Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On wedding guest book quilts, and other details

If you haven't already, you should seriously head over to My San Francisco Budget Wedding to peruse Sarah's* very amusing post on napkins and the extraordinary importance they seem to assume when they become, not just napkins, but wedding napkins. As you know, we just hit the one-year mark, and, in celebration (ha), D and I have been working on a comprehensive to-do list that lays out precisely when in the next 12 months we hope to complete a myriad of wedding-related tasks. The amazing thing about creating such a list is the incredible ability of the WIC to devise thousands of tasks that would simply never occur to you for any other event or occasion.

Example: In creating this comprehensive list, I naturally turned to the World Wide Web for assistance - what precisely are the tasks one must complete before marriage, I asked the intertubes. Friends, let me tell you: Weekly facials starting 3 months out appeared on at least one list. Purchase (or hand-crafting) of tears of joy tissues appeared on another.** And, of course, as Sarah points out in her post, the challenge of each of these (ridiculous) tasks is not only to complete them but to do so in a way that is unique, unmistakably you, forever special.***

All of this brings me back to the very early days of our engagement and my very first foray in Martha. In this particular issue, the magazine reported on a new guest book trend. Brides and grooms would collect fabrics from their past - pieces of your school uniform or your grandmother's wedding dress, for example - and collect them for the wedding day. On said day, guests would write messages on these squares of fabric, collected by both families. Following the wedding, the bride would sew these patches into a wedding quilt, which, natch, would become an immediate family heirloom passed down through the generations.

Naturally, I needed to do this. How unique, how different, how thoroughly us! Never mind that I can't even sew a button, Martha had suggested (nay, demanded!) it, and besides we had to do this for our children and their children and what would they do if it turned out we were just to lazy or lacked the sewing skills to complete this special, handcrafted, unique wedding quilt/ guestbook?!???

Fortunately, D talked me down from the edge.

Our children do not need this quilt, and neither, really, do we. I still think it's a cool idea, for those who quilt, if any of you out there are busy searching for meaningful scraps of fabric. But, I'm also here to tell you that your wedding does not need to be unique. Every detail does not have to speak to your relationship in new and compelling ways. Guests do not need to be hit with the immediate feeling that this is "so you" the moment they step in to your reception. In fact, your guests don't even need to remember any of the details of your wedding twenty years later. That's okay.

Of course, this is, in part, a missive to myself (are you listening, Katy?). Ours is a relatively small wedding, but, due to the challenges of trans-Atlantic families, it's still true that some people who attend this wedding will never have met D before that day. A large number of those attending couldn't claim to know both of us well. We want people to leave that day feeling closer to us, and, yes, knowing us a little better. We want to have shared something of ourselves and our relationship with them. But, no one benefits from someone like me frantically purchasing a sewing machine or, I would argue, anyone stressing about the endless possibilities for wedding napkins.

I can't say I've paid attention to a single napkin at a single wedding I've ever attended, but I have walked away from each of those events feeling closer to the couple. Witnessing the beginning of a couple's life together, their vows to each other, and their celebration with those nearest and dearest really is all it takes.

* Sarah is also posting over on A Practical Wedding today on marriage, doubts, divorce, and happy endings. A must read.
** In all honesty I must tell you that I didn't have the vaguest idea what this meant, but I have since learned that these handkerchiefs or tissues are meant to catch the "tears of joy" your guests will shed at your totally unique love during your personally hand-crafted ceremony.
*** It's another story for another day, but I thought worth mentioning that very few of these lists included the purchase of really anything for the groom.


  1. I love this. You are hilarious. I totally forgot about those damn quilts.

  2. Oh, wow. I have never heard of "tears of joy" tissues. Are we now supposed to save everyone's used snot rags in a special box for all eternity?!

    I went through the quilt phase too. Then I remembered that I don't, um, quilt, and I don't particularly want to start.

    BTW -- thanks for the shout out.

  3. @Sarah, totally welcome for the shout out! I agree the concept is fairly creepy, but somehow it seems less so when laid out in a perfect spread in Martha Stewart, doesn't it?


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