The V Word by Christine

June 25, 2010

Vows. Vows. Vows. Currently, this word is the bane of my existence. In a few short minutes, I’m supposed to tell John why and how much I love him in front of my closest friends and family without sounding generic, corny, or totally lame. Is this possible? No. I really don’t think it is. Initially I told myself that I would Google it and all would be well. I’d sound like Walt Whitman and Emily Dickenson combined, and the audience would bawl their eyes out with how romantic and unique my vows were. This is when I realized that although Google solves most problems, I don’t think it will solve this one. In fact, that was probably one of my worst wedding ideas to date (this list includes: wearing shoes with clear stripper heels, donuts shaped as bride and grooms instead of a cake, and having my bachelorette party at a drag queen bar- oh wait, that one is actually happening). So, here I am less than 2 months away from “the big day” (I really despise this phrase after reading as many wedding magazines as I did over the past couple of years), and I have no vows to call my own except this ranting blog entry with the word “vows” in it. So, John, friends, family, and everyone else out there- please expect a poem, a haiku, or maybe just some tears and disoriented babbling. I have no idea what I’m going to write, but I do know that it’ll probably be corny, I’ll probably be crying (happily), and it’ll probably be… perfect.

Every weekday morning I wake up at 6:18 AM when Christine’s (hereafter known as Dubs, since I never call her Christine) alarm begins to beep and the cute lump next to me groans like it just walked into a door.  I open my eyes, reach over and turn off my alarm, which I set nightly only as a back-up and which hasn’t needed to alarm us for months, and generally think to myself “Time to make the doughnuts.”  I used to say this aloud, and still sometimes do, but Dubs doesn’t really take kindly to light-heartedness in the morning.  I get up, hit the toilet, pull on a Phish shirt, and head to the kitchen to begin the process of making 2 cups of tea.  Through all this, that cute lump is still generally laying like a lump, groaning still, cursing the heavens for making work start at 7 AM rather than a more comfy time like noon.

With the water heading towards a boil, I sit down to a big bowl of cereal while noises begin to escape from the bedroom and bathroom.  The cute lump has become a sleepy but moving figure, and the groans become things like “Ughh, stupid work.  Why’s it so dark out?!”  The cereal eaten, I check my emails, pull up the news, finish the job of making tea, and say goodbye to Dubs at the door.

That’s how my first 20 minutes go every morning, and I couldn’t be happier.  Point of all this?  I’m a man who likes his routines.  I ride my bike the same route every day to my office.  I like to eat a PBJ sandwich every morning about 30-45 minutes after getting to work.  I went months last year eating a Subway footlong every lunch at work (until I realized that despite paying only $5.44 daily for a nice hearty meal, I could do better bringing my own edibles).  Dubs and I take the same walk every day through Balboa Park on our lunch.  Every morn I’m tempted to say “Time to make the doughnuts.”  (It now occurs to me that a lot of these routines focus on food and drink; that’s fine with me).

So as this is a blog about a wedding, it begs the question: how will my routines change once we’re married?  Well for starters I’ll have a shiny ring to contend with (size 8.5, tungsten carbide most likely – I was hoping my finger would be a manly size like TEN or something but the lowly eight-and-a-half will have to do).  I’ll have to remember to call Dubs my wife rather than my fiancee, which is great since wife has far fewer syllables and isn’t a silly French word akin to “baguette.”  But the basics will remain the same.

I’m luckier than Dubs, who will have a lot to contend with after our nuptials.  I won’t have to remember to sign Fitzgerald instead of Wiest on the self-checkout card kiosk at Ralph’s.  I won’t have to contend with two rings on a single finger.  I won’t have to contact organization after organization to tell them that my last name has now switched and no, I’m not Irish, my husband is.  I won’t have to buy a new hairbrush after my last one dropped in the toilet…well perhaps that one won’t become a routine, but it sure was funny.

Changes for me?  One of these days I’m actually going to buy myself a doughnut.

After John proposed, I’m pretty sure the first thing I did was call up my best girlfriends and John’s two incredible sisters and ask them to be my bridesmaids before I even said yes to the sweat-beaded, heavily breathing John (just kidding, love, but you were so nervous, and rightfully so). As soon as he got up from bending down on that dirt scuffed knee, I instantly began dreaming of poufy princess dresses with tulle wrapped around me like a white pumpkin, I think a castle was involved, and obviously, my nearest and dearest ladies who I would honor with being my maids for the day. Did I say maids? I meant bridesmaids, of course. Anyway, they would be my lovely sugar plum faeries who would stand with me at the altar lined up behind me like pretty knickknacks all in a neat, uniformly-colored row. I even took a couple of them to David’s Bridal and had them try on different Easter egg colored dresses (I love you, ladies, and thank you for indulging me) as I paraded around in bridal dresses that cost more than two months of my rent. Needless to say, I needed to rethink my Disney princess expectations, and I needed to do so pronto.

As time progressed, John and I realized the truth of our budget, and we decided to have a more intimate (a nice way of saying “cheaper”) affair complete only with our closest family and friends. As I began to jot down my invite list, I soon realized that a majority of the guests I would be inviting would be standing next to me during the ceremony. We wanted our guest list to be under 50 people (at most) and I planned 6 to be standing by my side. That meant John would also have to have 6 flanking him as well, which equaled a grand total of at least 25% of our guests standing with us. John knows how much the women in my life mean to me, and I think he pouted a little with crinkled, puppy dog eyes when he looked at me hesitantly and said, “Do we have to have bridesmaids and groomsmen?” After the steam dispersed from my ears and my face returned to its normal color, I’m pretty sure I calmly replied, “Yes, darling,” and we returned to planning a small, elegant, perfect event even without bridesmaids (and groomsmen, of course).

So, although this decision may not sound so significant to some, it was to me, and I felt a profound amount of guilt uninviting my carefully selected (actually, it was pretty darn easy) bridesmaids. I went as far as carefully crafting a letter to John’s sisters apologizing for my lack of foresight to casually bringing it up to my girlfriends, and in some cases, I’m not sure I even brought it up at all. So, for those maids who already know, and for those who are hearing this for the first time, I’m sorry. I apologize for not dressing you up in vibrant colors and girly fabrics and parading you around proudly. I really did want to, but I guess we always have the bachelorette party for that…

(Side note: In reality, John does not wince when he asks me questions, and he is not at all the pansy I may have portrayed him as. Thanks, John, for letting me portray you as a pouty puppy in this entry and as Robin Hood in the last. I love you).

I saw John waiting at the opposite end of the aisle donning knickers and a tunic. He had a long shaggy brown wig and a Robin Hood-like hat. Green velvet wrapped around his body like a fancy snake, and his sword fell nonchalantly to his side. I then looked down at myself. I had a thick brown potato sack colored dress that weighed heavily on my shoulders. I felt a bonnet on my head and saw a dirty ruffled apron hang down the front of my dress. I looked around and all the guests were wearing 21st century modern fare- dark suits and silk dresses. It suddenly donned on me that we were wearing costumes, and that our wedding was taking place at a run-down castle in the middle of a barren field. I guess we chose a 14th century peasant theme, I thought casually, and I continued to begin my descent down the aisle. 

The above scene describes my dream last night, and it is only one of the dozens of demented wedding dreams I’ve had in the past year. I believe this one is due to the fact I was reading a bridal magazine before bed (apparently, I haven’t learned my lesson as mentioned in my first blog entry), and there was actually a page on tips if one is having a castle wedding. For example, castles can be drafty so be sure to rent a heating or cooling system for the comfort of you and your guests. I really don’t like sounding cynical throughout the life of this blog, but ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Anyway, I’d also like to take this time to apologize for my lack of entries. John and I were focusing on much more serious matters like the holidays and a weekend trip to Vegas in January, and we had not made any progress, but that has all changed.

We found a spot, a wedding ceremony site in a vibrant, colorful garden under the shade of a massive Alice in Wonderland-like tree. John (God bless him) took the time to make some phone calls and figure out fees, rules, and regulations for having an outdoor wedding in San Diego. We visited a couple spots in Balboa Park (one of our favorite haunts), and voila, we found it, and it’s absolutely beautiful (check out this link: http://www.balboapark.org/in-the-park/detail.php?OrgID=39 to see pictures).  Now, we’re not 100 percent sure on the date (a Sunday in late August), and we don’t have a reception restaurant picked or a dress (or suit) or rings, but we do have our spot, and it feels pretty damn good. However, after the initial spot picking yesterday, my extreme high tumbled to an extreme low. I actually became grumpy later in the afternoon and kind of reminded myself of how a child acts when he/she is hungry and, therefore, irrational and impish. We found a site, but what about the restaurant that must include dancing, music, great food, and a good deal?! What about my dress, hair, makeup, shoes, veils, and that stupid piece of stretchy tight cloth I have to wear on my thigh? What about the music playing when we walk down the aisle, photography, and the rehearsal dinner? That’s when I have to say to myself- slow down, Seabiscuit, it’s going to be alright. John looked me in the eyes and reminded me that this is for us. It’s not supposed to be stressful; it’s supposed to be our day. And with every entry, I find myself coming upon the challenge of realizing this, but I think it’s going to really help me in more ways than one when it really sinks in.

This is our day, and we found our spot, and it’s going to be beautiful. And for those left wondering, no costumes (or swords) will be incorporated into the theme, and there will be no castles for miles.

Note from the Fitzgeralds

December 10, 2009

The authors of this blog have done something recently that may make their loyal readers spit tea all over their laptop screen in shock.  Brace yourselves dear internet followers: Christine and I decided on Tuesday, December 8 to go down to the San Diego courthouse, which sits next to the beautiful harbor filled with dinghies and yachts, apply for our marriage license, pay the small fee, and have a brief but wonderful wedding ceremony outside on a great sunny day.  Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald would like to thank you for all of your support and for reading this blog, and we wish you good luck.

What’re you still doing here?  I told you, we got married.  This was a “we’re-engaged-so-let’s-share-a-blog” blog.  It’s run its course.  Thanks for reading.

Still here?  Damnit.

Okay, okay, so maybe we didn’t get married.  Maybe we just had a delicious seafood dinner on Tuesday (which happened to be one year since the day I proposed down in Jamaica).  But you’ll forgive me for trying to fool you all.  Being engaged oddly puts a fair bit of pressure on a young couple to actually demonstrate some progress toward the goal of it all (namely: white dress, clean-shaven, tidy vows, champagne corks, drunken dancing, etc.).  Instead, we’ve decided lately to sort of let it come to us.  There’s enough things to worry about out there that we shouldn’t get wrapped up in how silly the color orange would be as a wedding color.

(May I add here that the idea of a “wedding color” was just introduced to me and I see it as basically everything that is wrong with the modern American wedding industry – not to be a wet blanket or anything.)

Christine and I are taking a calm, cool, collected approach to wedding planning – which is to say, we’re not doing much of anything.  We have a date in mind (August 8, 2010) mainly because of some confluence of insane astrological and numerical symbolism, and also due to the fact that the summers are nice in San Diego and involved parties should be able to take a couple of days to come drink with us.  According to emails that Christine receives seemingly daily in her inbox, we should have most “Big Day!!” details ironed out being 9 months out from our target date (I’d like to put the webmasters of tyingtheknot.com on my daily listserv of ways they can stay out of our business).  But we don’t, and you can’t make us.  We appreciate your interest and support, of course, but please don’t expect daily progress in terms of planning (and for the 2 of you who have this blog as your home page, you might want to switch back to tmz.com).

For now, we’re perfectly happy to be in love and we’re fully aware and hopeful that we can make a wedding happen the way we want to, when we want to.  To be honest, at this point we’re really looking ahead to a little Vegas getaway for MLK day in January.  Hmm, Vegas has a chapel or two…

Oh, and in case my steadfastly-ambitious sister and to-be brother-in-law are reading this, congratulations on visiting a potential wedding site FOR THE WEDDING YOU’RE PLANNING IN SUMMER 2011.  You two are like the James Cameron of weddings.

This week, I received an email inviting me “to experience a fun and fully interactive video about creating and sending wedding invitations, hosted by experienced invitation experts.” Experts? Really? This is officially getting ridiculous. So, John and I are at the Phase 0.5 stage of planning. We’ve got an idea of how many guests there will be (less than 50) and we know we want to have the ceremony outside most likely on a beach. The reception will probably be at a restaurant (since they are much cheaper than renting a hall). And that’s all folks. Now I’m getting emails about the finer points of invitation etiquette and décor. You’ve got to be kidding me. Pardon my cynicism, but planning a wedding is really overwhelming, and if you get caught up in the taffeta seat covers (as mentioned in previous entries) and the pattern on the invitations, you’re destined for disaster (and a Saved by the Bell Jessie-addicted-to-caffeine-pills meltdown. I am not “so excited”).

Since it’s been almost a year since our engagement, people are starting to get interested. They want to help with dresses, décor, venues, and vendors (oh my!). This is lovely, and I greatly appreciate the care and concern, but I can’t help but grimace when someone wants to give me another suggestion for cake ideas. And the reason is because we’re broke. And the more I go on TheKnot.com and see more weddings at Balboa Park, I’m just starting to get more and more envious. I’d really rather go out to a nice meal on the weekends with John then save up for chair rentals. Is this so wrong? I thought I knew what I wanted. I thought I wanted a big, fat California wedding, but I think as I’m writing this blog, I’m starting to change my mind. I just want to live a beautiful life in San Diego with John, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Would it be so bad if we got married at the court house by the bay? It’s actually a beautiful site and a beautiful price of $50 (with a video!).

So my intended future bridesmaids-to-be, please don’t be discouraged, but I am, and it might mean there will be no cake or eating it too. We’ll send you a copy of the video if you want though…

(And as a side note, John’s incredible parents are coming up on their 28th wedding anniversary this month. They got married at a courthouse in Maryland followed by 2 meals at McDonalds that day. They are not only inspirational as people, but they’re a strong, incredible couple. So, does the wedding make the couple? No. Not at all).

This entry is just a little something.

When I came home from work one day last week there was an unadorned cardboard box lying in the middle of the floor. Mind you, John and I keep a relatively tidy home so this was unusual. A note lay beside it with my name, and I knew it was a gift. John had been talking about a gift for a couple of weeks so I proceeded with eager curiosity, and the way his eyes lit up when I saw it, I knew he was proud of his find. In the past, he has randomly (and graciously) given me high quality camping gear, a much needed portable mug, my favorite flowers, and a trip to Vegas (jackpot). Oh yes, and an engagement ring. With this in mind, I had no idea what else he could add to the array of lavish booty. I opened the box, and inside was something so unexpected, so spectacular that I had to catch my breath before I gently removed it from the box. It was a Dwight Schrute bobblehead from The Office, one of my all-time favorite shows. I’ve known this for a long time, but I’m marrying a man who knows exactly who I am. I looked at that bobblehead and shook my head in awe (and to imitate it). John knows exactly what I like, and with all the pressure of planning a really cheap, yet beautiful wedding, what I really like is to laugh. So, out of everything John has given me, this present takes the cake (and I think my new loose-headed friend would agree).

What the heck is taffeta.

October 23, 2009

Here’s a hint to all the engaged young men out there reading this: if your fiancee writes a blog entry and sends it to you for thoughts, don’t reply with “What the heck is taffeta?” unless you want trouble.  You will likely be accused of several things: 1) not taking your blushing bride-to-be, or her writing, seriously, 2) not caring about the blog (which you in fact created), and 3) not caring about the planned nuptials (which were in fact your idea back when you rode your bike to Fords Jewelers to put the diamond in the ring and then carefully stashed it in your backpack on the trip to Jamaica).  Clearly, the fabric that covers chairs is more important than you might think.

Actually, chair coverings don’t matter at all, and your fiancee knows this, too.  Even if you consistently tell yourself that you won’t allow stress to intrude while planning for something big, you likely will fail and freak out when your betrothed asks about taffeta.  When your fiance tells you that he’s planning to fly east for a few Phish shows, you immediately feel 1) sad that he’ll be gone for a few days and 2) pissed because that’s money that could pay for a DJ deposit.  It’s the nature of the game.  We know that the most important thing in the world is that we make each other extremely happy.  But we also know that we want to get married, hence the ring (remember when Christine thought her ring size was 6, when she’s actually a 4?) and our mutual Facebook relationship status.  We want to have a nice small ceremony somewhere outside in the San Diego sun and then would like to eat something and shake our hips.  That’s basically it.  We don’t want ice sculptures, waiters with trays, or (god forbid) taffeta on the chairs.  Seems simple, right?  But the prospect of putting it all together and figuring out details and figuring out who can come and yadda yadda yadda make you nuts if you’re not careful.  And even if you are careful.

I think there’s only 2 low stress ways to get married, and even then the stress is probably higher than one might hope.  The first is to be royalty.  Royal weddings are absurd celebrations fit for a king (get it?) and likely planned by dozens of non-kings.  But it’s probably pretty stressful to be royalty with all those tariffs and land feuds, so there goes that.  The other way is to run off and T.C.O.B. (take care of business).  My parents drove down to Maryland (where there weren’t any pesky blood tests or fancy marriage regulations) and took care of business.  Reception?  They pulled into a McDonald’s (twice).  Honeymoon?  They went to the houses of their 4 parents and were briefly congratulated between NFL plays on the TV.  Seems pretty low stress.

Hmm, that actually sounds pretty good.  Don’t be surprised if this blog stops being updated and Facebook simply alerts you that, not only has Shawn changed her profile picture to a photo of a puppet, Christine Wiest is now Christine Fitzgerald.

When I was in high school, my very endearing Psychological Sciences teacher decided to give us a special end-of-the-term project. Instead of constructing a model of the brain or writing an extensive essay on famous psychologists, he wanted us to plan our hypothetical wedding. It initially sounded strange and somewhat silly, but as the task progressed it became more and more mentally daunting. From the ceremony site to the band to the ice, we had to figure it out and do so on a budget of whatever we picked out of a hat. I don’t remember the budget I ended up with or the details of my final project, but one thing I do remember was the new stress this project created. It seemed like it would be fun, but it turned into a whirlwind of hellishly innumerable and menial decisions. Do I really care about taffeta seat covers? No. But I began to care, and it scared me.

So here I am, almost a decade later, and doing this for real. One thing vastly different is my final decision of bridal wear- for my project, I went with a diamond-encrusted bikini (mind you, I chose a beach wedding). Even though a cubic zirconia bikini might be friendly on my wallet, I don’t think my fashion sense is quite as hip or adventurous as it used to be. However, one thing that has stayed the same is the hovering sense of wedding planning dread, and I despise it. Thus, I’ve decided to make a pact with myself (and John, of course). I refuse to succumb to the wedding planning Cinderella blues. I’m going to make sure I don’t drag myself (or John, once again) down into a black hole of seemingly dire decisions. I know everyone wants to be original on their Big Day, but I don’t think it’s going to matter so much. I’m pretty sure if we don’t have a trendy tequila bar or a $1000 cake (sorry guests), no one will complain, and we won’t even know the difference.

So, to my old teacher, thank you for that eye-opening terror of a project, and to John- if I start to fret about flower arrangements, please make me re-read this entry.

Wednesday.

October 7, 2009

I wonder how many blogs out there were started in a huff of passion and excitement, filled with a few eager posts during their first days of being, and then left to wither forever in the cruelness of the wide, wide internet, lacking new posts and just waiting for someone to google just the right phrase that would pull it from the abyss.  Come to think of it, I probably still have an angelfire site or two buried deep on a server somewhere professing my love of rollercoasters and proudly titled “John’s First Website: Rollercoasters” or something similar.

It takes some effort (for some people) to sit down and write an entry worth glancing at.  It’s so much easier to just tweet off a comment to a friend across the country rather than put some actual thoughts towards a blog entry, especially when the topic is something as serious as a wedding.

(That was for Christine; she asked me to focus my future posts more on the topic at hand, rather than deviate towards speech trailers and bladder struggles.)

A couple’s relationship is like a long-running blog, and a wedding is like the one entry that everyone reads.  No one wants to see Christine and I watch the Twins and Tigers play into extra-innings; in fact, even Christine didn’t want to watch that, as she promptly fell asleep in the 9th and woke up in the 11th demanding “This is still on?!”  Most people aren’t interested in where we walked last weekend (up to the zoo, thank you very much), what kind of pizza we got from what pizza place (whole wheat vegetarian from Sammy’s), how long we’ve had “Benjamin Button” and “Revolutionary Road” sitting unwatched from Netflix (months), or how many times a mosquito buzzed around my ear last night (several).

But weddings, those get people interested.  People come out of the woodwork to be interested.  Now we just have to pull the darn thing off; marry we must.  At this point, we at least have to show progress towards the end goal (white dress, fancy suit, rings, etc.) or else this blog will be less read than my odes to Great Adventure’s roller coaster roster.

(And by the way, the first sentence of this post was a tribute to my dad, who infamously started a short story with a terribly, or rather wonderfully, long sentence.)

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