Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wedding, or lack thereof.

So yeah, the "wedding" is no longer. Still getting married though, fo sho. I'm pretty sure that part matters more. What we're envisioning now is, basically, exactly what I've been saying I didn't want to do. We'll have a very simple ceremony, probably in the park somewheres (for which you don't need a permit unless it's more than 20 people, which it won't be), and then we'll go to dinner. But - and this is the clincher - we've tacked an extra bit onto the end. The day after the ceremony, we'll leave for a week's vacation. You could call it a honeymoon I suppose, but we're not really thinking of it like that. We'll go somewhere from Sunday to Friday, and that somewhere will likely be Boston. We'll stay in a nice hotel or a bed-and-breakfast, and we'll eat wherever we want to, and we'll shop. We'll spend way more money than we usually would on such a trip. And in the end, we'll still end up spending maybe a fifth to a quarter of what we were going to spend on the original wedding.

Outside of saving a significant amount of money, there are other benefits as well. It shifts the focus away from throwing a big party that's really for other people, and moves it more toward the event of our union. It also removes an immense amount of work and stress from me / us. Starting a marriage by doing something hugely expensive and taxing - where is the wisdom in that? If it wasn't so hard for us to do - for instance, if there was a lovely catering hall that we could walk into, choose a few options for a vegan buffet, pick out two kinds of flowers, and hand over $5k for the whole shebang, well sure. We'd wedding the night away, we'd wedding out little hearts out... maybe. But it just isn't like that. Not only would a catering hall kind of wedding cost way more than that anyway, but it would also just feel like it was for someone else - cookie cutter we ain't. I just can't see it working.

So it really isn't only about the money. Of course it's a huge factor, but if it was the only issue we would figure something out. The fact is that we've both had reservations from the start about the whole thing. There are problems on every level, from timing to social and family relations stuff to having to defend our decisions about what "traditions" to ignore to the hardly anticipated food difficulties to finding appropriate attire for ourselves and the wedding party... It just shouldn't be so hard. It became a question of, what are we fighting for? (Answer: something we don't really want to deal with.) What our we fighting against? (Ourselves, our financial status, and our current living situation.) In the end, I think this is much more realistic, and will be less stressful and as such more enjoyable. Party or not, we will still be married as of March 20th, 2010 - emerging from this little cocoon of engagement as fully formed husband and wife. And without the stress of trying to plan a wedding to get it done, we're pretty psyched about it.

I think the wedding that I was putting together would have been beautiful, and honestly I think I would make a pretty good wedding planner. With the details being less personal, I could be less obsessive - plus I'd be working with other people's money, which is always a plus. I've thought of putting myself out into the world as a strictly vegan wedding planner - as far as I can tell there aren't any, even in New York. I thought my own wedding would be good practice. Ah well, at least in the planning that I did do, I learned a lot. I know, for instance, what venues will allow you to bring in your own caters, and which ones have on site kitchens, and which caterers don't bother to return your emails when you mention "vegan" and "low guest count" in the same request. I know who will and won't attempt to make a vegan cake. At some point, hopefully soon, I'll compile this info into either one post or a collection of posts, for anyone who might want to do this crazy thing called a vegan wedding - and actually has the will and the funds to follow it through. (Well, in New York at least.)

I'll keep posting here as the details of our small ceremony and post-wedding trip come into focus. Who knows, plans may change again - but this is not just another waffle. I've jumped the fence, and I'm not going back. I don't want to work on a wedding. I want to work on a marriage. And now I have the time and energy to do it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Boxing Day.

I'm not sure what it is about December 26th. Perhaps it's 'December 26th With Jonathan'. Perhaps it's 'December 26th In Jonathan's Parents' House'. Perhaps it's 'December 26th In the Woods'. But any way about it, two years in a row now, on that day, we've had major relationship blowouts.

Last year, it went something like so. We'd spent days on end hanging out with his immediate and extended family. I'd been baking in the kitchen with his mother. I had essentially been doing whatever I could to carve out a place for myself within his family... and then my brain short-circuited, when I remembered the conversations we'd had in which he'd told me that he wasn't sure if he ever wanted to get married (i.e., actually make me a part of his family). Obviously this little revelation of mine was followed by the knock-down drag-out of the year - the "why the hell are you parading me around like a puppet in front of your whole damn family when you never intend to actually make a commitment to me anyway" argument. Fun times. And we didn't so much resolve that fight as it came to a sudden halt when he had to go with his parents to see his great Aunt Tillie, who had landed herself in the hospital on Christmas night.

I didn't go into town with them; I wasn't really in the mindset to be partaking in "family" events. We told his parents that I wasn't feeling well, and off they sped down the winding country roads in his mother's Lincoln Continental leaving me alone in the big house in the woods. Of course, within twenty minutes I was wracked with guilt about sending him off to the hospital and refusing to accompany him, so I did the only thing I could think of: I cooked. I cooked a huge meal for everybody, and then I scoured the kitchen from top to bottom. They didn't return for many hours, and when they did I learned that Aunt Tillie had passed away before they'd even gotten into town

Well, Jonathan's parents retired to their bedroom to collect themselves, and Jonathan joined me in the living room. I apologized for sending him off to deal with his family without my support, but he wasn't upset. Instead, he laughed. He said, "I've been spending time with my family. And I feel bad for you - I'm gonna make you one of these people." Well then. I looked up at him and told him he shouldn't say things like that; it wasn't fair to tease. And he replied that he wasn't teasing, was perfectly serious; he'd realized that he did want to marry me after all. Eventually, at least. I've been in various stages of wedding-crazy ever since.

This of course was not the engagement moment. That took a while. but it was a major turning point. What we've struggled with all along is his preconceived notions of "marriage" - that somehow the minute we get married we have to move to some awful house in the suburbs, buy a Subaru mini-van (do they even make those?), and start popping out kids. We've had many talks about this. I explain to him that, since neither one of us want that sort of life, it's not very likely that it will happen. It's not as if there's some sort of brainwashing that goes on during the ceremony, some subliminal messaging worked into the minister's spiel indoctrinating the new couple with fixations of white picket fences and 45 minute commutes. Usually by the end of the conversation he understands that "marriage", as seen on TV and elsewheres, has little to no bearing on what a marriage between he and I would be. But, somehow, after a month or so he forgets, and then we have to do it all over again.

As you may imagine, all this wedding stuff has not helped. Each level of expense and complication has pushed us that much further away from a marriage for us, and more toward trying to do things the way other people do. Because even though the wedding and the marriage are two separate animals, one is a sort of symbol of the other. I have a distinct feeling that the wedding has become ever increasingly a symbol for Jonathan of the kind of marriage that he does not want. This has been a major factor in all of my waffling on whether or not to even have a wedding.

But, to the instant event. We went into this long vacation trip with the intention of talking to both sets of parents about the financial standing of the wedding. After discovering that every penny of my parents' funds are invested in the stock market, I have become extremely reluctant to take anything from them until things become more stable in that arena. So we'd resolved to see if his parents wanted to contribute anything, and then see where we stood. We didn't want to bring it up on x-mas day, when we were arriving to their house, so we figured we'd wait for it to come up semi-naturally in the days following.

Well, the first wrench in the works was thrown within two hours of our arrival. We learned that his parents, who are now retired, have planned two rather extravagant vacations to take place within the next six months. Now, these are people who live very frugally, but have done relatively well for themselves and so every now and then like to take off to Europe. They're the kind that have worked for every penny that they have - in a very real way they are living out the classic "American Dream". It's almost spooky. Anyway, knowing that those trips would be a significant outlay for them, I started to have doubts that it was at all an appropriate time to be asking for large sums. My real fear, even, was that they would cancel one of the trips to be able to give us what we needed. It's the sort of thing they'd do, and they'd do it without even telling us that they were doing it. That's just not something that I could stomach, especially not for something that is, let's face it, a party.

OK. So the next night, the 26th. The day. Perhaps some quirk of astronomical alignment? Hard to say. Honestly though, it's not that hard to understand - here we are, sitting in the beautiful retirement home of two happily married people who have, more or less, gotten everything they wanted out of their lives, while we meanwhile are in our 30's, still not yet married, have no idea where we'll actually settle down, don't know when or where or how or if we'll ever raise any kids... Of everything I ever have wanted out of life - partner, career, artistic success, motherhood - I have only begun to achieve the first one. And this partner of mine seems to go through waves of wanting to stay in the exact same place forever, literally and figuratively. And so, this time my frizzling took a different focus, the 'when are we leaving New York City and where are we going when we do' focus.

Now we've had this discussion before. He gets in this "I want to live in New York forever" mindset. And then I have to ask, you want to stand out on exposed subway platforms in the rain forever? You want to throw money into the ever-deepening rent hole forever? You never want to own a house? You never want to have a dog? And, oh yeah, what about the fact that I don't want to live here forever? Shouldn't that be a factor? We talk about owning our own house and having a dog like every day. These are fairly basic things that both of us want, that are all but impossible here (prohibitive cost-wise and space/time-wise, respectively). If we are ever to have them, a change must be made. Shouldn't we go into our marriage with a plan, rather than stumble blindly forward just hoping that we'll figure something out?

Well, this time the conversation went on for hours, and grew into something more. Much, much more. It in fact, after several hours, developed into "you don't actually want to get married". A statement which was ever so terrifyingly verified. Indeed, he ended up admitting that no, he did not actually want to get married. That he had ended up proposing because he knew I wouldn't stay in the relationship any longer unless he did so. Which, of course, was absolutely true. But I never, ever wanted to get married for that. It was "I need us to progress or we're over, because what's the point", not "do something you don't want to do or we're over." Getting married to someone who doesn't want to be married is number one on my list of Top Ten Ways to Ruin Your Life.

So that was it. In the wee hours of the morning of the 27th, Jonathan and I were un-engaged. I gave back the ring. I tried to sleep. It didn't work. I wanted to leave, to drive on to New Orleans without him and send him back to New York on his own. He wouldn't let me go. I tried to sleep some more. I managed about three hours.

By around 9am I couldn't stand it any more. I tried leaving the bedroom, but his parents were in the main part of the house and I couldn't stop crying. So I got in our rental car and listened to my ipod for an hour. Finally I just got tired of it, and went back into the room to make him talk to me some more. And, actually, to explain to him that I couldn't do it. That I couldn't be with him as my "boyfriend", that knowing he didn't want me to have his name made me nauseous, that I couldn't live with the knowledge every day that I just wasn't good enough. I wanted him to fly back to New York as soon as possible so that he could find an apartment.

Well, as you might imagine, he was having none of it. He loved me. He wanted to be with me. But people became something else when they got married, and he didn't want... that whole list of crap that neither one of us has ever wanted, and that I have never suggested that we get anywhere near. So, yes, we had that conversation again. I know you don't want "marriage". That's not the question. The question is, do you what what a marriage would be between you and me? Oddly enough, the answer to that entirely different question seems to be, yes.

And so, game on.

There has been one significant effect of this whole blowout though: the wedding is basically nixed. The feeling that it's insane to spend a year's salary (maybe not mine now, but more than mine was for many years and more than many people's) on one day's celebration has officially won out over the need to have a party. I'm not sure exactly what we will do, but the original plans are out. It makes me a bit sad, but what can be done? If we could do the whole thing for $10k, it would be a different story. With the way our lives are situated though, and with what we have (and don't have) at our disposal, we couldn't do it any more simply than we were doing it, and it was still way, way, way too much. So it goes.

The end product will involve a maximum of ten people we're guessing. And even if it is disappointing not to have a "real" wedding, it's also a world of weight off of my shoulders - putting together a wedding is a huge amount of work, especially when you insist upon being different.

So, marriage: on, wedding: off. And we forge onward.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Back and forth one million times.

So we've been through another "should we even be having this wedding" freakout. It began when we got the initial quote from the caterer, that put our teeny tiny low key event at $260 a head. Uh... and the food will be made of what now? Ohhh, platinum plated tofu? And will be served by an all-star waitstaff of Ton Cruise, Toby Maguire, and Brad Pitt!? Well then! Oh, wait, no. It'll be a self-serve buffet, with food not plated with any precious or even semi-precious metals. Apparently this is just what it costs to have an event catered in this stupid town.

OK. So then we took a good look at everything there was left to spend, based on the smaller number that we'd like to get by with on catering. And all together it looked completely undoable, but when broken down between both sets of parents and us (essentially dividing by three), we thought we could swing it. This is of course making the bold assumption that my parents will ever come up with money that doesn't completely jeopardize the only retirement fund they have - a fund which is ever so brilliantly all invested in that bastion of stability known as the stock market.

But then we realized that we're not gonna get this thing catered with anything other than lukewarm soy nuggets on iceberg lettuce unless we shell out significantly more dough. And we dove right back into "what in god's name is possessing us to spend this much money one one day's worth of celebration anyway?" And that, certainly, is a valid question. Unfortunately it leads to a circular answer, which goes something like this:

We are getting married. And we want to celebrate the event of us getting married with other people, many of whom live out of state, because it's a very important event. And if we're bringing in people from out of state, we need to tell them to go somewhere and it needs to be somewhere relatively large so that they can all go there at once. We don't have any friends with houses or yards of property of any kind, and Central Park is too risky as far as weather and permits, so we'll have to rent or otherwise pay for a place for them to go. And if we're making them fly here and gather (and pay for New York hotel rooms), we have to feed them and give them alcohol. Doing this at a restaurant would feel cheesy, prevent us from having a ceremony with the majority of the people, and would still cost a significant amount of money. Doing it the way we've been planning to do it will let us share the ceremony and be appropriately nice, but will cost enormous amounts of money which frankly, plainly, we don't have. So maybe we shouldn't be trying to have that kind of wedding. But... but... we are getting married. And we want to celebrate...

Have we considered doing it elsewhere? Yes. But we would have to travel which would add to our costs and to our stress. And then, where? New Orleans isn't exactly cheap for events, and just try to find us a vegan or even a vegetarian caterer. Not to mention that, uh, that's where my parents live. So, you know, they'd be all up in my junk? And I'd, um, kill them? Yeah. Pulaski, Virginia - well, as soon as you find it on a map you just let me know. His parents don't even live in the bustling metropolis of Pulaski anymore either; they now live in White Gate. Among the Amish. You think I'm kidding, and I'm so not. Sure the mountains are beautiful, but it becomes quite a logistical problem. As in, no hotels, certainly no way to have it catered, and so on. And as far as doing it where neither one of us have lived nor have kin, well I think that would just be way too effing difficult to arrange.

In the end, I feel like an ass for wanting something I can't figure out how to pay for, and for even considering spending so much on what really is just one day, even if a very important thing happens on that day. I find it frustrating that even while we're cutting so many corners the price tag is still coming out at over $25k. I'm not getting a real dress. Not having any flowers. Not putting centerpieces on the tables. Our wedding bands cost under $200 (and are, incidentally, lost in the mail - but that's another story). There are no professional decorators, I designed all of the stationery and bought the pieces separately and on sale and will be assembling and addressing everything myself. We did splurge on a photographer, but she's not at the top of the pay spectrum by any stretch of the imagination, and we're not paying for videography. We have a guest list of 50, for chrissake. The venue we've rented was the cheapest we found in the whole city, except for a few which seemed cheap until we realized that they had required caterers, who in turn had required minimums of 150 heads... and so on. For the love of all things good in the world, I've even given up on having a cake.

So, ok, sure. It's a big party we're trying to throw. But compared to what's pushed as the "norm", it's barely even a wedding. So how, how, HOW the hell does it cost this freakin much? I've broken it down. I've got my little chart with all the numbers in plain black and white. But it's still just insane. No matter what I do, I can't make it make sense. And yet, we're getting married...

So now we're back to the part in the cycle where we try to make it happen - with every possible bit of extraneous fluff cut out. Not that there's a whole lot of fluff to cut. I'm now cutting things that I'm not even sure are cuttable. Over the extensive Christmas travels we'll be doing, we're going to talk to the parents and see where things stand. Maybe, come January, we'll know whether or not we'll actually be having a wedding that doesn't involve an American Legion hall.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So, we may have to postpone the wedding.

We met with the caterer, and everything seemed awesome. And then, we got the quote from the caterer. And it's a theoretical quote, based on... actually we don't know what it's based on, because it includes next to no information. It says things like, "Necessary Equipment - $2516.13". Um, which necessary equipment and how much for each piece please? Obviously they have specific pieces and prices in mind or they wouldn't have come up with such a precise number, but for some reason they don't want to tell us what they are. That annoys me.

The grand total of the quote comes to almost thirteen thousand dollars - several thousand dollars beyond what we could possibly think about spending. Completely ridiculous, in fact, considering that we're basing estimates on 50 guests. So, yeah, we'll be needing more information.

I'm a little bit backed into a corner here, and for one main reason: this catering company is literally the only one I've found that will do an all-vegan meal for us. I'm kind of astounded by this. We're in freaking New York City, land of vegans. I feel like I must be missing something. And yet, in the dozens of hours I've spent on the internet, I can't turn up anyone else. So assuming that we're not just gonna break out a b-b-q pit on the terrace and have some veggie skewers and cans of peanuts, I've got to figure out a way to make things work with them.

So, why might we need to postpone? In a word, money. We don't have any, and we don't really have a way to get any. I'm working again, but even if I save every available penny between now and the wedding I'll have scraped up maybe $3000 - barely a drop in the bucket, really. As I've discussed, the whole my-parents-are-paying idea dropped right out the window. Jonathan could maybe ask his parents for money, but neither of us are terribly comfortable with that idea, and we're sure as hell not asking for as much as we actually need, because it's much too big a number.

The truth is that when we started on the whole wedding idea we really thought we could do it for significantly less money than it's coming out to. I truly wish that I'd be content with a ceremony at City Hall and then a fancy dinner for the parents and a few friends. I'd be disappointed with that and so would both mothers, and ultimately I think so would Jonathan. But I don't want to spend thirty thousand dollars on a party, even if that party does center around a very important event. It's ridiculous. For the entire first decade of my adult life I didn't accumulate that much money over the course of any one whole year, and now I'm going to spend it on one day? It's almost obscene when you think about it. At this point I really don't know what to do.

I have an ominous feeling that I will be made to rue the day that I ordered those damn personalized matchboxes...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why I'm marrying him, part 2.

Actually conversation exchanged between the two of us the other night:

* * *

"We don't need a limo for anything do we?" (me.)

"Um, I don't know... no, god, no, why would we need a limo?" (him.)

"I dunno, people do stuff with them I guess?" (me.)

* * *

I thought I might have been missing something. But I'm not missing anything at all.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hook, Line, and Sinker
-or-
No, I really will NEVER learn.

OK. So, back in June or whenever when we made the big announcement, we went into the restaurant with a plan of what would and would not be discussed. We also, of course, had a plan as to how we were going to handle the issue of money. But just leave it to my folks to blow decorum wide open. Jonathan's parents had barely had time to choke with excitement on their complimentary bread before my mother blurted out, "Well of course we're paying for everything!" Naturally I had no intentions of discussing finances at the announcement luncheon, so I hushed her as best I could - that is, her and my dad, who had immediately chimed in - until later that evening.

(In case you're wondering if I was mortified by this little outburst, well, a little bit - but I'll say that I've been my parents' daughter for a long, long time and if I had let that sort of thing get to me I would have had to stop leaving the house years ago. Also, if you're a friend of mine and have ever wondered why I've got that penchant for blurting out inappropriate things, well, here's your answer.)

Once safely out of earshot of people who know how to act, I explained to my parents that we weren't planning on letting them finance the wedding, that we were planning on paying for it ourselves. That we had in fact already started saving. They insisted, and I insisted, and they insisted, and I insisted, and they insisted, and finally I thought, what am I doing? We did have a plan for dealing with parentally offered monies: it was basically that they'd be taken, BUT: not for any specific items, and not with any (tangible) strings attached. Anything and everything was to flow through me exclusively - there would be no "mom sends a deposit to the caterer".

There's also the fact that, unlike while I was growing up, my parents now actually sort of have money. Not due to their own efforts or anything like that; my mom has inherited houses, stock portfolios, and lump sums from an entire generation of aunts and uncles to whom she is the only heir. So, they've got money, and it's only sort of theirs, and they want to give it to me: why should I feel guilty about that?

In such a way, we did manage to get the first installment. We've spent some of it - put the downpayment on our venue and have taken care of some smaller things like the champagne glasses and a deposit on the invitations. And we still have a decent chunk sitting in the wedding fund account, since as I said we had been saving.

Well, then there was this time where I went and didn't have a job for six months. It pretty much put an end to our own saving, and somehow during that time I relaxed from my "we're paying for it, and anything from them is extra" stance into something of the reverse.

In other words, I made the classic mistake that I have been making for my entire life: I trusted my parents.

Well, I should have know that that was gonna come back and bite me in the ass. Since I've been re-employed I've been thinking about how to start saving again... problem being that I built up a little bit of credit card debt in the last month or two of unemployment. Nothing terrible, mind you, but it's foolishness to save money at 2.75% interest when you're paying 18% interest on credit card balances.

Now, as I've been posting, we've been trucking along lately with our plans. We're booking our wonderful photographer Sarah Tew, we're still on the search for a cake baker, and just today we made an appointment to meet with a caterer at the end of next week. As such, I called up my mom to see when Wedding Fund Installment Number Two may be expected.

And, well, that's when it dropped.

This is when she revealed to me that the way they're getting the wedding funds is by - get this - LIQUIDATING STOCK. You know, the worst possible financial choice anyone can make at the moment? Yeah that. She has some sense, at least - enough to know that it isn't the best idea. She's all, "Well you know, we don't want to do it until you really need it. But just let me know when you do, it's no problem, you're only getting married once." Yeah right! As if I, in good conscience, can tell them to do that right now!

Even I, little miss Dow Jones Dunce 2008, can tell you that now is the time to be buying stock, not selling it. A few times, my mom has told me about how much money they've "lost" in the market plummets, and my response every time has been "no mom, you haven't lost a penny unless you sold all of your stock today." So now I'm going to turn around and tell her to sell stock? Uh... not terribly likely, is it?

So yes. I've done it to myself again. For the hundredth, thousandth, millionth time they fed me a really good, parental-sounding 'we'll take care of you' kind of story, and even though I shouldn't believe it I did. It's like college loans all over again, just on a much shorter time scale and without government subsidization.

Tonight me and the hubby-to-be will have to sit down and re-analyze. It's not that dire at the moment; with what we've still got we should be able to do the deposit for Sarah, as well as those for a caterer and a cake. That puts us in relatively good shape, assuming of course that we can start saving again REAL SOON, and pretty seriously. I'll just have to put the brakes on any other planning, even of small pieces. Which is irritating.

Of course this is all of my own making. I don't need to have a big fancy party to be married - that's something that I'm choosing. And I shouldn't have trusted my parents' promise of support for one single second. Money is the area where they are least dependable. I guess I convinced myself that maybe somehow now things were different, or that because it was my one and only wedding that... I don't know, that something. I'm just so astounded with myself that I fell for it again.

Man, do I know what my whole therapy session will be about this week.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Of rings and crinolines.

So many decisions, made and in the makings! I've been back and forth on dresses about a hundred times, but I think I've really decided at least on the company I'm going with, and possibly on the style - though of course I haven't tried anything on. I keep coming back to Aria, and I'm thinking that must mean something. Right now I'm liking this one, but you're going to have to use your imagination with me - it will be light blue, the piping in the middle will be black, there will be a black double hem at the bottom, and it will be floor length... Oh, and I'm neither Asian nor model thin.

Got it? That'll be good, right? I mean, I've thought about much more poofy, wedding-dress-ey things. I found a really cool art deco number; I was even considering a kind of awesome Quinceanera dress. As recently as Friday I was half sold on this bridesmaid dress - despite the super awful model that happens to be wearing it and even though it's strapless. But in the end, while I think a lot of things are pretty, most of them just don't work for me. Standing next to Jonathan and being the girl I am, I'll look and feel right in a more simple dress with clean lines and colors that I tend to go near.

I am, for the record, terrified to wear white.

There are a couple of things I really like about this company:

1) They don't go through bridal showrooms. You order directly from them, and all prices are right there on the website. Such a relief from the labyrinth of mainstream dress designers. Siri was the other top-competing frontrunner, but I'll be damned if I can figure out how to buy one of their dresses. From what I can gather on their prices, they're also a good bit more expensive.

2) Their fabric choices are simple and straightforward, two of their fabrics don't involve silk in any way, and you can get any dress in any fabric.

3) You can also get any dress in either knee length or full length, so you could theoretically get your wedding dress in a full length white or ivory color and then have "your girls" get the same dress in knee length in a different color. I think that's neat. What most women seem to do with this site, which I also approve of, is have their girls pick whatever style they want and just dictate fabric/color. That way if you have several body types in your group not everybody has to try to conform to one cut - something truly unnerving for those of us who size in the double digits.

4) Since they also make accessories, I can get shawls, ties, and purses that will all coordinate perfectly with my dress and bring the wedding party together. My sister will be officiating, and she'll be getting a black dress from them. Should she end up choosing a style with any piping or trim, it'll be the same exact color as my dress is. How cool is that? (As for our two honor attendants, in case you're wondering, they're picking their own black knee length dresses. I don't think either of them is particularly interested in Aria, which is fine.)

So yeah, I'm going with Aria. All that remains is to confirm that that dress works on me. Unfortunately, they only have showrooms in Boston, D.C., and Cali. Fortunately, they have a 'try on at home' program - for about twenty bucks I can try on any dress I want in the safety of my own home. (It's $15 per dress, and then you are responsible for shipping back to them.) No horrible lighting, no rooms with fourteen mirrors, no crazed saleswomen breathing down my neck. YES. For me, this is a much more realistic option than that, which I witnessed full force about three years ago when a friend of mine got married and came up here for dress shopping. *shiver* It seems like an experience engineered to destroy self esteem, at a time when a girl needs more than ever to feel beautiful. I find it a bit perplexing.

As for dress shopping online, I will say that ebridalsuperstore.com and bestbridalprices.com seem to me by far the best resources. From the latter I have purchased nothing, but I did actually buy a dress from the former. I'm not sure quite what I'll do with it now that I don't think I'll be using it as my wedding dress; of course I'm not even sure that it will fit, or exactly what color it is. It was cheap and I was having a bad night... sometimes I'm too impulsive for my own good. It'll arrive sometime in December; at that point I can decide whether to keep it for, say, the rehearsal dinner, or sell it on Ebay.

In other news, we bought our wedding bands! Well, I should say we ordered them off the internet from crazy people in Salt Lake City. (Beware, there are some tacky, tacky, tacky things on this website mixed in with some good basics.) They're stainless steel and plain as the day is long, just like we wanted. They're actually quite like my parents' wedding bands, except not as wide, silver in color (my parents' were of course gold), and "comfort fit". Jonathan's will be 8mm wide and mine will be 4mm (as a point of reference, this pic is of one 9mm wide... and made for a giant). We're pretty excited about them. Jon might have to hide them from me to prevent me from trying mine on every day. I like shiny things.

So yes. Moving right along. I need to get out of my wedding fog and get focused on the novel that I'm supposed to have finished by the end of the month... yeah, you'll have to look at my other blog to hear about my NaNoWriMo insanities. For now, my loves, I bid you good evening.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Shutterbug.

So amidst my wedding freakouts of the week, in an attempt to channel some of that energy, I endeavored to find a photographer. This has borne fruit rather quickly, or at least I hope it has.

A while back I had been referred to Dave Robbins, who takes amazingly gorgeous photographs but is completely out of our pricerange. I would totally suggest taking a look at him if you have about a gajillion dollars to spend on your wedding, and while your at it let Worker Bee Designs do the filming. The records of your day will be adorable, and I'm sure the trust fund won't mind the hit.

Jonathan and I, however, have no trust funds. We do have a little bitta cash though, and we want it to go to the right people. I decided to contact a girl named Sarah Tew who I had met during my open studios event last spring; she has a studio on the same floor of the same building where I have a studio. I wandered in through her open door that May day and was immediately intrigued: I loved her art, and liked her as a person - and then discovered that she does wedding photography to stay afloat.

I wasn't sure how professional she'd be, since in the context it felt like wedding photography was something she did on the side. But I thought what the hell, it can't hurt to ask, and sent an email inquiring as to prices and so forth. I got back a response immediately, with her 28 page color brochure of packages and custom options attached. Yeah, I think she's got the professional thing nailed. Apparently she's been doing the wedding photography thing pretty hardcore for about five years.

She also immediately confirmed that she's down with the kind of wedding I'm having and the kind of pictures I'll want of it - there will not be any glowey photos of my white satin pumps on a ream of lace... there of course won't be any white satin pumps either. There will be no shots of me gazing distantly out of a window, as if to look into my future. There may, however, be pictures of me and Jonathan sitting on a subway platform in our wedding clothes reading books...

We made an appointment for Friday, last night, so that we could make sure that the reality matched up to the fantasy. After our cake experiences, I didn't want to get my hopes up too high - she seemed just too good to be true! But they got up high anyway, because I have trouble staying on the ground with this kind of thing, and all the pieces just seemed to fit together so perfectly. Cakes are different than photographs - I had seen the kind of images this girl was capable of capturing, and the kidnapping of images is sort of my thing.

Anyway, we went to see her last night. I've been in her studio space before, so I knew what was coming there. It's nothing too fancy, but since I also rent in the building I have an idea of what she must be paying (and it ain't cheap). Since she'd had several wedding-type meetings that week, her walls were adorned with large prints of some of her best shots. I'd seen most of them on her website, but it's totally different to see them in person - even in enormous prints they were gorgeous.

So we sat down, and she had books and books and books for us to look through of her shots, which was fun. While we looked, we chatted - she's such a cool girl. I feel like she's someone we would hang out with. We mentioned that we'd like to get some albums, but that since we're vegan we don't want anything that involves any leather. Lo and behold, she reveals that she's a vegetarian! She doesn't want to offer leather, but there's just such a demand for it that she kind of has to. Well I can understand that. She also just got engaged this week - congrats Sarah! - so she has a renewed sort of energy about the whole wedding thing. Not that it didn't excite her before, cuz it did.

So we went through the options that we want as far as hours and albums and the hi res archival discs that she offers and so forth, and boom, done! We got ourselves a photographer! She did not want to take a deposit until we had done the whole contract thing - see, I told you she was all professional and whatnot - so that'll get ironed out next week.

I'm totally excited - she is exactly the kind of person that I want involved in the wedding. Creative and artistic, and yet totally on top of her shit with a really awesome work product. YES. Oh, and in the six-degrees-of-separation department, one of the display albums she had out was of the wedding of one of Jonathan's good friend's brother's best friends. Small world right?

Now, about that cake...

Friday, November 7, 2008

I don't have any.

Well. One of my co-workers is getting married. She and her guy got together about a month before me and mine, and about a year ago they bought a co-op together, so it's not as if they didn't know it was going to go that way. But the engagement was a surprise - even though the ring was designed after one she found in a magazine and showed him...

Her wedding will basically showcase everything that I am shunning. She will wear a white silk strapless gown; her father will walk her down the aisle, lift her veil, and place her hand into her man's. The ceremony will be held in a Catholic church; the reception will not begin for another two and a half hours. Meal choices will doubtlessly be chicken or fish - or possibly, you know, veal. She's having five bridesmaids (at least), who will wear matching dresses.

And while I do not want any of the above items, while I reject them bodily and in whole, I'm... seething with envy.

Why? Because she has a path. It is clear cut, the ground is smooth and paved, lanterns light her way at every step. Not a doubt need cross her mind beyond: what are my colors? or, birdseed vs. bubbles? Every magazine, every website, every vendor only reinforces her vision. She says, I want X, and the world says, oh wonderful! Which of these nine versions of X would you like to choose? No forging of new paths, no taking the road of most resistance for this girl. Only, closed toe shoes or open?

Restrictive? Perhaps. But infinitely easier than what I'm trying to do. Me? It's more like I'm saying, OK, I want Y. And the world says, oohhhkkkayyyy, well, uhm, we've never heard of Y. Would you like to see our wide variety of X?

Me, I'm adrift in a sea of indecision. A path? I can't even find land. The long engagement may have been a really bad idea for me: that much more time to freak out and change my mind and doubt myself. This just feels like everything else I've ever undertaken: I'm looking around desperately for something to guide me, tell me "here's how you do it! here's your range of options!", and as usual, there simply isn't anything. There's just me, making it up as I go along and hoping it works out. It's high school, college, career, and relationships all over again - only this time it has to look like a big pretty party at the end... but you know, no pressure or anything.

This week there have been many crises. There was the "I'll never find a cake baker" crisis, the "I need to stop eating entirely because I'm a fat cow and I'll never fit into a dress" crisis, the "how will we find dresses for the honor attendants that the girls like and that don't clash with the dress that I'll never be able to buy because I'm too fat" crisis, the "we can't afford this goddamn wedding no way no how" crisis. Oh, the fun times.

I keep going through waves of this. I'm hoping I'll stop eventually - once I realize that there's nothing wrong with the way I want to do things, and that I'm fully capable of pulling this thing off. I'd like to think they're coming less frequently, and not getting as bad and not lasting as long, but it's hard to say when you're on the inside.

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


What most people don't understand about that poem is that the whole point is that he never could have taken the the first road to start with: it only seems like a choice. He is who he is, and he's come to terms with that. Ah, Mr. Frost, will you return from the grave and give me a lesson?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cake Tasting Part Two: Nana Pearl's.

Initial results were promising. Actually, that's not entirely accurate. The very first initial result was, well, nothing. The website has a 'contact form' which I filled out, with promises of receiving a response within 24 to 48 hours. No such thing happened; I received no response whatsoever. So a week later I scoured the website, found an email address, and wrote directly to it.

And then, results abounded. Exactly 1.5 hours after I sent my email, I received not a return email but an actual phone call. The proprietor left a voicemail, explained that she's been having trouble with her website turning up blank forms, expounded upon her vegan options, and stated that she'd soon be sending me an email with details as to what her next available dates for tastings were. Sure enough, at 1:30 that morning she sent an email with links to appropriate pages on her website and the next three dates she had available for tastings. This, I believed, was promising: total score.

We made an appointment for October. The weeks passed. The week of the tasting arrived, and I emailed her with the flavors we'd decided to taste - some slight variations from our original requests and her suggestions. She wrote back the next day saying that accommodating these changes would be no problem at all. Score number two.

The fateful day arrived this past Saturday; of course it came when we also had Jonathan's parents in town. That's not so much a problem though, as they're fairly self sufficient. I was excited and nervous and also hopeful: this woman seemed to be the polar opposite of what I'd experienced with Vegan Treats. The meeting was set to be held in the fancy and/or schmancy Penn Club on w. 44th Street. It was sorta nuts in there, to the point where I was inspired to photograph the bathroom... and steal one of their uber high-quality paper towels. (The photograph you see is taken from this angle because I was attempting to hide my camera from the barkeep.) We arrived three minutes early, and despite the fact that she said she'd doubtless be there before us, she, um, wasn't.

By New York Standards she wasn't really even late at all - within ten minutes of the appointed time. But still. Punctuality is one of my pet peeve kind of things. So, sorry, minus one point. We went to the elevator to go to a more private space than the first floor 'library' and for some reason the elevator didn't want to go to eleven. But instead of inquiring of the two front desk men, the flustered baker simply led us back into the library. Minus half a point there - it was definitely a bit uncomfortable to be talking and eating cake in a place obviously intended to be exclusive and quiet.

She first presented us with a scrapbook of the cakes that she has made. Sadly, scrap book is the proper term. While the cakes shown were for the most part lovely, the book was put together very poorly - ragged edges on pictures of low quality printed of off the internet, corners not glued down, and so forth. That's an attention to detail thing, big time. If this is what you're using to sell yourself, it shouldn't be sloppy and childish looking. So sorry, another point down. It's just not that hard, and it's a very important part of the presentation.

From there we moved on to the real meat of the event: the cakelets. She pulled out a bag containing three small boxes, each containing one miniature cake. Each had one flavor of cake batter, two fillings, and one icing/covering. She, um, couldn't tell us which one was which though until she'd cut pieces from each and started tasting them. She'd also neglected to bring a knife.

By this point, my image of her being a super-organized and polished businesswoman was thoroughly shattered. There we sat, eating tiny pieces of we weren't sure what kind of cake, which had been cut with plastic forks, layered with we weren't sure what kind of fillings, conjecturing flavors as we went along. In a library.

Fortunately, and very much to her salvation, the cake was pretty good. As was finally discerned, we ended up with the following samples:
-Almond cake covered in Marzipan, with one layer of Chocolate Espresso filling and one layer of Caramel Espresso filling
-Almond cake covered with Almond Vanilla Buttercream, filled with one layer of Vanilla Bean mousse and one layer of Hazelnut Espresso filling
-Chocolate cake covered in Chocolate Buttercream, filled with Grand Marnier filling and a combination of Black Cherry filling and Chocolate Ganache

The caramel filling, which we had neither requested nor discussed, had an aroma that began as pleasant and ended up being absolutely cloying. Just as well; it was never really in the running anyway.

The Black Cherry with Chocolate Ganache was pretty good, and definitely goes nicely with a chocolate cake. It would probably work a lot better with a chocolate ganache or rolled chocolate covering on the cake. That seems the obvious choice, and I'm not sure why it wasn't presented that way.

I was always pretty hot on the Marzipan idea, so I'm excited that it was AWESOME. Not only that, but after tooling around with Jonathan's parents all day that particular cakelet was in much better shape than the other two - the almond paste coating offered structural integrity.

The Chocolate Espresso filling? YES. Rich and thick, but not overly sweet. Combined with the almond cake and the marzipan, it actually created a kind of amazing petit four situation, and I was pretty upset that I didn't have more of it to "sample".

The overall decision that we'd come to by the end of the night was that... we're not done looking for a cake baker. I was so hoping that this woman would be The One, but there were ways in which she just didn't come through. She's not out of the running, but her performance (and cakes) were too far from stellar to discontinue the search. Food is going to be a big deal at this wedding, and the cake is sort of la piece de resistance - it has to be amazing.

Ho hum. I suppose it's not the worst thing in the world. After all, it means I get to eat more cake.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Attendant anxiety abated.

So, I'm nuts. I was totally creating a person and a situation that don't exist. I do that sometimes. At least I didn't do it for too long. Jon's pick is lovely, and she's truly happy for us. And when he asked her, she was so excited that she almost cried. We had lunch and all talked together like old friends, and then continued it over beers. (No beers for me; only ice cream from Penny Licks. But still.) When we left her company she hugged us both, twice. So yeah. Total nonsense. Oh well. Could have been worse I guess.

In other barely related news, the champagne flutes have arrived. and they're lovely. I tried to take pictures, and they didn't really turn out, but I'll post one anyway for the fun of it. For the record, they're the Lenox Firelight Platinum design, and we ended up ordering them from mytableware.com. I was pleased with their service, the shipment came quickly and with tracking, and they arrived perfectly intact. So, hooray for stupid misconceptions and shiny things!

Attending to the attendants.

So tomorrow, we're lunching Jon's honor attendant.

Only, she doesn't know that's why we're lunching. In fact, we're lunching her with the precise purpose of asking her to be his honor attendant. Which for some reason is making me really, really nervous.

About the whole honor attendant thing. As I've mentioned previously, we've re-structured the way the ceremony will work, and indeed where it will take place within the event space, in a manner that makes one attendant for each of us the best number. So, basically, when we're up there doing our thing it will be the two of us, the officiant, one attendant (functioning as witness and ring holder) each, and our parents. No flanks of bridesmaids and groomsmen. That just doesn't work for us.

For me the choice was easy; Miss Nina would have always been my "maid of honor" in pretty much any scenario. Been that way for quite a few years now. She's around for most everything I do, and moreover tends to have silently, slyly been kestone, crane, and lynchpin of whatever it is I'm trying to pull off. For Jon it wasn't so easy, but upon soul searching he's decided that his "best man" should be... a woman. Despite all stupid recent movies to the contrary, that doesn't need to be some super-weird scenario.

Her being a her, though, does seem to be what has me gitchy about the whole thing. (And yes, that was supposed to be a g.) It's not because they've dated, though they did. It was approximately a million years ago, lasted for an extremely short period at the very beginning of their friendship, and couldn't matter less to either one of them. Moreover I've seen them around each other; it ain't there.

It's more that she's a different sort of woman. Which I'm glad of; I don't get along with most girls. I get along with the girls who don't get along with other girls - we're like a weird unspoken club, and if you're in it you know what I'm talking about and if you're not, well, I can't help you because you probably don't like me anyway. But she's extremely hard to read, and despite the fact that she's only in Brooklyn we see her like once a year. She's a good bit older too; more than ten years my elder, as a matter of fact.

And... when Jon and I started dating, she gave him a warning. She told him that he liked me way too much. Reminded him that he hadn't liked the last girl nearly as much, and that when she left she upset him rather badly. That he'd better be careful, because I had the potential to really break his heart.

When he told me about that conversation, ever so long ago - two years at the very least - it told me two things. One, that she was a true friend with a bit of a motherly streak of caring for him. And two, that he actually liked me. He's not really one for the talking about the feelings, so it was a nice little piece of information to get.

Since the engagement, she's been overflowing with congratulations. Or at least, so I hear. I have no reason to suspect that she is anything but happy for us, that she will be anything but flattered to be asked to be in the wedding, and so on, and so forth. And hey, that's a third vegan in the mix! I don't even have to explain to her why I'd prefer that she not wear leather shoes. So what, what is this nag in my brain, this worm in my belly?

I think, in short, that I am intimidated by her. Because she's known him longer, and maybe in different ways than I have. Because she is older, wiser, (thinner), more mysterious, cooler, more interesting, taller, more intense than I can dream of being. Because maybe she'll look prettier than me at the wedding. (But who am I kidding? My sister will be there, so my best bet on being noticed is to actually learn to become invisible.) Because she taps some deep insecurity of mine about not being... enough.

Which of course I'm just going to have to suck up. This didn't rear its head even a little bit until tonight, the eve of our lunching, which is intensely annoying. If it had come earlier maybe I could have worked on it, brought it into therapy or something. Now it will just internalize and make me ill. But this is important to Jon, and at the base of it I really like her.

And maybe all I want is for her to really like me... and think that I'm good enough for him.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Vegan Treats Wedding Cupcake Tasting Extravaganza of 2008


Alright. I'm sick - have a nasty sinus infection, mmm yummy. But I had already arranged for Vegan Treats to be bringing me a box of tasting cupcakes today. Seeing as they're in Pennsylvania and had baked special goods for me, what was I to do but trudge into the city with my sick-ass self and make it happen?

Ahh, but before the cupcakes, you need backstory.

In case you don't know about them, Vegan Treats is this amazing little bakery outside of Philadelphia (in a tiny town called Bethlehem, to be precise). They do very well in the New York market, supplying all sorts of delicious cakes (and donuts too!) to vegetarian restaurants and delis across Manhattan. Ages ago I'd figured out that they also do big fancy event cakes... like the cakes one tends to see at weddings. So when we decided it was time to start finding our baker, of course they sprung to mind. While several bakeries around the area will make a vegan wedding cake, our first choice would be to support an all-vegan business. But, of course, the cakes would have to be up to par.

So it was that one Friday not long ago, I sent off an email inquiring as to whether a tasting for wedding cakes could be done in the city, or if we would need to make a pilgrimage to Bethlehem. (Sadly, their website has been new-site-coming-soon'd for approximately forever; otherwise I might have been able to glean this information from it.) A response came quickly - that Saturday, actually - from a nice guy who'll we'll call M. He sounded pretty together, and let me know several things: that their wedding cakes are the same recipes as the cakes they sell to the shops around the city; that they could send a set of tasting cupcakes to me with one of their normal Tuesday NYC shipments; that a standard tasting set would include vanilla, chocolate, lemon, coconut, and red velvet.

I wrote back to M that Sunday telling him it all sounded great, and asking the following: 1. if we could do cupcakes on Tuesday, the 30th; 2. if frosting flavors are intrinsically linked to cake flavors or if combinations are flexible; and 3. if there was an almond flavored cake we could try.

By Wednesday, I still hadn't heard back from him. Now, I don't think it's unreasonable of me to expect a response within one or two business days when we're talking about business transactions; I've got standards. Also, at that point I was still under some sort of delusion that I might be employed by this week, so I was a bit stressed about figuring out if we were doing the cupcake thing the following Tuesday, and if so at what time I might be able to meet up with the delivery truck. I sent a short, polite email saying that I just wanted to make sure M had gotten my Sunday email, and that as I was sure this is a busy time for them if they needed to do the cupcakes another week that was fine, just to let me know.

I heard back late the next night; M said that they needed my phone number to give to the delivery guy, but that otherwise it should be a go. Sadly, no answers to my questions about the cakes.

On the following Saturday, the 27th, I received an email from him saying that my cupcakes were already baked, so they'd definitely be on Tuesday's shipment. I can't say I was thrilled to hear that my cupcakes would be three days old when I got them, but so it goes. He further informed me that he had "no idea of time frames or anything to do with the deliveries", and that if I needed any more info about how to meet up with the driver I'd need to call the bakery. He was pretty sure that the driver would call me about an hour before he was ready to meet me. So, basically, I needed to just be in the city on Tuesday, at the ready.

So at this point I'm thinking, really? We're talking about me special ordering a cake from you people that will easily cost between $400 and $500, and this is all the professionalism you can muster? I want to believe that certainly for the actual delivery of a wedding cake, theoretically on the wedding day, they're a little more together - but who knows? While I sorely wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt, a late or otherwise errant wedding cake delivery is not something I want to be dealing with on a day that will be stressful no matter what. I need any vendors that I'm shelling out for to be as on top of their shit as I would be if I was doing that job - a tall order, to be sure, but that's why they're getting paid.

OK. So. Tuesday rolls around, and of course my plans for the day are smashed because I'm sick in bed. I spend the morning trying to get my doc to call in some antibiotics for me, which eventually works but not without serious pains - my insurance won't cover a visit, and I can't swing the $250 out of pocket right now, especially when I know damn well that he'll spend three minutes talking to me and then tell me what I already know and hand me the prescription that he could have just called in anyway. But that's a whole other story, isn't it?

Point being that at 1:20 pm I was still in bed, and I got a call. And it was the Vegan Treats truck driver, saying that he'd be by Curly's Vegetarian Lunch (a place I'd mentioned as a possible rendezvous spot) in about an hour, and would that work for me? Why sure, why not. So I hauled my sick ass outta bed, and because the train gods were with me today I actually made it down there about 20 minutes before he did. He was on time, and very pleasant, and not the stoned dread-headed hippy I'd heard rumored to be their delivery guy.

Having successfully retrieved my cupcaketastings, I couldn't help myself from immediately looking in the box. After the lack of detail imparted from fractured emailing, I wasn't even sure that they'd be iced. Imagine my surprise, then, when I opened the box and came face to face with these miniature sugary perfections:



Of course I wouldn't eat them until I got home to Jonathan, and what with my condition and all I hadn't actually eaten anything yet anyway, and cupcakes were probably not the right way to start. Transporting them home, I was desperately afraid the entire time of smooshing them - I'm so good at destroying pretty things. So I gingerly held the little box close to my chest from 14th street all the way back up to Astoria.

* * *

Fastforward six hours. I've had a nap. Jon has come home from work, and he's had a nap too. I have eaten a large bowl of spicy thai soup with noodles, and am feeling a good bit more human. Knowing that the cupcakes are already three days old (and trying not to be at all grossed out by that), we know we must eat them tonight.

* * *

First up: Red velvet. And while the presentation was beautiful, the cake was slightly lackluster. It sure was red, but where was the flavor? Jon claimed that it was slightly dry, which I didn't fully agree with but accredited to the three-day-old-ness. Anyway, we're both from the south, and I myself make a damn good vegan red velvet cupcake; it's going to be pretty hard to pull a red velvet over on either one of us.

* * *

Second in line: Coconut. The cake was significantly more flavorful, having a distinct coconuteyness all its own apart from the coconut frosting with coconut shreds. Again Jon cried dryness; he's one that likes to eat his cake separate from the icing, and claims that these cakes depend on the fat of the (extremely sugary) topping to carry them, which just doesn't work out with his eating scheme at all. I of course agree that the cake should be able to stand on its own, without frosty embellishment.

* * *

Number three: Vanilla with vanilla. This little golden cake was topped with an impressive frosting beehive that for some reason struck me as having an imperial air. Unfortunately, it fit more into the "bland, boring" sort of definition of vanilla rather than the "seed pod of an exotic orchid" variety - the cake was cake flavored, the frosting was frosting/butter flavored. Sweet and tasty, but nothing like the melt-in-your-mouth delectable that we're all dreaming of in a wedding cake.

* * *

Last but possibly most: Chocolate with chocolate mousse. By far the most impressive presentation, I took the most pictures of this bad boy. Chocolate cakelet with a scoop of chocolate mousse on top, that covered in chocolate ganache and topped with a pretty little chunk of gold flecked chocolate - a death by chocolate situation to be sure. Much like their "peanut butter bomb" cake, though, it's more like death by sugar: we all know I have a massive sweet tooth, but man, that mousse could put anyone over the edge.

* * *

So yeah, four cupcakes, despite the fact that I was originally told of five flavors and had requested a sixth. No lemon, no almond. Yes, we have no bananas. We have no bananas today.

And so, what to make of our first vegan cake-tasting venture? Well. I truly appreciate the effort that went into the presentation of the cupcakes for us. They were absolutely stunningly beautiful. I do wish that the communication had been more clear and timely, and that the delivery had been better organized; the lassez-faire attitude just doesn't work for me when it comes to major wedding considerations. As for the cakes themselves, when I originally contacted Vegan Treats I knew what their restaurant cakes were like. I was hoping, though, that they had something maybe a bit more refined for their event cakes. Alas, it is not so.

The end verdict? I'm happy that Vegan Treats does so well in the city. Their cakes are delicious and awesome, and a slice of one is just right after a breakfast burrito at Curly's. But in this case they just don't hit the mark. As much as I'd love to give them my business, it's important to me to have a truly gourmet wedding cake that will blow our guests away - not one that simply looks beautiful on the outside, but tastes like something we baked ourselves.

One possibility that did occur to me though: did you see how beautiful those cupcakes were? Perhaps, perhaps, instead of a groom's cake, beautiful mini cupcakes? Just a thought. A cakelet kind of thought. Cakelets, cakelets, everywhere... I think I'm delirious from sugar. Yes, we have no bananas. We have no bananas today.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Love Knot? Not!

Alright. It seems that the temporary insanity has passed. I am no longer in love with the Vera Wang Love Knot line, largely because I saw it in person. Yesterday we took a trip into that bastion of all things overpriced - Macy's - and there they were, front and center and everywhere else. As with the pictures on the internet, in person I quite liked their overall form. But those bows? Ugh! the worst. Not metal, not fabric or twine - somewheres in between or on the edge, and not a good liminal space, no no. Plus, Jon hated them of course.

We saw a few things that were cute, and a lot of things that were ugly. And I mean like woah. We decided on a purchase, even - Vera Wang again, her Duchesse champagne flutes. But alas, every one they had was on the floor, and do you ever really want to buy the floor model? At full price, no less? We left frustrated. As I told Jon on the train later, I knew that Macy's wouldn't really have anything for us. But if they don't, who does? Where does the "alternative" couple go when they decide they do want just a little bit of crystal after all?

Why, the internet of course! We'd already been poking around to get an idea of shapes and designs that we might like. And since the design we found at Macy's that we would have purchased was Vera Wang for Wedgewood, for chrissake, I didn't think it would exactly be hard to find on the world wide intarwebdotnet. Right-o I was. But we didn't go with that one after all.

While at Macy's, we had stumbled upon a cluster of Lenox crystal, a big name of course but one that somehow hadn't come up in my searches. They have a line where the champagne flutes are teeny tiny - four ounces, to be precise. In the store, Jon picked one up and liked it so much that he took a picture with is i-phone, eventually referring to it as "pretty tight". (That looks stupid typed, but it's cute when he says it.) Well, he originally liked the Encore, and I originally liked the Firelight. When later that night I showed him pictures, he too liked the Firelight.

And so, harmoniously, miraculously, we actually found champagne flutes that we both really kind of love. Go figure.

We ended up getting them from a website called mytableware.com; it seems like a pretty good website, with a surprisingly wide array of crystal and stuff. Of course I haven't received the shipment yet, so if I receive two mismatched chipped glasses I'll let you know. But I've got high hopes based on website presentation, and the two confirmation emails I've received in the past 12 hours.

The cake knife and server were infinitely more easy - in a vast internetted sea of organdy ribbons and carved hearts and calla lilies and cut crystal, the Mikasa Wavelength set cut right through with its sleek lines and plain silverness. Plus, it was on sale on Amazon with free shipping. Done and done.

But who knows - perhaps one day I'll regret not going with the his and hers cowboy hats that we found on e-bay...

And so, yes, 18 months before the wedding, I've ordered both the champagne flutes and the cake knife and server. We've got this theory that whatever can be taken care of now should be. And this is a time when I don't actually mean "me" I when I say "we"; it's truly both of us. Jonathan knows all too well how I get when there's a lot to do with a deadline (effective but insane), plus we're into the idea of spreading out the spending. The next purchase will probably be our wedding bands, and I'm pretty psyched about that. It's actually his idea to buy them now, if you can believe it.

Tomorrow, I head into the city to intercept the Vegan Treats truck and retrieve my cake-taste-cupcakes... and of course that will be a blog post unto itself.

Right now I'm sick and it sucks and I'm getting in bed, because writing this post done wore me out.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oh yes we did.

So the other week I'm on the Martha Stewart website downloading templates, right? (I know, I know. Shut up.) And Jon looks over my shoulder and he's all, "We should get matches. That would be cool. Matchboxes though. And not like that," referring to the pastel colored boxes on the screen with some loopy design printed on them. Well OK then. The boy wants a wedding favor, and that favor is matches. Matchboxes, to be specific.

Well then a week or so later I'm on TheKnot.com (look, we're just not going to have this discussion every time, OK? I've lost my mind, the internet is my enabler, end of story.), and I see personalized matchboxes on sale. So naturally I check it out. And they're reasonably priced, and the design options aren't too bad. So I just go on through the form and choose a silly little image, and put in our names (both won't fit with "and" in between, so I have to use an ampersand, which I think will be fine because he likes ampersands), and choose the serif font because we're not using a modern sans-serif anywhere, and the script is, well, script. I do everything but press "order", because I don't do that kind of thing without showing him first. He does give half a rat's ass about these things, and after all this was the thing he said he wanted.

So he gets home that evening, and I'm all, "Hey, we gotta talk about personalized matchboxes!" And he's all, "Why would we EVER need to talk about personalized matchboxes," laughing. And I'm like, "Because you wanted them, and I found them on sale." Magic words. So without coming over to me or looking at my computer, he says, ok, they should be silver with black writing. And my jaw drops a little, because of course that's exactly what I picked out. And then I make him come over and look, and he likes the font, and he likes the ampersand, and he can even live with the silly little image. (Aww, it's like we're meant to be or something.)

Anyway, they got ordered. And yesterday after my hellish employment-related adventure in midtown which I refuse to think about again until next Wednesday, I went to my studio and found that they had arrived. I'm voting cutest thing ever. And the best part is, you can use them to set stuff on fire. :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

So... have I lost my mind entirely?

Because I'm sort of in love with things designed by Vera Wang. Is it, like, some sort of chemical problem? Am I responding to subliminal messages on TheKnot.com? One really has to wonder. The problem goes like this:




I see these and instead of being all *barf* cough *gag* cough *what bourgeois bullshit*, I'm all, oh, yeah, totally, we could get a B etched in the flutes.


So really. I'm asking you. Up the meds? Or just give in to the fact that talented designers are at work and I have no power to resist? I take some solace in the fact that while I really love the overall clean line and form, the little bows irk me and I wish they weren't there.

Interestingly enough, price wise these really aren't bad. The champagne flutes are about half as much as, say, a set of Waterford crystal ones would be.

But then, like, who have I become that I spent two hours tonight looking at Waterford crystal champagne flutes? To my credit, I also looked at the ones at CB2, which are quite cute and top out at $4.99. I seriously doubt that we'll end up with Waterford or anything like it.

It's really, really, really easy to see how weddings even in cheap towns top $25k. So many little things. It's insanity.

There are other contenders in the champagne-flutes-and-cake-servers category, but I'll refrain from listing all of them here.

It's after 2am. My Jon still isn't home. I hate the busy season.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Planning, heritage, crises, et cetera.

*It's been happening like this. I want to talk about it. He doesn't want to talk about it. So I slip in comments here and there about this and that. The result? I feel like we never talk about it, he feels like we always talk about it. No good. So we came up with a seemingly perfect solution: once a week, a "wedding meeting". I'd save it up instead of doling it out in bite-sized portions, and he'd actually give his attention to it; thus he'd feel involved and not just carped at and I'd be placated by his attentiveness. Good right?

Well it work splendidly the first week. It lasted forever though, because it was the first week. So many things to discuss! So many things to show him! But I knew it wouldn't stay like that. And by the end of it the unthinkable had occurred: I no longer even wanted to talk about the wedding. So. Mission accomplished. But then. The following Sunday I was laid out - in no condition to have a meeting or do anything else, for that matter, other than lay in bed. No meeting, frustrated me. This week? Repeat. Not quite as bad, but bad nonetheless. I finally pulled myself together around 6pm, but seeing as he had to work tonight I wondered if it was too late. He said that it was fine, so we headed out to the coffee shop. Any illusion of having his time or attention quickly evaporated though; he was at best humoring me and at worst putting up with me - answering my questions with as few words as possible, barely looking at various bits of stationery and pictures of cakes, and so forth. The third time he tried to sneak a look at the list of things I wanted to talk about, I just gave up.

On the way home, after a bit of fighting of course, he admitted that he was trying to rush me. Said that he was afraid it would take hours and hours like last time. But no, we were actually about 20 minutes from being done, and all he had to do was not be a jerk. But oh well. Work has got him too stressed out. He's there now, which so sucks. I knew it was too late for us to talk about it all, but I just wanted to so badly. I hate it when my crippled days prevent me from doing things that I've planned to do all week. Talk about frustrating.

*I've just this evening realized that my wedding will be taking place during lent. Am I particularly Catholic? No. Is it even a religious ceremony? No. So... why do I care? Um. I can't really answer that. All I can really tell you is that it's officially bugging the crap out of me.

*Still no progress on where to have the rehearsal dinner. New York is so easy and so hard all at the same time. Of course we want to do it at a vegan place... but where can we take our families? So many restaurants here are simply too small to parade 12 or 16 people into. Take for instance Pukk, the vegetarian Thai place. We'd have to rent the entire restaurant just to fit the party into it, and even then half of their chairs (the neon green plastic ones) really aren't big enough for anyone over 90 pounds to sit on. I can't sit on those damn things, so I know my Aunt JoAnn can't. Know what I mean?

There's Lan Cafe, the vegan Vietnamese place. We ate there yesterday, and I'm sort of in love with the idea of doing it there actually. Again, we'd have to rent the entire place, but if we did we'd be perfectly comfortable. A few pretty cushions and candles would spruce up the place just fine. The main problem there is... well... a language barrier. The only people who work there are the proprietors. They're wonderful, extremely hardworking people. But honestly, they barely know enough English to respond to questions about menu items. Setting up a private party would require a translator. Which I'm considering, because their food is amazing, and I would love to give them the business. Anybody speak Vietnamese?

Again, a year and a half to figure this out.

*I've been trying to research Sicilian wedding traditions. Weddings are one of those occasions that make you really ache for some kind of solid culture or family heritage. Which I don't have, but I can pretend. My mother's father's lineage from Contessa Entellina is by far the most trackable portion of my blood, so I'll run with it. My coloring supports it at least, and I also have this funny two-ring eye color thing going on that's supposedly a Contessa trait. So. I found this amazing site that lists the lineage of families from Contessa and my grandpa is totally there, plus his five brothers and sisters, and they have him married to my grandma and all - it's really kind of cool.

Anyway, other than the lineage, the internet is telling me dick about Sicilian wedding traditions. And actually, there probably just weren't many. They weren't very affluent is the basic situation. A wedding was a feast day, your parents arranged it, you did it in a church, on a Sunday, the end. The one good piece of news? I'm totally vindicated in having Jordan Almonds (bomboniera). I was going with the whole "it was my grandma's favorite candy" thing, and now I've got this too: apparently in Sicily sometimes they were served instead of wedding cake. Ha. Of course, there will be no tulle.

*My Great Great Great Grandmother was named Viola. God help my first daughter.

*I've gotten in touch with Vegan Treats about their wedding cakes. With any luck, the cupcakes are a-comin...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Invited!

So a while back I designed potential invitations. I really liked them, and Jon really liked them, and they're totally different than most of what you see out there. So what else do we need really?

Lately I've been debating as to how to make them exist in physical reality. Get a polymer plate made, take another letterpress class at SVA, and print them myself? Very pricey, with debatable results. Get a stamp made? Somewhat pricey for what it is, and very very debatable results. Have them silkscreened? Much less hands on, and not a process I know that much about; also possibly a bit pricey.

So I arrived at: Just print them out on my own damn home printer? After running through the realities of the options, I'd actually decided to just print them myself at home. They looked good, not great, but good doing it this way, and really who am I trying to impress? Our moms will think they're beautiful no matter what we do, and apparently you heathens just throw these things away anyway.

Well, I was alright with that. But there was a little bug at the back of my head saying, will you really be happy with that? And my instinctive answer was, repeatedly, no. No but it's fine, no but who cares, no but it's not a big deal. But then I thought, wait a minute. I'm not doing much that's very fancy for this wedding. My dress will almost definitely come in at under $500. I'm not getting flowers, and I'm barely decorating. I'm not getting makeup done, lord knows, and I probably won't even have my hair done. I deserve to splurge somewhere, don't I? And isn't paper the most logical place for me to do it?

So I started poking around etsy for people that do letterpress. Because I'm in love with letterpress (because I've done it before, not because it's some new trend, which I didn't realize until recently). All the big houses do it now - William Arthur and the like - but even if I was willing to give them my money (which I'm not), they probably wouldn't print my design. No, to do it at all meant to find people, real human beings, who do letterpress for the love of it and would be willing to get a polymer plate made of my design and print from there.

Well, it didn't take long to stumble upon Paper Stories Letterpress out of Chicago. I wrote to them last night, and they'd written back by the time I got up this morning. They said that the job sounded "simple enough", and even gave me a price quote. After a few back-and-forths with them this morning, I've decided that I love them. Jon agrees, and we're totally going this route.

I'll still print the announcements myself (probably), and the programs and the save the dates and the rehearsal dinner invites and everything else. But this is my indulgence: real letterpressed invitations, of my own design. They'll use paper that's cotton rag, some of it recycled, ink that's synthetic which they feel is most eco-friendly, and do it all using renewable energy sources. They have a whole page on their site about their eco-decisions. Like I said, I love them.

So I'm excited. Yes, I know that the wedding is still a year and a half away and it's a bit early to be ordering invitations. I don't care. Saving some catastrophic event, the venue isn't going to change, so what difference does it make? (Ahh, now I've gone and cursed myself. Oh well. We knew I was gonna do it sometime.)

Next mission to tackle: the dress...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Back on the horse.

OK. I'm in wedding planning mode again. I've got a new ceremony setup in mind that would make it pretty much impossible to have more than one attendant each. Perfect right? I think so... just as long as it will work as far as the furniture is concerned, which I don't have the proper measurements to determine just as of yet.

There are still a million details to work out. I still have a year and a half, so that should be alright. We've been trying to figure where in the space we want each part of the evening to play out, and how; trying to design table and chair arrangements and such. That should be hammered out before I talk to caterers - I want to go in with a very clear vision of what I want, so as not to get blindsided into craziness. Soon I might schedule a cake tasting... because I want to taste some damn cake. And I'm thinking about going on a dress hunt. For most other things, it's still too early.

I have lingering feelings that it's a little bit insane to have a wedding, and that it's really something that other people do, and I'm worrying about who won't bother to show up. But I guess I'm going to have to suck it up. I want to do this thing, when it comes down to it, and it would break both mothers' hearts not to at this point. Especially Jonathan's; he's an only child, and with any luck this will be his only marriage. So. Suck it up I shall. I'll throw a pretty party, and between the importance of the event and the people who do show up and appreciate it all, I should be able to ignore any other nonsense. Right?

Friday, August 8, 2008

For the 90th time, settle down.

Ok, ok, I know. Enough with the bitter and angry. So people don't act how I want or need them to - big surprise. But my family and a few true friends would be really disappointed if I didn't have a real wedding, and in the end of course I would be disappointed too. Besides, this is probably the only chance I'll get to throw a really big vegan shindig. So I should take it, right?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Why hasn't she been writing?

Well, there hasn't been anything to write about. I haven't been working on the wedding. And the longer I don't work on it, the more futile it seems.

Thing is, I no longer know why I wanted to have a wedding in the first place. Or rather, I do know. But the reasons are based on one big fat fallacy: mainly that anyone gives a shit. Oddly enough, when you spend $25,000 on a huge party and provide people with as much food and liquor as they can stand, they show up. But why? Would they be coming because they're just so utterly filled with joy at our happiness?

In a word, no. They'd be coming for the free food and booze. The marriage part would get an "oh, isn't that nice, but I'm not married yet / I'm not happy in my marriage, so I'll probably just use it as an excuse to be bitter" between servings of stuffed mushrooms and champagne. And why, exactly, should I bust my ass and stress myself out for the next year and a half, to enable that at my expense (in more ways than one)? Right now I'm pretty much feeling a big fat "no thanks".

Oh, I still want to get married. But getting married and having a wedding have only the most tangential of relationships. In summation, I've been throwing myself parties since I was 14 years old, because I'd figured out by then that no one was going to throw them for me. And you know what's all I've ever gotten out of any of them? A huge mess, a big bill, and an even bigger sense of worthlessness.

So you know what people? You don't care that I'm getting married? Fine. You are released. There's no wedding for you to feel obligated to show up to and then not dance at. Don't bother sending a present. It would probably be a piece of shit that we don't need anyway. And as for the "wedding party", who the hell was I kidding? As if I know anyone who'd expend the effort on me that it would take to be a bridesmaid. Ain't happenin'. I've always known this, but I deluded myself for a little while there.

City Hall, then dinner for the family, and a night at a fancy hotel. No, I won't be happy with it. But at least I won't be out thousands upon thousands of dollars and wondering why I'm being ignored at my own wedding, why all of my "friends" could care less about what's supposed to be one of the most important days of my life. That doesn't exactly spell bliss in my book, and I'm more than willing to bet that it's how any "wedding" of mine would turn out.

It's over. I'm done.