Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Real Beginning

Perhaps this is where I should have started my recaps. The ceremony. The ritual. The moment of marriage. For us, the ceremony was so much more than a prelude to the reception. It was (and is) the time when our promises were made real. It was (and is) the crux of our wedding and the beginning of our marriage. Yes. This is the real beginning.

We started with a welcome and a prayer. And then, because we originate from a place of “yes,” we began the affirmations. I am a woman, a feminist, and an adult; I am no one’s gift to give away. But it was exceedingly important to my father and stepfather that they have the opportunity to affirm their support for the marriage. They did. Then the Mister and I affirmed that we intended to enter into the covenant of marriage, and we said our “I dos.” Right at the outset. Do you take this man? Do you take this woman? Yes. We do. Finally, we asked the congregation if they would give their encouragement. They did too.

Next, a bit more tradition and heritage. While I will always remain a part of my own family, I wanted to make an outward sign that I joined with my Mister’s family. So, in the ancient Scottish tradition, my mother in law, Momma Mac, pinned the Mister’s family tartan on my dress.

After which our celebrant read this prayer of thanksgiving by ee cummings:
i thank You God for most this amazing day:
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes

I’m going to interrupt the recap to give some unsolicited advice. Choose your celebrant wisely. Pick someone you love and who loves you. Someone who knows you. Someone truly extraordinary for an extraordinary moment in your lives. I realize that very few people in the world could have a celebrant like ours. You see, we didn’t pick a celebrant who happened to be our friend. We were blessed to have a friend who happened to be a celebrant to perform the sacrament of our marriage. And that, dear readers, is how we ended up with the most beautiful sermon I couldn’t have imagined. It included elements like this:

I’m going to ask you to turn around and just take in the view that I see – all the faces of people who have joined both of you in this celebration of marriage. These are the people who have been with you and will continue to be with you, as you start this new life together.

Sometimes when I look out over the congregation, I imagine that the pews don’t stop at the church doors, but keep going and going and are filled with people, so I invite you to look past these sanctuary walls and to see the pews extending back and back, and see how they are filled with all the people who have gathered here for you: all the people who have ever loved you, all those who have shown you kindness, all those who have fought for your freedom and for justice, all those who have taught you and comforted you and been your friend, throughout the generations.

I invite you to see your brothers, seated in a pew, happy and glad for all you have become and will be together. These are the people in your life, the ones who will guide you in your marriage to each other. Take a good look at them, for they are here because they love you.

People always say to take a moment. To really experience the wedding ceremony. To take a deep breath. To let the love of your friends and family wash over you. In all the excitement, I would have forgotten to do just that, had our celebrant not reminded us. But when she did remind us, time stopped. The room was fairly glowing with love. Bright and shining and warm and comforting. It was the essence of Ahhhhhh.

And then. Then! We said our vows. Which we wrote together.

I choose you
To be no other than yourself,
Loving what I know of you,
And trusting who you will become.
I will respect and honor you
Always and in all ways.
With you I pledge to repair
One small piece of the world.
I take you to be my spouse,
To have and to hold,
In tears and in laughter,
In sickness and in health,
To love and to cherish,
From this day forward,
In this world and the next.

We wanted to pledge something that was more than now. We wanted to acknowledge all that we did not yet know. We wanted to use traditional words, but add modern feelings. Because we have lost loved ones, for whom and from whom we still feel so much love, we wanted to promise a love that went beyond “until death do us part.” And my very favorite part of our vows? All the Mister’s idea – to pledge to repair the world. There is no greater healing than that.

We know that not everyone shares our spiritual beliefs, and we respect differences out in the world and here in our own communities and families. But for us, the marriage ceremony included God. And so we had communion. We had to fight with the church lady about the logistics. We wanted to be served last, after every single one of our guests had the opportunity to partake. She argued and wheedled and moved things around. But we stuck to our guns. And in the end, it worked just as we knew it should. It. Was. Right.
After all the solemn words and promises, it was time for a huge helping of joy with more than a sprinkle of humor. Our celebrant pronounced us husband and wife, we kissed (and kissed!), and the organist launched into our recessional. The Hallelujah Chorus. I can’t imagine a happier husband, a more cheerful wife, or a merrier congregation. To see people who have known sadness find true happiness? There were tears of joy and hoots of laughter. I may have even hopped up and down a bit. We sealed our marriage with mirth.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Details, Details . . . .

Wedding planners and coordinators and magazines (oh my!) say nowadays that details are the key to a good wedding. And when Super Tall Girl and I arrived at the church, we began setting up the little ceremony details we had prepared in advance. Programs:

Pinwheels (printed with the words of our vows). We put the paper pinwheels onto pencils that were themselves printed with whimsical axioms like, “Write Your Own Love Story,” and “A Whirlwind Romance.” And we put the finished products into recycled paper-ream box lids that we covered in fabric and filled with Spanish moss):

Vintage Hankies given by Mama, two Aunties, and Super Tall Girl:

A guestbook, nearly every page of which had a photograph of family members on their wedding day. And snapshot cards that told guests how to upload their photos on smugmug.com. We also made little stand-up cards that explained all of the other little details and cards. Overkill? Probably. But they were pretty little overkills, no?

The fascinator in my hair I made from feathers and French netting:

And I made my necklace from coin pearls that looked like full moons. The pearls symbolized my twin brother, whose nickname was “Mr. Moon” when we were little. (Mine was “Little Miss Sunshine”).

The flowers in my bouquet, above, were lilies of the valley, which symbolize a return to happiness. They are sometimes also called Jacob's Ladder, and Jacob was my twin brother's name.

I made my veil from an embroidered piece of organza from the fabric store and a plastic comb. Several people asked if it was vintage. But it was just homemade. It probably cost $15. But it felt like it was worth a million, because the embroidery was of shamrocks to symbolize the day the Mister and I got engaged – St. Patrick’s Day:

I made tartan rosette pins for every woman member of my mother’s clan and the Mister’s clan. Momma Mac, my MIL, pinned her tartan on my dress to symbolize that I joined her clan during the ceremony:

Sure, the weddingers say that details are the key to a good wedding. And I'm so glad I made them, because adding symbolism to an already meaningful ritual adds depth. And (to be honest) making things just plain makes me happy.

But our details were merely the outward expression of the inner love the Mister and I felt for each other, our guests, and the joyful occasion of the day. The only real detail I needed that day was the man I married. So don't be pressured to DIY or include a details that aren't your style or speed.
You and YOUR mister: express yourselves. BE yourselves. The you-ness of it all is what you will cherish, and what your guests will remember. I promise.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


The night before the wedding, I slept the happy, deep, undisturbed sleep of a girl who knows she’s marrying the right husband the next day. (It may also have been the happy, deep, undisturbed sleep of a girl whose multi-decibel-snoring-fiancĂ© is sleeping in another building. I’m just saying.) Anyhoo, I woke up bright-eyed and ready to grab brunch with a group of my favorite gals.

I don’t think I ate much – just moved my food around and thought about how this was IT. My wonderful friends fussed over me (and ordered me to eat more). It was deliciously lovely (and downright delicious).

I did my makeup at home myself, and I also had thought I’d do my own hair in my regular, everyday straight style. Like dis:

But when I went to the Enchantrix of Hair to get a cut two weeks before the wedding, I asked her to fix me up like she would on my wedding day. I liked it, but it seemed like a lot of work to make an appointment and get over to see her on wedding day. And I liked my regular do too. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Short story long, that day, the Mister picked me up from the appointment and made this incredibly contented aaaahhhhing sound when he saw my hair. Now this is a guy who probably wouldn’t notice if I shaved my head and painted my scalp purple. So if the hair trial produced that kind of reaction, you can bet your bottom dollar I was going to do it again. On the wedding day. Duh.
Here is the Enchantrix in action, whipping my babyfine hair into a wedding-worthy do:

Apparently this was a very wise choice, because on the wedding day, Pop told me FIVE BILLION TIMES that he LOOOOVED my hairdo. And he wasn’t alone. If I had the Enchantrix’s magical superpowers, I would fix my hair like this every day. But alas, I am a mere mortal.

After the hair spell, we went home to pick up the flowers that I put together the day before. Yep, I did my own flowers. Spent a total of $35 bucks on ‘em. That was for the mothers’ corsages, the tossing bouquet, a few extra flowers for my MOH, and the guys’ boutonnieres. All of which I made myself. My own flowers? Picked ‘em from my friend’s yard. Well, most of them, anyway. I confess to picking a few more from other people’s flower beds on the way home. It takes a village, you know. Here are the results:
MOH-Super Tall Girl's nosegay was a center of Bells of Ireland surrounded by lilies of the valley. My bouquet was all lilies of the valley. The bouts were a Scottish thistle (a nod to the Mister's and my heritage) paired with a succuluent bud from a plant called hens-and-chickens pulled from my friend's garden. Manly and green, and they happen to be Pop's favorite. The mamas each had a single flower to carry, tied with a slim black ribbon. Here's a closeup of my bouquet. It smelled MAHvelous.

And THAT, Ladies and Gentlemen, was the State of My Wedding Morning. What happened next, you ask? You know the drill. Tune in next time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Before we got to the three major wedding snafus, we had to make it through the day BEFORE our big day. May 1. Also known as May Day. As in, “MAYDAY! MAYDAY!”

I spent the morning and afternoon with MOH Super Tall Girl eating crepes, drinking champagne, and having a pedicure. It was deeelightful. The Mister was at work. Rargh. But before we both knew it, it was time for the rehearsal, which our dear friend Elaine (of the super fab engagement pics) photographed as a gift to us.

The rehearsal involved two diametrically opposed experiences: (1) dealing with Crazy Church Lady, which produced facial expressions like this:

And (2) seeing friends and family, which produced facial expressions like this:

Seriously, it’s soooo not fair that my mother-in-law, Momma Mac, (pictured above) looks like my sister. My YOUNGER sister. And here are a few photos to show that she raised her boys right. The Mister and his younger brother met their grandmother with hugs and respect. I. Love. Momma. Mac.

The highlight of the rehearsal was learning that there is a secret button that the Church Lady presses to cue the organist to switch to a different song. A magical button! Right there in our church! How absolutely splendid!

Nearly as splendid was the story my Mantron of Honor told me about a couple who brought their VERY VOCAL PARROT to their wedding.

The next chapter was dinner. Wherein we stuffed our faces with delicious fried chicken and gave gifts to our wedding party. Our dads gave excellent toasts. Of which we have nary a photo because we were too busy wiping our eyes. But here is one pic of MOH Super Tall Girl and me, glad to be surrounded by the warmth of family love. (Which may have been exaggerated by the unseasonably warm weather, the radiators belching steam, and the inoperable windows.) But the chicken? DEELISH.

And last but not least was a trip to the site of our first kiss and proposal, where we met up with dear friends and raised a glass (or two). Said dear friends had already raised a glass (or three) before we even arrived. Which may be why their text messages referenced “drunking” rather than “drinking.” We danced. We sang at the top of our lungs.

We smooched our last single kiss. MWAH!

Exhausted, the Mister and I separated (home for me and our grumpy little dog, hotel for the Mister) to rest our tired smile muscles and to try to get some sleep.

Cue the announcer’s cliffhanger queries: Did they sleep? Did they get to the church on time? Did they murder the Church Lady? With a parrot?! Tune in to our next episode to find out!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

We’re married! (Not just “weddinged,” thank goodness.) So that’s MRS. Jules to you.

I’ve heard that many friends have been checking here for recap posts, and I’m finally ready to give ‘em to you. A quick list of the highlights:

1. Pop’s fly was unzipped during the ceremony. Thank you, photoshop! (Seriously, though, only three people knew about it.)

2. The Mister ended up wearing his grandmother’s corsage. As his boutonniere. (But it looked awesome!)

3. The groom’s cake had the wrong Scottish motto on it. (Instead of “MARE,” meaning “sea,” it says, “MARF.” So our new motto is, “Per Marf Per Terras,” or “By Marf and By Land.” What the Marf?! This is seriously my favorite wedding snafu. It makes me laugh so hard that my sides hurt. Marf! HA! Love it.)
You know how people say that the wedding is supposed to be the best day of your life? And how I thought that was soooo stupid, because it’s just a big party with a poofy dress and a tall cake? Well, I didn’t take into account two major things.

First, and most importantly, the magnitude and meaning of the ritual of marriage was breathtakingly beautiful. The love we felt for each other filled up the church and spilled right out into the street. I’ve been high on it for an entire month. I didn’t know I could love my Mister any more than I already did. But the words we spoke to each other, the way we saw each other, and the very air around us that day multiplied my love exponentially. I. Was. Gobsmacked.

And second, the guests at the big party with a poofy dress and a tall cake? Our closest, most beloved friends and family. Feeling the warmth of their love all at once was like the first time I broke through the clouds in an airplane. Transformational. Awe-inspiring. Humbling. Glorious.

So the wedding may not turn out to be the very best day of my life. But you can bet it was the best day of my life so far. That’s why I have an open-mouthed-laugh-from-the-sheer-joy-of-it-all face. In nearly every single picture.

Special thanks to Todd Pellowe, tpellowe.com, who took these amazing photos. He reached up into the night sky that was our wedding and captured shooting stars of emotion. More to come. I promise.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Isn't That Special?

Well! Those of you who were adamantly against a receiving line of any sort at the ceremony have got your wish. We met with the Church Lady last night.

She isn’t a bad lady – just . . . rigid. The Mister and I firmly believe that the ceremony is the single most important part of the wedding. Not the cake. Not the flowers. The vows. So we spent a lot of time tailoring the ceremony to reflect the realities of our families (my family mostly) and the depth of our relationship with each other and with God. Our meeting last night seems to indicate we’re the first people ever to do this at our church.

As a brief aside, this wedding isn’t the first time my family has switched things up a bit in the church to reflect the realities of a situation. I’ve mentioned before that my twin brother died eight years ago. Apparently, his funeral was the first in the church to openly acknowledge that the death was by suicide. Until then, people had just used the euphemism, “He died suddenly.” While it was certainly difficult to be that open, my family felt that it was the best way to help shine a light on the dark world of suicide by encouraging open discussion. It was the right decision for us.

So, back to the meeting with the Church Lady (“CL”). First, we spent some time explaining that we had a mixed bridal party. A woman (Super Tall Girl) and a man (my Mantron of Honor) will stand up on my side, and a man (the Mister’s brother) and a woman (the lady who introduced us) will stand up on the Mister’s side. CL kept calling my side, “The Girls.” My Mantron of Honor is very secure in his masculinity, so I’m not worried. But it cracks me up that he WORKS AT THE CHURCH, and she still wouldn’t recognize his role.

Next step: The Parents. I’ve got all kinds of ‘em. And I decided early on to treat everybody as equals. This has caused no end of friction. In fact, I haven’t blogged about it, because it’s too delicate an issue. But trust me. This is important. CL wanted my stepmother to be seated before the ceremony began, rather than with the family. And she paled visibly when I said that both my father and stepdad were going to walk me down the aisle. Um, I know that traditionally there was no role for the stepparents. But that’s when it was traditional to have only one set of parents. My parents divorced when I was six. My stepparents have contributed immeasurably to raising me. They WILL NOT be treated as second class citizens. Not now. Not on the wedding day. Not ever. ‘Nuff said.

The Mister lost his temper when CL told him that, “There is no photography during the wedding ceremony.” He called the rule rude (I think he was going to say bulls**t), and got all red in the face. CL then softened this unequivocal statement by adding that the photographer can take photos from the choir loft without a flash. I pointed out the futility of the rule, since tons of guests bring cameras and take photos (with flash) throughout the ceremony. But I got over it. And the Mister fumed. On to the last issue.

When we asked about leaving the church after the ceremony, CL informed us that the church “doesn’t permit receiving lines” of any kind. Including releasing the rows. Whaaa? We go to the fanciest-schmantziest church in the city, where everything is too, too proper, and receiving lines are verboten? Seriously? Miss Manners would have a conniption.

Fortunately, the Mister, our minister, and I had been discussing a receiving line alternative over the past week or so, whereby we would release the rows of guests as they go to communion. This would allow us to see every guest even more quickly than a receiving line, because it would be during the ceremony. And the guests would be asked to respect the sanctity of communion by remaining silent. This is perhaps the newest idea we’ve had so far. Plenty of people have had mixed bridal parties and stepparents participating in the ceremony. Maybe not in our church, but they’re not uncommon these days. But releasing the rows for communion – now that’s different.

CL didn’t attempt to hide her disdain. “Leaving the front of the sanctuary during the service? Well . . . that’s just . . . wrong!” And so, our minister came to the rescue. She suggested that the Mister and I stand near where people came forward to take communion, so we could smile at each person. It’s the perfect compromise (and the quickest receiving line option in the universe).

So all you anti-receiving line folks out there, you got your wish. And all I’ve got to say about it is, “Well, isn’t that special?”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I See You've Won First Prize

Last night, Super Tall Girl, the Mister, and I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day! One year ago yesterday, the Mister proposed to me (and my snausage finger). I love the fact that people all over the world get together wear green, drink beer, and toast our engagement! How festive!

We had dinner at home before going out. I made beef and Guinness stew, Irish soda bread, and Guinness floats for dessert. That’s right – Guinness floats: vanilla ice cream with Guinness on top. Kind of like a coke float, but with a creamy, chocolaty, coffee flavor, and a bit of a buzz. They were deeelish!

After dinner, we went to the place where the Mister proposed and had . . . more beer! While we were toasting, I said something that Super Tall Girl made me promise to blog about today. Here it is:

Jules (to the Mister): “Oh my gosh! I’m so excited! The seamstress is putting a pocket in my wedding dress so that I don’t have to put my lipstick in your purse!”

Why would the Mister carry a purse on his wedding day, you ask? Well, as I may have mentioned before, he’s going to wear a kilt. Part of the getup is a sporran, which is basically a man purse that he wears around his waist, because kilts don’t have pockets. Actually, there’s no “basically” about it. “Sporran” means “purse” in Gaelic.

So, I’m going to marry a man in a skirt with a purse. And there’s nothing in the world manlier or sexier. Hello!?! Have you seen Rob Roy? Braveheart? In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, an excited woman reaches up James Bond’s kilt and writes her hotel room number in lipstick on his thigh. So there we are. Back to lipstick. And then, of course, there’s the Scottish drinking song:

Well, a Scotsman clad in kilt left the bar one evening fair. And one could tell by how he walked that he'd drunk more than his share. He fumbled 'round 'till he could no longer keep his feet. And stumbled off into the grass to sleep beside the street.

Now about that time two young and lovely girls happened by. One said to the other with a twinkle in her eye. See yon sleeping Scotsman so strong and handsome built. I wonder if it's true what he wears nothing beneath the kilt.

They crept up on that sleeping Scotsman quiet as can be. Lifted up his kilt about an inch so they could see. Lo and behold for them to view beneath his Scottish skirt. Was nothin' more than God had graced him with upon his birth.

They marveled for a minute and one said, "We must be gone.Let's leave a souvenir for our friend before we move along."As a gift they left a blue silk ribbon tied into a bow. Around the bonnie star the Scott's kilt did lift and show.

Now the Scotsman rose to nature's call and headed for the trees. Behind the bush he lifts his kilt and gawks at what he sees. And in his drunken voice he says to what's before his eyes."Oh, lad I don't know where you've been, but I see you've won first prize."