Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Occupations and Anxieties

Classes started this week, and I've been spending the last few getting ready for them. Real life beckons, and the Dancing Fairy Plums of Weddingtopia have been forced into a background position. I see them over there in the corner with their little arms crossed, scowls on their faces, tapping the toe of one shoe in a gesture of extreme annoyance. Like archeology students forced to take an ethnographic methods class, they're rolling their eyes and sneering, wondering what valid purpose my current activities could possibly serve.

::Hush, little darlings... if I don't do this other stuff, I won't be able to keep you in the fairy dust to which you have grown accustomed...::

As for other aspects of Real Life, I'm wondering if there is going to be a very small townhouse at the end of a cul-de-sac in a suburban backwater in my future. Actually, there is one now, but the idea was to go for an upgrade upon the merger. However, that requires selling the very small townhouse at the end of a cul-de-sac in the suburban backwater in order to kitty up the necessary down payment, to say nothing of getting a mortgage. And, of course, that other buyer would have to get a mortgage, too. Meanwhile, the pundits are yammering away about how that is well nigh impossible right now. 

Summer of 2010, anyone? 

Speaking of that, I do have the date poll up in a revised form, with more careful consideration of the summer travel plans of others and the winter breaks of those with ties to elementary education. World, have your say. Is December really such an awful time for people...?

Monday, September 22, 2008

More Stuff to Buy

I followed the groom to one of the larger chain purveyors of books yesterday, and noticed the ubiquity of "scrapbooking" paraphernalia. What was once a fairly simple and organic method of personal archiving has become commodified to the point of practically selling folks the very mementos that go into the archive. The hyper commodification of this practice is not exactly new, I know. I had a colleague seven or eight years ago who was obsessed with it, and it was then that I became introduced to the phenomenon of scrapbooking for scrapbooking's sake. She would have "scrapbooking parties," and kept inviting me, but I never could stomach the thought. I realize now that I should have gone to at least one in the name of ethnography, but as is frequently the case for even professional anthropologists, one so often fails to see ethnographic significance when it's staring one in the face in the course of everyday life, even when it's doing so with much fanfare, waving around ribbons and rubber stamps and bits of colored paper and scissors that will cut it into decorative edging.

At the time of those many enthusiastic exhortations to come get in on all the cuttin' 'n pastin' fun, it struck me as peculiar, this hoopla over the new thing to do. My mother has some old scrapbooks up in the attic full of detritus accumulated mostly during her stint as a stewardess flying the New York-South America route for Pan American in the mid-1950's, back in the old propeller Constellation and Stratocruiser days: cocktail napkins from hotels in Caracas, concert programs, notes from suitors in her various ports of call, etc. (hmmm, she thinks to herself.... I ought to dig those up and do some preservation work). I've always associated this collecting of bits and pieces of this and that specifically with travel. The old family Christmas tree is a "scrapbook" of sorts, full of souvenirs from various wanderings, and the guest bathroom in my parents' house is a veritable museum of Mini Soaps of Many Nations, squirreled away from hotels all over the world. My parents (and I think it's specifically my mother) are hotel mini soap magpies.

It's not scrapbooking, itself, that bugs me. Anyone with a modicum of archivist tendencies does it, and my guess is that the practice dates back centuries. I found some examples of cool "scrapbooking" in Latacunga in Ecuador associated with the La Mama Negra festival. Part of the costuming involves elaborate headdresses and chest pieces embroidered with bits and pieces of everyday life: buttons, coins, little toy airplanes, flashlight bulbs, doll body parts, etc. Below is a sadly not very sharp picture, but you get the idea.
I'm going to make one of those one of these days. It's a great use of all those little pieces of junk filling up that one drawer in the kitchen, suitable for framing. But I'm "scrapbooking" here, aren't I? I'm just doing it online, ostensibly in connection with nuptials.

But, back to the large, chain purveyor of books. I could choose between any number of wedding planners/organizers with scrapbooking features, I could buy The Book of Us: A Journal of Your Love Story in Fifty Questions, and I could buy a journal/scrapbook for just about every aspect of my life. In fact, the scrapbook, journal and personal organizer seem to have melded into one massive industry of paper and glue and scissors and ribbons and stickers and rubber stamps and glitter ink and stuff, stuff and more stuff to stuff into pre-themed books in a frenzy of crafty documentation of the mundane. Not that there's anything wrong with that, except when one starts to wrap one's head around the massive scale of the commodification of archival documentation. The sheer volume of stuff that's sold to stuff into those books would seem to leave little room for personal mementos. It's as if what's being pedaled is the archival documentation of scrapbooking paraphernalia.

On a different note, while at the mall where said large purveyor of books was located, we wandered past a wedding/prom dress store called Emporio Bridal and Formal. Now, before I go any further, I think you can pretty much guess what sort of concoctions might be found at a place called Emporio Bridal and Formal located at the Clackamas Town Center. CTC may be more 'upscale' these days since the departure of Tanya Harding's practice rink and the arrival of REI, but this store had enough polyester to critically affect the ambiance of the whole complex. Between Emporio and Frederick's of Hollywood just down the mall a few steps, no amount of REI-ness can exorcise the ghost of dear Tanya.

The place was full (and I do mean full... those dresses take up a lot of room) of things like these prom/quinceanera dresses from online retailer BargainWeddingGowns.com:

Lots and lots of tulle, super saturated primary and almost day-glo colors, sequins, and glitter galore. The wedding dresses were along the same lines, but in various renderings of white. They even had this exact wedding dress:

Imagine me in that, folks.

David looked at the price tag on one of the dresses and just about choked. "A thousand dollars...!"

Oh, honey, you're so naive and such a charming little doodle in your wide-eyed naivete, but $1,000 is cheap. I do have to admit, however, that it seems like an awful lot of money for fabric I could easily get for under $5 per yard, and that manufacturers can buy wholesale for less than a dollar per yard. Let's see... a manufacturer could buy a shipment of polyester crepe back satin wholesale for about 59 cents per yard, using approximately nine or ten yards, which comes out to about $6 in fabric per dress. Add stuff like lining, notions and embellishments, and we can estimate it at an even $10. Let's just say for the sake of yucks that this manufacturer pays his or her garment workers $13 per hour (the average wage of American Apparel workers, according to the San Francisco Chronicle). Skilled garment workers producing dresses in a Fordist fashion could easily churn out one of those Emporio off-the-rack numbers (we're clearly not talking couture here) within eight hours. That's $104 for the labor. The reality is that garment workers in countries like Bangladesh, where a lot of these dresses are made, make under $100 per month, so the labor might actually be costing somewhere around $3.50 for that dress, tops. Looked at in that light, $1,000 does seem like a lot of money to pay for a dress that cost under $15.00 to make, even accounting for "shipping and handling." I can see why David was shocked, but he hasn't seen the $10,000+ specimens that are out there. Emporio Bridal and Formal was not going to provide quite that kind of shopping experience.

No, I did not try anything on, just for fun. The place was a madhouse of women with their daughters (some accompanied by a male figure skulking in a corner with a look of terror on his face) flinging vast amounts of hot orange and lime green tulle around in an orgy of fashion hysteria. Okay, perhaps I exaggerate, but not by much. It was busy. Besides, I've never had any real desire to dress up in Barbie doll clothes, even just for laughs. David and I came to the conclusion that the manufacturers of these dresses go straight to Princess Barbie for inspiration, which seems reasonable enough, given that so many little girls grow up with her as their most formative fashion icon. When they reach prom or bride age, they have in their heads an image of themselves looking just like their Barbie doll in her finest. Back in the old days, when Barbie first came out, that phenomenon of giving little girls ideas wasn't quite such a taste disaster in the making as it has become.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Really Over-the-Top Gurly Post Involving Dress Patterns that is Only Suitable for the Hardcore Historical Fashion Minded

I've been combing through some patterns that are readily available from the Big Three: Butterick, McCall's and Vogue. I haven't even started to comb through my collection of old patterns from the 50's that I have stashed away in the garage. The advantage of finding and altering a suitable pattern from the contemporarily made, is that I won't have to do much in the way of pattern re-drafting, which is not something I had a whole lot of experience with even when I sewed on a daily basis, oh those many, many years ago.

Yes, so, here are some thoughts:
Butterick 4918, reissued pattern from 1952. I would add 1.5 - 2 inch wide halter straps and might box pleat the skirt (shortened to tea length) to make it somewhat more structured.

Butterick 4919, reissued from 1952. This would be done in the tea length version. There might be a bit too much fabric in the halter bodice. I might make the V a bit wider and deeper. One of the things Ms K and I discovered when checking out dresses is that too much solid coverage up top is not particularly flattering; it makes me look like I'm wearing a 'big girl's' dress.

McCall's 5319. I could have some fun with this one: make the skirt a little longer, maybe fuller, with pleats instead of gathers; embroider embellishments on the central waist piece; pair it with an organza or chiffon (for a more flowy effect) over skirt.... hmmmm

McCall's 5580. I could see the halter version of this one paired with the sash effect shown on the strapless version.

Vogue 8150. This would be pretty flattering for a more contemporary design. I would shorten it to tea length (the pattern's shorter version has one of those awful asymmetrical hems.. I would just make it a straight hem), and I could see embroidering the straps. The skirt might even work with a chiffon over skirt.

Vogue 8470 (apologies for the especially tiny picture). Simple, to the point, made in a charmeuse, possibly add a chiffon overlay, maybe embroider the waist piece. Can be done in a halter version as well.

Vogue 8020. What I like about this is the box-pleated skirt. I would make it with a fairly substantially deep, broad V or scoop neck. An embroidered self-fabric belt would be cool.

Vogue 9668. I like the top half of all of these (the first version I could see doing with three-quarter length sleeves), paired with the third version's fuller tea-length skirt. It would be fun to embroider the waist piece, and version two's pencil skirt would look interesting with a full over skirt of sheer organza with the pencil skirt showing through.

Vogue 2960 reissue from 1954. This on would work pretty much as is. I might add a little subtle embroidery at the bust and maybe alter the sleeves so they are more shoulder straps than cap sleeves.

Vogue 2961 reissued from 1953. This stands as is. I could get some really nice decorative buttons and make a self-fabric belt.

Vogue 2962, reissued from 1957. Ms. K and I had talked about the potential silliness of me carrying a bouquet, and had discussed the option of a wrist corsage or one worn at the waist, a la this little number. I might need to reduce the amount of fabric at the bust, but maybe not. It might work better with more structured pleats at the skirt's waist, rather than the gathers.

Vogue 2902 reissued from 1952. Having the bust and waist be separate pieces tends to work best for me, I think, but this would be fine with some careful fitting. The waist corsage would be nice with this one, too.

Vogue 2903, reissued from 1957. Princess seaming takes more careful fitting/tailoring than some other patterns, but I love the inverted box pleats and the neckline. I could see doing this with three-quarter length sleeves.

Butterick 5209, reissued from 1947. I might consider pleating the skirt, rather than gathering it at the waist as shown, but the waist and bust gathers on the halter balance each other out so nicely.

Butterick 5032, reissued from 1952. Columnar doesn't work so well for me, but the organza over skirt would take care of that problem. I would lower the neckline.

Simplicity 3878. This frothy tulle-covered number from Jessica McClintock, even though it's 'contemporary' and not a vintage reissue, is so exactly like my mother's and Aunt Suzanne's old high school and college dance dresses from the 1950's that I wore to rags while playing dress up as a little girl (sorry, Cousin M... I think I had pretty much had my way with those dresses by the time you were ready to have your turn with them). This one is almost irresistible for that reason. I would go with the shorter tea length version, of course, and could add satin halter straps similar to those seen on McCall 5580 or Vogue 2961 above.

Vogue 8393. Another alternative would be to make a separate top and skirt. The first of these (shown in white on the left) would be improved with added halter straps a la McCall 5580 or Vogue 2961 above. I would pair the top with a full circle skirt. The two pieces could be made of the same fabric, or coordinating/contrasting fabrics.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cursed Bust

Ms K and I did a preliminary foray into the bridal party dress exploration world, and it was helpful. I haven't yet been to one of those classic 'bridal shops' yet, which should really be a curious adventure -- curiouser and curiouser, said Alice -- but I do have a clearer idea of some of the things that would work. Something along the lines of what worked for the bustier 50's sirens would do the trick (I need to get cracking if I'm going to achieve quite that Sophia Elizabeth waistline...). I am not a columnar gal. I have never been a columnar gal. The 1930's, willowy, bias cut, Nora Charles (a.k.a. Myrna Loy) look, no matter how much I might love it, no matter how much it fits with my ring, just won't do.

Let's just remind you all that this is a dress I'm going to be making myself (with Ms. K's more expert muslin-making and fitting assistance). No, I am not off to drop $10,000 on a Vera Wang.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Etiquette Anxiety

Judith Martin (a.k.a. Miss Manners) opines as follows on contemporary wedding invitation wording:

"Perfectly normal people go etiquette-crazy when planning to be married and demand to know the proper way of doing everything, including some startlingly improper acts.

But it is not the correct wording for inviting the guests for which Miss Manners is constantly being asked. On the contrary, the very correctness of that tradition annoys people who claim to want formal invitations. It's "too formal," they protest. And, apparently, using their names does not sufficiently "personalize" it. So instead of writing perfectly nice informal invitations, they mess with the formal sort, lopping off honorifics and inserting extra words and thoughts about their pride, happiness and cordiality."

To say nothing of "joy."

She captured the sentiments I expressed in my previous post perfectly, but that particular column quoted above dealt with the phenomenon of people looking for "gracious" ways to ask for money, instead of gifts. Miss Manners is horrified, and rightly so. Apparently, however, it is also taboo to say "no gifts, please," on one's wedding invitations. That information is supposed to get out word-of-mouth, and even then, it must be handled delicately. To state it from the horse's mouth on the invites is to suggest that gift-giving is actually expected. We must pretend that it is not. It's shockingly rude to let on that we fully expect people to come bearing pressed-glass candy dishes and sterling plate candlesticks, even in the attempt to avoid that happening. Miss Manners even goes so far as to suggest that the modern advent of the gift registry is questionable, but that we get away with this, because it allows the bride and groom to appear as if they are not directing the gift-giving of their friends and relations. "There is just enough distance between the giver and the receiver to make this a passable practice," she says (Martin 2005: 435). "They only tell their preference to a neutral business establishment."

She doesn't even like the trend of asking for charitable donations to worthy causes in lieu of gifts, because that, too, lets the expectation cat out of the bag: "Your wedding guests should not be asked to 'memorialize' you with a charitable donation in your name," she writes. "If they want to remember you charitably, they can invite you for dinner."

I love Miss Manners, but I have to say, we do have a rule of generalized reciprocity vis-à-vis weddings, meaning gift-giving with an expectation of eventual, but not immediate, return is built into our nuptial ceremonial structures. I doubt Miss Manners would really disagree with that. The ethnographic evidence is just too strong to deny it. But social etiquette dictates that we hide that expectation in a social cloaking device. In that respect, it's not dissimilar to the Southern ladies of 50 years ago, who, while they would avoid openly talking about a family's socio-economic standing, would instead run their fingers over invitations looking for the tell-tale tactile signs of engraving, nodding sagely to each other upon receiving the results.

So, where does this leave me? I'm both far too anthropologically minded to play along with the pretense that generalized reciprocity does not play a part here when it comes to my own nuptials, and far too anthropologically minded to poo-poo and ignore the pretense. All right, then. Because what seems to be the absolute hieght of bad taste is actually saying anything about gifts, even specifically requesting no gifts, on the wedding invitations, I won't make direct reference to this issue on the invites. Instead, I'll direct people to this blog for further information -- like directions -- and entertainment purposes. When here, they might notice that I do have a "registry" (not yet posted). I actually found one that allows us to "request" anything at all, and does not lock us into bowls from The Pottery Barn.

What I have in mind is a variation on the "potluck wedding," a subject upon which I actually have mixed feelings. But never mind those; they're the norm somewhere, and the evidence I've dug up suggests that they are actually not universally frowned upon by the etiquette mavins. Anyway, my parents belong to a "gourmand" supper club, and the way this works is that the members get together and plan out themed meals, then assign specific dishes to individual members. It's a controlled "potluck," with the only element of luck involved being whether or not a particular cook managed to successfully pull off the assigned dish. For our party, we'd like to come up with a tapas menu, and in the registry (from Alternative Gift Registry.org), people can (but are in no way obligated to) sign up to come bearing one of the listed dishes. I could even add a little greater element of luck by having more general 'categories' (e.g. pasta salad or vegetable dish) that would give room to the creative or tradition-minded who have a favorite dish they always bring to potlucks.

We've also thought about suggesting that people may contribute to our wine cellar and/or drinks cabinet so that we might more easily remember them charitably when we have them over for dinner in future, but that's probably pushing at the boundaries. Miss Manners has me feeling hyper vigilant. I'm tempted to make matters even worse by getting myself a copy of Miss Manners on Weddings, or Miss Manners on Painfully Proper Weddings. I just looked up her stance on enclosing response cards in wedding invitations. She "loathes" them (2005: 396).

::skulks off to rethink issues::

Martin, Judith
Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior. WW Norton: New York.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wedding Invitation Wording Grouch

I've been putting off class syllabi, the tanking banking system, lipstick, pigs, pitbulls, hockey moms, the thought of Todd Palin with his feet on the desk in the Oval Office, and other Issues of Great Significance the past couple of days by distracting myself with the concept of the Wedding Invitation. Today I ran across a Land 'o Blog's post titled "Wedding invitation wording that won't make you barf."

The draw to that title was powerful. Many of the ideas floating around out there are, indeed, barf-worthy. Examples of suggested wording I found in my wanderings include the following:

Because you have shared in
our lives
by your friendship and love, we
Mary Kathryn Nolan
David Antonio Muñoz
together with our parents
invite you to share
the beginning of our new life
when we exchange marriage
vows ....

Something borrowed and
something blue
some things are old, some
things are new
Someone to care and share
your life
the dream of every husband
and wife
Please join us
Mary Kathryn Nolan
David Antonio Muñoz
as we are married
on ....

You work, you play
and then, one day...
love just happens!
Mary Kathryn Nolan
David Antonio Muñoz
invite you to be a witness
to one of life's loveliest
as they are joined together in

Friends forever we will be
whether walking on the beach
or sailing on the sea...
Please be our guest as we,
Mary Kathryn Nolan
David Antonio Muñoz
join together
on ....

He asked, and she said yes...
or was it the other way around?
However it happened
Mary Kathryn Nolan
David Antonio Muñoz
are getting married
and they ask you to join them
on ....

He proposed to her on bended
He asked "Will you travel
through life with me?"
Mary Nolan
said "Yes!" to
David Muñoz
You're invited to their wedding

Just like a page our of a
fairy tale the storybook romance
comes true...
Mary Kathryn Nolan
and David Antonio Muñoz
invite you to share in the joy
when they exchange
marriage vows on ....

Like the leaves on an
Autumn breeze, our hearts are
uplifted by love...
It is with great joy that we
Mary Kathryn Nolan
David Antonio Muñoz
will pledge our love as one

From the first Tee
we knew we Wood spend
the Course of our lives together
Mary Nolan
David Muñoz
Wood be delighted if you'd join
at our wedding
on ...

We found the days were much
too short for all the dreams we
wanted to share and all the love
we wanted to give
Mary Kathryn Nolan
and David Antonio Muñoz
request the honor of your
presence as we begin a life of
dreaming loving and sharing
together on...

ad nauseum.

How about something along the lines of XXX and XXX invite you to their wedding party on such-&-such a date at this location...?

Doesn't that do it? I mean, doesn't the fact that we're marrying each other come with all the bromides already embedded? Must they be ink-jetted onto lokta and stuffed into a hundred 100% recycled/30% post-consumer waste, green certified envelopes?

The 'wording that won't make you barf', by the way, isn't really any better. I eschew all adverbs. I won't "joyfully" request anyone's presence. It's a party. I'm not qualifying it as a pity party, so I think "joy" is already implied.

And I just have to say about that one about the lovely surprise; "...invite you to be a witness to one of life's loveliest surprises as they are joined together in matrimony...," if one is standing at the altar in a state of shock, completely surprised to find oneself in such a position, it may not be a good sign, no matter how "lovely" the surprise might be. I think I recall feeling numb at my first one, probably because I was repressing the shock.

On a somewhat related note, because it's about invitations, I recall as a youth my mother telling me of the day when people (that would be women) would run their fingers over received wedding invites to see whether or not they were engraved, and that the social standing of the bride's family was ultimately determined by the presence or absence of this quality marker. Today the ultimate marker is letterpress. I would have to expect to spend a bare minimum of about $500 for my invitations if I were to have them letterpressed. They could easily get upwards of $2000. Expect homemade jobs, my friends, and damn my reputation.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Preciousssss

As noted in the first post of this blog, the School Teacher (aka David M.) shoved a ring on my finger at that Giants/Braves game. That ring was a place marker; a very sweet, tres moderne gold and jade ring with a little chipperoo of a diamond that he got from his mother.

After much consideration, we opted to get a ring originally belonging to my great-grandmother, Sudie Eva Gaddis, restored. The story is (and correct me, people-in-the-know, if I'm wrong) that this ring, manufactured of 18K white gold sometime in the early part of the 20th century (best guess -- 1910-1925), was one that my grandmother, Sidney Ruth Young (Sudie's daughter) used to wear around as a teenager 'pretending' she was engaged. Given that she was engaged by the time she was 17, that didn't leave her much time for playing make-believe, but that's the story. I think.

Anyway, the original diamond is long gone, probably given to Ruth's daughter, my Aunt Frances, for her ring. What was left was a very early-Deco graphic filigree number that needed a little bit of work. We took it down to Alchemy in the Pearl District of Portland, a place recommended by my friend, Ms. K, who got her rings there. The jeweler pulled out some sapphires (the "birth stone" of both the present groom and bride in this saga) and we picked a little blue/teal-ish number. And viola! Such is the result. Mammy (great-grandmother Sudie Young, née Gaddis) and Grandmama Boof (grandmother Ruth Nolan, née Young) would be very pleased, I'm sure.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


My idea of a fantasy wedding does not include the groom wearing brown Crocs. I mean, they do make them in red (the color scheme at these nuptials). It seems to me that if he had to wear those things for some reason -- like, perhaps he had to take a break to go do some weeding or turn the compost -- he could color coordinate.

Note to David: you are not wearing your Keens, either.

Photo from WeddingChannel.com

Where are the men?

Weddings are about women. Here's proof enough; the Rose City Bridal Showcase will be held in October the same weekend as the 16th Annual Northwest Women's Show (?). Both will be held in the Oregon Convention Center, and on the Bridal Showcase page, they pitch the other with the line: "Two great women's events all in one location."

Men are truly secondary to the whole concept of the wedding, even though one would think they would feature fairly prominently. They feature, to be sure, but the marketing of the Wedding Industrial Complex treats them as just so much decoration along with the flowers and the cake and the cute Chinese take-away boxes personalized with the Happy Couple's names filled with meaningless party favors. It's a wonder those sites don't have groom vendors through which one can procure the requisite Dream Boat. No, that's one part of the wedding schtick that's still DIY, although I have to note that no small number of "wedding stories" featured on sites like The Knot and The Wedding Channel and OneWed and Martha Stewart Weddings start with something along the lines of, "They met on Match.com..." I need to start bookmarking those when I run across them. They're positively mundane. Thank goodness I was at least a little bit original and scored my groom on Craig's List.

Of course, Jerry Seinfeld perfectly captured the seemingly throw-away quality of the groom in the wedding party when he commented upon the groom and groomsmen in their matching penguin outfits; it's a safety measure. If the groom poops out, the next one down the line steps to the left and takes his spot.

Men are a requirement -- in the standard heterosexual wedding, at least -- but the wedding industry seems to suggest that women can send the boys out to play while we arrange the whole thing, with ourselves as the celebrated centerpiece. Here's an example from the WeddingChannel.com:

"Denise had always wanted to have an intimate home wedding filled with fun and memorable moments, and a spectacular decor... . When it came to plan [sic] her wedding, Denise went for the wedding of her dreams and a chance to fill [sic] like a true princess. On her wedding day she and her father arrived to [sic] the ceremony in a traditional horse-drawn Cinderella carriage decorated with beautiful red roses to the sound of a solo trumpet...."

Where was the groom during all this trumpeted hoopla? Oh, you know, just hanging around waiting to see if his presence might be required at some point.

Well, I'll give David a somewhat bigger "role" to play, although we're not really wanting much in the way of role playing at the event, itself. But see... note that it's up to me to give him any kind of role at all. (I'll consider myself fairly successful at enlisting his involvement if he even just gives me a list of people he might want invited.) That said, he actually wants a public signing of the contract, as it were. I'd be all for skulking off in private before the guests arrive to get the actual marriage bit of it out of the way, but David's up for a more public merger in front of the assembled masses.

Speaking of all that, we had thought July 11 next summer might be a likely date, but we do have other possibilities we're tossing around. On the purple sidebar you will find another poll with possible dates. Do give us some feedback by picking any that would work for you.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wedding Excess

I'm trying to imagine what this might cost. I would say that if you have started dreaming about marching down a long, thick carpet of rose petals, your fantasies have gotten the best of you.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It's not just the money... it's the fuss and bother

The Cousin M. sent me this link to a Washington Post piece on the "anti-wedding," a wedding planned by two correspondents for a carefully vetted couple who wanted to buck the Wedding Industrial Complex (ah... so... I'm not the only one to have made that connection, yet another extension of Eisenhower's ____ - Industrial Complex legacy. Actually, what I noted was the Guurlfriend Industrial Complex, which I have yet to see mentioned by anyone else).

The "planners" and their vetted couple, I have to note, went through contortions to come up with a wedding that would be sufficiently disestablishmentarian. They saved money on a princess gown and flowers, but the bride experienced almost as much trauma and drama as any Bridezilla specimen. Let's face it; organizing a protest on Lafayette Square across from the White House takes planning, too. And a community organizer is still someone who can rally a bunch of people together to pull off some major feat. Let's not pretend that either don't take remarkable amounts of work to pull off with any amount of success.

It's the organizing that looms as my biggest potential downfall. If anyone asks me to become their Veep running mate, remind me of myself, will you? Money? Money is no object, because we have none. Well, not "none," but sufficiently little to be able to throw at the problem so that organizing becomes less of an issue for yours truly. All that said, even if I had endless amounts of money, I wouldn't want the standard "dream wedding" that the mags pitch as the must-have of all must-haves. I just want a great party and a fabulous dress to wear to it. And I don't even care if I never wear that dress again. Will Cindy McCain ever again wear the $360,000 ensemble she donned for the first night of the Republican Convention? Doubtful. Maybe the shoes, the watch and the jewelry she'll re-run, but I'll make book on her never more sporting that cloth-of-gold dress.

I can get some great silk fabric for no more than $14-$23 a yard, and suss out a pattern calling for no more than seven yards (and that's one heck of a poofy skirt, my friends). That's $160 of fabulousness there, tops. And if I never wear it again? As long as I have photo documentation of me in my fabulousness, I really don't care.

But back to the issue at hand. Organization, not money, is my big stumbling block. When I pitched the idea of the homemade cupcakes and cupcake decorating "bachelorette" party to Ms. K, who probably knows me and my organizing skills as well as anyone (I got her bare-minimum edited wedding video footage to her in time for a big celebration of her seven year itch), she laughed and laughed...... and predicted with some degree of prophetic accuracy that I would still be working on my dress the night before the event. I can pull together a class syllabus on some random subject thrown my way in no time. Business anthropology? Okay. Web cultures? Sure. Immigration in the new Europe? Bring it on, baby. A groovy party that happens to have me marrying the man I love inserted into it? Well, that's a completely different set of thought processes.

So, the point is, just because one is eschewing the standard "dream wedding," minimizing the costs and the froo-froo and the matching maids all in a row and the various bits and pieces of kitsch and pseudo royal trappings the wedding industry says one simply must have, doesn't mean one eliminates the potential for pipe dreams and imagined "perfect" scenarios and subsequent theatrics when the dancing fairy plums in the head turn out to be ill-tempered trolls with bad breath when seen in the light of day (i.e. reality).

Speaking of dancing fairy plums, I poked around in the Mill End fabric store a bit yesterday, and got some samples of potentially promising fabrics for that fabulous dress thing I was talking about. David likes teals and purples. I dig reds and gunmetal blue. I forced myself away from those mossy greens I inevitable stumble toward, and here's what I came up with, with my apologies to those of you who just aren't that into sewing and fabrics and fashion and all that sort of rot:

Various shades of tomato with blues and purples in silks (dupioni, taffeta, charmeuse and chiffon)

Silk dupioni in eggplant

Silk taffeta in a brownish eggplant

Silk charmeuse in gunmetal blue

Silk dupioni in a teal-tinged gunmetal blue

Silk chiffon in gunmetal-y teal

Iridescent silk taffeta in eggplant with greenish-copper tones

Silk charmeuse in tomato with overlay of two-tone peach chiffon

Silk dupioni in rusty tomato red

Silk jacquard in slightly iridescent tomato red

Friday, September 5, 2008

Parties and Their Favors

Beyond a nine year old's birthday party, I'm not sure I get the fascination with party favors. I suppose when there is a gift exchange involved, which there frequently is at a wedding, it's not totally nonsensical. It's a reciprocity thing, wrapped up into the feasting that you lavish on your guests. They bring you prezzies and provide an audience so you feel like what you're doing is really important in the grand scheme of things, and you give them food, drink, and matchbooks with your name on them in ornate silver lettering.

Poking around the "blogosphere" today, I did a search for "bitching brides," hoping to find examples of nuptial grousing about the process, still on something of a 'bridal disasters and tantrums' kick. As it happens, there is a team blog called exactly that: "Bitching Brides." All told, it's really not that interesting, but that may just be because it seems to be a recent addition to the Land 'o Blogs. There is one reference to the doubtful wisdom of having a "chocolate fountain" in your wedding buffet when your bridal party includes six flower girls. Never mind the obvious imagery. Who does chocolate fountains anymore? And six flower girls? Isn't there a point when you are 'low' enough down in the social hierarchy that this sort of ostentation starts to smell like posing? It seems that anything ranking below a baronet should probably tone it down with the petal stewing cherubim. Three tops, people.

Anyway, what did catch my eye somewhat more profoundly -- if one can call it that -- in this Bitching Brides blog was a post by a woman who made her own bath salt party favors. She mixed up the blue-dyed ingredients, put them into glass soda bottles with tight fitting caps, and labeled them with a picture of her and her groom. Bath salts? Okay, whatever, as they say, but here's the thing; her concoction was a mixture of Epsom salts, bright blue dye, scented oil and baking soda, and the containers were airtight. Before too many days, this Molotov mixture was going off all over town and beyond in the homes of her guests. I would consider exploding party favors a portent. Mount St. Helen's blew her top the morning after my first wedding. Whatever happens, if any sort of explosions are associated with this next one, I'm going to stew.

Speaking of parties, today is this groom's 50th birthday. ¡Feliz cumpleaños, Senor Peligroso!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Buying Indulgences

Following a lead from my post about succumbing to the 'green wedding' trend, I dug up this piece on the carbon offset market on NPR. It is rather like buying indulgences for sins, but as long as what I buy is for real, and not just lining the pockets of some red-clad cardinal who will use it to buy jewelry for his mistress, I have no problem with that.

So... on with the quest for credible marketers in the forgiveness of sins. Again, any in-the-know super greenies out there among my buddies, step up with information if you have it.

The "Bridezilla" Craze

Today in my email in box was the weekly newsletter from my buddies at WeddingChannel.com. Featured topic today on "Girl Talk," the site's discussion board: is your maid of honor trying to outdo you? This is not the first time I've seen this kind of topic featured by the site. A few weeks ago, it was "Brides beware: wedding sabotage is real," in which WeddingChannel posted the question: "Do you or your FH ("future husband".... wedding language has almost as many acronyms as the military) have someone who's trying to sabotage your wedding day? Share your story now!" Note gleeful tone.

There are over 40 responses posted detailing tales of future mothers-in-law ("FMIL") gone bad, bridesmaids ("BM") who are "big fat cows," ex-girlfriends ("ex-GF") finding unlisted phone numbers, maid of honor (MOH) and bridesmaid "attention hogs," future sister-in-law (FSIL) "attention hogs," plotting mothers, brawling groomsmen, "crazy" ex-wives, crashing ex-fiancee's, etc., etc. My favorite:

"my hubby to be's best man wont waer what i have chosen as my colors and has informed me that he will be wearing all black to my wedding including a sword. OMG talk about grose." [sic]

Like all big rite of passage celebrations, to say nothing of holidays, weddings seem to generate their share of bad behavior, and the entertainment value of such has clearly been noted. Much of the attention appears to be focused on the "cattiness" of women and ballistic brides having temper tantrums. The WE ("Women's Entertainment") Channel runs a program called Bridezilla, a reality show featuring various brides who would be queens, and bridal meltdown videos are a ubiquitous feature on You Tube (some of them, such as the viral "Bride has massive Hair Wig Out," are staged, but the point is the popularity of the shrieking bride theme).

Like becoming pregnant as an unwed teenager, it seems, being a temperamental bride has all the markings now of some sort of pop culture badge of honor. One "bride" with the handle of "Deliciousnachos" has a video wedding blog on You Tube, in which she does not hesitate to have meltdowns in several of her postings. I haven't found anything to suggest that Deliciousnachos is actually an actress and the whole thing is staged, but it's possible. In fact, it's downright probable. It's also possible that she's for real, but that she's using this as a opportunity to audition for an appearance on Bridezilla. I mean, posting in public a video of yourself crying because the wedding dress you ordered in ivory arrived in cream, then launching off into a thing about the groom leaving for a "more fun" girl named Selena, strikes me as something someone would do only if they dreamt it up as a stunt. But real or fake, it points to the same thing.

Ah, but Mary... you are forgetting the nature of the Internet, are you not? Yes. After all, I have a "wedding blog" of my own going, don't I? And it's possible that before all of this is over, I'll have a few meltdowns. I would wager that people who know me well are already making book on that possibility. I won't, however, publicly present my meltdown(s) in a serious, non self-deprecating way. What would be the fun in that?

But back to the line of thinking that newsletter from WeddingChannel.com sent me; this sort of gleeful 'glorification' of women behaving badly (frequently toward each other) smells like a bad case of misogynistic schadenfreude to me. It's not so much a delight in the suffering of these women, but in how bad their over-the-top emotionalism makes them appear. It's as if there's a collective pointing going on, with everybody saying, "See how irrational they are..." I find it bothersome. Yet, there I was, hitting that link in the newsletter, definitely interested in reading some juicy tales of maids of honor, bridemaids and brides involved in "catty" little battles with each other in some imaginary on-going war between women to be the one that all the boys like better than any of the others. For shame.