Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brides vs. Rain

Rain- a wedding day nightmare. Brides check the weather obsessively for days before their wedding, hoping for sunshine, especially those getting married in warm weather and planning for pictures outside. If you have an outdoor venue for the reception, ceremony or both, you need contingency plans and back up sites and it’s true, that can be a headache.

But as I stare out the window on this thunderstorm-riddled day, I imagine how a white dress and bright umbrella would really pop amongst the gray. In fact, it’s not a bad look at all.

Rain adds a romance factor to pictures.

Parasols are a preferred accessory for many wedding parties nowadays- why not umbrellas?

Weather be damned, you’re getting married! Some even say it’s good luck.

Even better for a wet wedding day? Wellies! Rain boots under a wedding dress- soooo cute.

Just try to avoid it in November. Get it? Get it?

I have a tendency to overthink things and worry excessively. We nixed two outdoor venues because of weather concerns, but we’ve narrowed our options down and are getting very close to making our decision (I know, FINALLY, right?) and the top contenders all have outdoor elements. Plus, we know we want to do photos on the beach and boardwalk. So I’m deciding right here and now that I will not pout or stress if it rains on my wedding day- I’ll just accessorize!

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Hate That I Want a ‘Wedding’

How I went from “Let’s get married in an antique train car!” to “I wish I could afford this hotel ballroom.” in 11 neurotic steps.

Step 1. Immediately post-engagement, I know that I don’t want a traditional wedding. I’m not a traditional girl, I don’t want to limit my decorating choices to 2 matching colors, and I just don’t get chair covers. I used to have pink hair- I can’t have matching pink bridesmaid dresses! I’m joining Offbeat Bride!

Step 2. OMG I love all these crazy creative ideas I’m finding- especially for venues! People get married in caves! In bookstores! Underwater! They have 5 total guests and wear handmade leather bustiers and use tin can centerpieces and it all looks awesome! I’m so amped to plan my alterna-wedding!

Step 3. Max out on non-traditional ideas like getting married in the heart of a bird sanctionary, in a hot air balloon, an antique bike shop, a discovery museum, an abandoned roller skating rink, etc. Adjust food choices thematically from hot dogs to custom grilled cheese sandwiches to fancy foodie strolling dinners to cake on a stick.

Step 4. Notice lots of other brides start off with ‘cool’ ideas (a mountain top! A fishing boat! A grungy rock club!) and end up at catering halls. Wonder briefly why they ‘quit’ and continue to research airplane hangars and medical-oddity museums.

Step 5. Realize that I do want: to hold the reception on a Friday or Saturday night; to serve dinner (or at least a lot of food); to have said dinner be yummy and of a good quality; to have seating for elderly and, well, everyone; to have everyone in the same room; to have normal, plentiful bathroom facilities; to have a dance floor and lots of rump-shaking dance music; to spend no more than the national average; to invite a reasonable but not especially small number of family and friends; …basically, I want a lot of things found in ‘typical’ weddings, afterall. Hm.

Step 6. Chic little art galleries, local bars and cramped historical homes do not offer enough space for the whole guest list. Also, when reviewing said guest list, the mantra “I’m alternative and my wedding will reflect that, damn it!” fades a little when I try to picture our 80 year old grandmothers seated inside large industrial blinged-out shipping crates, or perched on teensy mod stools placed precariously above indoor lakes in riotously neon nightclubs. Or my north Jersey, Coors Lite-loving cousins settling in at the test kitchen of a renowned (by me, anyway) liquor store to sample cocktails with no fewer than 11 ingredients each. Most weddings are ‘typical’ because when you’re dealing with 125+ people of different backgrounds and tastes, the few things the majority of them all agree on are that they want decent food, plentiful (normal) drinks and good music (and a comfortable place to sit). Hence the prolificacy of catering halls.

Step 7. Begin to absorb just how much effort would need to go into a lot of these unconventional wedding locations.

{Here is an incomplete list of things I would need to find, pay for, and coordinate myself: tables, chairs, linens, cutlery, glasses, bar set up (mixers, mix-ins, fruit, garnishes, shakers, blenders, ice, places to keep ice, portable refrigerators etc), liquor, permits, insurance, bathroom facilities, clean up/trash collecting, security and staff, food, drink, cake, servers, people to place centerpieces, hang decorations, bring out the cake and coordinate dinner time… oh, and each of these things has its own fee, plus tax, plus often a 20% gratuity. So sure, the rooftop of a former piano factory turned loft apartment building is cheap on it’s own, but when combined with everything else, it becomes more expensive than the nice restaurant next door. And that hotel in New Jersey is a lot more feasible for our guests than the base of an Icelandic volcano. Also, the hotel and restaurant have in-house event planners included in the price who do all the worrying for you. Read that last part again “ …[person] who will do all the worrying for you.” A designated worrier. Where have you been my whole anxious, OCD life?}

Step 8. Realize that while I haven’t exactly been dreaming of my wedding my whole life like a David Tutera worshipping pouf princess, I have had a picture of it in my mind, and radically, it involves me wearing a white dress and walking down the aisle of my mother’s church. It also definitely included me being nervous about nothing but saying “I Do” in the right place. I did not dream I’d be worrying that the bathroom trailer got dropped off in the caterer’s spot or that the DJ booth won’t fit through the ancient front door or that the pigeons haven’t been completely roused from their winter roosts in the ceiling. 

Step 9. Wrestle with my opposing visions of getting married in an architecturally beautiful but probably impractical former Carousel House (without heat or A/C, kitchen facilities or bathrooms), and my vision of enjoying my wedding day without being my usual bundle of nerves multiplied by being my own defacto wedding coordinator. Decide that maybe if I want to have a cool, weird wedding that only I and a few friends will truly enjoy, I should just do that with them, and not try to squeeze 100 of our unwitting family members into a tugboat. But if I want 100 people to come out and have a good time with us, in this case, compromise is best. Finally beginning to see that many of those offbeat ‘quitters’ were probably just smart girls who wanted to make their guests happy, as well as avoid giving themselves an aneurysm.

Step 10. Remember that personality is all in the details. By choosing a venue that takes care of the large but tedious parts (tables, chairs, food, liquor etc) you can focus on the cool, fun stuff, in smaller and easier ways. In high school, wearing green velevt Doc Martens was not enough for me- I had to pair them with, say, outfits constructed entirely of vinyl. As an adult, I am pleased to say I have tempered my propensity for excess. (I’ve found that many other people are pleased to learn this about me, too.)

Step 11. Step 11 is yet to be completed but involves fully committing to my resolve to make a compromise between what I want and what’s best for everyone, and will culminate in choosing a middleground venue. Which in a way, I think, makes me even more offbeat, because I’m not falling into the MeMeMeMeMe/It’s MY day/Bridezilla mentality, which to me is like subtley or not-so-subtely telling everyone from guests to your fiance to SUCK IT. And choosing to be practical is also Offbeat- at least when you contrast it with insisting you enter the reception on wires descending from the ceiling, or arriving in a fake pumpkin carriage, or spending a year's salary on one day. In the age of bridezilla, being reasonable is revolutionary.

I want to add that I LOOOOVE so many of the offbeat ideas I see on Offbeat Bride, and in fact love a lot of the ideas I mentioned above, and give mad props to anyone who pulls them off. Unfortunately I’m realizing that many of them, location-wise, are just not feasible for us, both financially and for the sake of our guests- and my overthinking worrywart personality. Low stress trumps originality in this case. {A message from my mental health advisor.}

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bridal Meetup

A few weeks ago I met another fellow bride for drinks and wedding talk. My new friend and I had met in the Offbeat Bride Tribe and had been emailing for a couple weeks. She was considering some of the same venues and I was able to pass along some of the spreadsheets other brides had been kind enough to share with me.

We met at The Dove Parlour, a very cute speakeasy-style establishment downtown, where she and her fiancé had first met- and then gotten engaged right outside of! She and I have had reverse paths, as far as locations go- she grew up in Brooklyn (and Seattle) and now lives in Jersey City.

We had a couple of champagne cocktails and discussed a whole range of issues, from the egregious assumed gender roles in typical weddings and how they’ve affected us, to fun ideas for Save the Dates.

She just booked the Newark Museum, which is gorgeous.

I’m very excited to have made a new friend, indulged in some wedding talk with a like-minded bride, and I’m looking forward to hearing more details of her wedding as they emerge!

Offbeat Bride just published one her blog posts about planning an offbeat wedding as a visually impaired woman, which she is. She’s also a second generation burlesque dancer with a Master’s from Sarah Lawrence in Women’s History, marrying an anarchist lawyer, in a wedding that will feature a cocktail hour amongst the classics and a reception full of swing dancing. Hurray for Offbeat Brides (and new friends!)

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Classic Tranquil Country Lakefront Destination Wedding

I just returned from an annual business trip at The Otesaga in Cooperstown, NY. On Saturday night a wedding was held in one of the ballrooms and it got me to thinking… here’s a way to solve the Jersey/NYC wedding location debate: choose neither and have a destination wedding to upstate New York!

Michael loves the idea of a getting married on an island, but we didn’t think it would work for many of our guests, so we didn’t really pursue it. However, this place is within driving distance, so I spent my working weekend viewing it from a bridal perspective.

The biggest draw is the setting. The hotel is situated on the base of beautiful Lake Otsego. No other buildings are in sight- just the glimmerglass lake surrounded by rolling hills densely covered in trees.

Located in the village of Cooperstown, NY, in the historic ‘Glimmer Glass’ section- a lovely little town. Nearby is both a farmer’s museum and another museum featuring the New York State Historical Society’s collections; an opera house and theatre festival; and the Empire State Carousel (housed in it’s own little Carousel House!), plus the cutest little sheep farm. And, of course, the Baseball Hall of Fame. The hotel, a Top 50 golf resort open since 1909, has tennis courts, a pool, and the top-rated Leatherstocking golf course. (God I sound like a catalogue!) Cooperstown is deep in the country- the rolling hills and farms of upstate New York.

The hotel itself is gorgeous and has a shabby chic vibe (without the shabby part). Each room has a painted chandelier and a view of either the great lawn or the lake. The food is great, it has multiple bars, and the staff is amazing. Maybe I’ve been in NYC too long, but I cannot get over how friendly everyone is!

They brought this to me for my birthday!

The ballrooms are grand but with a country feel to them- striped chairs, flower patterned curtains, lattice covered windows. It gives the stately mansion a cozy vibe.

Cocktail hour can be held in one of the club rooms but the best choice is on the veranda. There are two ballrooms, on one of which can be split into two smaller rooms or opened up to fit well over 200 people. Lodging includes meals- their breakfast buffet is legendary. Our dinner menus are always great- every year I come back from the trip a few pounds heavier!

And there’s also the option of a winter wedding- the resort is usually closed between Thanksgiving and March, but will reopen just for weddings in the colder months- so you have the entire place to yourself, plus I’m sure the rates would be a steal.

I like the idea of being somewhere completely ‘other’- it’s not the shore, it’s not the city. If we do the summer time, our sports loving guests will have lots of options, and I think everyone would enjoy the beautiful, tranquil setting. It is a good 4-5 hour drive, though, and the hotel rooms aren’t cheap (although I haven’t gotten the wedding discounted room rate yet), so the question is, is this too much to ask of our guests? It’s almost guaranteed that many people will not be able to make the trip.

This is for real!

One thing I can be sure of, they would be wonderful to work with, since I already know the whole staff well- they’re great people. The manager already started telling me about extras you can add, like a fire pit and a s’mores station (!!!). They can set up a tent out on the lawn, or croquet or bocce ball. Plus, decorating would be so fun- this is the kind of place you can do cute, crafty DIY projects for, or just pretty flowers. No high-falutin concepts needed!

Okay, this is just a thought, so don’t go freaking out if you’re probably going to be a wedding guest and hate the idea of travelling- this is a long shot. In the meantime, enjoy the view!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We’re Moving!

I’ve been bad about posting but I have good reason- we’re moving!

We’d been planning to move in a few months but circumstances changed and we had to hustle and leave this month. We found a great place in Bushwick that’s brand-new!

On top of that, it’s been a busy time at work for me- we had to push up our moving date even earlier because I leave for a work trip tomorrow, and Mike starts a long-term assignment next week. Last month Michael started a new career. It’s been very exciting and he’s been very busy, which is wonderful, but made the move even trickier, especially because we’re doing it all ourselves.
I’ll be back with more details and photos, as well as other updates, after I return from my business trip and life calms down a little. In the meantime let me just add that we looooove our new apartment. We’d put up with a lot of crap at the old place, and it wasn’t until we moved to this one that we realized just how much it had been affecting our lives. Our new place is gorgeous and we’re so happy there already. It’s the first place we’re living in alone as an engaged couple, too! J