I'll be back with a new post on Monday for your reading pleasure. In the meantime, why don't you catch up on the story so far? Here's a quick synopsis:
Boy meets girl. Boy proposes to girl. Girl says yes. Boy is left dumbfounded. Not because girl said yes but because who the heck has experience with this stuff? There's a lot that boy and girl have to plan.
If that didn't do it for you, feel free to read through the archives which go back to D-Day, the proposal.
How will the story end? Stay tuned in 2004 for all the latest.
Thanks for your support and I'll see you on Monday!
This weekend L and I spent hours and hours obsessing over thousands of details. Nothing was too small to be left out. I was amazed at the sheer volume of information we had to process. We argued for hours as we went along and at the end still found there were hundreds of questions left unanswered. There are still more details left to go over and we both think it's amazing that we're only about one third of the way done.
Yes, on Christmas Day L and I watched the extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Nearly four hours of movie time, plus countless documentaries and making-of features gave us the laziest, most stress-free day we've had yet.
But even multi-disc box sets have their endings and it was time to get down to work. We have to send out Save the Date cards within the next two months, which means we have to get them printed soon. So out came the laptop and we started putting down all the information we needed to express. Hotel information, airline discount codes, car rental company phone numbers, driving directions.
Putting a wedding together is like producing a movie. Your pre-production - budget meetings, prop selections and location scouting - takes months. Some weddings feature a cast of thousands (well, hundreds) while others lean towards the smaller, Miramax productions. In the end of it all you get your very own special edition video. For brides and grooms who spend their wedding receptions in a blind stupor due to happiness and excitement, the video features tons of scenes one might have missed the first time around.
The Save the Date cards aren't done - we still have to get them designed - but we agreed on the information they would contain and decided not to make them too cutesy. No "We are so delighted you will share this special day" greeting or anything like that. Just the facts, plain and simple. We'll save cutesy for the invitations themselves.
But if all we're doing is sending out a where-and-when info card (don't worry, Mom, it will be classier than just that) wouldn't it just be easier to collect a bunch of email addresses and send the whole thing as an Evite?
Elizabeth Miller, you just won the To Use or Not To Use contest! What are you going to do now?
I'm so flattered! My husband and I are actually leaving very early tomorrow morning to go on our honeymoon. We got married in August but I am in law school and we decided to wait until Christmas break to take our honeymoon. Since we promised ourselves that we'd have ALL of our thank-you notes done before we left, we're sending out the last ones tomorrow... from the airport!
Now that's a courteous bride! Congratulations, Elizabeth. I'm sending you a thank-you note today.
NOTE: I'll be on a lighter publishing schedule until January 2nd. Be sure to check back, though, as I'll have at least one or two new posts up before then. Happy holidays!
The results are in! On the issue of To Use or Not To Use, a solid majority of readers came down in favor of using the gifts prior to the wedding. Many caveats were included with your advice, however. A reader who goes by "R" wrote, "I vote use whatever has (a) made it to Brooklyn that (b) is not a member of a set. Only when you have a complete set can you use any items from the set." This is sage advice, R, and neatly sums up a large number of emails more or less suggesting the same thing.
So who won the thank-you note? Without further ado, here are the results of the PlanetGordon.com "To Use or Not To Use" poll:
Most Socially Just: One person reminded us to donate any old kitchen items that are replaced by new gifts to Goodwill or a similar charitable organization. Will do.
Most Ethically Questionable: Proper etiquette dictates returning gifts in the event of a cancelled engagement, but one woman advised us to use the presents since no one would want a used toaster returned to them. "Think of it as some insurance," she wrote. "At least if it doesn’t all work out you will have some great things to auction off on Ebay and make some of the lost deposits back!" Sorry. I don't agree that wedding gifts should be used as some sort of collateral against a down payment on a caterer.
Least Aware of the Public Nature of the Internet: A reader recommended we use the gifts but not tell our "parents, friends or other family members." Since my mom reads this site, I would question the efficacy of such a policy.
Most Macabre: One reader broached the subject of possible disaster before the wedding. "If something bad happens, like a car accident, you should return the presents." Really? If I was run over by a steamroller, would anyone call L and say, "Um, I know this is a bad time, but could you send the wine glasses back?"
Funniest: The Other L, who wrote, "I think you have plenty of things you can hold off on until you are "officially" married. Like having sex. You guys are waiting for that, right?" Yes, The Other L. As far as our parents are concerned, I sleep on the sofabed in the living room.
The winner of the thank-you note is - drumroll please - Elizabeth Miller! Elizabeth's email had the distinction of being the most thougtful note that was not from a friend or family member (who, my attorneys advise, are ineligible for cash and prizes). Since giving gifts and writing thank-you notes are all about being as thoughtful as possible, it seemed fitting to pick her advice. She writes, "Absolutely go ahead and use them! People who gave them to you do not want them sitting on your shelf for the next 9 months! Think about it - whenever you give a gift, it's because you want the person to enjoy it." Good advice, Elizabeth, and unique in its inclusion of the intent of the gift-giver in your consideration.
So there you have it. The public has spoken. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm a little tired from sifting through all the emails. I'm going to use our nice new blender to make myself a smoothie.
According to my lovely fiancée, I have a tendency to talk in my sleep. Last night L told me that I yelled at her about something to do with the wedding planning. "You won't let me have the party at McDonald's," I mumbled before rolling over and saying no more. This comment was probably influenced by the trip I took back from Boston via bus yesterday which featured a stop at the Golden Arches. We laughed about my comment this morning before L left for work.
Home today, I've had some time to think about it and now believe there was brilliance in my nighttime imagination. Holding the reception at a highway rest stop would be a great idea! First of all, those places are designed to accommodate hundreds of people and, with giant signs serving as roadside beacons, are an easy drive from major metropolitan areas. There are ample parking spaces and bathroom facilities. Instead of giving people their choice of chicken or fish, people might have their choice of Arby's or Big Boy. And who wouldn't want a warm and tasty Cinnabon instead of dry wedding cake?
A man can dream, can't he?
Okay, gentlemen, there are only a few more shopping days before Christmas and not even one before Hanukkah. It's time to get some gifts. If you're in the midst of planning your wedding, don't forget to drop the plans for a while and do something nice for your bride to be. For suggestions, order a copy of Supergroom: 101 Ways to Be the Most Romantic Groom -- Ever which features some helpful advice on how to remember why you got engaged in the first place. In an obvious tell about the state of her relationship, Fireplug152 from Hickory, NC calls it "highly recommended!" So do ten other women who bought it for their grooms.
If you'd rather get yourself something - especially if you find yourself back in the thick of things as soon as the wrapping paper is thrown away and the tree has started shredding needles - order yourself a copy of Esquire's Things a Man Should Know About Marriage: A Groom's Guide to the Wedding and Beyond. While a tad more stereotypically male than Supergrooms, the book's writers understand that while a lot of this stuff is new to us, we aren't idiots.
NOTE: Yes, it's a quickie post, but I'm on vacation until the weekend and then won't see daylight until my fifth viewing of "Return of the King." Fresh content will be up on Monday including results of the "To Use or Not to Use" gift poll. Thanks to everyone for your continued support!
I don't usually use this space to address social or political issues. Although I'm interested in such subjects personally, I find this website a better place for discussing such earth-shakingly important matters as stationery choices or the cheesiness of most wedding videos.
That being said, an article in the Village Voice caught my eye today. It's about straight couples who refuse to marry because gay people can't. That's correct. Living together: it's not just for pissing off your parents anymore!
One of the straight people quoted in the article, Mame McCutchin, justifies her decision to hold off on marrying her partner by saying "I wouldn't join a country club that excluded blacks or Jews." Neither would I, Mame. But marriage isn't a country club. We can't start another one across the street with a bigger pool, a greener golf course and a color-blind membership committee.
If there is a finer example of slacktivism than forgoing a legal marriage as a means of protesting discrimination, I can't imagine it. Why bother writing to your senator or donating to gay legal rights organizations when all you have to do is, well, nothing?
Aside from all that "hard" stuff like, let's say, voting, the only productive way to effect the kind of change that will lead to the mainstream political and legal acceptance of gay marriage is for more gay-friendly straight people to - brace yourself - get married. If the main argument of those opposed to the legal recogniztion of gay unions is that it threatens the institution of marriage - an institution forever strengthened by reality show quickie weddings and celebrities who divorce more times than most people buy new shoes - then it would seem more productive to leave the protesting to happily married straight couples rather than downtown hipsters whom the religious right would only see as living in sin anyway.
So, Mame, get married. Not only will you be effecting political change, but you'll also get a big party for your troubles! And if you have one of those moms who likes to plan every detail, you won't have to do a thing.
After a flash of celebratory events and family visits things have begun to calm down a bit. The respite should be brief, however, as it's that time of year and there are only a few days to go before the first of many holiday parties begins. With this small window of opportunity I am trying to relaunch a fitness routine that was waylayed for no defensible reason this summer.
And boy do I need to get in shape. From the turkey feast on Thanksgiving to the engagement party two days later to holiday parties, I feel as if I've had one long meal that began on November 27th and will only end sometime after New Year's.
I've heard a little about a book called Buff Brides and know there is a TV show based on the book. Not surprisingly, there is no such book for grooms.
Like most wedding concerns, men simply don't feel the same sense of urgency as women. (Before accusing me of sexism, please know that I base such scientific judgements on searches at Google since we all know that Google is god). A fresh shave, a new haircut and a clean tux are all most men are need to be concerned with. Perhaps it's because we know that a few extra pounds can easily be concealed behind the many layers of a tuxedo. Cummerbunds can always do double duty as crumb catchers and pot belly concealers.
But I do feel a slight sense of urgency. In addition to the wedding, I have the goal of running the 2004 New York City marathon. Knowing that the most exercise I'll get the weekend of August 27th will be from stomping on a glass to break it, I have some incentive to be ahead of schedule training wise come the end of the summer. Then again, many people have told me they didn't eat at all during their wedding reception because they were so busy talking to guests.
Now there's a million dollar idea: the wedding reception diet. Each weekend, you host a wedding-sized party and talk to guests instead of eating. If you don't lose weight from walking around the reception the stress of planning it all would be good for a few pounds at least.
It's been over one week since the engagement party and now L and I are wondering, what's standard practice for using gifts before the wedding? Are we free to use gifts as they come in? Or should we store everything and start fresh once we are officially recognized by our friends, family and the IRS as husband and wife?
L follows the latter school of thought. If we go by tradition, she said, "We aren't even supposed to be living together." In days of old, she said, things would have been given to our parents and handed over to us when we moved in together the day after our wedding. Then again, in days of old we'd be receiving two cows, five chickens and a bag of grain instead of a waffle iron.
I'm not sure what is proper. On the one hand, I don't think we should use our new China for Mexican takeout - at least not before we receive a full set. But should a KitchenAid mixer that takes up a lot of counter space go unused until August 30, 2004? Don't people understand we have cookies to make?
One friend said we are free to use any gift received for our engagement but should hold off on anything received later for the wedding. Then what's the cut-off date? Six months from the proposal? After the engagement party but before the first wedding shower? What if you have a short engagment?
I would imagine that some of you out there have experience with this or, at the very least, hold some opinion on the matter. Help us make a decision! Post your advice or email me with your thoughts. The most creative and thoughtful position on this subject will be featured in a future post and its author will receive a personally addressed thank-you note from me and L.
L's parents flew into Boston over the weekend to attend the engagement party. Most people might be nervous for an entire weekend of the my-parents-and-her-parents-together variety, but I knew things would be fine. Our parents have met before, so there wouldn't be any of that first meeting anxiety. Although my dad sometimes needs to be convinced to wear a clean pair of jeans, I knew he would rise to the occasion and spare me any major embarrassment.
On Sunday, while we recovered from the party and relaxed around the kitchen table munching on leftovers, we had our first big planning meeting. We ran though the weekend, event by event. Friday night dinner, Saturday morning brunch, Saturday night's rehearsal dinner, the big event on Sunday. L's mom took notes, writing down issues that need to be resolved as we go ahead with planning.
Quote of the day: L's mom, pretending to be a controlling mom-planning-a-wedding-from hell (which she is absolutely not), leaning over to L and assuring her that the wedding would be "Your day...my way."
After going through basic logistics, it was time for our parents to have "The Talk." While there have been some messages back and forth about who is paying for what, no details had been confirmed before the weekend.
I don't know what happened during that discussion. I don't know because as soon as the words "pay" and "money" were uttered, my sister, L and I retreated to the livng room. We turned on the TV, flipped to an episode of Rich Girls and turned it up loud enough so we couldn't hear anything. Better to divert ourselves by watching two people who don't have to care about money than to sit with four people who do.
"The Talk" was over before the episode was and we were called back into the kitchen. There were no tear-streaked faces, no cries to call off the wedding. Four parents had discussed money and lived to tell about it. Even the dog was wagging her tail.
It's nice that the family got along, but not surprising. L and I have been doing well with the wedding plans, and I think we've only had one argument so it follows logically that our parents would be similarly reasonable. I think I should buy one of those motivational-style posters, the kind that hang at construction sites or factories: "It's Been XX Days Since Our Last Fight." We'll see how long we can go.
Last night I went on a writing tear, finishing most of the thank-yous for the gifts we received at the engagement party. Most of the cards will be in the mail by the weekend. L thinks it's great that I've finished so soon after the weekend but is also a little nervous. Will the fact that I wrote all of the notes - she just had to sign her name - be used against her at a later date when a larger task needs to be done?
On Saturday, we waited until after people had left the party to open a few presents. I don't have a lot of experience with this, so how are you supposed to react when you open their present in their presence? "Wow! The blender we picked out for ourselves! Now we know exactly how much you spent on us! Thanks!" We're not ungrateful jerks, we just feel a little uneasy making a show of our gifts. It's one thing to open presents at a party when you are seven years old and unwrapping Legos and Star Wars figures, it's another thing to do it when you are thirty and unwrapping frying pans.
Because we want people to know how appreicative we are, L and I agreed that we shouldn't let a week go by without sending out a thank you. I took up the task with gusto. There are a number of challenges that go into writing the notes and I'm always up for a challenge.
Here's what I learned:
Some of the notes tell people all the things we plan to do with the gift they generously gave us. We'll make pies at future Thanksgivings with the great pie plate. We'll toast to years of happiness in the beautiful wine glasses. We'll comb through the cookbook and make great recipes for years to come. When I couldn't figure out exactly how to make the use of a spatula sound personal, I knew I had to focus more on people's attendance at the party and thanking them for making the trip.
One challenge was figuring out who might compare notes, so to speak. Since notes go out to family who will talk about such things, you can't write a carbon copy thank-you, sending some sort of Mad Libs form letter:
"Thank you for the (gift name). It was incredibly (adjective) and we look forward to making (plural noun) as we (verb) our new life together."
I actually had a lot of fun writing the notes. Because we were mostly appreciative that people made the effort to come to the party - and will be similarly appreciative when people fly west to Milwaukee this summer - it was easy for me. Of course, we still have two showers and the wedding itself to come which means we'll have a lot more notes to write. Talk to me this time next year. I'll probably have L take over.
Saturday night's engagement party at my parents' house was a huge disappointment if you were my five-year-old cousin Kenny who, in his nice sweater and dress-up pants, thought he was attending the wedding itself. Then again, Kenny also thinks I'm ten years old, which makes some sense if you figure that ten is bigger than five and I am bigger than Kenny. He's no dummy.
To everyone else, however, Saturday night was a huge success. My mother did all of the preparations herself and spent about six weeks cooking. She made hors d'oeuvres and dessert for 200 which meant that the 52 people who RSVP'd had their fair share of eating to do. There was wine, beer and sparkling water for the kids. I ate little and drank less, as I spent most of the party catching up with friends and family. Even if I had been drinking, I don't know if I would have wanted to walk around with the beer my father bought, which featured snarky labels more suited for a singles bar than an engagement party. Along with labels that read "Not Into Commitment," there was also this gem:
Oops. Nice one, pops.
As the party wound down, a smaller group convened in the living room where we were entertained by cousin Kenny singing his rendition of the pop song Stacy's Mom. But once it was past Kenny's bedtime - and mine and L's and everyone else's - people packed it in and the party was over.
While L and I have celebrated with smaller groups, this was the first capital E "Event" of our engagement year. Those of you who have been reading PlanetGordon for a while know when it comes to weddings I can be a bit cantankerous (my mother thinks I should replace Andy Rooney when he retires from his perch at 60 Minutes). But this was the perfect way to celebrate. Old friends, family and many people I hadn't seen in years were all on hand to offer congratulations and it was great to catch up with everyone. I'm sorry to disappoint, but there isn't anything I can offer you in the way of a complaint or sarcastic observation.
Check back tomorrow.
Update 9:40 PM: Here's just one picture of the gluttonfest that was Saturday night. Note that this was only one of a few tables of food. Enjoy.