Sunday, March 27, 2011

Who is coming when and for what and why

Joel and I are both what I like to call "extroverted introverts". While we both do just fine on public display, mingling with unfamiliar faces, entertaining crowds, and such- we are not only the type of people who feel more comfortable among small groups, but there are a very limited number of people that we feel close to.

Because of this, Joel's initial idea of "Wedding Party of The Century" soon ran its course. When it comes down to it, we really want to spend the weekend celebrating with the people we love most.

That all sounds perfectly reasonable, but its beginning to be much more difficult that I had originally thought. For the ceremony in particular, I had really hoped to avoid that feeling of "I have to invite so-and-so, even though they hardly know me, but they'd get pissed if I didn't and I'll never hear the end of it from the people I'm close to" from creeping into any part of our wedding- but most especially our ceremony.

"25 people," I said, "including us. Family only."

I have a mere five family members that I believe will be able to attend. The issue is that Joel comes from a very unique family that is simply not as compact as mine- which is none of his fault, but it leaves this grey area of members that really don't know us but may possibly throw a fit if we don't invite them.

To complicate matters more, we've both been blessed to forge "family" relationships with people who are not blood related- so what do you do when your "technically not family" is closer than your "technically are family"?

"Invite them all!" some people would say, but there is a problem with this, too. Not only would it turn into something resembling My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but after a heart-to-heart last night of what this ceremony really means to just leaves things rather awkward. The conversation went something like the following, so offer your advice as you will:

"Joel, how do you imagine this ceremony going?" I gingerly approach the topic. We've tried to discuss it before but we just end up fighting about who should be there and how the crap we are going to feed them all. I thought, perhaps, a circular way around this topic might shed some light on things.

"Oh, I don't know."

"Well, we aren't exactly going to be in a church with a string quartet and a parade of bridesmaids. So, what were you thinking?"

"I don't know, I guess we'll have to think about it." later, he implies.

"Does your family have any traditions you'd like to include?"

He shakes his head.

"Are there any traditions you'd like to start, things you've heard about that you always thought were cool?"

"We could parachute down into the courtyard." He offers.

"Maybe for the party...I was thinking the ceremony would be a bit more reverent."


"What do you see as the main purpose...or function...of the ceremony on Friday?....for instance, I really see this as something that's more for others than for us?"

"What do you mean? Don't you want to have a ceremony?"

"Of course, yes,'s a little like this: when I graduated college, the last thing in the world I wanted to do was walk. I had just been through a hellish finals week, with departments stringing me along as to if I actually was going to graduate early or not, I had no sleep...but my mom wouldn't hear of me skipping the cap and gown thing. It was only during the ceremony that I realized that this ceremony meant a lot to her and my dad.

She had suffered through years of me calling her to cry because some professor gave me a bad grade, calling her to cry because I messed up a solo in a dress rehearsal, calling her to cry because I took 21 credit hours and thought I was going to die. Damned if she wasn't at least half as stressed as I was during those college years.

It was only when I was all dressed up, waiting in a line of some-hundred people, that I realized this was my way to share what we had accomplished with her. Sometimes, you need a photo of your little girl in a funny square hat to show off- and my mom does deserve to have the proud momma moment."

Joel nods, "That makes a lot of sense. After all, I've spent two years convincing you that I love you- and we're going to have the rest of our lives together for us to show it to each's not as if the ceremony..."

"Your vows will probably make me cry, but it's not as if whatever you say at the ceremony is there to convince me that this is a good idea. We already know we want to be with each other."

"So...the ceremony is for other people- but not in a 'we're just doing this because they want us' way."

"Not at all!"

"This is a chance show the people who have raised us, shaped us, and gotten us to this point how thankful we are to have them in our lives."

I nod.

He says, "It makes a lot of sense when you look at it like that- we both have family who has loved us through more than anyone may ever know. The ceremony is a way to share what we've accomplished so far, to promise each other and everyone else that we'll work hard to do the right things, and to let them know how we feel about them. There may not be another time in our lives where we'll be able to thank everyone and tell them what they mean to us in front of the other people who mean a lot to us."

We've spoken of it all a little more since this conversation, and the idea of really letting it be a ceremony about who has made this amazing thing- this amazing thing of Joel and I starting a family together- possible...

....well, you can see where such heartfelt emotions may not be appropriate in a crowd that includes people who you don't know well enough to be heartfelt about. All of the sudden, you've made a five minute speech to everyone you love except that one family member you haven't spoken to in ten years....that's just awkward.

Although Joel did not like my initial ceremony invite list, he has yet to change it to suit him. Saying, "We'll invite only those who are close to us" is a lot more difficult than doing that.

He is also a little miffed because I don't want to throw a special dance party immediately following the ceremony so we can have a "first dance" for all of family. I told him, the dance party is on Saturday- but he's strangely persistent about the "first dance" concept. I'll have to investigate the origins of that further at another time.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


"The most important thing," Joel says, "is the music."

I'm shoveling out the cat litter box, which may have affected my tonality accordingly when I replied, "Oh really? Just recently the most important thing was serving everyone little tiny bits of lamb shop and beef tartar on a silver plate." I wrinkle my nose and tie up the bag, "We are not feeding your five hundred drunken party friends caviar."

"Oh, yeah, I totally agree that was not a good idea."

I toss the bag in the garbage. "Fantastic."

"I was thinking, there are a lot of awesome people that will be coming who are musicians- we could just set up a stage and people could take turns jamming through the night."

"Um, no."

"What? That's what we do at the Steinhower's."

"Yes, and it works perfectly there. But you are not going to have jam fest with your friends all night and leave me awkwardly left to entertain everyone else. If you do that, I'll get cornered some place stuck making small talk with your dad or our neighbors or someone- and you will be forever branded the horrible husband that ditched his wife on their wedding night."

"I wouldn't ditch you!"

"Honey," I put my arms around his waist, "I know I'm not your only girl." My eyes dart suggestively to the mountain of guitar gear in the corner.

"You'll be playing bass by then."

I step back and glare.

"All right, all right. I was just trying to save money." I think he knows his excuse is feeble.

"Joel, this is not the last party we will ever have at Milton. It may not even be the only party we have this summer. If you want to throw a jamfest, there will be other opportunities. Besides, if we hire a band, you and I will get to have fun together."

"I suppose you're right." He looks out the window and perks up, "Hey, yeah- if we hire a band, we'll get to hang out more. And, we wont have to worry about any awkward pauses or anything."

"This is true."

"Yeah, I'm sure we can get a kick ass band down here. Maybe The Station. Or...or maybe 56 Hope Road. Or The Right Now! Or...or...maybe we could get them all down here. Julia would just die!"

"Budget." I say.

"Oh, don't worry about it. I have an idea." He smile arouses an immense amount of suspicion. With anyone else, I'd say that such awesome music on a budget would be near impossible. But with Joel The Golden Boy...we'll just have to see.

The Venue.

I'm sure most people go through a fuss about their wedding venue; finding a place that is big enough, within the budget, and in accordance with their tastes. With our ceremony and party taking place at The Milton Schoolhouse, naturally, it takes off a lot of the pressure of choice.

However, and entirely new element is introduced into the picture. While Milton is certainly big enough to accommodate, preparing the appropriate space for such a party means a lot of dust, sweat, and a bit of cash. Well, we did want to be DIY after all- I'm not sure how much more doing it yourself you can get.

Joel and I have decided on five primary areas for this wedding madness- two of which will require very little work. We'd like to throw an afternoon, invite all the neighbors, kid friendly hurrah on Saturday- which will likely take place in the parking lot. I suggested renting a tent. That parking lot can get deadly hot in the summer and you never know where the weather will fall at the end of September.

In his audacious and enthusiastic spirit of independence, Joel immediately declared that he would build a tent for this occasion. That idea was immediately suppressed for its lunacy, after which he suggested buying a large tent for future purposes. No? Ok, then he agreed that renting a tent would be a lovely no stress, low cost alternative to either of his former ideas.

Why not use the gymnasium? Well, the gymnasium will likely be occupied by a bunch of tents. Although I don't believe I have met many of them, Joel has many dear ol' friends from the music scene around the state whom he believes would be much happier "camping" in the gymnasium during the wee hours of Sunday morning when our party winds down. This, I believe, is probably a good idea. If he has a lot of young(er) friends who like to throw down as much as he and his brothers can on a skiing trip, I would feel much better if everyone who intended enjoying themselves liberally had sleeping quarters they could walk to.

The only place we will need to fix up for that area would be the restrooms under the gym- which are frightening, but could be made less so with a good scrub, some new plumbing, and a few gallons of paint. I'd say, 4-7 days of work between the four of us, depending upon how pretty we decide to make them.

The next tiny little bit would be the shower downstairs. This scary shower under the main portion of the building has seen some improvement since we arrived, it was our primary bathing area for several months. But, in my deep spirit of southern hospitality, it needs a little TLC before it can be offered up to our guests: tile, ceiling work, a new door, and a larger hot water heater. I estimate this to be 2-3 days of "boy" work (ceiling, mostly...I'm too short to really help on that), and 2-3 days of "me" work (I'll be doing the tile and probably painting.

And now for the areas of primary importance: the courtyard, and the east/west main rooms in the center of the building.

I imagine a beautiful, small ceremony in the sundoused seclusion of our courtyard- surrounded by family. And chickens. Well, not "surrounded" by chickens certainly, as that could be very messy. So, the plans are in the works for a new chicken area and a move of the current coop to the far west end of the courtyard. The chicken area will have a lovely see-through netting that will allow our guests to be amused by our feathered friends without stepping in anything rude. The chickens will also be very joyous for the occasion as the area will be built with a proper grassy area for them around in and do their chicken thing.

Other than that, a good power wash, some colorful Chinese lanterns, a few chairs (maybe a couple sunsails?) and we're good to go for the ceremony bit. Intimate and lovely- what could be more awesome than getting married in your own home....which you built together with your beloved?

On Saturday night, the courtyard will be transformed into the awesome outdoor hang out that we have come to love so much here at Milton. Fire pit, BBQ, and late nights spent happily basking in the glow of friendly conversation. We plan on opening up the hallway from the two primary rooms all the way down to the gym and locking everything else off.

The two primary rooms are going to rock- but they'll take the most work. Right now, they are a mess. Andy has already begun to exposed the incredible brick hidden beneath the building's old plaster- but we hope to finish the brick in both rooms, run new electrical, insulate and drywall the ceiling, and build a simple bar area before the big party. We're going to have music and dancing (and drinking) in these rooms- so you can either be in the middle of the action, or converse with others in the courtyard while listening to the band through the open windows. Plus, if it rains- the band wont get wet.

So, instead of dropping a ton on renting a venue- we'll be dropping a ton on renovating.

That's really not much different than what we've done in the last two years here- and I do think the two, beautifully sunny rooms inside will be easy to rent in the spring. Yoga studio, anyone? Perhaps a chai tea lounge?

Dreams of dreams to come.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I know something you don't know!!!

The karma for having talked about getting married for two years is that, immediately upon placing the ring order, we knew that without something sparkly- no one would believe us.

All right, some people might believe us. But others wouldn't. So, we had three options:

1. Tell everyone and deal with the raised eyebrow from the skeptical side...perhaps running around with the printed copy of invoice for the rings for validity.

2. Tell the people who would believe, and have the people who wouldn't believe us get angry when they find out they weren't told at the same time everyone else was.

3. Tell no one, and wait 4-6 excruciating weeks to make the announcement.

"We aren't telling anyone until the ring get here, okay?" Joel looks at me with a stern face. I shake my head up and down solemnly. He walks into the kitchen, believing that I really just agreed to tell not a single soul about said wedding.

Well, I kinda agreed. But what I really agreed to was something like, "Don't tell anyone who would tell the people who wont believe us without a ring."

It's a dangerous game to play. But, I'm a girl. OMG! OMG! I'm getting married! >squeee!< OMG! OMG! OMG!

Yeah, so how are you going to keep a humongously amazing, enormously awesome secret like that? To yourself?!?! Not telling a SINGLE SOUL?

So, I told my girlfriend, as mentioned in the last post. I told her because she lives on the other side of the continent, because she has no personal connections with any of our family or local friends. I had to tell someone, surely you can admit me that one little indiscretion.

I think I told our new tenant, too. Oh, and our electrician knows. I may have also told the lady sitting next to me at the networking event I was invited to by our new tenant.

And then there's the "I didn't say anything about a wedding but I think there's is going to be a special event at Milton this year....wink wink, nudge nudge."

Yeah, I may have done one of those to my mom. And maybe my sister. And maybe Joel's mom. But, I swear by the powers vested in me, on the fur of my favorite orange cat, that "wedding" was not ever used in conversation with the aforementioned people.

I don't think.

Ok, well, maybe I don't swear- but I pinky promised that I didn't mean to say anything if I did, and, it soon wont be a big deal anyway. Our rings said "4-6 weeks" to delivery and it's already been four weeks. At any given moment, the whole world will know and they'll all be so happy that no one will care if anyone knew before anyone else.


A Fine Romance.

Joel and I have talked about getting married for a while.

We actually started talking about it five weeks after we met, but we ended up buying an abandoned monstrosity of a brick schoolhouse instead. Once we were waist deep in Milton, well, the practicality of a wedding was a little non existent. I don't think the thought was ever far from either of our minds. I never thought such a thing could happen, but we both knew within the first two weeks of seeing each other that we weren't going anywhere without each other ever again.

We knew we needed to get married, but with the schoolhouse to tend to- we just didn't have any time. Or, a place. I remember sleeping on the floor of our now bedroom in a sleeping bag, even before we had the electricity turned on in the building, chattering away about what rooms and areas we'd use for our wedding.

For the last two years, we've talked about the wedding subject. We've went to jewelry stores and thought about what style it should be in and who should play the music and what food we should feed everyone...with each excited conversation ending in the disappointment of reality: Milton wasn't ready for a wedding.

All of this is leading up to "The Proposal Story". I guess its the first thing everyone wants to know- all of those prefab "wedsites" have a specific tab for "The Proposal Story", gosh darnit. When I first told my girlfriend we were getting married, even she asked, "How did he propose?"

I honestly thought about lying. A friend of mine from college also recently became engaged- evidently, he flew his lady to a tropical island and while they were out hiking the beauties of nature, he popped the question on top of a mountain with a flowery rehearsed scripted about being her servant forever and pulled out a huge diamond.

Unfortunately, my girlfriend knows us a little too well, so when I opened my mouth to say, "One day, we were hiking in the marvelous tropical jungles of Belize..." what really came out was, "Um...he didn't."


I know, I know. So, you're thinking, 'how the hell do you know you're actually getting married?' Thus, I say, "He didn't. Well, not really. It was Valentine's Day..."

"Uh huh..." she's suspicious, but giving me another chance to spin some tender story about romance and passion, something with soft camera edges and candlelight glow...

"...our second anniversary, actually."

"Uh huh...did you go out?" A string quartet? A waltz? A poofy Cinderella ballgown, perhaps?

" were actually in the living room." I hastily added some slight inaccuracies to soften the blow, "but we were sitting on the bed." 

We don't really have much furniture, so it wasn't too much of a stretch,

"And Joel looks all nervous and fidgety. He takes my hand and begins to softly stroke my fingers as says to me, 'I really wanted to have something special for you tonight.' I look up at him with anticipation, he blushes and looks down. 'But, honey, the only ring you said you really liked is online- and, I don't know much about computers...and....I didn't realize....there weren't any left.'"

" 'Joel,' I said sweetly, "The shop makes the rings after you order them. The photos in the shop are just examples.'


'I knew you weren't going to have a ring here in time for Valentine's Day. I...have a confession to make. When you contacted the jeweler about the rings, you were signed into my etsy account. He responded several days ago that he'd be happy to make any rings you wish.'

'He did? Why didn't you tell me?'

'Because...I was so excited, and I thought you wanted it to be a surprise....and I didn't want to ruin it....but...'

'I did want it to be a surprise. I wanted to do something really romantic.'

'Well, guess what? We're going to be together for a very long time- so let's get those rings ordered and you can do something surprisingly romantic when I least expect it.'

So, we sat down at the computer, looked through rings for about an hour- and ordered them together."

Silence on the other end of the phone. Finally, I get a "Well, I'm happy for you!" I think she's trying not to laugh, out of consideration for my "lack of proposal story" quandary.

Hey, I'm just so happy to be getting married, one way or another. And happy to tell someone about it.

However, I'm going to have to put the thinking cap on and come up with some super romance novel inspired BS for all of his female family members who will be asking me the same question very, very soon.