bonny_kate: (Default)
My dress is not yet finished. I am working very, very hard on it, in between everything else. it just needs some of the lace sewn (I have about half of the lace already sewn) as well as the buttons (which need to be covered and then sewn on). I've been doing as much as I can every day, while watching Stargate Atlantis. This is happy because I get the most sewing done while watching a movie or tv show that I enjoy but doesn't require lot's of concentration, and I'm also watching Stargate Atlantis which I've been wanting to watch for a while (done with the first season, and partly through the second). Overall, the Stargate series are really good at writing strong female characters. For instance, in Stargate Atlantis one of the main characters is Elizabeth Weir, who (and this is not a spoiler since it is clear from the first episode on) is the civilian head of Atlantis. She is over everyone, including the military personnel. Yet she is not objectified, being neither overtly sexy (still attractive, though) nor overly matronly. She is one of the strongest characters, and, so far at least, her ability to do the job has never been questioned on the basis of her femininity. She is a strong character, and while the fact that she is a woman is part of that, it is never primary in annoying ways. Atlantis assumes a good sort of gender neutrality when it comes to ability to do one's job, while still letting gender inform the characters. It's nice and refreshing, especially after so many action movies objectify women in various ways (making them merely sexy or useless or so on).
bonny_kate: (doctor and rose)
Today we got our fridge delivered. This would be all happy and shiny (but not shiny, happy, because as Joss Whedon fans know, that would be scary) except it was about 3/16 of an inch too big. This is due much less to my measuring skills (decent, especially considering I was using a sewing tape measure) and more to the fact that the space is tiny and *not straight*. We should have been able to fit a 28 inch fridge in the space. Actually, we probably still could have, but it would have been tilted. *sigh* Tomorrow Joel and I are off to look at fridges yet again. Hopefully we can find something a smidge smaller.

We also got our couch delivered. This was much happier. It was the correct couch and size and all the pieces were delivered. It is an Ikea couch, so involved a bit of putting it together. Now it is put together, and all comfy and much nicer than sitting on the floor. Our apartment is starting to feel a bit closer to put together, which is good.

Also, our apartment needs a name. It needs a name that expresses it's tininess. I may need a bit longer before I can come up with something.
bonny_kate: (kaylee)
Joel is trying to get me into his RPG (namely, D&D). I am skeptical. It involves math, and not the fun sort.* But I do find the worldbuilding interesting.#

*I like some math. I like trig and calculus and derivatives and integrals. What I don't like is addition, subtraction, multiplication and division unless I can do it with a calculator.** My theory is that there is only so much room in my brain for math, and the higher bits pushed out the lower bits. Well, ok, actually I was never very good at simple math.

**If I end up actually playing, I suspect I will be dragging along my calculator because it will be faster than trying to add a string of numbers in my head. Plus, if I'm bored, it is a scientific calculator and can find logs and so on. Or I could bring my graphing calculator and write notes on it.***

***Yes, I am a major geek. The only calculators I own are either scientific or graphing.

#I mainly find it interesting because it is in many ways so unlike how I manage worldbuilding for stories. It's part set, part created, and part shared. On the other hand, when I write a story, it is very much *mine*.
bonny_kate: (doctor and rose)
I am still alive.

I'm currently on jury duty (still in the process of selecting a jury).

My fabulous roommates helped me fold all the wedding invitations after I printed them out (printers don't like 100% cotton paper, and must be coddled a bit).

Maggie helped me seal all the invitations (with wax - we were brilliant).

My wonderful roommates helped me hand address all the wedding invitations, which are waiting to be sent out tomorrow (I really believe in hand addressing things, because I think it is more personal).

I've started some of the handwork on my dress (I haven't gotten very far, but at least I've started).

We registered. This was epic (we tried to register at Pennys, only to find that you can only register online, so registered at Sears, where it took them over ten minutes to find someone who knew enough to help us get started with the whole registering process, and then we registered at Target which was easy). Now, for some reason, only two (!) of the things we scanned are showing up at Sears. We have given up on Sears.

The front door slammed on my finger. It is still a bit sore.

That is my life lately.
bonny_kate: (Default)
Yesterday my roommates and I went out and had some (not really official) fun wedding planning. That is, I dragged them to Office Depot and Office Max to help me determine exactly which paper I wanted (this is one issue that I am in charge of, because it is (very nearly) the stuff of nightmares for Joel). I'd already visited or called every paper or paper supply store in town (as well as one in Pasadena), so I had it pretty well narrowed down. But my fabulous roommates helped me decide, and Liz (because she is that kind of awesome) tracked down someone at Office Max to get the other 100 envelopes that I needed (because of matching announcements). And then we went to Joanne's Fabrics, because it was *so* close and Liz wanted to look at artificial flowers and Maggie wanted to look at scrapbook paper (because they are awesome and making paper roses for the reception) and I like wandering around fabric stores because they are awesome. So, we wandered about, generally enjoyed ourselves, bought paper (well, they did, I bought a canvas bag which is super cute), and then stopped off at Chipotle on the way home to pick up dinner. It was good. It made me happy that I'd made the effort to bring my roommates into this particular aspect of wedding planning (plus, I was really wanting an opinion of which paper (of (it turned out) three possibilities) I should use). Our wedding invitations will be made of lovely paper.
bonny_kate: (doctor and rose)
Joel and I shopped for (together) and bought (together) my engagement ring in the two days after we got engaged. It seemed like there were a lot of people who assumed that this would be a wonderful or romantic experience. That somehow shopping for an engagement ring would be lovely. It wasn't for us. We spent hours and hours (after having looked at rings the previous month) looking over hundred and hundreds of rings, and only found one that we both liked enough to be on our list of potential rings. It wasn't about the Experience. What I really wanted right then was to curl up next to Joel on the couch all day and just be able to enjoy being engaged. We looked at so many rings, and spent so much time, because it is such an important symbol to us, but we really just wanted to be done so we could get back to important things (like watching Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow).

Wedding planning for us is much like engagement ring shopping. The details are important. We've spent a lot of time thinking about them and deciding what we want and like and can afford. Joel's spent so many hours researching venues online. I've spent countless hours looking at paper and thinking about centerpieces. None of this is bad. We think it is all important. But what I'm really wanting right now is to curl up next to Joel for a very long time and just absorb the fact that we are engaged.

Right now I'm burnt out about wedding planning (and trying not to snap at anyone who asks how the wedding planning is going). I'm so ready to be married. One of my friends asked if I'm excited about the wedding. I'm not. I'm ready to be married and done with all this stuff. I want to be done with this wedding. For a while, our weekends were little islands of sanity in a crazy, wedding filled week. Joel and I would sit on the couch and maybe watch a movie. It was lovely and so very helpful. Now we're coming to all sorts of things that have to be done on the weekends (like meeting with a florist, or our priest, or so on). There is so much wedding stuff that has to happen. Right now there are many things I don't really care about (like centerpieces - one of my friends was trying to talk abou them the other day, and I had to say that I just didn't care right now).

My two lovely roommates (who are also friends and bridesmaids) are excited about things like finding the perfect color of pillar candle, or finding matching colored bubble favors (and possibly painting J <3 K on them, because they are crazy, but an awesome sort of crazy). I'm not.

Family has also been . . . a little crazy lately (not going into details). More stress.

Right now I just want to be done with the wedding and get back to important things (like watching Buffy or Dr. Who with Joel). I really do care about our wedding, but right now I'm over planning it.

Finally

Jul. 6th, 2011 08:40 pm
bonny_kate: (Default)
I can say that we have a date. Well, I could have said it a week ago, but now we really truly have booked a date with the photographer, tent people (like sand people, only friendlier, we hope) and the church. I had a celebratory chocolate milkshake from In-N-Out to celebrate (clearly, planning a wedding involves Much Chocolate). So, yay for the 5th of November and Guy Fawkes day (I saw York and the placards where he was born or baptized or such, which clearly makes it that much cooler). Somehow, this is so *us*. Joel and I have jokes about Dr. Horrible, the apocalypse(s), Buffy, and so on, and we are getting married on Guy Fawkes day, totally not on purpose. (Really. It was the only date we were looking at that worked for our photographer, and we didn't even realize the awesomeness until one day Joel said "the Fifth of November" instead of "November Fifth.")
bonny_kate: (book love)
FRIENDS! We are about 95% sure (meaning, after we check a couple of things) that we are getting married on the Fifth of November. This is a crazy random happenstance, and has amused us greatly, because it means we've been going around (gleefully) quoting at every opportunity "Remember, remember, the fifth of November / gunpowder, treason, and plot" and making jokes about giving little bags of gunpowder as favors or pretending to blow up the church or having a bonfire and burning someone in effigy. I am telling you this because I feel like you will truly appreciate it.
bonny_kate: (Default)
Weddings can be great big, hugely complicated and hard things. I do not want to imply that they are not worth it (Joel and I would never consider eloping), but planning our wedding is rather different than I was expecting. Somehow, I naively thought that since all of our friends and family approve of the match, and don't think we're rushing (if anything, the contrary, and think we waited a bit long to finally get engaged), and we aren't doing anything too radical (such as having a Halloween themed wedding or getting married at a roller skating rink), the hard part would be the actual planning. Planning a wedding is hard and often stressful, because at some level we are planning an event for around 180 people, and we've never done it before. For instance, yesterday was the craziness with a possible reception venue. Joel contacted the people, who were only available at inconvenient times, such as Friday afternoon or Tuesday evening (not the best times for two people who work, one of whom lives two and a half hours away). But we decided to talk to them Friday afternoon, although it involved me asking for time off and possibly making a (very short) day trip of it. After I'd already asked for time off, the venue informed us that they'd already scheduled an appointment with someone else (this after we'd promptly returned their message), offering no alternate ways of contacting the coordinator, such as giving us an email address or phone number. So, there's that kind of stressful, which I don't want to minimize. But I was expecting that. (On the other hand, I should mention that the people Joel has been talking to about renting a tent have been wonderful at returning his emails, and I have a very high opinion of our (potential) photographer.) I wasn't expecting the complicated nature of weddings. I naively thought that since we are making such a good choice about marrying, that we are being fairly traditional, that everything would go smoothly (it may for some people).

Weddings are complicated, though, because they are not just are not just family reunions, or large parties. If we were planning a large party, I think people would be more indulgent of our crazy ideas (I think my friends were only mildly amused at my desire for a steampunk party, which is rather out of the ordinary, at least in my circle of friends). This is true for many reasons, and I will start with the best. Weddings are important, because they are the beginning of a marriage, and by inviting someone to our wedding we are asking them to be a part of our life together, and to support us as our community (there is even a line about it in the Anglican service, in which the congregation pledges their support for the couple). Weddings are more than a party, and are therefore more complicated than a party. In that sense, I understand why my parents would like to send out wedding invitations to so many people (many more than can reasonably fit into the church, at least after taking into consideration that Joel is inviting his family, and we are inviting some of our friends). They want people to be a part of this, even if they can't actually come to the wedding. This is a really good thing, and it was hard to tell my parents that they couldn't invite everyone that they wanted to (we are inviting a little over 200 people, and still making a decent amount of cuts to the guest list to keep it reasonable). Instead, they will send out wedding announcements and have a second reception here. It was hard and complicated because they wanted to invite family friends and relatives (albeit rather extended). At least in this case we have a strict limit as to how many people can actually fit in our church, although my parents' argument was that quite a lot of the people they were wanting to invite would (in all probability) not come. Still, I think this is the best kind of complication about a wedding, because it was about something actually good, rather than a social convention or recent tradition.

Weddings are also complicated because of the conflicting desires of those involved. Joel and I want the same things, and when we don't, we have to hash it out, and compromise, because it is our wedding. So far, that hasn't been a problem. What has been complicated, though, are the desires of everyone else. My mom originally envisioned that the two of us would plan the wedding (with Joel perhaps having power of veto), and that it would be here (rather than in LA). I had to explain that Joel and I would really appreciate her help, but that the two of us were planning our wedding. I tried to put it as politely as possible, but I think she was still disappointed. Similarly, with having our wedding in LA, it makes so much sense. We will be living there, it is the church we will be going to, and so we'd rather have the wedding at our church. It isn't terribly far for those who live here (two and a half hours, more or less), and quite a lot of our friends would be driving one way or another. Apparently it is a tradition that the wedding happens in the bride's hometown (I'd never heard of this before my mom stated it). We've been trying, though, to make compromises when we can, without giving up anything important. So, for instance, although I really don't want a Father/Daughter dance, there will probably be one, of sorts (it will not, however, be Butterfly Kisses or something like that - I'm trying to convince my dad that we should do a regency dance, and dance it with Joel and his mom). I know my dad really wants it, so it will probably happen, however much I'd prefer not to have it. Also, I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with the idea of my dad walking me down the aisle. I really prefer the Jewish tradition where the groom's parents walk him down the aisle, and both the bride's parents walk her down the aisle. Joel thinks this might be a bit much for our friends and family, and has pointed out (rightly) that we don't want to overemphasize that aspect of the wedding. I may ask both my parents to walk me down the aisle, which is a compromise from what I really want, but I think a reasonable compromise. (We are also planning on having the alternate wording at the service which is something like 'who presents this woman and who presents this man to be married?' rather than 'who gives this woman?' and have all of our parents answer.) There's a lot of compromises, because while Joel and I won't compromise anything essential, we also know that our wedding isn't just about us. It is also about our friends and our families; our communities being joined together in us. We are trying to be aware of that, and compromise when we can (like with the Father/Daughter dance), but not when it is something we think is more important (like the location of the wedding).

Also, weddings are complicated because of the expectations that so many people have about them (I've talked about this a bit before). For our friends and family, there is an image (often not articulated), of the traditional wedding. A traditional wedding involves the bride in white, with the bridesmaids in matching dresses (at least as to color), and groomsmen in suits. It involves a sit down dinner, preferably with china and silverware and real linens, dancing, wedding favors, and a bouquet and garter toss, not to mention a cake and formal cake cutting. It involves shopping for a wedding dress, and the bride planning everything (the groom being relegated to planning the honeymoon). I would consider all of these to be inessential traditions. They may be kept or broken as the couple desires. Those that we are keeping, no one has yet questioned. No one wonders that I am wearing a white dress, or that we are having a light dinner and dancing at our reception (for the most part, at least). Some of the more modern traditions are also easily and quietly (for the most part) done away with, such as wedding favors. Friends are curious, but understand when I explain that we don't really care about wedding favors (I also can now back up my argument with Miss Manners, who disapproves of wedding favors, which is comforting). Friends are at the most slightly disapproving when we talk about how we don't want to toss the bouquet or garter, or have any sort of cake cutting. They still question these decision, if only a little, because they are contrary to their expectations. I don't think people would ask us why we were choosing to toss a bouquet, or why we decided to have a fancy cake to cut it. This is understandable, but also makes our wedding more complicated because Joel and I are questioning most inessential wedding traditions (and questioning what is really an essential tradition). A few things, though, like choosing not to have bridesmaid dresses, have turned out to be much larger than I thought. When an acquaintance asks what our bridesmaid dresses are, I have (so far) politely avoided the question. However, many of my friends and some of my family have disapproved, and strongly questioned why we are doing this, trying to talk us out of it. It is big and complicated because we are not meeting the image of a traditional wedding. I think everyone is coming around. Two of my friends are going dress shopping this week, in order to choose dresses of their own liking, and are quite excited about it. My mom talked to me the other day about having her best friend sit with my parents in the pew traditionally reserved for family (I told her that of course her friend could sit with her, if that's what my mom wants). But it's taken a while for friends and family to get to that point. It's involved a decent amount of explanation and listening to people try to talk us out of things.

Weddings are really complicated things, in ways that I was not expecting when Joel and I got engaged. We're figuring out what is important to us, and when to stand up for it, when to compromise, and when to just go along. We're figuring out how to make big decisions together, and also by ourselves; we are listening to our friends and family, and still making our own decisions. I've found that wedding planning is not really about things like bridesmaid dresses (even when it seems to be), but about expectations and desires and community, which is what makes it big and complicated and often hard.
bonny_kate: (book love)
I just finished reading Miss Manners on Weddings, and now I'm reading Offbeat Bride: Taffeta-Free Alternatives for Independent Brides. I feel like this is actually a pretty decent summary of how I'm thinking about our wedding.
bonny_kate: (Default)
(Disclaimer: So, I'm going to probably be talking about my wedding a lot on my blog. Sometimes I need to vent. Sometimes I need to rant. Sometimes I just need to talk about things at great length (I tend to write when I'm a certain kind of stressed). Right now, I'm crazy busy, because I'm working full time, job searching, and trying to plan a wedding with my wonderful fiance from two and a half hours away.)

I meant to write another post, but I think I'll write this one instead.

So far, the only thing I really love about our wedding is my fiance (how's that for being honest and sappy at once?). What I mean is that all the details (little or big) so far about our wedding are compromises of some sort. This isn't a bad thing. I am reasonably happy with all of our choices. But I'm a little bit sad that so far, I don't love any of our choices. I would like to love all the little details, and really love our wedding, the way that I loved all the little details of my steampunk birthday party (it was even better than I expected, because my fabulous roommates decorated and my friend made me psychedelic colored cupcakes, and I really liked all the little details like the mismatched coffee mugs and the hats).

Sometimes I am too picky, I think. I took me years (quite literally) after I decided I wanted a new bedspread to find one that I actually really liked. Even when I'm not that picky, I like to see all the options. Whenever I make a costume, I want to wander through the entirety of the fabric store in order to see all the options. When I've bought paper for Christmas letters, I either must see all the options and visit every place in town that sells paper (alright, not every place, but definitely several), or I buy the paper months ahead of time because I fall in love with it (this was the case with my last Christmas letter). Details are important to me, and so it's a bit hard that so far the pretty little details are only decent options. I think part of this is that ridiculous pressure that this is supposed to be the best day of my life, and a beautifully perfect day. I don't expect it to be perfect (I never have), but the idea is still there. It's hard to explain, actually.

There are all sorts of details that I just don't love, even though they are really good choices. I'm a bit sad that we're not getting married in the summer. Getting married in October is practical, because it gives us a decent amount of time to plan without waiting too long to get married. But I really miss the outdoor reception that I would like to have, in some really pretty garden (or even on the grounds of the church) where there are lot's and lot's of white Christmas lights, and candles in glass jars hanging from the trees (I fell in love with this idea because of Charis) and it is under the blue sky. Instead, we are looking for someplace indoors, or failing that, using a tent, because the weather is unpredictable. It may rain or be cold, instead of being lovely and warm and summer. I like tents, and I think they can look very nice, but it is really not my first choice.

I very much like the church we will be getting married at, but it isn't my church. It is Joel's church, and it is the church we will be going to, so it is important to both of us that we will be getting married there. But I still have a little sadness that it won't be my church, with the stain glass windows that I've stared at for hours, and with the church that is mine in a way that no other church has been (for many reasons).

My dress will be very pretty, but not quite what I was hoping for. The fabric was the best that we found, but I wish that there had been more options, and that I could have found a little heavier satin. It's the lace, though, that I'm ambivalent about. I'm really glad that I'm making a regency dress (partly because I love that era, partly because it is cheaper, and mostly because I want to be invested in my dress in a way that I never could be if I just bought it). The lace is pretty, and I was very glad that I bought it, especially because I thought I might not find anything that day. But I go back and forth on it, and it isn't quite as old fashioned as I was hoping for, and I spent a while after buying it second guessing myself, and wondering if perhaps I should have gone with the lace overaly that I looked at (I expect second guessing yourself about your dress is a normal response). I was hoping to fall in love with the fabric and lace the way that I have before while costume shopping, but this time it was more like choosing the best of several decent options, which is just a little bit sad because it is my wedding dress.

Our Save the Dates will be very nice, and I think they will turn out well, but there is also an image of them in my head that I don't think will be transferred to paper (I would like a glossier finish on the front, with a little higher quality image, and some kind of flourish next to our names or around our names, and haven't figured out a way to do the last).

My engagement ring is very nice, and I like it a lot, but I don't love it. I'm a little embarrased because of how giant the middle stone is (and it doesn't help that for several people, their first response has been 'that's huge') and still wish it wasn't quite so prominent. It is a very lovely ring, and we spent three days looking at rings, but it still isn't the perfect ring (which probably doesn't exist anyway). I look at it, and generally think 'it's pretty' but not 'it's gorgeous', and feel a little bit guilty for not thinking it's gorgeous. (And, on a related note, I want to make a little, related confession and say that I'm just a smidge sad that we can't afford the lovely matching wedding band. Actually, I'm conflicted. I like it rather a lot, because it is pretty, and actually the only set that I saw that I liked, but at the same time it is definitely not in our budget, and I also don't really want Joel to spend three times more on my wedding band than on his. It would seem better if they were about the same cost. On the other hand, while I like the idea of matching, I kind of also like the idea of the wedding band standing out a bit from the engagement band, and looking different, because it is more important in many ways. So, I just don't know.)

I think all this explains why I broke down the other day about paper (of all the ridiculous things). Yesterday did not go well, although I really, really tried. It went well until lunch, and then it sort of broke. At lunch I went to buy paper for our Save the Date postcards. I found more wedding invitation kits, although nothing that I really liked. I bought cardstock from the paper supply place, and discovered on getting back to work that the paper is much thinner than I thought, and I want a little thicker cardstock to make a little nicer postcards. Really, this is no big deal. I can just buy more paper, still be under budget, and it's all happy, right? I was telling myself that and still stressing out about the paper while telling myself it was a ridiculous thing to stress about. Anyway, I tried to stop worrying about it and on my way home, stopped off to pick up the engagement pictures (my mom took them and I *really * like them), and looked at Michael's and Target for wedding invitation kits. I didn't like anything at Michael's, but thought it was fine, because Target had some that I really liked (seeing the pictures online, anyway). This Target actually had the invitation kit, but I suddenly found that it wouldn't work for what I'm wanting. I want a simple invitation, which is white cardstock with a thin black border (possibly some embilishments) and two envelopes. All the wedding invitation kits I've found that have a black border are the fold out kind, and only have one envelope, or a flat invitation with only one envelope. I really want two envelopes because it is all fancy, and because that way I can use my seal and red sealing wax on the inner envelope (something I've envisioned doing for ever so long). I was there in the store almost in tears because one of the few details about the wedding that I've really, really liked now no longer looks possible. Simultaneously, I was thinking how very ridiculous and stupid it was to be almost in tears because of wedding invitations.

Then I went home, and the shelf in the pantry that is mine tipped over, and in trying to fix it I knocked over the next shelf down, and banged my arm (the shelves were fixed) and when I got things out of my car I forgot to get everything out and left the trunk open for hours until I remembered. When I remembered, I closed it (nothing was missing and my car started fine this morning, thankfully) and stubbed my toe on the sprinkler and discovered I had no bread to make my lunch. I was also practical and found a decent alternative for the wedding invitations, which is to use a black cardstock and then a smaller white cardstock to print as invitations (so it will have, essentially, a black border) and this will also let us have black lined envelopes, which I like.

It was *not* a terrible, awful, no good, very bad day, but it tried.

Wedding planning is crazy for me so far, and it has only a little to do with the planning itself (although that is stressful) and a whole lot to do with working with expectations and family dynamics and all those sorts of things, which I wasn't realy prepared for. Some days I am just really happy because I am marrying Joel (and that is the point of all the planning) and some days I am stressed out because of the process that is wedding planning.
bonny_kate: (doctor and rose)
I want to first say that ya'll are wonderful. You are congratulatory and supportive and sane, and if I could I would send you wonderful care packages full of awesomeness, because it is so very helpful to be able to vent or rant or just generally ramble about wedding planning (or really, anything) and know that you are listening.

So, this is my (rather long, I expect) explanation for bridesmaid dresses and our wedding. The short version is that we aren't having bridesmaid dresses. (And I should point out that I don't judge brides who choose, for any of many reasons, to have bridesmaid dresses. Well, truthfully, I judge them a little if they choose something that is horribly ugly or horendously pricey, but I do think there are many decent reasons for having bridesmaid dresses; we just aren't having them.) I'll explain a bit why we aren't having them, and the reaction to this, because I find it a little weird. I've done rather a lot of thinking about bridesmaid dresses (all of it before being officially engaged). I'm uncomfortable asking my bridesmaids to buy a dress that they will only wear once (which is, honestly, usually how it goes, despite the best intentions of the bride), and giving them very little input as to what sort of dress they are spending their money on. I was a bridesmaid, and although the dress I had to buy was relatively inexpensive, it was still the most I'd ever spent for a dress in my entire life (including costumes), and I had no choice about the color, and could only choose from some limited styles, and was not happy with the quality of the dress (I am very picky when it comes to spending lot's of money on a dress, because I sew and I know good workmanship from sloppy workmanship, and this dress isn't very good). It sits forlornly in my closet because I can't come up with a good use for it. I don't want that to happen to my bridemaids. I know that they would spend the money on a dress because they love me, but I would feel guilty. I considered asking for dresses within a certain color range, but our colors (because we sort of have colors) are black and white and deep red, and it is hard asking someone to find a red dress that will match, white is weird, and I was never thrilled about the idea of matching black cocktail dresses (one of my friends went this route, and I saw it and was kind of "meh" about the idea).

Something my mom said (while trying to talk me into making bridesmaid dresses instead of the black cocktail idea) made me question why I wanted bridesmaid dresses at all. I realized that the only reason I really cared was for the formal pictures, and that didn't seem like a good reason. So, after talking about it with Joel (at great length), I decided that I didn't want bridesmaid dresses. I would rather have my friends looking like themselves than looking like I picked out a dress for them to wear, and with any sort of bridesmaid dress option, even if it was just the color, I would feel like I was forcing them to look a certain way. I don't want them to look like accessories to our wedding, but like friends who have an important place in our wedding, and the way that we're choosing to do that is to eliminate the bridesmaid dresses. All of my friends have taste, and I can trust them to show up in something nice. I did give a few requests as to formality, mostly because some of my friends were asking, and I know that people like to know how formal to dress. I told them what the groomsmen were wearing (slacks, collared shirt, no jacket, tie optional, vest optional, not matchy, because of much of the above about bridesmaid dresses), that I preferred (emphasis on the preferred) that the dress (or skirt) go with the red and white flowers that they will be carrying, and told them to wear something that will make them look fabulous. That's it. I don't think any of them will show up in a hot pink with orange polka dot thing, but if they do, I think I will be ok with it.

This has the added benefit of being an old tradition. From my "research" I know that bridesmaid dresses are a fairly new invention. My grandmother didn't have any at her first wedding (in fact, she only had a maid of honor). Like many traditions, old and new, Joel and I are quite comfortable questioning them, and then cutting them if we don't like the symbolism, or just don't care (we are also cutting the bouquet toss, garter toss, wedding favors, and doing some other sort of desert instead of cake). In this instance we are actually going back to the old, regency era tradition of having one's wedding party wear their best Sunday clothes to church for a wedding. I like that sort of casualness. We want our wedding to be about us, but we also want it to be about our friends and family as they are (in all their awesomeness).

Sounds simple, right? Actually, I've had so many people try to talk me into having bridesmaid dresses. My mom keeps trying really hard to get me to give some more qualifications for the dresses (she thinks that certain of my bridesmaids would look better in a certain type of dress or fabric, and she may be right, but I'm still not going to do it). I've stopped mentioning the bridesmaid dresses in casual conversations because most people think I'm crazy. Two (or possibly three) of my five bridesmaids think I'm crazy for not having bridesmaid dresses, but are too polite to tell me. The question that comes up is generally 'but what about the pictures?' I keep thinking of the formal pictures I have of two of my friends and me at Spring Banquet at our college, in which we did not try to match, are wearing very different styles of dresses, and still look fabulous together. I think it will work. I think if any of my bridesmaids end up with wildly clashing dresses, then we will just arrange it so that they aren't standing directly next to each other during the ceremony. It may come across that I don't care about bridesmaid dresses, but I really do, only I care in a completely different way. In other words, I care a whole awful lot about bridesmaid dresses, and have put lot's and lot's of thought into them, but have come to the (counter mainstream) decision with Joel not to have them.

Amusingly, two of my bridesmaids (who are also, clearly, two of my very dear friends) have decided to coordinate, at least among themselves, and among as many of the other bridesmaids who want to. They are going dress shopping together (and are glad because, while I told them they don't have to buy something new, this way they can find something they like, at a price that they think is reasonable, and they both like dress shopping), and want me to go with them to Home Depot to pick out a paint chip of the color red that we're having, so that they can coordinate with it. (Honestly, though, we don't have a color red, we just know that I want a really deep, dark red, and will leave the specifics to the florist, and will go with whatever dark red I find for random decorating things, like red chocolates, without feeling the need for it to match too exactly. Same goes for the invitations, where if I put a bit of red ink on it, will be a prety dark red but may not exactly match the red of the flowers.) Another of my bridesmaids emailed me to ask if I had any preferences about the dresses, as far as color or prints versus solid (I don't). (I should mention that Joel's sister is happy not to have to buy a bridesmaid dress, and at least one of my other bridesmaids really understands why I don't want them, so it isn't as though I've been getting a completely negative reaction.)

So, while not having bridesmaid dresses is probably a whole lot easier than having them, it has also turned out to be a surprising amount of work. I was not expecting peoples reactions. I thought that we could cut the bridesmaid dresses, my bridesmaids would be happy, it isn't too weird, and we are being traditional. We are keeping traditions that are important to us (like having the traditional wedding ceremony, getting married in a church, having some sort of reception, having bouquets, and so on). But when most people are thinking about traditional they are really thinking about the sort of wedding that everyone has (A Practical Wedding pointed this out, and I think it is really true). Most people are used to a wedding containing all sorts of nonessentials, like bridesmaid dresses, especially if we are talking about a traditional wedding. When we cut really modern little things (like wedding favors), we only get a few weird looks, but mostly people understand, but cutting something larger, like bridesmaid dresses, and suddenly people think we are crazy. We don't meet their expectations, and somehow this has become a normal part of a wedding. Somehow it is normal for me to care about picking out bridesmaid dresses, and what my friends will wear, but weirdly crazy if I care in a completely different way.

I don't get it. I wasn't expecting to feel defensive about this (and other small decisions we are making that are out of the normal), but I am, because I keep having to explain to people (especially close friends and family) why we are doing it, and be polite as they try to (politely and usually in a roundabout way) talk me out of it.

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Kate Saunders Britton

April 2017

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