So I've been wanting to start a blog to chronicle the wedding planning process -- and the wildly swinging emotions associated with it -- but I was a bit intimidated by the prospect of setting up Movable Type on our website. Meanwhile, huge planning events were flying by, and emotional meltdowns were going unchronicled. It couldn't go on. This was the last day of my vacation, dammit, and I was going to have a wedding blog if it killed me.
Luckily, it didn't; MT turned out to be fairly easy to install. (And it brought back fond memories of my brief stint in the UNIX world in 95-96.) So here we are, with the first post of the wedding blog. Al will probably post occasionally as well, but since I'm the compulsive writer/chronicler, most posts will be from me.
I mentioned that this is my last vacation day; I took two weeks off to jump-start the planning and chill out for a while. I really need to concentrate at work right now, and I couldn't do it with all these unfinished wedding tasks looming. Since taking vacation time helps maintain the company's bottom line as well as my sanity, and since I have oodles more vacation time than Al has, I didn't think it would be a waste to blow 8 days and one floating holiday to get some things done.
It certainly wasn't a waste, that's for sure. I managed to secure a venue (and thus a wedding date), buy a dress (and it's actually in my possession!), find a photographer, select and order invitations, set up our wedding website (hi!), figure out a flower plan, and order a cake. Whew! There are still a bunch of smaller tasks to deal with (buying rings, addressing and mailing invitations, etc.), but the large things on my list are taken care of, which means I'll be ready to focus on work again on Monday. Yay!
I'll have to write more when I'm not so sleepy.
This evening we went to the wedding of our friends Allison and Lester. They were married in Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, CA, and they had their reception at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose. I cried when Allison and Lester spoke their informal vows to each other; they were so personal and heartfelt.
Of course, in addition to being ordinary guests (and providing hockey sticks for some special Allison & Lester photos), we were also looking at the ceremony and reception with an eye for elements we might use at our own wedding. We might use their officiant, for one thing (our mutual friends Tony & Maria also used her for their wedding in 1998).
The wedding ceremony was lovely, and, as I mentioned, very much tailored to Allison and Lester. Hakone Gardens was a beautiful, tranquil place, though the sun at 5:30pm was a bit sharp. The bridesmaids looked great, the flower girl was extremely cute, and Allison looked stunning in her gown. If it hadn't been for the hard-to-maneuver-in-my-heels gravel paths (and to be fair, we were warned about them in the invitation), I would have wanted to stay and explore the gardens more.
I tried taking some photos during the ceremony and afterwards at the gardens, but I didn't plan very well: I had T3200 in the camera when I started (too fast for outdoors), and when I was finally able to switch to T400, we went inside the Fairmont Hotel, where I really could have used the faster film. Oh well. :-/ I guess I'd plan better if I were doing this professionally (as I may well do someday). Hopefully I got a few good shots anyway.
The reception was lavish and well organized, with time for cocktails and (really yummy) hors d'ouvres, followed by dinner, a dessert buffet, and cake. Can I just say how much I loved the hors d'ouvres and the desserts? And oh my god, they had some little ambrosia tortes. I'm a BIG FAN of ambrosia (that dessert often found on salad bars and brunch buffets that consists of whipped cream, marshmallows, shredded coconut, pineapple, mandarin oranges, and if you're lucky, maraschino cherries). Yum, yum, yum! The dinner was nice too, but really, I didn't need it. Finger foods are my thing. :)
Allison and Lester made a grand entrance after we were all seated for dinner, and did their first dance right then (the dance floor was in the center of all the tables). I thought that was a nice touch, though it's not something we can do at our reception because of the layout. The tables were decorated with interesting single-flower arrangements (our placecards were marked with the name of a flower rather than a number, and we had to find the table with that flower on it), and the ballroom itself was decorated with an ice sculpture of a pig and a mouse/rat (the Chinese zodiac signs of Lester and Allison), a piece of artwork involving 1001 cranes (good luck), and a few large flower arrangements. Very elegant and again, personal.
I should mention one other thing about the reception before I go to bed: Al caught the necktie (thrown in lieu of a garter), and I caught the bouquet. I swear Allison and Lester aimed them at us.
I'm feeling a little frustrated today. It's probably because none of my relatives understands why we have suggested more than one hotel for wedding accommodations. Apparently it's de riguer in their world to book 10 rooms at one hotel and encourage everyone to stay there. The problem is that we're likely to need 30 rooms or more because EVERYONE'S coming from out of town, and not everyone has the same idea of what a reasonable room rate is or what amenities are really necessities. I'm extremely grateful that so many people are willing to make the trip—and I'm thrilled at the prospect of gathering friends and family members of widely varying backgrounds—but trying to make everyone happy is starting to freak me out. Does making everyone else happy mean that I have to make myself miserable?
So last night's meltdown was over the guest list. (It's funny how it's not news anymore that a meltdown occurred; the only news is what the meltdown was over.) It's hard to describe exactly what happened, but it started when I tried to understand the relationship between the Contact List spreadsheet Al & I compiled and the list of people Al's dad compiled. Miscommunications, hostilities, and tears ensued.
We resolved it by talking through all the people on our respective lists and explaining who they were and why they were invited. It was a really cool conversation, actuallyone I've been wanting to have for a while because I'm very interested in Al's family and how they're all connected. Our theme for the wedding weekend is A Family Union, so this was an important first step for us in uniting our respective families.
One thing we both noticed when we were going over the list, however, was that we'd made a stupid error when we ordered invitations: we'd estimated how many we'd need based on the number of guests, not on the number of households, so we're going to have about 50 more invitations than we need. Oops!
Maybe it's because I spent the past two weeks on vacation, but it's been a while since I've felt as sleepy as I do today. All that talking about our wild & crazy family members last night and getting up early to ride my bike to work meant only about 6 hours of sleep for me. I knew I'd be tired, but I decided to ride in anyway because I had some errands to do along the bike route.
I keep thinking that I'm going to have a few days where I don't have to think about/deal with any wedding stuff, but so far it hasn't happened. Even now that I'm back at work, there's at least one wedding-related phone call or decision to be made (or e-mail to be written) every few hours. Hopefully I'll still be able to get some work done!
Just wanted to note in here that I had a lovely, wedding-free weekend courtesy of my friend Valerie. We'd been working on different schedules and hadn't had a chance to get together in a long while, so we scheduled some girl time for this weekend.
Al opted to stay home and catch up with his friends, so Val and I got a weekend to ourselves at my house in Truckee. The car trip in each direction gave us ample time to talk, so when we got to the house we could just relax, work on projects, and have some quiet time. I baked a lemon cake for Al's 35th birthday, and Val, an experienced baker, helped me figure out what to do when I was one 9" round pan short. She spent some time in the sun on the back deck while I planted flowers out front, she read a book while I wrote to Al's mom, and together we watched a movie followed by HGTV's entire Design Time Saturday Night lineup. It was so great. We both agreed that we could have used another day—it seemed a shame to have to come back to the Bay Area this morning.
So here's to Valerie: Thanks for injecting a little sanity back into my life!
Totally freaked out yesterday when I realized that I had written one more check than I had funds to cover. Well, I had funds, but not in the right accounts. Al helped me transfer money from one account to another, but today the one check that was still outstanding (that I'd written three weeks ago) bounced because the transfer takes five business days to clear. Arrgh! The recipient of the bad check was really nice about it, and I've straightened it out, but I'd like to pass along one thing I've learned from this experience:
DO NOT TRY TO REFINANCE YOUR HOUSE WHILE PLANNING A WEDDING.
Don't get me wrong—I'm thrilled that my mortgage rate dropped by more than one percentage point—but refinancing means coming up with cash (for closing costs, additional interest, funding a new escrow account, etc.) at a time when you've also got to come up with deposits for the venue, cake baker, printer, photographer, and other associated wedding personnel. It's just asking for bounced-check-and-wire-transfer mayhem.
On a bright note, the invitations came in, and I was able to pick them up this morning. They look great! I'd had some second thoughts after we ordered them (are these the right ones? would another design have been better?), but when I saw them with our names on them, I knew we'd made the right choice. They're really lovely. Of course, they're also "customer assembly required", so I'll be folding oodles of transparent wraps and attempting to stuff the invites and RSVP cards into the inner envelopes and the inner envelopes into the outer envelopes in addition to addressing the little buggers. I hope to jump start the project this weekend.
So yesterday morning I was supposed to meet with someone from group sales at the Sheraton Palo Alto, but she stood me up. I finally got in touch with her today; apparently everything's moving along, and she was 'sorry she missed me.' (As if I'd just dropped by, when we'd arranged this meeting last Thursday to fit her busy schedule.) The rates I need are good for the days I need, however, so I'm just going to let it slide for now. Hopefully we'll be able to add the Sheraton to the top of our list of hotels with reserved rooms by tomorrow.
You'd never know it from the dearth of entries from Al, but he does have things to say about the wedding planning. He just hasn't found time to write them all down.
Went for a tasting at the caterer's office today. I LOVED LOVED LOVED the spinach salad, thought a couple things were OK, and only hated one (the coconut shrimp). Of course, there were a couple things with meat (which I don't eat), walnuts, or pesto (I'm allergic to walnuts and pine nuts) in them, so I didn't try those. We finished with a rather large piece of salmon; I only ate two bites because by then I was fairly full (and hot, dinner-style salmon wasn't what I had in mind for breakfast). If it were up to me, most meals would consist of salad and dessert, so I'm fine if all I have to eat is the spinach salad and the cake. I'm going to leave the rest of the menu up to Al.
After we tried the food, we had to come up with a color scheme for the linens and a style for the presentation. It was all a little too much for me; I want someone else to use his or her professional experience and make the decisions without me. I tried to convey my personality by describing myself as "someone who has funky hair and plain GAP clothes", but for some reason the coordinator equated "funky" with lucite pillars. =:o I had to come up with another image, fast.
I spotted a photo of a table setting they'd done at an elegant mansion, and noticed how simple and stunning it was. I pointed to it and said, I want that—a plain yet elegant setting, something that almost fades into the background—but with a punch of color, like fuscia napkins or something. I think she finally got it.
In the car on the way back, Al and I discussed the visit, and I think we've come up with a color scheme that will make us both happy. I think we're going to go with hunter green tableclothes and peach napkins, and the punch of color will come from the flowers (hopefully done in fuscia, purple, peach, and a bit of Dreamweaver green, if I can arrange it—literally, since I'll be doing the flowers myself).
I've scheduled my first dress fitting for August 5, mainly because I'm (a) pretty sure my weight isn't going to fluctuate wildly between now and the wedding (though I *did* lose 20 lbs. between my first maid-of-honor dress fitting and my best friend Sandy's wedding back in 1992...), and (b) I've got a bunch of travel planned in the next couple weeks, so I want to get it over with. Plus, if anything goes wrong, there'll be time to fix it.
Of course, that puts some time pressure on me, since I'm supposed to "come prepared with bra, slip, and shoes." I have none of these things. Well, I have a pair of shoes that might work, but they're not ideal. Strapless, backless bras that fit are proving hard to find, and god knows if I really need a slip (and if so, what kind). I wish I liked to shop, or that I had "shopping girlfriends". I could use a hand.
Created the master calendar last night, color-coded and everything. Payments due are in orange, travel is blue, to-do items are pink, and days off from work are green. I think it helped both of us to see the landscape.
I'm supposed to hear from Ice Oasis today about whether having a pre-wedding party there on October 5 will work, and if so, what hours we can have. I need this info for the invitation inserts, so the invites are all ready to go except for that. I'm very excited about sending them out; Al and I spent some time this weekend folding them, and we both were really happy with the effect. They're so lovely.
Oh, and the Sheraton stuff got settled on Friday. Mom & Lisa both made reservations, and it's now at the top of our list of preferred hotels. Hopefully we'll get a bunch of people to stay there, so they can all interact with one another. It's a perfect hotel for that; just what Lisa wanted.
When Al first mentioned that the officiant we were considering required pre-marital counseling, I was a little nervous. I think I was scared that she might declare, "YOU TWO SHOULD NOT GET MARRIED" or something. Plus, I liked the way things were going, and I didn't want to have to discuss all kinds of BIG ISSUES all at once.
As it turns out, the counseling is going well. And really, the wedding planning itself is like pre-marital counseling: it forces you to talk about your style, your priorities, and your families. It teaches you to deal with crises together, to compromise, to consider the other person when you make decisions. And it really tests your patience and sense of humor.
In addition to the daily planning issues, the officiant gave us questionnaires to fill out separately; we're supposed to get together and talk about our answers when we're finished. I'm not sure if she planned this or not, but the act of thinking about the questions has precipitated several discussions. We spent several hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday talking about our childhood friends, our upbringing, when we might like to become parents, what kind of role models we'd like to be, what ambitions we have, etc. And this was on top of the various mini-conversations we've had about the specific counseling questions (e.g., "what will you miss about being single?").
For some of the questions, we've had to look to each other for answers; for example, I had to ask Al what he does that makes me angry, because I couldn't think of anything. "When I'm late," he replied. So right!