Friday, January 28, 2011

Talking Dirty

Why does no one in the wedding blogging world ever talk about sex?  Anyone?  Honestly, I do not get it.  I mean, sex is such an integral part of the wedding and marriage and all that, but I have never once seen a post about it.  Boudoir photos and bachelorette parties, yes, but never a word about the honeymoon or the wedding night.

Why not?  We talk about everything else wedding-related.  I mean, I did a 3-part series about my SHOES for God's sake, and people actually read it.  So what is our deal when it comes to sex?  For some of you, your wedding night will be your first time, so I get why you don't feel the need to discuss it beforehand.  But what about the rest of you?  Most of you are living with your fiances, so I can only assume you don't feel the need to wait.  Do we feel talking about our sex lives is a little too private to be sprawled on the internet?  Do we want to keep the wedding night intimate?  Or do we who love obsessing over napkin colors or favors just not care much about the night that follows all our hard work and planning?  Does that get left by the wayside?  Cuz I've got to admit, I fully believe that I may pass out Heartbreakers-style (Mirkin, USA, 2001) as soon as we get to the room.

Whatever the reason, I'm breaking the cycle.  We're going to have a conversation about the wedding night.

Despite the fact that I may pass out as soon as the bed is in sight, I'd really like the wedding night to be special.  For me, this can be rather difficult physically.  My uterus is tilted, and between that and endometriosis, sex has always been painful for me.  I have to spend a lot of the time concentrating on getting the positions right so that I don't get hurt.

This makes trying new positions a rather unpleasant experience.  We used to experiment, but after a while, it became pretty clear that missionary style was the only sure bet.

Nonetheless, I'd like to do something different for the wedding night and honeymoon, just to make it special.  But I have no idea what I'm doing when researching these kinds of things.

And so, I am going to start by asking you.  What works for you?  How do you keep it fresh?  And where should I look to find new ideas that aren't too crazy, stuff that I might actually be able to do?  I don't want to just Google it if I can avoid it because, um, scary.

I realize this can be a touchy (pun intended) subject, so I'm not looking for details, just general advice and links.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Nicole and Andrew's Wedding

Hello Everyone!  I am alive!  You probably figured I was since posts have been going up, but everything's actually been on autopilot since I went into the hospital, so this is my real return to blogland.  The surgery went really well, and I am still in possession of BOTH fallopian tubes, so my fertility is secure for now.  Recovery, however, has been significantly worse than I expected and just sitting at the computer is still a strain.  Fortunately, my friend Nicole finally sent me a guest post on her and Andrew's wedding, so she's going to do my job for me today.  I've mentioned their wedding before.  It was the first one I went to after meeting Daniel, and both the bride and the groom will be in our wedding party.  Nicole and Andrew got married right out of college, so they had to do everything on a really tight budget, and let me tell you, that is no mean task in the Bay Area.  Nonetheless, they pulled it off beautifully.  But Nicole can tell it much better than I can...P.S.  All photos were provided by Nicole, so I do not know who took many of them, so let's just assume none of you actually care.

(editor's note:  Nicole and Andrew were the first BookWorlds marriage, Daniel and I will be the second, and the most likely third is a couple named Nicole and Jorge.  Coincidence that all three are with a Nicole?  I think not.)

The Meet: Andrew and I originally met our freshmen year at Berkeley, in a class about "The Lord of the Rings." We became friends through this love of Tolkien, as well as our uncanny ability to end up living in the same neighborhood. (Our first year we were in adjoining dorms, our second we ended up living within one block of each other near the Ashby BART.) We didn't start dating until our sophomore year.

The Engagement: In our junior year, we decided to study abroad together in Copenhagen, Denmark. At the end of our semester, we took a five week spin around Europe, ending up in Paris on New Year's Eve. That night, in sight of the Eiffel Tower, on the banks of the Seine, at the stroke of midnight, Andrew proposed to me with a ring he had bought earlier that day in Paris, as well as a book ("Bilbo's Song") that I had previously stipulated would be given to me by my betrothed someday.  (editor's note:  Daniel is still mad at Andrew for ruining all future proposals by making theirs so perfect)

The Planning: We agreed we wouldn't be married until after we graduated, so that left a little time before I was allowed any planning. We started our preparations about 15 months in advance, and Andrew was involved in every step of the way, which made for some interesting disagreements. Like many couples, the biggest concern was the guest list. Andrew had many more friends and family members than I, and he seemed intent to invite them all. In the end, we invited around 100-125 people, with about 75 showing up. 

 (editor's note:  That's my Daniel as Best Man up there)

The Wedding Party: As I mentioned above, Andrew has a lot of friends, so naturally he wanted to include them all in the wedding. We compromised at having five groomsmen and the same number of bridesmaids. I chose Sarah, my best friend from college, as my maid of honor, and two other college friends, Anna and Cynthia as bridesmaids. I really wanted to include my best friend from high school, Val, who is like my little sister, and my cousin Amber, with whom I spent most of my childhood, so that nicely made up the five girls in the wedding party. Unfortunately, with two bridesmaids in SoCal and one in England, it made planning difficult. I managed to get by with Cynthia and Sarah for a long time, but about three months before the wedding, Cynthia and I had a big fight, and she dropped out of the wedding (never travel with friends, it's a bad idea). This was really hard on me, and while we eventually resolved our problems, we didn't get everything worked out in time for her to be in the wedding. We decided to balance our wedding party; we'd have our Best Man, Daniel (Nicole's fiancé) stay at the altar with Andrew on the Big Day, thus leaving four groomsmen to accompany my four bridesmaids. Andrew's cousin Savannah was the flower girl, and my brother Ricky walked me down the aisle. The best wedding party decision we made was to have our friend Sue officiate the wedding. Sue has always been like a mother to us both, and had given us lots of useful advice over the years, and we felt she was the person who knew us the best as a couple.

The Budget: Andrew and I had managed to save about $5,000 for the wedding, and we were convinced we could do our wedding on this budget. Thankfully, we had some help. Andrew's dad paid for the alcohol and the rehearsal dinner (total about $1,000), while my parents paid for and prepared the reception food ($500). A good friend paid about $300 for our flowers, which she arranged herself, including bouquets, and my grandmother chipped in $350 for our amazing Katrina Rozelle cake and made all the table runners herself. Despite this generous support, when all was said and done, Andrew and I ended up putting about $3,000 on our credit card to pay for our wedding, but were able to pay most of that off within a month of the wedding, thanks to wedding cash and stable jobs.

The Venue: It was important to us that we be married in the Berkeley area, since so much of our relationship had formed there. We scouted some sites, and finally found the perfect one: The Redwood Grove at the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens. Andrew loves trees, especially redwoods, and the connection with our alma mater sealed the deal for us. For the reception, we went a little farther afield to Oakland, to the Lake Merritt Boathouse, which had enough space, a kitchen, and a lakeside view. 

The Cake: The cake deserves a separate post by itself, as Nicole will surely tell you. We had resigned ourselves to a Costco cake, but still wanted to look around a little. One day, we happened upon Katrina Rozelle, and they had time for a free cake tasting. Well, the taste of these cakes was unlike anything I'd ever tasted in wedding cakes, and we were in heaven after a few bites. The prices were out of our budget, but the store worked with us to find something that was within our budget. Mainly by having only two big layers instead of three were we able to pull out a cake that fed 100+ people and was under $400. Since our colors were gold and blue (Go Bears!), we opted for some simple piping and let our elegant cake topper and some rose petals do the rest. We were really happy with the cake, though I had hoped for some fondant.

The Dress: In a lot of ways, the dress was the easiest part of the wedding process. When my mother remarried, I went dress shopping with her and saw a picture of my ideal dress. I stole the picture from the store and had it saved for a couple of years before I even met Andrew. Thus, when it was time to get married, I knew exactly what I wanted. I was especially pleased that the dress seemed to fit my relationship with Andrew: romantic and somewhat fantastical. Of course, finding the dress was the actual hard part. It had basically been discontinued except in some very expensive boutiques, and I gave up hope of finding it for a while. I half-heartedly tried on some other dresses and browsed around, but nothing really struck me in the same way. Finally, one day I gave EBay a try, and sure enough, there was my dress! In my size! For only $350! I was a little apprehensive about ordering a dress without actually being able to try it on first, but it all turned out fine. Other than being too long, it fit me perfectly and I practically cried every time I tried it on. I had to pay some extra money to have it cleaned, pressed, and most importantly, hemmed and bustled, but the extra $150 for this was completely worth it.

The Ceremony: I feel like our ceremony was a very personal one. Since neither of us are religious, we knew we didn't want any references to God in our wedding (this was another reason we wanted a friend to marry us instead of a clergyman). We had musically inclined friends playing a song from "The Lord of the Rings" as I walked down the aisle. I had really wanted to include my mother and grandmother in my wedding, since I'm very close to both, and the best way was to have them assemble my bouquet for me when I reached the altar. Our officiant had prepared some very personal words that really described our relationship well. We wrote our own vows, which were a big cause for stress, believe me, but totally worth it. We also had our guests swear a community vow to help us in our marriage, which I think was a nice way to include our friends and families in our wedding and it made the wedding seem more than just about me and Andrew.

The Reception: We had a lag time between the ceremony and reception, because we needed the time to get over to Oakland to set up the reception venue, and we wanted to give our guests time to rest or eat lunch before the dinner. A handful of faithful friends and the entire wedding party plus their significant others all joined us in transforming the Boathouse into a blue and gold dance hall. My step-dad and aunt got right into the kitchen to prepare the evenings meal, fettuccini alfredo with salad and bread, while others decorated the tables, arranged chairs, and set out drinks and appetizers. I really liked that our food table was internationally themed, providing open-faced sandwiches from Denmark, French cheese, and even some Turkish delight that I had picked up that summer when I was traveling the Middle East. We had so much food and alcohol we ended up donating some to a homeless shelter after the wedding (well, not the alcohol, I think friends took that home!). Our evening began with a swing dance lesson for our guests, provided as a wedding gift from some dancing friends, while everyone else drank and munched on snacks until dinner. After dinner came dancing (to music coordinated by a friend), cake, and the usual garter/bouquet toss.

The Honeymoon: We weren't sure we were going to be able to have a honeymoon, since our budget was so tight, but at the last minute we caved and decided, "What the heck!?" and booked some tickets to Mexico on our credit card. I think a honeymoon was really important for us, because a lot of our relationship had involved travel (and we were getting ready to leave for Peace Corps). Thankfully, we signed up for a honeymoon registry and received over $2,000 for our trip from guests. We also received another $2,500 in cash at the wedding, so we ended up being able to afford it all. We chose Mexico because we had recently traveled to the western part of Mexico (on disastrous trip with ex-bridesmaid) and really wanted to see the Caribbean part. We didn't book a tour or even hotels. We took everything day by day and visited beaches and ruins, swam with whale sharks, and drank at least one pina colada a day. It was a prefect honeymoon, and really set the pace for the first four years of our marriage, which we've spent country-hopping around the world.

The Regrets: My biggest regret was not having a professional photographer. We had decided that this would be too expensive, and an amateur photographer friend had offered to do our wedding for free, so we jumped on the chance. The only problem was, this was her first wedding, so she didn't know how to set up shots like a professional would, and of course, she was also a guest, so she didn't get everything we wanted because she was also having fun and hanging out with friends. In addition, we had hired some friends of a friend to come and serve food and clean up, but they never showed up. This left the burden on my family and friends, which made for a very long and stressful night. 

The Best Parts: I'm really happy that our friends were so involved in our wedding. Not only did it save us money, but it felt more personal to have them helping out every step of the way. Now, when I look back on photos, I don't just think, "Wow, those flowers were beautiful," I think, "Laura did an amazing job on the flowers." And as much as it pained me at the time, I'm happy Andrew was so interested in the wedding. It made the wedding really feel like it was ours, not just my childhood fantasy. In this way, our wedding really represented us as a couple, which is exactly what a wedding should do.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nom Nom Nom

In spite of my illness during our NorCal planning trip, we did manage to get some things done.  The most enjoyable and successful was completely, utterly, and without a doubt our tasting at Guayma's.

We already knew we loved their food.  That was why we looked into Guayma's in the first place.  Still, free food is always appreciated (as Daniel pointed out, this wasn't in the strictest sense "free" since technically speaking this will be the most expensive meal of our lives, but the way I see it, if I'm not paying for it now, and we were going to have to pay the same exorbitant amount with or without this particular meal, I'm going to take advantage of that extra special taste of excellence that comes with food being free).

We start with the appetizers and margaritas.

I was actually really glad we got to try the margaritas.  I've had one at Guayma's before, but I'm cheap, and it was nice to be able to taste some of their signature ones, even though we decided not to go with the margarita pitchers.  We knew the chips and salsa were excellent, but the guacamole was new to us, and even though it was not the world's most exciting guacamole, it was made from some of the freshest avocados I've ever had.  I definitely appreciated that.

I'm so mad at myself for not getting a picture of the empanadas as I intend them to be my main course at the wedding.  I was a little too intent on wolfing them down to remember my camera.  But they are one of the best Mexican dishes I have ever eaten.  Flaky crusts encompass gobs fantastic cheese mixed with a touch of potato and mushrooms or zucchini.  Nothing overpowers the taste of the cheese, but the other ingredients keep the large amounts of cheese from being sickening.  They are perfectly balanced and by far my favorite part of any Guayma's meal.

I also failed to get pictures of the cactus and plantain tamales we ordered, but we decided not to include them anyway.  We were thinking about having them as one of the main dishes since we have some vegetarians coming and wanted them to feel included, but even though they were delicious, they just didn't feel like a main dish.  In the end, there will be enough vegetarian food that I highly doubt the few people with restrictions who are coming will feel cheated (hint to vegetarian guests:  if this does bother you, let me know please, we are definitely willing to accommodate you, it's just that it will cost us extra).

After all that (can you believe we're still on appetizers?), we tasted the salad.

This was definitely the least whelming part of the meal, but it was still really good for salad.  They pretty much sold me just on the goat cheese and (oh so) fresh avocado.

Then, after eating way, way too much of our delicious appetizers, we moved on to the main courses.

The steak and chicken skewers were so succulent and flavorful that I forgot all about the vegetarian tamales, and for me, the pseudo-vegetarian who orders tamales at every Mexican restaurant, that's saying something.  I didn't try the shrimp because I don't eat seafood, but Daniel was definitely in love with it, and I did poke my finger in the sauce which was excellent:  spicy but not overpowering, just flavorful.  So good.  And it all came with beans, rice, and tortillas which frankly was overkill for our poor stomachs, but that's another thing the vegetarians can eat, so I'm glad we'll have them.  Plus, it'll be good to have something for people who don't like spicy food (how can you live with spicy?!) cuz there's not going to be much else for them.

And then, with overflowing stomachs, we entered my favorite part of the meal:  dessert!

*All Personal Photos

My poor digestive system was so unprepared for more food at this point, but I'm still disappointed that we were unable to finish all three desserts because they were. so. good.  No one would ever have to sell me on chocolate mousse pie, but with its firm yet creamy and chocolately texture, this dessert certainly did not disappoint.  We had had the coconut flan before and were astounded by its perfect texture and caramelly coconut flavor, but this time they added fresh berry sauce which made it all the more attractive.  But strange as it may sound, nothing could compare to the churros.  Daniel has been very put off since that first heavenly bite because he says he will never be able to eat churros again.  Nothing will be as good.  No theme park churro will be worth it.  Not even Disneyland's.  Nothing could compare to the perfect churro crust stuffed with caramel.  Add ice cream for dipping, and these are the perfect churros.  No exceptions, no competition.

I am so screwed.  I don't want to be as unpleasantly bursting at my wedding as I was after this tasting, but I want to eat everything because it was SO GOOD!  Dessert's going to be the hardest because we'll have our cake too, and I HAVE to have ALL OF IT!  Daniel's just going to have to share everything with me.  Oh man.  The one and only thing I wish Guayma's had done different is they gave us full servings of everything which was soooo unnecessary.  But they wouldn't let us bring anyone with us, so it would have been nice to either have reasonable portions or at least people to share with because OMG SO MUCH FOOOOOD.

Yeah, but in conclusion, such good food, such amazingly good food.  Seriously, if you ever visit the Bay Area, go to Guayma's.  It's so worth it, and it's so unique which makes it even better.

Was food a priority for you?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dressing up the Ladies: the Search Begins

I'm not gonna lie, I was a little concerned about starting to look for bridesmaid dresses.  One of my girls is really not into girly stuff, and I thought finding a formal dress she liked would be pretty challenging.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that both of my girls are much more concerned with my wants than theirs though I still really want to find a dress that they like.  And today, we were able to find several that could work which was much more than I was hoping for.

Before we started shopping, I sat them down just to talk about what I expected from them and what I really do not give a shit about.  They thought this was hilarious.  Apparently, I was a little too organized about this, but I've heard sooooooooo many people suggest that you make your intentions clear in the beginning to avoid problems, so I'm glad I did it.  Besides, it gave them a laugh.

Then it was off to the bridal salon.

I have no idea where my taste in bridesmaid dresses came from.  It certainly isn't my taste for myself.  But for some reason I've been looking at form-fitting halter dresses with flowy bits on one side.  Fortunately, this works for the girls anyway because neither of them wants a strapless dress, and they seem to be attracted to similar kinds of dresses.

Our first shopping trip yielded these:

*All Personal Photos

I apologize for the poor picture quality, but I was taking them on the fly.  We especially like the last two, and despite Megan's face in the last one, that was probably the favorite of the day.  Though we also really liked number two, especially because it was already in the right color (I never could separate the current color from the dress in my head), and it's got the flowy bit on the side that I like.

It was a good first start, but I get the feeling we aren't going to get the dresses at a bridal salon.  Department store dresses and formal dresses are just so much cheaper, and above all else, I do not want this wedding to be a financial burden on my bridesmaids.  So the plan is to check out some of the cheaper stores like David's Bridal and Alfred Angelo, and then scour the racks for prom and formal dresses that will make things a bit easier for them.

But for now, don't they look awesome?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wish Me Luck!

I'm going in for surgery tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Meet the Wedding Party: Bridespeoples

A keen observer may have noted that I have yet to talk about our wedding party.  I have noticed that among my friends and fellow bloggers, most people seem to have a pretty easy time choosing their bridesmaids.  In fact, many people have their wedding party picked out before they even get engaged.  This was not an easy decision for me.  Choosing the core group, the three people I ended up going with, was very easy.  But there were other contenders.  One in particular who I really wanted to ask to be a bridesmaid, who I in fact did ask to be a bridesmaid the first time we were engaged, I agonized over for months, wondering if I should ask her this time around.  Though we haven't seen much of each other in the last few years due to distance, we still write (with real, genuine paper!) and talk occasionally, and I still consider her a close friend.  My soul mate.  The problem is that she never picks up her phone.  Or responds to any attempts at communication on a regular basis.  And in the end, I decided I didn't want to deal with the inevitable stress of having her as a bridesmaid.  I'm sad about it, but it's just not worth the strain.

So with that final decision made, I present to you my peeps!

Maid of Honor:  Seema

Seema and I have been friends since seventh grade and became best friends soon after.  I'll never forget our first conversation.  Being GATE (honors) students, we had a lot of classes together.  While walking to English one day after Drama, Seema came up to me and said, "Hi Courtney!"  I proceeded to look around bewildered, gave her a small smile, and continued walking.  But she kept talking to me and eventually said my supposed name again to which I promptly responded, "My name's not Courtney."  We've been friends ever since.  And yes, that is the start of the toast I will give at her wedding.  We've been through a lot together over the years--from hatching plans to dance to "Bye, Bye, Bye" on the tables of our history class and spending inordinate amounts of time at Disneyland to crushing boy troubles (including being broken up with by our boyfriends on the same day--yes, they planned it that way) and keeping in touch while hundreds of miles apart.  She is one of two people from high school I still keep in touch with, and after ten years, she is still my best friend.  Seema is one of those rare gems of my friends who was excited about my wedding even when she was single, and I'm so glad I'll get to have her by my side when the day comes.

Best Man:  Cody

Yes, that's right, I'm having a boy on my side at our wedding.  Deal with it.  In spite of his recent "ignore the family" attitude, my brother and I have always been very close, and I would not feel right getting married without him by my side.  Cody is one of the most interesting people I have ever known and is very difficult to describe.  I would caution against any attempt to classify him, so let's put it this way:  you know those "he's the most interesting man in the world" ads?  That's Cody.  I am so proud (if extremely jealous) to say that my 19-year-old brother has made more progress on his career than any recent college grads I know, and he and his band, Of the Vessel, have started playing gigs across Southern California.  I love him very much and wish that he would descend his "cloud of awesomeness" to talk to me even when other people are around.  But for now I'll just have to console myself with this:

Muahahahaha.  He was so cuuuuuuute :).

Bridesmaid:  Megan

Megan and I met the same way Daniel and I met actually, through BookWorlds.  Well, OK, that's not entirely true.  As Megan likes to remind people, we technically met when I added her on facebook despite the fact that we had never met in person.  But in my defense against utter creepazoidness, we had 3 classes together, the same major, AND we grew up 10 minutes away from each other!  It was fate.  We got to know each other in our Harry Potter class (the same one Daniel used to frequent that was taught by our officiant), and the next semester, we got a lot closer when we taught a class on The Lost Years of Merlin.  I will never truly be done repaying Megan for sticking with me through that highly cumbersome class, but I'm so glad she did (even if it still haunts her nightmares) because we became good friends and then roommates.  She is my closest friend from college, and I'll be happy to have her with me on our wedding day even though I know she'll spend the ceremony itching to get out of her bridesmaid's dress.  That's what she said ;).

And so I introduce you to my peoples.  Megan was highly amused when I noted the diversity among them, and we have taken to calling them my multicultural bridal party--the Indian, the White Boy, and the Asian with a dash of Latina (the runners up were a Persian and a very Aryan Mormon).  My friends have always been pretty spread out, culturally, physically, and socially, and I like it like this.  Whether because I like lots of different experiences or because I am a self-loathing white girl I am not entirely sure, but regardless, I love my friends, and I want ALL of them to share my wedding day with me.

How did you pick your bridal party?  Who did you pick?  Was it easy, or did it require debate?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How to Have a Successful and Productive Wedding Planning Weekend

Step 1:  Don't do nearly enough research before heading to your wedding destination.  Be sure to have a good reason like a personal crisis and failed ceremony plans right before too.

Step 2:  Make it so that you only have 2 full days at the destination that is over 400 miles away from where you live.  While you're too poor to come back up for several months and everything you're doing must be decided by the end of this trip.

Step 3:  Get sick the day before driving to your semi-destination wedding.  Get a lot worse the day that you leave.

Step 4:  Make yourself sicker by stuffing so much food down your throat that you literally cannot stand another bite.  Then try to look at outdoor ceremony locations in the dark and the cold.

Step 5:  Get a lot sicker your first night there.  Go to bed late and wake up before dawn without being able to get back to sleep.  Remember that you only have 2 days to do everything and try to power through the pain.

Step 6:  Be too out of it to think to check whether the florists you're visiting are open on Sundays.  Waste 2 hours driving to closed florists.  Feel like an idiot.

Step 7:  Wake up with a fever on your second and last full day.  Decide to press on anyway despite inability to stand for more than a few minutes.

Step 8:  Look for outdoor ceremony on a cold, windy day near the ocean.

Step 9:  Leave early the last day to get home to your brother's birthday party.  Make sure your fiance was up all night with you so that he is too tired to drive and ends up sleeping while you drive.  Try not to crash.

How Not to Kill Yourself through Your Own Stupidity

Step 1:  Make your fiance do most (and then all) of the driving.

Step 2:  Have your amazingly scrumptious food tasting before you realize you are dying.

Step 3:  Eat cake so delectable that you can still taste how good it is even when you cannot smell.

Step 4:  Reject your OCD nature and let your fiance check out hotels on his own.

Step 5:  Ditch everything that doesn't need to be done now.

Step 6:  Sleep in the car between ceremony locations.

Step 7:  Watch everything your hosts have saved on their DVR.

Though I hope this doesn't happen to you, as Jillreigh reminded me recently, shit happens.  People get sick.  Things do not go as planned.  Life is not perfect.  Sometimes, you just have to deal with it.  We really needed to get our ceremony and hotels taken care of, but the flowers can wait.  And I had to suppress my god-forsaken nature and not do everything myself.  This was probably good practice for the day of when I will not get to set up the wedding decorations and will have to leave it others...and not freak out if it's not perfect.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rolling with the Flow on Photography

In some amazing moment of clarity and non-craziness, I managed to book a photographer based largely on instinct.

As I've mentioned before, Daniel does not care about photography.  Wants good pictures, but wants little to do with the choosing process.  So this decision was pretty much all on me.  And contrary to my OCD, must-research-everything-or-perish-trying personality, I basically just booked the person I wanted because I wanted to.

Not that there weren't any cognitive processes going on in this decision.  I did research.  I've been bookmarking people casually for months, and I definitely searched for cheap, good photographers in the Bay Area (thank you WeddingBee).  I ended up actually speaking to four photographers which definitely isn't nothing.  But for once in my miserable excuse for a life, I didn't overdo it.  Even though I knew I could find someone good for a cheaper price than the photographer we booked, I just did not want to put in the exhausting amount of effort it would take to do it.

And I am in love with our photographer.  I mean, who wouldn't be after this:

He was the one I wanted from the beginning.  There are a few others that I was very interested in until hearing their prices, and one in particular who was willing to work with our budget despite her large amount of experience (Jen May is awesome, check her out), but our photographer was BY FAR the most reasonably priced for his ability.

As soon as I saw Helen and David's wedding, I knew.

So it is with great pleasure that I present to you, Stephen Cheng Photography!

The main reason I didn't book Stephen immediately is that he lives in Orange County, so we have to pay for him to travel to NorCal.  Daniel and I initially viewed this as a totally unnecessary burden on our budget.  Why pay for travel expenses when there are plenty of good photographers in the Bay Area?  Well, thing is, these awesome but cheap photographers seem to be hiding from me, and Stephen was perfect.  I couldn't get his pictures out of my head.  He just seemed like an awesome fit.  His style, romantic without sacrificing realism, is exactly what I was looking for.  I'm even considering using 2 of the 4 songs on his website for the ceremony procession!  It just seemed meant to be except for the whole price issue.

So we met with him (and boy was it nice to be able to finally meet with a photographer in person), and I was happy to hear that he is excited about our wedding!  Always a good attribute in the person who's going to capture it (and I'm pretty sure he was sincere.  Our location is the shit).  We were able to work out travel expenses that will only put us slightly over budget, AND he agreed to give us an extra 2 hours of coverage just because he would be there anyway.  That was what really cinched it for us.  Daniel was very impressed by his reasonableness, and I knew we were never going to find a better deal than 8 hours of coverage for our budget.

And so we booked our photographer with enough thought and research to back up the decision, but mainly because I am in love with this:

In spite of myself, I feel really good about this decision.  The pictures will be good, we get along with the photographer, and our budget will live.

Have you made wedding decisions based on instinct (or laziness)?  How did you choose your photographer?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Am I an Idiot?

My mom basically just offered to pay for me to have a florist so we don't have to DIY our flowers.

And I basically just forbade her from paying for it.

I have reasons.  I've always been the only frugal person in a family that tends to spend more than it really has.  In college, I was the only one of my friends who didn't live on a set budget, and I probably could have gotten my parents to give me a lot more money than they did.  Instead, I scrimped and saved, lived in shitty (and frankly dangerous) parts of town to save money, and spent an awful lot of time trying to live with the bare minimum so that I could help them by not having to ask for money as often.  So this refusing money thing isn't exactly new.

And now more than ever they just don't have it.  My brother is going to start at a private school in the fall, my dad's job situation has been precarious for a while (he's in the movie industry and thus does not have stable work at the best of times), and my mom retired in June and doesn't have much of a pension.  They don't have money to waste on a florist, and if I don't protect them from themselves, they certainly won't do it.

But sometimes I think I'm an idiot for refusing the help.  This isn't the first time.  And their argument, that I'm going to stress myself out so much I don't enjoy the wedding, certainly has merit (not gonna lie, I'm worried about this too).

On the other hand, their well-being is so much more important than a stupid flower arrangement, and I'm kind of proud that the girl who wanted to do her wedding on a $10,000 budget not because she had to but because weddings are ridiculously expensive is still in there, alive and angry about my photography budget (more on that later).  I've tried to take a more laid-back, non-anxiety-attack-inducing view toward the Almighty Budget, and I've accepted wayyyy more wedding money than I ever thought I would (budget over $15,000?  Say what?).  But at this point, I'd feel bad for accepting more because it's just not necessary.  We're fine, we don't need it, so why put strain on anybody?

Of course, we'll see if I eat those words with a gilded spoon come August.

Where do you draw the line between having the wedding you want and making sure it doesn't interfere too much with your (and your contributor's) life?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Universe, I Hate You. Mostly the God of Uteri.

This is not my day.

My day is not really wedding-related, but it is very marriage-related.  In the long term.

I just came back from the obgyn's office.

I don't think I've spoken much if at all about this, so I'll give you a summary.  Between March and August of 2009, I went to the hospital 3 times with severe abdominal pain caused by what they thought at the time were 3 successive ovarian cysts.   Ever since the third one, I've had annoying to severe abdominal pain in the same area as the cysts.  I've spoken to several doctors about it, and each individually came to the same probable diagnosis:  endometriosis.  I'll explain.  The sciencey side of this is that the uterus leaks blood into the surrounding area that creates tissue that should not be there, and this process causes pain.  The practical effects are that I have debilitatingly painful cramps during my period, frequent ovarian cysts, and pain in my right ovarian area on a rather frequent basis.  The pain is off and on, but there's been enough to cause me to want to do something about.  That is, have surgery.

Surgery is the only way to know for sure whether it is in fact endometriosis, but the ultrasound I had yesterday produced some rather unexpected results (btw, sticking a plastic tube with a camera on the end up your vagina is something I hope you never have to experience).  Turns out, the most likely cause of the pain I've been having for the last year-and-a-half is not in fact endometriosis but a mass attached to my fallopian tube that has been slowly growing and messing shit up in there.  I am not particularly happy that the 3 ultrasounds I had previously mistook this mass for an ovarian cyst, but on the other had, my health insurance wasn't good enough to do anything about it most of that time anyway (say what you will about the health care bill, it is going to save my life [not quite literally but close enough] by allowing me to be back on my dad's health insurance).

Anyway, now I have to have surgery to remove it, but the issue lies in what exactly will be removed.  I won't fixate on the details of what will happen if they need to remove part of my bladder or cut into my urethra.  I have much more interesting, marriage-related, and more likely results to brood over.

The mass is very closely attached to my fallopian tube.  They won't know how closely until they cut me open, but there is a decent chance that they will have to remove it, making it impossible for me to have children naturally using the right ovary.

When the doctor told me this, I was concerned but not too fazed.  I can still have kids using the other ovary, right?  I asked her.  The answer was a lot more disconcerting.  Whatever's causing this could be affecting both ovaries but only causing pain in one.  The other could be infertile or need to be removed despite its apparent OKness.

Long story short, there is a decent possibility that I won't be able to have children.

More worrisome right now is that I have to consent to how much they can do, but they won't know what needs to be done until the surgery is in progress, so I have to consent to, say, removing both of my ovaries before I know whether or not it will happen or I'll need to or whatever.  Basically, I have to decide how much I trust my doctor to make the right decision or if I should say, "No, you can't remove that" beforehand.

I pretty much told her she could do whatever she thought was best, but I haven't signed anything yet, and I can still retract that consent.  But the thing is, I don't think I can make an informed decision without knowing what will happen.  How am I supposed to judge how I will feel about actually removing an ovary when it is more likely that I'll be fine?  But then, I can't really not remove stuff either because if the tube does need to come out, I'd still be in pain and probably couldn't have kids anyway with that tube.  But if both of them have a problem?  Or if the other one develops problems later?  I don't know.  I don't want to do anything that 30-year-old Nicole will regret, but I also do not want to be in pain for the next 7+ years while I wait to be ready to have kids.  And if I did, it would just get worse, and the other consequences we discussed would be worse, and I could actually have some major internal organ failure if I don't do it.  So I guess I really should just consent to whatever she thinks is necessary.  But still...

I want kids.  I always have.  I love them.  I mean, I was a toddler teacher last year for a reason.  There's never been any doubt in mind that I will one day have them.  And there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I cannot handle having one now or any time in the next few years at least.  I would so regret not getting my shit together before having kids.

It's just hard being 23 and being told that your fertility is in doubt.

And I mean, it will probably be fine.  It's just having to make decisions without knowing that makes it hard.

Daniel took it really well.  Said he'd love me regardless and just wanted to know about all the possibilities.

I really would be all right with adoption, but I'd still like to have at least one of my own, and who knows how I'll feel by the time I actually want kids?

It's just hard.

And to top things off, I got a call on the way home from the doctor from our potential ceremony site saying that the site we want cannot be rented for weddings nor can any other park in Tiburon!  Yeah, I found them through a list of locations you could get a permit for, but apparently they do not want structures in any of their parks, and apparently a chair is a structure.  The lady from the city of Tiburon was rather snarky.  I was not pleased.

I'm really glad we're going up to NorCal this weekend.  I won't have to apply for jobs (and I have no idea where I should be applying now or when I'll be able to start), we need a new effing ceremony plan, and most of all I'll be able to talk to my friend Dana.  I don't know how this started, but Dana and I sort of ended up being relationship and abdominal pain buddies, so it's a good time to get to talk to her in person.

I hate my life a little bit.  I so do not want to deal with this.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Spur-of-the-moment Wedding

On Sunday, one of my very favorite authors got married in an unplanned, spur-of-the-moment wedding.  For those who don't know him, Neil Gaiman is an incredibly creative and unconventional author who has delved into the darkest, longest-forgotten corners of literature and come back with a cornucopia of knowledge and references.  I love him because every word he writes is new and innovative but conscious of the depth of its roots and the imagination of its audience.

Naturally, someone so unique could not have a conventional wedding.  And while we of the blogosphere are clearly devoted to planning, sometimes almost religiously, it can be nice to remember the attributes of spontaneous declarations of love, witnessed by only the people you really care about:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Shoesies for My Feetsies: Dreams Do Come True

When searching for my shoes, I mostly looked in the department store sales racks.  Lots of selection plus mostly reasonable prices seemed like my best bet.  After-Christmas sales seemed like an excellent time to search, so when I was at the mall last week, I made a point of checking all the shoe departments.

And finally I lucked out and found these:

They are pretty much perfect.  They've got the side strappy deal that I like and the behind-the-heel strap that I think looks so elegant.  The light, silvery color appeals to me and works well with my dress.  Plus, there's just the smallest touch of bling which is awesome.  And best of all...

...the heels are the perfect height!
There are just a couple of things that I'm worried about.  The strap doesn't really hold my heel in place, so they flop around a bit, but I spent a lot of time walking and dancing in them at the store (much to the other customers' chagrin) and it was fine, so I think that will work out.  More problematic is the utter lack of traction.  I definitely like me some traction, especially since catching myself in this dress will not be easy, but my dad said he can rough up the bottoms for me, so we'll make it work.

On the whole, they fit my criteria really well, so I'm happy to check another thing off the list.

 All Personal Photos

I'm happy with them, especially because they actually fit into my budget, but they're not my dream shoes.  For as long as I can remember, there has been only one shoe that I ever truly loved, one shoe that would be special enough for my wedding day, one shoe. to rule. them....all right, not really, but when I first envisioned my wedding shoes, only one image came to mind.

That's right, a glass slipper.  A real glass slipper.  What can I say?  I'm Disney obsessed, and Cinderella was my favorite movie when I was little.

I knew this was completely impractical and never going to happen from the beginning, but my shoe search really started with obsessively googling real glass slippers.  The above were the only ones I could find that were real and would fit a real foot.  They are almost $300.  Obviously, that was not happening.  But for a moment, I did dream of walking down the aisle in these beauties...and then changing into shoes that were not trying to destroy my feet for the reception.

It's probably best that I could never afford glass slippers.  There are so many things that could go wrong.  But I love that they actually exist, and perhaps someday I'll buy my dream shoes anyway.  For now, I'm content with the practical pretties that I have.

All right, I know I'm not the only one who wanted to be Cinderella on her wedding day.  Fess up.  Who else is salivating at the thought of wearing glass slippers?

Classy Wedding by the Sea