Tag Archives: bridal

A Wedding Miscellany

I’m sorry to do another wedding post, but I have them on the brain. I am breathing, eating, and sleeping weddings recently. Whether it’s putting together my wedding play-list, ordering candy for our wedding candy bar, or painting bridal card boxes for others with upcoming nuptials, it’s a huge part of my life right now.

I’ve written before about the stress of planning a wedding, but there are so many things to keep track of that you can’t keep your mind from running all over the place, so this post might be a bit scattered, and I apologize for that.

All of the illustrations featured below are from an adorable little book my mom bought for me when I got engaged—it’s called The Little Big Book for Brides, and it has all sorts of cute advice, customs, and strange facts you never knew about weddings, here are some examples:

“Feed a cat out of your wedding shoe for good luck”—hmm, kind a gross, but I could try it!

“If in October you do marry , love will come but riches tarry”—this doesn’t surprise me at all, sounds about right actually. Darn.

My favorite part of this book is a whole long excerpt from an article entitled “The Instruction and Advice for the Young Bride”, it was published in an 1894 newsletter and it will blow your mind! For example:

“One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY. Otherwise, what could have been a proper marriage could become an orgy of sexual lust.”

Cracks. me. up. Here’s some more sage advice:

“Clever wives are ever on the alert for new and better methods of denying and discouraging the amorous overtures of the husband. A good wife should expect to have reduced sexual contacts to once a week by the end of the first year of marriage and to once a month by the end of the fifth year of marriage.”

I hope you’re listening ladies!

Moving on, today I am officially starting my pre-wedding diet. I know, I wrote a whole post about how I wasn’t going to let the pressure get to me and I wasn’t going to starve myself, but here’s the thing; I went for my final dress fitting and things changed. The good news is that the dress fits perfectly—too perfectly. It fits so perfectly that breathing is a bit of a problem. If I had money to spare I’d probably just let it out a little, but money is an issue, and the cost of alterations on bridal gowns are astronomical. So in the interest of saving a few hundred dollars, I have to cut back on my beloved cheese, ice cream, fried anything, and all the rest of my favorite foods. It’s just for a month, so I can handle it, and I just need to keep thinking about all the food I won’t be able to eat on my wedding day and my inability to dance if there is no room to move in my dress as motivation. So for the next month I’m counting points, snacking on carrot sticks and praying that come October 29th, I can breathe, move, dance,—and eat comfortably.

To those of you who are getting married soon, or planning on getting married soon, or have some kind of big party or event to plan in general, here is some advice—start planning now. Months ago, even a year ago, I kept poo-pooing things “oh, we have time” I’d say, and now I wish I could go back in time and knock myself upside the head. Not only do I wish I had taken care of some things earlier, but also, spending money in small bursts over a year is far easier than doling out large amounts all at once. So, if you see something you like—whether it be a wedding dress or favors, buy it, or at least bookmark it now, you’ll thank yourself later.

So, right now I have to order my favors, and research hairstyles and follow-up with the florist, the hotel, the venue, and so much more, and every phone call will hopefully soothe a bit of the madness, but really all I can hope is that I fit into that dress and actually get to eat some of my wedding cake, and of course, cheese.

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Shameless, Shameless, Self-Promotion

Yesterday I talked about being an unemployed bride. I also mentioned that I’ve been trying to keep myself as busy as possible so I don’t give into the unemployment misery. So today I’ll share with you one of those things that keeps me busy. I had sort of wanted this blog to be anonymous at first, but when you’re writing about your life that gets difficult pretty quickly. I thought I wanted to keep parts of my life separate and I didn’t want to seem self-promoting either, but whatever. The point of all this is that I have an etsy store! Ta-dah! Aren’t you so excited? That’s what I thought.

For real though, I paint these boxes, and make other products too, and I really enjoy it. I’ve come to realize that people who blatantly promote and embellish all their talents, are inherently more successful. I’m naturally predisposed to be annoyed by people like that, but they always get the last laugh when they have lots of money and accomplishments, and I’m sitting in the dark muttering to myself while I make clothes for my cats. So, I’m adding my etsy shop in my links section, you can check it out over there to the right, farther down, under my blogroll. It’s a big part of me and it’s something I love doing, and now when I say that I’m “working on a bridal box”, you’ll actually know what I’m talking about.

My shop is called Sweet Gum & Oak as a wink and a nod to my deeply missed grandfather. My sister and I were city kids growing up in an apartment in Queens, so when we would go visit my grandparents on Long Island my grandpa assigned us each one of the tall trees in their backyard, because we didn’t have any trees of our own. Mine was a Sweet Gum, my sister’s an Oak, and there they still stand in my grandparents backyard. This fall when my grandmother moves out of the house she has lived in for 58 years another family will inherit those trees, I hope they love them as much as we did.

So yeah, I’m an artist, I have trained myself to say that as much as possible because I have thousands and thousands of dollars in student loans from art school that I’ll be paying off for the rest of my life, so at the very least what that money bought me is the unabashed right to call myself an artist with confidence.

I could paint more “meaningful” art, or stuff that was harder to interpret and therefore seemed more meaningful, but honestly, getting to make these for people’s weddings makes me very happy, and as sappy as it sounds that really means a lot to me.

I love to make things and give them away to people, for years I’ve been doing that, every Christmas my house is like a workshop, and I love when I’m in someone’s home and I see something I painted for them sitting there. It’s like “oh hello old friend, look at you!” (I don’t actually say that out loud because then everyone would know how strange I am, but I always think it). At some point I realized I needed to start charging for my work because it takes a lot of time and supplies.

Etsy is great because while it has some really weird/cheap/bad stuff, it also has some amazing/gorgeous/beautiful stuff too. I have spent hours paging through regretsy, and it can be pretty damn hysterical, I pray to god I never end up on there, and if I do, I hope I can maintain a sense of humor about it.

There is just something different about things that are hand-made, they’re almost always better made, and they just feel special.

Recently while watching the show American Pickers (if you haven’t seen it check it out, it’s on the History channel), there was a moment that really struck me. In the midst of their “picking”, the guys came across some object or other that was hand-made in the USA (I think it was a tin toy), one of the guys then said something to the effect of “It’s important to preserve this stuff so that future generations know this country used to be producers and not just consumers”. For some reason that moment hit me hard, because it’s incredibly sad. Pick up most things in your house and you’ll find that they’ve been made somewhere far, far, away. I’m not talking about beautifully crafted traditional items like Indian scarves, or South American woven blankets—things that are made with love, care, and tradition from other countries. I’m talking about products that were mass-produced for incredibly cheap, and specifically to be marketed to American consumers. These things rarely have any meaning, and in the years to come they won’t have any real value, if they have any now.

It can be expensive to buy hand-made products, just like buying organic vegetables. But a piece of furniture or jewelry, or even a pair of socks, will last much longer (and probably bring you more enjoyment) than a bundle of produce, so it’s worth it. I can tell you that everything I make is made with precise attention, I want to be proud of what I do and I want the person I make it for to feel like it’s unique, because it is. I love that through etsy I get to connect to people all over the world. I’ve sent things as far as Australia, and I love thinking about items I’ve made being sent off to new homes where I hope they’re loved and appreciated.

Maybe the nest time you need to buy a gift, instead of going to the mall you’ll check out etsy.com, there are lots of great sellers on there and I hope to feature some of them specifically. I’m not asking anyone to buy anything from me, I just want to draw your attention to the idea of hand-made products and hope that you’ll check some out. On etsy you deal with real people, so you can customize your gifts and also barter with sellers to create something for you in your budget. Maybe, if we all do that, we can start a revolution, and MADE IN THE USA won’t just be a piece of nostalgia, but a part of America’s future.

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Beautiful Brides

I’m getting married in October, which means that for the past year I’ve been inundated with advice, suggestions, and checklists. My mother got me a subscription to Brides magazine, but I can’t even enjoy it, because aside from having 30 ads for every article, every issue stresses me out.

Once you and your partner decide to get married, the pressure comes out of nowhere. I am faced with worries over leg make-up, facials, waxing and tons of other stuff I can’t afford and I’m not really sure why I need. I am someone who loves cosmetics and dressing up, so if I can’t figure this stuff out, I can only imagine the amount of pressure on everyone else.

We must look perfect, and if we don’t it’s our own fault, we will be letting down not only ourselves, but our future husbands, and our families too. Of course it isn’t really true, and I know that, but sometimes it’s hard not to buy into the scare tactics that advertisers scream at you. The day I sent out our engagement announcement, my Gmail side bar filled up with ads on how to lose weight, get the perfect hair, find the perfect dress, and dozens of other promises for perfection on my wedding day. All this before it had even sunk in that I was engaged.

I’m not going to get into my feelings on weddings and the kind of wedding we are going to have right now because that’s for a whole other post, but we’re having a wedding at a hall and money is being spent. There is a lot of planning going into it, so of course you want everything to turn out alright, you want to be happy with it. I’m not talking about happy, meaning everything has to be perfect insanity on a bridezilla scale, I mean obviously lots of things are going to go wrong, that’s life. I just want to make sure that I feel good about myself, which in turn makes me feel selfish, because this whole day is about both my fiance and I, and I shouldn’t even care what I look like, but I do. I can’t be sure if it’s the fault of the bridal industry, or if it comes from an unconscious need, but yes, I want to look great on my wedding day. What bothers me is that people take that desire and exploit it when I should just be allowed to feel good without worrying about it. What’s worse is that they try to sell you products with the promise that if you use them you won’t have to worry, and if you don’t well…they told you so.

For example my hair has always been one of the things I liked about myself. I’ve had bangs for about 80 percent of my life, and now suddenly I am second guessing them. Not because I don’t like the way they look anymore, but because I have this irrational fear that my future-self might hate them and I’ll regret having them in my wedding photo. I know that is crazy, and maybe it stems from some previous sartorial and cosmetic missteps now permanently enshrined in family albums across the east coast, but It’s just that there is all this pressure.

I know I can’t blame all of this on marketing and magazines, but it does seem that as the wedding industry keeps growing, the need to feel like a beautiful bride is a huge selling point. People are shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars to ensure perfection (whatever the heck that means) on their big day. It’s so hard not to fall victim to the pressure, if I don’t starve myself I feel like I’m not trying hard enough, people will think I don’t care, because as the bride you are pinned at the center of this ordeal, everyone makes every effort to tell you you’re the center of attention. What if I don’t want to be the center of attention, what if I just want to get married and have lots of fun with my family and friends and celebrate with my new husband? I’m very grateful to be able to have a wedding, but I fear that the idea of the “beautiful bride” is put up on this standardized, imaginary pedestal, and I just don’t relate to that at all. Websites like Offbeat bride make me feel better about this, because I don’t fit, and I’m happy not fitting, the standard.

So, I’m going to pull the release and let all the pressure out, or at least try to. On my wedding day I may not have the perfect arms, or a golden youthful tan, but I will be me, and that’s who my fiance asked to marry anyway, so why pretend to be anything else?

The one thing I can’t shake being nervous about is that photo, the one that will be there for the rest of my life, sitting on mantles, representing my marriage and my youth, viewed by my future descendants, possibly the only image they will ever see of me. How could I not have high standards for that? I’ve looked at my parent’s wedding picture a thousand times, likewise for the wedding photos of most of my family members. I don’t know how they feel about their photos now, but it’s nice that it captures who they were at that moment in time when their whole life was changing. Maybe they look scared, or uncomfortable, or they’re wearing something they may regret, but all of them look happy, they look in love, they look like themselves, and because of that, of course they look beautiful, it’s that simple, no products needed.

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