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?