July 31, 2010

The Man Who Alters His Shirts

A dose of unique wedding advice from "The Man Who Alters His Shirts" -- a stranger who 2E's and the MOB encountered on their trip to the tailor last week:

"Keep getting married. My wife and I met, and we'd both been married to other people, both of us divorced once before, and we didn't want to get divorced again, so we decided to keep getting married over and over again. So we have a ceremony every three years or so, and we've been married all over the world. China, India, a Vegas wedding chapel. On a cruise ship. Some of them are formal, some are casual. We've done it seven times now, and we've been married 22 years. And that's how you stay married."

Being Productive & Being Secretive

It's been a bit of a whirlwind since we arrived in 2E's hometown of Chapel Hill, NC, early Wednesday morning. There's that old wedding proverb -- "When the mother of the bride is involved ... shit get done."

Knowing we would most likely get a better deal on bling here rather than LA, we stopped in at Wentworth & Sloan, a 60-something-year-old local jewelry outlet, and had our bands picked out and ordered within an hour. Then, after locating $35 worth of store credit (dating back to 1996), we spent a spare hour at The Bookshop, Inc. on historic Franklin Street. Combing the sale shelves, we had the good fortune to find a bruised and battered collection of Shakespeare's work printed in 1910 or thereabouts, and we realized that these worn, antique classics -- serving as table numbers -- could be the one design element that ties the reception loft to our bookstore ceremony.

2E's and I also sat down with our officiant, Uncle Phill, to have a more in-depth discussion about the flow of the ceremony, and with our Welcome Basket Coordinator, Aunt Robin, to finalize the contents of the out-of-towner tote bags.

But as much as we accomplished -- under-budget on all accounts -- it all takes a backseat to what is happening at this precise moment in time, and that would be: 2E's Super Secret Bridal Shower.

The MOB and 2E's Aunt Robin phoned me a month ago (using code names Beatrice and Aunt Bea) to fill me in on the details of this pending shower. The two of them, with the aid of some other relatives and godmothers, had been planning to host the shower here in Chapel Hill for some time and needed me to confirm travel dates, expand on their guest list and vow to keep it all on the down-low. Beatrice and Aunt Bea can be very persuasive.

So, yes, as awesome as it is that our table number decor was essentially free thanks to 14-year-old store credit, barely legible on 3x5 postcards, the last three days have really been a lesson in lying our way to secrecy. See, all the women in 2E's life are in town, stashed in various homes, and gifts are strewn about her mother's house, topped with blankets or tucked away in closets or beneath whatchamacallits. People had to be at certain places at certain times to pick up other people at certain airports, etc., etc., and 2E's couldn't know any of it. It's all very MI:2, very Truman Show. We all keep asking ourselves, "Does she really still not know?" 2E's has been inquisitive and curious and especially nosey, but we've managed to keep her in the dark despite some minor slip-ups that we've corrected through discreet text messages.

Faded, water-damaged, dating 1996, and STILL worth $32.50

It reminds me of that old adage -- "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, but when the MOB is involved, you best not say shit to no one about this bridal shower."

So while the FOB, 2E's brother Patrick and I get a headstart down to our beachhouse on Oak Island, 2E's is -- as we speak -- doing untold things in a room full of women. Beatrice and Bea have staged a How Well Do You Know Your Groom? quiz, with a video presentation featuring yours truly (a la The Dating Game), and as prize for her efforts, she will receive a Bride Points Scorecard, a variation on the Groom Points Scorecard, which I designed for her (undetectably) over a week ago.

But that's only one component -- only one of the many humiliating things she'll be asked to do for the sake of bridedom, and I can now say resolutely, with absolutely certainty, that I am thrilled that there isn't a groomal shower in my future.

July 30, 2010

Harsh Reminder #1: The Invite

2E's and I are in North Carolina for the next week, soaking up some time with the soon-to-be in-laws and spending some downtime at our annual hot spot on Oak Island...

...but at this precise moment, I'm killing time at a Chapel Hill Starbucks while 2E's slips into her dress at the local tailor. And -- surprise, surprise -- I'm not invited. 

So it's the perfect time to reveal the designs for our invite and response card, or what I refer to as "the first harsh reminder of the wedding planning journey." Until now, designing a wedding wasn't unlike designing a house on The Sims ... the "people" in your designs are seemingly imaginary, there's no physical labor, and if things get out of control, you can always scrap the design and begin again. 

But the moment those response cards hit your mailbox, those are butts in the seats. Your guests. Your simulated neighbors who will come into your home and judge you by the simulated artwork you've put up on your simulated walls.

Having designed the Save the Dates on our own, we decided to consult with a professional graphic designer for our invites and go a different route. We met with the awesome and accommodating Francesca Grossman of the LA-based Creative Paperie, told her what we were thinking, and she transformed our rough sketches of ideas into the following:

2E's has a visual infatuation with bicycles for two, so that quickly became the "theme" for our stationery. We all crafted the wording together and decided on grey-blue cardstock using only red and black ink. In other words -- keeping the design relatively simple and the costs relatively low. (Please forgive the occasional blank spaces in the design -- we've eliminated some minute details for our own protection.)

I had designed the text of the response card (and came up with the concept of the deconstructed bike), sent it over to Francesca, and she was able to tweak it all and incorporate it into the existing design. I'll be sure to include our guests' responses in a future post.

Lastly, the back of each envelope was accentuated with the following return sticker:


You can contact Francesca at Creative Paperie at creativepaperie@mac.com.

July 27, 2010

The Groom Pant

It all began with the new line of "Hollywood player" pants at Express for Men:

The Photographer pant comes with two extra pockets to hold - uh - your two extra cameras...?

The Agent, Producer and Photographer pants got me thinking about wedding attire, a topic I'd been purposefully neglecting for the last 13 months. Look, I don't consider myself to be a fashionable guy -- nor am I unfashionable, mind you. I do dabble in metrosexuality on occasion. I suppose the real problem is that I don't do formal-wear too often. It's not my style. How does one dress a writer, anyway? Where's the "Writer Pant," Express for Men?

"No, sir, she doesn't come with the corduroys."

You may remember the Friends episode in which Chandler is picking out his own groom attire -- and he's got his heart set on either the "Bond" or the "Batman" suit. Well, there is some truth there. For us grooms who don't know where to begin, the first step is to follow in the footsteps of our idols and scout Hollywood for the best-(and the worst)-dressed.

A Serious Man vs A Single Man

While Michael Stuhlbarg does manage to pull off the faded jacket-and-mismatching-tie -- the perfect look for a college professor on the verge of a nervous breakdown -- I'm not sure it screams WEDDING (though it does scream several other things). I think I'm more inclined to follow in Colin Firth's footsteps in his classic, immaculate, Tom Ford-inspired get-up with the accompanying skinny tie and dark-rimmed glasses. 

Ari vs Eric

I typically side with Mr. Murphy on all things Vince-related (perhaps it's our Irish brotherhood), but in the wardrobe department, Ari is on top. Being a super agent certainly has its perks -- the most obvious one being an impressive collection of Italian-cut, navy blue designer suits.

What's most refreshing is that both of these Hollywood hard-hitters have proven that short dudes can pull off any number of suits. Thanks, men, from yet another guy on the shortlist.
Clooney vs Clooney

Perhaps I'll blend the two looks -- do the double-breasted, slate grey divorce attorney look with the whole unwanted-American-in-the-Middle-East beard thing.

Some smart-looking group contenders:

Reservoir Dogs vs...

Mad Men vs...

The Office

And I owe a personal shout-out to Jimmy Cagney, one of the best-dressed male actors in early American cinema. Often seen in a suit and tie with slicked hair parted just off-center, Cagney knew that gangsters need not look rough in order to act tough. I mean, the man has his own pocket square fold for chrissake.
I'm not saying I could or intend to pull off the pinstripe look (or the fedora, for that matter), but Jimmy is certainly an inspiration worth noting. And now, in his honor, the Cagney fold:

July 24, 2010

Food For Thought: Helping Men Decipher Menus, Pt II

For those grooms out there who still can't read these damn things, please feel free to copy my homework.


Tournedo of Beef with Japanese Horseradish Crust and Ginger Rice Wine Demi Glace
Tournedo - funnel-shaped windstorm
Japanese Horseradish - hot, flavored spice
Rice Wine - low-alcohol beverage
Demi Glace - rich brown sauce
Translation: Funnel-Shaped Beef in a Windstorm of Hot Crust and Alcoholic Brown Sauce

Those tournedo beef things made a hell of an impact

Citrus Dusted Filet Mignon with a Pommes de Terre Macaire with Black Truffles 
Citrus Dust - ground orange peels
Pommes de Terre Macaire - golden potato cake
Black Truffle - tuber melonosporum
Translation: Ground Orange Steak with Cake de Golden Potato with Tubular Melonosporum

Sips of Celeriac Soup with Carrot Coulis
Celeriac - knobby celery of the parsley variety
Coulis - thick sauce
Translation: Tiny Tastes of Knobby Variety Stew

See also: The Tiny Tim Variety Show

Burrata Speidini 
Burrata - Italian cheese with mozzarella and cream
Speidini - Italian skewers of meat or fish
Translation: Twice-Italian Skewers of Meat Mozzarella & Cream Fish 

Pan Fried Old Chatham Camembert with Fresh Berry Mustarde and Fresh Katchkie Farm Arugula 
Old Chatham - hamlet in the NE quadrant of the Chatham township
Camembert - soft, surface-ripened milk cheese
Mustarde - pretentious mustard
Katchkie - organic New York farm
Translation: Fried Hamlet Cheese with Pretentious Berries and Organic Stuff 

Not unlike:

Hamlet crying after that pretentious Yorick guy got snuffed ... organically speaking

Roasted Seckel Pear Filled with Meyer Lemon Fromage Blanc with Crisp Farm Greens and Crab Fritters
Seckel - brownish pear
Meyer Lemon - China citrus
Fromage Blanc - thick yogurt-like cheese
Fritters - fried cakes of batter
Translation: Roasted Brownish Fruit with Chinese Yogurt Cheese with Salad and Fried Batter Crab

Beef Jibarito with Guajillo on Plantain
Jibarito - flattened Chicago sandwich 
Guajillo -Southwestern shrub 
Plantain - tropical banana plant 
Translation: Southwest Chicago Beef & Banana Sandwich

Obama knows all about the Chi-Town Banana and Beef

Stilton Tarts with a Port Wine Syrup and Gala Apple Puree
Stilton - English, waxy white cheese
Port - Portuguese-style fortified wine
Wine Syrup - sugared wine
Gala - festive celebration
Puree - cooked, blended vegetables or fruit
Translation: English Wax Tarts with Portuguese Sugar Wine and Blended Apple Dance-off

Sauteed Barramundi over Lyonnais Style Beets with Wilted Greens, Caviar Beurre Blanc
Barramundi - plural of Barramunda
Lyonnais Style - Medieval French province
Caviar - roe of sturgeon
Beurre Blanc - white butter
Translation: Several Sauteed Barramundas on Top of Medieval French Beets with Old Lettuce and White Butter Roes

Not to be confused with: 

 Several Barracudas gettin' busy on some wet lettuce

White and Chocolate Dacquoise with Candied Grapefruit
Dacquoise - nut meringue layer cake
Candied - impregnated with sugar; also flattering
Translation: White Nuts and Chocolate Meringue Impregnated with Flattered Fruit

(Still confused? Check out Part I of "Food for Thought" here.)

July 23, 2010

The Cutting Room Floor

When you get to this stage of the wedding process -- I guess you'd call it the final stretch, though that's incredibly terrifying -- when you get to this stage, you begin to realize that the wedding you've created together (the wedding that's playing out in your head and in various email chains) is the result of a bunch of tough decisions. Even the most basic questions: who, what, where...? Who are we bringing to this thing? Where are we doing it? Who's going to marry us? What the hell is up with the expensive photobooths? Why do I have to choose between white and ivory votives -- aren't they the same thing?

And every now and then, you and your bride tip-toe through the cutting room floor of your wedding, checking out the could-have-beens. Like ivory votives. Like a traditional cake. And there in the center of the room are all of the venues that could have been: the over-budget venues; the unimpressive venues; and that spectacular barn on a river somewhere in North Carolina.

I just don't think those linens work, sweetheart.

Standing around ogling, loitering, judging you, are all of the vendors you chose not to employ. The caterers; the calligraphers; the bands whose samples you listed to for hours on end. Photographers holding framed images of the processional, the recessional, the farewell. They're all there.

Strewn around the room are thousands of dresses and shoe boxes -- the gowns and heels and accessories that your bride considered but ultimately never bought. This is your bride's worst nightmare. If you're not holding her hand, you should be.

And I guess the most important thing is that you know when to leave, to let it go. It's easy to reflect, think about all of the routes you didn't take, the design decisions that (for whatever reason) you voted against. You may drop in once in a while to reintroduce an old, discarded idea. But in the end you just have to accept that that barn on the river was never the right space for you; that those caterers were too cookie cutter; and that the ivory candles, as ridiculous as it seems, were far inferior to the crisp, clean white candles.

Yesterday, our day-of coordinator (Elif Aksoy from My Big Day) offered to stop by our ceremony and reception venues to get a feel of the spaces, visualize the flow of the wedding and snap some photos for us. And this is the email we received late in the day:

"You guys did AMAZING! Really! Please congratulate yourselves on your incredible venue picks both for the reception & ceremony. ... I just wanted to touch base with you quickly to say that you guys are going to have the most unique & fun wedding! We are so excited to be even a small part of it."

And that's just another reason why we love Elif and are so enthused to have her as part of our wedding team ... because, while we may be doubting ourselves and shuffling through the could-have-been bins, she's there to remind us that we kind of know what we're doing and that all of those tough choices we've made are actually starting to make sense. It's all starting to come together. Especially the votives.

Christ, I'm like obsessed with votives now.

Inspiration #73: End of Night Milkshakes

July 21, 2010

Venues with Speed Limits

In the spirit of non-traditional weddings, I thought we should take a minute to celebrate venues and vendors who have no permanent address ...

... it also gives me an excuse to talk about our new infatuation, LA food trucks. There's a special place in 2E's heart for meals on wheels.

the magic school bus

So aside from the handful of buses that were maimed in a tornado, school buses are a sweet, chic option for guest transportation. They've got more character than your traditional charter buses, and I guarantee there's a stash of Big League Chew under one of the seats toward the back. I don't know -- there's just something too-perfect about 40 relatives in formal-wear crammed into seats intended for eight-year-olds. And if you supply the milk and cookies for the ride back to civilization, you'll totally be the coolest kid on the block. 


Call me crazy, but I've always envisioned a wedding ceremony inside a glass display truck. Granted, 200+ guests might find the glass enclosure a bit claustrophobic, so I imagine a much smaller wedding would be more successful. If it's feeling a little "blah," then throw some art direction in there: rig a snow machine on the ceiling of the enclosure, drive through Manhattan at the height of a blistering summer, and get hitched in your own private winter wonderland.

(And if you're dreaming bigger than your budget, you can always sell some ad space to help kids read good or stuff.)

 mobile eats

For those who've spent the last X number of years on house arrest, take note: when we talk about "food trucks," we're no longer referring to those painfully plain white box trucks that you'll see parked outside construction sites and occasionally in front of high-traffic office buildings, serving hoagies wrapped in plastic and Lays potato chips.

These days, food trucks offer cuisine -- chef-created dishes in sleek trucks designed to grab your eye from the road and send you on a manhunt for the nearest parking meter. And lucky for you -- most trucks are available for private events. Your guests will thank you for having a little creativity, and those who aren't sold immediately will be pleasantly surprised when it's not sliced turkey with a single-serve packet of Heinz.

Check out my handy mobile eats link on twitter, and scope out our new favorite truck, Komodo, pictured above.

the vintage getaway

Brides, you've got to meet us grooms halfway here. It's true -- nothing will ever top the classiness of an antique, late '60s, checkered taxicab, but what says A Lifetime of Marriage like a DeLorean DMC-12, a vehicle that can literally take you into the future, or the past, where you may very well get hit on by the teenage version of your mom.

Plus, it's got gull-wing doors. They open up. That's crazy.

the even better getaway

Thanks to the film industry, we actually have vehicles like these at our disposable (and I'm not blowing smoke up your ass -- I've actually rented one before). How'd you like to drive off in a '54 Kaiser, or an original Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, or a 1957 Jaguar XK-140 Drop-Head Coupe. 

Yeah, that sound you just heard was your groom's mind exploding. 

Check out local film car rental companies (like the NYC-based FilmCars.com and Creative Film Cars) for available cars and pricing.

July 19, 2010

The MoH Says

If you're a loyal reader of this here blog, then our Maid of Honor Teresa needs no introduction ... but there's all this dang white space to fill, so here it is:

Aside from serving as 2E's Maid of Honor, Teresa is also a gifted actress, writer, blogger, fashionista, visual artist, decoupage enthusiast, Etsy shopkeeper, stationery designer, professional organizer, tutor, teacher and eco advocate. She's also been one of our best friends since college, a former roommate turned neighbor whose plethora of hats and numerous talents don't deter her from being a constant source of light and love and moral support for 2E's and I. 

(I should stop there before the Best Man retaliates. He gets jealous.)

Teresa took some time out of her rigorous wedding invitation calligraphing schedule (photos coming soon, I promise) to shed some light on her MoH duties and to provide some general awesomeness.   

Besides instigating friendly wedding-themed competitions with the Best Man, a Maid of Honor's work is NEVER done. If the bride is Luke Skywalker, then the MoH is Han Solo. Indeed, if the bride begins battling her family members and starts to turn to the Dark Side, it is most certainly the MoH's job to pick her up in a kickass spaceship and love her regardless of her unleashed inner demons. In a 14-word summation: "The MoH is a great sidekick, constant friend and general handyman, always ready with a glass of wine."  

Um ... "Do What She Says." Sound familiar, groom?

"Relax, kid, he's supposed to be at the end of the aisle. 
He's the groom for chrissake."

Right-o. If 2E's is Luke, and I'm Han Solo, then you're Chewy.  

Gin.  A little umbrella.  Don Draper.

Hmm, a difficult query, Madman. But I'll go wiiiiiiith ... a bridal party rendition of Single Ladies at the reception. 

Yes! No! Kind of! I am ... ahem ... "officially officiated" through the Universal Life Church, which can ordain you for FREE in under 2 minutes! You could marry yourselves! Heck, the entire wedding party could get ordained and marry each other. OR ... we could charge other couples to come to your wedding, marry them simultaneously for a reasonable fee, and make a couple bucks of the whole shebang! I mean, that would sweeten the whole deal, wouldn't it Chewy?

 We'll call it the Hamm & Beef-eater

I lurve it.  It's so personal to have someone you love, who has been part of your relationship, be there for such an important step in your lives.  Particularly for those who don't have a strong religious community in their daily lives.

I'm thinking Lady Gaga in Bad Romance.  Ironically, of course.

If it's problematic, I'll throw out the whole outfit and really only insist on an eye-patch. 

That is one bitchin' upturned wedding veil, Gaga.  

Too SOON?! Clearly you're a muggle

Ahh, it is a love that cannot be taught.  A woman's appreciation of Etsy is derived from a hope for a better world, a world where beauty is tantamount, a pure Utopian system of commerce is easy and kind, and Christmas isn't reserved for one day out of the year.  ETSY ROCKS! Even this MoH has been doing some premature bridal browsing online...

You are not invited. 4 words. 

Well I'm super excited for your wedding, and not just because my dress is rockstar hot. It's not every day you get to stand beside your best friends while they promise themselves a lifetime of partnership and joy. And just in case your uncle falls through, I'd be happy to jump in and marry you guys! All I ask is that I get to wear my Eye-patch of Matrimony.

July 16, 2010

Couples Who Are So Cool It's Depressing

This is where all those classes in Self-Deprecating Humor are really going to come in handy.

Like any bride with a mere seventy-seven days remaining until the big moment, 2E's spends 90% of her day perusing blogs and hunting down further inspiration and hoping (deep, deep down) that our wedding will be in the same general vicinity of "cool" as the weddings that are featured on a near-daily basis. Like Cori & John's Wedding on Green Wedding Shoes -- and, can I just say, Cori already had a head start with parents who knew the value of a two-syllable name that ends in an i.

Clearly Cor(y)i and John have an endless supply of style from which they spooned ladles of coolness to create their wedding. Their custom and very personal stationery is especially impressive. I would gladly attend any party that Cori and John were throwing as long as I could keep the invite for that mantle in my bedroom that serves no real purpose.
(Hint-hint John. Hint-hint Cori.)

Actually, Green Wedding Shoes seems to have a monopoly on showcasing cool outdoorsy weddings. Like Rachel & Brent, who stole bridesmaid outfit inspiration from Anthropologie; or Emily & Mason, who thought their groomsmen would look best in "lumberjack formal." Like Megan & Craig, who actually made Mead Composition Books not-lame; or Fina & Nathan, who not only redefined "Eco-Chic" but also found a practical use for recycled hemp string. Recycled. Hemp. String.

Christ, we're not using any of those words in our wedding.

It's important, though, that 2E's and I not try to achieve coolness, that we not try to be Cori and John, respectively. We need only be us, and whatever drops of coolness we may be able to soak up from our only mildly cool personalities will just have to suffice. I mean, there are 10 certain certainties that we simply cannot ignore:

1. We won't be climbing any trees for our formal portraits. There aren't many trees in Dumbo, and those that are available are lacking boughs that support my full body weight.

2. Nor will we be taking any portraits in front of overgrown foliage, with Hasselblads dangling from our necks and leafy plants potted in re-purposed Starbucks coffee mugs in-hand. 

3. I have no friggin' clue what hemp string is.

4. We won't be hanging anything from strings (hemp or otherwise) with the use of clothespins. We went "bargain" and opted for the double-sided duct tape.

5. My boys couldn't really pull off "lumberjack formal." At best, maybe "security guard chic."

6. On a similar note ... I do not mesh well with rustic, vintage or antique suits. It not unlike Bristol Palin's acting debut. It's tolerable, but you're really just asking yourself, Who thought that was a good idea?

7. Knock out any suit in the "brown" family, for that matter.

"Security Guard chic"

8. We don't own a vintage motorcycle. Or a Vespa. Or a scooter. Or a tandem bike.

9. Even if we did own a motorcyle, or could get a hold of one, we couldn't possibly maneuver it down the cobblestone streets that veer off from our reception venue.

10. Unlike John and Mason and Nathan, my "coolness" actually depreciates with time.

Thanks to Green Wedding Shoes for supplying the hyperlink combo platter. And thanks too to all the couples who make me want to be a better man. On the outside.


July 15, 2010

The Unexpected Part 2s of Wedding Planning

You stupid groom. You big fat know-it-all. You thought you had it all figured out, you big assuming mess. You blogging enthusiast.


You probably thought you were done with the gift registry bit, didn't you? You'd survived it like a bad root canal. You'd made it out in one piece. You wrote a blog post about it. It was cute-ish.

But didn't you even for a second consider (didn't it even cross your vacant mind) that it would never be over. That on those long, lonely nights, when you were out with the "boys" and she was at home, "working," that she would browse. Click. Cart. Online shop.

But they're all the same!

Couldn't you fathom it -- she -- going into the list that you'd created -- that you'd created together -- and adding to it. Wanting more. Needing more. Couldn't you see her saying, "But these dragonfly-shaped cookie cutters could really come in handy," and you wouldn't be there to say, "No, first of all, I hate dragonflies, they kind of creep me out, and no, they seriously wouldn't come in handy," so she adds them. Damn them. They make it so easy:  + Add to Gift Registry.

But what ARE they?

Couldn't you predict, when you're walking through any mall (because they all have them, you know, they're like Starbucks, really, it's a disease), any mall, and you don't have a specific agenda, you don't have a movie to see, that she would want to go in? 

It begins with the "Let's just print out the list and see what we've got already." And then she pretends she doesn't remember what those things are -- "What whisk might that be?" -- so she can go visit them. She picks them up and caresses them and tells them they'll be hers some day. And then she remembers -- there are a couple things she wanted to look at. Just a couple things...

You'll be in glassware for hours, you stupid groom.

And it's oh, hours later, and you've seen everything in the store -- twice -- and you've got sores in places where you're not supposed to get sores, and you've got this list you don't even recognize, and -- let's face it -- the only reason you're leaving is cause the store closed 20 minutes ago and the employees are beginning to throw dragonfly-shaped cookie cutters at you. 

You silly man groom. It's never over. It'll never be over.

July 13, 2010

Inspiration #72: Super Size Me

Bowling Alleys Aside

Much thanks to 2E's Aunt Sheryll for passing along the following CNN piece on wedding cutbacks:

Bowling alley wedding: How creativity is priceless in a bad economy

Oddly enough, 2E's and I had considered (in fact, we'd fallen in love with the idea of) having our rehearsal dinner at the contagiously hip Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, but the total cost with space rental fee + in-house catering + open bar exceeded our budget. Go figure. (But new york brides and grooms - if you have the money to spend, it's worth checking out.)

  The laid-back, warehouse vibe of Brooklyn Bowl

While chatting with my sis on the phone this weekend, she described our wedding (very cautiously) as "anti-traditional," and I think that characterization is right on the nose. It's not that we're mocking tradition in any way; we're just not confined to wedding precedents. We march to the beat of our own drum -- a phrase I've never used until now because it makes me sound like the disgruntled mother of an angsty teen.

Working in an "anti-tradition" atmosphere has given us the freedom to infuse our creativity into the process and treat the wedding as a blank slate rather than a set of rules to which we must conform. And that creativity, that blank slate -- as Ms. Chen points out in her article -- has dropped our costs significantly (see For the Kid in All of Us).

For brides and grooms just starting out -- you may want to begin with your idea of a traditional wedding. Look at each component and decide if it's something worth holding onto or improving or eliminating entirely. Much of what we're planning for our event came from putting our own spin on a traditional element. So I guess in that sense we're not "anti-traditional" at all. Just "traditional with a twist." A phrase I've never used until now because it makes me sound like the douche-y bartender from an 80s-era John Hughes movie.

July 9, 2010

Groom Eye for the Straight Guy

You might call this highly unlikely ... but I say screw likely. What has likely ever done for me?

I mean, what's-her-face did it. Valerie Bertinelli. She's getting hitched to Tom Vitale and asked him to take charge of planning the wedding. And she seems just fine with it (see forced smile below).

Now I know many of you ladies out there would eat your own veil before you give your man the task of planning and designing the whole shindig ... but we can't ignore the fact that, in a world where gender reversal is as common as cornflakes, there are grooms out there who are ready and willing to take the reigns. And I'm looking for that groom.

 This guy has no idea what he just signed up for

And I'm looking for that bride ... the bride that is too overwhelmed or occupied or anxious or (gasp) apathetic to plan her event ... who is willing to put her trust in her man and this blogger slash groom as consultant and a team of capable men by his side ... we need a bride who threw "likely" out the window long ago and occasionally uses "tradition" to line her hamster cage. We're going to prove once and for all that grooms have what it takes to put together a fine-looking wedding (minus the cake shaped like a beer can).

And it'd be helpful if this couple was in Los Angeles. Just saying.

So. Who's up for it? Brides? Grooms?

July 8, 2010

Amenable to Anything

Dear The Knot,


Your fiance comes from the same mold as most other fiances on this planet: He sort of knows what he wants in a wedding and truly tries to get involved now and then -- but he's often too lazy or distracted to follow through with plans. ... Here's the trick with this kind of groom: Even though he wants to be involved, he can't really hack a 50-50 contribution ... you don't want to force him to make too many decisions on his own, which could result in him resenting you and shutting down completely. So hit the wedding circuit together ... Then sit down with him and go over the things he loved and absolutely hated, so you'll both get a clear idea of what it is he's hoping for in a wedding. You'll need to do the work, but he'll appreciate that you're actually interested in his opinion.

WTF Knot.

These are the results 2E's and I got -- on separate occasions -- when we answered a few questions as part of the What Kind of Groom Is He quiz.

"Your groom is amenable to anything." Really? That's what I get? Not, like, "Your groom is in the 99% percentile so chill," or "Your groom is likely to chronicle your wedding adventures in a satiric blog." Amenable to anything? "Resenting you and shutting down completely?" Seriously?

Perhaps I was too honest on the first go-round. Perhaps I didn't give myself enough credit. So I went back and reviewed the questions again -- this time bubbling in those answers that a Super Groom might select. 

And I got the same friggin' response.

So what's up Knot? I'm not one for conspiracy theory, but it seems like nothing is good enough. It seems like you're embedding in your web browsing brides a sense of empowerment and groom mothering. It seems as if you're saying, across the board, "If you wanna do something right, ladies, you gotta do it yourself."

Well this groom is not amenable to partial quizzes. How 'bout them apples.

Here's the trick with this kind of groom: there is no trick. If your groom asked you to marry you as you two were idling in your car between the cash and pick-up drive-thru windows, then you can probably expect laziness and distraction. If not -- if you're settling down with someone who's got half a brain and an ounce of chivalry, then a 50-50 contribution is totally reasonable. Hell - it's mandatory. So don't expect any less, and hopefully he'll meet you at LEAST 40-60. And maybe you can let that slide on account of the kick-ass proposal he put together.

July 7, 2010

A First Impression

Much of the inspiration for our wedding has come from our predecessors, our ancestors and other -ors that have made a serious impact in the wedding world ...

... but then again, it's turned on us. It's forced us to question ourselves and our taste -- to ask the question, "Is our style really so outdated?" So outdated, even, that we couldn't find the benefit in these tried and true rituals?

The groom-in-his-undies ceremony

The only-the-groom-is-naked ceremony

And, of course, the ceremonial naked dwarf

Whatever it is, whatever the reason for our sudden lack of good taste, we've had to start coming up with ideas of our own. 


When it came to the out-of-towner gift baskets (because nothing is more welcoming in a strange hotel room than fresh towels, fresh sheets and a decorative bag of randomness), 2E's and I knew there were a few routes we could take, and whatever route we decided upon would determine our guests' first impressions. Would they hate us? Envy us? Admire us? Pity us? Pity 2E's more than me? I more than she?

All good questions. 

Here are three possible approaches we're currently toying with:

The Sweet Approach

The only thing you want your guests thinking as you lead the recessional, strutting down the aisle as the new Mr. and Mrs., is - Oh, aren't they just the sweetest couple? - and the sensible means to that end is sugar. 

While doing some online shopping last month, 2E's and I came across the Superior Nut Store* (we love websites with informative names), a blend of delight and torture that offers almost too much goodness: jordan almonds, espresso beans, chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered gummie bears and eight hundred (approximate) other non-chocolate sweets that they've purposefully dipped in chocolate.

The Superior in their name most likely comes from the 25 variations of dried fruit (goji berries, left), the Turkish as well as non-Turkish pistachios, and an entire page of their site devoted to nut paste. Plus it's all bulk. And the pecans come "mammoth"-sized. And there's coffee cake. And of all these things, tucked away in each decorative bag of randomness, are the perfect rush for your jet-lagged, glucose-starved guests.

The Can You Handle It Approach

In the five or so years we spent in New York City, 2E's and I managed to befriend almost every hardcore club promoter in the city. What began as "our friend Hank who goes clubbing a lot" turned into a rolodex of names connected to the hottest and oftentimes skankiest clubs in Manhattan and the Mariners Park corner of Staten Island.

So one possible route is to get in touch with all of our old friends at Dirty Secrets and Club Hawt and Skank Heaven 24/Seven and get them to FedEx us a few boxes of VIP passes to some of the hottest and undoubtedly unattractive clubs in the tri-state area. Sure, we want our guests to be comfortable at all times, but we also want them to jump into the New York City lifestyle headfirst and get a taste of the "real" Manhattan ... the one on the far west end of 28th Street across from the high school ... or the even "realer" Manhattan down that back alley by the seaport. No, the other back alley. The one with the -- yes, that one. 

The You'll Love Us Then You'll Hate Us Approach

What's even better than the complimentary bag of randomness that mysteriously key-carded its way into your hotel room prior to your arrival? A puppy. 

Your guests are too good for superior nuts? Then a 5-week-old golden retriever should do the trick. 

Oh man, they're going to love you ... straight through the rehearsal dinner and the ceremony and the reception ... right until the Sunday morning brunch when they realize that the dog wasn't a rental or a cutesy hotel amenity ... when they realize that they actually have to cargo it, take it home, feed it, love it, care for it ... they'll name it Wedding Gift or Stupid Wedding Gift so they'll always remember where it came from ("Hey, Stupid Wedding Gift, come get your stupid food."). 

But man oh man will they love you that weekend. They really, really will.

*In their infinite sweetness, The Superior Nut Store has offered 2E's and I a generous helping of gummie bears in exchange for this post. In other words, there's likely to be several "getting-ready" portraits featuring my groomsmen and I gorging ourselves on rainbow-colored preservatives.

July 4, 2010

Ya'll Have Boring Taste

While our invites, sealed and stamped and scented with Irish Spring soap, are sitting in the neighborhood post office awaiting departure, 2E's and I thought we'd revamp our gift registry. We flipped through the summer Crate&Barrel and CB2 catalogs, adding these and removing those and rethinking some bowls that we weren't quite settled on in the first place.

And it was just then -- mid-bowl rethinking -- that I realized about our own list what I had realized about every other gift list that I'd ever seen. This shit's kind of boring.

Minus the cool rug and the hot espresso machine (and perhaps the 6-slice toaster oven), most of the items we've "asked for" are simple, white, clean, neat, plain. Boring.

And it's the same exact feeling that I've had before ... when a friend or relative or co-worker's gotten hitched ... and I've browsed their list a little too last minute and thought, Are you friggin' kidding me? All that's left on here is a skillet and a salt shaker?! I don't want to buy them that crap! They'll remember me as that-guy-who-got-a-free-dinner-and-got-us-salt-and-a-skillet.

But you, dear guy who got a free dinner, should get them that skillet. Don't hesitate. Because the groom half of the equation has been waiting for that skillet for something like 14 months, cause the one he has now is handed-down scrap metal, and he'll be pleased as punch when he sees it (salt shaker included). And the bride has had her eyes on that slate cheese board for, like, forever.

So the products lack excitement, but that's okay. It's only because, when young couples do have money to spare, they don't spend it wisely. We don't spend it on commonsensical items like spoons and salad spinners. Hell no. We spend it on new MacBooks and new cars and plane tickets. And we're content to sit at our new MacBooks, eating soup with a fork and picking through wet lettuce.

So it's time 2E's and I got just a little boring. It's time our dinner plates and drinking glasses matched. And if you're somehow pickier than we are, you better jump on that espresso machine.

July 3, 2010

Why Skype Saved Our Wedding, Pt 2

The ceremony inevitably sets the tone. In any wedding I've ever attended (like in any movie you've ever seen) the actual dialogue of the ceremony, of the opening act, is what makes or breaks the wedding.

(Okay, it probably can't break the wedding, you know, but the reception might evolve into chicken dancing and teething garters and potentially end in much-too-literal Donna Summer hits.)

The best thing about having 2E's uncle as our officiant is how invested he is in the role: he's seeking out advice from his own pastor; turning to philosophical reading material for inspiration; and asking us to play a huge part in his preparation.

Phill hopped on the web-cam with us last week to discuss our initial ideas about the wedding and to tell us what he thinks his role entails. Best of all, he's respectful -- it's true that our religious beliefs don't necessarily mesh with his, and that's okay. We address love rather than religion. Faith in each other as opposed to faith in a higher power. Phill's given us questions to ponder and passages to write -- wedding homework, if you will -- and he wants our vows to shape the text. It's exactly what we were looking for and precisely what our ceremony needs to become a solid jumping off point.

Here's to making a great movie.

July 1, 2010

In Good Company

Last night 2E's and I had the good fortune to attend a little get-together with some old friends, one of whom was celebrating his 40th birthday. Because we were the youngest couple there (maybe by five or six years), the guests -- oftentimes inquisitive strangers -- all took turns quizzing us about our wedding, and luckily we're in a place now where we can talk about the wedding with smiles on our faces...

...as opposed to last month, when someone would ask So how's the planning going? and I'd look at 2E's and 2E's would look at me, she'd do this nervous little laugh, and then we'd both just sigh and, when the person who posed the question started to look really uncomfortable, one of us would force the other one to say, Oh, it's Goood ... like Good but with that extra o so you know it's total bullshit.

But like I said -- that was last month and this is this month and so we were happy to play the part of "cute young couple on the road to matrimony" and spew out details left and right and soak up words of wisdom from some of the other guests ... wisdom like Don't let people strong-arm you, especially in the days right before the wedding, when they think you'll cave in for any crap they throw at you ... wisdom like Trust me, I've been married four times, and you just have to find that one person. Lucky for you two, it looks like you already found that person.

Overall it was nice to be in the company of a few married couples for the night (married couples who we aren't related to) and refreshing that these couples, as one single fellow happened to mention, make being marriage and parenthood seem pretty cool. And not, like, the end.

Then we said our goodbyes, drove home and did what all the other married couples did: we stumbled inside and crashed on account of two too many vodka gimlets.