Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The power of the purse

Meg wrote yesterday about ways to be an LGBTQ ally while planning a wedding, and I thought it was an appropriate time to talk a bit about our church and the process of finding the place we wanted to marry in.*

Part of the weirdness of this blog is that I started it a full year into our engagement, so most of you missed out on the intense decisions about locations and such, all of which happened before I started writing. Let me tell you... it's not a time I wish to revisit. D. and I do not attend church with any kind of regularity, so the challenge of finding somewhere to marry was at once wide open and surprisingly limited. We needed to find a space that would take us for this ceremony, even without membership, but also somewhere that fit what we (as non-church goers) wanted out of a church wedding. The decision to marry in Boston (and not, for example, where my parents or extended family live) was, in large part, based on convenience and cost effectiveness for our guests. Most of the young (read: poor) people invited have strong connections to this city (of the "I can crash on your couch" variety), if they don't live here already. D. and I don't drive, and it was important to us both that our guests not have to worry about that on our wedding day either. Those were our practical concerns.

I started in the center of the city, and seriously almost had a heart attack when I learned it could cost you $5,000 for a 30-minute ceremony in some of the beautiful spaces downtown. The conversations about churches quickly changed from convenience to more important issues. It does not cost any space $5,000 to host 100 people for an hour or so, and so the money you spend on a church (particularly one that comes with a fancy location)** is not about the cost of the service, it's about donating to a community.

Meg's call to arms yesterday was such an important reminder that, at least in this country, our wallets have power. From a personal standpoint, it was important to us both that we marry in a place we felt reflected us and our values; but, when we saw the price point, this became even more important. We chose the most ecumenical church we could find, one that has been celebrating same-sex marriage for 30 years, and that hosts and supports arts organizations across the city. It also just happens to house a seriously beautiful "lady" chapel that will fit our 85 or so guests just perfectly.

Lindsey Chapel, Emmanuel Church

Seriously, you know when you're reading a wedding blog or magazine and you see a venue and think, "Wow, why don't such amazing places exist wherever I live?" Well, that's how I feel about this church and its community, except that it's right here were we live.

Emmanuel Church houses an Episcopal worship community and a Jewish synagogue. It is also home to one of the city's best music programs** and an art gallery. They allow anyone to be married in their space, and marriage services can be officiated by whomever the couple chooses. It is the most ecumenical church community I have ever witnessed, and it's long-standing commitment to marriage equality sealed the deal for us.

D.'s mom is a union organizer, so we're used to promoting our values with our wallets, but it's so easy to overlook or forget about altogether in the stress of wedding planning or even every day purchasing decisions. Like Meg, I was struck in the conversation surrounding Becca's series of posts on wedding photography that so few industry professionals believed that there was power in liberal or progressive or allied dollars. I am so excited to welcome our communities into this community in the heart of the city that we love, one that stands for what we hope our wedding will be about. For me, the value of the wedding blog community has been the swell of support for intentional weddings, and purchasing decisions like these are as intentional as the personal details that crowd blog-worthy and DIY weddings.

*Also because D. and I have done approximately nothing wedding related in the last month, so, you know, I don't have any news to share.
**For the record, $5,000 is so not what we're spending, but it is a real-life cost around here.
***Seriously, when D. and I went to a service there (before meeting with the Priest-in-Charge), we were there for TWO AND A HALF HOURS because, each time there was something to be played, AN ENTIRE ORCHESTRA would set up, tune, and play the most incredible music.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fall days (and nights)

I feel like I should begin today with an apology to the poor person who found this blog by googling "extraordinary wedding quilt." This is probably not what you were looking for.

In other news, today is a pretty exciting day. It marks the 33rd anniversary of my parents' wonderful marriage, and, weirdly enough, also a 4-year mini-anniversary for me and D. Typically we celebrate this mini-versary* with a Red Sox game,** but our favorite baseball team is away this evening, so we'll be enjoying a more relaxed evening, one we could both certainly use after this week.

The last week in Boston seems to have brought with it a fairly sudden change in weather (even the temperature is responding to back-to-school), and suddenly I feel like it's fall around here. Waiting for the bus this morning, I almost wished I decided to wear tights, even though I usually don't allow myself to do so until October/ November at the earliest.*** I love the fall for so many reasons - back to school, fall clothes, my birthday(!) - but really what I love is that it feels like we're transitioning into a cozier time of the year. True, things always reach a whole new level of insanity during the year, and D. and I have been known to hibernate our way through much of the winter, but my hope for these cooler months is always that they will provide an opportunity to reconnect, be it under blankets watching a movie or over a bowl of my favorite fall chili.

Becca wrote today about date nights and mini-vacations. One of the best vacations D. and I ever took was a weekend trip to Newport at the end of February. Yes, it was absolutely freezing cold, and we were unable to enjoy any of those traditional Newport activities - the beach, sailing, sunshine in general - that make the town insane in the summertime. Instead, we were (literally) snowed in at our B&B, in front of the fire, reading and chatting. It was amazing.

So, somewhere in between the conference planning and graduate courses and multiple jobs and our social life, I'm wishing for a little bit of that this fall.

Our beautiful alma mater on a sunny fall day.

*The day we started dating for the second (and final) time.
**D. likes to say that he won me over with baseball.
***New England winters require that one learns the art of pacing. A winter coats or woolly tights too soon, and you won't be able to get any warmer come the frigid days of January.

My alternate-ego wedding.

I just want you all to know that if I hadn't found my absolutely wonderful dress,* this is the dress I would coveted.

I mean, seriously, a full skirt, pockets, and an over-sized bow on the back? Sign me up.

Dress by Amsale, photographs by Meg Smith.

*Incidentally, my dress is almost nothing like this.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Hello? Have you all abandoned me after the radio silence this week? Please forgive me. Back to school is a very exciting time in my life, for a whole myriad of reasons, but when you're on the other side of the back to school it translates into a lot of work and general absence of time to think about anything else.

But, I'm back. And back with a conundrum.

Day of Coordinators.

From the time we got engaged, I really, really wanted a Day of Coordinator. As part of my job, I occasionally (read: every week) organize events of various scales, and these typically transform me into a hyper-efficient, officious taskmaster (just ask D.). It's not that this person is so very unpleasant, but it's just not the me I most wish to be on my wedding day.

A Day of Coordinator, I thought, is the answer to this problem. Someone, preferably someone like "working me," to whom I can hand over all troubles and responsibilities the day before. Someone who will act as the point person for the million requests and queries from guests and vendors and who knows who else. Someone who will free me to be the blissful, carefree bride that's definitely hiding somewhere inside my stressed-out, type A self.*

In response to this desire, I've been doing some research, and this research has led to emails and quotes for what these services might cost. Friends, I received a quote for Day of Coordination that cost, I joke not, TWO-THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS. Okay, I appreciate the value of these kinds of services (remember, this was one of those things that I really wanted, and something that I effectively do on a pretty regular basis). And I get that taking on these responsibilities on someone's wedding day likely comes with its fair share of stress. I also understand that being detail-oriented is a marketable skill. But, seriously, I'm considering starting a Day of Coordination business.

So, now I'm confused. In response to these quotes, D. asked me what practical things I thought a DOC might take care of. Naturally, when put on the spot I could only think of lame ones (helping put on boutonnieres?). This, of course, prompted a bit of a tiff between the two of us as the wedding crazy I was experiencing over this wedding mystery caused me to displace my blame on D., who obviously deserved it because he too couldn't think of anything this person would actually do that couldn't be handled by a parent, bridesmaid, friend.

In my confusion, I'm opening this quandary up the internets. To DOC or to not DOC? Did you have one? What did they do? Glad you did it? Was it worth it? Did you tackle it all on your own and live to tell the tale? Tell me!

*This, I hear, is what is known as a wedding myth.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back to the beginning

I'm taking a cue from Kerry today. It's been a pretty insane week at work so far (lunch at 4pm? Totally normal.), and that just hasn't left me a lot of headspace for thinking of pretty much anything else. Earlier this week, a good friend asked us how D. and I met (she had heard it was a good story), and I realized that, though you've been reading my ramblings for a whole month, you all know comparatively little about us and our relationship, and, yes, how it all began.*

Backdrop: I had just emerged (triumphant) from a 3-year, messy, dysfunctional, terrible-for-me relationship a few days earlier. Arriving home from a long shift at The Gap (oh hey, fellow former retail employees), I learned that my roommates were attending a black light party in another dormitory, a senior dormitory, that evening. I didn't know the people throwing the party, and, as a sophomore in college, blacklights and parties were not a regular part of my social scene. I declined. Until, eventually, I was persuaded.

It is worth noting here that I was an exceptionally well-behaved young adult. Testament to this is the very, very small amount of alcohol I was encouraged to drink that night and the enormous effect it had had on me by the time we reached this fated party. It was a significant enough effect, in fact, that I had to take a respite from the dancefloor on the nearest available place to sit, which happened to be right next to... you guessed it.

As D. tells this story, he had noticed me from the moment I walked in the room - hard to miss, I suppose, with highlighter all over me - and that would explain why, shortly after I sat down, he leaned over and asked me to change the music. Apparently he didn't like this particular song. I did my best, but, electronics not being my specialty, I managed to cut off the music for the entire party. Awesome. Great embarrassment followed, which may or may not have been accompanied by me burying me head in D.'s shoulder. And that, my friends, is how history is made.**

Not exactly a great tell-it-to-the-grandkids story, but inauspicious beginnings led to great things...

D. may kill me for this, but there we are, not long after meeting.
Happy and oh-so-young.

*Incidentally, I love hearing these little stories about the relationships of the women whose blogs I follow.
**In case you're interested, the evening really ended when my best friend walked up to me and said: "You can give him your number, but you're coming home with me."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's already shaping up to be a crazy week at work, but tonight, after hearing I had plans to stay late, D. fabricated an errand in the area so that he could come and get me earlier than he knew I would leave on my own. So now I'm home, unwinding and thinking about the second-hand sofa we're picking up tomorrow, drinking a glass of wine.

Yeah, I think this marriage thing is going to be all right.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Foodie Fridays

Hey friends, let me tell you - engagement photos are fun! A little awkward, yes, but overall we had an awesome time. I'm anxiously awaiting the 500 pictures that show me rolling my eyes at D. as he laughs at the ridiculous, inappropriate thing he's just said.

One of my new-apartment-resolutions* was to get back into cooking. With all the stress and moving around of the summer, we pretty much fell into a routine of vegetables and pasta every.single.night. Don't get me wrong, I love some veggies and pasta, but it was getting to be a bit much. My goal is to cook at least one recipe per week,** just to broaden what we eat and allow me to experiment a bit more with this gas stove top, which is turning out to be a bit more challenging than it appears!

Since it's Friday and I'm tired, I thought it might be fun to share some of my cooking (mis)adventures.

The past two weeks have been a little unusual, mostly because it's Restaurant Week here in Boston, and, this year, D. and I have broken all records by enjoying this (relatively) affordable deliciousness three separate times. Seriously, I love Restaurant Week. But, I've stuck to my goal. Last week, I attempted, for the very first time, a homemade curry. D. and I love curry, but I've always been a little afraid to try it, until I came across this recipe, which was marketed as simple, beginner's curry making. I will say that it was fairly easy, particularly since the recipe calls for you to simply buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, rather than to attempt such a thing at home (meats are not my specialty). I had a little difficulty navigating the temperature with the gas stove, but D. went back for seconds, so I think I did okay. Lessons learned: the tomatoes really are not optional. Also, since I have an irrational love for cilantro (which the recipe also recommends), this will need to be attempted again when Shaw's has not run out of this divine ingredient.

This week, the recipe (also taken from Real Simple's Quick and Easy options) was a Greek Tomato Tart. My best friend in the world is currently on an incredible 3-month graduate study abroad trip through the Holy Lands. While she's off exploring all these seriously amazing places, I suppose I've had Mediterranean food on the brain. This recipe also requires the purchase of a ready-made food product - a pie crust - which is good because I don't have any idea how to make my own. It was very easy to make, and, if you like tomatoes, feta, olive, and pie, I don't think you can really go wrong. I will say, though, that my creation resembled less of a pie and more a pile of tomatoes, feta, and olives over what looked like it might once have been a pie crust.

Lots more eating this weekend as D. and I attempt to see lots of people we haven't been able to see in the last few weeks of packing, moving, weddings, and unpacking. What are your weekend plans?

*No, the new year is not the only appropriate time to make resolutions. I like fresh starts, big and small.
**Disclaimer: I follow some lovely blog ladies who appear (from photographs and stories) to be incredible in the kitchen. I am not. I can cook up a good meal if I have a recipe - no creative adding of ingredients here, I'm a rule-follower - but never in my life have I attempted to make ice cream, create my own sausage, or experiment with the perfect homemade tomato sauce.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blog buddies

Do you ever read about another woman's experiences on the internet and think... wait, how did we end up on exactly the same wavelength? It's been one of those weeks for me as I've been reading Becca's thoughts over at A Los Angeles Love. An engageaversary and engagement photos all in the same week? Us too!

In all seriousness, though, engagement photos are tonight, and I'm taking a cue from Becca by approaching this in the most low key way possible.* So, tonight, post-work, we'll be taking a stroll through some of our favorite places in Boston, starting at the Boston Public Library, down Newbury Street, and into the Public Garden. No new clothes, just already existing favorites from each of our closets. After all the engagement shoots floating around with antique typewriters, balloons, and picnic baskets, I'm thinking simple pictures of the two of us, looking like ourselves and having a great time in our favorite places might be alarmingly refreshing.

*That is, after I had a mini freakout of confusion over makeup. I mean, apart from whether or not it affected my very sensitive skin, I'd never given the first thought to the ingredients in my makeup. But now, I'm getting married, so naturally my mind is buzzing around with questions of reflective makeup, long-lasting makeup, airbrushed makeup. Fortunately, our awesome photographer responded to my general confusion by saying: Just look like you. That I can handle.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Happy Engageaversary to my fiance!!!

Me and D., a year ago today, sharing the news with pretty much everyone we knew


D. and I have been thinking, talking, daydreaming about honeymoon plans. (Yes, I know we're so far away from the wedding that we cannot yet book travel through most major airlines, but, come on, this is an excuse to plan a vacation - a totally amazing, blissed out vacation at that). For a while now, there's been a fairly clear vision in place: a romantic, lazy honeymoon in the south of France or elsewhere in the Mediterranean. Sounds awesome, right? Lazy days, eating cheese and drinking wine, visiting art museums, maybe logging a day at the beach. Perfect. We both knew we wanted somewhere that would allow for downtime and a little laziness but that also offered new experiences and daytime activities (other than the ubiquitous honeymoon beach). The plan seemed perfect... until we were recently reminded that the Mediterranean in August is about a million degrees* and absolutely full of tourists.

So... we're considering alternatives. D. has set out some requirements: there is the aforementioned heat problem. Summertime locations are acceptable as long as they are not of the million degree temperatures variety. D. would like to go somewhere I've never been, or, barring that, somewhere I haven't been to so many times that I will be bored, or, worse, an expert tour guide who will plan our every moment.** We have both expressed a desire to travel somewhere where we can be reasonably confident in the quality of the drinking water.*** These requirements have led to a running list:

Budapest: In the interest of full disclosure, I have been here before, on an absolutely terrifying solo backpacking excursion (Ask - I'll tell you about it sometime). As a result, my version of "seeing" Budapest involved seeing the Castle and then promptly running back to my directly-above-a-strip-club hostel for the rest of the day. The internet tells me that Budapest is far lovelier than my initial experience might indicate. Budapest is, they say, the Paris of the East, and, let me tell you, I love me some Paris.
Pros: Off-the-beaten-path; cheap (for Europe); the architecture (even if that Parliament Building looks remarkably like Westminster); wine (apparently Hungary is a great place for wine? I'll take it).

Scotland: I have also been to Scotland, but under much more pleasant circumstances, and I'd love to go back and see all that I missed the first time (including my favorite queen's summer residence, pictured above). D. has always wanted to go to Scotland (the land of his forefathers), and we can't deny that the Scottish highlands would provide an exceptionally romantic backdrop to some honeymooning. A few years ago, when I was living in London, D. visited, and we spent an incredible week in England's Lake District, cooking, hiking, hanging out together. This feels like a return to that vacation.
Pros: Unlike Hungary, Scotland has always been on our to-do list; awesome scenery; adventurous foods (one of D.'s great delights in life); the Edinburgh literary festival (this is both a pro and a con - amazing that we could experience that, but not amazing for our wallets when everything in Scotland becomes 1,000 times more expensive).

Munich: Have any of you ever been to Munich? I've heard awesome, awesome things. This would be a real city trip, but I've never been to this part of Germany, and, seriously, that view looks amazing.
Pros: *Plenty* to do; it seems that Munich may have near perfect weather in August; some amazing options for day trips (Neuschwanstein Castle, Salzburg, Ettal Monastery)****

Sweden: This is a fairly unresearched option. I've seen Stockholm in the winter time, but I can't imagine how beautiful it must be in the summer. As an Irishman, D. has a proclaimed hatred of Vikings, but Gotland Island still sounds pretty incredible. Plus, the Ice Hotel is here.
Pros: Daylight pretty much 24 hours per day; Lots of water (D. and I both love being near the water, even if we're not total beach people); very easy on foot (neither of us are drivers stateside - God knows how we'd fare in Sweden); apparently Stockholm is one of the few cities in which you can take a hot air balloon directly over the center - seeing those 14 islands from above... that's pretty romantic.

California: I am aware that most of you reading probably live in California,***** but for this New Englander and Midwesterner, the west coast has a certain, exotic appeal. Neither D. nor I have really spent any time in California, and a meandering visit to the wine country could approximate that earlier vision of the South of France, without the insane tourists. If we stayed in the US, I think D. and I could probably handle driving as well, which would certainly make California one of the most accessible options.
Pros: did I mention the wine?; I hear from every wedding blog in existence that the light and weather in California are perfect... may as well see it for ourselves; cheaper flights may mean a longer honeymoon - fine by me!

Nova Scotia: By far the closest to home, and we could do it all without flying if we traveled through Maine. I'm envisioning lots of seafood, quiet days on the water, beautiful scenery, and, if I'm lucky, a little jaunt over to Prince Edward Island for a tribute to Anne of Green Gables. This would be the easiest and most affordable option, and certainly on the lazier side of somewhere like Munich or Budapest.
Pros: close to home; inexpensive; great food; lots of boats (I have a thing for boats... boats and water).

So, friends, there we have it - the top 6 - phone lines will remain open for voting for at least 2 hours after the show.

But, seriously, did you go on a honeymoon? Are you planning to? To what wild and wonderful locations? Tell me all about it!

*The heat does not sit especially well with D., by which I mean sometimes it's hard for him to form coherent sentences when he's too hot. Oh, and he's hot in November in Boston.
**Why, no, I don't have the slightest idea what he's talking about. Me, overextend myself? Ha.
***This, for me, is the distinction between what I want out of this honeymoon, and what I want out of the many hypothetical vacations of my future. D. and I are dying to so many places for which this would not be true, but we are reserving those for a time that is not our honeymoon.
****Many websites also list the Swarovski Crystal Palace in Innsbruck as an exciting day-trip from Munich. I have been to the Swarovski Crystal Palace - it was not exciting - it was the most ridiculous place I've ever been.
*****Sometimes I wonder whether people even plan weddings outside California.