Thursday, July 31, 2008

Luck 'O the Irish

The day began with serious bodily injury. I slammed my left thumb in the car door, and it bled all over my clothes and swelled up to the size of a kielbasa. I cried my little eyes out as the Mister ran cool water over the offending wound and bandaged me up. In the midst of this tragedy, I realized, “I can marry this man! He would know what to do when our kids skin their knees!” But that thought was quickly replaced by something along the lines of “OOOWWWWCHHH!” He left for work; I pulled myself together, put on a silly green felt newsboy hat in honor of St. Patrick’s day, and went to my office too.

I was especially sad that I slammed my LEFT thumb in the car door, because I was not-so-secretly hoping that the Mister was going to propose later that week. He asked me to my favorite restaurant several days in advance, and I suspected that he would pop the question there. (I can usually tell what the Mister is thinking – it’s as if he has one of those scrolling lighted message boards strapped to his forehead that puts out a running commentary of his thoughts.) If he proposed later that week, he would have to put the ring he designed onto the same hand as the kielbasa thumb. Ick.

But I was still excited; I had no idea what the ring looked like, and I was dying to see it. That’s assuming he even had the ring. I was also thrilled at the thought that I could be engaged to the man ‘o my dreams. So with a heart full of hope and a thumb full of OOOWWWWCHHH, I started planning what I would wear on Friday that would distract from the kielbasa thumb. I contemplated implementing the Miss Piggy plan – if you’re having a bad hair day (or a thumb that looks like a sausage), just put some broccoli in your teeth, and no one will notice your hair/thumb. Note to self: Go to grocery; pick up broccoli.

The Mister and I decided to go to a cool German pub for St. Patrick’s Day. It sounds weird, but this place has the best Irish parties outside of County Cork, and on St. Pat’s Day the place is packed to the rafters with corned beef, cabbage, Irish beer, and green-clad lads and lassies. It’s also the place we had our first kiss (on the very first day we met– sorry Mama!). As we were leaving home for the festivities, the Mister asked me if I needed my cell phone. Doesn’t he know that the less you carry at a drunken Irish party, the less you can lose? So I left the phone at home.

We dragged ole’ sausage thumb over to the pub, and we ate a hearty meal of all things Irish. It was super duper hot inside, so we went outside. By the place we first kissed. It was sprinkling rain as we sat at a pickinic table (yes, I used the Yogi bear spelling). The Mister said, “Hey, look at the guy in the kilt!”

I must stop the story here to tell you that I loooove guys in kilts. The Mister has one too, because he competes in the Scottish Highland Games, which involves throwing really heavy things, like actual rocks and telephone poles, into the air for height or across a field for distance and technique. I go to these games because: (1) I like to show my support for my Mister, and (2) there are guys in kilts.

The Mister is thinking about wearing a kilt to the wedding. I think it’s a great idea. I got to pick out my dress all by myself, so why shouldn’t he pick out what he wants to wear? (I do hope they make Garanimals in formal wear, however.)

His parents think that a kilt is insane. I’m not exactly sure why – his brother picked something pretty nontraditional for his wedding – modern brown tuxedos with gold vests and pink ties. What’s the big deal with the kilt? But it’s not my battle. The Mister will look amazing in whatever he chooses (provided it matches), so I’ll let him make the decision (and engage in whatever negotiation is required to implement it). I’m concerned about the kilt for one other reason: our officiant/friend (who is a very cute young woman) said that, if the Mister wears a kilt, she might just shove me out of the way and marry him herself. I couldn’t blame her, really. Because, if guys in kilts are hot, then my guy in a kilt is absolutely irresistible.

So, you can see why, “Hey, look at the guy in the kilt!” would distract me. As I scanned the crowd for tartan, the Mister got down on one knee. I looked back, and he asked me to marry him, using my full name. Yesyesyesyesyes. And I looked at the ring. HOLY MOLEY! It was perfect. Sparkly and classic, it looks like a family heirloom.

Tears. Joy. Wonder at why anyone would want to propose to a snausage thumb wearing a silly green felt hat. And an overwhelming urge to . . . call my mother. (Why did I leave the danged cell phone at home?!) I commandeered a phone and called Mama. She thought something terrible had happened, because I was screaming unintelligibly into the receiver. When I finally explained, we were on our way to her house, calling best friends and several other parents along the way.

The moral of this story is this: Don’t wear a green felt hat. No, actually, it’s that a silly sausage thumb can’t sour the sweetest moment of your life. So stop worrying and just enjoy yourself, for heaven’s sake.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Anti-Funeral

Think for a moment about the most important element of a wedding. You know . . . the part that makes a party seem . . . wedding-y. The dress? The cake? Chivari chairs? Chicken cordon bleu? Apparently, each person in the world (or at least each person who thinks about weddings – that’s everybody, right?) feels there is one thing without which it wouldn’t be a wedding at all. And, here’s the kicker, it’s different for each person. Which isn’t so bad when you’ve got a bride planning the wedding on her own with her mama. That’s two people to satisfy. But when you’ve included an entire community in the planning of said wedding, you’ve got yourself a heap of trouble.

For my FMIL, Momma Mac, I suspect it might be the cake. She offered to buy our buttercreamed beauty, and she enjoyed picking it out with us. My stepmother (Mrs. Pop) sent me shoes in the mail. Apparently, my rubber-soled skimmer shoes didn’t fit the fashion bill, and she kindly (I mean that – very kindly) bought me a pair that were much nicer, but still my style. Shoes are important to her. My Mama has been attempting to brainwash me about my processional music. She has played her favorite song for me at least thirty times. She may even have implemented some sort of subliminal listening system in my home, for all I know. She’s crafty like that!

Cake. Fashion. Music. There’s something else that will make our wedding for me. Family.

Sure, people love their families, and family is so stable for most people that it’s a given at a wedding, which is why they focus on the other parts, like the reception location or something. But family has been a delicate thing for me, and I’m acutely aware of it nearly every moment of every day.

My twin brother died seven years ago, and his absence has been more palpable in the wedding planning than it has been since the year he died. Our family has been through so much tragedy. And we’ve had so many loving friends who tenderly held our hearts as we’ve grieved. Now, instead of planning a funeral and just trying to make it through each day, we’re all planning a wedding and looking well into the future. In short, this wedding is the anti-funeral. Not just for me, but for all of us.

So when I listen a little too much to the opinions of family and friends, and I agonize over how to meld them into a single, coherent day, it’s not because I’m indecisive or too nice (people who know me know that’s certainly not true!). It’s because I want everyone who helped ease the grief to get a piece of the joy.

Having Cake and Eating It Too

When the Mister and I began planning the wedding, we decided we wanted to have a responsible, adult wedding. (No, this does not mean an x-rated wedding with contraceptive favors. It means that we would set a reasonable budget that is not the GNP of a small nation, and we would stick to it.) We have very generous parents, and we combined their contributions, and plugged the budget into a wedding calculator thingy, which promptly told us the exact dollar amount we should spend on every item from the petals tossed by the flower girl to the last drop of alcohol consumed at the reception. In the planning, we picked our must-haves. Every time we happened upon a line item that was over budget (e.g., the reception’s monopoly of a caterer), we started to look for another that we could whittle down a bit (the cake).

Oh, the cake! We wanted to have cake. But we weren’t so worried about its provenance or, for lack of a better word, height. But some people feel that the cake is that one thing that makes a wedding. My little sister, for example, nearly fainted when I said that we were going to have sheet cakes from Costco as our wedding cake. (She tried to hide her horror, but I recognized it! She’s my little sis, after all.) First, let me say that Costco cake is really, really yummy. And cheap! A white cake with white frosting with a ton of cheesecake filling that feeds 50 people costs $18. I lugged some into work, and everyone who tried it could not believe it was from Costco. Tasty! Cheap! But not so pretty.

Other people who heard about the Costco Cake Plan (or the CCP, as I will now call it) hated it for other reasons. My future inlaws, Momma Mac and Mac Daddy, were dead set against it, because: (1) Someone will have to pick the danged cakes up from a superstore on the day of the wedding, and drive them to the reception. I think the Macs had a vision of me with the train of my wedding dress hanging out the driver’s side door of a car, dragging along the highway with the cakes spilling out the trunk. And they’re not far off – that’s something I would totally do.
(2) When I said that we prioritized elements other than the cake, they heard that I would not have the wedding cake of my dreams. And that would not do, no sir! They are loving and wonderful, and they wanted me to not have a single regret on my wedding day. Not if they could help it! Down with the CCP!

So, they offered to buy the cake. And we picked one out this weekend! Apparently, the cake was a bit more of a priority to us than we had thought. The Mister got excited about the flavors of each tier. He was surprisingly involved in the decoration decisions. He debated the number of layers and their proportionality. He picked out a groom’s cake. He was in absolute heaven. (It may have just been a sugar high, but it was so much fun to see.)

And even though I had resigned myself to a tasty-but-not-pretty cake for the sake of responsible frugality, I caught the sugar wave and ended up loving every sweet decision we made. But how can I enjoy a cake that doesn’t fit into our fiscally responsible budget, you ask? Will I be calculating the cost of each mouthful? Will I have the uneaten slices bronzed to justify the expense?

Nope. The baker blacked out the price on my copy of the contract. So I get to have my cake and actually enjoy eating it too. Thank you Momma Mac.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Word Clouds

I learned about Wordle from Miss Lovebug over on weddingbee. It’s this ubercool online program that generates “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.

Here’s an example of the words from a draft of our wedding ceremony (names and places removed to protect the innocent): You can use any text you like – try the Gettysburg Address:
The Velveteen Rabbit: Or the lyrics from a favorite song (“Here Comes the Sun,” by the Beatles): Fun that's totally free? Found it!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Modern Wedding Ring Quilt

The Mister and I are in the process of moving in together. To be more accurate, I’m in the process of moving in with him. Into. His. Space. He has been exceedingly gracious with giving me places to put my belongings. He has allowed me to choose between duplicate possessions, so we have a nice, integrated household. He has been incredibly encouraging throughout this entire stressful process.

And stressful it has been! I don’t like to update my computer or change the toilet paper roll, so I’m having a smidge of trouble with packing up my stuff and moving it somewhere else, no matter how much I want to get to the somewhere else to be with the someone else who already lives there.

I don’t want to take over his space entirely, but his giant (very cool!) art photographs of African animals say, “A MAN lives here!” On the other hand, hanging up my Georgia O’Keeffe posters would scream, “WOMAN!” There’s a tension in figuring out how to make the space represent the character of us as a couple. (On a side note, someone I know says that houses with garages that face the street say, “Cars live here,” rather than “People live here.” Interesting.)

The bedroom décor is another manifestation of this problem. He has a wonderful, neutral-colored linear-lined quilt on the bed. I LOVE it. It’s beautiful. But it’s a little on the masculine side. (As it should be. If he had a chintz comforter on the bed when I got there, I would have run for the hills. Duh.) I certainly don’t want to replace it with the blue and while square blocked quilt I got from pottery barn kids. (Does anyone else lurve the hooded towels at pottery barn kids that look like animals? But I digress . . . .)

I’ve looked all around, and don’t see anything in the marketplace that meets our criteria. The new bedspread must: (1) adequately merge our two styles, (2) be relatively lightweight, and (3) hold up to the scratching of our darling little dog, who wipes his ears all over the bed after he gets a bath. To get the water out. Obviously.

So . . . what if I designed my own quilt? I could pick my own fabrics and make it modern and fresh. I have this image of two intersecting circles that are asymmetrically placed on the quilt, kind of like a Venn Diagram of our relationship -- the two of us are each our own circle, and the intersection is our relationship together. Like the picture below, but with more vibrant, saturated colors in a monochromatic scheme.

After I come up with the design, I could sew the top together, and then send it to a quilting service, which would quilt, bind, and back it for around $300. It could be the modern version of a wedding ring quilt. What do you think? Artsy or fartsy?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cast of Characters

The {cypress and oak} Cast of Characters:

The Mister: My fiancé, a thoughtful, private, stalwart, adorable protector.

Mama: My mother, a creative, obsessive, magical, sparkling homebody.
Mr. Mama: My stepdad, a loud, loving, bossy, gregarious leader.

Pop: My father, a clever, silly, emotive, punny salesman.
Mrs. Pop: My stepmom, a talkative, organized, giving, entrepreneurial perfectionist.

Momma Mac: My FMIL (future mother in law), a loving, intelligent, strong, soft-spoken kindred spirit.
Mac Daddy: My FFIL (future father in law), a generous, curious, warm, dog-loving statesman.

My BFF: My MOH (maid of honor), a steadfast, loyal, smart (both intelligent and elegant) soul friend.

Family Photo Guest Book

I knew from the get-go I didn’t want to have a regular guest book. To be honest, I don’t exactly understand the purpose of a guest book. A place for guests to write their addresses? But we already know them, because that’s where we sent their invitations! I told Mama that I didn’t even want to have a guest book, but she (and the Mister) argued that people actually LIKE to sign these books. It feels wedding-y. Apparently. So I began thinking of another option that would be more than a poofy, padded satin, out-of-order address book/dust collector. (Not that there's anything wrong with that -- it's just not my thing.)

I love the idea of platters that guests can sign with special pens. You bake the platters in the oven, and the ink sets, so that you can use the platter in your daily life. (I’m all about using art and sentiment in everyday life.) They have these platter sets at
pottery barn, but you can make your own for a lot less moolah by buying the platter(s) and markers separately. I think this concept would work best for a small-ish wedding. As it seems we may have more than 300 guests, they would either have to write very small, or we’d have to have tons of platters for people to sign.

That’s when I started to hear about
blurb books. They’re commercial, bookstore quality books that you can create and have printed in less than seven days, starting at just $13. You can choose between different sizes of books, determine the number of pages you’d like to include, and decide whether you want a softcover, hardcover with dust jacket, or an image-wrap hardcover book. The possibilities are endless!

I love the trend of including photographs of family members at their weddings. Usually they’re put in fancy (read: expensive) frames near the gift table at the reception. But I wanted a way to include these photo memories in a way that (1) guests would be more likely to see them, and (2) I could admire them after the wedding. My vision of our wedding didn’t include life-sized posters of these photos, and my vision of our post-wedding abode didn’t include twenty or thirty wedding photos in mismatched (expensive!) frames covering every available surface. But the guestbook! What about that?

So, I’ve begun collecting amazing wedding photos from my dear family to include in the guestbook. Here are the criteria for the pictures: (1) family members, (2) at their wedding, (3) if they’re still happily married. (While I’m the product of happily divorced parents who have happily remarried other people, it’s the current, happy marriages that I hope will inspire the Mister and me in our own relationship.) I’ve not yet decided what information I will encourage guests to put in the book, but addresses are out, and a request for a more personal note is in. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, here are just a few of the wedding photos that will grace the pages of our nontraditional guest book:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Miss Me

In my last post, I mentioned that the Mister and I attended our marriage preparation class at church. What I neglected to mention is that at the class I did THE MOST embarrassing thing. Ever.

We started the class by going around the room, introducing our partners. Each person also had to say how he or she knew that his or her partner was “the one.” The instructor (let’s call him Doc) called on me first, and I said that the Mister is the one for me because I feel safe with him, and he makes me feel both happy and content. The Mister was next, and I was sincerely afraid that he would respond the way he had in our preliminary, personal meeting with Doc a few weeks before. In that meeting, Doc asked us to describe our excitement at getting married. The Mister stumbled around for 90 seconds using a lot of words without ever saying anything a la Miss Teen South Carolina.

(For the YouTube video of Miss SC's meltdown, click here.) The Mister might as well have said, “I’m excited about marrying Jules because I want to be a veterinarian to help people.” It. Was. Brilliant. (In the Mister’s defense, he is usually well-spoken, when he is not crazy uncomfortable sharing his feelings with random people he doesn’t know at all.)

Instead of an unintelligible answer, the Mister said something lovely – that he knows I am the one because I make life beautiful for him. Seven other couples said other nice things about each other, and then the last pair spoke. The Mister and I are friends with the prospective groom in that pair, but we don’t know the bride-to-be at all. She’s a peppy lady with an open expression and an agreeable personality. He said she’s the one because of a gut feeling he has, deep down inside. Good answer. She replied that he’s the one, because he’s smart. And intelligent. And imaginative. And handsome. And . . . here’s where I wish I could stop time and use a magic eraser to obliterate about ten seconds. In the midst of her list of his wonderful attributes, I leaned over the side of the table and made a barfing sound.

Everyone stared at me in all my discourteous glory, but I couldn’t really see the horrified looks on their faces because I was very busy obsessing about when we would take a break from the class so I could apologize to her. A bazillion times. In the split second that I was teasing my friend (the groom) about the list of his lovely qualities, I forgot that my joke invalidated his partner’s lovely comments (and hurt her feelings in the process).

I apologized, of course. And did some reflecting. I’m starting to realize that this wedding stress does weird things to a girl. I’m interrupting meetings at work (which essentially means, “I think whatever I have to say is waaaay more important than what you have to say”), but I’m cross whenever someone interrupts me. Who is this boorish woman? And when will she go away? Any thoughts on how to get back to being myself? I miss me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Playing by the Rules

So it was a week of ups and downs for me and my relationship with religion.

Some quick background: the Mister and I want to make the wedding ceremony more than traditional; we want it to be a worship service where we commit our lives to God. We’re cool with people who don’t want to do the same, but it’s part of who we are. One of the elements we want to include is communion.

Our religious rollercoaster week began on July 4th when our awesome friend/officiant said that we could have people of different denominations serve communion at our wedding. Unifying people of different traditions! I was beside myself with ecumenical enthusiasm. I invited as servers a few people I know will support us in our marriage, but who wouldn’t ordinarily be involved in the service. This included my kind-hearted boss and a trial judge I have known since I was a girl.

You know how they say that you should ask forgiveness, not permission? Well out of an abundance of caution, I thought I should check with another churchy friend to make sure our plan was acceptable. It wasn’t. Apparently, my church requires that ordained ministers, elders, and deacons serve communion.

It wasn’t just that I had to unask my boss and a judge – that was embarrassing. It was that I was disappointed that my church isn’t progressive enough to focus on similarities, rather than differences. I shot off what amounted to a “WWJD” email to the executive minister. His response was a kind description of church polity, but it never addressed my basic internal question: Wouldn’t Jesus think these rules are a bunch of hogwash? (Actually, when I ask myself this question in my mind, I use a cussword, but I’m self-editing here . . . .)

Cut to this past weekend, when the Mister and I attended a two-day marriage preparation retreat (good content, lots of unnecessary repetition, and some forced “thirty-second hugs,” which were somewhat mechanically prescribed as a marital panacea). Spending time in the church reminded me why I love it. It’s the church where I was baptized and confirmed, and my twin brother’s ashes are in the memorial garden. It’s like a member of my family, and when family members do things you don’t like (e.g., spending a zillion dollars on a new building addition or having stupid communion rules), you don’t just disconnect from them. You figure out how to move on together.

At the marriage workshop, between our thirty-second hugs, the Mister and I talked about the communion rules, and he was every bit as outraged as I had been when I first learned of them. But when he started criticizing the church, a funny thing happened. You know when you complain about your brother, it’s cool. But when your best friend agrees with you, you’re suddenly defensive? “Hey, man, that’s my brother you’re talkin’ about! Them’s fightin’ words!” Well, I got all in a huff and thought, “Hey man, that’s my church you’re talkin’ about. Cut it out.”

To make a long story long, I realized that we have to make some sacrifices to have our wedding at my church. If we want to have ecumenical communion, we’ll have to exchange vows elsewhere. But the fact of the matter is we want to be married in the church, just a few steps away from my brother’s memorial. So he’ll be there too. And that’s one of the reasons I’m willing to play by the rules.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Not long ago, I became obsessed with card boxes. You know, the boxes that people put on their gift tables to hold the cards that some guests bring to the reception.

Some are birdcages, others are built to look like wedding cakes, while others look like wrapped gifts that match the wedding’s color scheme, and still others are mini wishing wells.

While indulging my new-found obsession with wedding porn . . . I mean wedding blogs (I call them porn, because they’re so addictive!) . . . anyway, while reading wedding blogs, I learned that some couples had trouble with the security of their card boxes. A bandit, it seems, was going around from wedding to wedding, stealing cards right out of those boxes! The worst part of this for me wouldn’t be that I wouldn’t get the card (and whatever was inside), but rather that I wouldn’t even know that the gift had ever been given, so I wouldn’t properly thank the guest who gave it. Some receptions have a gift card box attendant who watches out for the card-stealing bandit.

We’re having a bit of a British theme to our reception, and I thought it would be a grrrrreat idea to have an English postbox as the place where people could put their cards.

When the only one I could find was several hundred dollars (and the red didn't match our black-and-white color scheme), I envisioned myself making one out of a Quaker oats container. (Never mind the fact that gift cards wouldn’t fit inside a Quaker oats container.) My mom reminded me, however, that the first time I tried to make something for a wedding, it was an unmitigated disaster. It was a time capsule for my friend’s wedding. Made from a popcorn tin. That I spray-painted white the night before. The day of the wedding, the lid was permanently stuck on the tin, and I had to use a screwdriver and a hammer to pry it off, which dented the tin. And, the paint was still sticky, so I had to drive to the wedding with all the windows down to avoid getting high on the fumes. The poor bride has only one photo of someone carrying a gift into the wedding. And when I gave it to her, she said, “Um, is it popcorn?” Sooo, I thought I’d better leave this craft project to the experts.

When I couldn’t find an English-style mailbox, I started to think of the American version. But I wanted it to be locked up tight with a small slot through which guests would push their cards. I brainstormed vintage mail slots that were securely attached to wooden boxes (also known as the unfinished oak tissue box that I found on eBay). But I was worried that someone would look at it and say something along the lines of, “Um, is it a Kleenex box?” That’s when I remembered the Victorian mailbox on a stand that is on the porch of a house nearby. While I had a split-second thought about being a mailbox bandit myself, I quickly snapped back into reality and researched buying one.

I haven’t exactly mentioned this yet, but the Mister and I are operating on a budget (more on that later), and we couldn’t really afford a stand mailbox, so I found a nice one that could sit on the gift table. Man, was I excited. And I did what all girls do when planning a wedding – I called my mama. She said, “A mailbox at the wedding? No one will know what it’s for!” After I sent her online evidence that others had this same idea, she said, “Well why would you want to do that?! It sound like everyone is doing it. How unoriginal.” (I must note here that this is not my mother’s regular M.O. She’s enthusiastic and funny and loves creativity.)

And after thinking about it for a day or so, Mama decided that she liked, nay – loved!, the idea, but she thought that we should get a stand mailbox after all. It was my birthday gift. So, without further ado, I present to you our Wedding Gift Card (Post)Box!

What do you think?

Cracking the Code

Speaking of grammar, the first place wedding guests get a taste of your grammar and etiquette is on the invitation. Nowadays, it is more than acceptable to make your own “tradition” by changing invitation wording to fit the formality and personality of the event. But it is helpful to know the traditional rules, so that you can make a conscious decision about whether you should deviate from them. Whatever language you choose, you're sending your guests a message. Be conscious of it.

In the modern world of divorced and remarried parents, there are a number of excellent sources out there that help you decide if and how to include parents on the invitation. More on that part of the invitation later.

The most fascinating part of a traditional invitation is that the wording is code for the wedding specifics. For example, when the hosts of the invitation request the guests’ attendance, the language they use tells the guest where exactly the wedding will be held. If the invitation requests “the honour of your presence,” the use of the British spelling of honour (with a “u”) indicates a ceremony in a house of worship. “The pleasure of your company,” on the other hand, indicates that the ceremony is taking place outside a place of worship.

The bride and groom are traditionally (dare I say always?) listed in that order – the bride’s name precedes the groom’s. According to Martha Stewart, formal invitations issued by the bride’s parents refer to her by her first and middle names and to the groom by his full name and title. If the couple is hosting by themselves, their titles are optional.

This is one place where the Mister and I plan to deviate from convention. Because my parents are divorced and remarried, and all four of my parents are hosting the wedding, we plan to put my full name (first, middle, and last) on the invitation. That way no one wonders whether it is Miss Stepfather’sLastName getting married, rather than Miss Father’sLastName getting married. The Mister has two middle names, so we’re including both of those, but we plan to omit his title (Mister, obviously!) to make the invitation uncluttered and to give our names and status equal importance.

As for the date and time of the event, all numbers are written out in full for formal weddings (meaning no numerals). The year is optional, because your guests will assume that your wedding is on the nearest such date. The time of day is likewise spelled out. If the wedding is on the hour, formal invitations use “o’clock”; if on the half-hour, they use “half after ___ o’clock,” not “half past ___ o’clock.” For casual weddings, numerals are fine.

The street address of the ceremony location is usually unnecessary unless omitting it would lead to confusion or your wedding is taking place at the host's home. The city and state are written out in full. Very formal invitations include reception information on a separate card. Otherwise, it can be printed on the invitation if there is room; if the ceremony and reception will take place at the same location, you may print "and afterward at the reception" or "reception immediately following." When the reception is elsewhere, the location goes on a different line. Include the time if not immediately following the ceremony.

Here again, the Mister and I have decided to depart from tradition. We want our invitations to indicate the formality of the event without killing hundreds of trees. Thus, we’ve elected to use a one-page invitation that includes the reception information. We’ve also decided to omit the tissue paper and inner envelope for environmental reasons.

While many couples choose to include a separate response card for guests to fill out and return in the mail, the traditional format was to request an r.s.v.p. in the lower left-hand corner of the invitation, implying that guests should send a reply on their personal stationery. Here again, we opt for a balance of formality and environmentalism. We want to make it easy for guests to respond to our invitations, but we don’t want to waste paper on extra envelopes, so we’re using an r.s.v.p. postcard. This also saves on postage, but the main reason is those lovely trees.
Again, the point of all this custom is not to set forth stone-set rules that all couples must follow. It’s to advise couples what they’re telling guests between the lines, no matter what words they choose.

Main source for information: Martha Stewart Weddings

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure about the whole blogging concept. An online diary that anyone can read? As extroverted as I am, even I’m not that open. A method of communication that doesn't involve interpersonal interaction? I’m still getting used to the idea of texting on my cell phone. As someone who simply says what she's thinking to the people she knows in real life, the idea of a virtual conversation with people I haven't even met is more than a bit questionable.

On the other hand, I’m a newly-minted blog addict. Especially the wedding variety. I adore reading the creative ideas and stories of others. And I have so many ideas of my own that I can’t possibly use them all. I wake up in the middle of the night to jot down incoherent, dream-induced thoughts in the hopes I can implement them in the light of day. I’ve also been inspired by two types of wedding blogs: (1) the uber-creative DIY Martha Stewarts of the world (think most bloggers), and (2) those that focus on sanity, responsibility, and mindfulness (like

My only complaint about the incredibly imaginative, inspiring, ingenious wedding blogs around the net –- grammar butchery. I cringe when I read an otherwise exceptionally well-written sentence that ends in a preposition. And the way that people have confused “my fiancé and I” and “my fiancé and me” befuddles me. I’m not arrogant enough to think that I always get my grammar right; I am a comma abuser, for example. But I’m on a one-woman crusade to share wedding sanity and creativity while using the best grammar I possibly can. That pretty much sums up the point of this blog.

As for the name, {cypress and oak}, I’m inspired by this excerpt from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, entitled “On Marriage.”

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together.
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.
Gibran’s words remind me of three essentials in wedding planning:
1. The relationship that came before and that will follow the wedding matters most. It is called marriage, and it is not a dirty word.
2. There should be spaces in togetherness, even (especially!) in marriage.

3. Enough talk of “the best day of my life” and “the perfect wedding”! What I want is ever so much more real and honest. A togetherness that endures in the silent memory of God. Yes. That’s it.

So, welcome to my journey to marriage, oftentimes known as wedding planning. It’s sure to be an adventure!