Down The Aisle...

A singluar focus on my life in Sydney. I was "single", then I became "engaged" and now I'm married - but thats another story...

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Speech

Well after writing a number of speeches in my quest to find just the right words to say on the day, my actual speech was something I had not already posted. To be perfectly honest, it was never actually going to be but I liked the idea of being able to write the things that I wouldn't get a chance to say otherwise. I also liked the idea that no one on the night would already have heard what I was going to say. Thats not to say however that no one else had seen the speech before I gave it.

Although it was the unfortunate case that two of my close friends were too far away to actually make it to Sydney (one because she was living in South Africa and its a rather expensive commute and the other because she was so pregnant the airlines would not let her on a domestic flight), this did make them the perfect candidates to vet my speech. My two girlfriends therefore read through the speech, giving it the talk test to ensure that it wasn't so long it was going to bore people. They also reported back as a general consensus that the speech itself was tear inducing and should be well received. So as I have already posted the other speeches I wrote, these are the words that I actually said to our guests and to my new husband upon the occasion of our wedding:

"Well I know its been said before but I wanted to add my thanks to you all for coming here this evening to celebrate with us. I can honestly say that it wouldn’t have been the same without you. An awful lot cheaper perhaps but definitely not the same! We’ve had an awesome time so far today and its nice to finally join the marrieds amongst our friends and family tonight cause it seems we’ve been halfway there for so long. And just a bit of trivia for you as well, in this room we have over 150 years of marriage which I think means we’re in good company. As for my speech though...

I was really excited when I sat down to start working on my wedding speech. I was looking forward to being able to say a lot of words tonight (because I knew I’d never be able to stop at a few) and I had three main goals that I wanted to accomplish. The first was, perversely perhaps, to make my new husband cry, the second was to be funny and the third, to be truly memorable. And these goals were all well and good until I realised that there were actually three major flaws with my overall plan. The first was that anything likely to make The Boy cry was even more likely to make me cry which was not a good thing at all. The second flaw was I couldn’t actually think of anything funny to say. Well, at least not anything that I can repeat in public and the third was that by the time I would be giving my speech, as is the case tonight, you would have all started drinking already. And since some of you are now looking at me oddly, I am assuming that the whole ‘truly memorable’ thing is totally out the window right from the start. Which may just be a blessing in disguise but anyway, when I had another think about what I was actually going to write for my speech, I decided to talk a little about my journey to get here.

If you’d asked me 20 years ago what I wanted in a husband, I probably would have said tall, dark and handsome. And now, I have to say that two out of three ain’t bad. I also have to say however that over the years in between I have learnt a few more things like you can’t base a marriage purely on physical characteristics such as those. There are a lot of other important attributes that are involved in making a relationship work and this is something that I’ve put a lot of thought into. For those of you who have known me for a while or have gone back through the entries that are featured on our wedding website, you will know that before I wrote about being engaged, I used to write about being single. I would write about all the fad ideas I tried in order to meet people such as speed dating and Sydney Morning Herald’s Kiss and Tell. And I have to say here that it amuses me no end that I actually met The Boy inside the house that I was living in at the time and we got together after I asked him to move in! Anyway, when I wasn’t doing weird activities to meet people I would look for dating related things to write about and thats why I ended up reading The Marriage Plan.

It sounds a bit melodramatic to say that this book changed my life although I believe it did have an impact on me that I only realised much later. To be perfectly honest, I actually thought the book was a bit of a joke at the time. Written by a motivational speaker, the author claimed that if you were serious about wanting to be married and really set your mind to it, then you could be married to your soul mate within a year. Whether you happened to have met them already or not! She had a thirteen step plan which started out with setting your goal and setting a deadline. As I started reading through the steps though, I thought why not just give it a go? Now my deadline at the time was the 9th of March 2006 so obviously I wasn’t taking the whole thing terribly seriously since I am almost three and a half years behind schedule but I did manage to complete step three which was to draw up a profile.

In order to complete this process, you had to identify what your deal breakers were in a relationship. You were required to list which core values you expected your partner to hold. You needed to answer questions about what you wanted by the way of appearance, background, education and beliefs and finally, you had to write down what your position was on topics such as families and careers. So all in all, this was a pretty big list. For starters I wanted an employed friendly taller non-smoker with integrity, loyalty, generosity, ambition, intelligence, honesty and compassion who was around my age, enjoyed intimacy and eventually wanted kids. And then there was the detail. After you’d completed the profile though, the next step was to go and sit under a tree or something and send your wish out into the cosmos which is where the book probably lost me but the reason I am telling you all this is because about four months after The Boy and I got engaged and moved house, I actually found that list I wrote all those years ago. And I’ll be damned if my husband isn’t that person.

It may have taken me a while to recognise that this was what I wanted for the rest of my life but I did get there eventually.

My parents on the other hand did not take half as long to make up their minds. When The Boy asked my father for his permission, Dad had the very good sense to say yes immediately. Although I don’t think it was much of decision really. After years of having me as his daughter he knows that I wouldn’t spend a minute longer than I had to doing something that I didn’t want to do and since The Boy knows how to pour a good scotch when he’s told I think my father was more than happy to give away my hand in marriage if I said yes. Especially if it was the hand thats been spending time in his wallet for the past 29 years. Isn’t that right Dad?

So I want to say thank you here to my parents for all their help and support over the years. And to my sister too. You have put up with a lot of whining, moaning and tantrums in the past so this is the pay-off. Now its The Boy's job to put up with it.

I also want to thank both Father-in-law and Mother-in-law and the rest of The Boy's family for welcoming me right from day one. I know that you have helped make him the man he is today and since that is one who cleans and cooks and irons, I totally scored!

And lastly, I couldn’t stand up here tonight without thanking the man who totally planned a fantastic wedding when I said I didn’t want to do any of it and who let me come in at the eleventh hour and change some of his ideas cause I’d just thought of a new one.

A man who is generous, supportive, sensitive and selfless. Who is the heart to my head and the one who can sing my song when I forget the words. He helps me walk with grace which is another reason, apart from Pastor Mate's awesome sermon earlier today (thank you too Pastor Mate) that I wanted to have the word “grace” engraved in my wedding ring. I am very lucky to be standing here today and I would like you to raise your glasses in a toast: To The Boy."

Saturday, August 08, 2009

In Hindsight

You know what, after all the stress that piles up on you before a wedding, it is absolutely wonderful to get to that point where it is too damn late to do anything at all to change things! You may make token efforts to fix the situation but really, they are what they are and if they don’t change at the end of the day, you’re still going to be married and that is what is important.

That CD of specific music never quite made it to the DJ and now there won’t be the preferred wedding song for our first dance. So don’t care. I’ll take the mick out of Olivia Newton John's I Honestly Love You if I have to (you cannot dance to that song straight). The place settings for the parents and the bridal party that were supposed to be provided because they actually got to choose their meals in advance never were quite arranged. So don’t care. They’re all big enough to fight it out amongst themselves. Those run sheets and photo lists which should have been printed and distributed to various people to ensure that everything went to schedule never made it off the computer. So. Don’t Care. It’s my party anyway.

Now I suppose that some women (or even perhaps some men) might have gotten upset over these things. They might have lamented the fact that everything wasn’t absolutely as it had been planned and therefore the whole day was ruined. Some people however really need to get out more. Sure, I worried about these things before the big day but once it was all upon me I was damn well going to enjoy it and not worry about things that may not even be noticed. Our friends and family are the sort of people who want to enjoy a good party and not worry about whether or not I’m wearing stockings. That was another thing I forgot. So I could have actually had a hissy fit over buying stockings to wear on the day and then realising that they were in the bottom of a wardrobe at home but I seriously was like, oh well, that was dumb. I was fully prepared to wear a pair of socks with my boots and be done with it.

In the end, it was The Boy who actually insisted that I should have stockings to wear and went and bought me another pair that morning (although I think this is strongly to do with the fact that he wanted the pleasure of taking them off himself at the end of the day). A few other things we managed to fix as well. A phone call to my work had the staff bring the CD currently sitting in my disk drive to the church so we had music for the first dance and a phone call to the MC also had a few seating issues worked out at the reception. The Boy and I did drop the ball at the end of the wedding planning but on the day, we weren’t actually that concerned. The way I figured it, whatever went wrong was just going to be a funny story.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Losing It

Well it finally happened. After all the initial months of coasting along quite happily, secure in the knowledge that the wedding was going to turn out great because The Boy was handling it, I finally got to the point that apparently a lot of brides reach. Sure, it took me until the day before the wedding and not a whole lot earlier in the process as it does for others but it had to happen sometime right? The time when I completely and utterly dropped my bundle. The time when pent up stress, lack of food and sleep, hours spent driving to and fro and people constantly looking at me to tell them what to do all got the better of me and the only thing I could manage was racking sobs upon The Boy’s shoulder as he tried desperately to hold it together because he really wanted to break down on me too.

Despite the hours of research and planning that had gone into our day, one major thing we seemed to have overlooked was time management in the crunch period. The actual logistics of picking something up in one place and dropping it at another does not seem all that daunting when you are only looking at one thing but once you start to add in several things and operating hours and peak hour and the fact that we live in a sprawling city and not in a small country town, your to-do list takes on the form of a fire breathing dragon and getting close just leaves you burnt out. Or in my case, incinerated. I had been getting close all day becoming progressively more vague and frustrated and by the end I couldn’t focus on anything, especially food. I felt overwhelmed by what was left to accomplish and didn’t know where to start. With time enough that I could still do something as it wasn’t yet too late for me to do anything, I just lost it.

I’m not complaining here though mind you because really, I had it good. The Boy was dealing with high levels of stress since he started planning this whole shindig in earnest and when my family rolled into town at the beginning of the week, I had a small army of people that were absolute troopers. We couldn’t have done everything without them. My sister The Pussycat assisted in the creation of additional artwork for the day even though she was sick as a dog and probably needed to be in bed and everyone else actually organised themselves into a production line whilst putting together the bonbonniere. They all worked when there were tasks to be completed and waited around the house when there wasn’t just in case something else came up. And while all this was going on, The Boy spent the majority of the time sitting down. Driving ALL OVER THE CITY. In one day, he and a mate (who has my eternal gratitude for keeping The Boy sane) covered hundreds of kilometres to make sure that everything would be perfect for the big day. My couple of hours transit time were nothing by comparison.

You know, before the final couple of days leading up to the wedding, I actually had the grandiose idea that on the eve of the wedding, there would be nothing left for us to do. Nothing but enjoying the fantastic view from the hotel room and taking a leisurely meal with both sides of the family. I romantically thought that I would be able to spend that last evening relaxing with my family as an unmarried daughter and get a good nights sleep before the long day ahead. How wrong was I? It was almost 10pm when we left for the hotel, swinging past my work on the way to pick up a binding machine for the programs (thank you boss). It was well after 11 when I finished binding the programs in front of episodes of The Muppet Show (a childhood comfort that was oddly calming). It was after 12am when The Boy finally got the hotel with the flowers and Dad who had been playing musical cars and getting family back to their respective hotel. It was a very long day and one I’m glad I don’t have to repeat.

And yes, The Boy and I did stay in the same place the night before the wedding but the three bedroom apartment had ample space to get ready without us running into each other or even seeing each other for that matter. Even if my family would have let me. Which they didn’t. I might have still said good morning to him first thing however.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Program For Today Is...

Since I have been on my creative roll towards the end of the planning, one of the other projects I decided should be snazzed up was the program. I figured that if the wedding invitation was like a theatre production flyer and our reception invite was a backstage pass to the main party then the event program as it were, being part of the paraphernalia of the day, should also fit in with the whole production theme. It therefore needed to contain bios of the cast and other interesting facts or assorted titbits to keep people entertained. Because after all, another reason to actually get a program is to keep yourself amused while you’re waiting for the show to kick off.

So our program looked a little different than others that I have seen. It had a lot of the more traditional stuff such as the order of service and the readings and such but it also had cartoons, Sudoku, a word search, humorous quotations, the Good Wife’s Guide from 1955 (because we thought it was really amusing) and an editorial on wedding superstitions and the traditions that we were upholding. We decided to make it like a book and have it ring bound rather than folded and it had turned into one big formatting headache by the end of the process but we were happy with it so that’s what counts yeah?

In a way it was somewhat plain as the whole thing was in black and white. Our program wasn’t elaborately printed on the back of a fan (because a fan in winter would have seemed a bit ridiculous quite frankly and you wouldn’t have had enough fingers to hold all the fans required to get the amount of stuff we actually wrote for the program printed anyway). We also didn’t create the program as a CD or a scroll or any of the other weird and unusual creations that some people with an awful lot of time and or money seem to produce.

I found it quite amazing what options are out there for personalising your wedding. These last months leading up to the wedding I have been looking for creative ideas and whilst most magazines seem to be pretty much a waste of space in this area, blog stalking has produced some interesting options. An alternative to place cards are using childhood or wedding pictures from your guests and a neat idea for a guestbook is to have your friends and family “leaf” their name and thumbprint on a poster of a bare tree trunk and its branches. Unfortunately we don’t have enough time at this point to go down the photo avenue and we already have another idea for our “guestbook” but I think that our alternative, our program and the other personal touches we have made to our day will make it a memorable one.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Relationship Gift Pack

Well sadly, bride shaped stress balls don’t come at reasonable prices unless you order well into the thousands but fortunately, I was able to compromise. And luckily for me, The Boy is uber patient and persistent.

As mentioned previously, seemingly at the last minute, I decided that I wanted to get creative about the bonbonniere. I didn’t want one simple token of friendship or appreciation or whatever is supposed to be for precisely. I wanted multiple tokens. Only together. Like in a pack. I wanted to base the favour around the rhyme “for the spark in your life and the stress through the years, for the sweetness you deserve and the music to your ears” and I wanted four individual items to represent each part of the short poem. Now it didn’t all work out exactly as I had first hoped but on the whole I thought it was pretty cool.

For the spark in your life was a small hand-printed box of matches. Both simple and plain, the small boxes had a cream cover and some text printed on one side. The box read "marriage: wedlock, to tie the knot, the union of a man and a woman as husband and wife, the perfect match". Kinda kitsch I guess but I have to say that I much preferred the symbolism of having a spark between you as opposed to the pea and pear sets of salt and pepper shakers. You may well be two peas in a pod or the perfect pear pair but if I really think about what I’d want to take home from a wedding, some weird looking salt and pepper shakers are not it. I figured that at least the matches were a little more unusual. Whats more, if you felt compelled to keep them until you had made use of them, you could just light all the matches and then feel no compunction at all about throwing the box in the bin. Easy. If you did want to keep them however, we also had our names and the date printed on the box as well. Awww…

The stress through the years I felt would best be represented by a bride shaped stress ball. Not only for the fact that The Boy planned our wedding and it seemed quite fitting for us as a couple but the novelty value was there too. Despite the number of different websites we went to however we couldn’t seem to find a place that would sell us a small amount for anything less than a small fortune. We eventually had to bite the bullet and go for something else which is why we ended up with a plain white stress ball instead. We did get it printed however with our initials and the particularly apt Shakespeare quote “the course of true love never did run smooth…”. Because apparently getting a font that we were both happy with not as easy as we first had anticipated. Ridiculous, I know because who else actually cares, right? And yet…

For the sweetness you deserve, the idea came to me (read I shamelessly pinched) from a wedding I had seen set up at a restaurant. The couple had chosen to give all their guests rocky road wrapped up with a tag reading “each of us come across some rocky roads in life – hope yours are as sweet as this”. I though this was a cool idea so we went on a hunt for rocky road. We looked at the Darrel Lea option which was ok however it didn’t come in small pieces so it was a little more involved to get it to the individual portion stage. We looked at Haigh’s as well which would have tasted fantastic but costwise would have put us further behind bad than we were already so then we found Harrys. These guys were an internet based company and luckily for us were having a birthday sale. Mmm, dark chocolate…

The music to your ears was perhaps a bit of an excuse to have something we found upon our searches across the internet. Because music is quite important to us and The Boy is himself a guitarist, we really wanted to give our guests a customised guitar pick. It is the tackiest thing out being white celluloid with a big red love heart on the front and white writing inside that says “I pick U”. Then, to add insult to injury, we will stick the pick on a business card shaped piece of cardboard on which we are printing a circle and the text “our love is like a circle and never ends”. It will be stuck on just so to appear as though it is a whopping great big diamond on an engagement ring and we think its was kind of funny. I’m, pretty sure our guests will realise that we are not really that sickeningly sweet on each other…

The final part of our efforts was a box in which to put everything. The non-existent budget didn’t quite cover a box with a bas and a lid but we did manage to find a floristry wholesaler who was let to believe that we were a florist and sold us those little corrugated cardboard box things in which they stick flower arrangements. We now have a whole stack of them. We figure that with a little scrunched up paper, and a name tag on each one it won’t look like we slapped it all together at the last minute. Or at least that our guests will be too polite to say anything.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dummy Spit

Well I had another little ‘Bridezilla’ moment I’d guess you’d call it on the phone the other night. Although I really hate that word. It brings to mind trashy American women who scream and rip shreds of people, either personally or professionally because the ribbon they ordered was actually 2mm wider than what they got or something equally not as earth shattering in the grand scheme of things. I’m sure they have a reason to want whatever they do but they seem to go from perfectly pleasant to hard core harlot in a matter of seconds and you wonder how they managed to get that past their fiancés in order to get engaged in the first place. I don’t think I was that bad though. I didn’t go psycho but basically I was not happy and became a little blunt because suggestion, coercion and requests did not seem to have worked. It eventually got down to if you don’t do something now, I will.

That fact that it got to that point however is probably another result of me not fully expressing my precise wishes from the beginning and just trying to unobtrusively coax the situation towards the outcome that I desired. I can see why it was perhaps a little unfair of me to actually spit the dummy over the fact that I was not understood. Obviously at the same time as it greatly irritates me that I believe I had a perfectly reasonable request that was fully explained – and then ignored. And it was all over a stupid jacket / bolero / shawl / wrap / cover thing. As The Boy and I are getting married in winter and the rest of the bridal party will be fully clothed from top to toe, it was kind of bothering me that my Maid of Honour, otherwise known to others as my sister (or The Pussycat), was still only to be attired in a strapless dress. It is to be a church wedding and I felt it was appropriate, especially given the season for her to have her shoulders covered. I also intend on having location photos after the ceremony and it would really tick me off if she were unable to smile due to her teeth chattering or violent convulsive shivering.

Ok, maybe the violent shivering thing is a little exaggerated. We have had some perfectly lovely weather recently and winter in Australia is a whole different kettle of fish than winter in Austria. It can still get cold however and I don’t want her freezing her assets off as she is forced to stand around or sit still while we go about the process of having a wedding. So I wanted her to have something more to wear. As much as possible, I also wanted her to have something she liked. I’d already nixed the idea of a fur shrug and she had told me she hated boleros with a passion and thought that the various wraps out there were a complete waste of space. This didn’t leave an awful lot of options however and I felt I had managed to find a sort of compromise. I found a pattern that I thought was both simple and elegant and probably not too hard to sew (or have sewn for us) but my idea was apparently too hard or merely too much effort. Or rather actually going out and taking a look at the picture in the pattern book for me was too much effort because that was where we seemed to hit the first snag.

So anyway, I got the irrits and made it known that there was no longer a request to find a solution she liked to my problem but rather a choice. Within certain parameters (which were pretty much about colour), she could find a solution she liked or she got mine. It wasn’t an angry conversation but more of a tired one. This was something we so should have sorted out earlier than this and it has taken to the last minute to get it out on the table and to hear that she wasn’t doing anything because she assumed she had to sew something herself which she just didn’t want to do. I gather that after we spoke on the phone though, she had a similar vent to our mum who then called me and it seems that mum is now going to follow up a jacket idea. My mother is getting her wedding attire custom made and is going to ask if the dress maker can possibly copy a jacket for The Pussycat as well. I don’t know exactly how it will all work out yet but hopefully on the day everything will come together. As everyone keeps on telling me, knowing both The Boy and myself, how could it be otherwise. Of course, in the same breath they usually say that we’ll have each other so nothing else truly matters anyway but we shall see.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Something Stupid

So I’ve noticed that since we have gotten to the pointy end of the wedding planning business, the arguments animated discussions we have been engaging in have become a whole lot more stupid. So stupid in fact that we are now finding that after we have opened communication over the initial point of difference (read exchange somewhat bitchy comments and complaints), we sometimes find ourselves shifting off topic till we can’t actually remember what we were so desperately trying to make understood by the other person in the first place. Either that or the conversation progresses to the point where we are both either defending or attacking exactly the same point, albeit in slightly different language. We have loads of ‘discussions’ about semantics, trust me. The other night was a classic example (of the former, not so much the latter) where the conversation had deteriorated and each rebuttal was getting a little more personal. We were both tired and frustrated and The Boy was in mid diatribe about how unaccommodating and unreasonable I was when I lost it. I burst out laughing.

Initially, I had been right on top of that high horse of mine. I was trying to write something for the program and when I asked The Boy (who had been lying down with his eyes closed throughout most of the process) what he thought, he read it and said that he didn’t like it because he thought it sounded a bit crass. I was a bit hurt by that but tried to explain what I was going for and ask if he had any other suggestions however the conversation quickly went nowhere. I figured that was my cue that it was time to go to bed. We have hit this wall before and rather than beating my head up against it, I thought I would quite reasonably wait til we were both fresh before we tried to finish it. Since The Boy was still flaked out on the bed, I then shut down the lap top and got up to put it away. That was my story. The Boy’s was a little more along the lines of: ‘I knew we needed to do this but you just started work on the program without consulting me or even talking to me and I sat here feeling useless and like I should be doing something to help but not knowing what. Then you asked me what I thought after you’d already gone and appeared to have finished part of it and when I didn’t think it was really appropriate you got in a huff and just walked off without a word. You made the decision that the discussion was over and didn’t give me a second thought’.

The actual conversation that ensued from these viewpoints was obviously a little more heated. I pretty much blasted him for having a double standard and not giving me the benefit of the doubt. I honestly felt I did the things he accused me of not doing and didn’t do the things he thought I did. I also had no idea that he was resenting me whilst I was sitting there typing stuff out because he didn’t say a word to me whilst I was doing it and I’m not a mind reader. When he rolled over and looked like he was going to sleep, I wasn’t thinking hey, he really wants to be involved in this boring part of the process. I got in trouble for putting words in his mouth of course because he never said he was unhappy with me for typing up the program or that he resented me for taking over the lap top to do it (to which I complained that how else was I supposed to interpret “I felt completely useless” while you “just took over” the computer!). Throughout the course of the discussion he had a go at me though for my lack of consideration and communication when I wanted to call it a night and then the conversation got round to that age old gambit from the The Boy – what the hell do you want from me?!?

Apparently, if The Boy calms down and tries to speak in a reasonable tone, he gets in trouble for being passive-aggressive and I bite back and if he loses it and has a full on argument with me, I bite back harder and he can’t win. He thinks I act like its my way or the highway sometimes and that more often than not its just me who is being unfair. He looked so pissed off as he was giving me this huge dressing down. He wasn’t raising his voice but it was a very hardly done by and impassioned plea for me to get enough backbone and just for once in my god-forsaken life to back down first and say ‘I’m sorry, this is my fault and I was wrong’. He was so seriously riled and mad at me and it started with a small smile that quickly broke into a laugh because I thought it was hilarious. Fortunately The Boy had mostly run out of steam at that point and this broke the tension rather than creating more. He could see the humour in the situation as well and we both apologised for being complete tools. Its never really fun having arguments but hopefully (since I am not naive enough to assume that I won’t have many in the future) they all end up pretty much like this one.