Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Know the WIC Before Saying No to the WIC

I have a good friend who recently had the most awesome wedding that was perfect for her and her groom.

She didn't want to walk down an aisle full of people smiling manically at her. She didn't want to exchange sacred, personal vows in front of everyone she'd ever met. So with just her parents, his parents, their 2 brothers, me & my man in tow, they drove up the coast & got hitched in a ten minute ceremony on the beach. That's it. 8 guests. I don't know if you call that a small destination wedding or an almost-elopement, but it definitely is not the current standard for weddings. A couple months later, they had a reception that was pretty standard- buffet lunch, table full of sweets, favors- with about 80 of their nearest and dearest. Everyone knew from the get-go that this was the way the wedding would go down.

Right away there was a little drama. Several ladies had expressed a desire to throw a bridal shower. One friend was super gung-ho about it, right up until a week before when she realized I was invited to the ceremony and she was not. She then called foul, citing that it is bad etiquette to have a shower and invite people who are not invited to "the wedding". She was always kind of a drama queen, so when this was blown up to the point that she is no longer speaking to the bride, it felt like a blessing.

Here's the thing- that IS actual etiquette. At least for most people in the US, you don't invite some people to the wedding and others to the ceremony. And you definitely don't invite people to a shower who are not invited to everything else. But whatever. We wanted to throw our friend a shower, so who cares?

The shower, wedding and reception all went well, but after the reception my bride friend has expressed some disappointment. Many people no-showed, seeming to not take it very seriously. They didn't have any "first dances" but did want people to dance. Unfortunately, with no dj, no mc and no "the first dance has occurred" cue, the dance floor remained empty all afternoon. She was also surprised that people who went to the shower didn't also bring gifts to the wedding, and many people who DIDN'T go to the shower didn't bring so much as a card. Yeah… weddings aren't gift grabs, but you still sort of assume people will bring them because that's what you do. She asked me some questions about what is "usual" and I did say that it's fairly common in some circles to bring a shower OR a wedding gift. I also gently suggested that sometimes when people are not present for a ceremony they don't really think of the "reception" as a "wedding" but more of a "party" and therefore might be less likely to get a wedding present.

So here's the thing- do your thing. Do exactly what's right for you and your partner. But do know that when you forego a lot of the tradition and "what's expected" that people might not react in the expected, traditional ways.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Have A Secret To Tell You

A few weeks ago, the man & I went to brunch with a bunch of people. At our table was one newlywed couple and four… FOUR!!… engaged couples! Obviously, there was some wedding chatter going on.
The couple getting married the soonest is having their 400 guest (!!!) reception in a grand ballroom. It's one of those with chandeliers and glided walls. The following conversation happened:
Groom: "It's crazy how much you have to spend on flowers. There is literally no way to get around it. We're having to spend $6000 minimum on JUST flowers."
Me: "Wait. What? Like your package dictates that you have to have that many flowers?"
Groom: "No. It doesn't have a minimum listed. But 400 people- that's 40 tables. Centerpieces are minimum $150 each. So that's $6000 for JUST centerpieces. That's before we even decorate the rest of the room."
They have pretty high expectations in their culture, so it didn't seem worth it to argue but I really wanted to say "Hey… lean in… I have a secret to tell you…. You don't 'have to' buy any flowers at all."
But people have to find their own wedding style and, for some, it seems if you suggest these big lush things are not ACTUALLY a requirement they will have no idea where to go from there. The couple in question can afford that wedding. They will feel confident paying someone to make their already beautiful ballroom look like an english garden. It will make them feel proud to show off a bit. Good for them. So I kept my DIY-cheapo-offbeat mouth shut and squeezed my beloved's hand knowing that, while they are spending the equivilent of our entire budget on just their centerpieces, we will have a lovely, beautiful celebration in a not-at-all grand non-ball room that we, too, will be proud of.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Misunderestimating* My Father

My dad and I have a really good relationship. It's taken some getting used to for my fiance. He still thinks it's weird when I say what my dad thinks about my friend's marital problems or the crazy thing my cousin said. What can I say? I talk to my dad about everything. He's one of my best friends.
So it's no surprise that I was talking to Dad about my future wedding before I was even engaged. Dad knew to expect a call from Fiance to "ask for his blessing" (which we all agree is a little silly since Dad loves my Fiance and tells me all the time how happy he is for us, but I also knew Dad would love to be "let in on the secret" before I knew and it would be a good bonding experience for them). The problem was that during one of these "in the future my wedding will be" talks, my dad started talking about how his friend would play keyboards with my cousins at the wedding. I was like "Um. Why is your friend at my wedding to begin with?" and his response? "Of course he'll be at your wedding! He's my friend!"
Ok look… my dad's a cool guy. He's got a lot of friends. This friend in particular? I'm not sure I'd ever even heard his name before. And Fiance and I financing this shindig on our own. And let me tell you- ain't no room for randoms.
So I was worried. My dad was all excited about our engagement and posted this really sweet status update on Facebook about it. I started to really stress out that he would "verbally invite" people and later be in the uncomfortable position of explaining that since he can't afford to contribute to his daughter's wedding, she won't let him invite people (or whatever people will think). This was made doubly worse by the fact that we are both very close to people at church, but not the same people.
I was in choir with the same 3 families for a decade. We spent 4 hours a day, two days a week together. We celebrated every holiday together. We went on vacation together. Our choir was TIGHT and I still am very close, especially with the mothers since my mom passed away. And you know what? Thanks to my gigantoid family- none of my choirmates are on my "A" list. If magically we find an inexpensive way to increase the guestlist from 200 to 250+, then ok, they're in. But otherwise it's going to break my heart a little, but I can't afford them. So my fear was that Dad would start telling HIS friends (who know my church friends) that they were invited. And like hell I'm having HIS church friends but not mine, you know?
So I called him last night and tried to gently bring up the subject. I said we were looking at venues and it was hard because a lot were 150 capacity and that's not even all MY family… and worked my way to "and on that note… I know people might assume they are invited but…"
He cut me off. "Oh, I know, but they aren't. Don't worry. I am not telling anyone any wedding plans." We clarified that of course his siblings, their kids and their kids are invited (I am actually very close to all those people) and his best friends/my sister's godparents are invited… but so far that's it for him. He totally agreed. It was awesome.
So one less nagging worry! Yay! Now, seriously, if we could just find a freaking venue…..

*Sometimes I miss Good Ol' W. He was great for a laugh. Until, you know, it wasn't funny anymore.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fuck The Wedding Industry

I was engaged less than a week before I was already fed up.
My wonderful man was searching for online venues. He's into the idea of getting married someplace that has meaning for us. Our back-up plan right now is this not at all fancy "house" with huge back patio on a college campus. My awesome cousin & her awesome husband got married there like 20 years ago. The man likes that it's on a campus and that there is that cousin connection. I like that it's dirt cheap at $100/hour. For me, any other place has to be close to that price. If it's at all more it has to be worth it by being gorgeous or awesome in some spectacular way.
So the man searched. He looked at the venue where our dear friends who are in an awesome marriage got married. He clicked the "meeting rental" tab and looked at priceing. The BIG room said it held 300 people seated at round tables and was $650 for the whole day. What the holy hell? YES! Plus, it's at a marina and we could have the ceremony on the lawn overlooking the water. YES YES!
So he emails me the link and the next day I go back to the website before calling because I don't remember what the room is called. I click the "wedding & special event" tab and see the BIG room says it holds 280 seated at round tables and is $1800.
Wait. What?
I call. $650 is for "corporate events". $1800 is for weddings. The difference in the seating is the dance floor. I ask if corporate events can have liquor? Yes. Can they have music? Yes. Could I have a dance floor at my corporate event if I wanted? Yes. So, really, the price difference is just the fact that it's a wedding? Yes.
Look, I get that maybe weddings are more stressful for the staff. I get that brides and grooms are possibly more likely to become crazed controlling demanding psychopaths than your average event planner. But almost THREE TIMES as much?
The man doesn't see this as a problem. He thinks the price is still good at $1800 for the reception hall and $600 for the outdoor ceremony. He's right. It's technically still in our as-yet-not-quite-nailed-down budget, but for me the injustice of it all is hard to swallow.

We are still looking. I love the idea of the marina. I know that the "house" isn't going to be conducive to a ceremony so we'd have to find another venue off-campus and the price might get closer to the marina. I know that it would be way easier to just have our guests go from the lawn on the marina into the building right there. But… but… $650 vs $1800 is still pissing me off.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bicultural Lovin'

As might be obvious from my user name, my man and I hail from different cultures. Though, perhaps, not in the ways you might think.
My family is Mexican- two grandparents born in Mexico, two whose families have been in California since it WAS Mexico. My parents were early members of MEChA and the Brown Berets. I've always labeled myself "Chicana" rather than "Hispanic" or "Mexican-American" or even "Latina" because my parents decided that was important. We observed the grape boycott so long I forgot what grapes tasted like and they still always feels like a guilty pleasure. Every Saturday when I was young I went to a Spanish Immersion school my mom & her educator friends founded. While other girls went to ballet or gymnastics, I was in folklorico classes. I was never in a Christmas pageant, but I know all the words to Las Posadas.
Meanwhile, my man's parents came over from the Philippines as adults. He's the first Filipino I've ever dated, but the parish I grew up in is about 1/3 Filipino and I was in choir with mostly Filipinos throughout my teens and twenties. So, you know, I figured I was ready. I knew all my prayers in Tagalog. I know the difference between Tita and Ate. I've made pancit once or twice. I've been to many a Santo Nino celebration. But it turns out, I'm marrying the least Filipino Filipino ever.
After immigrating, my man's parents were pretty serious about assimilating. Although his mom speaks Tagalog with her siblings, her kids don't even know common phrases because she made a point never to speak it in the home. And other than calling her Lola ("grandma") and once in a GREAT while someone referring to their aunt as "Ate" (but, honestly, they might be saying "Auntie"), they don't use familial names at all. When I met his mom for the first time I did the bow-put-her-hand-on-my-forehead thing and she laughed and said I was more Filipino than he is.
It turns out, my 2nd generation parents being super gung-ho about their culture of origin and his 1st generation parents wanting to disappear into American culture is the bigger "bicultural challenge" than the fact that our countries of origin are different.
It's not surprising, then, that I'm the one trying to infuse our wedding with some Filipino-ness. I'm the one who looked up the traditions that he'd never heard of. I'm the one pushing for us to have married couples we admire serve as "ninongs & ninangs". I'm planning to knit our shawl to be placed over his shoulders and my head during the ceremony. The bonus, though, is that suddenly our engagement has brought out the more traditional side of his mom. She seems happy to let us do our own thing, but was also pretty smiley when I said I did was ninongs. I'm looking forward to sitting down with her to discuss these sorts of things and figure out what we can incorporate.
My dad, meanwhile, is super excited about about the possibility of some Mexican-Filipino fusion food. Carne Asada Pancit anyone? Sising Tacos? Yum.

Friday, January 10, 2014

...But He Asked Me Anyway

The manfriend got me up early Thursday morning. His sister wouldn't be ready for dinner until after 3pm, but he was worried about traffic so we agreed to get on the road as early as possible. Once we were dressed and the massive amounts of food I'd cooked already were in the car, we headed out. I was in a much better mood, jealousy subsided and just wanting to enjoy the day.
Amazingly, there was almost NO traffic from the Valley all the way down to San Diego. We decided to "kill some time & shake off driving stress" (according to the manfriend) at our "secret spot". This is a bench overlooking the beach at the edge of his grad school campus. We've had many lovely romantic hours passed there, always at night. In my head, this was my secret dream proposal spot. I wanted him to propose quickly (no song & dance since I thought I'd be nervous)  and then somehow, magically, whisk me away to celebrate with everyone I love. Well….
When we got there, I got out of the car and walked up to our bench. There were people out on the beach and it was a beautiful day. It was awesome seeing it during the day for the first time.
Secret Spot
I was snapping pictures and checking in on Foursquare (I know, so romantic, right?) when my darling man came over with roses and a bottle of champagne. ACK!!! I knew. I knew right then but thought maaaaaybe there was a possibility that this was going to be one of those stories where it totally seems like a proposal and then it doesn't happen. So I just said thank you for the flowers and kissed him. Then I noticed him fiddling with his pocket and I freaked out! So I just kept kissing him! Ha ha ha. I just got so nervous!
He started talking between kisses, just saying my name and pet names…. then he dropped to one knee and said something about loving me (why is it so hard to remember?!) and asked me to marry him. I'm fairly sure I said yes. He got up and we hugged and kissed and random people down on the beach started clapping! :) After several minutes of kissing and laughing I was like "Well put it on me!"
My precious
We had some random surfer take our picture and then hung out on our bench drinking champagne, kissing, talking and just enjoying our secret for a little bit. After a while I called dad (he knew it was coming since the man called him on Tuesday to let him know/ask for his blessing). He was all emotional and happy for us and VERY proud of himself for not spilling the beans to my sister because he didn't want to take that away from us. :) I called sister at work & she was super happy for us too.
Then, exactly as I'd secretly hoped, after some alone time we got to celebrate in person with his family. We had an awesome, super chill, very happy, full of wedding talk Thanksgiving. The next day we had my family's traditional Thanksgiving II- Revenge of the Fat Pants.They've had a tough couple years (I lost track of the funerals) and really NEED something to celebrate. I tried to just show up & wait for someone to notice the ring, but that didn't happen. So I finally started waving my hand in front of my uncle, talking about what a GOOD Thanksgiving I had. My cousin finally figured it out and started screaming. Turns out, she's been calling venues for me for months! HA!
Then Saturday one of my closest friends got married in a beautiful, intimate ceremony at home and of course lots of my close friends were there too, including the guy who started my crazy jealous rampage! So literally, I was able to celebrate in person with almost everyone I love over my engagement weekend! He could not have planned it better!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

In Which A Normally Chill GF Turns Into A Crazy Person

I've been with my beloved about a year. It took me a few dates to be sure about him but when I was sure-- I was damn sure. Our first date was Sept 2 and I was moved in by Christmas. We started talking about marriage really quickly but after some financial/timing talks I figured the "official" proposal wouldn't be coming until early 2014.
I was totally fine about it. Really. I rejoiced in others' engagements. I happily planned my BFF's bridal shower, wedding & reception. I was awesome. Then… my birthday came the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I had been super broke for his birthday the month before and therefore didn't buy him a gift. Instead, I made his favorite dinner and something that vaguely resembled an ice cream cake. I made the apartment cute and catered to him. My birthday? Leftover fried chicken (which I don't like). Oh… and an unfrosted bunt cake. Like, who has an unfrosted bunt cake for their birthday?
Oh, yeah, I was sick, too.
That's really not my man. I mean, he's usually really generous and thoughtful and stuff. We go out to dinner at least once a week, so I thought, you know, maybe he'd order in or something. Nope.
So, late that night, when a friend who has been dating his boyfriend for like 2 seconds, posted the last of his pictures from their uber romantic European vacation, in which they were flying home in first class and oh look! boyfriend proposed with an awesome blue diamond ring…. I was a little jealous. Just a little. I shook it off… until the next day….
I checked Facebook and, oh hey! Another freaking engagement. This time it's this dude from my old church who knocked up our mutual friend and then said he "didn't want to be a father who was in and out of his child's life" so he just ditched the kid altogether! She had to submit a DNA test to the Army to get child support against his will. Since then he's stayed in school and I really assume this is so he doesn't have to get a job and pay child support again. He tells everyone who doesn't know Baby Mama that he doesn't have kids! But oh yay for him and the poor chick who agreed to marry him. Yay love!
I was pissed. I hated myself for it, but I was CONSUMED with jealousy. My poor man just knew I was in a pissy ass mood for no apparent reason. I huffed and hit the pillows when I went to bed. I pouted. I finally admitted to myself that I was being the crazy, ring obsessed, bitch of a girlfriend I always hated others being. Although we had a very long day ahead of us Thursday, I couldn't get to sleep because I was just MAD. Thankfully, I didn't say anything to the manfriend, because he already had something up his sleeve….