Category Archives: The Blessed Event

The Ceremony

All my life, I wondered how it would feel when the big event, the wedding, was finally mine.

Now I know the answer: I would spend the whole time thinking, "Oh, man. I cannot believe this is my wedding." It’s like you want to step outside yourself and watch, and you can’t quite fathom that all of this — these things you’ve seen done for other people, these words you’ve heard and tears you’ve felt welling — is actually now yours.

When the doors were thrown open and my father and I started walking down the aisle, I was reeling — spinning from my father’s wonderful words about Kevin, stunned by the number of smiling faces turned in my direction, totally unsure where to look and what to do. Another thing I’d wondered was whether I should make eye contact with anyone, for fear that I’d spend my entire trip up the aisle waving at people or contorting my face into weird expressions of recognition or "Holy crap, isn’t this insane?" amazement. In the end, I went down with the most natural grin on my face, scanning the crowd without my eyeballs settling on anything until they finally found Kevin waiting at the end of the aisle. It wasn’t a conscious thing; I just felt too overwhelmed to focus on anything but, ultimately, him.

We didn’t take pictures before the ceremony because I wanted The Moment, the one where we see each other for the first time. And, I distinctly remember thinking, "Wow, this is The Moment. And he looks perfect. I really, really want to hug him. But I can’t. Don’t cry. Man, I wonder what he’s thinking."

I found out later that Kevin was looking at his bride during The Moment — the fought-for Moment — and thinking, "I really, really hope my fly is not open." Because our useless church wedding lady had told him he had a few minutes before the ceremony would begin, and Kevin decided to go to the bathroom. And, in his words, "The second urine hit porcelain, the music started." She cued the procession without telling him. Hurriedly, he collected himself and went back into the room he’d been waiting in with the best man, only to see that Jason had already gone out to the altar. Then Kevin saw two of his groomsmen taking their places, having already come up the aisle. He rushed out to his place. The poor guy missed the beginning of his own wedding because some silly cow assured him he had a few minutes and then actually gave him approximately twenty seconds. [He learned later that his fly was indeed safely closed.]

I’m glad we didn’t see each other beforehand — The Moment did add a lot of tingly anticipation to the entire day for me — but the "moment" that I remember better is, basically, the entire rest of the wedding.

He and I stood there sneaking glances at each other, essentially staring at each other out of the corners of our eyes. That eventually devolved into full-on staring.

Hckevin_look

[As with all of these, you can click if you want a larger version.]

As I looked at him, his face radiated warmth and pride. I know mine did; it felt hot, like a deep blush. My cheeks burned. I couldn’t stop smiling; I felt like a crazy person, huge grin plastered on my face, glued there as I looked forward or off to the side or at my beautiful bridesmaids, wondering if I looked like a lunatic. He reached over and held my hand during the readings, until my bouquet got too heavy and I had to offer my left arm some help.

The ceremony was wonderful. Mary Beth got through "My lover is like a gazelle" with aplomb — to anyone who attends a Catholic wedding: If you hear that reading, know that the couple most likely did not want to use it, but realized that it’s the only Old Testament reading that isn’t misogynistic, fire-and-brimstone, or flat-out dead boring, and then feel sympathy for them. Because nobody wants to have to tell their dear friend, "Thank you so much for doing the reading! I apologize in advance for the gazelle thing. IT ISN’T OUR FAULT, I SWEAR."

The priest incorporated both our written statements into a homily that was deeply personal, sweet, and funny — unintentionally, like when he mixed up our occupations, and intentionally, when he delivered our gentle penned teasings with the right dry humor.

Hc_laugh

Hc_momanddad

Kevin and I laughed the entire time, as did the congregation, and I will never, ever forget the rush of love and support I felt in those moments. It’s like every person in the room was at once hugging us, standing alongside us, pressing our hands into each other’s and blessing what we were about to do. It had real power, that laughter, and real affection. And that, in the end, wiped away all my worries about how to make the day really be "us"; as my friend Michele said, "Of course you guys were laughing. Of course you made us laugh with you. That’s how it had to be. That’s you." What an extraordinary compliment.

My other favorite memory: The priest never actually said, "I now pronounce you man and wife; you may kiss the bride." Instead, after the exchange of rings, he leaned in and whispered, "May I conclude?" Flustered, we nodded. So he began to introduce us by name as a married couple, and Kevin and I just stared at each other, wondering what to do. And so, overeager, I blurted, "Just kiss me!"

Hc_kiss

He did.

Getting Ready

With the exception of a few aforementioned and unnecessary floral headaches, I was a very calm bride. Right up until the end. Right up until the night where I needed sleep the most.

I’d like to think Kevin and I have some kind of psychic bond, because he too tossed and turned all night until finally dozing off at 6 a.m., not long before his alarm would squawk him back into consciousness. But really, I think we were both just preoccupied with all the things we needed to remember, or at least desperately didn’t want to forget. For me, it was idiotic nonsense pumped into my head by Karen The Church Coordinator, like whether it was actually correct for us to kneel during the gospel ("Why would we stand while the congregation sits, and then kneel when the congregation stands? WHY??" my frantic mind would scream), and whether we needed to change the order in which the bridesmaids would enter and/or stand… Essentially, little things that became Big Things during the rehearsal kept me awake that final night with a jittery, jumpy stomach and a quickly ticking pulse.

That’s why I am thrilled we planned Saturday as we did: complete relaxation and pampering in our suite at the Bel Age, which is where Julie and I stayed leading up to the wedding. I sensed that surrounding myself with my bridesmaids would be the best antidote to any tension I’d build up, and I was right. We had all morning to get five of the seven of us all coiffed up, and for at least three of us to get our faces professionally painted and pretty. So one by one as the girls all arrived, I gave them their gift — monogrammed robes and slippers — and we hung out and ate muffins, mini-sandwiches, veggies and dip, and fruit, putting our feet up and relaxing until it was our turn in one of the chairs.

Being with my girls completely eradicated all the butterflies from the night before. Really, short of bursting out with blue vows, nothing we could screw up at the ceremony would be disrespectful, and no one else would notice. Nobody except Karen would be keeping score. Hell, half the people at the rehearsal who heard the directions probably never actually digested her disastrous little lesson, so no worries there. Having my best girlfriends — the Bitch Posse and its East Coast annex — plus my awesome mother there to chat, laugh, gossip, and crack jokes all morning lent the suite an amazingly light-hearted atmosphere and it was absolutely the best gift any of them could have gotten me (although Pittsburgh Steelers bedsheets are pretty top-notch, Jen…). At one point I just stopped and looked around at them chatting with Jenna, the hair stylist, and TC, the fabulous soul who did my makeup (and proffered eyelashes and a swipe of the brush to everyone else), and saw my gorgeous, happy sisters laughing like they’d known my gorgeous, happy bitches for ages, and I felt for the first of many times that day a simultaneous sense of completeness and sorrow that it doesn’t always get to be like this.

Group_bed_3

The memories are patchy and out of sequence. I remember seeing Alison with her hair up for the first time since her own wedding, and even then it wasn’t really up, and being so proud of how amazing she looked. I remember how convinced Julie was that the dress didn’t flatter her, and how utterly wrong she was. I recall feeling a stab of love and pride every time I laid eyes on the girls in various stages of getting ready. I remember watching Carrie do Jen’s makeup by the light through the bedroom window, her own little semi-pro cosmetics station paralleling the one in the other room. I remember my mother sitting down timidly in the makeup chair while TC glued on those little lashes, one by one, and how we all gasped when Mom stood back up and smiled nervously at us, unaware of how beautiful she was. I remember getting my hair done and hearing Jessica yelp when she saw my dress for the first time.

Jess_dress_1

I remember missing Kevin a lot, because I’d been living at the hotel the past few days and we’d only seen each other at the planned evening events, much less had any time to get lost in each other during all the hoo-ha; it was weird to be disconnected from him during the week preceding us being united for life. I remember wondering how Kevin was feeling as he sat upstairs playing poker with the guys, and how proud I was when I heard my father and my brother-in-law were the last two standing, having shown the others how it’s done. I remember feeling the most like a bride when my hair was done and my face was done, and I was staring at my dress feeling my heart pound. I remember the noise — a happy cacophany. I remember my father seeing me for the first time, and the self-conscious but wide-as-a-mile smile that spread on his face, and how he tends to laugh when he’s not sure how else to express pride.

And I remember this really amazing moment outside on the patio. My photographer was snapping some single portraits of me before the ceremony, and I was facing a group of balconies. All of a sudden I saw my brother-in-law, who couldn’t be more dear to me if he were my blood relative, standing on his room’s terrace with the sweetest, proudest look on his face. The reason that moment is special to me is not because I think I am so incredible or anything, but because it reminded me that Mike really is the same as a blood relative; he’s my brother of 12 years, he’s my friend, and he’s a son to my parents, he’s a father to my nieces and the best husband to my sister, and our lives would lack texture if they lacked him. And so in that moment, I realized anew that marrying Kevin was extending our family yet again, and that some day he’d be a brother to my sisters, just as Julie’s fiance soon will be, and that my family was ready to open up and embrace them both. It was just a real, sharp sensation of what my family was, is, and will become. It felt like a living, breathing organism in a strange but pretty powerful way, and I almost started to cry as I stood there beaming back at him.

In fact, most of what I remember from the morning are feelings. I was hopeful, sunny, light, excited, eager, and overwhelmed by how much I felt for all the people passing through my life that day, either for the first time in years or as part of the daily rituals of my LA world. It sounds so saccharine, but I didn’t realize until I went through it just how affecting it is to greet people who’ve flown in from every which direction just to give you a hug, or to support your parents. Some of that actually made me the happiest — seeing Mom and Dad warmly greeting people who were our American family when we lived in England, or getting enthusiastic bear hugs from the parents of my college roommate — people who came as much, and maybe even more so, as a show of affection for them. I’m proud of my parents and I love watching them feel loved.

All this emotional muddle, and I hadn’t even hit the church yet.

I can really make a meal out of things, can’t I? My apologies; I just need to write it out for myself, and I apologize if you want me to shut my pie hole. I promise I’ll shut it soon. Hee.

Wedding Hijinks

Up until about a week before my wedding, I was calm. And probably would have stayed that way if not for a couple people from the church.

The experience with my church has been hilarious. In retrospect. The cast of characters includes Una, the elderly church secretary who doesn’t really quite know what’s going on and never returns your calls even when she promises to; the Monsignor, who doesn’t like talking to people and with whom you can only chat if you catch him on the short walk between church and his residence, and even then most of what you say is delivered to his back; the wedding coordinator, who was brought on as a pinch-hitter and who made such a meal out of things that it’s a wonder she didn’t get indigestion at the rehearsal, and who was also notoriously inaccurate about what she was telling us anyway; and the florist, who is really just a tangential player in this little soap opera, but he gets credit anyway.

1) The Monsignor.

Father Murphy gives interesting sermons — it’s not often you get one on the life of poet W.H. Auden, for instance — but he is a man of few words. As my mother put it, who is of Irish descent herself, "He’s got to be the only Irish priest in the world who doesn’t like the sound of his own voice." His face is often arranged in an expression of quiet bemusement and/or inscrutability. He inspires in me that most deadly of social flubs: verbal diarrhea. I so desperately want to engage him and make things easy that I just start talking to fill the silence, and then I can’t stop. To wit: As we followed him into his office one day to get some paperwork, I was so overcome by the awkward silence as we gave chase that I blurted out, "GOD, what a beautiful day," then gagged in mortification at having taken the Lord’s name in vain in front of the priest who was three weeks away from marrying us. Or there was the conversation Kevin and I had with him back in October, when we were trying to get permission to be married in his church; he asked us questions about whether we could support each other and we joked and joshed in fine fashion until we realized that he was being deadly serious and had taken me rather concernedly at my word when I said, "Are you kidding? He’s WAY spendier than I am!"

He also prescribes Monday night meditation for anything: baptisms, weddings, godparenting, you name it. We went whenever we could — which wasn’t often, given that it starts while we’re usually still at work — and noticed that every week, there is always somebody who is thoroughly confused about why he or she is there. "Is this… class?" the person invariably whispers to another attendee, or to Father Murphy himself, who usually just grunts, "Yes." But we did manage to go, collectively, about seven times, either together or apart — this in addition to attending mass here and there and greeting him afterward. To his credit he remembered our names. So we were amused one night when Kevin went a few weeks prior to the wedding and Father Murphy asked him, "Now, where are you getting married?" The following week, he called me Ashley.

He asked Kevin and I to write personal statements about each other that he could incorporate into his sermon. I realized what Kevin’s had led with when, a few days before the wedding, Father Murphy called me and said immediately, "So, you’re a Notre Dame fan?"

What followed was the longest conversation either of us has ever had with him, and it included more sentences strung together than the sum of ANY of our other interactions. He talked about the Blue-Gold scrimmage (slated for our wedding day), he talked about recruits, Joe Montana, Charlie Weis… he went on and on. Somewhere in the middle he stopped and asked me if there was anything I liked about Kevin other than his sense of humor, "because there ARE other qualities," and I rambled an answer that satisfied his curiosity enough that his reply was, "So, Jerome Bettis is going to be there for the scrimmage this weekend."

At the rehearsal, he asked me which vows we wanted, and whether I’d heard that ND was about to get the youngest of the Clausen brothers to sign on at QB. That was all.

A curious man.

2) The wedding coordinator.

Due in part to Monsignor Murphy’s decided lack of interest in communication, nobody at my church actually knew much about what happens in a wedding ceremony that doesn’t include the actual Mass portion. To glean any inkling at all, I had to go to a Christian bookstore and buy a pamphlet called "Together For Life" that had a very helpful selection of readings (confirming the unfortunate fact that "my lover is like a gazelle" is indeed the only Old Testament reading one can stomach, because as ridiculous as it is, it’s the only one that doesn’t promote the subordination of women) and which told me everything — and then some — that I needed to customize. Of course, it ended with, "Your priest will ask for you this information," which never happened and was never going to happen, so I really just had no clue. Adding fuel was the fact that the church’s regular wedding coordinator was going to be on vacation.

Somehow, and I’m unclear how, they dug up a woman named Karen who allegedly had done something like this before and would be helping me organize things for my wedding. Karen had a sing-songy voice and her answering machine said only, "It’s another wonderful day! Leave a message!" She had suggestions for how to incorporate a unity candle into the ceremony and claimed she’d be getting a detailed rundown from Monsignor so that we’d all be on the same page. She would also run my rehearsal and be there for the ceremony. Helpful, right?

I can’t fault her for failing to get Monsignor for a heart-to-heart, but I will say this: The woman was totally ridiculous. I wrote her an entire document laying out who the wedding parties were, their relations to me and Kevin, and how we wanted them to process in and out of the church, and why. This confused her so thoroughly that I explained it to her four more times, on four separate occasions — one of which was in the pews right before the rehearsal was to begin. Her standard response: either "Oh! Riiiight…" or "Okaaaaaay…" in that light lilt with the slight uptick at the end, which indicates that she really just has no idea what you mean, or worse, thinks you have lost your mind. She pronounces the hell out of that ellipsis.

She was just FULL of illogical things. For one, she had the procession with only three pews between each person; that made for a lightning-fast procession indeed (we changed it on her at the last second on the wedding day, with Lauren getting to inform her gleefully that we’d made the executive decision to space it out more).

Another one: I had six bridesmaids, including the maid of honor. I lined them up going tallest to shortest from the outside in, with Lauren being intended for the leftmost side and Alison for the rightmost side — although she wasn’t shortest, she is my sister, so I wanted her standing next to my maid of honor Julie, who would in turn be closest to me. Ergo, I designed the processional order with Lauren entering first, figuring that — logically — she would reach the altar, bow, and then file down to the leftmost place, with the other bridesmaids lining up next to her, left to right, ending with Alison and then Julie, who would have to travel the least distance and would be standing closest to the center. Did I explain that clearly? Probably not, because it’s confusing, but bear with me.

Karen instead planted Lauren at the rightmost spot, and had the other bridesmaids filing in and squeezing past her to fill up the space from right to left. Which makes NO LOGICAL SENSE. So of course this ended with Alison standing furthest away from me and Julie, which is not what I intended. So when it was Julie’s turn to walk up, I asked her if she’d correct Alison’s position. Bless her, when Julie got up front and told Karen that we wanted Alison to be close to center, the poor creature blew a gasket. She could not understand. "It just won’t look right," she panicked in that breathy way of hers. Julie explained that it’s because Alison is family, and tried to explain that it’s also because I had designed the processional order to happen differently, but that didn’t wash; it took 10 minutes before Julie flatly said, "Heather would really like it to work this way, so let’s try and make it work and it will make her happy." That shut up Karen. Temporarily.

Once the wedding parties were up there on the altar, they were positioned in two diagonal lines so that they framed me and Kevin and the priest, rather than extending out next to us. That’s due to the layout of the church. Karen gave them strict instructions to face the front of the church — face forward, basically — which meant that a) the bridesmaids’ backs would be to the lectern, and b) they would be facing the wall during the vows. When we asked if everybody could please be allowed to turn and face us and the priest during the vows, Karen had to take a moment to think about it. One of my maids finally said, "Yeah, I definitely want to watch the vows — that makes no sense." Karen finally told them it would be okay if they "pivoted" in order to watch the vows, but only if they all did it at the same time. She then suggested I put my unity candle on the floor — the unity candle holder, mind you, is three inches tall — and when I asked her how we would handle lighting something that would be so close to the ground, she said, "Hmm. That’s tricky." Yes, Karen, it is. She also changed her mind several times about when we were supposed to kneel or stand, constantly referred to my organist as a "he" despite the fact that I told her the organist would be female, and generally forgot everything I told her moments after hearing it.

The capper: On my wedding day, at noon, she called me while I was in the makeup chair and said, "I need to know whether you want your wedding party to pivot so they can face the lecturn for the readings." Biting my lip, I replied politely, "You know what? I’ll just ask them to come to a consensus, and that way they can do whatever feels right to them." Her response: "Oh. Okaaaaay…"

At that point, we had to resist the strong temptation to turn my procession into "Things We Can Do To Make Karen Black Out." Maybe it sounds like we were being nitpicky, but she turned the rehearsal into the most confusing tangle of a mess and although I appreciated that she was donating her time, she was absolutely ridiculous about it — and more than a bit rude, as after the wedding, she scolded Julie for not fluffing my train enough. Huh? Pipe down, incompetent lady.

3) The Church Lady and the Florist (and The Return of Karen).

I decided to keep it simple for flower arrangements: Two on either side of the high part of the altar, three aisle nosegays on either side, and then our bouquets. I didn’t want to detract from the hotness of my ladies, you see.

The wedding was scheduled for the weekend after Easter Sunday. On Easter Monday, the church secretary phoned and rather shirtily informed me that my florist had contacted her about decorating the church that upcoming Saturday for the wedding.

"But the church is already decorated," she sniffed, aghast. "I don’t know if you’ve seen it, of course, but it’s decorated from Easter and we always leave that up for about 10 days."

My reactions: 1) Way to insinuate that you don’t think we went to mass, lady; 2) Thank GOD we went to mass that weekend; 3) I’ve been in the books for SIX MONTHS NOW as getting married the weekend after Easter and she is only NOW telling me that the church will already be full of other flowers?; and 4) Awesome, because the church looked fantastic all decked out with lilies, and we would be very lucky to have them present for our ceremony.

Still, I managed to remain calm — I mean, seriously, those flowers looked amazing and we had even remarked to each other that nothing we could do on our wedding day could possibly equal how majestic it looked on Easter Sunday. So I told the florist to send our big altar arrangements to the reception instead, and went on my merry way…

… until Una called me Wednesday morning and told me that I should really rethink my plan to use the church flowers — MY plan — because all the flowers would in fact NOT be up for 10 days, but would instead be totally dead and brown by Friday. She decided I should call the florist to find out his schedule and his plans.

Sigh.

But, okay, because it would be worth it to have those flowers everywhere if possible, right? Una suggested that perhaps only some of them would need to be pruned, but seemed unclear on whether the others would be replaced or simply removed.

But, and there is always, always a "but" with Una, she gave me the wrong number for the florist — unless he really is a dermatologist, and merely moonlights at flower shops. And Karen was no help either, as I had to explain the issue to her five times, although to give her credit she did put in a call to the church about it.

Time passed. Friday morning rolled around and nobody had given me an answer about the flowers, and at this point, I really had no clue whether I’d have a bunch of rotting Easter lilies on my hands or an empty church or what.

Here, I should make it clear that we are talking about a lot of flowers. That church had baskets of flowers on every pillar on each side of the church, two huge arrangements up on the altar, four big arrangements below the… altar table (man, I am an a-hole for not knowing what that’s called), eight huge arrangements along the base of the altar, and plants and flowers adorning the entire atrium.

Which is why I found it so delightful when Karen came up with the awesome idea that maybe my florist should take it upon himself ("Herself," I interjected, perhaps with more attitude than the occasion required) to make time to do all the pruning and removing and replacing.

Excellent idea, Karen. Sure! I’ll just call my florist the day before the wedding and say, "Hey, just load up the truck with a bunch of lilies and then on Saturday, cart away a bunch of arrangements you had no part in creating, and replace them with more lilies! Thanks!" Even more awesomely, Una and the church florist both separately suggested that idea as well: "Just have her bring a bunch more lilies to replace them — it’ll be easy, and she can just get rid of the dead arrangements," the florist said.

Well, I blew a gasket. "I have already paid for my flowers. I don’t think it’s my florist’s job to take care of dead flowers that she wasn’t responsible for in the first place, and I really don’t think it’s as easy as all that for her to summon up and bring over a bunch of replacement Easter lilies on half a day’s notice — at great personal cost either to her or to me — all because you guys don’t know what’s going on with your flowers despite having had a long time to figure it out."

Okay, that last part came out a little more politely, but still.

Luckily, he agreed that he would in fact proceed with doing the job he was being paid to do, and come to the church Saturday morning to cart out anything dead and brown. Since it was unclear whether that would include the two massive arrangements up high on the altar, my mother called my florist and asked if my original arrangements might be available after all, and Ann totally undertood and agreed to improvise once she arrived at the church and gauged the flower situation for herself. But, I kid you not, on Saturday morning my mom took time out of her day and walked down to the church at 10 a.m. to make sure that everything had been taken care of and the day wouldn’t turn into a funeral for nature.

It all worked out — he came, he removed the ones along the base of the alter just like we thought he might, he left the baskets and the wreaths on the chandeliers, and my florist booted their altar arrangements in favor of hers and added our aisle nosegays. It was beautiful, in the end.

Church_1

[Click on the photo to see it properly.]

So why am I complaining? I’m not, really, so much as I’m trying to share the comedy of errors. Because I am lucky that this cast of weird characters — and all the truly unnecessary last-minute hand-wringing they caused me — are really the only things that went anywhere close to awry.

And, to show myself and anyone else out there who might be planning a wedding or any kind of event that the things that appear to go wrong are always, always, nothing more than good stories and inside jokes once it’s all said and done. They make the day truly yours. They add personality. They’re just a few of the millions of hues that color the day.

What a month

Wow.

That’s really the word for it. All that planning, all that hair-splitting over dumb stuff — processional orders, insane church miscommunications, logistics — is finished, and all that’s left is a memory of one of the best days of my life, framed with days and nights full of friends, family, and laughs on one end, and a honeymoon on the other end.

I don’t know where to start talking about everything, but I know I’ll find the place eventually. I do want to talk about it; I want to put it down on paper before anything fades. But right now I’m still digesting everything. I’m glancing down at my left-hand ring finger and marveling at the band sitting so casually there. I’m looking at everyone’s photos from the big weekend and wishing I could be there all over again. I’m remembering that this time last week we were in Bora Bora in an overwater bungalow, staring at an unfettered view of the lagoon as the ocean passed beneath us. I’m getting misty at the photo of me getting up to dance wth my father after his personal toast, my face struggling to recover from having contorted into tears. I’m revelng in how beautiful my girls looked, how stunning my sisters were, what a knockout my mother was, how brilliant my father was, how perfect Kevin looked, and how much we laughed all day, through the ceremony on into the night. I’m pinching myself that any of it even happened at all.

I do remember being really worried, when all this began, about putting my stamp on the wedding. I’m not necessarily somebody who’s got a particular style — you wouldn’t necessarily see something and say, "That’s so Heather," for instance, and a recognizable you-ness comes in handy when trying to create a memorable day. I’m not saying it’s required, just that in my mind I really wanted people to feel like the ceremony and the reception were unmistakeably Us. I fretted about it here and there but put it out of my mind for the most part, and in the end, it all somehow gelled into an event that really did have our touch all over it. From the constant laughter during the ceremony to the intentionally odd and hopefully amusing table names and explanations for them to the band playing "Fame" to the cake… it just all ended up the most beautiful night I could’ve imagined (my one wish: to do my food-tasting all over again, because I didn’t think enough about seasonal food, and the side-dishes changed for the blander with the beef entree, although the meat was still great), and more importantly, it felt 100 percent like OUR night.

We’re still quite giddy.

Big Money, No Whammies.

I remember when I was in college, and I had to write a check for something like $1400 and change to a friend of my sister’s — long story, but basically, I was using his car for the summer and we rented him a replacement (I was too young to rent), and I had to reimburse him, and the net effect is that I wrote the check wrong. I had never written a check for more than $1000, so when I wrote out the number in longhand, I skipped the "four-hundred" part, and a few weeks later his bank called him and was like, "Yeah… we can’t really accept this."

I’ve come a long way since then with my check-writing, thanks to the wedding. I’ve written some monstrous checks. I have to drop one off today for $3400 that, when I saw the total, actually made me go, "Oh, good, a smallish one."

That makes it sound like our budget for the wedding is a lot bigger than it is. It’s not that I’m sitting here doling out five grand here, five grand there; I actually think my reaction to this check comes from the fact that a) it’s for less than I thought it would be, and b) it’s the final payment on the reception space and catering, so the two that I wrote to this company that preceded this one were indeed a lot larger.

But still, I’m hoping this experience doesn’t spit me out with a warped perspective or anything. You always worry that suddenly, a thousand bucks will seem like a pittance.

I’m pretty sure I won’t become that person, though.

Printing Woes

My tablecard test-run went SO badly.

I’m trying to save money by designing my own table cards, placecards, menu card, and wedding program. The lady who did my invitations did a nice job but I’ve had so many problems with that shop concerning deadlines that I just don’t want to pay it more money to do these. So I created a design that admittedly robs from their wedding invitation design (and I feel no remorse, given that my invitations have been "out" for a MONTH and still one or two haven’t gotten to people, and she’s blaming the post office, and that might be valid, but I’ve not heard of that being this much of a problem before so I just kind of want to screw her a little and is that so wrong?).

Anyway, they’re largely done. When I did my Save The Date Christmas card inserts, I designed them at 200 dpi and went and printed them at Kinko’s with the help of a nice employee, and they turned out fine. So I designed these at 200 dpi as well, and took them to a different, now-closer Kinko’s, and printed them out on the color laser printer just to see how they would look. The guy recommended I do that and then make color copies onto the nicer cardstock I want.

Well, they looked awful. Although the right size, the text often looked faint and/or slightly blurry. You could see the resolution was poor, and the colors looked completely off. Nobody would help me with whether that was my problem (although I borrowed the colors using the eyedropper tool, so they should have been identical to the invitation), and they all suggested I redesign everything at 600 dpi because that would solve my problems.

I did that yesterday afternoon, and did a test print on Kevin’s laser printer just to make sure I had the sizing right. But I didn’t. It was all effed up.

When I make something at 600 dpi (in Photoshop — it’s the only "design" program I have), if I put in that it’s 2 inches, it always looks WAY more massive than that on my screen, and when I open the file or send it to someone. So I made the table cards as 5 x 7, which of course was enormous, and then reduced the image size until they appeared, at 100% magnification, to be the right size on my screen (which has been the key before, with 200 dpi stuff), meaning that it looked 5 x 7 even though my Image Size window said it was 0.65 inches. But when I went to print it by double-clicking on the JPEG file, it came out enormous; when I inserted the JPEG into a Word document, it came across as 0.65 inches wide.

I’m thoroughly confused. Does anyone out there have any advice for me?

And does anyone know of a better printing place to go than Kinko’s? I thought about going to a small local paperie of some sort, but they’ll probably charge me an arm and a leg, and I don’t really need them to design anything for me so much as facilitate printing.

I suppose I’ll figure it out. I just need time… etc. And, we’re back to THAT again.

My Moment of “Quiet”

I have the house to myself this morning and I’m writing this as a way of forcing myself to take a quiet moment to think. Otherwise, I’ll be railroading along to the next thing and I’ll forget to breathe.

This morning was the first day in a very long time that I haven’t woken up to an alarm. And that’s even a little bit of a lie, too, since Kevin’s alarm went off this morning and I heard it, but the difference is that I had the luxury of ignoring it for once. These are the first daylight hours I’ve been alone here in, oh, I don’t know how long — I’m used to being by myself at night, since Kevin’s been working until 1 a.m. on a regular basis — and the only sound is the faint strains of the afternoon’s NCAA Tournament games playing on the little TV perched on my desk.

There is so much going on, so much to do, that I can feel my chest getting heavy sometimes. Work is flirting with shredding the few strings left that yoke me to my sanity, we are in somewhat serious danger of missing a delivery date for an episode whose air date would then be compromised, and there’s another one coming down the pike with a similar problem. Jessica and I have a project that’s been pushed to the back burner despite the fact that we both know we need to sit down and bang it out, but the big question is, When?  We’re under 40 days to the wedding, and I need to name all my tables and finish making the cards. I’m going to Kinko’s this afternoon for a test run printing up the menu, one sample table card, two sample place cards, and a sample program. I can’t get my priest to tell me what, exactly, our wedding ceremony will consist of since it’s not a Nuptial Mass. I keep having to cut out on work or arrive late because of various wedding appointments. I just got fitted for the first time in my dress and realized that, although it looks fine, it’s not gonna be so pretty when I’m sitting down and then standing back up again — you know how sometimes clothes crease around your physical flaws when you do that? Yeah — and that I need to drink nothing but water (won’t happen) and go to the gym every night (can’t happen) and eat only carrots (yeah right) for the next month. And it’s tax season so we have to prep our documents for a meeting with our accountant on Wednesday, which, yes, means leaving work early again.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s exhilarating, but there is so much going on that I feel a constant frown etched into my forehead. The plus to all this frenzy is that when Kevin and I get to the honeymoon, we are going to be so worn out and spent that the 10 days of relaxation will be so well-used and appreciated, even more so than if it were a relaxed ramp-up to April 22.

Oh, God, I just remembered I need to assign people to tables.

We also did our Catholic Church marriage-preparation course this weekend. Often it’s a two-day retreat, but since we’re both run off our feet these days, we did the one-day version. Everyone who’s done the weekend encounter raves about it, no matter how cynical or sarcastic their personality, so we were secretly looking forward to some of the more in-depth discussions. We were told we’d be asked to open up to each other about everything from our plan for religion in our lives (or lack thereof), our family plans and prospective parenting styles, our ideals and worries, and even things like how much money it’s okay for the other person to go spend in one swoop without checking first. We’d heard it was powerful and emotional and that it elicited conversations that ended up being informative and surprising and helpful.

Yeah. That’s if you do the weekend retreat. Ours was beyond wretched, although the plus side is that we’ll be laughing about it for years — and in the one interactive exercise we did do, we both placed a high priority on humor and laughing in a relationship, and in loving and feeling loved. So there’s that.

They started us off with a marriage therapist who looked like an emaciated Anne Meara by way of a Dallas socialite, and who spoke at the pace of a lazy snail. She did at least have us practice communication exercises, and discuss the aforementioned qualities of loving and being loved, but that pretty much ended our flirtation with interactivity. Next up was a priest who was supposed to speak with us about spirituality in and of marriage, but who took that absurdly literally and only spoke to us about what he thinks are meaningful adjustments to make to our marriage ceremony ("Don’t do the unity candle at the ceremony — do it at the reception so that everyone remembers Christ," he said. Except, it’s a candle. Most people will look at it and go, "Look at the pretty candle!" They’re not going to go, "Ah, they’re lighting it to remind us of God." But thanks anyway, somewhat-bossy Father).

He never once spoke to us about incorporating spirituality, particularly for people with varying beliefs, into marriage. He never even had us do the questionnaire that was provided (which we could do, but come on, nobody likes homework) and never had us even turn to each other and talk frankly for five minutes about whether we see religion playing a role in our lives as married people or as parents. Nothing. It was an hour-long lecture.

After lunch, we got what we figured was going to be a propaganda lecture on natural family planning- — i.e., the rhythm method and other scientific evaluations of ovulation, for safe sex without contraception. This old lady in her 70s came out — a former family planner at Cedars-Sinai — and proceeded to sigh that the rhythm method really isn’t very good considering that they used it in her day, and she has six kids and knows some very weary people with as many as 14. Then she sort of complained that the Pope didn’t address this before he died, and that the new Pope has been silent about modernizing the Church’s stance against contraception. She then launched into a slide show that was all backwards because she’s unfamiliar with Power Point, during which she attempted to explain how to discern whether you’re ovulating by taking temperature and analyzing… fluids.

It was at this point that the entire room started to blanch, because of the number of times she said the word "mucus." She described it, she showed us pictures, she explained more than we ever wanted to know about what it means in different forms, and we all were biting our cheeks and looking as mortified as if we were high-schoolers in sex-ed class.

It was also at this point that I looked across the room and noticed that one of the engaged women was very, very pregnant.

The mucus went on and on and on… at one point she said she’s had women actually call her and scream, "I’ve got it! I’ve got the right mucus!" This is when we slowly started to lose it — here, and when she told us that preventing sex by "withdrawal" doesn’t work because sperm are "mischievous little guys — oh, the stories I could tell you… [pause, smile] Yeah. But I can’t." Another high point was when she asked us all whether we knew what withdrawal meant, and then, after a lengthy and disgusting focus on mucus, found herself worried that describing the act of pulling out before ejaculation was too gross for the group.

By now we were totally in love with her, because she clearly was like, "Yeah. whatever, you don’t have to do this, and actually condoms and diaphragms are pretty good and so is the Pill, but at least now you know," and she also displayed flashes of knowing how hilariously awful the subject matter was.

And if I had a choice between sitting through her lecture again or that of our next guest, she would win hands-down: Next up was this crusty old economist who clearly hadn’t altered his lecture in thirty years to account for things like the Internet, and credit cards, and equality between men and women. He made frequent "jokes" about how really wished the balance was better between his five daughters and only one son, he told us that we have to put all our money in a joint-checking account and then keep the checkbook in a "neutral drawer" where no one can use it without consulting the other, to prevent hidden expenditures (Which, hello? Is the checkbook really the primary way to buy things any more?), and then spent 45 minutes telling us that we owe it to ourselves to pay attention at the supermarket, and that if we find one 10-lb bag of potatoes that weighs only 8, we should keep weighing bags until we find three that are less than 10-lbs and then force the produce department to clear them all away on pain of being reported to the Board of Weights and Measures. He told us three anecdotes about times he bought something and then watched as it was rung up at a higher price than the sale price, and basically told us that keeping the supermarket on its toes was our best financial-planning strategy. He then spent 5 minutes on money markets and two on insurance. He was SO embarrassingly antiquated and dated. We had a budget worksheet that would have asked us each to estimate how our monthly household income would divide over a bunch of different areas, with an eye toward helping us more accurately plan our lives, and he never even MENTIONED it. He spoke for an HOUR AND A HALF. He told us to get this book of Really Helpful Consumer Information and then every quarter, send back the coupon so we’d get another one… except this book has essentially been replaced in real life by Google, and ALL of that stuff is published on the Internet, so shut your face about the coupon, sir, and come on into the light of the Technology Age. Sheesh.

After that we split off into small groups to speak with married couples in the parish, and our couple was awesome, but we were all so fried by being lectured to for three hours in a row that nobody really had much to say. And most of what we were supposed to talk about was, "Were you surprised by anything you learned today?" Except that we didn’t LEARN or TALK all day, and this couple was like, "Yeah, you really should complain about that on your evaluation sheet, because that’s not good."

No, it’s not. But we have our certificate and we CAN be married now, and so here I am back on that train. At this point, I’m trying not to care about anything except fitting into my dress and looking pretty for my boy, but then there’s wedding favors and first dances and song lists for the band and table cards and place cards and blah blah blah, my head is going to explode.

And on top of THAT is the whole pressure of making airable episodes of TV without missing their actual air dates. Never had trouble with that before this season. It’s turning out okay, but our schedule imploded so spetacularly in the first half of the season that we’re truly scrambling here. Hooray!

May we pause for a second to talk about the Big, Buckin’ Chicken commercial that’s airing right now for Burger King? What is that? It’s sort of hilarious — fake ballads usually are to me — but I also find myself not inconsiderably confused by it. At least it’s not an ad for Chico’s. Because a Chico’s Kind of Day is a Self-Mutilation Kind of Day for me.

I think I need to go eat some lunch. I’m going to eat carbs, too, because you know what? Crash diets and crazy diets and diets based on elimination of foods… all those things, unless you have legitimate health reasons behind it, are CRAZY. I get so impatient with it. Self-denial is a load of bull. Moderation I buy, but not all this screaming and gnashing of teeth about total elimination of X and Y and OH MY GOD, I ATE CARBS, and anti-starch rants, and shit. You know what’s good? Potatoes, and I’m never giving them up. If I had to be me on carbs or Nicole Richie, I’d rather be me, thanks. I’ll take the flesh.

Now, I’m officially going to go stuff some bread in my face and love it. Punchy, much? Maybe. But my quiet moment is slipping away and I can feel it, and now I’m grasping at one last moment of peace. And peace, my friends, comes in the form of salami on bread.

Groomsmen Gifts

Well, I may have had little success in deciding what to get my ladies, but you’ll be thrilled to know I have uncovered a bunch of very viable options for Kevin to give his lads:

1) FEET FIRST – SEWER COVER THROW RUGS. Yes, you can get a rug made of real recycled truck tires that’s made to look like a manhole cover. I particularly like "FOUL SEWER – LONDON, ENGLAND" and would like to put it in my living room.

2) BACON BANDAGES. Nothing heals a wound like a slab of bacon. The tin advertises a free toy inside but nobody ever tells you what it is, which … well, scares me a little. But if ever you were looking for an excuse to take up cutting, I think this is it: the chance to litter your arm with bacon.

3) BEER HAT. It’s plush. It’s great at parties. And it has a secret pocket. In many ways this hat is identical to a vagina.

Screw it, maybe I’ll just get all this for the bridesmaids.

Big Step

Invitations are officially being stuffed right now. They’ll be sent at the end of the week.

It’s all getting very, very real. On tap next: getting our engagement photo shot (which I would totally skip if it weren’t included in the photo deal, and also, it will make my mother and grandmother very happy, and that is important), and tasting the food we are thinking about serving.

Jason Lee Still Isn’t Invited To The Wedding, Though

So random — while watching My Name Is Earl the other night, we noticed they shot a scene at the site of our wedding reception. When emaciated wench Christine Taylor escorted Earl to a function at the university, and they’re in an outdoor courtyard when bees start stinging his lip and his ear, they are standing right where my guests will be enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

How very L.A.