Thursday, April 28, 2011 cute.

Our brief little photo session with the talented Jennifer Ickes from JMI Photography yielded some lovely takes. And now, I'm off to design and print the postcards!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A little piece of earth, and a hella lot of marketing.

Last winter, Joel and I went "ring shopping" a few times at his request; he wanted to know what I had in mind so that when it came time to propose, he'd have an easier time making the decision. (You can read the actual proposal story in the first blog posted here.)

We went to every diamond shop in the St. Louis Galleria, as well as a few jewelry stores in the area...and even a couple in Springfield. Really, the first store was enough to convince me that what I was looking for wasn't there- but it took several weeks to convince Joel of the same. There were a lot of lovely little rings in those shops to be sure, but a jewelry store is much akin to a used car dealership- and not long into the process could I look at a single ring or semi-plausibly happy salesman without the feeling that the entire thing was a set-up. A set-up to totally screw anyone blinded by happiness out of every penny possible.

Perhaps it's my background in marketing; perhaps it was because I already knew that branded diamonds (like the "Hearts on Fire" diamonds) are a way to add perceived value to a rock that is inherently the same as any other. And, while their is credibility to the cut of the diamond- not too shallow or too deep- making the particular stone shine differently, I didn't run into a single damn shop that had these "lesser quality cut diamonds" they poo-pooed for any sort of comparison to back their claims of superior stones- so how is someone supposed to really be able to tell what they are getting?

Then they try to sell you insurance. And insurance for the insurance. And upgrades. And "lifetime service plans". Then, after they convince you that you need all of these things that really mean nothing if you are indeed getting a quality piece of jewelry, you've racked up a price tag Coco Chanel couldn't afford- but that's ok! Because they have 30 year financing available.

All for a ring. A ring that, yes, does serve a very important purpose but you begin to wonder how paying $6,000 will keep fewer dudes from hitting on you in the grocery or convince your grumpy father that your fellow is really indeed serious about caring for his first born daughter. Will it really? More than spending $5,000? Or $2,500? $1,000? Or borrowing a ring from your grandmother? Meaning no offense, but no rock itself is going to stop the most butter-brained jackass from making a pass. And there certainly isn't a rock on the planet that will assure any self-respecting father that his daughter is in good hands.

But it is so ingrained in us. All of us, who grew up watching those lurid television commercials of young couples walking in snowy forests, adorning Christmas trees, or finding something special and sparkly in a private romantic gesture- all ending in phrases that whisper "Because she's worth it" "Diamonds are forever." "Timeless Romance." What the hell is that supposed to mean? You give someone a diamond and life turns into a fairy tale? Tell me, how many diamonds that you know of that have ended in divorce?

I remember one shop where I had actually found a ring that I did like. I wasn't in love with it, but it was very nice and it was my favorite of all that we had seen that day.

"Are you sure you don't want something bigger?" Joel asked me, turning over the price tag in his fingers.

"I have small hands, I really like the way this one sits."

"It is a little small." Said the saleslady encouragingly.

"Try the bigger one on, honey." Joel said.

"I don't like the bigger one, I like this one." I said.

"I don't know...." he looked at my hand fretfully, "I'm just afraid if I don't buy something bigger, people will think I don't love you."

My jaw practically hit the floor. I just couldn't believe it. I sat both rings down on that counter, thanked the lady, grabbed Joel, and bolted.

I just couldn't believe it. Joel- of all people! The least materialistic person I know; the guy who is happy without any fancy cars or expensive colognes or posh dress shirts. The guy who expresses his love by coming up behind you and kissing you on the neck, who tells you he cares by loading the dishwasher or taking the basket from you when he sees you carrying laundry upstairs. My beautiful, honest, unassumedly romantic boy had been sucked into a world where money equals love- at least, when it comes to diamonds.

And secondly, wasn't this my ring? Why the hell did he want to buy a ring based on what he thought other people would or wouldn't think of it? Infuriating.

Well, you know how the whole proposal story turned out.

I love my engagement ring so much, I really am not quite sold on the tradition of giving it up for a wedding band at the wedding. Even more so, I have this happy little joy knowing that, after a few weeks of pleading, Joel was finally convinced to trade in the years of jewelry brainwashing to get it for me. One small step for mankind!

Monday, April 18, 2011


I love giving gifts.

I love giving gifts so much that I will go out of my way to give to the people I love at completely random and unexpected times. If I have $20 in my bank account (and my belly is full), I'd spend every penny on something I stumbled upon if it was seriously perfect for someone. If I am fortunate to earn a significant amount of money more than what I need, I gleefully spend it on other people. Giving is something that really fills me with am immense amount of inner joy.

I get it from my mom. There are dozens of examples I could use to illustrate, but I'll give you one: no matter how much she may not have liked any boyfriend who has come before- and even not really approved of Joel the first year we were together- she would always give them "family" worthy gifts at Christmas. Generous gifts. How many parent do you know who have given their daughter's lame teenage boyfriend classy and generous gifts? Especially when said parent is probably secretly and silently hoping the relationship will dissolve as quickly as possible? Yeah, obviously my mother just can't help herself and the apple does not fall far from the tree.

The flip side of that coin is how awful I am at receiving gifts- or even compliments. I do just fine at Christmas when there is mutually gift-giving going around. But on birthdays, oh I feel so awkward. Overwhelmed and feeling an immediate urge to reciprocate- even though the occasion is not one that demands it.

One of the first things that came into my mind when it came to the wedding was how awesome it would be- to have an occasion, an excuse, an event- to give other people gifts. Afterall, it is customary to give gifts to people who help you out, to bridesmaids, to groomsmen, and to even the groom. Who cares if I don't have a wedding party- I still have a lot of awesome people that I love who will be there to help....which means gifts all around! And, being raised partially in the native American community- where the person being celebrated gives gifts to everyone else rather than receiving anything- I need no further excuse to spread the love.

That other side of the coin is lurking in the background. It's a wedding. People are going to want to share their own gift-giving joy by gift-giving to us. But the idea of registries telling people exactly what we want and requesting Lowe's gift cards (which we would love and use like crazy) seems really..... ungracious. If it's possible that doing something socially accepted and anticipated can be so, it feels like it to me.

Joel assures me that these things only help other people feel the joy of gifting while knowing that what they are gifting is something we can actually use. "Not that I think that anyone who knows anything about the school would- but you really wouldn't want someone to show up with a full set of crystal wineglasses when we have a warehouse full of them, would you?"

Well, no. But...but..buuuuuut. It just feels weird. Like a little kid with an unraveling, selfish Christmas list that rolls on with every materialistic desire. I had hoped for a little more time to contemplate this issue; the invites haven't even been sent to the printer yet. But, already I've had three people very merrily ask me where we were registered and what we wanted.

I suppose this wedding thing is an opportunity to let go of my unnecessary and inappropriate feelings of unworthiness when it comes to gift receiving; to develop a more refined and graceful manner in those moments. I will be biting my tongue tipped with flustered and abashed "Oh, you shouldn't haves" and "Oh, I can't reallys" and practicing the heartfelt "thank you so muchs" that really reside inside.

Today was the first day Joel complimented me where I just said "thanks" without giving him a full list of why exactly I didn't really look nice at all- its a step in the right direction, he did look rather relieved.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Marriage and Taxes

Out of all the well-wishes and jubilant happiness showered upon us so far, I must share this.

It so happens that our announcement fell during the equally urgent, less significant holiday of Tax season. Whereby which I found myself frequently on the phone with my accountant, who happens to be a very good girlfriend. While our conversations were primarily communicative on cinching up deductions, clarifying business deposits, so on and so forth- they we peppered with the squealing excitement of two little girls in the way that only little girls can be excited about a wedding.

Enter to said conversation:

"Is that all you need?" I ask.

"I think so, I have the routing number and checking number to get those submitted and paid. Oh, did you follow that link I sent to get your Federal PIN number?"

"No I haven't, but I'm right here at the computer. Did you attach it to the email?"

"No...the link is actually the work that says 'link'."

"Oh geesh, I'm so blind. I swear, my mind is running a million miles an hour in a million different directions."

"I know, isn't it sooooo romantic? (absolutely no trace of sarcasm here- the tone could have been copied straight from any Disney princess movie)"

"What, taxes?" Obvious confusion on my end. I'm trying to multitask clicking through the form of the Federal website for that PIN before she gets off the phone.

"Yes, of course! This is the last year you'll be filing as a single. *sigh*"

You, my dear, just make my day with your completely geeky sense of romantics. I do think I will be laughing over that one for quite a while. <3

The Emotional Trampoline of Creative Process

Although it causes us to bicker, fume, and frown to no end- Joel and I really do work well together when it comes to designing dreams.

For instance, yesterday evening we began to tackle how we want to run electrical in the two large, beautiful rooms downstairs- which further entailed tackling what those rooms might eventually morph into and how best to accommodate such things with said plans. How should the light fall? What kind of light should we use? How much electrical should we bring over? How do you differentiate different space with light? Where should the switches go? Every large project has a web of nuances that seems quite simple until you begin to put it on paper. Then, it becomes an all-out, certified, tasty creative mess.

I think we like it that way. One of us will draw something on paper. The other one will sit and think and say, "We'll this is nice but what about this?" and scribble all over the drawing. Then the other will say, "I like where you're going, but, I think the water hook ups are actually over here." "Are you sure?" Let's go check." And we'll run up and downstairs, scribbling and speaking in half sentences become more unintelligible to any onlookers as the process wears on. Sometimes, we'll begin to fight. I accusing him of being impractical and him accusing me of wanting to do something that will no longer suit our needs in x number of years. But, after a good meal or a couple of drinks, it all works out in the end.

No, it doesn't just work out. It works out to be something so much better than either of us could have done alone.

For this wedding, we two have so much more creative capacity than the barrage of websites and resources that have avalanched to my inbox in the last 48 hours. While I am overwhelmed by the amount of love that pours over such excited helpfulness. I wasn't expecting it at all! But being independent to a fault- and getting married to someone who is the same- I do hope you not think it rude when I say that it just isn't the best way to go about this.

I have done my fair share of reading about weddingness online and in-print to know what needs to be on an invitation, the top 47 places to buy a dress online, the top 16 ways to make your own party favors, the top 31 ways to save money on your wedding that you had never thought of before, etc.

I really, really love everyone's enthusiasm- but our best bet for making this truly an occasion that expresses what we're celebrating uniquely is not copying someone else brilliant tradition-bucking wedding ideas or picking out one of ten options on a particular website. Our absolute best resource for creative spark and awesome outcome is each other.

Joel and me- the "and" that falls between us when we work on a project we love. Not the witty authors of The Knot, Offbeatbride, or any other of those wonderfully creative, amusing, inspiring, fantastically designed, mind blowing blogs. Not anyone else's wedding- whether they be related or some gorgeous stranger in cyberland. And, possibly, maybe, not even what you may believe to be the best way for Joel and I to truly express our love and commitment for each other during said wedding- traditional or otherwise.

We will need your help.

I imagine I will be on the phone often with all of my close family, family-to-be, and friends seeking advice and support throughout this process. But, when I ask for your help, I'll be asking for you and your personal heart and mind creative ingenuity- not what you osmosed from your own wedding or blog reading- because if I love you enough to ask you to be involved in this, I'm going to want you. For real you. You truly.

Joel and I look forward to sharing the first phase of exciting, creative clash together. And I personally really look forward to working with Joel on a "project" that will bond the two of us into- among other things- creative partners forever.

Until then, the best thing you can give us is an open heart and a willing hand.

We love you!

Friday, April 15, 2011

They're here!

They came today- we love them! A big "thank you" to Jeremiah at Zoe&Doyle who painstakingly made these gorgeous rings just for us (the above is a photo of our pieces that he graciously took just before he sent them).

I would take a photo of mine actually on my hand, but I can't hold still long enough for the camera to focus.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ooo! I get to dress like a girl!

Said wedding is still a good ways off- but I'm just beginning the search for "the dress".

I don't know what I'm looking for yet. But, I've narrowed it down to a few specifications:

1. The dress has to be, must be, something that I would wear again.

There's no reason why a big occasion- especially one as big as a wedding- can't be an excuse to buy yourself something totally awesome that you've always wanted. After I fall in love with something, I wear it until it is a little scrap of a threadbare napkin held together by safety pins precariously clinging off my form. I really want to find a dress that I'm crazy about.

Besides, I can't think of anything more romantic than going out on a date with your husband years after you're married looking fantastic in your wedding dress. Of course he's going to be sitting across the table or dancing with your around the floor thinking, "Damn if I wasn't an extraordinarily lucky guy!" Perhaps that's it- I'm not looking for a Wedding Dress but The Amazing Dress I Wore On My Wedding.

2. The dress needs to be tea-length. 

Or shorter- not one of those full length, trails behind you for miles things. I do enjoy those sorts of dresses, but I'm getting married in the afternoon in the summer. This is just a practical specification.

3. The dress can't be black.

Or, primarily black. I love black, it can have black in it. Most of the pieces in my wardrobe that I love to death are black. And, while I don't think anyone's going to throw a fit about me not necessarily wearing something mainly white- I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get away with black. White, cream, blue, turquoise, red, purple, pink, and green are all in the running. Probably not orange or yellow.

That's about all I have for now. I've spent days searching online for cool dresses- and I've found a slew that  will not be The Amazing Dress I Wore On My Wedding....but that I someday would love to own. Here's a few for you:

By CuriouslyAlice. Duponi Silk....and sexy theatrical historical goodness. What else can you say?

By Ouma. I don't think I would ever take this off- I'd just run around the schoolhouse all day pretending to be a mysterious magician's assistant or some other form of a runaway carny. I'd probably be pulling coins out of peoples ears instead of getting any real work done. 

By Miss Brache. For my inner punk rocker. Look at those cute little ruffles on the behind! Ah!!!

By CheriseDesign. This is actually something very much like what I would like to get married in- girly, adorable, vintage inspired. I love petticoats, too. The problem is that the fabric just isn't quite right for the occasion- and even when I order fabric samples, I just can't envision what the dress would look like enough to make a good choice.

Perhaps, after going around to a few places and trying stuff on, I'll end up looking for a seamstress. It's all still up in the air.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Saga Continues

I could stand it no longer. In spite of Joel's urging that repeatedly contacting our jeweler of said rings would only make matters worse...I had to, I really did. I really, really, really could stand it no longer.

And so, I wrote:

Being in love with an artist who has a broad stroke of perfectionism in his being, I know that pestering you is probably the worst possible thing to do. So please don't feel as if I'm being pestersome- but, we are leaving next week to go to a family reunion of sorts...and I would really, really love to be legitimately engaged by then.
For the sake of there not being another family photo where I am left out- or forced to stand on the very edge "just in case anything happens" so they can clip me out...
For the sake of God and country and all things we may mutually hold dear....
Please tell me these have shipped. Or something. 
I deeply respect the space and time you need as an artist to complete your work with the highest of standards.
Thank you,
12 April 2011 8:29pm EDT

To my surprise, he replied within the hour! And this is what he said:

I sincerely apologize for the delay. Your rings are going to ship via overnight Express Mail tomorrow. When I arrive back tomorrow morning, I will post a picture of the rings so you know I am not blowing smoke :)
You will have them in time. I promise.
12 April 2011 8:52pm EDT

Oh joy of joys! I could hardly contain myself:

Oh, my dear, I could kiss you!
Except, I'm very soon to be engaged, so I'm afraid it would be terribly inappropriate. 
12 April 2011 8:53pm EDT

And his response:

12 April 2011 8:55pm EDT

For the sake of accuracy, the family reunion is actually Joel's Aunt's wedding- which I am so very excited to go to. His mom, her offspring, and his mom's sister are truly incredible, wonderful people that are just a blast to hang around. I don't think I could be around them for ten whole minutes without completely spilling the beans on our upcoming bash, so I'm glad that I won't be spilling the beans and everyone will know fair-and-square prior to our journey up north.

And, furthermore, I have never been left out of any family photo or encouraged to stand along the side of any family photo. Both sides of his family have been most gracious and inclusive in such things.

But, it makes for a better read than:

Holy S***birds! Where the heck are those rings you promised, you bum!?!?!?!

I am so tense with condense anticipation that even my earlobes are beginning to ache with excitement. I am so bad at keeping secrets.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spacial Musings.

I really have been trying not to post so much until those rings arrive- but they're late and I'm a little shaken bottle of gingerale ready to explode in bubbly excitement. (Hmm....tasty.)

I would like to use some of the wedding budget* to jump start our building projects downstairs- specifically in areas we are going to use for the wedding. I don't think it's a bad idea, I've been doing a little research on what people spend renting venues for weddings and receptions. While the "average" is a rather wide range (anywhere from $75 for a back room at a quirky local ethnic restaurant to $2,500+ for the rental of a hotel ballroom), it seems reasonable to "invest" the same in areas that we will later be able to rent out at the schoolhouse. Plus, with my previous "dream wedding reception" taking place at Symphony Hall in Chicago, there's no way I could be accused of being uneconomical by wanting to spend a bit in making Milton pretty.

The difficult part of our master plan for the two downstairs rooms will be deciding where to stop in the construction process, clean up, and prepare for the party. The rooms are progressing quite nicely, but its going to take a darn lot of sweat and time to get them to a bare-bones finish.

In lieu of thinking about refinishing 14,000 sq ft of hardwood floor, I've been merrily musing over the courtyard instead. And why not? Two weeks of wearing a dust mask and laboring on your hands and knees just isn't as pleasant to think about as whether you should get potted ferns or build a cool firepit in the courtyard.

The main ceremony on Friday will be taking place in the courtyard- but we'll also use that space for the fun bar-b-que party hangout on Saturday.

I'm convinced, even with the wedding being placed on the fringe of autumn, a couple of these suckers are going to be a must. We'd like to have our wedding in the early afternoon on Friday so we can all go to dinner and get a good night's rest before the long Saturday party. West sun on concrete? I've always wanted a couple of sunsails anyway- and anything I can do to enjoy an outdoor wedding and decrease the possibility of a sweatstache in our ceremony photos is fantastico.

And a billion bright and colorful paper lanterns would be nice.

Lots of potted plants- perhaps a new fire pit built out of those bricks we have in the warehouse. Should we rent chairs? Or just invest in a good collection of folding chairs that will undoubtedly come in handy around the place otherwise? Maybe we can just paint the steel folding chairs we do have lurking about bright colors.

In a way, this is probably the most exciting part of the whole wedding planning. We have a date, it's going to happen- but we haven't spent any money yet, so everything is a possibility.

By the way, we're looking for fun things to do on Saturday before/after the band so that people aren't hanging around staring at each other or starting awkward conversations. I'm thinking I would very much like a pinata. Joel wants a waterballoon launcher on top of the gymnasium and to spray paint a giant target on the back lot. Any suggestions?

*a currently fictitious amount of money that I am willing to spend on said wedding.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Invitation Banner!

While waiting for those rings to come, Joel and I have been working on our invites.

Instead of spending $6 for a formal invitation that you all will probably throw in the trash anyway, we decided to do something a little different. Using the wonderful printing of our favorite print source- we'll be sending out postcards with use two goofing off and holding a giant red banner designating the date of said weddingfest.

Joel has been a gracious help in the whole process; anyone who knows me knows my artistic direction can be a bit vague. It was nice to have all of the materials on hand though. I told him I wanted a "large, tattoo-like banner with something on it". The results have been pretty awesome so far.

 It was really swell that the whole thing didn't cost us a dime. We harvested a large piece of plywood from the warehouse that the former owner had used as a very poorly supported makeshift door.

 Here's Joel puzzling over how exactly to make such a vague suggestion come to life.

 Ta-da! Banner! All cut out with the jigsaw. The thing is pretty heavy, so we've decided that after the photo session, we'll also use it out front of the building as a sign designating the location on the big day.
Not quite finished with the painting yet- but I'm really excited!

Friday, April 1, 2011


Ahhh! I can hardly stand the wait. I just got this message from Jeremiah at Zoe&Doyle, the shop that is making our rings:


I just realized that I missed getting back to your previous message. Your rings will be completed and shipped next week. Tracking information will be sent in an email from paypal at that time as well.

Thank you again for your business!

31 March 2011 11:04pm EDT