Monday, June 23, 2008

Plan D - In the Words of Pres Bush: "Mission Accomplished"

All done! I rescued Zelda. Got the brass ring. Been there, done that, nailed her shut. Option three was perfect. It was a beautiful historic inn dating back from the 18th century, but refurbished with modern day amenities and perfectly manicured grounds. The 15-room inn looked out over the Bay and had a charming old covered dock where we could have cocktails, before we all adjourned to the ballroom, the latter of which framed the outside grounds with its floor to ceiling windows and lit the room with a fresh clean feel.

Unfortunately, our budget only allowed us a Sunday wedding, which wasn't ideal in this location, given that it meant that we couldn't check in until Sunday at 3:00 for a 4:00 wedding. But I loved the place enough that I was willing to stay at a different hotel the night before and loved the idea that the night of the event, our closest friends and family would all be in one place AND not a single outsider would be there for the wedding!

Here's the funny thing. As we're leaving, Mr. F (who's apparently not as oblivious as I usually think) says to me: "Your parents are going to HATE this place." And I turned to him, AGHAST at his blasphemy and said "You are totally wrong."

On the way home, I called my parents, and told them we'd found the place! And a date! (May 3rd.)

My parents told me that they were thrilled and would plan a trip down to the Inn to visit it next weekend. I would meet them there and we would sign the contract, put down the deposit and send out the Save The Dates! As the week passed by, my mind grew dizzy with spring wedding ideas. I would be able to carry a thick bouquet of yellow tulips, my favorite, and the colors would be a beautiful bright yellow and a grass green with tons of lovely whites and a vintage feel. Lemonade before the ceremony (such a thoughtful complimentary touch by the Inn) and mint juleps during cocktail hour (such an intoxicatingly thoughtful touch by yours truly).

In fact, the timing could not have been more perfect. Mom and Dad were throwing us an engagement party the weekend before their planned trip down to the bay to sign the contract and we began spreading the exciting news. Breaking news! - E&E and Mr. F have found a place! Yes, it's an adorable little inn on the Chesapeake; no, you should not wear shorts just because it's not a fancy hotel; no, an "inn" does not infer that this is like a "Days Inn"; yes, my parents are ok with the wedding not being in a hotel. I think.

OK, OK. Clearly we see where this is going, right?? I'll skip the part where I left work early to drive two hours to the Chesapeake Bay, imagining myself walking over the little white bridge that would lead to the ceremony site, and envisioned crab cake entrees delicately paired with a petit filet (since May would actually be in-season!). And we'll just jump right along to my arrival at the sweet little inn with the beautiful grounds and the moment I saw my parents sitting in the living room of the Inn looking over their notes.

And this is the first thing my father said: "Your mother got grease all over her pants. She must have gotten something on her from the walls here or something. She's in the bathroom trying to clean it off."

Hmm. Let's ponder that, shall we?

E&E's translation: "This place is rustic, which we think is dirty. It's not like the places where our friends' children get married. That makes us uncomfortable. We don't want you to get married here. And I have not said 'hello' or 'how are you' or 'we love it here' because you will soon realize we don't like this place."

And then he went on: "So, we want to discuss some things with you. Do you realize that they don't pour wine for you at dinner? You need to get up and get a drink if you want it. And do you realize that the breakfast buffet is only pancakes and pre-made eggs? There's no bagels. [E&E: The horror! No bagels? What shall we f---ing do? Sorry. Still angry.] Also, you can't check in until 3:00. And if you're not a guest of the Inn you have to leave after the wedding. [E: You mean non-paying guests can't just loiter around? Shocking! ...sorry...still angry...] And also, the rooms are different sizes and we have to determine who should stay where. And also, we thought the girl showing us around was a little weird. Did you notice that? And we have other things we didn't like. Let me look at page 3 of our list of things we didn't like. Hold on."

And so we didn't sign the contract. And then a couple days later my parents told me that they thought that if I chose the Inn Location (which I thought I already had, but apparently, I had not), that they were planning to stay somewhere else.


So I told them that Mr. F and I would find another location more suitable to their wedding vision. Yes, their vision. Because I had just realized that in no way, shape or form was this my wedding. Or anything remotely having to do with my happiness, my personality and/or the future that Mr. F and I were solemnly vowing to enter into together. Good times.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Which Brings us Back To D'oh!

Plan C(ape May) = REJECTED BY E&E

That brings us to Plan D. After realizing that any type of destination wasn't really an option, I decided to move forward with Plan D(IMBY). [Plan Definitely in my Backyard.] While Mr. F and I dreamed of a warm destination wedding on the water, we realized it wasn't going to happen in the tropics of BVI or Florida. But Maryland has one of the most lovely natural bodies of water in the States - the Chesapeake Bay. And while a one year engagement was ideal (destination wedding was to be in January), there was no reason we couldn't just get married in the warm May weather in the U-S-of-A. So we decided to look right in our own backyard and scope out options right over the Bay Bridge (which by the way, is one of the prettiest drives over a bridge there is...that is, if you can get over the fact that it's really high and there are very small little bumpers on the side instead of those really high strong steel ones that make you feel safe...and if your driver - Mr. F - doesn't look out at the water instead of the road) on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Mr. F and I decided to make a weekend of it. We would stay at one of the potential hotel options and have Maryland crabs (potential rehearsal dinner - so fun, right?) and walk around the towns of Easton and St. Michael's during the day in between taking a look at the venues. We had 6 different options. Options galore in fact.

The first option was an Inn right on the water (we could actually say our "I Do's" right on a boat off the dock while our guests sat on the dock - how cool is THAT?), and the people were sweet, but definitely a bit run-down for our taste. (And the carpet and walls were a little too Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat for my taste - I was overpowered by the desire to break in to song and use excessive amounts of jazz hands - but that song was NOT Canon in D and I'm not sure if Fosse has a place in my processional). The second option was a gorgeous old restored hotel. The reception room had gorgeous high ceilings and soft light coming through floor to ceiling windows. But it didn't have a back up plan for the outdoor ceremony. (And E&E is fully expecting it to rain on her wedding day. Sorry, but I'm more of a half empty kinda gal. Actually, I take it back - I'm more of a "The waiter hasn't brought my glass yet, but I'm going to guess it will be half empty, because if I expect it to be half full, then I will surely be disappointed; whereas if I expect it to be empty but it's full (hopefully of a nice Zinfandel), then I am wonderfully and happily surprised!!).

Where was I? Yes, Option 3. Was Perfect.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Heartburn: An Interlude

Do you remember when Ashlee Simpson lip-synched on Saturday Night Live a few years ago and it was a big "to do" and everyone's collective panties were in a bunch? (I didn't think it was such a big deal - because after all, doesn't everyone lip-synch? And doesn't everyone use remixing and backup singers in the studio and isn't that really the same thing? And so why are we all upset about this and not that?)

Ahem. So you remember that, right? And THEN do you remember, how post-jig, Ashlee gave a few excuses but finally settled on the fact that she had ACID REFLUX and she couldn't sing because her throat was burning? (Well if you don't remember, go look at the PerezHilton archives or something.) Well I'm pretty sure the public's reaction was along the lines of "Acid Reflux? Why on God's Green Earth Should We Accept That As A Valid Excuse?" And I too (while not thinking the lip-synching was a big deal) totally judged her, mostly for her lameness in concocting excuses and wrote her off as, well, a dumbass.

Ashlee Simpson, I hereby cordially apologize for my rash response.

Until just three months ago, I had not understood the severity of said Acid Reflux, or, as the laypeople call it "Heart Burn." I, of burn-free heart, did not grasp that when one becomes extremely stressed, say from the thought of performing live music for millions or, dealing with crazy parents to plan a wedding, the heart and throat begin to actually feel like ACID (as in the kind that burned the Joker's face all crazy), is slowly beginning a death march up your chest, into your esophagus and through the back of your throat (ok, I'm sure that's all medically wrong, but it's my pain and let me describe it as I so choose). Acid reflux sucks.

This is a new phenomenon in my life. Along with four gray hairs. And skin that's looking a little sallow. (Mr. F. said in the elevator to me the other day: "What's that weird makeup you're wearing under your eyes? I don't like it." I wasn't wearing makeup.)

My body is physically rejecting wedding planning.

Monday, June 16, 2008

(Sugar Honey Iced) Tea, A Drink with Jam & Bread

[Enraged & Engaged and her mother are driving in a car (a Volvo, to be exact) through New Jersey. E&E is home for Mother's Day weekend (in her family it's not a day, it's a weekend). They are discussing the desintegration of Plan B.]

Mom: So honey, where are you thinking of having the wedding now? You really ought to get a date set. There's no reason it should take so long. And so many people are...asking.

E&E: [Mumbling under her breath.] You mean now that you told me to stop looking in Florida?

Mom: What, dear?

E&E: Nothing, I said 'I don't know.' We're thinking of some place by the water in Maryland. You know, since we met in California and spent so much time on the water and all.

Mom: Have you considered New Jersey?

E&E: You mean since the last time that you asked me if I considered New Jersey?

Mom: Oh, sweetie. You're so funny. Really, it's so close though. You really should think about it.

E&E: But none of my friends live in New Jersey.

Mom: Oh, honey.

E&E: And I don't live in New Jersey.

Mom: But you grew up here! And we're here!

E&E: And Mr. F doesn't live in New Jersey.

Mom: And there are so many options!

E&E: But I left New Jersey. I left the moment I graduated. And besides, I want to get married on the water.

Mom: Well, you know the Jersey Shore is just lovely.

E&E: But I had my PROM there! I don't want to get married the same place I associate with Zima and the overwhelming amounts of flannel I wore in 1994.

Mom: I'm not sure why you're being so stubborn. And you have no reason to hate New Jersey.

E&E: I didn't say I 'hated' New Jersey. Besides, I'm looking for something more...historic.

Mom: What about Cape May? Cape May is lovely. Your father and I really enjoy it there.

E&E: I don't want to get married in Cape May.

Mom: Well, it's really nice and if you would go and visit, I think you would see that.

E&E: I've been there. It's nice. But I don't want to get married in Cape May.

Mom: Well then, why?

E&E: I. don't. want. to.

Mom: Why?

E&E: Because I don't want to! Leave me alone!

Mom: You're being really unreasonable dear. I don't see any reason you won't consider a beautiful place on the water in New Jersey. Cape May is perfect. [Pauses.] This is why you still don't have a wedding location set.


[The Volvo is silent.]

Friday, June 13, 2008

Leggo my Gumbo

Unfortunately, since my last post I haven't been able to get gumbo out of my head, so I thought I'd share my favorite recipe with you since now I plan to make it tonight and I need to print it out to buy the ingredients anyway. My recipe is basically an adaptation of the Williams-Sonoma recipe, but I make a healthier version. And yes, I realize that REAL gumbo is made with a roux. But roux is not healthy. So enjoy my gumb-faux as follows.

1 lb. low-fat sausage, cut in bite-size pieces
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 lb. okra, trimmed and cut into 1/8-inch rounds
1 cup chopped yellow onions
3 quarts water
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size cubes and seared until golden brown
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 Tbs. paprika
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. ground dried thyme
1 1/2 lb. lump crabmeat
1 lb. shrimp, head-on, or peeled and deveined (ew)
1 Tbs. filé powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Steamed brown rice for serving
Hot sauce for serving
Put the sausage in a large Dutch oven. Set over medium heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tbs. oil. Add the okra and sauté for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the onions and cook, stirring often, until the onions wilt, about 5 minutes. Add the onion mixture to the meat mixture in the Dutch oven, then add the okra. Slowly add the water, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, garlic, paprika, parsley and thyme. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Add the crabmeat and shrimp and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the filé powder, and season with salt and pepper. Stir well. Spoon steamed rice into soup bowls and ladle the gumbo over the rice. Serve hot sauce alongside. If serving the shrimp with the heads on, be sure to remove the heads and shells before eating. Serves 8 to 10.

B(la)h, The Note That Follows So-So

So now we're on to Plan C. Actually, it was more like Plan Bb or Plan b because while all of the hotel rigamarole (yikes, is there a spell check on this thing?) was going on, I was already trying to think of a back-up venue (so Plan baby b was really a complement to Plan Big B). So I thought to myself - what venue could be cost-efficient, tropical, and have some sort of special meaning to me and Mr. F? So obviously I started emailing and calling venues in FLORIDA like a madwoman.

Have I mentioned that Mr. F and I got engaged in Florida? Oh, and I lived there for about a decade as a kid. So, it was actually quite a natural choice - especially since at this point in our story, we were still planning for a January wedding.

Unfortunately, Plan Florida was met with resistence. Those family members who were all for the BVI destination wedding, were suddenly less-than-excited. I shall not name names (MOM) but some people (MOM) begged Enraged & Engaged not to have (MOM) a wedding in Florida (MOM) because it didn't make "sense" to have an event so far away, when Florida is really "just like the east coast and people wouldn't understand why we were doing it there and we would have to invite more people than we would have for BVI." [I swear, these words were spoken. Or very similar words. Or some words, that in my mind, sounded a lot like these words. Or their essence. MOM.]

Clearly, you can guess what happened. I folded. Like a house of cards. A very teary-eyed and tired house of cards. In hindsight, I think that if Plan baby b wasn't on the heels of the collapse (or imminent collapse) of Plan Big B, I might have fought with more gusto (which, I have to say is a favorite word of mine - sort of conjures eating italian food or a cajun gumbo on a very cold day...and yeah yeah, I get it - it's robusto, gumbo, and gust all mixed together in my crazy little head and shuffled up with my ever-welcoming-and-perpetually-rumbling stomach). Where was I? YES. Fighting with gusto. I didn't. Instead, I yielded to the demands of OTHERS that I discontinue my Florida search because that location did not make sense as the venue for MY wedding. Because after I, what do I know about what's best for me?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

So.....[A Needle Pulling Thread]

Sew, er, so - I waited. And waited. (Things don't move fast in the islands.) And finally, word arrived from my cousin - we were IN! A hefty "locals discount" was negotiated (with a nod to some good ole fashioned bartering). I had a venue (and a date)! I started looking at Save The Dates - because indeedy, people must know The Date (not just any date...THE DATE). Color themes plagued my dreams...would it be lime, coconut, and purple or should I select turquoise, shell and sand? (Two color schemes I still think are totally gorge by the way...and not only because I get to sing "You put the lime in the co-co-nut", each time I think of the former).

All that was left to do was to sign the contract!
And then the contract arrived.
And there was a surprise.

I hate surprises. OK, that's a total lie. I love surprises! Which is why I was so damn pissed when I realized I needed to confirm that we would guarantee that at least 10 hotel rooms would be rented for three nights each (at a minimum cost of $400). Ah ha. Hhm. Yup. That is a guarantee by ME of $12,000. That means that if we couldn't get people to stay at that hotel for three nights, we would lose that money. Gone. Adios. Hasta You get the idea. Oh, and another detail - we had arranged for a hotel across the street for half the price to do a block for our guests. Sooooo, I did the logical thing and started asking around.

[Ring ring]

Hi! It's Enraged & Engaged. How are you?
>GOOOOD! How are you? So I hear you set a place and a date!! That's SO great! Tell me all about it!
Well, that's why I'm calling. Remember when you and Bob were going to break up but then you got pregnant and you got married?
>You're pregnant?
No. I'm melodramatic and sarcastic and trying to change the subject. What I want to know is how do you feel about staying for three nights at a $400 a night resort?
>Well, uhm, I do have that new baby. And those loans. And the mortgage. But I love you and if you NEED us to, we'll do anything. NEED. US. TO.

So, to avoid making my friends and family paupers, we dumped Plan B (B is for Bye bye beach wedding) in lieu of Plan C.

Fa, A Long Long Way To Run

I think it would be helpful if I gave a little more background to explain why I am such a surly bride indeed. (For some reason, that brings a mental picture of a burly bride, which in my mind looks a little like a bride with a lot of muscles and a handle-bar mustache, which is enough to make any bride surly, but I digress.)

I was really was excited when I got engaged. Although I hadn't been planning a wedding of Monica-Geller-like proportions (including book of future wedding ideas compiled since I was 6), I did have an inkling that Mr. Fiance and I would love to have a destination wedding. Sadly, I'm not much for hobbies (as in the blogs I read where women say things like "Well, my fiance and I love _____ [Scrabble, Hiking, Raising Alpaca], so our 'theme' is _____ [How Do You Spell L-O-V-E?!, A Step Up to the Altar!, The Fleece of Love!]"), but I do love the warm weather and the ocean. I could see myself walking down the aisle to Bob Marley's "Is this Love?" and having steel drums at the cocktail hour.

It also just so happens that I have a family member who lives in the British Virgin Islands. Nice, right? We regularly visit; every time I step off the plane....ahhhh....instant relaxation (I suspect this somehow relates to the rum served while waiting in line to clear customs, but I'm not complaining). So I thought - this should be easy-peasy to plan...CAKE! (Yum.) I dove into the destination wedding books and blogs. Visions of birds of paradise, mangoes, and starfish danced in my head each evening. I heard from so many people how destination weddings are CHEAP! How they CUT DOWN ON NUMBERS OF EXCESS GUESTS! How they make a wedding into a VACATION!

Unfortunately, I didn't realize that many islands don't offer "all inclusive wedding packages." (Many islands = island I was looking at.) I also didn't realize that CHEAP is referring to the cost for the bride and groom, NOT for the guests. OK, so on to Plan B. Plan B included research into hotels, restaurants, and other venues on the island and and completely gratuitous reconaissance mission to said tropical island. Two days later (well into a rum-induced haze), Mr. F (which now, in hindsight, sounds sort of dirty) and I found Our Place. The Place We Would Have Our Wedding. A gorgeous hotel on the beach, where we could say our "I Do's" looking out at the lapping waves (and while lapping up Mai-Tai's).

Of course Perfect Beach Hotel was out of our price range, but my cousin, a local to the island offered to try to negotiate the price down a bit so we could afford it. Upon returning home to the good ole U-S-of-A, I paced back and forth waiting to get a response from Cousin. Would we be able to afford our dream destination wedding??

Welcome! (NOTE: That's the cheeriest thing you will read in this post.)

So I guess the best place to start is the beginning, right? (Unfortunately, now I can't get Julie Andrews, a la "Sound of Music" out of my head, but it's a nice soundtrack to my saga, so I'm going with it.)

[Doe, A Deer, A Female Deer]

The beginning. Congratulate me! - I got engaged almost six months ago - a wonderful event, right? To fast forward: I have considered about 100 wedding venues - from museums to libraries to inns, in 2 countries, and 6 states and only have a headache, a dwindling wine collection, and the stirrings of what I'm sure is an ulcer to show for it.

[Ray, A Drop of Golden Sun]

When I got engaged I was sure I would be The Perfect Bride [montage of Martha Stewart and the pitter patter of Canon in D here]. Unfortunately, the more I've tried to plan, the more depressed I've become. Every other website is simply a reminder that I'm clearly an Inadequate Bride.* I've almost found myself wishing that I was a Bridezilla (because then at least I would be on a track to going down an aisle somewhere, even if it was to Hell). So mostly for my own therapy, but also in the hopes that there are some other women out there who are having a tough time with this wedding planning thing, I decided to start blogging on my experience and hopefully soliciting some others to share in comments (assuming anyone else puts in the words "hate" "wedding" "planning" "parents" "crazy" "stressed" into their search engine and comes upon this blog).

[Me, A Name, I Call Myself]

Just as a little background, I'm a 30-something year old woman, born in NY, raised in the great state of NJ, and currently living in MD. I wasn't the little girl who dreamed of planning a wedding, but I have wanted to find the wonderful person meant for me for a long long time. Don't be confused by my sarcasm, stress and anger. My fiance, aka, Mister Fiance (not to be confused with Mr. Mister, a great 80's band), is wonderful. He's caring, funny, smart and supportive. However, his dream wedding has always been to elope, so he's happy to support my efforts at planning, but isn't looking to take that Herculean burden off me anytime soon (not to mention that he doesn't have time). So the whole world is in MY hands. And lest you ask why we don't just elope - the answer is that I love the beauty and tradition of a wedding and being surrounded by friends and family. So I cannot give that up. Not yet.
*That being said, I have to say that there are a LOT of aesthetically gorgeous blogs and websites out there ( I'm talking to you here) and I'm only depressed because I can't seem to make "that" (i.e., the Perfect Wedding or actually any wedding) happen. I'm pretty positive this isn't some grand scheme hatched by bridal magazines and bloggers intended to make me lose my marbles. (Not that that's not possible. After all, I've seen The Truman Show and I know how these things go. ) And now that I think about it, it probably IS a grand scheme by the wedding INDUSTRY so I spend gobs of money on perfect place cards, but I'm pretty sure that Barb Bride, out there, blogging alone at home, doesn't give a crap. She just wants to be a Pretty Pretty Princess.