September 28, 2004

May-December in September

Gawker analyzed approximately 500 wedding announcements listed in the New York Times between June and August 2004 and came up with some interesting charts to show the average age differences of featured couples.

Here's the split for straight couples:

age_s.jpg

And here's the split for gay couples:

age_g.jpg

Regular readers of this site know that I'm somewhat obsessed with the Vows section, especially the ways in which, as Gawker points out, so many investment bankers wind up with teachers. (Barely edging out only the lawyer/marketing manager combo, in my unscientific analysis.)

Of course, I can criticize and make fun now that L and I safely have the laminated copies of our announcement that we're sending to our moms and my grandmother. ("It will never fade or yellow," said the nice man on the phone from the reprinting service who sold us three copies for about ninety bucks plus shipping.)

And speaking of the New York Times, I was quoted in the paper's City section on Sunday in an article on cell phones and the subway.

Posted by Doug at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2004

Picture of the Week

Every so often I'll post some pictures. We're still waiting on our official pictures from our photographer, but we're getting a bunch from friends and family.

For those of you who are stumbling across this blog for the first time, why don't you start at the beginning?

leorashoesdance.jpg

Posted by Doug at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2004

Happily Ever After

This is my 260th, and most likely last entry for at least for a little while. As of this writing PlanetGordon has received over 720,000 hits in just over a year. Over 840 comments have been left on the site. Including syndicated articles, over 25 newspapers and magazines have printed stories in which I am either featured or quoted. Forty people bought T-shirts and other PlanetGordon stuff. The site was featured on TV and L and I lived out the dreams of liberals across the northeast by appearing on Public Radio.

When I started the site in September 2003, I figured I would only have a handful of readers. Definitely my mother and mother-in-law (who back then were probably responsible for about half of my monthly hits), other friends and family and, due to the public nature of the Internet, perhaps a few random strangers. At the very least, if I could keep it up, I'd have a fun record of the months leading up to our wedding.

But the site took off and no one was more surprised than I. Thanks to your support, PlanetGordon has been a "phenomenon" (US News & World Report's word, not mine) and, from my perspective, a lot of fun.

Thank you to E from Michigan, Malinda (and Trevor.net), Jamie, Gwen, Steve, Heather, Ellison, Jessica, Jenn, Brendan, Erica, Sulizano, Francis, Rose, Julie, ChgoRed, JT, Jecsyka, Leanne, Tim, John, and any other regular commenters I'm forgetting to list here. I've gotten to know some of you and am happy that none of you expect me to send wedding presents. Thanks also to the many people who read the site but never commented, instead either emailing me directly or simply lurking behind the scenes.

Thank you to David for getting me set up with Movable Type and otherwise schooling this HTML novice in the ways of the Web. David was the unpaid, unofficial tech guy for PlanetGordon and I might have never gotten started with this site had it not been for his technical expertise.

Some people have asked what's next for PlanetGordon.com. The truth is, not much. The site will remain up with an archive of all the past posts. Hopefully some of them will be of use to a few of the eight gazillion guys getting engaged every day. Who knows? One of these days I might get around to turning this whole thing into a general site for grooms.

Others have wondered if I would keep posting about weddings and my own personal experience with some of this craziness. After all, there are photo proofs coming soon, a video coming in a few months, and many more details to be wrapped up over the next little while. (Not to mention the many weddings we'll attend this year.)

One person suggested that I end the site when the last thank-you note has been written, but since people have up to a year to buy a wedding present, according to common practice, it seems like that would lead to a lot of gaps and downtime. That wouldn't be too exciting, so the best thing I can do is to stop here. I'm married, I had a heck of a lot of fun doing it all, and there isn't a whole lot more I can say on the subject.

I'll be doing some offline writing about weddings and I'm in the midst of pitching a book based on some of the stuff from this site. So, writing about weddings is definitely not over for me. (If you'd like to be notified when I do update the site or announce something, please email me and I'll add you to my mailing list. I promise not to sell your address or use it to raise money for clubbed seals or anything like that.)

Writing about weddings while planning my own was quite an experience. I think it helped me - and L - keep a sense of humor about everything. With every decision potential fodder for a post, we - or should I say mwe - stayed on our best behavior and were able to take a few steps back from everything to ask the question more couples should take the time to ask themselves: "Are we being totally ridiculous?" I hope our friends, who travelled from all over the planet and at great expense to attend our wedding, will agree that while we had our moments we never were, in fact, totally ridiculous about anything.

As a result of this site, I found myself immersed in a world I never thought I'd know so much about. I can now tell you the difference between about 100 china patterns, how to avoid paying an arm and a leg for stationery, the questions to ask when talking with a florist, why most wedding magazines have nothing to say to grooms, where to buy jewel cases for CD mixes, the proper appetizer-to-guest ratio, the precise latitude and longitude of the Bloomingdale's registry office, and why no one seems to want to buy bed linens as a wedding present.

But if I really learned anything by writing this blog - cue sappy Family Matters moral lesson music - it is that when it comes to weddings, and I guess a lot of other things in life, traditions performed without knowledge of why they are traditions are in effect meaningless. There isn't one decision L and I made that was made simply because That's What You're Supposed To Do When You Get Married. Knowing that everything we decided would get poked around and dissected under the blog-o-scope was probably challenging for L and our parents, but they all handled it with the utmost grace, aplomb and other superalitives I'm too lazy too look up in my thesaurus right now.

At the end of it all, I must thank L - Leora - whom I love more than anything and who has been my constant inspiration from the day I started writing this and even before. As she frequently reminds me, without her there would have been no PlanetGordon.

Posted by Doug at 09:31 AM | Comments (17)

Two More Pictures

Just wanted to add a couple more pictures to give you more of a sense of what some of the events were like.

Here's L sitting at the table where we signed the ketubah. Rabbi Z is holding the ketubah. That's what I lugged on the plane from Newark to Milwaukee. Some of her bridesmaids are behind her. Note the different blue dresses; L didn't make her bridesmaids buy expensive matching dresses but instead had them find something that matched a range of blues.

lketubahtable.jpg

Here's what it looked like inside the room where we had the ceremony. L's family and bridesmaids are on the right, my family and groomsmen are on the left. I'm not sure what's up with the four empty chairs in the foreground, but perhaps the people who held the tickets to those seats found a better show.

ldchuppah.jpg

Posted by The Groom at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2004

Sunday, August 29th - The Big Day, Part 4

Had it not been for the plate of appetizers L's sister made for us or the glass of water and stiff drink some friends brought me, I don't know if I would have had time to eat all that much during the cocktail hour and following reception. Thank goodness for thoughtful people.

More pictures followed, this time with extended families and friends. They would be the last formal pictures of the day. From there, we socialized with everyone outside in the hot son - a gorgeous day, but not the best conditions for wearing a black wool tuxedo - and had a few drinks.

Inside the dining hall, the room was decorated with such care that it was hard to imagine the hundreds of kids who had just eaten dinner there a week or two prior during camp's last few days. It's amazing what a few flowers, a dance floor, a band and nice tables and chairs can do to a place. (217 people in their Sunday best, so to speak, doesn't hurt either.) You can kind of get an idea of what the tables looked like from this picture:

groupattable.jpg

(Yes, that's the green paper I schlepped all over the city, finding a place to cut it to size.)

L and I changed out of our dress shoes for the big dances coming up. Here's a picture of mine (L's were the same, but white with a blue stripe):

dsneakers.JPG

Then the hora started. And what a hora it was. At the Weddies, the fictional awards show L imagined to honor outstanding achievement in excellence for weddings, I'd bet tat we'd be nominated in the category of "Best Hora." It lasted for about 25 minutes with just about everyone on their feet, clapping, circling and enjoying themselves. I've actually never been in the center of a hora, as my bar mitzvah party was a small affair held at my family's house, so this was an entirely new and exciting experience for me. Standing in the middle of a giant circle with my bride, with everyone I know and love standing around us and being showered with confetti was amazing.

dandlhora.JPG

Many speeches and much eating followed, although little of the eating, as I've mentioned, was done by me and L. We stole nibbles from friends' plates as we made our way from table to table greeting everyone.

Someone asked us why we didn't do a receiving line. Let's do some math, shall we? 217 guests x an average of :30 greeting each guest in line = a receiving line almost 2 hours long. Any questions?

So, here we are making rounds:

dandlmakingrounds.JPG

Later, it was time for the moment that many grooms dread, one that most guys see as a part of the wedding meant only for them to live through, not actually experience. Like going to the florist or making the token appearance at a women-only wedding shower, I don't know too many men who actually look forward to their first dance and being the center of attention, at least when they have more in common with Fred Flintstone than Fred Astaire.

Weeks before the wedding, I had been in touch with Emily and Gabriella of Matrimony Mony. The two women have built a business choreographing wedding dances for nervous couples who want to spice things up a bit.

After meeting with Emily and Gabriella over drinks to discuss our personalities and what we were looking for, they took our song (Peter Allen's version of "The More I See You") and choreographed a dance which they taught us a week later. A videotape of the choreography allows couples to practice at home without instruction.

So, we were a little nervous to pull off the choreography and ran outside shortly before we were supposed to start to run through the steps.

weddingdance.jpg

When we were called up for our "first" dance, I must say that we brought down the house. I don't think anyone expected the moves we put down, since most people are used to the slow foxtrot of a million love songs. The dance had a little of L's goofiness and some of my more laid-back style. Emily and Gabriella, thanks for helping us do something that really reflected our personalities.

It was clear sailing from there on out. L and I had few responsibilities left and simply focused on having a good time.

Now, you might be wondering if anything went wrong during the reception, as that's typically the time when most brides and grooms find something to complain about: a drunk uncle, a late DJ, or not enough food. We had none of those problems. But one thing did pop up and when it did, the only thing we could do was laugh.

The band, an excellent group headed by Stuart Rosenberg, played "I Will Survive." As many of you may remember, that song was one I wanted to put on our do-not-play list. I say "wanted to" because it turns out I had forgotten to include it on the list I had sent to Stuart. Still, they were great musicians and didn't play the songs I had remembered to put on the list. After all that planning, the one mistake that should happen during our wedding reception turned out to be mine.

The dancing continued and slowly people began to leave as the hour grew later and people had planes to catch or long drives home. If there was one other mistake during the wedding, it was that we did not properly warn the caterer and the band that we weren't doing any sort of cake cutting ceremony with L and me mushing bits of icing into each other's faces. We had wanted the cake to simply be served so that people could eat it at their leisure. But because we hadn't told them that we had wanted to do that, dessert got a late start. The cake was delicious (I'll try to post a picture as soon as I have one), which is a good thing because we probably have an entire third of it left. We'll be eating it at anniversaries for the next 300 years.

So, if our only gaffes were a song that shouldn't have been played and cake that hardly got eaten, we did okay. In fact, I think we did great and never had a better time in my life. The smiles on the faces of my parents, L's family and the rest of our friends said it all.

In the end of it all, in case you are wondering how it all turned out, we still were married.

Posted by The Groom at 02:23 PM | Comments (5)

Sunday, August 29th - The Big Day, Part 3.5

A number of people, at least those who know of this tradition, asked us what happened during the yichud. The yichud is a common tradition during Jewish weddings and occurs immediately after the wedding ceremony. Here's what Anita Diamant says in her book, The New Jewish Wedding, a book I've heartily recommended before:

[The] bride and groom traditionally spend ten or fifteen minutes alone in yichud - seclusion. Yichud is an echo of ancient days when a groom would bring the bride to his tent to consummate the marriage.

Because of it's origins in sex and a physical consummation of the marriage, I took to calling this tradition the "yeeeeee-chud," said in my best Yosemite Sam voice. However, in modern times the yichud is used more to allow the couple a few moments alone together, "keeping the emphasis where it is supposed to be in a Jewish wedding - on the joy of the bride and groom," according to Diamant.

So, what happened during our yichud? Not to get too mushy, but L and I did spend a few moments marvelling at what had just happened, saying "I love you" over and over again, and being amazed that over a year of planning and three years of being together had come to this point. Even if you aren't Jewish, I recommend taking a few minutes right after it all goes down just to spend a few moments alone with your new wife.

We practiced our dance (more on that later) and got ready to go out to greet everyone. But there was one last detail: L had to pee. So, rather than consummating our marriage in the ways of our ancestors, we shared a different kind of intimacy as I held L's dress up as she took care of business. Ah, the glamor of weddings!

She'll be so thrilled I'm sharing this with you.

Posted by The Groom at 01:44 PM | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 29th - The Big Day, Part 3

Showtime.

Here are some pictures from the processional.

Here's me waiting to enter the room with my parents:

memomdaddoor.jpg

Although I'm shorter than all of my groomsmen, somehow I got the height gene in my family.

Here's L entering with her mom and dad:

lparentsdoor.jpg

You can kind of tell through her veil that she's already a little weepy. Such tears would flow freely from all parties - me, my parents, L, her parents, our rabbis - throughout the ceremony.

Here's L's sister and brother-in-law, escorting L's niece, our flowergirl, down the aisle:

avivaflowergirl.jpg

Despite having practiced with torn up pieces of newspaper and a basket at home for weeks prior to the wedding and telling everyone that it was her job to "show Aunt L where to go," a combination of exhaustion and stagefright worked against little A. She dropped one flower petal on the floor and didn't really want to do any more. Still, she looked cute.

While everything was going on, L and I held on to each other for dear life. I don't think we've ever had a firmer grip on each other's hands, but I think it helped us both stay focused on everything happening during the ceremony. Previously, many people had advised us to stay in the moment and pay attention to everything. Some of our friends warned us that it would be very easy to lose focus, to sort of be outside of ourselves, and more than one person told us that we wouldn't want to miss this.

Our two rabbis, J and P, along with our cantor, R, are good friends of L's from rabbinical school and were joined under the chuppah by D, a longtime friend of L's family and a singer-songwriter (who wrote a song just for us). Having such good friends perform the ceremony made for an incredibly powerful and emotional day. A note to my readers: if your best friends are rabbis, priests or other people qualified to do weddings, have them do yours.

I was told that the ceremony started at 12:15 to the second, only 15 minutes behind schedule, but not bad compared to others I've attended that started as much as a half-hour late. I think it lasted about 40 minutes, but to me it seemed to whiz by. Before I knew it, I stepped on the piece of glass to mark the end of the ceremony and L and I were on our way out the door.

Bonus: I can't believe I forgot to mention this. Yes, the entire ceremony was, as I've said, a cryfest. But little did I know who was crying. During the cocktail hour, someone came up to L and asked her how we knew the videographer. L said that she didn't, that she was simply the person her parents had hired to shoot everything. Well, aparently our ceremony must have been incredibly emotional because even the videographer had tears in her eyes! Not a dry eye in the house, literally.

Posted by The Groom at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 29th - The Big Day, Part 2

I stepped into the Bayit's main room, which seemed to be filled with more people than we had invited. I had always imagined ketubah signings as small, pre-wedding affairs, but probably 90% of the people coming to the wedding were there early to witness this. It was amazing (and a little intimidating) to see so many people and the start of what would be an incredibly emotional day.

I walked further into the room and there was L, sitting at the end of a long table. The first thing I noticed about her, amazingly, was not her dress nor her hair nor her makeup, but rather her smile and her eyes. Both were bigger and brighter than I had ever seen them.

It was then that the cryfest began. Luckily, I had snagged some napkins from the back room and had them ready in my pocket. I even found it hard to look at L, because every time I saw her she'd have that combination giant-smile/tears in her eyes that would set me off. I needed to focus, so I paid close attention to everything Rabbi Z said.

Rabbi Z. The first in what I now call the parade of rabbis. And so began the parade of rabbis. Rabbi Z would be one of three rabbis participating in the days events. It is to Rabbi Z's credit that a number of people later came up to me and told me how interesting and moving the ketubah signing was. Most of these people weren't Jewish and some of them had never even heard of a ketubah before. But because of his thorough explanations and thoughtful presentation, many walked away knowing more than they could have expected. All I know is that I had a hard time seeing anything, what with the tears and the napkins that kept blocking my view.

My first job as the groom was to veil L in a ceremony called Bedeken. This is an old Jewish tradition, dating back thousands of years and one with which readers of The Red Tent would be familiar.

I also was finally able to compose myself enough to get a good look at L and how beautiful she looked. I had seen pictures of the dress when it had been worn by her mother and her sister at their weddings, but always had a hard time imagining what they would do to it to bring it up to 2004. Needless to say, it looked great on her. (I'll post a picture of her in the next post.)

I then sat down and the ketubah signing began. It was signed by four witnesses, two of my oldest friends (one from my own summer camp and one from college) and two of Leora's (one from high school and an old family friend). Then it was my turn. Now, writing my Hebrew name is not something I do every day, but marrying a rabbi has its advantages. Earlier, L had lightly written out the Hebrew lettering for me so I could cheat a little. It was a good thing she did because with everything that was going on and everything I was feeling I would have forgotten how to write my English name.

After the ketubah signing, most of our guests headed to the building where the wedding ceremony would take place. Our immediate families hung back with the photographer and took a few of family pictures outside in about every combination possible. Me, L and my parents, sister and grandmother. Me, L and her parents. Me and my grandmother with my sister and L. Just me and L. Me and a tree.

The big news of the morning was, of course, The New York Times. Our friend D brought a copy with her and showed it to us following the ketubah ceremony. Even after months of complaining about the Sunday Styles section I had to admit to people that it was pretty cool to be in there.

Then it was on to the ceremony. L, in her long dress and white shoes, was driven over. With family, I walked out of the Bayit into a bright, beautiful, sunny day, the perfect day for a wedding.

Part 3 coming up...

Posted by The Groom at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2004

Sunday, August 29th - The Big Day

I was up by six in the morning. At that point I knew I'd be operating on about 10 hours of sleep from the past three nights, but I knew I had enough energy and adrenaline left in me to last until the evening.

The plan was to be ready for pictures by 9:30 and knowing that it wouldn't take me three and a half hours to put on a shower, shave and put on my tuxedo, I wandered around camp to see who was up. Sure enough, the only people awake were my parents - used to getting up early with the dog at home - and the people staying at camp with young babies. Due to the amount of crying and screaming in the building we used to house the families with kids, I dubbed their row of rooms "the psych ward." Groggy parents and hungry babies meant it must have been a rough night for them all.

Barely a few minutes in to breakfast, I realized that I've forgotten the one thing I'm responsible for all day: the marriage license. It was back at L's parents' house, a place I was supposed to avoid before the wedding. But it was early enough that I figured L couldn't possibly be getting ready already, so I headed over. Luckily, all L had done was wash her hair, something I've seen her do a million times, so I didn't spoil the surprise of seeing her later in the day. I grabbed the license and headed back to the camp buildings.

I hung out with my father and some of our other friends and family and, interestingly, had a long conversation about blogging with a few people. Many of our guests followed the adventures of L and the Groom all year, but a few of our older family members were stuck on the whole idea of what a blog was in the first place and I fielded a number of questions about it. It's not really a diary, I explained to this group, since diaries are typically meant to be kept private and a journal isn't really the right word for it either, since this site never stuck exclusively to personal subjects. I realized that my generation's habit of putting our entire lives online is still foreign for so many people.

The clock hit 8 am, and I decided to head back to my room and get ready. Still, an hour and a half would be a long time for even a guy like me to get ready, so I took what must be the longest shower of my life. In the shower, I remembered that I haven't written a toast or a thank-you speech so I started thinking about what I might say in front of the assembled masses. Ironic, I thought, that having spent the entire year writing about every last detail of the wedding, I completely forgot to write even a simple list of thank-yous.

I got out of the shower and began getting dressed. I imagined L being attended to by a hair stylist, make-up person, bridesmaids and her mom while, like an idiot, I could hardly get my suspenders to go on correctly so that my pants wouldn't hang somewhere between my belly button and neck. Thankfully, my friend Catherine across the hall helped me make about five hundred adjustments to my suspenders to make them more comfortable.

Some hair gel and spritz of cologne later, I was ready to go and met my groomsmen out in the hall.

Here we are:

meandgroomsmen.jpg

(Yes, that's me in the middle. The one with the blue tie. And, no, it's not an optical illusion, like that room in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I really am shorter than all the other guys.)

Hearing that L and her crew were running late, the men went out first for the pre-wedding pictures. We posed outside for a number of pictures and, hearing that L was in the building, quickly finished up and headed over to the building where the ketubah signing would take place.

As we walked over, one of the guys noticed another guy's fly. It was in the down, unzippered position. Sharing perhaps the biggest laugh of the weekend, we tried to imagine what the pictures would look like. Luckily, his fly was not open to reveal bright white underwear, and the mistake was probably unnoticed by the camera lens. I don't want to embarass him, so let's just say that his name starts with J and ends with -ames.

Over at the Bayit, we started the first of some of the traditional Jewish pre-wedding rituals. The men - and some women, gathered in a small library off the main room in the Bayit for what is traditionally a time for storytelling, teaching socializing and little drinking. We stuck mostly to the drinking and socializing part, as evidenced by this picture:

schnapps.jpg

I decided not to have a drink, lest I collapse during some of the upcoming ceremonies. However, after taking a few deep breaths and getting ready to go out into the main room to see L for the first time, I did down one small shot of whiskey. It was just what I needed.

All the men left to go into the big room and I had a few moments alone with J and P, our rabbis. Then R, our cantor, came in to get me. "Quick, there's a car running in the back, you can leave now if you need to." The joke hit me in just the right way, soothing my nerves before I stepped out into the big crowd...

Part two coming up.

Posted by The Groom at 10:53 PM | Comments (1)

The Big Reveal

I had wanted to wait to the end of everything to include pictures of me and L, figuring that after a year of hiding behind codenames it would be a fitting end to the site.

But if you're coming to the party tonight and don't know who to look for, here's a picture to help you out:

brideandgroommodel.jpg

Hope this helps.

Posted by The Groom at 04:20 PM | Comments (1)

It's the End of PlanetGordon.com As We Know It

Just a reminder that tonight we'll celebrate the end of PlanetGordon.com at the Tenth Street Lounge (E. 10th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues) starting at 7 PM. L and I will be there, of course, so please come and raise a glass with us as the final countdown to the end of this site begins.

Thanks to everyone for their support.

Posted by The Groom at 02:08 PM | Comments (3)

Saturday, August 28th, Part 2

bridalbitters.jpg

After our rehearsal - if you can call lining up our groomsmen, bridesmaids, family and clergy and showing them how to walk down the aisle a rehearsal - it was time for the next big even of the weekend, the rehearsal dinner.

Typical rehearsal dinners are attended by, let's say, fifty percent of the guests, mainly those coming in from out of town. I've been to rehearsal dinners with 20, 30 or even 60 people. But I doubt too many people have attended rehearsal dinners with 135 people, which is what happens when your wedding is in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin and a huge majority of the guests are from out of town.

We packed in to the Bayit, an old house-like building at camp, where tables were set up for dinner. For about an hour, we drank ("Husband's Hefeweizen" and "Bridal Bitters," two beers homebrewed by A, my new brother-in-law) and ate and I learned what I call the Groom's Law of Nourishment. That is, the closer one is to the center of the wedding party, the less likely one will be to actually eat at wedding-related events. After welcoming people and much socializing, I only ate after finding myself talking to some cousins who just happened to be standing in line for food. Had I been talking to other people at another time, I think I might have been too busy to eat.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the evening? Shortly after dinner began, word started spreading throughout the room that everyone should go outside to look at the sky. It was clearing up and getting a little warmer, which made all of us hopeful for the next day. Upon going outside, here's what everyone saw:

saturdayrainbow.jpg

The picture hardly does it justice. The rainbow stretched from one end of the lake to the other, a full arc from one point on the horizon to another, clear enough that you might actually be able to find the pot of gold if you could send two teams of explorers to either end. Hardly one to believe in good signs or any type of omen, I nevertheless joked with people that I was glad I was marrying a rabbi.

Then the festivities really started. I must thank Dave, a camp staff member, and our friend Jason who set up the A/V equipment used for the evening. I know coming to our wedding and being the A/V guy was not part of his original plan, but J ran everything that night and none of it would have gotten set up without Dave's help.

First up was the movie I made on iMovie which went over well, especially the shots of about five year's worth of L's school pictures morphing into each other one by one. Embarassing your bride is always fun.

From then on out my best man, J, and my sister, R, picked up the mike as the evening's emcees. From high school friends, to my uncle, to L's rabbinical school classmates, to college friends lots of people made speeches, sang songs and presented their own movies. L's sister and brother-in-law even made a Power Point presenation featuring L's "secret" blog which was really hilarious. The evening was a bit of a cryfest for me and L, as we were really touched by people's speeches. If you've never had your friends get up to say nice things about you, I recommend it. It was a lot of fun.

After it was all over, a number of us held a camp fire where we ate s'mores (L had even picked up some vegan marshmallows for her vegetarian and kosher friends), sang songs and sat around. Like most of the weekend, it was an incredibly mixed group, including one of our rabbis (and his four-month-old baby whose sleep schedule was all mixed up), my aunt and uncle, my college friends, my parents, L's cousins and other family friends. Not exactly the group of people you'd picture hanging around together eating chocolate and graham crackers and drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, but that's who was there.

It was about 1 am and I headed to bed. Anxious and a little nervous - but in a good way, L - I fell asleep a little after 2 with my alarm set for 7.

Next up, the Big Day.

Bonus!

Here are the lights we bought during our trip to Pearl River.

bayitlights.jpg

Posted by The Groom at 09:59 AM | Comments (1)

September 07, 2004

Saturday, August 28th, Part 1

Even though I had set my alarm for 8 am, I woke up at 6:30, unable to sleep in. Would I be able to function on 4 hours of sleep, I wondered? I consoled myself with the idea that adrenaline would be my ally, pushing me through the weekend.

No one, and I mean no one, was awake where I'm staying, and I knew they probably wouldn't be for a couple of hours at least. So I headed over to the building where my parents were staying.

One way I could tell this weekend was different from other wedding weekends? I walked into the upstairs kitchen of the building where much of our immediate family was staying and find my uncle, wearing only his pajama bottoms, chatting with my grandmother and one of L's parents' good family friends over coffee. That definitely wouldn't have happened at the Holiday Inn.

Slowly, people began to wake up and I started to hear more activity on the walkie talkies. Breakfast was served.

The forecast for the day was gloomy with rain expected off and on throughout the day. That meant no beach time - at least none for the sane - and no tower climb. Two big camp activities were out of the question. With the skies turning darker, it looked like the day would be spent like so many Jewish celebrations: we'd just have to bide our time until the next big meal.

But we caught a break in the afternoon as the weather held off for our giant mushball game. Not softball, which would have required gloves for the twenty or so players per team, but mushball, a Chicago-style game with an oversized softball easy enough to catch that no one needs a glove. We divided into teams - my friends and family versus L's friends and family - and began a fun, but highly competetive game. So competetive, in fact, that in his first at bat my six-year-old cousin was thrown out at first by L's brother in-law.

After the game, during what I had dubbed our "rest period," the rain really began to come down. Thankfully, people were content to relax inside. The day was far from over as the rehearsal dinner was about to begin.

To be continued...

Posted by The Groom at 01:15 PM | Comments (1)

Friday, August 27th

My initial plan to be done with everything by Thursday evening didn't work out, and I woke up on Friday morning - at 6:30 - determined to get as much done as possible before the first guests arrived later that afternoon.

And I almost succeeded.

By the time my great aunt, great uncle, aunt, uncle, cousin and sister arrived, it is true that L's father had delivered the gift boxes and then later helped us place one in each of the rooms at camp. It is also true that we had put signs on each of the rooms so that the people staying at camp would know where to go when they got there. I even made a welcome sign to put up with a map at the entrance of camp so that people wouldn't be confused when they arrived. Too bad that when L put the sign up that basically said "Welcome, please meet us in the Dining Hall (Bldg. #3 on the map)," she forgot to hang up the map along with it. One call one our walkie talkies, and she quickly took care of this.

Ah, the walkie talkies. Originally intended as a fun gift for our friends and family directly involved with the wedding (groomsmen, rabbis, etc.), they came in so handy that I don't know how we could have survived the weekend without them. L and I had attended a wedding at a resort in Puerto Rico last year at which walkie talkies were given to the wedding party. Thinking our friends would have a blast with them, we decided to steal the idea. Because camp is spread out over a large area, the walkie talkies were a great way to track down missing people...and items.

Missing item numbers one and two: my tie and suspenders. As I unloaded my stuff into a room at camp - L stayed at her parents', we decided to sleep apart the final two nights - I realized that I had my tux, my shirt and my shoes, but not the other two important parts of my wedding wardrobe. Losing the suspenders wouldn't have been a huge deal - with all I had been eating over the past week I probably wouldn't have needed them anyway - but the missing tie was a problem. I had bought a blue silk tie to match the colors worn by L's bridesmaids and picking the right shade had taken me a ridiculous amount of time at Thomas Pink.

I tore apart my bag, checking and doublechecking every pocket, and then put the call out on the walkie talkies: "Code Red. Repeat. We have a code red. My tie and suspenders are missing. Repeat. Tie and suspenders missing. Over." A call was placed to L's brother-in-law who was on his way to camp soon. Perhaps the lost items had fallen out of my bag during my weekend in Milwaukee. I remembered putting them in my bag before I came to camp, however, and suddenly imagined my brand new tie wet and dirty in a gutter in front of L's sister's home.

It was about 3 pm. Four in New York City. I thought about a worst case scenario in which I'd have to call the store in New York and have them FedEx me a new tie. Was there a Thomas Pink store in Chicago? If so, that would give me an extra hour to scour camp.

Luckily, a few minutes before 4 PM Central, L's sister radioed. She had found my tie and suspenders. They where in the one place I forgot to look: in a drawer in the guest room in L's parents' house where I had put them when I arrived at camp. I took this all as a good sign: hopefully misplacing key elements of my monkey suit would be the worst thing to happen all weekend.

Tie in hand, suspenders found, I declared my work time over. It was 4:30 PM. From here on out, I decided, would only be fun. I did have a few more jobs - driving a golf cart back and forth to some of the camp buildings to help people with their luggage, but I was done.

More guests arrived at camp. My grandmother, her boyfriend, some good friends from DC, some good friends from New York, more of L's family. After helping people with their luggage, I retreated to my room for a shower and a few minutes alone.

Friday night dinner was pure camp. And not in the bad movie, Showgirls kind of way, but in the actual summer camp kind of way. We ate chicken, potatoes and vegetables served on camp plates in a small section of the dining hall. Lemonade rounded out the menu.

After dinner came the real deluge: our friends from Boston and New York arrive within minutes of each other. To me, it was one of the more surreal scenes of what would be an out-of-this-world weekend. Some of the most seemingly incongruous groups of people - my college buddies, L's cousins, my great aunt and uncle, my parents' friends - all hung out in a central camp building, socializing, snacking and having a good time.

After many people had gone to bed, many of the friends hung out in another camp building - away from the families with young babies - and stayed up laughing, talking, playing guitar and singing until about 2 am. The weekend was finally under way.

Posted by The Groom at 11:44 AM | Comments (2)

September 03, 2004

L Did Not Wear This

Even though we are Jewish and our wedding had many cultural traditions, L did not wear this:

yarmulkebrajpg.jpg

You can buy your very own at Yarmulkebra.com.

Thanks to J for passing this along via R.

More wedding updates to come...

Posted by The Groom at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 26th

I lied. Today's first post will be about the events that happend on Thursday, our first full day at camp and the first day of real set-up work before our guests arrived. My goal for the day was to get everything done that we needed to do so that we could just enjoy ourselves and relax at dinner that night and come back to camp with little left to do other than relaxing and welcoming guests as we arrived. Did we succeed? Read on.

For almost a year and up until Thursday I had had opinions. Now, wary of stepping on toes and not wanting to elevate anyone's stress levels, I only had jobs. Getting worked up over any decisions at this point was simply not going to help. So I approached Thursday with a "Let's just get stuff done" sort of attitude. I'm happy to say that there were no major meltdowns, no fights, no crying and barely any arguing. Sure, we all had our moments, but when you consider the personalities involved (a rabbi, a camp director, a school nurse, a preschool director, a self-employed businessman, and me) it's amazing that so many people used to having a lot of responsibility were able to share it all so well.

The first item on our agenda that morning was perhaps the most important: our marriage license. After getting directions over the phone from a woman whose accent wouldn't have been out of place in Fargo, we headed to the Jefferson County Clerk's office in Johnson Creek. ("Johnson Crick" as the woman on the phone told L.)

At the clean, new, and organized office - a far cry from the marriage license office in New York City, I imagined - we went through the standard questions and answers with the clerk, such as our mothers' maiden names and our place of birth. We filled out a few forms and then reviewed a copy of our license. After telling the clerk that everything is spelled correctly, one final form was handed to me. I had to verify that all the information is correct and sign my approval. Not L. Me. Because on wedding forms that probably haven't been updated in a number of years, the man is still in charge. While sitting there, I wondered how hard it would have been for the office to have added one extra line for the bride to sign as well so the whole thing wouldn't seem as patriarchal. But there is much to do at camp, so I didn't think about it for long. (Later in the car, however, L and I did wonder how many forms Massachusetts has had to change over the last few months.)

$70 later we had our license. We also had a pink pamplet titled "For a Strong & Healthy Baby: Understand the Risks and Take Steps to Avoid Cigarettes, Alcohol and Other Drugs," which might just have the longest title of anything I've seen since Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace. It tells us that "becoming parents is one of the most important decisions you and your spouse may consider in your marriage." That's all fine and good, but at that point the most important decision we had to make was about who was going to drive the gift boxes over to our guests' hotel.

My parents arrived on Thursday, along L's aunt and uncle. Even with a growing number of people, there was still a lot of work to do. One of our big tasks on Thursday was figuring out where the tables would go in the dining hall and who would sit where. The camp dining hall was more or less a blank canvas:

campdininghall.JPG

I started to voice my preferences on a few seating arrangements. Of course there were a lot of factors to consider. Do young people go closer to the dance floor because they will be more likely to dance and thus less annoyed if loud speakers drown out their table conversations? But if we do that will older people feel like they have been pushed to the outer edges of the room away from the action. A couple of people, including L's aunt and I think even the caterer, convince us that in such a big space, there isn't a bad table in the room. Agreeing, I decide to back off and the bulk of the task is left to L and her mom. I hang back with my dad and joke around.

At about 6 PM we are all very hungry so we head into downtown Oconomowoc (the only town in America with five o's in its name, by the way) for dinner at an Irish Pub. I share some spinach artichoke dip and have a burger and fries. We also head to the Kiltie, a local drive-in frozen custard place, for dessert. I figure that there's little sense in watching what I eat now. Either the tux will fit in two days or it won't.

My goal of being done by dinner was, of course, naive. There are still table cards to do, a few more gift boxes to seal up and deliver, signs to put on the rooms for people staying at camp, lights to put up in the room where we're having the rehearsal dinner, an A/V system to set up for our rehearsal dinner movie presentations, and about a million other details.

I fall asleep late, knowing I'll be up in a matter of hours ready to get to work.

Posted by The Groom at 10:05 AM | Comments (5)

September 02, 2004

You Are Cordially Invited...

Attention PlanetGordon.com readers! L and I will host a bar night on Wednesday, September 8th starting at 7 PM at the Tenth Street Lounge (212 E 10th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues).

It's our way of putting faces to the many names of commenters from the past year and it will also be a great way to mark the end of PlanetGordon.com as we know it.

Starting tomorrow one day of posts will equal one day of summaries from our wedding weekend. So, tomorrow will represent last Friday, Monday will represent last Saturday, and Tuesday will represent our actual wedding day. Make sense? Thursday and Friday of next week will wrap everything up with some of my final thoughts, announcements and, of course, thank-yous. I'm going to be posting like a madman as there is a lot left to say and not a lot of time left in which to say it.

So, please join us on Wednesday at the Tenth Street Lounge to celebrate! We'll even have some leftover candy and other goodies to give away. L and I would love to meet you all.

And please, no gifts.

Posted by The Groom at 12:52 PM | Comments (11)

September 01, 2004

We're Baaaaack

We're back from our minimoon, still exhausted and ready now to catch up on unpacking, thank you notes and sleep. I'll begin updating everyone on the wedding soon, so please check back. This site will close up shop - at least as a regular chronicle of our wedding - late next week. There are big things to announce in the days ahead and even perhaps in the weeks after the site is done, so stay tuned.

Full updates begin tomorrow.

Posted by The Groom at 11:46 PM | Comments (1)