Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wedding Sweatshop, part 1

I'm getting married in 37 days. It's only taken me fourteen years, countless miles, more bad dates than I care to think about and just a few sleepless nights to get to this point. Some people do marriage the easy way--they find someone wonderful at a young age, get married, have some nice children and live comparatively happily ever after.

I actually tried this route, twice, with Bad Mistake Number One and Bad Mistake Number Two. Without going into a great amount of detail, let's just say I got the worst of my life's crises out of the way while I was still young and healthy enough to withstand them.

So now, at the ripe old age of forty-mumble-something, I'm getting married in 37 days. The Norwegian tells me he loves me, he tells me I'm beautiful and that I'm a good mother, he tells me he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I'm awed and humbled and excited and amazed at all of this, but in the sweet way that he has, he doesn't just say these things, but helps me to believe them about myself as well. There's so much to love about this man, but I guess to sum it all up would be to say he's just himself, and that is so wonderful.

Planning a wedding at this age is completely different from planning a wedding at an earlier age. Having been down this ahem, aisle before, I'm not only older, but I've learned a few things along the way. Not that there haven't been the giddy moments of bride-like excitement and anticipation, but for the most part, this has been a dream-time of thinking small, looking deep within ourselves and finding what we really want--from life, from marriage and from this one celebratory day as well.

And this is how it really should be.

We're getting married at the best possible place--home. Several reasons--the desire to keep the festivities small and intimate and health and mobility issues of various family members -- played a key role in this decision. In fact, our house-hunting centered as much around "could we have the wedding we want in this house?" as did "could we finish raising our two teenagers in this house?" We found the perfect place in our half-acre of greenspace. The house has been duly blessed by our parish priest and is now a fit place, even in the eyes of the church, to start our life together.

Keeping it small means doing a lot of things ourselves, but that's okay. A lot of the websites and magazines ground out by the behemoth wedding industry devote a great deal of time and space to wedding budgets. There are even charts to advise what "average" weddings generally cost in a given zip code. For instance, the "average" wedding in our zip code of midtown Memphis, Tennessee suggests we should be spending roughly the cost of brand new SUV to tie our particular knot. Thank goodness this wedding will be anything but "average." The Norwegian and I are, admittedly, unusual people, and naturally, our wedding will combine our religious and family traditions, but on a scale manageable enough to keep it enjoyable for everyone involved. And that certainly includes us, first and foremost.

Once we decided on a budget, we immediately began looking for ways to come in lower. This has become something of a game almost, as we delight in great finds at estate sales and thrift stores and continue to come up with accoutrements that are just the right thing. This entire experience has been a great pre-marital exercise for us both, as we have the opportunity to examine closely what truly matters to us individually (him--family traditions and Navy heritage; me -- comfortable shoes and a taste of vintage) and as a couple (all of the above, along with a good photographer and a caterer who understands us). It's been so easy to agree on just about everything--from old Blue Willow serving pieces, to the vintage lace dress for Dear Daughter found at a yard sale, to the quasi-Mediterranean menu Elio the magnificent has planned for us. Along the way, we've ditched everyday wedding expectations (cheesy favors, garter tossing and flower girls) for homemade cakes and candies, a wonderful Gipsy jazz quartet and his family's heirloom wedding solje.

We designed our own save-the-date cards and invitations, using the great Alfred Eisenstaedt V-J day photo, and printed them on the Mac'n'Smac. Here they are, drying on our dining room table. The joy and exuberance captured in this photo illustrates perfectly how we feel about one another and our family, and was the perfect image for the invitations.

Friends and family are helping out with decorations. Here, MelBoe and Dear Daughter try out combinations of colored tulle for swathing our side porch. We're draping our leprous old wrought iron railing in the equivalent of two football fields of six-inch tulle. It really makes a difference!

Dear Daughter has started helping me make candies for the reception. Last night we dipped the first batches of about 300 creme de menthe chocolates.

A small, at-home wedding will require at least 100 yards of assorted colored ribbon. Don't try to fight it. Resistance is futile. Just make the run to Michael's. Then plan to go back again for more. At least twice.


KCB said...

Oh, my goodness! Congratulations! A wedding at home sounds lovely and comfortable and welcoming. Good luck with your preparations.

Redblur63 said...

Thanks so much. It's really been a wonderful time doing things with my daughter and my Norwegian. We have a sweet life. Oooh and the bok choi is coming up. How's your fall garden coming along?