Thursday, March 27, 2008

as usual, i need to calm the hell down.

everything is fine. we're right on schedule. he still has every intention of proposing before the parents get here. he doesn't have the ring yet... but only because J.P Morgan Chase is screwing him right now. (no big surprise there - that's pretty much all they do all day long.) but, see, he's annoyed that he hasn't gotten to order the ring yet. see? see how that's good?

don't worry.

i'm in psychotherapy.

Monday, March 24, 2008

issues.

So, ok. let's talk about it. I'm not actually engaged, right? So why is it that I'm writing a blog about organizing a wedding? It's a valid question, no doubt. One that i've asked myself, believe you me. But it's not quite so simple when i ask it; it's more like, why am I writing a blog, buying d.i.y. wedding books, setting up organizational binders with printed labels, scoping out possible dresses and wedding bands, and actually buying gifts for wedding party members (yes, really) when I'm not engaged? When the wedding is, in fact, completely imaginary? As much a figment of my imagination as it was when I was 15 years old?

Well, there's the theory that turning 30 had a semi-delayed effect of making me finally and completely lose my mind. It's plausible, I'll grant you. I mean, wedding party gifts? Seriously people, how is there a wedding party when there is no wedding? I really might be off my rocker. Any day now I might decide that this here pink fuzzy wind-up bunny would make a better maid of honor than my best friend, and start asking my plants which one wants to be the officiant. Tell me, Mr. Money Plant, are you an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church? You are?! Well that's just splendid, splendid!

But let's cut me a little slack. I'm not terribly good at that, but maybe you'll take a stab at it. See it from my point of view, stand in my shoes. Say you've got a boyfriend. And you and he have talked intensely about getting married. You've picked a date more or less. You've had conversations about what the ceremony will and will not entail, who should be invited, what time, what music. You've visited a venue and tried to pace out where the chairs would fit best. The two of you have arranged it so that your parents will be in New York City at the same time specifically so that they can meet each other. He's all but outright stated that he's gonna pop the question before the parents arrive at the end of May. And you're 90% sure that he actually went ahead and ordered the (recycled precious metal created diamond) ring you and he spent weeks discussing and deciding on.

Now, given these circumstances, wouldn't you kind of feel that an engagement was imminent? Wouldn't you, in fact, kind of feel, like, semi-engaged? Or pre-engaged, maybe?

Obviously I would. And do. Does that make me crazy? Is there something wrong with me for wanting to talk about table setups and caterers and cake flavors? Food is going to be a very big deal at this shindig, duh. I want to discuss options for string lights and votives! I want to decide where best to place a buffet station! I want to start assigning tasks to my bridesmaids and the rest of my crew, because believe me, this wedding is going to take a crew. I want to decide what to call the tables, because table numbers are boring and names are better, and I want to discuss it with my life partner, damnit!

The point is, this is the biggest planned event that's likely to occur in my life, ever. And it's the first big thing we'll tackle as a couple - theoretically to be followed by stuff like buying a house, having kids, etcetera and so forth. And while I'm not your typical average girl in very many ways, this is one of them - I have been dreaming of making my wedding happen for at least 15 years. I also spent at least 5 of those years thinking that it was never going to happen; that that was not going to be an option for me, and forbidding myself to muse on the fantasy. So to have it dangled in front of me like this, only to get burned each time I reach for it... well, it's nothing short of torture. And most importantly, I'm a planner! Planning is how I deal with unknown quantities. Whenever there is a concept too big for me to digest in one lump, like say spending the rest of my life with someone who actually loves me... well, I dissect. I make lists. I hole-punch and I put tabs in notebooks and I fill up binders. This is how I deal. This is my coping mechanism. And right now all of my books and binders and notebooks are stashed away in my studio. Hidden from the eyes that do not want to see them.

Right now you're all going, what the hell is she talking about? He went to the venue with her! She thinks he bought the ring! Everything's right on track! Tortured? Burned? This girl is off her rocker. Can't she just wait two freakin' months?

And of course you're probably right. But there are a few things you still don't know. The first is that my other big coping mechanism is communication, i.e. talking. I talk things out. I make things real and tangible and handleable by forming words with my mouth, by hearing them with my ears. The second is that I'm not allowed to talk about it. Despite the fact that we visited a venue. Despite the fact that we've had several to many awesome conversations about how one goes about getting a marriage license and certificate in New York, about what his groomsmen should wear, about creating our own resin cufflinks. I'm not allowed to talk about it unless he's in the mood to talk about it, which is very rarely. If I do bring stuff up, I'm met with rolling eyes, huffing breaths, and "alright, baby, enough".

The effect of this conundrum? I feel like I'm forcing my hand. Like this whole marriage thing is something he's conceding to so that I'll shut up about it already. Like he doesn't want it, but he'll put up with it if he really has to. It's every girl's dream come true! Um. Now, if I actually and truly 100% believed that he felt this way, it would be over. No way no how do I want a life partnership to begin like that. But even when I know that's probably not what's going on, being made to feel like that is wildly unpleasant. Last night it brought me so far as to decide that not only does he not actually want to marry me, but that he didn't want to move in with me, didn't ever really want to be my boyfriend, and in fact never even really wanted to date me.

Yeah, he just stuck around for two years because I'm so damn easy to be with. HA. (Every one of my ex-boyfriends is in absolute hysterics right now, and getting ready to make a silent salute of amazement to the man that is my current partner.)

So who's at fault here? I don't really think it's a "fault" kind of situation. I get freaked out by what looks like a lack of commitment and / or interest and then I act like an idiot. He gets freaked out by the possibility that maybe we'll try it and it won't work and then he acts like an idiot. Two idiots in love, making each other insane. Isn't it just adorable. Disgusting. Ridiculous. Whatever, pick an adjective.

Two days ago I would have told you without flinching, without pause, that I'd have a ring on my finger by May 29. Now I'm not so sure. My mind seems to enjoy filling itself with doubt and then teasing me for ever being so gullible. I hope he still loves me. I hope he wants what I want. I hope I can calm the hell down and regain the happiness I had for a few weeks there, when I just understood how awesome it is that we have each other.

Ugh. Whatever.

I'm gonna go play with my fuzzy wind-up bunny. I think I'll name her Priscilla.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

We came, we saw, we... fell hopelessly in love.

The Foundry is absolutely beautiful. The pictures actually don't do it justice, which is bizarre because they're fantastic. But they just don't compare to being in the space itself. As I feared, it looks smaller in person, but no matter; it's still about four times bigger than it needs to be for the crowd we're expecting. It also comes with a certain amount of furniture and indoor greenery that we weren't expecting, which is excellent. I just discovered that the super-8 videographer I'm dying for will cost a minimum of $4,000 - OUCH! - so anywhere that we can save a little money is helpful.

We'd been thinking that we would rent the courtyard and tent it, and do the ceremony inside and the dinner in the tent. The full area of the courtyard would have been over 2K to rent (on top of the charge for the main interior space, of course), and I was figuring the tent would be another thousand maybe. Man was I wrong! The kind of tent I want in the size that I want is over three thousand dollars! And who knows if that even includes any heating or lighting... The discovery of this information could have been quite a blow, except that it came paired with another bit of news. That was the fact that The Foundry is in the process of building this amazing little rooftop terrace. When completed it will hold about 60 people for cocktails - pretty much custom built for what we need. It can have a fire pit, and it's partially covered, and it will look over a little reflecting pool and the lovely courtyard that we'd been so intent on renting. It's also about a fifth of the price of my whole courtyard + tent plan. So voila! Problem solved! Mostly.

The new plan - the terrace plan, as we'll call it - does leave us with some logistical issues. We now must organize having the ceremony in the main space, then bringing everyone up into the mezzanine and onto the terrace for "cocktails" so that the main space can somehow become an area for both a buffet dinner with semi-assigned seating and a dance floor. I didn't want to have that big a changeover, for one, and I also don't know how we're going to have dining and dancing simultaneously. We'll figure it out though; Jonathan and I are both somewhat skilled in the logistics department. I think the real problem is that we don't have enough information yet to really get working on it.

Our visit also allowed us to figure out that for a very minimal charge we can have lights strung across the atrium like this, and votives put along ledges like this and this, by the landscaping company that operates off of the same property. We feel that these touches will give the place a clean polished look without a lot of excess. I'm not planning on bringing in much in the way of decoration or flowers, so that works well for me. A few more trees, some embellishments on the gift table (what there is of one) or in a corner here and there, and well set tables, and we're good to go.

So we're pretty psyched. We may still look at other places but I doubt we'll go with anywhere else. This is the spot for us. There are approximately 143 other things we need to get nailed down to make it all happen, but there's time. After all, we're not even engaged yet. ;)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The first venue visit.

So on Saturday morning - this saturday morning, the one coming up in two days - we're going to tour the venue that we're 80% sure we want to use. It's a beautiful building, a refurbished metal foundry in long island city, just a few blocks away from my studio. Not only is it an interesting space that meshes well with our personalities, and one that would allow us to have the ceremony and reception at one site (a mandatory qualification in our eyes), but it's also super-convenient for us. It's just 5 stops from our apartment and 4 blocks from my studio. The studio will, no doubt, become craft central when I get going on the guest book, the invitations, the favors, the wedding party gifts, the various table decor, and whatever else I decide to hand-make. (I say will, but who am I kidding? There are already boxes of ribbon, a few magazines, and the beginnings of my wedding planning binder cluttering up my worktable. Oh, and the, um, placecard holders that I, um, already bought. Ahem.) It will work out well to have a staging area where we can gather all of the decorations and necessities just a few blocks from the event.

While not the most glamorous neighborhood, it's one that we know well and enjoy. It also provides some striking views of the 59th street bridge... and a lot of rooftop watertowers. It's a place we're comfortable in, and Jonathan and I are both strongly attracted to it. I've been envisioning my wedding in this place for months; basically ever since I first heard of it. I'm not sure how I'll react to actually seeing it in person and not just in pictures. Will it be bigger? Smaller? Brighter? Darker? Disappointing or twice as enticing? Jonathan actually has seen it in person, by virtue of the fact that his line of work has brought him to pretty much every event space in the New York metropolitan area. But that was two or so years ago, and he didn't have much on his mind then other than delivering the necessary gear and taking off.

Of course, I know what you're thinking. It's slightly on the bizarre side of things for us to be visiting a venue when we're not even officially engaged yet. I actually got so freaked about that that we almost canceled the appointment. But due to some conversing that was done over the weekend, I feel solid enough in our pre-engaged-to-be-engaged state that I'm fine with going. It seems that the official popping will happen sometime in the next two and a half months; I don't know anything past that and I actually don't want to. From here on out I want it to be a surprise. (That may sound funny, even ludicrous, to some who know me well and have watched this unfold. But the point was always that I wanted to know that it was happening, not exactly when or how. Just that it would, sometime before I turned 40.)

The whole point of visiting the venue now instead of waiting is that we want to see it at the same time of year that our wedding will be. The building itself is all exposed brick, and it becomes covered in climbing vines in warmer months; we're interested to see if it's all dead still or if it's coming back, and that sort of thing. Of course each year will be different, but this is as good as it's going to get without waiting until a week before the actual date. And I'm pretty sure we'll have to pick a venue before then. The more I look around lately, the more I know that this is the perfect time of year for us to be getting married. The trees are all just barely starting to bud and leaf out, the days are growing steadily warmer, and it's finally light out after 5pm. It's nice to watch the world come back to life and start to grow again. The vernal equinox, when all things are equal... I'll stop now before I really get good and gushy. Ooffgh. Shake that off. Anyway.

The Foundry is a "raw space", meaning that absolutely nothing comes with it. Not tables, not chairs, not plants, not lights, not anything. This, in turn, means that using it would / will require me becoming my own wedding coordinator. That's pretty much what I've been planning on all along, so it's not such a big deal. But when I start listing out all of the pieces, it is daunting. (At this point my checklist is 4 pages long, and I'm sure there are huge gaps. That doesn't include the breakout lists, of course.) I'm a details freak, and I don't like other people making decisions for me; I don't think I'd get on well with a wedding planner, even if I was willing to pay one. It could be pretty damn entertaining to watch though...

I need to know things about the space, like what this one funny door on the floor plans is. Where the heck does that door go? It's not the kitchen, it's not the courtyard, it's not the bathrooms. I can't figure it out. I need to ask approximately ten thousand questions about tent rental for the courtyard; tent rental isn't included in the rental price for the space but they have an exclusive tent vendor. I don't know who that vendor is though; that part they haven't mentioned. So I have no idea how much it will cost for the tenting that I want to do, or whether any lighting or heating will be included... I have pored over the floor plans, and all of the photographs I can get of the inside and out, both decorated and naked. But it's hard to get a concept of actual size... like, will I be able to set up five rows of chairs there? Or is it way too narrow for that? And even if it will technically fit, will it feel cramped? Will it interrupt the flow of Qi? (Kidding. Sort of.) Hard to say. I have a hundred ideas floating around in my skull, but I need facts.

Does anyone have any good tips on dealing with venue owners? On what questions to ask? On what I should look for, what I can't live without, and what doesn't really matter? Any advice would be appreciated; I don't want to find myself an hour after finishing the tour thinking, "if only I'd asked about such and such, and I wish I'd checked for x, y, and z... damnit, we have to go back!"

Ides of March, beware of us. We're coming for a tour, and I've got a checklist.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

ok, so we're not engaged yet.

but we're working on that. not as in i'm begging him to get engaged. as in, we know we're doing it, and we just haven't quite officially done it yet. but we've started planning things, even though our potential date is two years away (3.20.10). see, we'll probably be doing most things ourselves (as far as invitations, favors, decor, bla bla bla) and we're working with a finite budget - we don't exactly come from the land of trust funds. that means that there's going to be a lot of time and energy needing to be expended to make it all happen... which is fine with me. actually, i can't imagine anything better! what can i say, i have a girlish streak. it's not my fault. i am, after all, a girl. and a crafty one at that.

in my initial investigating, i'm so surprised at how little i've found specifically for vegan events! yes, a couple of caterers and venues have told me they'll do a vegan wedding, the palm house and naturally delicious among them. but they don't advertise as such, and i haven't actually gotten menus out of them yet, just "oh yes, we'll certainly do a vegan wedding for you." does that mean pasta with marinara and a green salad? there are vegan restaurants in the city that cater, but that's a different thing than an event venue or a catering business. no business that i've found does vegan events and nothing else, and i've only dug up one catering service that's strictly vegetarian. i know we're not that big a portion of the population. but even if we're only 1%, that's still like 3 million people in the country right? and jonathan and i are in new york city, where the percentages are way skewed. i mean, how many other cities provide you with literally dozens of completely vegetarian restaurants, some of them totally vegan? seriously, we have vegan vietnamese, which you'd think was impossible. (lan cafe on 6th street - if you haven't been there yet, go today. it's amazing.) so how is it that there's not a single all vegan caterer?

it's not just food either. do you know how hard it is to find a wedding gown that's not made of silk? pretty much the only alternative is hemp silk (and i must say, the word hemp makes me twitch a little bit - just because i'm vegan doesn't mean i'm a damn hippie). i was actually considering that option though, until i discovered that almost all the time they mix the hemp fibers with real silk anyway! hi, can you say pointless? thanks to moo shoes, finding some pretty shoes to wear won't be a problem. but the point, my vegan friends, is that we're a market, right? where are all of the businesses desperately trying to sell us all of their great stuff? of course we're not a market that should be exploited, but shouldn't we at least be accommodated?

my official guesses are the following: that a lot of people who are vegan a) aren't marrying other vegans, b) figure that since their guests aren't vegan their wedding shouldn't be, or c) are doing so much for themselves - we're kind of used to being self sufficient, a habit borne largely out of necessity - that the market doesn't see a need to be filled. well, jonathan and i eschew the theory that since most of our guests won't be vegan the wedding shouldn't be. it's our wedding! we're vegan, and passionately so, and the celebration should reflect who we are as a couple. and moreover, spending thousands of dollars on non-vegan food would be totally against our beliefs. hell, i flinch when i treat my favorite co-worker to a latte with cow's milk in it, and that only costs about four bucks. honestly i won't even consider having a large scale non-vegan event, even if one or both sets of our parents ends up coughing up some money. before ever speaking a word about it to each other, we were both determined that not only will our wedding be totally vegan, but that we will be serving the most delicious food and the most beautiful, melt-in-your-mouth cake and deserts that any of our guests had ever tasted. no, really.

on top of that, we'll be following our ethics elsewise: part of our gift registry will be an option to donate to farm sanctuary and / or the common ground collective; my engagement ring and our bands will contain recycled metals and lab-created stones; all of the paper goods will be recycled or at the very least tree-free; and if there is food left over from the wedding we want to give it to food not bombs. as much as possible, we will be buying from small, local businesses and encouraging our guests to do the same. and so on, and so forth - we'll talk details as they arise.

i swear i'm not just here to bitch, and i'm definitely not here to lecture. i'm hoping that this blog will become a useful resource for other vegan couples who are also trying to find this information, or for anyone looking into doing any kind of event with ethical guidelines. as much as possible, i'll be talking about specific venues, caterers, and other wedding vendors that help (or refuse to help) us make our perfect wedding day become a reality. i'll also be doing fun crafty sorts of things like making my centerpieces and learning how to make cufflinks with resin... and i'll show you all the gory details, won't that be the funnest. if you have tips or questions for us, please pipe up! we won't be having what you'd call a traditional wedding; it'll definitely fall under the category of diy. any input and ideas along the way can be helpful. with any luck, we'll be able to throw a gorgeous party and not lose our minds in the process!