October 31, 2009

Interview Series #2: Donald

Donald is no groom. Donald has crossed over. Donald is a husband.

The anniversary is a concept so distant and intangible -- like that mythical kingdom that stands beyond the Planning Mountains, through the Valley of Last-Minute Changes and just over the Rehearsal Dinner River -- you wonder if you'll ever get there.

Believe it or not, on this Halloween, Donald and his wife Laura are celebrating their one-year anniversary. I was hoping to trail them as they trick-or-treated in their torn, muddied wedding attire -- perhaps with tire prints streaking across their chests, working the "run-over newlyweds" theme -- but we agreed instead on a chilling question-and-answer with Donald himself. It took two dozen candles, a Ouija board and a lot of patience, but we managed to summon Donald back to the land of the living and asked him for some advice on making the big leap, following the white light and eating unwrapped candies.

Parents, you may want to read this one with your children. Grooms, you may want to sit this one out altogether.

Laura immediately wrote "marked territory" on my Facebook wall ... and a few times on MySpace. It's the first thing listed under my profile picture, and it has a link to the wife's page. It’s even listed before my current city. Scary.

It was better than we ever could have imagined.  We had such great people surrounding us.  I even had the sense that all my ancestors were watching from above - the sunshine literally shined down on us like a spotlight during the ceremony.  As we turned around to walk down the aisle, we couldn't even see our audience of friends and family because we were blinded by the light. 

No, but the location was perfect. We were in an old school mansion with this very creepy vibe.  We even had an after party back at the hotel, so we didn't shutdown until after the sun came up.

YES! We entered the reception to Thriller! We found a DJ who shared our taste in music, so we were in good hands.

The one thing that caught us off guard was when we realized we had forgotten to practice a dance. And when I say practice, I'm embellishing … as in, we didn't even talk about a couple steps. Laura and I realized this during some photos we were taking outside while all our guests were having cocktail hour. So I was like, “No it'll be fine, come here, we’ll just do this,” … and I stepped on her dress and almost dropped her.  I had knocked off her veil during the ceremony at one point also, so here she is thinking, I just married this guy who knocked off my veil, can't hold me, steps on me, doesn't remember to learn how to dance, and this is FOREVER?!

So my advice: practice the dance. And don't try to run your hands through her hair when she's all done up. Don't even put your arm anywhere near her hair. Or her head. And don’t step on her.

The hardest part of the wedding was making sure we said hello and thank you to everyone. There were some guests I’d never met, and some she had never met. In hindsight, I would have asked a good friend to help out with that.  If you’re going to go from table to table then perhaps that good friend can trail you with  a checklist and cross people off the list as you go.

We were forced to eat! I ate a light sandwich a couple hours before the ceremony, and I wasn’t hungry until the reception ended.

It’s like this high … this feeling of getting married. I was nursing drinks the whole night. I know my groomsmen all wanted me to get drunk the night before the wedding, but I went to my room and listened to some classical music and went to bed early. The next day I was so full of that I'M GETTING MARRIED energy.

It was a fight! Laura wasn't keen on the idea when I brought it up, but (a) I hate dressing up, and (b) the two things I cared about were shoes and music, so she agreed. Her mom and her grandmother were the most concerned. They cried every time it came up. They would try all sorts of tactics like, "I thought we already decided on that," but I held my ground. Not once did I apologize for it. I had all of my groomsmen wear the same matching pair. The priest arrived and saw all of us and he just laughed and said "CHUCKS!!!" I think he liked my style.

We'd been living together since we first met -- started out as roommates, then moved into the same room when we starting dating, then got our own place three months before we tied the knot. So we got the big changes out of the way early. The biggest change is that now we’re a real family.  So when holidays come up, we don’t go separate ways. Her family is mine and mine is hers and that’s a really cool thing.

The little changes are sometimes the more annoying ones.

I do annoying GUY things, she does annoying GIRL things, its just how it goes.

Am I supposed to get a gift? Really? Christmas is, like, right around the corner. ... Actually, the wife reads your blog, so I can’t spoil the surprise. Call me on the 31st and I’ll fill you in. 

Run. Run to Tiajuana. Or Vancouver. Whichever is closer.

I’ll share a piece of advice someone gave to me before the wedding: remember to stop for a minute -- just you and your bride, during the reception -- and just look around and take it all in. Cause it all goes by so fast, from the moment we’re down on our knee and she cries and says yes, to when she says, "I do," and suddenly you’re back home unpacking from the honeymoon. It’s like a 3-minute roller-coaster. So don't forget that.

Photographs provided by Joanna Wilson Photography

Inspiration #29

October 30, 2009

Off the Hook

Part of my intention in creating this blog was to discover the joys of wedding planning from the male perspective -- joys like pirate wedding themes and Monopoly cufflinks. Well, I'm glad to say that I stumbled upon another such joy this morning when I discovered a new privilege given to men of the "groom" variety.

Brides and grooms alike are handed a certain amount of lenience for the duration of their wedding planning process. Similar to birthdays -- when you're not expected to pay for anything -- Bs&Gs are not expected to do anything in a timely or efficient manner for the entire length of their engagement. This is what we grooms would call a MAJOR BONUS ... the kind of bonus that makes up for all of the spending and hustling, the decision-making and flower-picking and picture-taking.

Get into a fender bender? No problem. Just tell the guy whose Audi you hit that you're getting married. He'll understand.

IRS after you for tax evasion? Not a big deal. Just tell the agent over the phone that you're less than a year from the big day. She'll laugh that knowing laugh and say, "Why don't you get us that money when you can, big guy. Let me just remove these penalties."

Let's say Maurice the Groom walks into his office a few hours late. He anticipates a stern talking-to, so he hunches his back ever-so-slightly, enters the building with a nice, weathered expression that he's perfected in the mirror, and when his boss asks,

BOSS: "Maurice, where were you this morning?"

Maurice lets out a big, heavy sigh with miles of back story. 

BOSS: "Something wrong?" 
MAURICE: "No... just wedding planning again. You know."
BOSS: "Oh. Gotcha."
CO-WORKER 1: "You're in for the long haul, kid."
CO-WORKER 2: "Boy ain't that the truth. You should've taken the whole day off."
MAURICE: "Oh, I didn't want to put extra work on you guys."
CO-WORKER 1: "Oh, please."
CO-WORKER 2: "You're the one getting married..."
BOSS: "Why not take the rest of the week off. You deserve it."
MAURICE: "Are you sure? I don't want to impose." 
BOSS: "Go plan that wedding, champ. And here's some petty cash for the wedding."
MAURICE: "Gee. Thanks Boss."
BOSS: "This in no way means that you have to invite us to the wedding, by the way."
CO-WORKER 1: "If you do invite us, we probably won't go anyway."
CO-WORKER 2: "Right. We'll just send you some Crate & Barrel gift certificates."
MAURICE: "Wow, you guys are the best."
BOSS: "It's the least we can do ... groom."

It's. Just. That. Simple.

Inspiration #28

October 29, 2009

Music Check

I've never seen or heard of a party as awesome as the party I was having in my car this morning. Pedestrians and passersby peeked in through the windshield, wondering if and how they might gain access. Fellow drivers rolled down their windows in envy. I became jealous myself at one point when peering through the rear view mirror -- but soon realized that it was my own party I had become jealous of.

As I mentioned earlier, our man DJ Gaza gave us some sample CDs when we first met so we could get a taste of his music. I took this morning's drive-to-work as an opportunity to sample some of his musical stylings. And let me just say ... I always knew there was a way to meld Run DMC, Stevie Wonder and The Clash, and today ... Gaza showed me the way.

I would gladly pay this man a fixed annual fee to provide me with a weekly or, better yet, daily wake-up mix. With a contract signed and a deposit down, 2E's and I have one element of the wedding that we can officially remove from our to-do list until August, when we email Gaza and remind him that country music will have no place at our festivities.

Now on to the 400 elements that have not yet been removed. Officially.

Inspiration #27


October 28, 2009

Respect the Respite

We know that God was a man. We know this because there was a day of rest.

Had God been a woman, who knows what she would have accomplished in those last 24 hours. She might have taken an eighth day just to ensure that everything was working properly and that she didn't go over-budget.

Men understand the need for, the importance in, the significance that is held by and the concept behind the day of rest. Or the hour of rest after a long day. Or the five minutes of rest after a 55-minute workout. It was a man who allowed ten minutes for students to travel between high school courses. A man who invented the coffee break. Had a woman been in charge, one class would meld into another seamlessly while coffee is pumped intravenously into our bloodstream.

On the return flight from JFK, 2E's could not help herself. She emailed vendors asking what our "next steps" would be. She requested floorplans. She made to-do lists.

Yes, plural.

Yes, there's one for me in there, too.

Silly me, to think that we'd somehow earned ourselves a week of rest, or a day even, after seven days of non-stop wedding shopping and hasty decision-making. "You can rest on our honeymoon," 2E's tells me. "Right now I need you to look over this spreadsheet."

I should zip my zipper -- clearly my naivete is showing.

Inspiration #26

October 27, 2009


On our last day in the old city, 2E's and I shot some photographs for a wonderful friend and event designer who had put together two parties for Continental Airlines and the Star Alliance. It was an absolute trip, and not only because the mini-Angus burgers and mini-ice cream cones were off the chain, but because we've spent the past three months planning a budget-conscious wedding with a do-it-yourself mentality, and there we were at a 1,200-person event that spanned two floors at the Museum of Natural History's Planetarium. No cocktail table left unadorned, no expenses spared. Both parties were miraculous.

Even more trippy are the circular scales built into the floor of the venue that tell you what you weigh on other planets. My weight on Jupiter is 330. On Jupiter I am highly self-conscious.

This whirlwind week concluded and culminated in a coffee slash lunch date with our engagement portrait photographer, who gave us the remainder of the photos and some 80-something of his top choices. To use a term from childhood, we were flabbergasted and truly moved by the artistic (and oftentimes architectural) nature of them all without any loss of personality or intimacy or simple beauty. And yes, I do have an example of such a photograph, you disbeliever you:

2E's took one look at the photographs and cried on the spot. I told Noah this was not only normal but complimentary. Then we dug into our sandwiches and natural-ish fruit juice and said our farewells.

The week concluded and culminated yet again (about two minutes later in fact) at the Red Mango yogurt shoppe just around the corner.

Tomorrow we return to LA at an unkind hour. We can't wait to get off our feet and back into our weekly rhythm, but the word is out that we miss Brooklyn already. Sad too is the fact that leaving the city brings our coolness factor back to 1. And yes, that 1 is contingent on us not watching a Lindsay Lohan movie on the return flight.

October 26, 2009


To say that 2E's and I have had a wild week would be a gross understatement. It feels like we've designed an entire wedding in the course of a week: seen spaces, chosen spaces, met with vendors, booked vendors, took photographs, browsed photographs, been in photographs, and bought at least two hundred dollars of Starbucks coffee in the last 146 hours.

But our greatest joy thus far was learning that our DJ provided the entertainment for a recent (as recent as yesterday) hush-hush celebrity wedding for a secret SNL cast member and a not-to-be-named Mad Men lead actress. That was our DJ! We feel like our coolness factor just doubled ... which would now make our coolness factor 2.

The best part of wedding planning for the grooms (and back me up here, gentlemen) is making decisions. There's nothing more thrilling/relieving than hearing your bride-to-be say, "I think this is the one." Me, the ever-fortunate groom -- I got to hear that four times on this trip alone.

the place
The Dumbo Loft impressed us from the moment we walked in. An unassuming exterior to a raw, beautiful, barren wood-and-brick interior, the perfect fit for both us and our vintage Brooklyn theme.

the caterer
We liked Billy and Tom the minute they walked into our Starbucks meeting place on Lex and 55th, but we were 100% sold when they talked us down from some terrible ideas we'd concocted about food stations -- ideas that would have worked best at Ethel Rosenberg's Bat Mitzvah. We're in excellent hands.

the florist
Sunday evening we had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting with Jeremy at David Beahm Design, who took the simple ideas we'd thrown together and 2E's magazine cut-out inspiration book and, with them, built a wedding vision that went above and beyond our expectations, suggesting decor details such as mismatching lounge furniture and rustic, "found" vases. The thing about Jeremy is that he hasn't an ounce of bad taste. This will come in handy in those special moments when, for instance, I am determined to wear iPhone cufflinks.

the DJ
Aside from his celebrity status, DJ Gaza speaks our language. Minutes within meeting him at the Whole Foods cafeteria in Union Square, Gary presented us with five demo CDs. 2E's took one look at them, looked at me and said, "Do you realize that this is your iPod playlist?" Again, we're in excellent hands.

Now that we're here, now that we've made these decisions, entrusted these wonderful, generous and talented individuals with the biggest day of our lives, we wonder how we ever considered not doing this in BKLYN, the one place where -- even without a permanent residence -- we feel wholly at home.

A dear friend's wedding this past Saturday gave us an opportunity to put our own event aside for four hours and enjoy someone else's big occasion. Lauren and Suneel (see right) were married in the midst of a light rain at the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. It was an all-around beautiful wedding, complete with an excess of too-good-food (2, count them, 2 desserts) and a personal, intimate atmosphere despite the big guest count.

In two days we'll head back to Los Angeles with more accomplished than we expected but undoubtedly with severe withdrawal. In the meantime, 2E's is pouring over her new Wedding Planning iphone app while I try desperately to maintain our coolness factor ... which is still 2.

October 22, 2009


Once again 2E's and I spent the entire day in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), eating breakfast, lunch and that odd meal in between at the same local deli and crossing through cobblestone streets to revisit our potential reception venues. The now-preserved historic district was coined DUMBO in the late 70s to deter Manhattanites from moving to that precious patch of real estate right across the river.

DUMBO is home to Grimaldi's (see Inspiration #24), where the pizza is unreal, and Jacques Torres, where chocolate goes to better itself, and Bubby's, a sweet waterside Southern-home-cooking restaurant and bar where 2E's and I have spent some wonderful afternoons. DUMBO is home to artists and businesspeople and sweatshirt designers and antique furniture vendors and anything but actors ... poor, out-of-work actors. Nonetheless, it feels like home. I mean, look at this place:

Tomorrow we'll be scoping out another venue and meeting a potential caterer at a Starbucks on the Upper East Side. If it doesn't work out, at least we had our afternoon coffee. 

God. I am such a Starbucks whore.

Inspiration #24

October 21, 2009


If we were superstitious people, we might have given up about 10 minutes into the trip, right around that time when the plane that we'd boarded last night returned to LAX with a sea of firetrucks trailing us to the gate. An unnamed "mechanical issue up here at the front," while comforting to some, threw 2E's into an uncharacteristic panic.

But this was no omen of things to come. If we were to describe our first 12 hours in New York in a concise, two-word adjective in our best valley girl accent, it would be TOTALLY PRODUCTIVE!

We began with a much-needed nap, an even-more-needed shower and then our classic New York engagement shoot with Noah Devereaux. An hour or so with make-up genius (and longtime friend) Kim Bower, our morning Starbucks and thousands of awkward but wonderful moments walking through Dumbo beneath the Manhattan Bridge. And with results like these, who could not be pleased as punch:

We're such Starbucks whores.

Please note: Noah is an absolute miracle worker for getting us these "favorite pics" in six hours time. 2E's is in another uncharacteristic panic to see the other three hundred-something photos.

We followed up the shoot with some venue hopping:

1. The Dumbo Loft: a small, ground floor space with exposed brick and cool columns and an altogether "abandoned warehouse"-type atmosphere. There are cons, like the aluminum Halal truck that lives just outside, but -- then again -- this is the view from the front steps:

2. 450 Union: a Jewish non-profit owns this enormous and elegant Park Slope space with elaborate chandeliers and a live-in cat named Diego. Sadly, the elegant venue is not in an elegant area and gives the wrong impression to guests traveling from far and wide. Moreover, the place is far too big for our too modest shindig.

3. Superfine: a rehearsal dinner venue option, this unsuspecting, local Dumbo bar and restaurant is so hip it hurts. Oh, and Steve Buscemi was there, so ... I'm sold. We'll be eating there tomorrow night and figuring out the proper pronunciation (2E's gives it an Italian su-per-feen-ay, while I prefer to call it "Superfine!", i.e. "Damn, that rehearsal dinner venue is superfine!"). And check out the bizarre drawing on the side door:

Our last act of the evening was meeting our DJ at the Union Square Whole Foods, who won us over within minutes with demo CDs featuring Beck, Spoon, Modest Mouse and -- oh -- all the other artists I would include in our soundtrack for life ... if our life was an awesome 80s pop slash hip-hop extravaganza.

Tomorrow is no less stressful. Can't friggin' wait.

Inspiration #23

October 20, 2009

So it smells like detergent. Aside from that...

There's a point -- and I wouldn't call it hysteria, cause hysteria doesn't quite cut it -- but there's a point where it's all just too much. There's a point of overexposure, a point of no return where a couple has done enough research and surfed enough venue websites that the sites all begin to look the same. For brides, this point -- this number -- can easily be in the thousands.

For grooms, this number could be as big as 5.

Last night, standing in the air-conditioned corner of a event space about two blocks from our apartment, 2E's tried to convince me that this was a viable wedding venue.

2E's: Look, it holds a lot of people. It's well-lit. Aside from the fact that it's a bar, I don't see why it wouldn't work.
1E: Right. Aside from that.
2E's: I mean, it's kind of like a big black hole with no character, but other than that --
1E: Right. Other than that.
2E's: -- it's kind of perfect.

If it has overhead lighting, four walls and a floor that doesn't collapse, it's a goldmine. If any part of that floor is raised, it's a stage. If it's sunken in, it's an orchestra pit.

You might call this point "The Point of Justification," because -- once you're there -- you can justify almost anything. Any room larger than a living room is a potential reception space. Anyone who's ever cooked us a halfway decent meal is a potential caterer. Every actor a potential cater waiter.

This morning we tossed around the idea of holding the rehearsal dinner at Quiznos. Logically, our theme would be sandwiches. Or pirates.

Inspiration #22

October 19, 2009

Model Wedding

2E's has become an expert in inspiration gathering. An artist, even. She's narrowed down her websites-to-browse and has stopped emailing me -- realizing that the chance of me opening the link and sharing her appreciation of its contents are as good as the chance of rain in LA -- opting to hoard the files on our laptop in a folder marked INSPIRATION in a sub-folder called OCT 09 in a sub-folder titled FROM THE INTERNET.

In the past week, she's been assembling the inspirational materials into a collage. It's an art form within an art form within a sub-folder named COLLAGE. To demonstrate, I've created a collage based on a vintage Kentucky Fried Chicken-themed wedding:

And, because I can't resist:

The collage helps us envision the event as a whole and see how the various components come together into a well-conceived whole. In our KFC sample, notice how the life-sized Colonel goes hand-in-hand with the side mashed potato escort cards. And our groomsmen KFC uniforms with the 20-piece bucket centerpieces. In incapable hands, these items might clash.

In a brilliant move, 2E's decided to seek out models who we somewhat resemble and who fit our vintage Brooklyn theme. This gives us a realistic glimpse into how we will fit in with our overall "look."

Finding the perfect models was no simple task. It's the work of an artist. An art form within an art form within an art form within a sub-folder within a sub-folder within a folder on a desktop and backed-up on a external drive appropriately titled WEDDING.

Dempsey wishes he was part of this. Keep wishing, Patrick. Keep wishing. 

Inspiration #21

October 18, 2009


2E's and I will soon be heading to New York to attend a friend's wedding (I'll be sure to take and share some behind-the-scenes pics) and scope out our own wedding venues. But our first item of business is our classic New York engagement shoot with wedding photojournalist Noah Devereaux.

A pirate theme would be our ideal option for the shoot. I'd love to rent a pirate ship for the afternoon, bobbing there on the west bank of Manhattan. 2E's would be the damsel in distress, and I would double as both the bad pirate and the good pirate with perhaps a twirling mustache to distinguish the two. At the end of the shoot, she and I would either (a) leap off of the plank into the Hudson, or (b) we would hire a few actors and reenact that scene from The Goonies. She could be that blonde chick. I could be late-teens Josh Brolin.

But the whole pirate ship concoction sunk when we realized we don't have a week of prep or a $3 million dollar budget. We're settling instead for a walk around Dumbo with two umbrellas and a costume change. And a scheduled stop at Starbucks. Hoo-rah.

Most important to me, I've realized, is not the big production value or the mustache (although facial hair is very me). What's more important is that the photos capture our dynamic. Aside from being my better half, 2E's has always been the sunshine behind my dark humor. At dinner with friends, she's the bubbly retort to my sly sarcasm. At home, she's the good intention behind my bad jokes. That's who we are now. That's what being engaged is all about: realizing that you're one half (even if it's the lesser half) of a very dynamic duo.

Inspiration #20

October 17, 2009

The CFHFP: Session II

Let's see what's in the Cry for Help Fanny Pack this week. Lauren from New York writes:

"Dear Madman,
Is there a quick answer to wedding design?
p.s. Love the new banner ad at the bottom of the blog. You're so with it."

Dear Lauren,

Thanks for reading! The truth is, there's a quick answer to all things. And when it comes to weddings, that quick answer is theme. It's also the word I used most often at our last wedding update meeting at the local Barnes & Noble ... when I'd happened to space out.

2E's:  ... so, considering all that, I think it has to be the red, then, right?
1E:  Yup. That'll go great with the theme.
2E's:  You sure?
1E:  So thematic.

When designing a wedding, one should begin with a theme, a premise, a visual palette from which to draw inspiration. Let's take the board game Monopoly for instance  (after all, the cufflinks from Inspiration #12 were a huge hit). Here's our Monopoly Wedding in a nutshell:

1. There's not much wiggle room with ceremonies - it's the same sequence of events no matter what the theme. But the accents make a huge impression. Imagine, rather than a traditional Flower Girl, we had a non-traditional Monopoly Money Girl, tossing ones and fives and five hundreds at her feet, the white aisle runner now caked in a rainbow of fake cash, the bills snapping beneath the bride's heels as she begins her processional. Awe-inspiring.

2. The Officiant should reflect the theme, as well. A Jaws-themed wedding, for instance, might feature a Reverend with a Richard Dreyfuss vibe, or someone wearing a plastic shark head. In our scenario, we need a rich, withered old man with a cane and a beard and enough enthusiasm to stand. Like the Six Flags mascot, but less creepy. And rather than reciting the same tired vows, the Officiant might ask,

OFF: Do you vow to drive each other into debt and treat each other with nothing but poor sportsmanship and disrespect?
B&G: We do.
OFF: You may now kiss the thimble.

3. The dress: a wonderful vintage ensemble. Also, notice our bride-model is holding up a sample of the wedding invitation. Inside it reads: "Dear So-and-So, Is there a CHANCE you could come to our wedding?" Guests then respond with either a Yes card or a Get-Me-Out-of-Going-to-Your-Wedding Free card.

Inside the invitation will also be a note about the gift registry. It might read: "You can now GO to Crate & Barrel. You can now COLLECT $200 and get us a gift for at least that much." See, when we include the theme, it entices the guests to give more. It's a game where we all win! Notice how both the dress and invite are great examples of going "modern" without losing "class."

4. The reception is where we let our imagination run wild. The escort cards: game pieces, of course. The table names: Oriental Avenue, St. James Place, Marvin Gardens, Park Place, etc. The buffet stations: railroads. And the most crucial ingredient: the centerpieces.

A centerpiece with as much class as the white folding chairs that surround it. Well done, Lauren. Well done.

Inspiration #19

October 16, 2009

On the Day

With precisely 352 DAYS until the all-too-tentative wedding date, 2E's has decided to shift 25% of her focus to the miraculous event that will occur in precisely 351 DAYS: the rehearsal dinner.

We grooms often forget about things like rehearsal dinners. Take Thanksgiving, for instance. When it comes to the main event, the big Thanksgiving meal, we are all about it: we're the first to take a seat, first to deliver a half-baked grace, cut the bird, pass the peas, polish off the gravy and stuff ourselves beyond our means. But as for the planning and the cooking and the cleaning and the dish washing and the talking and the socializing - it's not where we shine. We've put 100% into the meal, and we've got nothing left to give. It's not in our genetic make-up.

We men take our cue from the true badass actors of classic cinema - the ones who do it all on the day. They don't want to rehearse or "do one for camera." They don't need multiple takes. You want to run lines with Clint Eastwood? Get lost. He does it on the day, punk. Now get Mr. Eastwood a sandwich. 

Sitting down with 2E's last night over mahi mahi, I tried to wrap my head around this. We plan this huge event for 85 of our favorite peeps, and then we have to plan another "mini-wedding" for 60% of them the night before? It's like opening 60% of your gifts on Christmas Eve.

2E's:  It's not. It's going to be totally different from the wedding.
ME:  ::inquisitive eyebrow raise::
2E's:  Sure it is. It can't be the same as the wedding.
ME:  So, like, caesar salad vs. garden salad.
2E's:  Think bigger.
ME:  Chicken caesar salad.

Suggestions I've thrown out thus far have included laser tag in Times Square (thanks Steve-o for the idea), horror movie night, driving range soiree and Jersey clambake, but 2E's has yet to be impressed. I have a feeling I may be sitting this one out, showing up when I'm needed, speaking when asked and nodding and smiling accordingly.

Wow, I think I'm getting used to this.

Inspiration #18

October 15, 2009

Status: Married

I read about this late-teens couple, Jake and Jessica, who had a destination wedding back in June. A good number of their friends weren't able to make the trip on account of the financial burden, so the couple decided to record the entire experience with Facebook status updates.

The FB newsfeed looked something like this:

Jake Barnes standing at the altar, waiting for jess, borrrrrred (j/k)

Jessica Holtz is flipping out like she's never flipped out before cause she's getting married people!

Jake Barnes tom is like the worst best man ever, and he smells like garlic (haha, j/k tom)

Jessica Holtz bouquets are HEAVY

Jessica Holtz walking down the aisle now, who are these people?

Jake Barnes i saw jess first!

Jessica Holtz > Jake Barnes did not! i totally saw you first!

Jeremy Gray at Jessica and Jake's wedding, borrrrrred (j/k guys), watching that baby panda sneezing video on my iphone

Jake Barnes > Jeremy Gray oh my god that video is awesome

Jessica Holtz > Jake Barnes jake! get off your phone and say your friggin vows!

Inspiration #17

October 14, 2009

Bride Sans Internet

Last week our AT&T wireless internet modem box thing began sending distress signals in the form of Christmas lights: red and green flickers in the dark beneath the computer desk. It wasn't unlike the ending of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, when the scientists gather at Devil's Tower and communicate with the UFO using a sequence of lights and sounds ... except that we, the intelligent life forms, weren't intelligent enough to call our service provider in advance.

And we all know that a bride without internet is like a stamp without adhesive backing. It's just unpleasant.

After all, how will she keep up with this week's posts on her favorite go-to wedding blogs? How will she communicate with venues and vendors? How will she continue to add to her ever-expanding collection of escort card ideas and gift bag ideas and invitation ideas and this ideas and that ideas? "How a person ever designed a wedding from across the country WITHOUT internet is absolutely BEYOND me!"

Buzzing about the apartment, feeling valuable planning time slip through her fingers, 2E's knew she had to find something to keep herself occupied. So she decided to return to her roots, to the place where it all began, to her trusted friend: the notebook.

A quick clarification for the grooms out there: The Notebook is that 2004 Gosling-McAdams steam fest that's on weekly rotation on the Oxygen network. "The notebook," on the other hand, is something that she's been collecting ever since she dismissed (or at least overlooked) the idea that boys have cooties. It's filled with what she calls wedding inspiration. In some cases, it is slathered in appliqué, beads and buttons and pieces-o-string glued to its cover in true 14-year-old-girl fashion; in others, it may be an undecorated, unassuming, Staples-brand black 3-ring binder. Don't be fooled.

Grooms, you may think that scoping out "the notebook" - taking a peak inside, hoping to understand her perspective - is a good thing. It's not. It's really not. Think of "the notebook" like a diary, only this diary is all about her wedding day, and the success or failure of that day depends entirely on what's in "the notebook."

So. Yeah. No. Not a good idea.

This afternoon we are fortunate enough to have our service back on track. Montalvo (?) from AT&T came to our rescue and replaced our modem box thing; "the notebook" is back in the drawer from which it came; and peace is restored to the land. I knew this would end on a positive note. Cue moral support music.

October 9, 2009

Jim and Pam

No blog this afternoon in honor of Jim and Pam's Wedding. Hulu that shiz.

Part I:

Part II:

And after that, be sure to Hulu the latest Hell's Kitchen cause it's down to four and tensions are high and dinner service be crazy and you best believe Chef Ramsey ain't playin'...

Inspiration #15

October 8, 2009

The CFHFP: Session 1

Some blogs have a Mail Bag, from which the bloggers will often pull questions or comments from their devoted readers.

Well, here at Nod and Smile, we have what I like to call the Cry For Help Fanny Pack. Let's see what we find...

Josh from Los Angeles writes:

Dear Madman,
What is the point of engagement portraits?
Love, Josh
(p.s. Love the font.)

Dear Josh,

Thanks for the email. 

Well, as with most things that make no sense whatsoever to men like us, we have to see this one from the woman's perspective. Like with chocolates. We see a chocolate and think, "Ooo, chocolate." Women see chocolate and think, "Ooo, chocolate -- oh, wait, no, calories, I don't have enough points -- well, but I have been good this week, and I did bike to work -- but I might have cake tomorrow -- but I should live in the present -- no-no, those are the devil's words -- " etc., etc.

And so it is with engagement portraits. Let's look at all of the advantages in the female mind:

1. "These will look great on the walls after we purchase our first home."

2. For some women, an engagement shoot is a means of bragging. You're worth bragging about. Take it as a compliment.

3. For other women, an engagement shoot is an act of retribution. Her high school classmates teased her, told her she'd never tie the knot, or if she did she'd be 40 and the groom would be that waifish, waffle-faced kid from the special ed class. If this is the case, don't ask questions. It's best to not get involved. Rather, refer to #2 above and take this as a compliment.

4. Women enjoy dressing up.

5. Women enjoy posing for photographs.

6. Women enjoy seeing themselves dressed up and posed in photographs.

7. Engagement photos make wonderful table-toppers at the wedding ... because god knows there won't be candles or centerpieces or table numbers or food or stuff.

8. The wedding website.

9. The wedding announcement.

10. Facebook.

11. General merriment. And, last but not least...

12. Her mother.


Inspiration #14

October 7, 2009

What's in a Date

Last week 2E's and I celebrated our anniversary ... one year prior to the day that we might be married depending on venue availability.

And by "celebrate" I mean that I didn't realize that it was something we were supposed to celebrate but acted as much when she mentioned it later that night. I also had some celebratory ice cream. Not exactly in celebration but rather because I have ice cream 4 days out of the week, so there was a 4 in 7 chance that I would have ice cream on that particular evening ... which I did.

Needless to say, 2E's had a bouquet of gerber daisies waiting for her the following morning ... one year prior to one day after the day that we might be married depending on venue availability.

I approved our tentative date with 2E's at the end of September. 10-2-10. It's not a palindrome but it has that feel to it. It could be a movie title. Or a locker combo. I won't forget it. It meets my needs.

Even spelled out - October 2, 2010 - it's gosh darn pleasant. It's well-rounded, at times even ovoidal. Clean. Crisp. No 7s. Schulz's Peanuts first premiered on the 2nd of October, as did The Twilight Zone. Groucho Marx was born on the 2nd. So was Kelly Ripa. Most notably, October 2nd was declared the International Day of Non-Violence to commemorate the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. That's got to mean something, people.

And, hey, when you do a google image search, this is what comes up:

What more could you ask for?

Last year it was Biden and Palin's vice presidential debate, and next year it will be our wedding day. (Maybe. Very possibly. Depending on venue availability.)

Inspiration #13

October 6, 2009

Interview Series #1: Steve

To celebrate the fall season, I'll be conducting a series of interviews with grooms I've encountered along the way ... asking them the hard questions, getting the hard answers, and then broadcasting it live (well, not live) here on this blog. 

Our first contestant is Steve, an actor from New York who is less than two months from the big plunge. We sat down with Steve (we meaning me, and sat down meaning called him late last night) and asked him to bare all.

He didn't. But here's what he did tell us:

November 15th at the Hollyhedge Estate in New Hope, PA. And the menu does not include either one of them! We are going vegetarian/ vegan. No animals were harmed in the making of this wedding, and there will still be amazing delicious food!  

2E's finds something she loves and dives into it. 1E (me) needs time to think, process, make sure it'll work (and work well). I have more of the organizational mindset while she excels at the artistic/creative/visual side of things.

Things got a little heated sometimes, but not always between us. When it involves decisions that include everyone -- Lindsay, myself, my family, her family, even our friends -- you're bound to hit a disagreement over something. Overall, though, it's been a smooth ride with only a few stressful issues that have popped up and then been resolved (fingers crossed).   

Well, the b-o-u-t-o-n-n-i-è-r-e-s (Ah! With the accent mark! And I'm using it in a sentence!) are going to look very, very nice and feature my favorite color, orange. 

Nothing definite yet. We have the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner the day before, which is also one of my best men's birthdays, so some more celebration will be in order.  I have a feeling the boys and I will be going old school and laser tagging.  

Oh man.  Was I supposed to?  I feel everything is kinda normal.  Fun normal though.  That's our style.  A little crazy, but not toooooo crazy. We have an awesome jazz/swing band, a photo booth ... but I believe we'll all be wearing underwear ... I will be, at least (fingers still crossed).

No food fights. The food there is going to be so delicious (and paid for in advance) that it better be devoured by every single person in the house. I do have a feeling that the five-hour premium open bar is going to be a hot spot. I hope my bride doesn't spend too much time there. I guess my prediction for an interesting moment would involve that.

Don't Stop Believin' with a choreographed dance would have been amazing. How about a whole Journey medley while we're at it. Definite YouTube material.

Feels Like Home, written by Randy Newman and perfected by Bonnie Raitt. At our wedding, it will be further perfected by Lindsay's sister, Whitney.

Honestly, it's low. Maybe a 2 or 3 at the highest. I just want to get to the special day. All this planning and waiting is getting to me. I would just love to marry Lindsay ASAP. Although the nerve factor could change over the next couple of weeks ... I'm hoping I can keep it together on the day. You have faith in me, right?

That is none of your business. Whatever happens in New Hope stays in New Hope.  Don't come knocking on our Honeymoon Suite door because neither of us will be answering it.

Lindsay and I have been together FOR-EV-ER.  Our engagement was for a little over a year and a half and, lemme tell ya, it really has kept the stress level down.  We knew we were going to get married, so the time factor wasn't a huge issue, and the length of it allowed us to save up, do a first set of planning, a second set, scrap whatever we didn't like and bring in new things - all without the mad rush. So give yourselves time. It'll pay off in the end.

If you're short on kitchen equipment, find someone and get married.  You'll stock up in no time. Haha. No, seriously.

The process is fun, challenging and frustrating all at the same time, but I can't wait for the final product. It's going to be beautiful. And I am going to be a married man. Believe it, Madman.

Oh, and P.S. -- if someone coming to the wedding asks about bringing McDonalds to the reception because they're not interested in eating the food provided ... laugh. Just laugh. And make it a good, hearty one.

Photographs provided by Joanna Wilson Photography

Inspiration #12

October 5, 2009


Had it been me ...

Had it been me with the available morning and the three (or four) mimosas and the tote bag and the barcode scanner ...

Had it been me, traipsing up and down the up and down escalators, deciding what in this maze of household-ware was most like me, it would have to be:

The Rojo Cabinet. A thousand dollars. $999, to be exact. An investment. A piece to grow old with. Preferably in a darker stain - a mahogany perhaps - something sophisticated. With shesham wood. With hand-forged metal knobs and wood hasp closures. Pigmented wax finish. A classic.

Oh god. Who the hell am I kidding.

At best, I know I'm the friggin' sandwich press.

Good for bacon or burgers. Stovetop or grill. Cool grip handle.

Goddamnit. I need a minute.

Inspiration #11

October 4, 2009

Creative and Boring

This morning 2E's attended an informal Wedding Registry Brunch at our local Crate and Barrel. Sadly, I could not attend but suggested she go without me ( <---- cue moral support).

After a few free mimosas, 2E's went gunning for items. She added a rug and a "framed piece of wood art" - don't ask me - to our wish list before coming up with a little give-a-bride-a-gun game called What's More You and What's More Me. She toured both floors of the store, searching for the items that encapsulate us.

Here's hers:

Yup. It's a 3-tier cupcake stand. It's got all the charm of a vintage bakery display with three tiers of looped wire cups [that] stand tall on delicately curled feet. It's "loop handle" makes for convenient transport. It "disassembles" for simple cleaning and storage.

It's goddamn adorable.

And here's mine:

A set of square, white appetizer plates. There are 12 of them. White. Porcelain rimmed squares. Square. Sized for modern entertaining. Dishwasher safe. Packaged in a Crate and Barrel artwork box. See additional photos.

She's a cupcake holder. I'm a plate set. Appetizer. I need a minute.