December 31, 2009

Groom-in-Review

I decided to bike around the old neighborhood (or, should I say, the old suburb) this morning as it's my last day here in sunny Miami.

A ride around my elementary school -- now renovated for the umpteenth time since my enrollment there, new buildings sprouting up here and there -- had me reminiscing about a simpler time ... a time when "recession," "monetize" and "boutonnière" were not yet words in my vocabulary.

Sitting in the fifth grade classroom, I recall spelling bees (I lost on fluorescent, which I still have difficulty spelling), memorizing states and capitals and learning about proper hygiene. I recall shedding "cooties" and occasionally flirting with the frail, ponytailed girl beside me -- mine was named Stacy -- the one with whom you swapped one-dollar roses on Valentine's Day, and the one to whom you swore you'd be married years down the road ...

(By now, 2E's is either rolling her eyes or writhing in jealousy.)

... and so, my year in review does not begin and end with an economic downturn. With this new perspective, looking at the past year in the context of the last 26, this groom must submit that it has been one hell of a ride. Proposal, engagement and even the genesis of this blog have redefined my sense of purpose. And I know many others who have persevered through this recession, coming out that much stronger on the other side. I imagine we've all grown up a little this year.

The Groom Says found a muse in Patrick Dempsey. It struggled with horrendous Save the Date designs; documented gift registering madness; coined the "Opi-Now and Smile Groom;" saw the birth of the Cry for Help Fanny Pack; and interviewed three fellow grooms, all of whom will begin 2010 as husbands.

If you're new to the blog, I urge you to go back, see where our journey began and join us in 2010 as we unveil the Best Man and Maid of Honor, share our Save the Date, continue our struggle for ordainment, book vendors, appease parents, put thousands of dollars back into the economy and battle through countless decisions, both trivial and terrifying, all leading up to the 2nd of October, 2010.

Happy New Year, readers.

Love,
Madman

December 30, 2009

Save.Our.Groom

We've all seen variations on the bride's survival kit -- what The Knot calls the Bridessentials. Theirs is a silver pouch with travel-sized accessories that a bride might need before or during her wedding. You have the basics (brush, mirror, pins, tissues, clear nail polish), fix-it essentials (double-sided tape, static remover, adhesive bandages, super glue), and even some extra wedding bands.

I was pleased too to find The Knot's Survival Kit for the Groom, available for purchase on their website, complete with:


  • personal care items (toothbrush, toothpaste, mints, deodorant)
  • groom's attire essentials (lint remover, mending kit, stain/wrinkle removers)
  • black socks (these I could use)
  • pain relievers
  • a stress ball
And while I'm sure the kit is a big hit, I feel that -- as a groom -- I should take a moment to weigh in on the contents of the kit and the range of hurdles that the modern groom might run into. Here are a few additions/suggestions:

1. Hangover kit - a banana, an Aspirin and a travel-sized Gatorade ... cause god knows someone was drinking last night (or this morning) and it wasn't the bride

2. Copies of the vows - printed on 3x5 index cards, in a large font ... the best moments highlighted for emphasis ... pauses for applause written in as needed

3. Deodorant - I know there's one stick on the list ... perhaps we should add two more for good measure

4. Stun gun - no particular reason

5. Boar's Head something on a sandwich

6. Horse tranquilizer - again, no particular reason ... but I can think of at least twelve instances when this would be useful ... no, wait ... "groomsman gets out of line" makes thirteen

7. The day's itinerary - again, printed on 3x5 index cards, in a large font ... the words GET MARRIED TODAY capitalized and highlighted for emphasis

8. An antique pocket watch - the perfect attire upgrade

9. An official, Groom Says original Groom Points Scorecard - he's getting married ... he gets 100 points just for showing up

10. A $50 bill - cause, chances are, he'll pocket the $50, lose the kit somewhere between the rehearsal dinner and the next morning, and need to purchase another one ... this is what we do ... this is who we are ... this is why you love us

Love,
Madman

Inspiration #56: Hell, if a ROBOT can get ordained...


December 29, 2009

The Go-Guy

2E's father shared the following video clip after reading our Christmas post about the Go-Girl FUD (or female urination device), in which I proclaimed that men would never need such a device. We make due. We are insensitive, resilient, apathetic and, most importantly, soiled. We've never cared about hygiene; why start now?

Well, David Sedaris proves me wrong in a taped reading on Letterman, in which David himself reads an excerpt from a collection of essays intended for Esquire. In this particular (hilarious) clip, he discusses the so-called Stadium Pal and his experience when testing the device. I may be the last to learn of the Stadium Pal, and if so -- well, it wouldn't be the first time.

As with all of Sedaris' writings, the Stadium Pal is a legitimate product. With a website. And according to the site, it's "The Original Since 1998." Thank god for that. I was confusing it for the other bag that guys piss into.

The most important of the three basic components of the device is the external catheter. Let's read about it, shall we?

"The Male External Catheter ... is worn just like a condom. It is latex free, and made of silicone so there is no chance of a latex infection. It is lined with adhesive much like a band aid. When worn properly the male external will not leak or come off. Since every man is different the male externals come in 5 different sizes. And yes in this particular case size is important, but all one needs to do is to print out the SIZING GUIDE, cut out the half moons, and there is no guessing. This is a girth measurement, and has nothing to do with length."

In other words, Have no fear, men! And don't get bogged down by the sizing guide. We won't judge you, your length OR your girth. This has nothing to do with that. Nothing. No matter what size you are, you'll be pissing at will in no time.

While the Stadium Pal's #1 clients are (I imagine) those beer guzzling sports fans who are unwilling to miss that exhilirating second quarter slump and take a #1 standing, I imagine such a product would be useful to a groom. What husband-to-be has time to urinate? Between pre-gaming, dressing, getting married, photo-taking, dancing, eating, dancing, cake-cutting, dancing and socializing, there isn't much time for peeing.

I can see it now: the snug, condom-like catheter, the 18 inches of tubing snaking down my leg to the 1000ml urine collection bag, inconspicuous beneath my pants, velcro-ed comfortably at the shin.

Better yet - I see the whole wedding party sporting urination devices. The ladies with their Go-Girls; we men with our Go-Guys. Chances are, at the very least, it'll make a hell of a photo opportunity.

"Ladies, let's see those funnels. Men, lift those pant legs. Now say cheese."

Inspiration #55


2 Places 2 Follow

Dear Readers,

The Groom Says is now on Twitter! So follow the blog (click FOLLOW on the right hand side) and then follow our tweets. There is nothing manlier.

http://twitter.com/TheGroomSays

Much love,
Madman

Inspiration #54: Dressing Like Barack


December 28, 2009

TY4T

Dear Sarah Dillon & Go-Girl:

Thank You for the Tweet this afternoon! We'll be spreading the word on our end, too. HAPPY 2010!

Cheers,
Madman

Officiate This

In the ongoing effort to personalize and customize and otherw-ize our wedding, 2E’s and I have asked her Uncle Phill to officiate. We initially considered spiritual world guru Sylvia Browne, but Phill was more flexible. And infinitely less creepy.

When we first introduced the idea to Phill, pulling him aside at our engagement party and (in a way) “popping the question,” he seemed a bit stumped. And perplexed. And honored. But, again, perplexed. And rightfully so.

If memory serves me, his initial response was:

“Wow. Can I do that?”

When you’re planning a non-religious ceremony, you really only have two options: (a) make fast friends with the mayor and ask him to officiate, or (b) spring the responsibility on a friend or loved one. But as with Sylvia Browne, we just assumed that Mayor Bloomberg isn't very flexible. And is infinitely more creepy. Phill, on the other hand, has a fantastic presence, a consistently positive aura and a worldly sense of humor. To dislike Phill would mean that you were a generally dislikeable person who chooses to dislike likable people.

Once we had his consent, 2E’s and I knew we had our work cut out for us. (Yes, SOME people may have done some research PRIOR to popping the question but WE are NOT those PEOPLE). Because Phill is not a city clerk or official or justice or notary (gee, thanks Phill), we knew we had to go the clerical route … so we began investigating the ordainment process for New York State, which now has three two basic requirements:

(1)   Officiant must be ordained by an established church
(2)   Officiant must hand over their firstborn child
(3)   Officiant must be registered with the NYC Marriage Bureau

Phill is a Presbyterian by faith, but the Presbyterian Church has strict guidelines for ordainment, i.e. four years in a seminary, two year application process, one year continuing education, etc. And while we respect the Presbysterian Church and its policies and all, 2E’s will likely wise up and leave me before October 2nd, 2018.

A Google search of “getting ordained online” or any similar phrasing leads you to the United Life Church, more commonly known as the ULC. The ULC, headquartered in Modesto, CA, has been ordaining the masses since God knows when. There are no particular qualifications needed to become a minister – you need only fill out the form (online) and pay a nominal fee. Within weeks, your official ordainment certificate arrives in the mail.

Apparently the ULC is an actual, physical church, though the interior of that church is a mystery. It may very well be a middle-aged man in pajamas, sitting in front of a computer and beside a giant pile of money. This too may be the case for the Church of Dude-ism, which – as part of the ordainment certificate package – also presents its newly ordained ministers with a copy of The Big Lebowski or Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, alternatively. Sadly, since 2005, New York State has chosen not to honor ordainments presented by the United Life Church. I suppose they were tipped off by their slogan (“Over 1 Million Served”) and the Write-In-Your-Religion line on the certificate.

So we continue our hunt for the ideal online church – one that is lenient in its practices but appears authentic and legitimate and religious. And comes with a free DVD. Preferably Bill and Ted.

December 26, 2009

Groom Points Update

Being that this was my first and only Christmas as a groom, I knew instinctively that I had to step it up a notch this year. In the same way I've learned to bump up the moral support these past few months, I felt I needed to bump up 2E's gift as well. 

I sat in the lobbies of thousands of nail salons, hair salons and strangely miscellaneous salons, flipping through magazines, talking to strange women, hunting down inspiration. At last, I came across the following bar graph:



The good news is that the graph didn't specify a type, style, cost or color; in that I was very fortunate. With this kind of ambiguity, she'd be pleased with any old boot. Polyester. Pink. Rain.

The bad news is that I already had that $25 Sizzler card from the previous year ... really would've loved to re-gift that.

Nevertheless, once the gifts were unwrapped and the boots were on, we were both pleased as punch. She has a new pair of leather zip-ups with twin winding ruffles; and I have 105 points of leniency (100 for the boots themselves and 5 additional points for the surprise factor), which I can choose to drag out over the next month or splurge immediately on a day off with the boys.

Boys -- get suited up. We're going to Walmart.

Inspiration #52




And only about 97% of the 6% of men who propose over the phone get rejected over the phone.

December 25, 2009

A Christmas Miracle (from the EuroPeans)

While my true purpose as a blogger is to share tips, anecdotes and inspiration with the groom community, I can't deny the handful of women out there who are as lost and helpless as us guys. So men, you may want to take the day off. Ladies, you won't want to sit this one out. Literally.

Enter my sister, who was anxious on this Christmas evening in Royal Palm Beach to show me a new website ... something she's discovered recently ... something I'm going to love. What she shows me is the Go-Girl, an innovative new product that allows women to pee standing up ... a concept European women have been standing behind for years. In the words of their spokeswoman,

"With Go-Girl ... the world is your urinal."

Observe the unique tip design. And too, let's remind ourselves what else has a tip:



While us boys have grown accustomed to urinating in filthy gas station bathrooms, alleyways and plastic bottles (and sometimes, after a night of drinking, on any given suburban street), women don't have the luxury due to God's intelligent design. Enter the Go-Girl, the small, discreet and mysteriously hygienic pee funnel that makes camping, concerts and foreign travel THAT much easier.

While I haven't yet introduced the idea to 2E's, I'm not sure she'll buy into it ... but she might consider buying it for her trusty bridesmaids. After all, what better than a neon pink female urination device (affectionately, a FUD) to show your love, gratitude and appreciation on your wedding day. Plus, their catch phrases are genius:

"Because life's greatest adventure shouldn't be finding a bathroom."

For ladies who may be tempted, you can find their website here, and you won't want to miss their demo video. The only truly unfortunate detail (aside from the fact, as my sister puts it, that this urine detour-ant is actually a "faux penis") is that Christmas has already come and gone. Gifts have been opened. The opportunity has been pissed away. Literally.

Oh well. Thank god for Valentine's Day.

Inspiration #51


December 24, 2009

Ho Ho Hotels

Imagine you're in a tunnel. Looking in one direction, you see a bright, too harsh white light, beckoning you ... its radiance nearly suffocating ... its sheer nothingness overwhelming. At the other end of the tunnel is the process of securing a block of discounted rooms for your destination wedding.

Run.

Run toward the white light.

Yes, I know what they said in Poltergeist, but never mind that. I'm not messing around. Whatever the white light is, I guarantee it's better than that other thing. Seriously. Don't be a hero.

--

There's a man at the hotel that is providing accommodations for our wedding guests. This man is the guest relations coordinator for group reservations. We'll call the man Chuck. 2E's has been on the phone with Chuck almost daily for the past month, trying to decipher the hotel's cryptic block-o-rooms policy, hoping to reduce our not-yet-reduced-enough rate and (finally) managing to secure a reasonable contract.  It's been an uphill battle to say the least.

Chuck can be pleasant but is never very bright. He can appear courteous but is never truly concerned. He asks for our trust and, in turn, gives us guff for every harmless question or concern. In the wedding planning community, he's a gem in an ocean of very similar gems.

Chuck is topaz.

CHUCK: Chuck here.
GUEST: Hi Chuck, I'd like to book a room under the 1E's/2E's wedding block...?
CHUCK: (silence)
GUEST: Hello?
CHUCK: Fiiiiiiiine. Let me look it up. (minutes later) What kind of room?
GUEST: The King Suite.
CHUCK: (elongated groan)
GUEST: So ... can I book it with you, or...?
CHUCK: Let me look it up. (hours later) Fiiiiiiiiiine.

But we've grown to love Chuck. We had to. After all, we will be spending the next ten months in constant contact with the guy. Every time a guest of ours has a booking issue, Chuck will be there. Every time there's a cop beatin' up a guy, Chuck will be there. Every time he gives someone the incorrect rate, ... well, we'll be there. Calling Chuck. And Chuck will be there. Or perhaps his voicemail. Either way.

2E's and I are fortunate this week in that we get to spend the holidays with our respective families and answer all wedding-related questions, 98% of which are hotel-related. We'll address all issues and clarify all misconceptions, particularly for those relatives who are convinced that DUMBO is either an imaginary place or one inspired by the 1941 Disney classic.

Dad is in the kitchen as we speak, cutting up the ham with what could very well be a chainsaw; my siblings are nibbling on sweets and homemade jello; and my niece is curled up in the bed beside the makeshift desk that I'm working at. And in a few hours, in the midst of opening presents, one of them may ask teasingly, So how daunting is this whole wedding process? And I'll say,

"Well, just imagine you're in a tunnel..."

Inspiration #50


December 19, 2009

The CFHFP: Session IV

Dear Madman,
You know how, when you graduate from high school and college, there are counselors and advisers present to help you with the transition? To guide you through the next phase? How come there isn't a complimentary service like that for newlyweds? What are your two cents on that?

Thanks,
Erin from Downtown LA

p.s. A whole week without a post? Que pasa?

---

Dear Erin,

Thanks for reading! And please forgive the week-long absence. Like millions of other Americans out there who were raised Catholic but now have no religious leanings because we cling to our computers instead of a higher being ... I have become engrossed in the Christmas shopping spirit, surfing Amazon for hours at a time and, for certain gifts, having to leave the house and make an in-person purchase. Absurd how the world works, isn't it?

And absurd too about the serious lack of preparation for the married life. You bring up a great point. The officiant reminds the bride and groom about the importance of promise and love and commitment, perhaps sharing an anecdote or two (at which point all the married folks in the audience collectively nod and smile), but that's it. No real advice. No meat and potatoes.

Sure, there's pre-marriage counseling, but let's face it: in this AWSM economic plateau, most couples can't afford both a wedding and private counseling. It's one or the other. And that conversation goes like this:

1E: Honey, I was looking over our finances, and I wanted to ask you something.
2E's: Of course, sweetheart, you can ask me anything.
1E: Well, I thought we could benefit from some pre-marriage couple's counseling, but we can't realistically afford both that and the wedding. So I just wanted to ask you which is more important to you.
2E's: Which WHAT is more important to me?
1E: Um, (suddenly sweating) the pre-marriage couple's counseling, or ... (1st cough) the ... (2nd cough) wedding?
2E's: (silence)
1E: I mean, I'm not saying the wedding isn't important.
2E's: (silence with eyebrow raise)
1E: The wedding is very important to both of us. I just didn't know if it was as important as the marriage lasting.
2E's: (silent eyebrow raise with angry arm cross)
1E: That's not to say ... of course we're going to be married a long time. Until we die, in fact. I just wanted to give you the option because I know you care about it more than me.
2E's: (silent arms-crossed eyebrow raise with frosted "I own you" gaze)
1E: You know what, I'm gonna stop now while I -
2E's: Good idea.

Of course, there are other options out there aside from exorbitant therapy from licensed professionals, like:


1. Seek out un-exorbitant therapy from unlicensed professional-seeming people through sites like Craigslist. Key words and phrases to look out for are "insurance not accepted," "fee negotiable" and "I've been doing this for a long time."

2. Read a book on the issue. For centuries, people have found motivation in the pages of self-improvement books with topics like weight loss, guitar and witchcraft. And let's be honest ... if you can read a book and cast a spell, you can certainly save your marriage.

3. Ask a married friend for advice. Buy him or her a drink(s) and let them spill their guts. And don't shoot for perfection -- friends with rocky marriages will have the most to bring to the table.

4. Make coupons for the future. One that reads, Let's Pick This Up Again After We've Had Some Ice Cream, or even better, I'm Not Actually Sorry But Just Pretend That I Am. You can print these out together before the wedding and them use them against each other once the knot's been tied. Crises diverted! Marriage saved!!

Of course, the alternative is to find that counsel in the person standing across from you at the altar. Shed that anxiety and learn to be as honest and open as possible long before you say your vows. In no time at all you'll be sharing names and bank accounts; why not get some practice in early by sharing your fears, hesitations and reservations with the person who knows you better than you know yoursefl. Step out of planning mode every once in a while and clue your partner in to how you feel, whether that feeling is "I don't know how to be a good husband" or "I want to wear knee-high leather boots under my wedding dress."

And in the instance you slip and say something stupid --

1E: I do care about the wedding, I just didn't know you needed a bouquet.

-- maybe have that always-handy coupon cut-out and on-hand that reads, "Men aren't perfect. Thank god you are."

Works every time.

-Madman

December 12, 2009

Vamos-A-Mrrg


After ordering my holiday-inspired Peppermint Mocha yesterday morning, I stood by the promotional table they had set up at my local Starbucks, admiring the "VIA" Ready Brew instant packets and gift boxes.

Later than night, at the drive-thru window at In-N-Out Burger, the pubescent girl at the second window asked if I would be "eating in the car tonight." With a boyish embarrassment and a pinch of intrigue, I said, "Yes...?" She proceeded to hand me a paper placemat and a small, rectangular cardboard box, designed for ideal in-car consumption.

Sometime between these events (and perhaps partly inspired by Jason Reitman's Up in the Air), I realized that 90% of our daily life comes with a to-go option. Morning coffee, lunch, dinner. Entertainment. The dustbuster we own is essentially a vacuum on-the-go. Our laptop ... a desktop on-the-go. When I was a teenager, my mother and I graduated from Sunday mass to an occasional visit to the small, rotund Chapel in Coral Gables. I loved the Chapel. The Chapel was church on-the-go.

And so I imagined what a wedding on-the-go might be ... what that would entail, whether it would be more or less complicated, and (most importantly) what it would be called.

Giving it a name

1. I figured airport-favorite Chili's To-Go was a good place to start. It's clear and direct. It's Chili's, but To-Go. Makes sense.

2. But Starbucks' VIA brings up a good point. You want an international and cultural appeal. So perhaps we'll change the To-Go part to Vamos. I'm all about Spanish influence.

3. Last, we want to be sure to give it a hip, cool vibe. If we were marketing this, we wouldn't want to leave out the 16-21 demographic. So let's take the word Marriage and teenage-ize it. For instance, let's do what rappers do and take all the vowels out. Marriage. Mrrg. Yes.

OK, so we have our brand name: Vamos-A-Mrrg. Now all we need to do is figure out how it works.

Figuring out how it works

Here's the pitch. Let's say you and your 2E's want to take off for the weekend and get married ... only you have this thing about municipal buildings and she's not the Vegas-type. And your budget is whatever you can scrounge together from sofa cushions and that Ziploc bag marked LAUNDRY QUARTERS.

What you need to do is pack an overnight bag (preferably carry-on) with only the key ingredients for a romantic eloping getaway, which would be: 

a laptop - on which you can plan out the weekend, send out last-minute invites, register for gifts online, get an island native to register as an officiant, update Facebook status and upload photos 

paper and pen - for the vows (two airline-supplied napkins will do) 

clothes - this season is all about anti-tradition, so neglect the dress and the suit and instead pack matching white t-shirts and blue jeans 

the rings - there are millions of things -- thousands of them household items -- that have a ring shape, so find two of them and pack them 

catering - you can't trust the local dives, so pack some fruit, granola bars and canned foods (and bring some for the island native, cause god knows you aren't paying him)

the accommodations - on a $12.38 budget, you and your bride won't be staying in the Royal Hawaiian Honeymoon suite ... so roll up that sleeping bag for 1 (which we all know can fit 2) and lash it to the bottom of your knapsack boy scout-style 

condoms - if you're on that tight a budget, you're not on birth control

Branching out and making $ off of it

Eventually we would want to market the idea on a grand scale, providing not only the concept but the overnight bag itself. Going for a sleek look, we'd probably want to base our design on the McDonald's apple pie container.



It's hip, recognizable and easy to produce. Plus, everybody loves the two concave ends. We don't know why they're there, but it makes us feel warm inside ... which will be the tail end of our new slogan.

VAMOS-A-MRRG
Get Mrrd in a Hurry. Feel Wrm Inside.

Inspiration #48: Star Wars Groom n' Go Bath Set


December 8, 2009

*Made with REAL French cocoa powder!

From this point on, I'll be starting my mornings with a quick browse on BridalPeople.com, a one-stop online shop for all things wedding-related. Check out their page heading:

Honeymoon Necessities 

Before the newlyweds embark on their fabulous tropical getaway, set them sailing with some of our fun and practical Honeymoon Necessities. We've got everything from flip flops and picnic baskets to lavish lingerie and bath supplies. Give the happy couple our matching His and Her Honeymoon Sandals for their week on the beach, or our delightfully naughty Just Married Do Not Disturb Door Sign. Choose from other fun accessories such as personalized Bride Baseball Caps and Engraveable Luggage Tags.

2E's will occasionally confess to a wedding-related nightmare: the one where no one shows up; the one where too many people show up; the one where everyone shows up drunk.

As for me, it must be three nights out of each week that I wake up at 2:00AM, panting, sweating -- worried not about attendance or alcoholics, but rather tortured by a twisted dream in which 2E's and I had taken off for our tropical getaway honeymoon without our delightfully naughty door sign.

When I think honeymoon, I don't think relaxation. Or sunshine. Or "spending time with each other." Hell no. I think:
  • camisole & panty set
  • newlywed flip flops (in pink and blue so I know whose is whose)
  • multiple personalized tote bags
  • multiple terry cloth robes
  • matching newlywed ball caps (with "groom" and "bride" written on them so I remember who is who)
  • chocolate body paint & accompanying body paintbrush 
  • chocolate body powder & accompanying purple ostrich feather (made with real French cocoa powder)
  • nose hair trimmers



Somebody please stop me before I max out a credit card on disturbingly stereotypical merchandise. I mean, this will be "a night we'll never forget" ... and it's perfectly logical to have an embroidered door hanger that tells the other hotel guests precisely that.

Inspiration #47


December 7, 2009

OM(a)G

6:00AM wake-up call.
7:00AM make-up.
8:00AM photographs.
9:00AM chaos.

No, it's not our wedding day itinerary -- it's the chaotic breakdown of the morning of 2E's O Magazine shoot.

2E's and I woke at the crack of dawn to dress up (but not too "up") and to clean (but not clean "up"). After all, in a few hours we would welcome renowned de-clutterer Peter Walsh into our home to gasp and gawk at the horrific disaster zone that was our desk.

No surprise that 2E's took to the camera like a moth to a flame ... a moth that had been primped and pinned and sleeked and styled, had its nails done, had its hair did, and then was positioned in a well-lit room. That moth never had it so good.

Like a good groom, I provided the following free of charge:

 (a) Starbucks refreshment
 (b) man duties (i.e. relocating office supplies; locating hammer and nails; etc.)
 (c) concierge services (i.e. showing our guests to the bathroom; pulling out take-out menus; etc.)
 (d) dustbuster services
 (e) unlimited moral support

10AM-4PM was a bit of a blur. People in and out ... things brought in, things taken out ... take-out. And again, I handled a great deal of the grunt work: some hardware locating, some office supplies re-locating, and so on.

The team was out the door around 4:30PM, and it was our first chance to breathe, look around and appreciate the complete re-envisioning of our space. Peter Walsh compartmentalized our entire lives, breaking our "office" into five distinct categories (two of those five being wedding-related); and after providing us with his own, fresh from overseas, Peter Walsh-brand furniture, he taught us how to keep things organized and in order -- even when there isn't a world class de-clutterer present.

When Peter spoke, we listened. We followed him around like over-anxious schoolchildren, wanting to pick his brain about this and that and pick up spare tips that he happened to spill. From him we learned amazing things like, Your space is limited to its space; when you get something new, you have to throw something away.

Peter even organized my bookshelf, which prior to his visit looked something like a mini-library that had been throw together in a disaster relief effort. This morning I sat on the couch and stared at his handiwork. I'm now able to admire them and pull one out without inciting a chain reaction.

The entire team worked tirelessly and without complaint, hauling furniture up and down two flights of stairs and never compromising, never settling for "OK." 2E's and I felt like we'd won the lottery, only we didn't have to leave home to collect the winnings.

Thanks, props and all other appreciative nouns to Beau Haralson from Office Max, who provided us with far more than peace of mind; O writer Amanda Robb, who documented the proceedings in her chic, vintage notepads; make-up artist Mary Klimek; Peter's right-hand man, Barry; photographer's assistant Hans; Christina Weber, photo director at O Mag, for connecting all the pieces; Kathy Nguyen, our woman on the inside; and our dear friend and blog enthusiast Teresa, without whom we would never be organized.

As for the article ... it will appear in the March issue of O, with crisp, otherworldly photographs by Dave Lauridsen, who made our home look like it was worth living in.

And now ... to sell our couch and purchase a new one. Hell no we're not living with this old thing.

December 3, 2009

Dishonorable Groom

My mother snipped the following article from The Miami Herald (apparently from Section G - Totally Random International "News"). It's the perfect follow-up to yesterday's post on New York supergroom Don Walling.

According to the article, Edwin Ortiz was tying the knot as part of a mass wedding in Miraflores, Peru, when the ceremony was interrupted by his ex's relatives. Ortiz was dragged outside and physically assaulted before the offenders were hauled away.

Here are the reasons it sucks to be Edwin Ortiz.

The reasons it sucks to be Edwin Ortiz

1. By "ex's relatives," I mean to say his ex's female relatives.
2. By "ex's female relatives," I mean to say his ex's mother, sisters and aunt.
3. The female relatives were described as "burly."   
4. Apparently his ex joined in the beating once they dragged Edwin outside.
5. Edwin fathered two kids with his ex.
6. Edwin registered as a bachelor with no kids. 
7. All of this was caught on camera.
8. Assuming his 2E's still wanted to go through with it, their wedding day will always be known as that day when Edwin got his ass kicked by several burly Peruvian women with a bone to pick.

Lessons we've learned from Edwin Ortiz

1. Don't do that.
2. For some, a mass wedding is a cheaper and more communal alternative to a private ceremony. For others, it's a chance to get married in a hurry before your ex and her female relatives manage to track you down.

Inspiration #46


December 1, 2009

Honorable Groom

Don Walling is my new hero. His story isn't new, but it's new to me.

I stumbled upon Don's heroic tale on MSNBC under the all-too-popular Weddings tab. Long story short, in the midst of his proposal on the pedestrian walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge, Don's engagement ring fell from his grasp and onto the hectic roadway below.

In front of his 2E's and his 2E's parents and siblings, you'd think that a groom in Don's situation would shrug it off, laugh at the absurdity of it all and perhaps cry a little while distracting the throng of onlookers with a shiny object. But Don Walling did what most wouldn't have the balls to do. He somehow managed to climb down onto the lower roadway, dodge traffic and locate the ring without killing himself.

And I thought I had it rough -- keeping the ring hidden in the inner lining of our backpack as we cruised, planed and trained through Europe. Had I -- as 2E's and I stood in that alleyway on the Rue Notre-Seigneur in Brussels -- managed to drop the ring down a sewer or a pipe or any other inconvenient hole in the ground, I may very well have shrugged. Maybe laughed. And then certainly pointed out the shiny metal awning above her head so I could cry a little.

Inspiration #45


November 29, 2009

Wedding HQ

Everything you know is still wrong. And everything you think is yours no longer belongs to you.

At a certain point in the process, your home stops being your home and instead becomes a fully functioning wedding headquarters, a place where women conjugate, drink coffee, skim magazines, watch movies, gather around computers, pencil sketch and gasp at things.

You pay rent, but that's meaningless.

Since the engagement, what was once a Friday or Saturday night ritual (formerly known as "girls night") now occurs on any given Sunday afternoon or early Wednesday morning. Time is no longer a concern; after all, online bridesmaid dress shopping is open 24/7.

Lucky me that 2E's bridesmaids happen to be three very close friends of mine, and I can't think of anyone else I'd rather invade my space.

Inspiration #44


November 28, 2009

A day in the life of a Groom: G-DAY

the 28th of november, 2009: everything you know is wrong
In the film version of our gift registry day (played exquisitely by Patrick Dempsey and Isla Fisher), 2E's and I would stroll into the crisp, white Crate & Barrel at the open-air mall at the crack of dawn, arm in arm, hand in hand, both hands holding Starbucks' signature Peppermint cafe mochas. And when the cheery employee creates our account and presents us with the scanner, 2E's and I begin our 1-hour frolic through the store. With fresh eyes, open minds and respect for each other's opinions, we stroll through each section -- kitchen, office, furnishings -- scanning whatever piques our interest, no matter the cost, no matter the size, no matter how it all comes together. What matters is that we love each other and that we have this wonderful day to spend together.

Grooms, In the film real version of our gift registry day (played exquisitely by Patrick Dempsey and Isla Fisher), 2E's and I stroll into the small, overcrowded Crate & Barrel 2 at the open-air that hole-in-the-mall at 11:45am, arm in arm, hand in hand, yearning for my Starbucks' signature Peppermint cafe mocha. And when the cheery employee creates our account and presents us with the scanner, 2E's and I begin our 4 1/2-hour campaign through the store(s). With fresh eyes, open minds and respect for each other's opinions, we crawl through each poorly delineated section, scanning whatever piques our interest, no matter the cost, no matter the size, no matter how it all comes together. What matters is that we love each other and that we have this wonderful day together must get this thing right on the FIRST TRY.  

Grooms ... be forewarned. Everything you know is wrong.

10:30AM

Before we even leave the house, 2E's asks that we sit for a bit and go through Crate & Barrel's official gift registry checklist. Using a highlighter, pen, circles, underlines, check marks, X marks and question marks, we differentiate those things we have, those things we have but want to replace, things we don't have, things we don't have but can wait on, things we don't have but don't want and things that sound vaguely familiar but honestly we have no idea what they are.

1E: Hmm, what's a springform pan for?
2E's: I don't know. What the heck's a cruet?
1E: I don't know. But apparently they should both be in our kitchen.
2E's: Well classify them as read, highlight them and then add the double question mark so we know we're unsure about them and need to ask a sales associate.

11:45AM

We make it to the CB2 on Sunset, hoping that the parking validation will cover the next three hours. Overall we're optimistic, partly thanks to the pep talk we gave each other in the car. We announce our arrival, plug in our info with the touchscreen monitor and, last but not least, get the gun. The gun is like that remote control that you misplaced years ago ... the one that wandered away from home, found a popular home decor chain store and acquired the power to give people free things (or at least the illusion of them).

11:55AM

We choose a corner near the entrance and begin there, considering anything and everything with a scan-able tag or SKU number. As we go, we learn to avoid:

1. seasonal items - no decorative, mesh Christmas balls for us
2. firm couches and chairs
3. glasses that look like candlesticks
4. candlesticks that look like glasses
5. candlesticks altogether
6. leather

12:25PM

2E's has become a whiz with the scanner. Distractions like hunger, exhaustion and my feelings don't bother her anymore. She's on a roll and shan't be stopped.

We learn to change our mind quickly and unapologetically -- swapping round, eggshell, 8" plates for square, true white, 10" plates. Toasters for toaster ovens. Soup trays for soup tureens. We wear warpaint and intimidate the bone china. We're determined, people.

We learn too that the salespeople hate us. We have tons of questions about what this thing does or what other colors does this come in or is this Toothbrush Holder dude (left) actually designed to hold my toothbrush in his crotch ... ? ... but we never decide, never set anything aside and certainly never buy anything. We're just junkies, and all we do is scan, scan, scan, scan, scan, scan.

1:00PM

Tired of discussing "real" things, 2E's and I find comfort in the absurd. We spend far too much time admiring plates that feature small, monster-like pencil children chewing on things. For a minute 2E's is convinced that they're cute, but when we ask the saleswoman standing nearby if they are in fact cute, she says Of course they're not and huffs and storms off into Seasonal.

(Later we find that all of the employees moved to the Seasonal section because they knew we were avoiding it and therefore they would not be bothered.)

1:20PM

My stomach is growling but 2E's is anything but through. We have the Everyday Dinnerware, the Drinkware and the Serving/Entertaining-ware. We have a dining room table and chairs to match and even a carafe in the off-chance that we ever decide to grow our own orange trees and squeeze our own oranges.

And it's right then, carafe/decanter in hand, that 2E's makes the most startling, hair-raising discovery of the day:

2E's: Oh my god. This place doesn't have a Kitchen section.
1E: Whaaaat? You've scanned your brain one too many times.
2E's: Where's the cookware??
1E: Right there! (pointing to the 10' x 20' area where I swear we spent the last 45 minutes)
2E's: No! Cookware! Bakeware! Pans, pots, knives, woks, mixing bowls, baking sheets, colanders, corkscrews, cruets...!
1E: You don't even know what a cruet is.
2E's: I wouldn't know ... I haven't seen one!

1:22PM

And so, after asking the last remaining salesman on the floor who hasn't scurried off to tidy up the holiday bedsheets, 2E's confirms her suspicion that this CB2 has a 2 at the end for a reason. Cause the place is 2 darn small to hold everything in a CB1.

(And perhaps because they have 2 sets of those ne'er before seen pencil children appetizer plates. See pencil elf child riding a wine cork reindeer at right.)

1:50PM

Turns out it doesn't matter what you know or don't know, right or wrong. Either way, you're still going to wind up at the actual Crate & Barrel (and not its catchy-named subsidiary) at that very popular open-air mall on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

I convince 2E's to stop for a power lunch. She uses the time to re-strategize while I use the time to recharge with soft drinks and all white meat chicken.

2:15PM

Stepping into the 2-story Crate & Barrel is like a bad case of deja vu, only on a much larger scale and with far too many employees to squeeze into the Seasonal section.

Luckily, I can stay active with the following tasks (a) choosing the manliest knife block set, (b) choosing the manliest cookware set, (c) chasing the man handing out the CB Peppermint Bark samples, (d) rejecting ugly rugs, and (e) chasing the man handing out the new CB Holiday Smores samples.
    I feel reinvigorated. Sure, there are more people here but I can admit to myself that they are a weaker subset of people and, naturally, I feel stronger and more alive. And the reason? We've done this before! Sure, it was less than an hour ago but no one has to know that. And if ever I feel myself backtracking or going to that dark place, 2E's just zaps me in the eyes and sets me back on course.

    5:15PM

    Three hours have passed since our arrival. The sun is down; the moon is nearly up; and there's a jolly old actor sitting on the throne on the patch of grass between here and the Baby Gap, posing for pictures as children hop onto his lap.

    And it's only then, as we stroll back to the parking garage, when I'm on the high of having accomplished something (and partly buzzed from my cafe mocha), that 2E's tells me that we're almost done.

    1E: Almost?
    2E's: All we have to do is register at Target and then we're done.

    And so I do what any groom would do. I take a deep breath. I nod. And I smile.

    (And when 2E's dips into the Abercrombie to use their restroom, I run over to the Santa display, yank all the boys out of the line, pull them aside and say, "You won't understand this now -- and I won't even get into the whole Santa thing -- but believe me when I say, Everything you know is wrong.")

    Inspiration #43



    November 27, 2009

    Groom Points: The Scorecard

    Men need lists.

    It's something I learned from my father. He never goes anywhere to buy anything without a list containing precisely those things he needs. Even if it's a post-it note with a single item, he still folds it and pockets it. To go in there empty-handed would result in disaster.

    And so, after receiving such a warm response from the Groom Points post, I thought it only appropriate to create a Groom Points Tracker -- a scorecard with which men can keep an accurate account of the points they've earned through chores, favors and deliberate purchases.

    Groom and boyfriends alike - this is for you. Brides and girlfriends - you've been warned.



    Copyright The Groom Says © 2009


    November 26, 2009

    Interview Series #3: Suneel

    If there's one thing Suneel is thankful for, it's surviving that historic, hectic, New York summer of 2009. The unprecedented heat. The economy in turmoil. More Disney on Broadway. 

    Oh, yes ... and the planning. 

    2E's and I had the pleasure of attending Lauren and Suneel's wedding this past October at the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. And as we sat there watching the events unfold, I thought, how on earth did they get this shindig together in 4 months and change?? It takes 2E's and I four months to decide where to go to dinner.

    So, in true groom fashion, I thought I'd ask the cool, collected man behind the curtain, find out what he's thankful for on this post-wedding Thanksgiving and see if things were as smooth behind-the-scenes as they seemed from my chiavari chair. 


    SUNEEL, YOU'RE A BANKER. HOW WOULD YOU CATEGORIZE YOUR MARRIAGE IN BANKING TERMS?
    Well, to throw you some industry terminology, it's a merger of equals. With strong balance sheets and low leverage. And great cash flow.



    CASH FLOW WE UNDERSTAND. NOW ... WE HEAR YOU POPPED THE QUESTION ON THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE. ANY SPECIAL REASON?
    I'm just a hopeless romantic. I knew she'd love it.

    DID LAUREN GIVE YOU ANY SPECIAL ASSIGNMENTS FOR THE WEDDING, ASIDE FROM "SHOW UP"?
    Nope, no special assignments ... but there was a lot of collaboration on various elements.

    WEDDING PLANNING SOUNDS A LOT LIKE PASSING A HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL...
    Indeed. Everything was thoroughly vetted by both parties.

    WHAT'S THE SECRET TO PLEASING THE IN-LAWS DURING THE PLANNING PROCESS?
    No communication.

    NADA?
    Complete radio silence.

    HAD YOU TWO PLANNED ON A RAINY WEDDING DAY?
    Obviously there was a contingency plan but we were hoping for a dry afternoon. No regrets though. It was just as nice inside as it would have been outside. And it's a good omen, apparently.

    YES, THEY DO SAY "A WET KNOT IS HARDER TO UNTIE" (WE FOUND THAT ON WIKIPEDIA). WHAT'S YOUR STYLE - BOWTIE OR NECKTIE?
    Bowtie. Without a doubt. It's classic.

    WHAT DID YOU DECIDE ON FOR GROOMSMEN GIFTS? FREE INVESTMENT ADVICE?
    Investment advice has always been free, and they never take it. So I decided on cigars, which they never got because there was just way too much going on.

    SO WHAT WILL BE YOUR FIRST OFFICIAL ACT OF HUSBANDRY?
    Going to the grocery store with my wife and picking up two weeks worth of groceries. 

    MMM...FUN! WELL, ANY WISDOM FOR ALL THE FRESH-FACED GROOMS OUT THERE?
    (A) Keep a confident face even though everything is falling apart, and (B) it's good to be married. Highly recommended.

     

    Engagement portrait by Megyn Barroner Photography
     Reception photography by Joanna Wilson Photography

    November 23, 2009

    Groom Points

    A good friend confided in me last night over wine and charcuterie:

    "Madman, I'm lost. I've been working on accumulating some boyfriend points, but how do I get them? What can I redeem them for? Where do I store them?  What does it all mean?"

    I assuaged the friend, suggested he eat his troubles -- the pig ear Terrine seemed the most troubling -- and told him I'd have his answers by morning. Gladly, I present those answers:

    How do I get them

    Groom (and, similarly, Boyfriend) Points are not unlike American Express Rewards credits: you get them for spending money.

    Yes, the best way to earn points is by buying your bride (or wife, or girlfriend) things that she wouldn't buy herself. Flowers are the perfect example. And flowers earn you one point per day that they survive, so you want to be sure to cut the stems, extract dead petals and replace the water daily. Here are some other examples:
    • Groceries - 3 points
    • Movie - 5 points (double the points for romantic comedies, triple for period pieces)
    • Spa treatment - 10 points
    • Dinner - earns you as many points as you tip, so tip generously 
    Alternatively, earn single points for household chores, such as washing dishes, washing the car or washing yourself.

    Yes - bathing earns you a single point. It's good to be a man.

    What can I redeem them for

    Now, unlike AMEX Rewards, you can't use your accumulated points to buy stereo equipment or Best Buy gift cards. And unlike AT&T, your Points don't rollover. Boyfriend Points expire annually. Groom Points, monthly.

    What the points can be redeemed for is lenience.

    GF: "I think you should read the Twilight series, and then we can talk about it and see the movies together..."
    BF: "Ooo. I don't know. I really want to put my spare time into repainting the bathroom."

    See ... crisis diverted.

    Bride: "Let's go to that vegan bistro for brunch!"
    Groom: "Are you crazy? I'm still stuffed from that salmon I caught, killed and poached for you last night."

    Again ... disaster delayed. Groom Points aren't currency. They're more like notches on a choke collar. The more points you have, the looser the collar.

    Where do I store them

    I keep a tally of my points with me at all times. Occasionally you'll forget that time you called her mother, or that hour you spent with your bride admiring old photos and scrapbooking memories.

    Word on the street is that a Groom Points app will be available before Christmas. I've never wanted to give myself a Christmas present so bad.

    What does it all mean

    Well, what it means is that we can all live in harmony, really. What it means is that men and women CAN cohabitate. And most importantly, what it means is that I can still have my monthly Maxim magazine subscription and not have to apologize for it.

    (p.s. perpetual laundry duty = 1 monthly subscription, pending approval)

    Cheers,
    Madman

    Inspiration #41


    November 21, 2009

    O Yes

    Forget the local paper. Screw the New York Times. We're going straight to Oprah.

    No, it's not a wedding announcement, per se. But the fact that it's happening in the midst of our engagement bumps 2E's excitement level up to 13. Out of 10.

    You heard it here ... my bride-to-be is being featured in Oprah Winfrey's consonant-free, monosyllabic, uni-letter-al magazine, O, in an issue that hits newsstands I have no idea when. 2e's is being honored not only for her role as an independent, female business owner but also for having the most cluttered workstation in the Los Angeles area. And that includes Orange County. Eek.

    This should come as no surprise. I mean, planning a wedding alone is enough to leave your desk in a constant state of disarray. Currently our makeshift workstation is supporting a thousand post-it notes from a thousand phone calls with a thousand different vendors, along with quotes, contracts and agreements, reminders, "inspiration," magazines, magazine subscription forms and a handful of unidentifiable "stuff."

    But it's not only the wedding -- 2E's and I both have our day jobs, both have our acting careers, and on top of it our joint photography business. Depending on what's on the top of the pile, we're entirely different people.

    I imagine 2E's will sneak it into the interview -- the fact that she'll be an honest woman come October next year. And that I'll be an honest man. And that, if the readers of the vowel-loving O Magazine happen to read this here blog, they should remind themselves that only about 20% of what I write is honest. Honestly.

    Inspiration #40: from the FOB

    A program from 2E's high school production of NO EXIT:


    November 20, 2009

    Got My Tips Done

    I found the following tips online -- a few guidelines for the uninformed groom. Watch how I own this list:

    Have an Opinion

    This is your wedding too, so get in on the planning. You don't have to wax poetic on the difference between lilies and daises for the bridesmaid bouquets, but give your opinion on the major planning points.

    An opinion? As in an online journal on which I catalog our ups and downs and "wax poetic" about chores, tradition and to-do lists? Consider it done. 

    Relish Your Wedding Registry

    It may seem like a tedious task, but think about it. You get to wander around a store, picking things you want that someone will buy you -- you can't beat that. Consider home electronics, power tools and camping gear.

    Camping gear? I'm lightyears ahead of you. 

    As part of our planning process, 2E's and I will be designing our dream house -- the all-white cliffside home on the Meditteranean that we've always wanted -- and we'll be incorporating all of our dream house furniture into our wedding registry. Floating pool table here we come.

    Don't Be a Pushover -- Really

    She wants to register for a yellow comforter with little pink flowers ... see if you can meet her halfway.

    Yeah, halfway. Instead of yellow - mahogany. Instead of comforter - floating pool table. Instead of pink flowers - beer koozies.

    Give Her a Break

    Give her a night to relax and cook her dinner, do the dishes, rent her favorite movie (yes, even a chick flick), and remind her why wedding planning is worth the stress.

    Better yet, I've developed a point system. I earn Groom Points (more on this later) for good deeds. A perfect example: 2E's will be dragging me to New Moon before the end of the weekend. That's like 25 Groom Points. That buys me an entire week.

    Be a Buffer

    If your mom is calling your fiance every hour to talk about the wedding, you run the risk of major family conflict, with you stuck in the middle. Your mission: Keep the peace.

    I'm fortunate enough to have the most supportive Groom Mom ever. She's also a huge 2E's fan. In fact, the only reason she calls 2E's these days is to apologize for my behavior, which she generally assumes is inappropriate.

    (And right she is.)

    Get Some Help

    Has your fiance really hit the wall? Suggest hiring a planner for the day of your wedding.

    Wedding planner, huh? I would want someone very authoritative. Like Chandra Wilson from Grey's Anatomy. Or Vincent D'Onofrio. He would really spice things up.

    Manage Your Men

    Your guys don't have to be saints, but they will have responsibilities, and it's your job to make sure they know what they are.

    No worries. We've already shipped our entire wedding party -- groomsmen and bridesmaids alike -- off to boot camp. They'll return from Iraq just in time for the wedding.

    Speaking of which, strike D'Onofrio. We're getting R. Lee Ermey from Full Metal Jacket (photo left). That would be one disturbing but error-free wedding. "I now pronounce you husband and wife. Now drop and give me twenty, scumbags."

    Perfect.

    Inspiration #39


    November 19, 2009

    (Insert Clever Title Here)

    Photoshop and I are pretty close these days. First the Save the Date. Now the official wedding website. Microsoft Word is jea-lous.

    Yes, 2E’s has given me two new tasks now that the STD (eek) is complete: (1) design our wedding website and (2) don’t screw it up. Again I feel like this is something I can actually accomplish – as opposed to choosing envelope colors, which rings of torture.

    2E’s and I briefly considered a template website – you know, something where they give you a background like this…



    …and then you plug in your date, names, faces and all the other places where it reads INSERT HERE. Some will give you a free survey or a free quiz simply for purchasing a year of hosting.

    This website is…
    (a) better than expected
    (b) what you expected
    (c) less than you expected
    (d) pure dung

    I tease, but I’m sure creating a website can be daunting for most couples. Templates offer ease, reliability and (best of all) affordability. For us – being that 2E's and I are both design-oriented people – it felt very unlike us to plug in our personal info and see our smiling faces appear over a winter wonderland or bamboo shoot backdrop.

    Some brides and grooms are all about the "template wedding." Look at the roadside Vegas wedding chapels, or the Albertson Wedding Chapel (less than 1,500 feet from our LA apartment), or any one of the myriad of luxury destination hotels all over the world. Give them the date, your ring sizes and two of your favorite colors (that last detail is optional), and they’ll do the rest. You need only show up. They'll provide guests. For an additional X amount, they'll even provide a day-of mother of the bride. There are literally thousands of weddings waiting to be had in every corner of the globe.

    Even this blog is a template. It’s true. I gave it a name and a title and it does the rest. Half of the time I don’t even write this stuff. I wake up to a new post. It’s kind of like Christmas.

    But despite the ease, despite the affordability, our quirky, do-it-yourself wedding should match our quirky, DIY website. And when the only alternative is deciding between metallic or non-metallic envelopes, you better believe I'm going to drag this out as long as possible.

    November 16, 2009

    WWGD

    Jeanine and Joe were so impressed by the KFC, Monopoly and Martha Stewart ankle bracelet-inspired weddings that the couple has asked me to construct a design scheme for their own wedding. Joe is a firefighter, Jeanine is a librarian ... What Would the Groom Do?

    1. Well, some designers like to dress up a ceremony venue with drapery. Except in this case, rather than using sheer fabric, we'll use industry-standard, 75' red and yellow fire hoses, strung from wall to wall. They may want to line the aisle with life-sized hydrants, with red and yellow gerber daisies projecting from their outlet nozzles. All of this can happen on the main floor of Joe's station house or at that warehouse across the tracks that nearly burned down last week. Designers call that "shabby chic."

    2. For the escort cards, we reach back into our childhood and consult the Dewey Decimal system (see left). Each guest would be assigned a book that fits their profile -- Eat, Pray, Love for the mother of the bride; John's Madden's Heroes of Football for Joe's dad, and Fear and Loathing for Jeanine's odd, oath-of-silence taking, not-yet-with-it younger brother.

    3. As a metaphor for their union, the centerpieces will be inspired by Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury's futuristic tale of censorship and the burning of books. Jeanine will check out her favorite 100 novels, biographies and reference books (about 10 per table), stack them asymmetrically in the center and surround the pile with clear votives and glass hurricanes. Should the books actually catch fire, god knows there'll be enough of Joe's colleagues in the room to manage the blaze.

    4. Where this reception is really going to shine is the almost too-appropriate musical selection. While it might make the men in yellow cringe, the guests will go nuts for these hits:

    Talking Heads' Burning Down the House
    Earth, Wind & Fire's Serpentine Fire
    Elvis Presley's Burning Love
    50 Cent's Get It Hot
    Jerry Lee Lewis' Great Balls of Fire
    Jimi Hendrix's Fire
    The Pointer Sisters' Fire
    Red Hot Chili Peppers' Fire
    Ozzy Osbourne's Fire
    U2's Fire
    Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's Fire
    and, of course...
    Jimmy Buffett's Love in the Library

    5. The newlyweds have some leeway with the wedding favors. Library cards. Firehouse calendars. Whatever fits the crowd. Either way, the new couple will be hosed down as they exit the reception and hop onto their getaway vintage fire truck, decorated with Just Married lettering with a Class D extinguisher.



    Joe and Jeanine -- You're welcome. Send us some photos. 


    P.S. A big congrats to our friends Lindsay and Steve who tied the knot this past weekend in New Hope, PA!