April 29, 2010

Dinner with 48 of Your Closest Friends

Rehearsal Dinners have a Jan Brady complex. They're the neglected, younger (uglier) sibling to The Wedding. Growing up in its shadow. Continually being compared to its older (infinitely more attractive) sibling.

"Wedding! Wedding! Wedding! The Wedding is SOOOO pretty. Everyone's looking forward to the Wedding. The Wedding costs four times as much as the Rehearsal Dinner.

Well, the Wedding can EAT ME!"

2E's and I have a very specific list of demands when it comes to our rehearsal dinner venue. Ideally, we'd like the restaurant to be walking distance from our Brooklyn-based hotel -- especially since we'll be busing our guests to the ceremony the following day. Full meal and open bar. Nothing too exotic (preferably "mainstream" dining), so we're looking primarily at American-French-Italian bistros that can accommodate 50 in an intimate setting. We'd prefer to close-out the restaurant so we can have the place to ourselves, but we realize that we may have to settle for a private room or patio. Most restaurants that we originally approached were unwilling to shut-down on a Friday night, claiming that they make a great deal more money between food and drinks than we could ever imagine.

"Well, goooooooood for you, pigheaded Brooklyn restaurants! I don't want your pecan-crusted halibut and mash anyway. How 'bout you EAT ME!"

But 2E's and I were blessed this last week, and it came in the form of a very generous Aunt, one who could sense our very palpable struggle all the way from her home in Boston and offered to donate her very precious time to our cause. 2E's Aunt Robin has taken up the task of hunting down any and all available restaurants within our price range and within a safe and fair walking distance from the Nu Hotel. She scoured Yelp. She made calls. Sent emails. Sent inquiries. Followed up. Made spreadsheets. Pie charts.

(OK. No pie charts. But who wants pie charts? Pie charts are so 90s.)

And yes, she admits proudly, it took her FOR-E-VER. She was absolutely astounded at the amount of time and work and effort and patience it required.

But this is inherent in the Jan Brady syndrome, isn't it? The Rehearsal Dinner feels unappreciated. Unaccomplished. Unloved. And so, not only does it bitch and moan ... it also makes it impossible to deal with it.

Lucky for us, Aunt Robin's got lots of love to give. And she's gonna love that Rehearsal Dinner to death. She's gonna love and coddle and manipulate that whiny little Rehearsal Dinner 'til it breaks down, cries a little and is so goddamn appreciative that it gives us a deal (open bar included) that we couldn't possibly resist.

HA. Take that, Rehearsal Dinner.

April 26, 2010

When a comedy blog turns into a dramedy blog

I imagine very few of you know that 2E's and I are celebrating our sixth anniversary today. She and I started dating near the end of our sophomore year at NYU. We'd just completed a scene for our acting class -- the Joe and Edna scene from Clifford Odets' Waiting for Lefty. Joe was a down-and-out cabbie who liked to complain about wages and unions and middle-class struggles but rarely lifted a finger. And Edna was the resilient mother and housewife who told Joe what's what and kept him grounded; she clearly wore the pants in the relationship.

Gladly, the scene did not set the tone for our relationship. If anyone is the housewife, it's me; and I'm happy to report -- six years later -- we're both still wearing pants.

Only one anniversary carries with it that feeling of isn't this silly? and it's this one. Not the sixth one, but rather the one that comes immediately prior to a wedding. After all, when October 2nd hits, that very impressive 6 turns back to a big, fat 0. We essentially start over.

(Yeah. Welcome to the guy's perspective.)

Of course, that 0 carries with it a hell of a lot of weight. We're giving up 6 hard-earned, well-deserved years of dating to begin anew. Six years of learning more about each other than we even know about ourselves. The 0 is not so much "starting over" as it is starting a new chapter. When you think about it like that, it's less isn't this silly? and more like isn't this wild?

This is my first post since god knows when. The Irish Curse has seriously slowed my rate of production. New York got in the way. Life got in the way, as I predicted it would. And, on top of it, 2E's and I are going through some shit, to put it plainly. Interminable phone arguments with city employees. Loss of venue(s). The same restrictive budget, as far as Manhattan is concerned. Your typical wedding issues.

But we're grateful, too, that I'm here. I'm here in New York, available to check out alternate venue options. And even more grateful that our friends and family are as supportive as they are, sending us venue suggestions by the boatload, not to mention countless messages of love and support. But friends and family, you should know this too (and this, perhaps, is our anniversary gift to you): this blog is only a very small snippet of our journey. And an even smaller snippet of our lives. Like all entertainment, it's exaggerated for effect. It's purposefully raw and over-exposed and rarely sugarcoated.

You know, last night, Joanna met Sidney Poitier. Today, I got called in by one of the country's top commercial agencies. We're contemplating a videographer. I had some awesome soup. These things we don't always share, but they're happening, regardless of impossible permit offices and dropped venues.

If you know my 2E's, you know that she's as resilient and determined as Edna. And me -- as Joe -- I'm lazy by blood but nearly as resilient just by being in her company. We will absolutely get through this. We never had a doubt. And the wedding will absolutely be in this city -- the most amazing city in the world, despite all its flaws and last-minute beer festivals. And it will absolutely be under budget (or at least on budget), in the perfect venue, with the perfect everything. The perfect occasion.

So forgive me if my ranting led you astray. I mean, honestly, if this was easy, it just wouldn't carry that weight that weddings should. It wouldn't be worth starting over for. And when you think of it like that, it's much less oh my god, i can't believe this is happening to us and so much more thank god we get to do this together.

April 15, 2010

How the Hell...

I've been gone -- I do apologize -- but I've disappeared with good reason: 2E's and I have been venue hunting. Yes, we took off our shoes, rolled up our pant legs and walked right into the shit of it.

And it stinks.

Sure, we've been somewhat successful locating some new spaces (thanks to recommendations from vendors and friends who "feel our pain") ... but at the same time, it's a big fat reminder that venues are too damn expensive. No wonder we were so relieved when we booked our Loft space. That place is hella cheap.

Now look -- I've worked in the New York event industry on and off for four years now. I realize (a) that New York (Manhattan in particular) has the most expensive venues across the board and (b) that oftentimes those prices are fair. Venues require a great deal of furnishing, upkeep, staff -- not to mention the need to make a profit and remain in business.

But there are some places in BKLYN (and I won't get personal and name names) that are seemingly overpriced. How they stay in business is beyond me. For instance, how can a warehouse bordering the trendy Gowanus Canal (see bubbling sewage right) that is sizable but by no means glamorous charge over $12,000 for an evening's rental? Really guys? How does a place like that survive during a recession? You can't just shrug and say, Oh well, New York prices! No ... this, as my mother would say, is highway robbery.

Nothing new, I know. We've all been there, yes. What's upsetting is that there's no means to change this trend. For one, there are countless couples living in NYC who are able and willing to pay absurd amounts of money for the venue of their choice (and god bless them and their parents' deep pockets). Moreover, wedding planning is a 2-person operation. We don't seek out venues in hordes. We don't venue hunt in packs, demanding discounts and scoffing at $15K rental fees.

No, wedding planning is personal. And all of us couples have our own joyous and (at times) tumultuous journey, and we all meet each other on the other side and swap tales of mirth and woe and "Oh, can you believe how pricey...?" It's the personal, I think, that can make it wonderful and unbearable. Wonderful that it's just you two (and yes, your invested parents) and your vision and your passion; unbearable that it's just you two vs. the wedding world.

Yeah, hold your bets. 

Look, if 2E's and I did have $10K + to drop on a location rental fee, we would have plenty more options. Hell, if we had $20K, we could have our pick of some of the best sites in the city (Tobacco Warehouse here we come). But that's not our reality. It's not our journey. And we're learning to be okay with that. After all, ours is the story that will be so much more exciting to tell at parties years down the road, cause ours will start with,

"So seven months out we lost our venue..."

April 8, 2010

Starting Over

Our location saga -- as all sagas do -- has now come to a close.

A quick sum-up for those who are just joining us:
1. We booked our reception at the kickass Loft venue and put a "small" deposit down on the space.
2. We were hoping to book the space that is often referred to as the Manhattan Bridge Arch (pictured below) for our ceremony, but we were told in back in October that the space could not even be considered until Feb 2010, when the events calendar comes out.
3. In Feb 2010, we learned that the date might be booked ... it was being considered for an event. Yay.
4. After weeks without updates or word, we decided to contact the BKLYN borough president, who told me that he couldn't assist with our efforts but did tell me who the client was.
5. I decided (b/c/ we still had no new information) to call the client directly. They would have answers, wouldn't they? They would know if and when this event would be taking place, how many people would be invited, how "raucous" this archway party would be...

The most desired archway in all the land

Not only did the high-profile, hush-hush client tell us everything we needed to know ... they were also completely understanding. They sympathized with the fact that we had a wedding to plan from across the country, with invites to send out, living with the potential of this corporate gala next door (the archway is literally twenty feet from our reception space). 

We quickly learned from the client that the date of the event was, in fact, solidified (possibly had been for some time), that it would be an all day event, that it would host live bands and about 1500 guests. A party of that size would surely eat up the archway and spill out onto all neighboring streets. Music from the live bands would without a doubt ruin any semblance of an intimate ceremony. 

And so, we've decided to give up. We've decided to let the space go -- both ceremony and reception -- and find a new location inside of Brooklyn and outside of Dumbo. It wasn't an easy decision. We really have fallen in love with our event space. But we knew that this would not end well. 

My event designer pals tell me we made the right decision ... not just because of the excessive noise and foot traffic but because the place will surely be wrecked after an all day event. Garbage everywhere. Delivery trucks picking up rentals and equipment. The overwhelming stink of feet and booze and body odor. All things that just scream wedding

Most of our guests are traveling over 1,000 miles and spending hundreds of dollars to be with us. Why even entertain the possibility of competing with a full-on, 1500-person event the same day. It's insanity. 

Our Loft contact has been wonderful, promising to give us our entire deposit back as soon as he books the date for another event. 

We've learned so much from the experience ... we've learned that some people don't have it in their hearts the capacity to help you, no matter how much you try to get them on your side ... we've learned that only you and your 1E or 2Es know how important this wedding is, so you need to do what you think is right ... and we've learned that, between the two of us, I should get on the phone whenever an aggravated vendor calls. These little lessons will hopefully save us headaches in the future.

And 2E's is fantastic as always -- already looking up new spaces and scheduling times for me to go visit them while I'm in the city (and thank god I'm here). 

Don't pity us. Our parents have already done that task. Just please root us on as we do what all engaged couples hope they never have to do: start over. 


April 5, 2010

G-List Symposium Preview

The G-List

In honor of some of my favorite female bridal bloggers, I've created a new Twitter list to which they could never possibly belong, nor would they want to. Yes, gentlemen and ladies, it's the G-List.

The renowned B-Listers are an influential clan of women bloggers and wed enthusiasts. They hold soirees and secret meetings and conferences in Washington D.C. They have their own website. They're chic and elite and stuff.

It comes as no surprise that there are no male B-List members -- there's no groom representation -- though my good friend, fellow groom blogger and Los Angeleno Hunter Stiebel (The Fresh Hubby) managed to sneak his way onto their coveted Twitter B-List by dressing in drag on his Avatar.

Kudos, Hunter.

So I thought the only appropriate thing to do was to create my own list -- one exclusively for groom bloggers and our friends in the industry. We, too, are cool and elite and stuff. The ladies will be drooling in no time.

I suppose the next step is to hold some kind of G-List symposium. We'll pick a manly city (like Nashville, or St. Louis, or anywhere with a large scale name brewery), pick a manly location (like a stadium, or a bar, or to-be-decided large scale name brewery), and begin symposing. Grooming. Drinking. Whatever it is you do at these things.

So welcome, grooms, to your very own list. Tell your (man) friends.