microcosm (i.e., the small things).
I'm becoming obsessed with weddings because they so brilliantly capture a lot of what is wrong with the world. They illuminate our rampant consumption, our narcissism, and our obliviousness.

Weddings are major events in our lives that should focus on community, connection, commitment, and fun. Instead, many of them have become stage productions. They are often extremely stressful and they "fly by," such that couples are forced to merely relive them through expensive photography and videography.

I don't expect everyone to have a $2,000 wedding. I don't expect everyone to replicate what we did. Our wedding reflected us. That was the point.

We imposed a strict budget on ourselves from the get-go because we didn't want to get consumed by the craziness of the Wedding Industrial Complex. We also knew that we could make the wedding special with sincerity rather than money. We also wanted to save money for a house, and we didn't want to accept any money from our parents because we wanted the wedding to reflect our tastes and preferences, not anyone else's.

When I wax "judgmental," it's not that I'm judging anyone who doesn't have a $2,000 budget. That's not it at all. I'm judging people who get so wrapped up in their own weddings that they neglect to analyze the impact our choices have on the world.

Over at A Practical Wedding, Meg said this today: "To be clear, I'm not very dogmatic about weddings. If having a $5 million fireworks display after your first dance works for you, and you can afford it (and think it is in good taste) I raise my eyebrows at you but you may carry on. There are many, many, resources for you, so I'm not too worried."

I'm sorry, but if anyone wastes $5 million on fireworks for their wedding, I will judge them. As all of us should. Just because some individuals have money does not mean they shouldn't be judged if they waste it in narcissistic, self-indulgent, self-centered ways. That money could feed, clothe, and educate a lot of people, and I'm going to be pissed if it gets spent on a one-day wedding.

Meg continues: "Why is every level of wedding planning fraught with so much judgment (perceived or real) and so much guilt?"

It's up to all of us to sort through the judgment and the guilt.

I went to a very, very expensive wedding during my own engagement, and I met a cousin of the bride. When she found out I was engaged, she cooed, "Ooh! Let me have your hand!" Honestly, I had no idea what she was doing. I really thought she wanted to hold my hand. So I put both my hands into her hand.

Much to my chagrin, I realized she wanted to see a ring. Some sort of big diamond thing, I imagine. I absolutely felt judged when I had nothing to show her.

I didn't want an engagement ring. I only need one ring to represent my commitment to Matt. But a lot of people don't understand that. When I feel judged for having a practical, recycled, synthetic-gem ring, I simply shrug it off.

But if someone is spending a lot of money for a dress they will only wear one time and then store in the closet, they should feel guilt. I know it's a wedding and you're supposed to feel happy, but it's wasteful. And, again, that perfect dress isn't going to make your wedding any more focused on community, connection, commitment, and fun. I'm not saying you shouldn't spend money on a wedding dress. I just think brides-to-be need to question how much they are willing to spend on a one-day dress and figure out what they are going to do with it after the wedding.

I think this type of critical discussion is very important. It forces all of us to reflect on our choices. In the end, we may make the same choices, but at least we've thought about them first.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tip #6: Ideas for Building Successful Relationships

Live healthily so you can live longer together.

There's an interesting article about how to live longer. An adventurer/researcher spent seven years identifying "four hot spots of longevity": the mountainous Barbagia region of Sardinia, an island off the coast of Italy; the Japanese island of Okinawa; a community of Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, Calif., about 60 miles east of Los Angeles; and the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, in Central America.

Common factors among these otherwise disparate regions include:
  1. Close relationships
  2. Healthy eating
  3. A sense of purpose
Limiting food intake and eating healthy also are key... Elderly Okinawans follow a maxim to eat only until their stomachs are 80 percent full, Buettner said. Centenarians in Sardinia, Okinawa and Nicoya rarely ate meat, and some Adventists stick only to a plant-based diet. Adventists frequently eat nuts while Okinawans eat tofu.

According to the article, two factors severely limit Americans' potential for true longevity: smoking and obesity. It's never too late to make a change!

Marriage is about the long haul. It's about joys and sorrows and wrinkles. It's about keeping track of your anniversaries in moon cycles. It's about growing more comfortable and more patient every day. It's not about cake toppers and centerpieces and dresses that you only wear once.

Be your best healthy self! That reminds me of our vows. We promised to be our best selves for each other. That definitely includes being as intentionally healthy as possible.

Find other tips here

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Donate Your Wedding Dress

Ah, yes! One more viable option for your wedding dress once you no longer need it: Donate it! (Thanks, Brittany, for your comment on the Trash the Dress post.)

The Making Memories Foundation sponsors Brides Against Breast Cancer events. Basically, you donate your wedding dress and it is then sold to another bride-to-be. The profit is then used to make wishes come true for women and men with breast cancer.

Here's what their website says:

This unique opportunity allows brides-to-be a chance to find the gown of their dreams at a remarkable price, while helping to make wishes and memory-making events come true. Most gown prices range from $99 to $799*, including hundreds of beautiful new name brand and designer gowns valued up to $8,000. *Exclusive designer and couture gowns valued up to $20,000 are also available at an incredible 25% to 75% savings. We gladly accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and debit cards.

REMEMBER – more than half the gowns presented during each event are NEW designer gowns that arrived directly from designers, manufacturers and bridal retailers.

Specific directions for sending in your gowns can be found on their website.

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Trash the Trash-the-Dress Concept

There are some pictures over at Elizabeth Anne Designs of a Trash the Dress session.

This whole trash-the-dress idea is a phenomenon that, frankly, I can't wrap my mind around.

I tried to do a little Google research to answers my questions. Unfortunately, it only led to more questions. Here are some snippets of rationale for why one would have a Trash the Dress session:

From a YouTube video: It's a way to get "more than one use out of a very expensive gown." And "the reality of a wedding dress is you wear it for two and a half hours or so...you take it off and hang it up in your closet that night and it's sad and lonely."

Then there's this bit from a Trash the Dress website:

You’ve made a commitment to your husband. He’s your one and only true love, right? Then you’ll never need the dress again. And no, your daughter won’t wear it in 20-30 years. So you have two choices: 1) Suffocate it in plastic and throw it in a closet 2) Show your husband how committed you are by trashing the dress, and get some great fun pictures while you do it!

Really? There are really only two choices?

What about:
  1. Actually buying a dress you will wear again. Is that really such a crazy idea? It seems like the most rationale idea of all. If you're going to drop a lot of money on a dress, it seems logical to get multiple uses of it (editor's note: one narcissistic photo shoot where you proceed to ruin the dress does not constitute "multiple uses"). If you know of someone who wears their wedding dress in real life, please e-mail me!
  2. Selling your big, fancy dress that you're never going to wear again so a) you at least recoup some of the money and b) someone else can have a big, fancy dress and go into less debt.
And the other ideas I generated last month.

I really am worked up about this. It is so incredibly wasteful and narcissistic and self-centered and vain to spend thousands of dollars on a dress that you wear for a couple of hours and then proceed to ruin (or make it so dirty that it then requires hundreds of dollars in dry-cleaning fees).

Please, please, please: Before you get married, figure out what you are going to do with your dress after the wedding. If you're only going to wear it on your wedding day, do some quick math to figure out how much you are paying for that dress per hour. Is it really necessary? I know it's a big day and you're going to be the center of attention and you want to feel beautiful, but there are lots of inexpensive dresses out there that can accomplish the same thing. Or rent the damn thing!

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Love Parade

I'm in love with things like parades and scavenger hunts and roller-skating rinks and four-square courts and swing sets.

There's just nothing more alluring than pure fun.

I love these images from a wedding captured by One Love Photo. Here's what they have to say about it:

"last weekend bethany and josh were married in a city park in olympia washington. their reception was few blocks away at the heritage room. they organized a love parade with their guests from the ceremony to the reception. complete with ribbons, signs, bubbles and a high school marching band. the energy was high as we marched along together. celebration was in the air. nothing like a trombone to get you ready to get your groove on!"

A love parade! What a brilliant idea! Maybe I should start collecting ideas for a 10-year vow renewal ceremony? Or maybe my next dinner party?

Find other ideas for having fun here

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Wedding Photography That Goes Beyond the Surface Details

A lot of wedding porn bugs me. It tends to accentuate all the little details of the day: the flowers at the end of the pews, the bouquets, the centerpieces, the wedding favors, the bride's shoes...

I get why there's lots of photography of such things: brides tend to put a lot of time and energy (not to mention money) into these details. Hence they become items that need to be photographed.

But it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. Once brides-to-be start looking at wedding porn on websites and in magazines, they become convinced that they, too, need to obsess about the details. Then they spend a lot of time/energy/money on the details and those become things that need to be photographed.


I don't believe a wedding is in the surface details. I believe a wedding is in the words, the actions, and the energy.

That's what I like to see photos of.

I want to see the wedding party and the guests doing things. Laughing, eating, talking, dancing. Whatever fun stuff there is to do at a wedding (and there should be lots of it), that's what I want to see.

I also like the shots that capture the bride and the groom playing together.

Here's an example from a profile that Ariel did over at Offbeat Bride. The fun in their relationship is transparent. I understand that their "fun session" was potentially contrived by the photographer (i.e., "Let's get some candid shots of you two together.") but at least the photos are dynamic. The energy is palpable.

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Halloween Wedding Fun

I had to have my wedding in the summer for a couple reasons (none of which have to do with the fact that summer is a very conventional time to have a wedding):
  1. I was born in San Diego, lived their for 12 developmental years, and then moved to Florida to finish off my childhood. When I graduated from college at Stetson University, I joined Teach For America and moved to the coast of rural Louisiana (also warm and sunny). After three years of teaching on the bayou, I moved to Houston to teach at a KIPP school. As you can see, I am addicted to sunshine and warmth. I am a summer girl through and through.
  2. Many of our friends are teachers, so summer vacation is a great time for them to travel.
  3. Matt and I only lived in Denver for one year, and we wanted to get married in Colorado before we moved. We didn't want to get married in his hometown or my hometown because we didn't want the ceremony to be dominated by one of our families. Also, Houston (where we moved to) would not be one of my top wedding destination choices. I love the heat and humidity, but the mosquitoes would thwart my outdoor wedding preferences!
So, summer it was. As a side note, the mountains are a great place to get married in the summer. The daytime temperatures only get into the eighties (but you do have to watch out for brief, sporadic rain outbursts).

If I absolutely couldn't get married in the summer, my second choice would be Halloween. Seriously. I would have a big costume party wedding. I would request that all the guests dress up in their best costumes. I would wear a big, puffy white dress to mock the fact that traditional wedding dresses feel like costumes to me anyway.

I love dressing up for Halloween (see two of my previous costumes above; I was Super-Ego and my friend, Jamie, was Super-Freak). I would love to attend a Halloween wedding. According to my quick Google search, it appears that lots of folks do have Halloween weddings; I've just never been invited to one. I was once the guest at a wedding that was held over Halloween weekend and yet we weren't aloud to dress up. That was a huge disappointment.

Next year is the perfect year for a Halloween wedding. October 31st falls on a Saturday!

If you're even considering it, here's some planning inspiration.

P.S. It's time to get cracking on those Halloween costumes. It's September already. I'm going as Scrabble. Some other costume ideas from my friends: a squid and a whale, Einstein and a bee, the main character from Where the Wild Things Are.

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