Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Jew & Her Goy Boy Part II: What's Jew Got To Do With It?

Don't you just love this movie?

My Big Fat Greek Wedding has always reminded me of Brian and I. You take a guy from a WASP-y mild-mannered, conservative family who falls in love with a girl from a family of loud and crazy Greeks/Jews (po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe), and what do you get?

Well, according to a lot of people: A whole lot of complicated. In fact, that's what many of my close family and friends said when Brian and I first started to get serious. I even wrote about it a few years ago in a relationship column I had in the college newspaper - The Jew and Her Goy Boy (hence, why my post is a Part II).

It's never been a secret that my parents were concerned about me being with someone who wasn't Jewish. Their reservations had nothing to do with Brian, and everything to do with what they were taught to believe.

And it is my understanding that they were taught that relationships are easier when both people practice the same religion, especially when it comes time to raise their children. Now, I don't think that argument is unsound, in fact, it has worked out just great for my parents. They're both Jewish, and they've been very happily married for almost 35 years (their anniversary is 2 days after our wedding).

I just think that their argument doesn't apply to everyone.

It applies to people like the friends of mine who largely define themselves by their faith and who have decided to live their life guided by the principles and practices of their religion.

For them, I think that marrying outside of their religion would definitely complicate things, and I can understand why they choose to only date people who either practice the same religion that they do, or who are willing to convert.

For me, it's different.

I'm proud of where I came from, I'm proud to be Jewish, and I'm proud to celebrate the Jewish holidays and honor the Jewish traditions I grew up with.

But, for me, being a Jew is how I define myself culturally, not religiously.

It may be a common characteristic of my generation, but I don't subscribe to any religion.

I believe in God and I believe in Good. I believe in being loved and giving love, and I believe in always being curious and thoughtful, and not accepting or applying truths to things that I believe are impossible to prove.

And Brian and I have found, through many conversations over our 6 years, that we have come to believe the same thing.

We found a shared understanding that religion never would, and never will, play a significant role in our lives as individuals, as a couple, and later on, as a family.

And when it comes time to raise those future children of ours, we will raise them to be as fascinated by and as skeptical of religion as we are, celebrating Christmas and Easter with Brian's side of the family, and Chanukah, Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with my side of the family. Wholeheartedly embracing the traditions, but always questioning the meaning behind them.

So, back to how this applies to our wedding...well, really it has everything to do with our wedding.

Because of our beliefs (or lackthereof), it doesn't feel right to either of us to have a religious ceremony - Jewish or otherwise. We want a ceremony that is deep and meaningful, that speaks to us as a couple and the life we share.

It's also been important to me to have an officiant who actually knows us. I've been to weddings where the officiant was given a script of stories to tell about the couple, from the couple. Well, I want someone who can go off book, who doesn't even need a book because they've been there the whole time - watching us, our relationship, and our love grow.

And who better suited to do that than my father?

He actually suggested it when I was bouncing off ideas of possible officiants. He was just joking about it at first, but I wasn't.

I mean what better validation can I get, and what more meaningful sign of approval can Brian have than my dad agreeing to perform the ceremony?

I couldn't be more thrilled.

We'll incorporate some of the Jewish traditions, like breaking the glass and the Hava Nagila, but not because of their religious implications. They just make me smile, and Brian, mensch that he is, embraces those fun Jewish traditions as much as I do.

So, now that my spiel has come to a close, I want to open this one up to the crowd. How do you feel about interfaith marriage? I know many of you have strong opinions about this topic - so speak now or forever hold your peace.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's Our Wedding Biatch! OR It's Our Wedding & We Do What We Want To, A Message To All The Nuptial Naysayers

Now, the last thing I want to do is sound ungrateful or unappreciative, and I had reservations about writing this blog in the first place because I didn't want to offend anyone. But sometimes you just have to get your feelings out there, and I figured that posting this might be helpful for commiserating brides and grooms-to-be who have been overwhelmed and upset by the opinions of others when it comes to their wedding.

Idealistic as I may be, I came into the wedding planning process thinking that whatever ideas and decisions we made about our big day (no matter how unconventional) would be met with "oooh's and aaaah's" and "oh, how wonderfuls" from anyone who asked to hear about our flowers, our decor, our food, our venue, the bridesmaids dresses, my jewelry, etc.

But it seems like, during this stage of my life more than any other, everyone has an opinion and nobody is holding back.

When telling people about which colleges I wanted to attend or what jobs I wanted to to apply for (or which man I wanted to marry), they would smile and wish me all the best, wholeheartedly offering their support and love. So am I crazy to believe that with my wedding - something that is so trivial in comparison to all of those important life changers - everyone would do the same and be just as supportive and loving, simply believing that I know what I want and what's best for me?

Ehhh, not so much.

Perhaps the wedding critics are not afraid to hold back because, as a society, nobody has deemed it inappropriate or impolite to discuss your opinions (no matter how negative) about somebody's wedding.

Religion, politics, sex, child-rearing practices are all off limits, but feel free to demean and dismiss my opinions and ideas when it comes to my wedding. Sure, why not tell me how ugly you think the bridemaids dresses are, how you disagree with our desire to have the ceremony in the middle of the dance floor, how I absolutely need to have a chuppah or arch of some sort, or why the heck wouldn't I wear a veil...

I know that religion, politics, sex and child-rearing practices are very personal, very sensitive subjects. Well for me, my wedding is very personal, and I've always been very sensitive (some would argue too sensitive...even my Grandma Essie had to remind me to toughen up), so I can't help but take people's opinions about my wedding to heart.

Of course, I want everyone to enjoy themselves and love this wedding as much as I do - but I'm learning that I can't please everyone, and the even more important thing that I've come to realize is that I don't want to because... it's my wedding biatch!

Women get flack for becoming Bridezillas when it comes to their wedding, well I think it's time to shine the light on the Peoplezillas - the people who think that they are entitled to force their ideas and beliefs about what a wedding should look like onto you and your wedding.

These peoplezillas come in all forms - parents, family members, friends - some of them have some not-so nice things to say, and now I'm saying it's time to shut all the nuptial naysayers up with more of my Grandma Essie's wisdom:

If you have nothing nice to say, don't f'in say it! (Ok, I added the f'in part)

Our wedding may not fit your definition of what a wedding should look like or feel like, but that's why it's ours and not yours, and in the end, as long as Brian and I are happy with how everything turns out, that's all that matters to me.

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Mid-Bride Crisis

Let me preface this post by assuring you that, thankfully, who I am getting married to has nothing to do with my mid-bride crisis. In fact, I think this perplexing period in wedding planning has brought Brian and I closer, and he has become an even stronger source of comfort for me when the shit has hit the frieken fan. And by shit hitting the freiken fan, I am mostly referring to me losing my shit.

So why am I losing my shit? Me, the wedding-obsessed romantic who can't get enough of flowers and cakes and food and dresses? Who was counting the years, months, days and hours until I would get to plan a wedding of my very own?

In a word: MONEY

Now, I knew from the get-go that this was going to cost us a pretty penny, and I also believed from the get-go that I would be willing to spend a pretty penny to throw an awesome wedding filled with the food, flowers and fun that I have been daydreaming about for years.

Well, this may not come as a shock to those who have planned a wedding before, but my willingness to throw a ton of money into ONE DAY has seriously taken a hit.

You know how we originally planned to set our wedding budget at $15K? And for some reason, Brian and I totally thought that it was a realistic number for an event with 170+ guests?

Surprise, surprise we have been humbled yet again by our youthful naïveté, and we have discovered that to throw the kind of wedding we want, it'll cost us about $10K more than our original budget.

As I type this, tears come to my eyes, and trust me I have shed many a tear already as I have asked myself countless times: 

Does bride have to equal bankrupt?

It's taken a lot of soul searching for me, and I imagine I will have to continue to soul search to be comfortable spending this amount of money. 

I can't tell you how many times in that past two months I have just wanted to throw in the veil (figuratively speaking of course, cause I still don't want to wear one) and just take my husband-to-be to a gorgeous, secluded setting and elope.

But, I know myself, and I know years from now if I have no pictures, no videos, no anecdotes to tell our children about the phenomenal day Brian and I became husband and wife, it would break my heart.

Plus, part of me really just loves weddings too much to deny myself this day that I have been looking forward to - I gotta admit - since before I found a groom.

Fortunately too, we have the best parents, the best family and the best friends who are unwavering in their support and unconditional in their love, who want to help us in any way, shape or form, have a very special day.

We are so lucky and so thankful, and even if we're bankrupt financially at the end of this, we know we'll be richer than ever in our hearts.

There we go, sounds like I'm back to my corny self. Mid-bride crisis, averted! :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Not As Easy As Be Our Guest | Struggling With Whether More Is *Marrier*

Oh Lumière, you make it look so easy - it's all champagne fountains and dancing dish dreams when you're a Disney character! You know what ain't easy?

Cutting people off your wedding guest list.

My recently wedded friends and future father-in-law warned me about this: when it comes to staying on budget, it's all about how low can you go. Well, I wasn't prepared to play a game of limbo with our guest list.

And as my mother's daughter (my mother, who makes more friends in one day than I bet you do in one year), I would love nothing more than for anyone and everyone who wants to celebrate with us to be at our wedding.

Before I heeded the advice of the wedded wise, I brushed off the reality that if we truly wanted to throw the wedding we've (read: I've) been planning in our heads and hearts for years, a guest list of 250 just wouldn't do.

Sounds crazy, right? Having lots of people who love you and want to celebrate with you is a blessing, not a curse!!! Why would we want to turn anyone away? Why would we want to offend anyone?

The thing is we don't want to turn anyone away. and we don't want to offend anyone. But, we do want to have a wedding that has fantastic food, great music, funky flowers, rustic, vibrant decor, and makes for wonderful pictures and videos that capture the memories we will cherish for a lifetime.

In short, when you are on a tight budget it seems that the bigger your list of wedding wants becomes, the smaller your list of wedding guests must be, and after many revised guest lists sent back-and-forth, and many  heated discussions, we've trimmed it down.

It's not easy, and it's not fun, but I'm hoping people will understand.

At the end of the day, what's really important is that I'll be marrying my guy <3

Monday, December 5, 2011

Oy Veil! Saying Yes to the Dress & No to the Veil

So, thanks to Diane at The Wedding Day, my wonderful mother, and my fabulous friends, I was able to check "Choose/Order The Gown" off my wedding to do list a few weeks ago.

Turns out, David's Bridal wasn't meant to be for me. I tried on a few gowns that morning, and on a particularly gross-feeling day (we all have those, don't we?), none of them were able to knock me out off my ugly funk, and to me, a wedding dress should make you look beautiful, even when you're feeling your ugliest.

The dress I chose, did just that. 

Despite the lethal bad hair/bad body day combo I was experiencing, my dress still stopped me in my tracks - luckily, there seemed to be a consensus among my boozed-up entourage too.

After a toast with some delicious Wilson's Creek Winery Almond Champagne (thanks mom!), we turned from our unanimous "yes" to the dress, to our split veil opinion.

Me? I've never wanted a veil – I've just always thought they were too old fashioned looking for me. 

Didn't know that wasn't going to go over so well with the moms (mine and Brian's) and some of the more traditional members of the bridal party. You want tradition? I'm already going to wear the long, white dress - right?

Oy Veil!

To humor the no veil haters, I tried on a few – including a particularly heinous 80's inspired poofy thing. And despite the protests and the like 5 to 3 vote favoring a veil, I'm sticking to my guns - no veil for me. Maybe a headband, a cool clip or a flower - but no veil. 

Anywhoo, in the weeks that have followed finding the dress, I'll quickly bring you up to speed on what we've got going on the wedding planning side of things - and I'll blog out the dirty details later.

-We've set a date: August 4, 2012
-We've got a one-of-a-kind coordinator: My cousin, the uber organized Brina Stevens
-We've locked in the venue: Cyprus Shore, San Clemente
-We've booked our band: the uber entertaining Johnny On The Spot 
-We've talked to our florist: The uber talented Samantha Santana of Primary Petals
-We've set up a time to meet a possible photographer: Evan Christman
-We've checked out and selected most of the rentals: Baker Party Rentals
-We've set up our tasting appointment with the caterer: Blue Agave Restaurant

Whew! As you can see, lots of exciting things happening and many more to come - so happy to take you along for the ride.

Cheers to that!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Saying "Almost" to the Dress

I think I found it.

I think I found the gown I'm going to get married in, and it's not at all what I expected it to be - but isn't that how it always seems to work out?

Rather than take a whole entourage of bridesmaids and buddies, I decided I wanted to share this special day with my forever & always BFF, my momala - and it was the perfect day, and it will be a day we both treasure.

There's this store - The Wedding Day - that's five minutes from where I live, conveniently located next to the Weight Watchers I go to every week. Talk about keeping my motivation fresh in mind.

I had been wanting to go in there for months, just to see what gorgeous gowns awaited, and it was even better than I could have imagined.

My mom, incredibly anxious, and me, incredibly excited, met Diane, our incredibly wonderful gown guide at 11:30. I told her I was going for a beachy, bohemian look, and I was going for a price as close to $1K as possible, preferably as much under $1K as possible. The gowns within our price point were tagged salmon or green, which was great because we didn't even look at the other tags, so the temptation to spend more was gone from the get-go.

Diane picked up on on and embraced my adventurous laidback vibe immediately, and together, we selected a diverse set of gowns, cause really, for my first time trying on dresses, I will try on just about anything - after all, how many times do you get to try on wedding gowns? I'm gonna savor this shit.

From big ruffled skirts to drop waist ruched bodices, I was in seventh heaven as we carefully considered the pros and cons of each dress and narrowed down the must-have features. And I knew, the two that made me feel the most beautiful (and most slim) I've ever felt, were keepers.

Luckily, Diane, my mom and I were all on the same page. But it took us all a few back-and-forth try-ons, a few trips to the big mirror, and a few hours to take a break (and check out another bridal gown shop), to settle on the dress I not only felt beautiful in, but the dress I felt was as fun and unique as I want our wedding to be.

Walking on a cloud (and quite exhausted to boot), my mom and I left and grabbed a late lunch at Thasos (delish Greek food) before going to our appt. at Jaclyn's Bridal. I went there with my friend Sandra when she found her wedding gown (her drop-dead-gorgeous wedding gown), and I felt maybe I could find my happy wedding gown ending there. 

Even with all of the stunning selections they had, my dress just wasn't in there. None of the dresses made me feel the way the my dress made me feel. Not even close.

On our way home from Jaclyn's, we got a call from Diane at The Wedding Day, who said she was kicking herself for not showing me this other dress that she believed I would love. We thought we might as well go in and try it on since my car was still parked at the store.

I tried it on, and although it was lovely - it wasn't mine. I had to try on my dress along with it's runner-up to get one last hurrrah. And as of now, I'm saying almost to the dress, not because I don't want to say yes, but because my mother, being as wise and all-knowing as she is (as they all are really) suggested I do one more round at David's Bridal next week before trying on my dress again at 2:30 next Saturday, to make absolutely sure that it is a whole-hearted, 110% yes.

We are bringing along some bridesmaids, buddies and bubbly to that 2:30 appt. with Diane at The Wedding know, just in case! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Location, Location, Location - Where to Wed?

For me, weddings are like real estate - it's all about location, location, location. I believe that where you choose to host your wedding really helps set the tone for the day. Temple/Church? traditional & time-honored. Country Club/Hotel? fancy & formal. Outdoors? comfy & casual.

Brian and I like to keep it easy, breezy and beautiful (just like CoverGirl), so having our wedding as close to the beach as possible - without breaking the bank - would be a definite dream come true.

Well, agreeing on the actual location wasn't really difficult for us. In fact, we knew where we wanted to get married long before we got engaged...I know...shocker! 

We are fortunate that Brian's parents have a house in a lovely San Clemente community, and that this lovely San Clemente community has a picturesque park (above) just steps away from the beach with gorgeous peek views of the ocean. We also knew it would be an awesome place to celebrate our nuptials because Brian's sister and his brother wedded there too.

With all of that in mind, we thought it was a total slam dunk decision. We also thought it would be free seeing as how it's in a private, residential area where his parents own a, how completely naive we were.

Turns out, not only does it cost to host a wedding in the park, it costs a pretty penny, and that pretty penny doesn't include the rentals or the food. With the help of my magnificent meshugana momala, we started looking into alternative venues to compare prices.

After many emails, phone calls, and fruitless google searches, we came to the conclusion that just about anywhere you decide to have a wedding isn't going to be cheap, and just about everywhere we looked into was lacking what we truly wanted.

We really want to customize our wedding, from the caterer, to the cake, to the rentals - and many venues only allow you to use their vendors and their catering services. Now, I am capable of compromising on some things, but I can't compromise on customization - after all, I've spent a majority of the last 3 years envisioning our wedding (you know, in between working and stuff), and I just couldn't bring myself to agree to a chicken/steak/veggie dinner and white folding chairs (no offense to couples who do want those things).

After much soul-searching and budget calculating, Brian and I sent in our check this week, and have almost officially locked in our wedding date at the picturesque park. We're just waiting on the housing board seal of approval and then we'll jump for joy! (But we're really already jumping!)