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Archive for the ‘Wedding planning’ category

Yes, it’s true. After two months of drought, I’m blogging again. Don’t expect a deluge, however. Things are pretty busy these days.

So in the last two months we’ve moved into our new house (photos here – click on the rooms to see them) and have been having a great old time furnishing it. We’ve also found that owning a house zaps a lot of time. It’s quite something, really. We had a lovely little housewarming party on September 25 thanks to the amazing generosity of our great realtor Linda.

Also my sister Erin got married on October 2. It was a freezing cold day for an outdoor wedding, but at least it was sunny and the reception was in a cozy, closed-in shelter house complete with a fire in the fireplace. The bride was glowing all day. It was a great celebration!

And we continue to pull together all the last-minute details for our own wedding celebration on October 22. I’m really looking forward to it, but I’m also looking forward to it being done and our lives finally slowing down a bit. It’s amazing what a hectic, busy month September was! We’ll be honeymooning in northern Michigan (Bellaire, Charlevoix, Petoskey, Mackinac, etc.) – a location neither of us has been to. Should be a good time and beautiful that time of year. And even if it rains all week, it will be a whole six days together with nothing else to do!

In the meantime, James is improving his computer programming skills and looking for work – full time or freelance. If you need a web developer and have any leads, please get in touch with him. He’s set up a portfolio (with all his contact info) over here.

That’s a summary of the news from the last two months. I’ll post after our October 22 event if not before!

p.s. No word on James’ green card yet. The vigil continues…

…I thee wed

Well, we managed to go ahead and get ourselves hitched last weekend.

James’ mum and brother Matthew arrived on time in Chicago on Friday evening. (Unfortunately due to heavy Chicago traffic, we did not. Oh well – we weren’t too terribly late.) Although they managed to make their connection in Raleigh with only a 45 minute layover – pretty tight when customs and immigration are involved – their luggage did not, so they had to wait until the following morning to have it delivered to the airport in Grand Rapids. Thankfully they didn’t have to go the whole weekend without it!

On Saturday James and I took his mum and brother and my mom to a number of places around Grand Rapids – Calvin College, Church of the Servant, the Comfort Inn where our guests will be staying in October, Target so they could buy Oreos for James’ sister Susan, Schuler Books and Music, Art of the Table (which is owned by friends of ours), and finally Martha’s Vineyard – a neighborhood specialty beverage and grocery store. Then back to our apartment to do a little decorating and pick up my brother Jeff before heading out for a lovely dinner at the Bluewater Grill. My dad joined us back at the apartment after dinner as he had had to work that day.

We went back and forth a few times on whether to do the wedding ceremony inside or outside on the deck. The day had been overcast and it had rained a bit off and on. It was still sprinkling a little when we finally decided at the last minute to go ahead and do the ceremony on the deck (which we had decorated with white lights and flowers and plants – pictures coming soon). Thankfully, the rain stopped just as we got started. And despite the weather, we had a lovely little ceremony on the deck with the seven of us. The liturgy was based on the Church of England’s wedding service with a few tweaks to make it suit us better and involve the participation all of those present.

After the ceremony we went back inside and signed the marriage certificate, then celebrated with wine, cheeses, chocolates, fruit and a few other delectables. In all, it was quite a lovely evening.

My parents and Jeff took Mum and Matthew back to Chicago on Sunday night where they joined up with my sister Dana for pizza at Giordano’s. Matthew and Mum flew back home on Monday morning so it was a really quick trip for them, but it was so wonderful that they could be there at all. Our families really enjoyed meeting each other too.

James and I headed up to Traverse City on Sunday for a few days honeymoon. We stayed at the Park Place Hotel that night, wandered around the Old Mission and Leelenau Peninsulas on Monday stopping at a few wineries including Chateau Chantal, Bowers Harbor, and Chateau Grand Traverse. We attempted to camp on Monday night but due to rain and a deflating air mattress that turned into a bit of a disaster. We managed to survive it.

So we’re really truly married. We have a marriage certificate and everything. Now to get James a greencard…

200 Days

Just noting that we are at T minus 200 days until October 22. There’s a lot to do yet – much of it is on hold until James gets here. So while I’m eager for the time to pass quickly, I’m glad to have space to enjoy the process and not feel the need to panic. We’ll see if I’m still saying that in 190 days…

I bought my veil this weekend. (For $10 at a discount craft store – thank you very much, Larissa!) That in itself might not be so momentous as to be blogworthy, but a comment that one of James’ friends made to him about my wearing a veil seeming awfully traditional has got me thinking about traditions, particularly when it comes to weddings.

I think one of the reasons that wedding planning with James has been so fun is that each of us is equally willing to toss tradition if it doesn’t suit us. We don’t see the need to have an equal number of attendants standing up with each of us, neither do we feel it’s necessary for me to have all female attendants (although I am) and James to have all male attendants (he’s not). We want to have stand up for us who we want to have stand up for us. And so we will.

I happen to like the look of a veil. I like how it makes me feel all… bridey. I’m not going to pull it down over my face when I walk down the aisle. Far be it from me to tell anyone else they shouldn’t though. It’s just not for me.

We’re going to have the music we want to have at our wedding. Some of it you may have heard at other weddings. I bet much of it you won’t have. (We’ve yet to iron out all those details.)

Some of the traditions that I want to keep are specifially American traditions (or North American traditions? don’t remember exactly what my friends from Canada have done in their weddings), and I want to keep them because they are very meaningful to me – like having James walk our grandparents and his parents down the aisle. (I want both of my parents to walk me down.) This is not generally done in Britain, however, and James was rather taken aback when I suggested it to him. He’s still not too sure about it.

Okay, partly I want to include this tradition because it’s meaningful but also just because it’s one thing (one of a very few things) I do actually want to do for tradition’s sake. Also, I know how my Oma would cluck if James didn’t walk her down the aisle

And who knows – maybe our wedding would end up looking rather different if it were taking place in the UK? I think that in the end it would be fairly similar because when it comes down to it, most of all we want our wedding to be a reflection of who we are. The best weddings I’ve been to are those where the personalities of the bride and groom – individually and as a couple – shine through.

(By the way, in case you didn’t grow up singing showtunes all the time like I did, the title of this entry is a lyric from the song “Tradition” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof.)

It has been fascinating for me over the past several months to examine the differences between US and UK culture, particularly as they relate to the whole wedding thing.

Interestingly, for a country seemingly so enamoured of pomp and circumstance, England certainly seems to be lacking in traditions and expectations when it comes to weddings. Hmm. Perhaps I should rephrase. “Lacking in…” makes it sound like it’s a bad thing, and I don’t necessarily think that’s the case. James would most certainly object to that characterization. So let me put it this way: it has been my observation that in the U.S. there is a whole heck of a lot more flapping and fuss surrounding weddings and many more traditions for every part of the process from announcements and showers to the actual ceremony itself. They don’t even really do ‘bridal’ showers as such, one factor which led to a very curious UK registry experience.

James and I decided that it would be helpful especially for our non-web savvy UK wedding guests if we registered at a UK department store. We selected John Lewis since it’s a nice store and there’s a very large one within easy walking distance of James’ house. They also happened to be advertising their Gift List services in their display windows. So on a Wednesday afternoon 45 minutes before we were scheduled to be somewhere else (which we figured would give us plenty of time to get a registry set up and scan a few gifts), we moseyed over to John Lewis, took the escalator to the top floor, and asked about setting up a gift list. We were asked to wait for the next available associate and were seated at a registry station to wait for her. Within a few moments of her joining us and starting the process, several realizations dawned on us: a) she typed verrrry slowly + b) she was not very efficient or knowledgeable of their computer system = c) this was going to take a long time. The set-up process did, in fact, eat up all of our available time and we had to dash before we had a chance to actually scan any gifts into our registry.

Throughout the process, several things struck me as very strange. First of all, the default option for when guests make purchases from the gift list is to have John Lewis collect all of the gifts at one of their locations and then a week before the wedding, ship all of the gifts to the bride and groom. We actually had to request that a pop-up note be added to our registry so that when our guests make purchases the sales associates can see that we would prefer that guests take their purchases with them. Gifts purchased online, however, apparently cannot be shipped to the buyer but will be sent to the bride and groom’s registered address one week before the wedding. (We gave them James’ parents’ address since we’ll both be here by then.)

Secondly, the gift list is only available to the guests from six weeks before the wedding through two weeks after the wedding. This will seem very strange indeed to any Americans who have done a registry and are used to it being available to the general public as soon as the registry is set up. It’s kind of annoying for us, but I guess if you don’t have showers, why would guests want to purchase a gift more than six weeks before the wedding anyway? Oh well, not much we can do there. But don’t go to expecting to be able to look up our registry before September 10. (If you’re really curious, you can look up our registries on Amazon, Crate and Barrel, or Bed, Bath and Beyond.)

Finally, if a guest attempts to purchase an item that is no longer available, John Lewis will not inform the guest that the item is, in fact, no longer available but instead will issue us a voucher for the value of that gift. That just seems kind of rude to the guests if you ask me. But that’s how they do things.

Anyway, we went back the next afternoon and registered for our bed and bath linens along with some other cool stuff that we really liked there – placemats, whiskey tumblers, teaspoons, a mortar & pestle, and Emile Henry pie plates which seem to be cheaper to buy in the UK than in the US. If you’re coming to our wedding, feel free to shop there. But not before 10th September.

This morning James and I went to a gallery about 5 minutes walk from his house and met with an artist/jewelry designer who is going to make our wedding rings. James spotted some of her work in the gallery window and really liked the look of it so he talked to the folks in the gallery who helped us arrange to meet with her. Her name is Gaby, and she bounds rather than walks.

Before we saw some of her rings up close I had a very vague idea of what I might want – and ended up with something quite different. But both of us like the rings a lot and we’re quite pleased.

The name of the gallery is one of the best parts of the whole thing – it’s the Jelly Leg’d Chicken Arts Centre. How great is that?

In eight months and four days we’ll be wearing them.

The dress

The latest development in wedding planning: I got my wedding dress.

What a completely giddy and totally bizarre experience is shopping for a wedding dress! I’m one of those girls that has been fantasizing about her wedding since she was very young. I’ve known since I was 9 years old that when I walked down the aisle it would be to the grand strains of the wedding march from The Sound of Music. And getting married at age 31 means that I’ve been to many, many other people’s weddings.

So on the one hand, putting on big, beautiful white dresses and flowy veils was an opportunity to realize what has remained in the realm of fantasy for decades. On the other hand it was bizarre to come face to face with reality after having the fantasy for so long. This really is MY wedding. Oh how weird.

Thanks to my wonderful friend (and maid of honor) Tanya, I was able to get through it without freaking out too much. And after an hour and a half and trying on six or seven dresses, I ended up with the first one I tried on. I know it’s a cliche but it actually happened that way. This is a big purchase. A girl has to be sure! (No refunds or exchanges on wedding dresses.)

And we killed two birds with one stone. We found bridesmaid dresses at the same store. Check two more things off the To Do List!

My parents came up this weekend, so early Saturday afternoon we met up at Post Family Farm to check out their grounds and facilities and to see if their 1915 barn might work for our wedding reception. We had to use our imagination a bit as there will still be a few more leaves on the trees and brighter colors in mid-October (as opposed to 8th Nov.), but it’s a beautiful property and the barn is absolutely charming! Barn.jpg

The downstairs of the barn is divided up into a few different rooms, and they are in the process of putting in brand new restroom facilities. The upstairs is a big open room where the main reception would take place. The ceiling is fairly low but there are windows all the way around and it feels quite roomy. There are hand-hewn beams and a slopey floor. It all just feels quite ancient and cozy and different!

BarnInside.jpg Annette (who I know from church) is very willing to work with us given that James won’t be able to see it until the beginning of January. We can send in the reservation form and hold off on putting down a deposit until James gets a chance to see it.

This is currently under construction: Post Family Farm but may be up and running someday.

UPDATE: The Post Family Farm website is now indeed up. And it’s lovely! Check it out.