From the category archives:

Musings

Not good at anything save one thing

by Jeff on August 12, 2009

So nobody probably noticed this cause I have like three readers (not to sound thankless, as I really appreciate your attention and tolerance of my rants), but I haven’t posted in a while. No worries … life and work both really ramped up in the last few weeks. Life on the wedding planning side, work on the building-a-wedding-planning Website side.

This may not sound like a relevation to anyone, but when you get completely overloaded and busy, nothing you do seems to come out like you want it to. For example, I’ve been writing a Web site lately, but I’m so hurried to get it done to move on to another project that it really sounds like crap (and I’m not the only one that thinks this, as my business partner commented on how it wasn’t up to my usual standards). And, I cooked dinner tonight for Groomasaurus Gal and myself, and I even went to the effort to make pesto with fresh basil out of our yard, but I put like waaaaaaaay to much of it on our veggies to the point that both of us felt nauseous because it was too rich.

There’s something about being so rushed that the details seem to slip through your hands, like taking the time to comment on how great your sig other looks before they walk out the house to go to work, or sitting on the floor with your dogs for 5 full minutes of bellyrubs (instead of focusing on your laptop or the TV screen while they watch you).

In fact, the only thing I’ve gotten right lately is giving Groomasaurus Gal a goodnight headrub (and, no, I’m not headed down any kinky path here). She finds it calming if I stroke her hair and massage her scalp when she’s trying to fall asleep, and I think I’m better at this than anything else in life. That may sound lame, but actually I find it comforting, because when we try to do a thousand things perfect we will disappoint ourselves at every turn, but if we focus on the simple things, the things that make people around us happy, all the other crap drifts away like smoke wafting into the night.

So here’s to the simple things and to headrubs.

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Multiple bridal showers … who knew

by Jeff on July 23, 2009

Earlier tonight I was over visiting at The Perfect Bridesmaid blog (which, incidentally, has some great ideas) and happened upon a post that responded to the question if it’s okay to invite the same guests to multiple bridal showers.

Maybe I’m the moron in the room (or blogosphere, as it were), but I had no idea that some brides had more than one shower. I grew up in Ohio, and we’re a fairly undemonstrative crowd, so having multiple showers would be a bit too ostentatious and, dare I say it, too greedy, sort of like asking for multiple birthday parties. On the other hand, it’s certainly a great idea if you can get away with it. But what if every one of us could replacate our favorite holiday as many times as we wished. It would be mass chaos … plus I’d be buying chocolate for Groomasaurus Gal every day and she’d be cranking out pumpkin pies by the truckload (I have a soft spot for Thanksgiving).

It seems like, in some cases, certain brides are the recipients of showers by their mother, friends of their mother, the groom’s mother, the maid of honor, work friends, church friends and, last but certainly not least, their best gay male friend. Now, according to the post on The Perfect Bridesmaid, it’s improper etiquette to invite the same people to each event (although it is proper for the mother of the bride and the bridal party to be present at all showers), cause people feel compelled to bring gifts to each event and you shouldn’t make them feel so compelled.

But doesn’t this all sound like too much brain damage just to get a few more handbags, engraved picture frames and lacy thong underwear (although I have no problems with multiple versions of the latter). I know it’s about sharing this moment – or moments – with all your different groups of friends. But wouldn’t it be more enjoyable if all those different groups got together in one big jamboree and got to know each other better? (And I realize that sometimes families are spread out so you may need to have separate showers in separate states or cities).

Better yet, how about doing a combo bridal and groom shower? Okay, this may be pushing it, but at one time the bachelor party was solely the domain of men until the women felt left out and co-opted our need to behave idiotically and started having bachelorette parties. I guess what I’m saying is that we guys have no special event that we have all to ourselves anymore, and when our bride gets multiple female-only showers plus a bachelorette party, we seem to handle it fine on the outside, but we are secretly keeping track and imagining how many guys-nights-out this would total.

And if this smacks of desperation … well … guilty as charged. And, no, I’m not gunning for my own multiple pairs of lacy thong underwear … I went through that stage years ago ;)

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All this wedding planning we’ve been doing lately coupled with me trying to run two businesses (My Wedding Workbook wedding website and my Denver-based branding agency Kear Stevens) and late-night blogging (currently writing this at midnight) has led to lots of late nights and short-attention span moments.

For example, this evening I was working on the website when my fiancee came downstairs, sat next to me on the couch and tried to start a conversation about us going to Texas over Thanksgiving to visit her aunt and uncle (very kind, salt-of-the-earth people). As she spoke to me, she tried to look over my shoulder to see what I was doing, which I oddly find very distracting. Instead of stopping what I was doing and talking with her about something that I could tell was important to her, I just said I was trying to get something done. So she sat there for a minute and then tried to peek over my shoulder again, I think in an attempt to be playful, at which point I sort of snapped at her.

Now, just because she knows I can’t stand someone looking over my shoulder (weird paranoid reflex of mine) doesn’t give me the right to snap at her. And me being tired and overworked isn’t a good excuse to snap at her, either. It took 15 minutes for the guilt to build up until I went upstairs to the bedroom where she had retreated and apologized. She was sweet and said she understood, and all was well again.

And why do I tell this rather pedestrian story. For this reason … in our married lives, we are all going to be idiots sometime. For even the nicest person on the planet, being an occasional idiot is unavoidable. It is guaranteed that at some point in the future (probably at many points) we will be grumpy, hurried, sullen, distracted, etc. and not be as respectful of our partner as we should, whether it’s ignoring them, snapping/yelling at them or engage in other assorted barking and stupidity.

However, what’s important is realizing when we’ve just been stupid and asking our spouse for forgiveness. Sure, it’s better if you try to avoid being an ass in the first place, but, speaking for us guys, we’re pretty much guaranteed to be an ass at least once a week. So it’s a good idea to get started now reflecting on our behavior and making amends when that behavior is ill advised.

So, I’m sorry sweetie for being an idiot. Unfortunately there’s a bit more where that came from, but I’ll try to keep it to a minimum.

_________

On another note, our bridal blogger friends over at Bridelines have been named a finalist for Wedding Channel’s Best Wedding Planning Blog award. But they need votes to win, so check out their site and then click here to vote for them. Their blog takes a funny, insightful look at weddings, and it’s totally worth keeping up with.

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As we finished up our e-invitations tonight (more on that tomorrow), I thought about why people throw rice instead of marshmellows (the latter have a much higher yum factor), why brides wear white gowns and not blue jumpsuits and why a wedding cake instead of a wedding pie or wedding pudding (you can tell I’m from the Midwest, can’t you)? I mean, these all seem perfectly normal now, but at one time somebody had to come up with it, and before that nobody would have deigned to throw rice at the bride and groom. In fact, it still seems pretty silly.

I just learned somewhere on the Web (if I don’t bookmark stuff I never remember where I saw it) that the tradition of the bride wearing a white gown started with Queen Victoria. That tradition at least makes sense. The Queen Mother decided she’d wear white, and at the time all self-respecting Brit females thought the world of the Queen, so they all followed in suit. 100 years later, brides who are more familiar with Queen the rock group than Queen Victoria are wearing white with no idea why or where it all started. But they followed suit nonetheless.

Now, for arguement’s sake, say Oprah got married (assumming she isn’t already … seems to be a matter of conjecture at times) and she wore some sort of Vegas showgirl outfit with feather headdress, sequins and the whole works (I know this would never happen, but bear with me). Many people would certainly be shocked; however, one of the first notable people to wear white at their wedding was Mary Queen of Scots (she wed Francois II of France), and white was considered to be a rather outre choice since it was the color (our should I say colour) of mourning in France. But as Oprah’s wedding pictures got around and Oprah’s supporters began a crusade to defend her rather outrageous choice of wedding attire (which they invariably would … hell, the read every book she recommends, no matter how ponderous some might be), suddenly you would begin to see feathers, sequins and maybe even a pastie or two creep into wedding attire. You laugh, you smirk, but people invariably follow the crowd (I’m in marketing, so I know these things), and it would certainly happen.

Oprah's future wedding attire ... could be - Photo courtesy of Excalibur Entertainments Web site

Oprah's future wedding attire? Could be... - Photo courtesy of Excalibur Entertainments Web site

But would that really be an improvement, or would it simply start another ridiculous trend of what one “should” wear on their wedding day? I’m a bit of an iconoclast, and I certainly think tradition has its place, but when it comes to what you should wear or how you should state your vows or what you should have for dessert, I say screw what you’re “supposed” to do and go with what makes you happy and what you like. Queen Victoria actually wore a white dress to incorporate some white lace she already owned (it’s true … just look it up on Wikipedia). So if you have a fashionable blue hat you’ve always adored or prefer rhubarb pie over white cake, I say wear blue and bring out the pie plates.

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Pre-wedding living in sin now the norm

by Jeff on June 8, 2009

I was just reading the results of The Knot’s annual wedding survey , and besides the average wedding costing a shade over $29K (that seems pretty high … it must be all those $2M weddings on TLC’s Wedded to Perfection skewing it high), I learned that 71% of the couples polled lived together before getting married.

Yes, that’s not a typo … 71%. Wow, I can’t imagine that number was higher than 2% for my parents’ generation, which shows how much things have changed since then. Our generation is also getting married later in life, with the average age of women getting married at 25.6 and met at 27.7.

What does this all mean? I have no clue, other than I can now tell my mom that I’m normal for having lived with my girlfriend/fiancee (albeit 6 years) before we got married (although mom is now completely used to it and probably doesn’t care a lick). So much for being a rebel…

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Your wedding: destination or party?

by Jeff on June 5, 2009

As a guy blogging about planning a wedding, I’m a bit like white tiger in the wild – a genetic anomaly, a freak of nature, a very rare and peculiar animal. With all the billions of dollars devoted to marketing to brides-to-be, all the column-inches and pixels devoted to informing women about wedding ideas and tips, it’s not oversimplifying things to say that women are the gender that gets marketed to the most as well as worked up the most about weddings.

I can’t speak for Gen Y or the Millenials, but for Gen X women and the generations that came before, weddings and marriage were topics and ideas planted in young girls’ heads from early on (see Exhibits 1 and 2, Cinderella and Wedding Day Barbie). It’s a topic that us guys are certainly aware of when we’re kids and teens, but until we get to marrying age and actually find someone who will even consider spending their lives with us (which for those of us who don’t look like Brad Pitt is fairly difficult), we honestly have a tougher time relating to it than you women do.

Which brings me to my point. I think because of all the buildup women go through from girlhood to womanhood, all the dreaming and planning, their wedding day becomes a destination. It’s the one perfect day in their lives in which they play the starring role. It’s this mystical, magical event that they’ve dreamed about for years. It’s the culmination of months and months of planning and preparation. It’s the single, ultimate expression of their relationship and the passion and friendship that anchors it. Which is all pretty cool thing.

However, for us guys, we haven’t really given our wedding day nearly as much thought other than what our dreamgirl will look on our wedding night (insert X-rated fantasy here). I’m selling us a bit short here, but I’m just saying that we’re just not as … obsessed isn’t the right word … neither is fixated … let’s say as detailed about our thoughts concerning our wedding day as you are. While you think of your wedding as a destination, we think of it more as a party. Not a drunken bacchanal where people are wearing togas and getting sloppy drunk (although I imagine a few weddings over the years have achieved such lows), but more of a celebration, a time to be enjoyed with family and friends and ultimately an opportunity to share with the people close to us the unbelievable feeling we have about this great woman standing next to us.

I think that’s why lots of brides have a post-wedding hangover. Not the alcohol-induced type, although that may also apply here, but rather a feeling like “Wow, it’s over. That’s a little sad.” Whereas, for us, once the wedding is over, we’re more like “Wow, it’s over. Now I don’t have to spend my Saturdays helping choose flower arrangements and we can get back to our great life together.” I hope this doesn’t sound cold, because it’s not supposed to. I just think if we understand what a wedding day means to each of us, then it’s easier to plan it and easier to understand when one of us just doesn’t want to look at another invitation paper sample. Okay???

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Wedded to Distraction on Fridays

by Jeff on June 2, 2009

Wife-husband wedding planners on Wedded to Perfection (her horns are missing in this shot) - Picture courtesy of TLC Web site

Wife-husband wedding planners on Wedded to Perfection (her whip is missing in this shot) - Picture courtesy of TLC Web site

Back when I was in my 20s, I remember if I spent a Friday night at home I felt like I was missing out on some gem of an experience, like a DJ ripping it or a party full of amazingly erudite conversation or a lounge with a comfy vibe and high-octane drinks. Fast forward 20 years and now on Friday night I’m holding court with Groomasaurus Gal (GG) in my TV room watching crappy TV. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Of course we could be using our time much more productively, reading Proust, learning a new language, even planning our wedding. But by Friday night I’m so tired of thinking that I just want brain candy and a stiff drink (a good anejo tequila like Maestro or Cielo fits the bill here). So lately we’ve been flipping to shows like The Fashion Show (Kelly Rowland needs to stop trying to be an ice-queen like Heidi Klum and warm up a bit, IMHO), The Food Network’s Chopped and TLC’s What Not To Wear. I especially like the latter, as GG and I equally like bashing the difficult guests (for god’s sake, you’ve just been given $5K to spend on clothes … stop bitching) and rooting for those with self-esteem issues. I understand the idea of the show is to tutor those with little to no taste in clothing, but I’ve always said about music that even people with bad taste deserve to listen to something (sorry if I offend anyone, but I usually say this after overhearing Dave Matthews or Blues Traveler). Some people just aren’t into stylish clothes, so why make them feel as if they’re doing something wrong by wearing their tie-dyed halter tops. I guess I’m oddly conflicted about this.

Anyway, to make a long story even longer, after an episode of What Not To Wear this last Friday we decided to watch Wedded to Perfection, which follows a wife-husband (listed in order of dominance) wedding-planning team based in NYC. They plan all these events for all the bluebloods and monied of Manhattan, and although I know some people spend a bundle on weddings, I was a bit shocked that their clients’ weddings start at $200K and go up in the millions. I thought our destination wedding costs were a little steep, but these people party like the pharaohs.

The show would be a good one to watch for brides who want to get ideas about place settings and floral arrangements and funky touches like an underlit escort card table (okay, I’m an idiot, but I didn’t even know what an escort card was before the show). But the real reason to watch the show is to get a glimpse at the dynamic of the wife-and-husband team. She’s a Type-AAAAAAA New Yorker who is on her game, obviously knowledegable and talented, and alpha-dog bossy. I’ve had demanding bosses for whom I would walk through fire because they were also supportive and true mentors, and I’ve had demanding bosses who leave a room and everyone wants to throw rocks at the back of their head. I’m not saying she would necessairly fall into the latter category, but she really got under my skin.

Thank goodness for her husband, who seems to be a sincerely nice guy and a good fence-mender. GG and I both agreed that if it weren’t for him, they’d have to rehire new staff quite often. So, all said, you should check out the show for the ideas and the catty interplay between the wife and you, the viewer. Enjoy…

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I think I’m the only person on the planet who has not yet seen a single episode of American Idol, Survivor or Dancing with the Stars. And although I have seen the last season or so of The Biggest Loser (my fiancee is addicted), I’m not really a fan of reality shows. For the most part, they’re pretty harmless and because they’re cheap to produce, we’re sure to have a full roster of them for years to come. However, I think “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” series push things too far.

In this era of mega-competition, human beings are inclined to turn every life activity into a sport. School is not just about learning but about being the smartest, getting the best grades, one-upping your fellow scholar. (On a side note, grade competition has become so acute in many high schools that they have done away with valedictorians lest someone with a 6.8 GPA who comes in second sues the school board or shows up with an uzi.) Cooking isn’t simply about creating something tasty and satisfying; it’s now about what is the most attractive, most creative, most outlandish. Work has grossly evolved beyond a vocation or calling and is an arena to demonstrate achievement, measured in money, awards and power over others.

And now, with the arrival of marriage reality shows, wedding vows finally have their finish line. Sure, you have movies dating back to god knows when about two guys trying to win the girl. But most of these were comedies in which all parties ended up getting what they deserved and love was the winner. But is love the winner in these new marriage games? Are these shows, with their roulette speed-dating and cruel elimination scenarios, really about love and compassion and commitment? Or are they really just about ratings?

In the end, you can be passionate about sport, but ask anyone who is in love and they will tell you that their relationship is not a game. It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about giving and sharing. This is why I think these shows miss the mark. But I’d love to hear your opinion.

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My business partner and I were talking about the huge differences in marriage between our grandparents and parents and ourselves. And that got me thinking about how marriage has transformed over the centuries.

Marriage has a long and storied history long before governments and religions got involved (because these institutions like to control the masses, and thus it only makes sense that they want to dictate the terms of marriage, too). And even early Christianity (before it became so organized and dogmatic) didn’t hold wedding services; you simply verbally indicated your intent to marry each other in front of witnesses, and that was that. This agreement was called a verbum, and it was certainly binding.

So what a long ways we have come, and thank god for it. I have friends who have been married in churches, synagogues, hotels, Vegas chapels, city halls, in their homes and on ski slopes. I have friends who are uber-committed to each other and shun any formal ceremony. I am friends with gay couples who have children together and patiently await our slow-moving society to give them the right to marry (good for you, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Maine; someday we could all be so just). I have religiously observant married friends, and I have friends who were married in a pagan ceremony.

Needless to say, in 2009, marriage is about what you, the individual and the couple, make of it and want from it. This is probably how it started (although maybe on a more primitive – and maybe pure – basis) and how it should be. Maybe cavemen and cavewomen were much more evolved than history (and stereotypic myth) gives them credit for.

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This weekend, Groomasaurus Gal and I made plans to take a trip back to her childhood stomping grounds – outside of St. Louis – to attend her cousin’s wedding. Now, we don’t go back there very often, and although I have met her St. Louis cousins a few times, I can’t really say I know them that well at all. This doesn’t mean I don’t get along with them – I do, in fact, and I like hanging out with them – but it does make me a bit of a “wedding stranger.” You know the sort, that new boyfriend of your old college roomate who you don’t really know, but since he’s with your college roomate of course he’s welcome at your wedding, even if he comes dressed in a green dinner jacket and smells like a salami left out in the sun.

Well, although I intend to show up to this wedding well-bathed and fittingly attired, those will still have no impact on my status as a “wedding stranger.” We’ve all been to weddings where we’re on the outside looking in, so we all know what it feels like to politely shake our heads and smile when people casually refer to inside jokes and family stories that have absolutely no meaning to us.

So, I was thinking, wouldn’t it be cool to have an appointed wedding stranger greeter to make all those wedding strangers feel welcome. You could appoint that wonderfully gabby Aunt Mary – the one who never knew a stranger and could small talk a statue – to seek out these people and make sure they were having a good time and felt included. This may not be necessary for every wedding; for example, Groomasaurus Gal and I are having a small destination wedding where we know everyone very well. But for those weddings 75 people or larger, there’s bound to be a wedding stranger or two. And a greeter may put both them and you at ease.

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