Archive for April, 2010

We had our first premarital counseling session today. Despite it being at the catholic-based organization, the only mention of religion was when we explained how we were “referred” to (or in our case, randomly stumbled upon) that place. Overall, the session went really well. Our counselor seemed a little unsure of herself, but explained that we were only the fourth couple that she’s counseled. Another odd thing was the room. I envisioned us sitting on a couch in the counselor’s office, but instead we sat in two wooden chairs separated by an end table, and the counselor sat across from us in a small desk chair with no desk. Other than a couple other small tables and a few pieces of hanging art, the room was empty It seemed very makeshift to me.

In the first session we did an overview of the results of the assessment we took, something we’ll delve into more at later sessions. Even the brief overview brought up lots of interesting things, though nothing really surprising. We kept nodding at each other and smiling while she read some snippets of the assessment. Like, yup, that sounds about right. I’m excited for the next three appointments – I think it’ll fun, and it’ll be good for us to go through this process before we get married.

I’m curious, did you guys get counseling before you were married? Or if you’re not married, is premarital counseling something you plan to do?

*Our counselor emphasized that this wasn’t counseling (stigma!), but rather preparation.

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Friends and Grownups

Growing up is hard. There’s bills, work, continuing education, schedules, housework, family obligations. You have to keep a routine, or life’ll get you every time. Traffic will be totally different at 6:30 if you’re used to driving in at 5:30. If you try to navigate the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon you will contemplate suicide. If you don’t have a reminder set you will forget to pay your rent, even though the money was in the bank and the check was written and taped to the refrigerator. The point is, you gotta stay on your game. Friends will help you do that. But what if you don’t have any friends?

Remember life in college? You could grocery shop at 9pm on a Tuesday. You could sleep til noon. You could hang out with the guys on your floor and instantly have a support system. It was easy to make friends in college. Everyone was on a level playing field.

But when you and all your “life-long” friends graduate, you’re all going to get jobs (theoretically). Three of my best friends from college all got jobs. One works as a teacher in California, one writes music in Indiana, and one is back in school in Eastern Michigan. We’re still close, but we’re not very close. You don’t pop over for a beer when you’re hundreds of miles away.

So what? Make new friends. That’s all I have to do. I’ve realized that making friends as an adult is freakin hard. How do you just go up to a guy at work and ask him if he wants to hang out? He has friends, right? Who doesn’t?

Thankfully, my friends, distant as they may be, are willing to work for me. My good friend Joe called me out of the blue the other day, after not seeing him since Christmas, and asked if anyone was planning my bachelor party. He was astute enough to know that, since Shan and I aren’t doing the maid of honor/best man thing, I might not be getting the traditional best man bachelor party experience (not that I wanted it). I was slightly embarrassed to admit that, no, I was bachelor partyless. He offered up his services, even though it means driving several hours and calling in a favor with his in-town boss, whom he works for long-distance most of the time.

What a guy. He’s not going hog wild or anything. He wants to arrange a bbq and poker night for me, my brother, a few college friends, and my future brothers-in-law. There will be no binge drinking, no strippers, hookers, or dancers. Just burgers, beers, and brothers. Good times.

But seriously, what’s up with trying to make friends? Anyone else know what I mean?

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It’s not really a bachelorette party. Not in the buy-her-crazy-shots-make-her-wear-a-tiara-and-carry-lots-of-penis-paraphernalia sense. I wanted to have a celebratory get together with the gals in my life, and so I asked my friend Robin to help me plan something. She made a reservation at a restaurant where we’ll have a nice dinner and some drinks. I requested that we skip the penises and the pink bridal veils and that nobody try to get my drunk. I just wanted a fun night with friends.

Although… my sisters say they have “plans” for after dinner, and I don’t know what that’s all about. I said I’m willing to go out for a little while, but nothing embarrassing.

It’s traditional to give a girl lingerie at her bachelorette party, because when she gets married, she’s totally gonna have sex. Gotta look sexy, ya know? And I wouldn’t mind getting a few fun things, but I’m just not a lingerie-wearing chica. I’d feel terrible if I had hundreds of dollars of sexy attire in my drawers that was never worn. So instead, Robin and I decided since this isn’t really a bachelorette party in the usual sense, we’d expand the boundaries of the gift-giving a little. She’s going to put my registry information on the invitations for anyone that wants to bring a gift in lieu of lingerie. Although really, the fun part is having all the women from the different parts of my life together to celebrate with me. Seriously, I’m so excited! We’re inviting my sisters, my mom and stepmom, my high school friends, college friends, work friends, work friends from past jobs… A big smorgasbord of awesome people. I really think it’ll be fun.

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One of the best ways to save money on a wedding is to beg, borrow and steal. Well, maybe not steal. But we have begged for asked plenty of favors, and we’re borrowing several things from friends and family. Off the top of my head, here are all the ways our dearest are helping us:

1. Making the majority of the food.
2. Providing all the beverages.
3. The location.
4. Very cheap photography.
5. Free invitations.
6. Unofficial videography.
7. Providing officiant duties.
8. Lending jewelry.
9. Creating my hairdo.
10. Bringing all the chairs and tables so we don’t have to rent them.
11. Helping with setup and cleanup.
12. Helping with several of the decorations.
13. Contributing to our Unity Quilt.

I’m sure there’s something I’m forgetting, but that list alone is pretty impressive huh? That’s a lot of talents and materials being offered up for free. We’re pretty confident we’re going to come in under our ($2000) budget with this wedding, and the only way we’re able to have a great wedding with the people we love is because of the people we love.

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I love candy. LOVE! IT! And I knew I wanted to incorporate it into my wedding somehow. I liked the idea of “classy candy” and found lots of inspiration on wedding blogs. It seems to be a thing right now – candy and nuptials combined. I mean I was talking about wearing a candy necklace, carrying a lollipop instead of flowers, buying a gumball machine, candy wreaths and other decorations, a candy buffet. The works. Then I decided to chill out because that all sounded expensive and like a lot of work. We are still incorporating candy in some ways though.

We’re going to have a pinata (fun!), some candy-centric centerpieces (more on the later), and candy favors for guests. Last weekend we bought the candy for the favors, and I’m so excited! We could have bought any ol’ candy from our local grocer, but somewhere along the way we got inspired to go retro. We searched NostalgicCandy.com for some of our childhood favorites and settled on five types of candy that we both remembered fondly and that we thought we could easily wrap up in favor form. We considered a lot of fun candies, but many of them weren’t conducive to our needs or were just too expensive. In the end, we ordered…

… Ring Pops, Candy Necklaces, Fireballs, Jaw Breakers (or Busters apparently), and Bazooka Joe gum. We’re hoping people will use the necklaces and rings as props in our makeshift photobooth, too. But mostly, we hope they love the candy as much as we do! I want to eat it all right now.

Candy plus shipping was $87 and we got PLENTY to provide favors for 60 people (and have some left over to take on the honeymoon of course).

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Finding appropriate premarital counseling is the most difficult things we’ve dealt with in this whole wedding planning business. I made so many calls and did so much research, it began to feel like maybe it wasn’t worth it. A lot of people get married without premarital counseling – maybe we should skip it and skip all this ridiculous work it is taking just to set it up! But I decided to think of it as a test. We want to do the work it takes to make a marriage last, and the first step is to find good premarital counseling, no matter how many times I want to rip my hair out during the search.

Mike and I don’t want faith-based counseling. Our spiritual beliefs are similar, and I think believing in a higher purpose is helpful in a relationship, but we don’t want our counseling to be about God’s (or anyone else’s) purpose and roles for us in that relationship. We want to learn about each other, how we relate to each other, how we best work together, etc. But living where we live, a strongly religious and conservative part of the state, it was nearly impossible to track down secular counseling.

We started by going through the list of counselors in our area on the Prepare-Enrich website. The majority of them were listed as clergy or as having some sort of religious affliation. I compiled a list of those that seemed to offer secular counseling and started sending emails. I heard from several, but after a few days of communication, we realized we couldn’t work within their schedules.

Mike has work and class every day, Monday through Friday, from 6am to 9pm right now, and nobody offered weekend hours. He’s done with class at the end of April, but because I work over an hour from home, I can’t do anything in the middle of the day. Guess what. No evening hours either.

I sent out another round of emails, and then waited. Eventually I heard from someone who said they offer evening hours, so I called and the receptionist answered the phone with the name of a Catholic-based nonprofit in town. Um… I said I had the wrong number and hung up. Then I emailed the counselor and asked what was up. Turns out she is from said Catholic organization, but assured me they can do secular counseling. I called again, and after one of the most painfully inefficient phone calls of my life, we had our first appointment scheduled.

Through Prepare-Enrich, you take an online assessment, then have four appointments with a counselor. Our counselor, a different one than I originally communicated with for some reason, called me to discuss how the assessment would go. She asked which assessment we wanted – Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or Interfaith.

“Um, well we actually wanted secular counseling…”
“Oh. Ok. Who referred you here?”
“Blah blah blah. Here’s the whole convoluted story. Can you do it or not?”
“Well, I think so. I’ll just have to figure out if there’s a secular assessment to send you.”

Apparently they don’t do this a lot. I was a little nervous about the quality of counseling we were going to get based on the absurb process it took to get to this point, but after taking the assessment, I’m confident we’ll address some of the topics we hoped to address.

But my goodness, what a pain in my ass to get this all set up! On the assessment, there were many questions related to the stress of wedding planning, and when Mike and I conferred later, we discovered we had both easily answered “no stress” to every single one. This wedding planning has been fun and easy for us. The only thing that caused any real stress was finding damn premarital counseling!

It’s done though. Our first appointment is at the end of the month. So I’ll stop stressing now. (I’ll also stop complaining unless it turns out the whole experience sucks!)

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The guest list. Oh man, this is the landmine of wedding planning isn’t it? We, like everyone else I’m sure, struggled to put ours together. The hardest thing for us is that we really did want to keep it small, but I have a pretty large family, making “small” a relative term (haha, relative, get it?).

We threw around all sorts of ideas, but in the end we decided we’d invite our “networks,” those people who have most supported us and helped make us into who we are. For each of us that could have been totally different kinds of people and a completely different number. On top of that, we got it in our heads that we wanted no more than 40 people at the wedding and no more than 60 at the reception. So that was our goal: balance the desire to include our “networks” without too badly exceeding those numbers.

It was only a little bit painful.

To the wedding we’re inviting 43 people, and to the reception an additional 18, for a total of 61. My list is significantly longer than his, but only because I have a much larger family. In fact, only a couple friends are invited to the wedding (including the photographer), the rest being family, and my “side” alone is 33. I included grandparents (4), parents (4), siblings (6), their significant others (4), nieces/nephews (5), aunts/uncles (5), and friends with guests (4). Mike included parents (2), sibling and significant other (2), aunts/uncles (4), and friends (2). (His grandparents are all passed).

Narrowing it down, especially the friends part, was difficult because the last thing we want is to hurt any feelings. But several friends will be invited to celebrate with us at the reception, and really, that’s the best part. I mean, taco bar, come on.

All this to say that our invitations are designed and soon to be printed, and I’m so excited to send them out! The invitations aren’t really any new information for anyone, but I’m excited to show them off because I love them. They were designed by my friend Robin of Plume Creations with MUCH super picky feedback from me. I had a vision and she helped bring it to life.

So, any horror guest list stories from the audience?

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