With many locations across the country and websites set up for wedding registries, it's no surprise that many brides and grooms register at a lot of the same stores. L and I have been no diffrerent than most couples in this regard, registering at Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma and Bloomingdale's. At the end of the day plates, pots and towels are plates, pots and towels wherever one goes and setting up registries at stores equipped to handle such lists makes the most sense.
Except in the case of luggage. For some reason I got really stuck on luggage, something that L and I need yet didn't necessarily want to register for, at least not at a big department store. Typically, the luggage carried in Bloomingdale's, Macy's and some of the other big retailers is simply too damn expensive. To spend upwards of five hundred or one thousand dollars on a set of luggage that will spend most of its time in the trunk of a cab, in the underbelly of an airplane and in a hotel closet seems like a waste of money, so, being the sensible guy that I am, I told L we would forgo registering for such items at Bloomingdale's.
But, as with all things that I end up telling L we won't do, I ended up being the person who had to come up with a solution or replacement.
I suggested that we register for luggage at L.L. Bean. Doing it there made the most sense: their bags are inexpensive and subject to the same lifetime guarantee as are most L.L. Bean products. Plus, they are more appropriate for the travel L and I do, which leans more towards riding the rails through Europe or backpacking through Belize than it does towards taking the QE2 to Southampton.
There was only one problem with my plan: L.L. Bean does not do gift registries. When I called, I was told that they used to do them, but that it simply becaume too complicated and they phased out the plan. (I'm not sure I understood their reasoning, since hundreds of other stores have somehow figured out how to keep lists of gifts online and allow would-be giftgivers to buy them, but what can you expect from a store that still keeps a 24-hour-a-day store running in Freeport, Maine?)
In figuring out what to do, I found Felicite.com. The site allows one to register with any of dozens of partner stores and, in cases where stores don't handle their own registries, allows one to pick gifts from just about any online retailer and set up a list. As long as the store sells things online, you can set up a registry for their things through Felicite.com. As far as I can tell, the store does not charge giftgivers extra for their service, so buying something costs the same whether they do it at Felicite.com or directly from the retailer itself. (Felicite does allow people to register for cash and charges a 4.9% fee, a practice I think is stupid.)
So, I found our luggage and put it on our registry. We'll see if it works, but so far Felicite.com has my stamp of approval.
After reading a few old posts, I recently realized that I have been holding back on divulging some of the details of our wedding. It hasn't been out of a sense of wanting to protect our privacy - it's a public website and I've done a fair amount of publicity, for pete's sake - but rather because there are certain things we just don't want ruined for that rare cross section of people who read this site and are invited to the wedding (Although that group is getting bigger with each day's mail delivery.)
That's sort of the Catch-22 of keeping this blog: I can write a lot about weddings, but I can't always write as much as I want to about my own. But with only 30 days to go and the focus of my posts shifting from general wedding rants to increasingly specific details, I decided something would have to be done to a) preserve the element of surprise for our invited guests and b) cover my ass so that L doesn't get mad at me for ruining any surprises.
From now on, I'll clearly mark entries that have specific wedding details. How to label them, however, is the question, so please feel free to comment or email with your suggestions. In movie reviews, these details might be called spoilers, since learning that Bruce Willis is actually dead or knowing that Rosebud is just a sled would truly spoil one's experience of "The Sixth Sense" or "Citzen Kane" for the virgin viewer. (Although if I've just ruined those two movies for you, tough luck. You should have seen them already.)
"Spoiler," however, seems a poor choice of words for wedding details. Really, will anyone's experience of our wedding be spolied if they know that we're putting Cow Tales in the gift bags or that I am, in fact, wearing a black tux? I have a feeling that most of our guests know how the whole thing is going to turn out and I hope I'm not ruining anything for them when I say that in the end, the guy will definitely get the girl.
Thanks for reading. Now don't say that you haven't been warned.
I'm only about two packages away from inviting Ken, our UPS guy, to the wedding. I see him on an almost daily basis these days and he and I have gotten to be quite friendly. Our conversations go beyond the typical "pretty muggy out there" superficial stuff and are now on to deeper issues like traffic and how we plan to spend our weekends. Amazingly, Ken came yesterday with a non-gift package. The cases for the CD mixes finally arrived, which means I now have to get to work on burning over 100 CDs.
I finally booked our tickets to Wisconsin. (L and I might be the last people coming to our wedding to have taken care of this.) If only we had been able to take advantage of the 10% discount available to most of our guests who booked their tickets well before us. Who knows why we waited so long, but figuring out how and when we would get to our own wedding felt like something that could wait, what with all the other little details taking up so much of our time.
So, what else have we taken care of this week?
L sent back forms to our photographer and videographer listing the major wedding players and family members and providing a basic schedule of the day's events to make sure everyone knows what's going on.
We also received an assignment from one of our rabbis, J, who asked us to write one or two paragraphs introducing the other person to someone else. The only other instruction was to avoid basic information, like where L is from or what she does for a living. It's a shame I can't share what I wrote here - some things must remain a surprise, after all - since I think I aced my assignment.
There is still a lot left to do and not a lot of time left to do any of it. (I'm leaving on August 20th for Milwaukee, doing some volunteer work in a very important swing state. L and I will join up and head to camp on August 25th.)
Thursday night we're having a meeting with two people who are going to attempt to make us dance well. I also have to finish writing the program and send it over to Rabbi L for a good proof read before the weekend is here. Then we have to get them copied, folded, assembled and, of course, shipped to Wisconsin. I still have to design and copy the covers for the CDs, but that will have to wait until the song list is finalized. There's a list of music to send to the band, and that will be sent off by Friday. And let's not forget our marriage license. L's done her homework and we can pick that one up a few days before the wedding.
I know this entry might not seem so coherent, but 'dems the breaks with so much going on right now. Perhaps you've heard of The Groom's Law of Inverse Proportionality: the more details with which one must deal, the less coherent one becomes. Look for more random thoughts in the weeks ahead.
L, her mother and I have a little bet going. Last night we made estimates on how big the guest list will be and, in the style of The Price is Right, the winner will be the person who guesses closest to the correct amount without going over. (No word on prizes, although if either L or I win, word is that we'll receive an all-expense paid wedding.)
So, with all of you as our witnesses, here are our estimates:
Me: 217 guests.
L: 252 guests.
L's mom: 233 guests.
I've been accused of lowballing the estimate, but I think my strategy will pay off. No matter what, it's going to be a big party.
Apparently this site has a bit of a following across the pond in London. Or should I say "had." From Sunday's Observer magazine and their "Fashion Tense" feature:
Past: www.planetgordon.com In which a self-styled metrosexual gets married and tells us all about it.
Present: www.breakupnews.blogspot.com The world's first break-up blog. Marvellously bitter, and much more modern.
I guess the fact that the Obsever has declared me so over is somewhat convenient, what with the wedding being only 33 days away.
Man, I thought I was smart. I remember meeting with a registry consultant at Bloomingdale's last October and feeling so confident in my status as a modern groom. When I said we should hold off on registering for towels and bed linens - seasonal items that, way back in October, were likely to change by springtime - both L and the consultant in that back office in Bloomie's were impressed with my Martha-like understanding of housewares.
Would that I had been so careful when registering for our dishes at Crate & Barrel not too long after. Three weeks ago, while checking our registry list online, I noticed the following qualifier under the link for the sets of dishes and mugs we had registered for as our everyday place settings: "Limited quantites. Item is no longer available online." That was not good, especially since we had already received one of the sets a number of months ago and only needed two to finish it off.
We thought about returning the one set we had and registering for a new pattern, but it seemed impractical. If the store wasn't selling them anymore, would they take back a nearly six-month-old set of dishes? Even if we could return it, getting the set to the nearest Crate & Barrel in a cab would cost more than the plates, mugs and bowls were worth. In weddingland, where even choosing the right kind of paper for confetti can turn into a crisis worthy of U.N. intervention, this was a big problem.
But, every modern groom has to admit his mistakes and I took full responsibility for mine. I also took on the full task of figuring out what to do. Luckily, a visit to the retailer's 59th Street location proved fruitful as a friendly store associate was able to track down another two sets...in White Plains. I called the store and, using some of the money we received as a gift, arranged to have them shipped to Brooklyn. They arrived today, wrapped in copious amounts of packing paper. Taking the paper off of each one felt the same as opening some of the other gifts we've received, but I kept wondering...to whom do I write a thank-you note?
The other night L and I were sitting around going over some general plans and talking about what still needs to be done. In the past, some of these discussions were fraught with tension, as we tiptoed around the other person's strong opinions and found the areas for compromoise. Our discussion the other night, however, was not so specific and centered more on the things L was looking forward to.
"You know what the thing is that I'm most excited for at the wedding," she said. "The gazpacho in the peppers." As an appetizer, our caterer is preparing a delicious gazpacho in hollowed out peppers.
L continued, "You know what else I'm excited about? All the candy." L has always had a big sweet tooth for candy in just about every form and ordered large quantities of it this week for the wedding.
I considered L's responses.
"You know what you should be most excited about," I asked L.
We both had an incredible laugh as L realized how ridiculous and un-L-like she had sounded. I know I've given her a tough time this week, but I'm lucky to be going through this process with a woman who is the farthest thing from a Bridezilla a guy could ask for.
To answer the person who recently asked if I would wear a t-shirt with the word "Groom" across the front over the wedding weekend, here's the short answer:
Honestly, if there's anyone at the pre-wedding festivities who wouldn't be able to pick me out of a line-up without me wearing some kind of identifying T-shirt, then why the hell would they be at our wedding in the first place?
Before the person who emailed me responds by calling me a hypocrite and noting the infamous "Taken" t-shirt - conveniently for sale at my online shop - remember that it was created as a joke response to the fact that men don't get any sort of engagement token.
I've found myself in a bit of a Catch-22.
Admittedly, I dropped the ball on submitting our wedding announcement to the New York Times. According to the submission guidelines, the Times prefers that announcements be sent in at least six weeks before the event, in order to give their editors enough time to sift through submissions. L had been on me for a few weeks to do this and it was only on Monday, five weeks and six days before the deadline, that I finished everything up and emailed it to the Times.
So what's the Catch-22, you ask? L, perhaps only half jokingly, said she would be annoyed if we didn't get in because I sent the announcement in late. But with the Times receiving so many submissions, probably numbering in the thousands, how will we know the real reason if we don't get in? Since the Times does consider submissions sent in after the deadline, it will be impossible to know for sure.
Maybe we're not attractive enough, but I would be shocked if that ends up being the reason. It could be that we're not wealthy enough, since the Times tends to profile, if not the upper class exclusively, then a disproportionate amount of bankers, laywers and doctors. It could be that our parents are not wealthy enough, which to me seems like the most ridiculous criterion on which to make any sort of judgement about two people.
Some of our friends are convinced that we'll get in because L is a rabbi and we both live and work in New York. But after reading every last announcement in the Styles section this past week, I learned that having ties to the area has little to do with getting in. Many of the couples profiled have only cursory ties New York. Maybe they live, work and were raised in Denver or San Diego, but if their father received his MBA from NYU or Columbia, the Times puts them in.
One announcement from Sunday's paper featured a couple whose wedding was performed in Washington, D.C., where they live, work and received their advanced degrees. The bride's parents only have ties to D.C. and the groom's father lives in Dayton, OH. How did this couple get in? I've read and reread this and so far the only connection I've found between the couple and the tri-state area is the fact that all the letters used to spell "New York" can be found in the announcement.
Relationships are all about compromise, so this is one area in which I just had to do what L wanted because it was important to her. At best, I'm ambivalent about the wedding announcements. Getting into the paper because I'm getting married seems like no big deal. Getting into the paper because I wrote a funny article or did something noteworthy? Now that would be exciting.
Now that L and I are in the home stretch of our get-in-shape plans - she's been doing a lot of Yoga, I've been spending a lot of time working out with Patrick - what should arrive at our door but a box filled with 200 Cow Tales which Goetze's candy generously donated to us for use in the gift boxes we're putting in all the guest rooms. I have fond memories of the candy during my own years at camp, when I would get them in care packages from my mom or run out during periods off as a counselor and a buy a few at the local general store.
I'm not one of those anti-carb crazies, but having those tempting candies in our apartment puts me at risk of ingesting 4000 grams of carbs between now and the wedding. Why, of why, didn't I have them sent directly to camp?
It's been a busy week in wedding town, and if my entries have seemed a bit random lately, it's probably because of every different thing L and I have been doing.
This list is a basic description of just one day this week:
- Early morning session with my personal trainer. (I've lost three pounds in one week!)
- Pick up tuxedo from tailors, try on tuxedo, notice that pants are too big, remember that fitting happened two weeks ago, schedule another fitting/alteration.
- Buy new white dress shirt. Forget to buy a second. Comfort myself with fact that at least I remembered to buy cufflinks.
- Buy tie at different store.
We've had a steady flow of gifts this past week, too, so this morning I made an early run to Goodwill to drop off some of our old dishes and kitchen supplies. I'm also working on the program for our ceremony - there is a lot of stuff to describe in a Jewish wedding - and we're working on the welcome letter and schedule that will be in every guest room. L is still figuring out how to do the place cards, and she's been on me to finish our submission to the New York Times. Given my previous rants about the Gray Lady's wedding pages, perhaps you'll understand why I've slacked off on this one. (In the off chance that anyone at the Times has even read this site, I'm wondering if I haven't ruined L's hopes of getting in there entirely.)
Here's where we stand going into the weekend:
- Only 44 days until the wedding. (I should really count down to the Friday before the wedding, since that's when a lot of people are getting to camp. So we actually only have 42 days until things get started.)
- Current weight: 157 lbs.
- Approximately 170 positive responses, with just over two weeks before the deadline.
You may have heard that throwing rice at a couple as they leave the ceremony is no longer considered ecologically correct. Seems that someone, somewhere got the idea that rice left on the ground after a wedding is harmful to birds. Just like Life Cereal's Mikey, who allegedy died after mixing Pop Rocks and soda, birds are in danger of having their stomachs explode when the uncooked rice expands inside.
I've always been a little suspicious of this claim. If it were true, wouldn't there be hundreds of dead pigeons on the sidewalks of Chinatown or outside any restaurant where rice is delivered on a regular basis?
L and I haven't even discussed whether anyone will be throwing anything at us following our wedding, but being the curious guy I am, I figured I would learn the answer before we talked. I found this great entry on Snopes.com which busts the myth entirely: uncooked rice is not, I repeat not, harmful to birds.
The exploding bird scare seems to have begun with an old Ann Landers column in which she urged readers to throw rose petals instead of rice. It even took hold in popular culture, showing up on an episode of The Simpsons in which Marge helps plan Otto's wedding.
Marge: Let's see...candles, flowers, place cards, rice...
Lisa: Oh, Mom, you're not supposed to throw rice anymore. Birds eat it, their stomachs swell, and they explode.
Bart: Why am I just learning this now? [grabs the rice box and video camera then runs outside]
This myth is further perpetrated by reputable wedding web sites since, for some wedding writers, it's a great hook for articles on things you can throw at brides and grooms. This one from Ultimateweddings.com struck me as particularly ridiculous since it recommends releasing doves after the wedding instead of throwing rice. "Doves are a symbol of peace," the article says. Right. Nothing says peace quite like buying a few dozen birds from a pet store and keeping them in a cage for six hours during your ceremony and reception. Here's an idea: why not shower the newlyweds in a sort of ticker-tape parade made from shredded wedding magazines?
When you look at the amount of products for sale at TheKnot.com that guests can use in lieu of rice, you might begin to wonder. Are the rose petal people behind this or is it the incredibly powerful birdseed lobby? Perhaps it's just a giant conspiracy cooked up by the bubble industry. We'll never know, but don't get suckered into paying for expensive bubbles or rose petals when for the same price you can buy enough rice to feed a whole flock of birds.
I don't know what it means when the rabbi doing your wedding forwards you a link to the worst toast ever, but that's just what our friend, Rabbi P, did yesterday. P's a good speaker, a funny guy and will likely give a great wedding charge along with his co-officiant, Rabbi J. (When you marry a rabbi, a lot of rabbis want to do the wedding.)
The site reminds me that I have to start working on my toast. Having established myself as somewhat of a storyteller with this website, I'll have to come up with something better than the standard thanks-to-the-in-laws speech.
Latest concrete evidence that we're getting married? We now have wedding rings. Running a little late after some time at the gym, I went in to the city and met L on the corner of 47th and 6th on Friday. The place we had intended to go, Norman Landsberg was closed for a summer vacation and with the clock ticking down to our wedding, we decided we couldn't wait. We wound up at a booth inside a corner storefront and spoke with a friendly man at Aida Jewelry named Trevor.
Remember when I said that picking rings would be an easy task? Well, for me, it was easy. I settled on a plain, white gold band - not to thin, not too chunky - and was done fairly quickly. But Trevor, good salesperson that he is, tread the careful line between encouraging and pushy and convinced us to look at something a little more elaborate than just plain metal for L. (Once again proving that when it comes to engagement and wedding tokens, men get shafted.)
Actually, I'm quite happy with my simple ring. With the exception of about two years during and right after college when I had my ear pierced - what can I tell you, it was a phase - I've never worn much jewelry in my life. I'm sure a ring will take a lot of getting used to; one friend recommended I get it a little big in order to make playing with it and taking it off and putting it on easier.
As we stood at the counter and I played with my ring, L noticed my hands. In a sign that proves L's comfort with my status as a girly groom, L said to me, "You need a manicure." (Further cementing my status is the fact that I had previously noticed this and made an appointment at John Allan's.)
So now our rings sit in boxes - mine blue, L's red - in our apartment, waiting for the big day. Trevor had one last word of advice for us as we left, "I advise couples to put the rings in one box when they bring them to the ceremony." Wise advice from a friendly, and not too pushy, salesman.
I'm quoted in Play New Haven magazine where I mention some of the same stuff I talked about in my post on single people and weddings. Enjoy.
L and I are heading back to the diamond district today to buy our wedding rings. Since what we want are just plain, solid bands picking rings will be an easy task. How romantic, right? Our first stop will be Norman Landsberg Jewelers where we had L's engagement ring sized and cleaned. Everyone we've spoken to there has been incredibly nice; it just goes to show you the difference between patronizing a family-owned business versus a corporate behemoth.
Now that the wedding can be counted down to in weeks and not months, gifts have started to trickle in, enough so that I'm becoming friendlier with Ken, our UPS guy. I've seen him three out of the last four days and with all of the boxes he's lugged up two flights of stairs for us (and our neighbors, who are also receiving their share of gifts), I'm thinking L and I will at the very least owe him a thank you note after the wedding. Guess who'll be the one to write it.
Quote of the day, from my sister, on why we should add "We Are Family" to our Do Not Play List for the wedding.
"Because it forces the family to be so lame. Everyone has to dance together like, 'Yeah, we are family!'"
Refreshingly, the wedding we went to this weekend did not end with a bouquet toss and its equally cringe-worthy cousin, the garter toss. L and I have opted out of both traditions mostly out of respect for our friends. (I also have no interest in reaching up L's dress in front of my parents, her parents, my grandmother and everyone else, so a small part of our decision stems from our desire to avoid personal embarassment.)
It's one thing to do a bouquet toss when most of your friends are under the age of 25 and you are one of the first of your group to get married. But when you are over the age of thirty, why would you single out your single friends by humiliating them in a desperate grab for a bunch of flowers? Making them wear a scarlet "S" on their chests for the duration of the reception would be no less cruel.
And although I haven't seen it at most of the weddings we've attended in the last year, don't get me started on the singles table. To me, it stinks of a failure of creativity or even basic math skills. Just because you have ten single friends doesn't mean you have to sit them all at the same table. Instead of having one table of single people, why not sit six of those people at a table with two couples and the other four bachelors and bachelorettes at a table with three couples? Unfortunately, I think some people, once they are coupled off and ready to be married, become unable to divide by anything other than the number two.
The good folks at Tekserve will have my computer back to me in one week. Thankfully, it looks as if all my data will be recoverable as the hard drive doesn't seem to be the source of the problem. Until next Tuesday, I'm posting from an old laptop.
L and I finalized our cake choice on Saturday, but not until after a long drive to Milwaukee, a quick stop at the bakery and a long drive back to Chicago which gave the many grams of fat we ingested plenty of time to find a nice comfortable home in our bodies. Factoring in what I ate at the wedding we attended on Saturday night, I think I broke the record for most pieces of wedding cake eaten in a 12-hour period.
We settled on a three-tiered marble cake with a buttercream and raspberry filling. It was quite delicious and got the thumbs up from L's 3-year-old niece who no doubt crashed from some sort of sugar high later that afternoon after we left. It even met the approval of L's 1-year-old nephew. Thank goodness his parents taught him the sign language for the word more or we never would have known which cake he liked.
This is details week; time to finish up as much as possible before we get into the home stretch. L has a 2 o'clock conference call with her mother and the caterer. L's mom is going over changes with the florist. I'm scanning some photos for us to use in a slide show on Saturday night. I heard from a few friends today who are making their flight reservations. I picked up my tux this morning, although I have a feeling the last detail I'll have to take care of is having it altered after I work off all the cake from this weekend.
L and I returned from our weekend in Chicago to find that my computer would not turn on. (Yes, I checked the power cord.) So, until the pros at Tekserve can give it a proper diagnosis and work their magic, postings will be light and a full wrap-up of our trip will have to wait until the computer comes back to life. Send good vibes this way and pray that weeks of work, tons of photos and other important documents have not been sacrificed to the cruel and vengeful computer gods.
In the meantime, those of you in New York and Boston can pick up local editions of Modern Bride magazine which this month includes a short article in the "Grapevine" section about me and this website. Many thanks to Jennifer, an editor at the magazine, who sent me a copy of the magazine and spared me the discomfort faced by any man who finds himself bringing a bridal magazine up to a judgemental sales clerk at Barnes & Noble.