Monday, February 13, 2012

On Weddings, Spending and Self-Definition

After my 2 month hiatus, I am pleased to return with fantastic news… The Grige and I are engaged! He did it with style, whipping out a gorgeous ring on top of a mountain on our ski vacation to Vermont. I will write more about our affordable and amazing ski-cation later, but for now I will just say that I was blissed out on micro-brews, cheese and proposals for an entire week, and it was ahhhhhmazing.

Photo: Jeanine Finch
My amazing and talented cousin took some photos for us, I'll share more later!
So now, we are planning a wedding. And boy is that just the mother of all financial topics. I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t moderately prepared for it. I’ve been an avid reader of Meg over at A Practical Wedding for a while now and I couldn’t have been more excited that her book was released the same month as our engagement. I was prepared to be flexible with the industry standards, I wanted a brunch wedding in the off season at an outdoor venue. I wanted all of my vendors to be pro-marriage equality, green, and sane. I was going to be surrounded by an intimate circle of my closest friends and relations while we said our vows in a field somewhere and I was going to float on a cloud of crafty bliss right up to the wedding day.

Photo: Chad Fisk
Newly Engaged and totally blissed out!
That lasted about the duration of our wonderfully secluded Vermont vacation. 2 months, many deposits, and only 2 major tearful breakdowns later I can report that we are getting married in the evening by my parent’s minister (and college friend) during the absolute busiest time of the year at a country club. Over 150 people will be invited and a fair number of them will be meeting the Grige and me for the first time. There will be chicken for dinner and a soul band and my dress will be long and white and twirl-y. This whole day practically arrived on my doorstep in a box with a bow on it and a card that said “For Emily, with love, from the wedding industrial complex”.

Here we are adventuring - I though our wedding would look rather like this!
And do you know what? It’s okay. I think many hetero weddings wind up reflecting the bride’s taste for herself and her husband. Our wedding unequivocally represents the Grige’s taste for us.  By letting him drive these decisions, I’ve learned so much about him, which is the whole point of planning a wedding, in my opinion. He likes it when we dress up, and he doesn’t want to see me barefoot and wearing a basic cotton sheath on our wedding day. He loves a great party and wants our friends to dance all night with us. He’s excited to sit at a head table facing a room full of people who are there to celebrate us. Not surprisingly, this is my parent’s taste as well, and seeing the three of them so excited and happy and comfortable with this wedding that we are planning is definitely my bliss.

This was such a fun wedding!!

What I wasn’t prepared for was how challenged I would feel to spend every single dollar in a way that represents both the Grige and I as people and our values. To me, a wedding was this big chance to define ourselves and our relationship with carefully thought-out details, and to support our values by spending this huge chunk of money only on vendors who share those values. I have a long-standing rule that I would like to die having never touched a gun or a golf club, and here I am planning my wedding at a country club with an extensive golf course. Needless to say, it’s taken some time to get used to. But I’m winning on other fronts, and on the whole, our vendors are good people in small businesses who are trying to give us their best for our money.
Luckily, a ski patrol was able to capture this priceless moment for us - I remember the whole day being exactly this blurry.
The reality is that this wedding isn’t really about me at all. It’s so much bigger than that. It’s about the beginning of our new family, and the joining of our old families. Those families, those witnesses, need the big white dress and the minister and the reception hall and cake, even if I don’t. And it’s just stuff anyway. Stuff can’t define you. The Grige and I made our personal and unique  promise to each other on top of that mountain in Vermont, and with local cheese and craft beer and pizza afterwards. Nothing could be more “us” than that week was. This wonderful party that we’re planning is just society’s way of helping us share it with everyone else.

1 comment:

  1. I wish you had gotten married before me so you could have written this for me to read before my wedding. Alas I think "You & the Grige" as we know it today were but a twinkle in the eye of the WMATA love gods when I was having my teary break-downs. :) Great post!