We were supposed to go to Milwaukee over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend to take care of some details. The plan was to meet with the florist, caterer and band. Now it turns out that none of the people we want to meet with are available over the holiday. I guess I'm not the only one less than thrilled about being in Milwaukee in the dead of winter as even the hard working folks in the wedding industry get out of Dodge for the three-day break.
So now we have to pick another time to go out there. This threw L for a loop and, coupled with some other stresses, caused her to break down a bit on the phone with her mom. Props go out to my future mother-in-law for calmly reminding L that even if we have to reschedule by one week or even a month we'll still have about six months to solidify details. Entire schools of salmon could be farmed in that amount of time. Trees not yet planted could grow to provide the paper needed for our invitations.
L, babe, relax. We're doing fine.
Last week I was contacted by Rebecca Traister, a writer for Salon.com, who told me she was doing an article on groom blogs of which mine is one of only a few. (at least that she could find)
The article is now up and you can access it by clicking on this ridiculously long hyperlink. You have to watch a short ad if you want to read the entire article but there is no registration, nor do you have to provide an email address or divulge any private information.
So, for once in my life I seem to be ahead of a trend. Well, except for the time I started wearing Camper shoes after a trip to Barcelona. I swear I had them for a good three months before I saw them on another person in New York.
Anyway, enjoy the article.
Sometimes weddings are not fun. They can feel more like an obligation than a choice. You are told what to wear. You are told where to sit. Your choices throughout the evening are always limited to two. (Bride or groom? Red or white? Chicken or fish?) You have to be done by midnight. Observational-humor king Jerry Seinfeld sums it up best: "If you were going to plan a good party, would you invite the oldest people you know?"
L and I agree on most things, but like most men and women, we approach other people's weddings from very different perspectives. She believes that all weddings are inherently beautiful. I believe that some weddings are beautiful but that most mean I'll have to miss Something I'd Rather Be Doing.
Don't get me wrong, I've been to some good weddings in the past, including one fun weekend at a destination wedding in Puerto Rico. But I've also been to some where I had the same conversation with fifteen different people, wondered how I got stuck at the "randoms" table, and went home hungry.
Saturday night we went to a wedding, our first since getting engaged in August. I'm a Red Sox fan, so I didn't care that I was missing game six of the World Series. As far as I was concerned, Saturday's wedding was the only game in town. I came home the next day exhausted because I had such a good time.
What made this one different? For starters, I've known the couple for ten years since we were in college together. I've met their families on numerous occasions and think they are all delightful. Most of their good friends are also my good friends. Hell, I even knew the rabbi. That the venue was gorgeous, the food delicious, the band entertaining and the booze free-flowing was just icing on the chocolate wedding cake. (A great idea, Rona, and one which we will definitely steal for our wedding) When you know, love and wish the best for the couple and everyone around them then even the biggest wedding grinch can have a good time. I can't imagine having as good a time at another wedding, except, of course, for my own.
So this weekend L was able to see that, yes, I do on occasion enjoy myself at weddings.
Do a search on Amazon.com using the words "idiot" and "groom," and you'll be taken to a listing for "The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Being a Groom." Do a similar search using the words "idiot" and "bride," and you won't be taken to "The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Being a Bride." You won't be taken there because no such book exists. What you do get, however, is a link to "The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Being the Father of the Bride." (italics mine)
It gets worse. I did a search for "clueless" and "bride" at Amazon.com and the first hit was a book aimed solely at hapless men: "The Clueless Groom's Guide". Even though it was included in my search, the word "bride" doesn't appear anywhere on this book's cover.
Are there any guides that don't treat men like total imbeciles? I was encouraged when I came across a book called "The Groom's Secret Handbook." Then I clicked on the link. The subtitle? "How Not to Screw Up the Biggest Day of Her Life." Apparently, even if he's the cute and cuddly kind of clueless idiot, a groom is little more than a ticking timebomb of ineptitude waiting to ruin a bride's perfect day.
It doesn't get any better with online wedding guides. There, grooms are almost an afterthought, located somewhere on those handy checklists between marriage licenses and blood tests. It's probably not a coincidence that "groom" comes last alphabetically after "band," "cake," "flowers," "gifts" and "gown."
Where do America's publishers possibly get the idea that grooms are little more than pot-bellied lemmings, willing to follow our fiancées off a matrimonial cliff as long as she lets us hold the remote?
Look around. If Martians landed on earth today and turned on TV what would they find? The way Oprah Winfrey, sitcom writers and the hosts of "The View" see it, men are idiots.
Of course, I understand why the wedding industry treats men like second-class citizens. Traditionally, the money has been with the women and her parents. I can't imagine any man - except perhaps David Gest - admitting to having dreamt about his wedding day since he was a little boy. For that matter, are there any fathers who secretly plan their son's wedding as soon as the boy starts to walk?
Now, however, we live in the dawning of the age of the metrosexual, so it's probably not unheard of for men to have at least some interest in what goes into their wedding plans. After all, once that bed is made with the floral-patterned, 250 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets, I'll have to sleep in it too.
To paraphrase Shakespeare:
Hath not a groom taste? Hath not a groom senses, preferences, passions? Tasting the same food, hearing the same bands, subject to the same crazy family as a bride is? If you ignore us, do we not grow resentful? And if you lose us in Bloomingdale's, do we not head straight for the electronics department?
I've been lucky. L and I have split duties quite fairly as we both recognize our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to planning. I'm the cook, so I'm in charge of registering for kitchen stuff. But the wedding is on her home turf, so she has more of a hand in things like decorations and flowers. It's a pretty fair deal and L doesn't look at the wedding as hers alone. Yes, she gets a chance to be the center of attention, but she knows that I'll be right there in the middle with her.
Perhaps you've been lucky, too. Perhaps you and your bride have a more egalitarian idea of what a wedding should be. There's no "I" in "together," correct?
Grooms of the world, unite!
Today, a feature on WeddingChannel.com reminded me that there are still 312 days left until our wedding.
Interestingly, the same feature reminded L that there are only 312 days left until our wedding.
L and I are big fans of Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica on MTV. In fact, the show might be the sole reason we're thinking of upgrading our cable system to one of those nifty TiVo-like digital video recorders. We wouldn't want to miss Jessica's questions about Chicken of the Sea ("Is this chicken what I have, or is this fish? I know it's tuna, but it says chicken. By the sea.") or the proper way to pronounce the name of a common Australian monotreme ("Isn't it plata-ma-pus? I always thought it was plata-ma-pus.").
Jessica calls these occasional stupid questions and malapropisms "blonde moments." They can happen to anyone, no matter their hair color, as demonstrated by a recent exchange between me and L.
I walked into the kitchen where I found L looking at a few different bottles of vitamins. "What are you doing?" I asked. "I'm trying to figure out how often you're supposed to take these," she said, holding one of the bottles. I looked at the bottle and then told L, "Um, it's called 'One-A-Day.'"
I recount this story not to embarass L,* but to point out that even the brightest of people can slip up every once in a while. Her reputation as being a few slices short of a loaf should not preclude you from picking up a copy of "Jessica Simpson I Do: Achieving Your Dream Wedding." I flipped through the book recently and was shocked at how easily the pop chanteuse pulled off her dream wedding.
Here are some of the helpful tips that can help you achieve the same dream:
1. Become a successful, internationally-known recording artist.
2. Marry someone who has also achieved success as an internationally-known recording artist.**
3. Earn millions of dollars in record sales, concert appearances, commerical endorsements and TV production deals.
4. Not holding a traditional, 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday job should give you plenty of time to spend on wedding details.
5. Use the money you earn as a successful, internationally-known recording artist to pay for your dream wedding.
See how simple it is?
*Actually, that is the sole reason I brought it up.
**The person you marry does not have to be a successful solo artist. Being a member of a successful boy-band is okay, too.
Two nights ago I came home from work to find L curled up on the couch flipping through a wedding magazine. A few more were piled on the coffee table and another was spread across her lap. I couldn't believe how many titles there were. The human genome project was probably easier than determining the difference between Bride's, Elegant Bride, Cosmopolitan Bride, Today's Bride, Bridal Guide, Wedding Dresses, Wedding Bells, World Class Weddings and Martha Stewart Weddings. Someone will have to explain to me why anyone would need a subscription to Wedding Cakes. L even bought one magazine called New York Weddings despite the fact that we're getting married in Wisconsin. Apparently Oconomowoc Brides was sold out.
Many different magazines come in to our apartment every week and most of them have a clear purpose. News changes from day to day, hence daily newspapers and weekly publications such as Time and Newsweek.
But these wedding magazines have left me puzzled. What changes in styles of white wedding dresses enough to warrant bi-montly - and in some cases, monthly - publication of these periodicals? "Absolutely nothing," said a friend. To most guys, frequent publication of a magazine about weddings makes as much sense as a weekly newsletter for toll collectors. Sure, a lot of people collect tolls on our nation's highways, but how many differnt ways are there to count change?
And what about a magazine called Modern Bride, a misnomer if ever there was one. In fifteen articles and 37,000 ads, there isn't a non-traditional bride to be found. Shouldn't Modern Bride showcase wedding dresses in shades of red or bridesmaids in matching pant suits? Where are the articles on vegan wedding buffets? And if this magazine professes to be so modern, shouldn't some of the brides be gay men?
Of course, there is no magazine devoted exclusively to grooms. That would be silly, right? After all, what changes about a black tuxedo from year to year?
L was home in Chicago - with some trips to Milwaukee - for a weekend of planning. Although I like her family, I was spared any involvement in all things wedding this weekend. While L pored over photographer's portfolios and met with dress makers, I stayed home, watched baseball, went for Mexican food with friends and saw a movie.
It's not that I've shied away from being involved in the planning. It's simply that a lot has been taken care of so far with little hassle. With the exception of the registry, most of my wedding duties have been shared with L or even handed over to her - or her parents - completely.
As "The Guy," my role is akin to a member of the board of directors of a corporation. In August, I made an offer to a qualified executive who accepted with little negotiation. Now I sit back and let her make business decisions. Occasionally the board meets to discuss the company's progress and go over budgets, but for the most part the board allows our CEO to provide direction for the company.
Our first shareholder's meeting is scheduled for this weekend. My parents are visiting and I'm sure my mom will want to help out with the registry since she's good at that sort of thing. She and I have to talk about the upcoming engagement party and a plan for the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding. Additionally, L and I have to look at save-the-date announcements and invitations with the printer.
I do have some solo responsibilities. I'm in charge of transportation issues - getting airline discounts for our guests, for example - and keeping a list of presents as they come in and thank you notes as they go out. So, in addition to my duties as a board member, I'm also the Vice President in Charge of Logistical Operations and the Senior Information Systems Officer.
I have confidence in the ability of our CEO, but Fourth Quarter 2004 will be our busiest yet.
Long distance bill last month, before wedding planning began: $32.05.
Long distance bill this month, including nightly calls to family, friends and photographers: $64.23.
Planning the wedding to the person you love: priceless.
A number of people have emailed me their own stories relating to some of my recent posts. If you have a something you'd like to share with PlanetGordon.com, you can either post it by clicking on the "Comments" link below any entry, or you can send me an email. Every so often, I'll post my favorite. To start things off, here's one from a friend who is getting married this month.
Adam and I fully registered no less than 5 times. And that's because NEITHER of us is decisive enough to get it right the first time. So, the first time, we spent four hours registering at Kitchen, Etc. What's Kitchen, Etc, you ask? Exactly. So we cancelled that registry.
The second time, we went to Williams-Sonoma. We were too obsessed with the gun toy to focus on what we actually needed. So we had things like wire whisks, rubber spatulas and wooden spoons which, as you realize, you can purchase yourself and are not really needed on a registry. So we cancelled that registry.
We got serious the 3rd time and went to Bloomies. And by "we" I mean "me and Mom." (After round #2, Adam called in sick). It was worse with Mom. We couldn't get out of the dish section for two hours. She was there to help me be decisive but I didn't like her decisions so that was no good. And she got frustrated by my indecision so we ended up in a fight. On this trip, I managed to register for towels. And only towels (which, by the way, we got and are returning).
The 4th time I got the hang of it and went back to Williams-Sonoma. This was a team effort with mom, brother, aunt, and uncle (still no Adam). I got serious and registered for all of the essential cookware/bakeware/knives and other fun kitchen items. With the help of many opinions, I got the kitchen done.
Now a registry pro, I went back to Bloomies and a new place, Pottery Barn. And I went by myself. Not exactly a good plan for someone who can't make a decision, but nevertheless, I went. It had to get done. Here's where I went a little nuts. At both Bloomies and PB I learned that whatever doesn't get purchased from the registry, Adam and I can purchase ourselves for a 10% discount later. So I figured I'd register for big, leathery furniture. Meanwhile, people looking at this registry don't understand the logic and are like, what the hell? I can't buy anything. Who in their right mind would buy a $500 leather ottoman for these people?
On the sixth registry attempt, I went to Tiffany's (sans Adam, of course) because my stepmom said people like to buy you special, nice things from Tiffany's (even if you don't need them - or want them, by the way). Somehow I forgot to look at price tags while zapping my way through the store and discovered later (after having left the store and checking the registry online) that I had registered for a $2500 sterling silver calla lily vase (a must in every home) and a pair of $200 salt and pepper shakers (that hold significantly less salt and pepper than the $10 ones at Williams-Sonoma). Needless to say, another failed registry attempt.
And now of course that people are buying us gifts, they are a) complaining that our registry is all over the place with little on it and b) buying stuff from the registry but at other places where they are sold for less. So I have to keep updating the registry so I don't get two ice cream makers or two Cuisinarts.
Why even bother registering? We'll take the cash and buy the crap ourselves at our own pace!
I recently read a BBC report about how shopping reveals the different vestigal primeval urges among men and women. Hardly revelatory, the report explained that men like to "go in for the kill," decisively picking items they have previously determined they need. Women tend to take more time, enjoying the "leisurely pace" of gathering.
This isn't exactly true of me and L. When it comes to registering, we deviate a bit from the tradiational male/female roles. L accepts that we need to register. Me? I love the smell of stainless steel cookware in the evening.
We went to Bloomingdale's on Wednesday after work for our first big round of registering. There we met with Morgan, our registry consultant, who explained the traditional registry to us, going over the finer points of stainless steel versus silver flatware and recommending some popular items for our list.
I'm sure few grooms come in and take charge, but I did just that. I cook and bake a lot, so I have a bit of knowledge about what we'll need. When Morgan asked what we would be registering for, I explained that we'd hold off on towels, sheets and earthenware for the moment. Those items are seasonal, as I understood it, and we would be better off waiting until a few months out from the wedding before adding them to our list. Morgan was either impressed with my knowledge or she wondered if she was on a hidden camera episode of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."
As she went over the list, I tried to imagine Morgan's job. How many couples had she met with today? As I wrote in an earlier post, the happiest stop along the drive to wedding town might be the jewler's, where soon-to-be men and recently-engaged couples come in to purchase and size rings. This back room at Bloomies, for most couples, is somewhat removed from the euphoria of the first few days surrounding the engagement. Personalities and tastes start to shine through. Enough with the pleasantries. We need a blender!
So we began our hunt. Equipped with our electronic scanning gun, we headed out onto the floor, searching through mountains of pots and canyons of coffee makers all in search of the perfect kill. Our first catch was a display of All-Clad cookware. It was an easy target and we followed it by quickly picking off baking supplies, a coffeemaker and a knife set. We were about to leave the kitchen section, but one last prize caught our eye: a rabbit. With one quick shot, we moved on to select our china.
If a 30 minute discussion over plates adorned with a thin strip of sterling versus a thin strip of platinum is the worst choice L and I have to make, we'll have a pretty good life. But discuss we did, and after a while fatigue began to set in. The same BBC report also mentioned that men and women should spend a maxium of one hour and 12 minutes shopping together. After that, a fight usually breaks out. We didn't quite get to that point, but we quickly ran out of patience and decided to leave a a debate about champagne flutes and wine goblets until another day.
L and I did our first major round of registering on Wednesday. More on the search for the perfect china pattern next week.