Elevator in Washington Heights, New York. September 23, 2011
365 Part Deux
Did you sleep through today’s royal wedding? I did. I somehow even slept through my phone’s constant ringing as K sent me live text messages about the event (she was watching it in another state). I was happy to get some sleep but as I stumbled to my computer and rubbed the sleep from my eyes, I realized there were three things I missed. One: what was Kate wearing? Two: what was the Archbishop wearing? Three: what was the sermon like? Question one was, by far, the easiest to answer. But for us seminarianzillas, what the bride wore isn’t the be-all of the event. There are more important fish (and chips) to fry.
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day this is. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.
Many people are fearful for the future of today’s world but the message of the celebrations in this country and far beyond its shores is the right one ‚Äì this is a joyful day! It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations because this is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.
In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.
William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.
In the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each other.
The spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this: the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.
It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. People can dream of such a thing but that hope should not be fulfilled without a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love.
You have both made your decision today ‚Äì “I will” ‚Äì and by making this new relationship, you have aligned yourselves with what we believe is the way in which life is spiritually evolving, and which will lead to a creative future for the human race.
We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely the power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century. We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.
Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform so long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom. Chaucer, the London poet, sums it up in a pithy phrase:
“Whan maistrie [mastery] comth, the God of Love anon, Beteth his wynges, and farewell, he is gon.”
As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive. We need mutual forgiveness in order to thrive.
As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light. This leads on to a family life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can receive and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace.
I pray that all of us present and the many millions watching this ceremony and sharing in your joy today will do everything in their power to support and uphold you in your new life. I pray that God will bless you in the way of life you have chosen. That way which is expressed in the prayer that you have composed together in preparation for this day:
God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage. In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy. Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today, while visiting with the Sewing Ladies during their weekly meeting, the talk turned to my wedding. It usually does. The four or five ladies in attendance always love hearing about my wedding plans. They also love getting the church ready for the big day too.
That’s one of the side benefits of marrying at a church that I’m very active in. The old ladies are busy cleaning the nooks and crannies, washing the linens, and even scrubbing the wooden baptism fount with wood cleaner. And did I mention that all of these ladies are in their 80s? It’s incredible to see how excited they are about my wedding day. They really want the church to shine for us. It’s really quite touching.
Our church does offer the option for non-members and people not part of our community to get hitched there. I don’t recommend it though. Our church is lovely 1920s Neo-gothic structure and is a lovely visual for any wedding. But the value of our church and what is really beautiful is the people in it and our community. And when you are a part of the community, you really are family. Every space is dusted, every cranny is wiped down, and the brass is polished till it shines. Trinity is gonna sparkle come April 10th. I can’t wait.
It’s not good for man to be alone. That’s why we have chatroulette and friends. But I’m not hear to talk about chatroulette. I’m here to talk about friends – specifically friends of friends.
As you know, my fiancee and I are planning to have a light dessert reception after our ceremony. It’s been difficult for us to plan that part of the wedding. Most of the caterers we know don’t do just desserts and we felt we’d have to self-cater to get the food we really wanted. But how would we handle the reception ourselves? How do we hire staffers? Where do we even find those? And how to we store the food? We had a million questions and it was stressing us out. The fact that it’s only a little more than a month till the wedding wasn’t helping anything.
Luckily, we have friends. In fact, we have really good friends. A friend of ours sent us a message about an actress she knows who caters desserts. We sent her an email and waited for her to respond. She did and sent back the following menu :
Mini cupcakes (to contrast with the vanilla sheetcakes; choose 1)
– Devil’s food w/Italian buttercream
– Red velvet with cream cheese frosting
– Rainbow (aka tri-color)
– Mini chocolate chip
– Vanilla spritz
– White chocolate oatmeal
– Cherry almond biscotti
Cinnamon vanilla blondies w/white chocolate and almond
Scones (choose 2)
Rugelach (choose 2)
– Brown sugar cinnamon
3 lbs Dark or Milk Chocolate Fudge
I’m man enough to admit that I drooled when I read that. I got excited. My fiancee got excited. And we even got excited about the price. We scheduled a tasting with the caterer and she came over on Thursday.
These pictures were taken after I started to pig out. We realized that we wanted photographic evidence of the deliciousness that we consumed.
The desserts were great. The cookies were crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle. The scones were perfect scones – great texture and the lingenberry and buttercream topping was an awesome addition to them. The blondie bites were yummy and I could eat those mini-chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting all day long. In fact, if the caterer had brought more, I would have eaten them all day long (and my stomach would have hated me). We booked our caterer and, with staff, it came out to $11 a person. You can’t beat that.
I mentioned yesterday that my fiancee and I had figured out the bulk of the background music for our reception. Part of my reasoning for reception music is that it should be appropriate for a wedding day. But appropriate is a funny word. It’s a word that is filled with traditions, cultural taboos, taste, and style. What’s appropriate for one person will be considered obscene by another. The trick is, really, to offend the minimal amount of people possible while, at the same time, not being afraid to play music that you find enjoyable and that sets the corresponding mood. My fiancee and I agreed that nothing sets the right mood at our dessert reception in a traditional gothic Lutheran church’s basement than an old thyme band that sings songs about the Hindenburg Disaster.
I, of course, am talking about The Two Man Gentleman Band. Banjos, standup basses, and kazoos and songs about the War of Northern Aggression are perfect for our big day. The music is bouncy, fun, and top-taping. It’s the perfect accompaniment to massive amounts of mini-cupcakes and Cost Co cake. The only trick will be to play it at the right volume so that everyone can hear the music lightly but it won’t over power anyone’s conversations. If only Trinity’s basement had a more up to date sound system. Ah well.
My bride and I are busy trying to figure out the playlist for our big day and it hasn’t been easy. Part of the problem has to do with our limited collection and part of it probably has to do with our different tastes in music. It’s less than five weeks till the big day and we have no idea what song will be our first dance. The few songs we’ve bounded over in our relationship were by Atom and His Package, the Lemonheads, William Finn, and from the Broadway show Hot Feet. Sadly the little musical bonding that we’ve had seemed to ignore most wedding appropriate songs (Our mutual love for Lady Gaga and Britney Spears exclude this generalization of course).
We made good progress on what the background music for our wedding reception will be and I’ll make a post about that later. However, an idea recently popped into my head that I would probably do if I wasn’t actually getting married in a church that had a good organ.
I’ve seen several weddings where the guy walks into the venue, red carpet, aisle way, what-have-you, with the song “Here Comes Your Man” by the Pixies playing in the background. It’s a good choice, fits several couples, and I have a blog post in my archives where I feel that the song choice is waaaaay overdone and too cliche. I still stand by that judgement. But, like my fiancee said when we recently talked to our officiate about our wedding program, it’s okay to be cliche sometimes because when you try to be different, 9 out of 10 times, you will crash and burn. Cliche works.
So, if I was going to be cliche and was going to enter our wedding venue with a song playing in the background, the song I would pick is below. I remember when this song came out and I loved it even though I was just a little punk at the time. There’s something about this song that always stokes my ego. There must be a bunch of weddings who used this song at some point and if you know of any, please share.
How did they let a bum like me into a place like this?
I, sadly, don’t have any pictures for the event. I left my camera at home but my fiancee was a shutterbug. Once she’s able to post pictures of the day, I’ll post a link. My fiancee, through being an avid reader of blogs, one two free tickets to this event – an event where the price for one ticket starts at $60 dollars. $60 dollars to walk around, get free bottles of Fiji water, and stuff your face full of cake. I guess if you have a large wedding budget and were looking for high end vendors from the New York area (i.e. if you were actually just beginning to plan your wedding), this event might be pretty good. However, if you’ve been following my fiancee’s blog, you know we’re near the end of our wedding planning experience. In fact, there’s only 49 days till our big day. We’re in the home stretch. There’s not much left to do (though if anything falls through, there’s plenty to freak out about).
Anyways, the event started at around noon but my fiancee and I didn’t arrive till after 2. We walked through the side entrance, past the expensive cafes and hotel restaurants, and wandered to the second floor to check in. The check-in was empty except for many young women sitting around with Wedding Channel gift bags. I instantly keyed in on the fact that I did not have a gift bag and that I needed one. I had no idea what was in that bag – it could have been filled with empty tootsie roll wrappers for all I know – but I wanted in. I spent the whole time looking for a Wedding Channel gift bag and failed to find where they gave them out. The main vendor tables were on the fifth floor so we headed on up.
I’ll be honest with you, faithful blog readers, I came to this event with one thing in mine. I had never heard of the people hosting this event (The Wedding Library – which, after post-event googling, showed me that the dresses/planning/etc that they offer is very hit or miss; if you look the part, you get awesome service; if you don’t, they treat you poorly and act like you don’t exist), I wasn’t too excited about the fact that Martha Stewart Weddings had all their vendors there, and even the Vera Wang bridal runway show didn’t interest me. I came for one reason – to sample as many pieces of cake, chocolates, and desserts, that I possibly could. I wanted to leave the Wedding Party feeling sick because I ate so many delicious things. And I’ll be happy to report that is exactly what happened.
There was a lot of things I saw that I liked, some that I didn’t, though most things were in the pile “ideas that are fine but aren’t me”. I really liked the gals at Sugar Flower Shop – their cake samples were delicious. The flowers put together by Stone Kelly were just down right beautiful, majestic, and perfect for the bride with the right budget. I loved all the different dessert samples put out by One Girl Cookies. I’m a sucker for cookies, mini whoopie pies, and anything small so I loved the samples they had out. It was funny though – there were probably too many samples on display. Everyone, and I mean everyone, would go to the table, become overwhelmed by the choices, and worry that they’ll appear greedy if they take more than one to try. I’ll admit I ran into this problem so I, respectfully, only took two samples – the mini whoopie pies which had the right balance of chocolate texture and cream filling and a cupcake that was not a flavor I typically like but was well executed. And I love their business card. If I had a few more dollars in my budget, I’d book their cookie bar in a second to complement our other dessert vendors. Ah well – I’ll keep them in mind for any future events I’ll have.
One idea that I saw that I liked was using individual chocolates, wrapped in small boxes, as favors for a sit down reception. La Maison Du Chocolat were very big into that during the event and this is an idea I hope more brides take to heart. Make your favors EDIBLE. Your guests will appreciate it more than you think. And, finally, as I left the event, I indulged in some cookies from the Treats Truck. YUM! It was the icing on the cake. My eating of these delicious chocolate chip cookies and caramel sandwich cookies was what finally pushed me from “oooooh I ate too much” into the “omg, too much deliciousness is making my stomach explode”. Seriously. This was a great way to end the day.
The main event of the day was the Bridal fashion show that took place at the end of the event. The ballroom was setup as a runway show with a runway, white chairs, lots of music, lights, and cameras. While I took my seat, two tall ladies in black and brown dresses were playing electric fiddles. They played for about 15 minutes and then the Bridesmaid dress portion of the fashion show began. I starting here). It was obvious which brides were their at the show with their friends, which were their with their overbearing mothers, and which were there who only wanted free cake samples (okay, that was probably just me). The bridesmaid dresses were modeled by a set of young girls who were probably thirteen years old and were completely unfamiliar with how to model. The dresses they wore were okay, heavily Greco-Roman inspired (i.e. floaty bottoms and strapless on top), and your standard preach/rose/green bridesmaids colors. They were, for the most part, uninspiring. I did like one charcoal colored dress but that’s it. I pity the bridesmaids who are forced to wear those dresses.
After we all politely clapped for the bridesmaid dresses, the Vera Wang show started. Professional models, lovely dresses, and a great show. I actually liked quite a few of these dresses. Lots of A-line, mermaids, pickups, and lots of dresses that carried all their weight in the bottom. Most were strapless (I saw only one capped sleeve) which bummed me a bit but they looked fine on the models. Several of the dresses, to me at least, relied too much on their wearers to be thin. Very few people can pull off the baby doll style dresses where the volume is in the front, making anyone average sized look 9 months pregnant. And if a bride has any weight on her top, the balance of quite a few of these dresses would be off. And I think 75% of the dresses had at least one large bow on the belt. On the models, they looked great, but I don’t think they would look great on most brides. Take a look at the galleries on Vera Wang’s site, and I think you’ll see what I mean.
After the show, the raffle prizes were awarded. A 50% off Vera Wang bridal gown coupon, three honeymoons, three pamper parties, and other awards were given out. I won squat. But that’s okay. I got to leave the show with a swag bag filled with coupons I’ll never use and profiles of photographers that I’ll won’t look at. But it did have the Martha Stewart Winter 2010 Weddings issue and, well, that made me pretty excited. I’m a sucker for cakes and Martha Stewart knows it. We have a good thing going between us.
Oh. And before I forget, have I mentioned how much my fiancee loves a photobooth? She really does. She’s even thinking of booking one for our wedding even though it’s not in our budget. This means, of course, we are unable to walk past a photobooth and not use it. And so we did. We’re kinda silly.
One thing that I tend to notice when it comes to wedding coverage is that the groom gets shafted when it comes to the “exercise” part of wedding planning. When I got to Barnes and Nobles, I do not see a book telling a groom to get fit on their wedding day. I do not see spreadsheets or website categories on wedding boards telling grooms to get in shape. The groom, it seems, is perfect the way he is. There’s never a groom who seems to think to himself that he should tone up, exercise, get in shape before his wedding day. And if there are, they’re pretty quiet about it. I don’t see blog posts about how much weight they’ve lost, which detox diet they’re trying, or how many miles they’ve run. And there’s no community rooting him on. He’s almost a silent, solitary individual, striving towards a goal of his own design. It’s very stoic.
And I find it to be a little ridiculous.
With less than 80 days left, I feel it’s probably time I announce my fitness goal to the world (the fact that I’ve become bad at this whole “blogging” thing is besides the point). The number 100 is in my mind. No, I’m not going to lose 100 pounds (if I did, I’d be near my birth weight). I’m not going to run 100 laps or run 100 miles since I find running to be very boring. No, my fitness goal is that I want to be able to do 100 pushups before my big day.
That picture above is me at a PP party late last year. A PP party is a Pushup and Poker party where people compete in pushups and poker. I won the pushup part (but lost a side bet later in the evening). I got my butt kicked in the poker part. I pulled off 53 pushups back then which was good considering that, when I got engaged, I could only do around 30. Last week, before a week of illness, I pushed that total to 73 which means I have around 70 days to increase that total by 27. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do that. My pushup routine involves maxing out 3 days a week, followed by 2 – 4 other sets of 20-30 pushups each. It’s not the greatest system I’m sure but it seems to work. When my health is good, I seem to be able to push my total up 5-10 pushups every 2 weeks. So, as long as all the winter colds pass me by, I should be ok. However, the last two weeks have been rather brutal. I’ve been reduced to sitting on my couch and watching Doctor Who episodes. I’ve enjoyed it but it’s done nothing to further my goal.
I hope there are other grooms out there who don’t let only the ladies have all the fun when it comes to exercising or reaching fitness goals before the big day. And if you’re going to find yourself honeymooning in a place where you’re gonna have to take your shirt off, why wouldn’t you have one of these goals?
Okay, okay, I won’t look!
88 days to go and then I will finally be able to see what that dress – the dress that’s hanging in the middle of her bedroom – actually looks like.