Another step to the big leap

Porch of Swan Point

Come November, this porch will be filled with family and friends and laughter and love. I see kids dashing through the grass, sunshine beating on the veranda, fall leaves casting the woods into rich hues of red and yellow. Then Spencer in a gray suit, smiling from ear to ear, and me in a lacy white dress. Stepping out on my dad’s arm. Then taking the biggest leap of our lives.

We have our venue — and our date. We’re really getting married!

I’m rapidly becoming That Girl with all my bridal talk, I know, but I can see why folks say wedding planning can become life-consuming. It doesn’t have to, obviously, and I’m still doing things like working full-time, folding laundry and scrubbing dishes. But in my off hours, I’ve been spread-sheeting it up — and at the top of our venue search was Swan Point Golf & Yacht Club. Close to home, affordable and lovely, it was even better in person than we’d hoped it would be. We officially booked on Saturday.

Walking down that porch made it all feel very real. Though November is far off, I know it’ll feel as though I’ve blinked and am walking out to see my fiance there for our first look before the ceremony. And then? Well, then I won’t get to call him my fiance anymore!




Of double weddings and lots o’ kids


One of the coolest parts of my job is the chance to interact with readers. Writing a newspaper column for three-plus years, I’ve gotten my share of interesting “fan mail.” For the most part, I’m lucky; when folks drop me a line, it’s not generally to tell me I suck. (Though that does happen.) The emails, letters and phone calls are heartwarming — especially the one above.

Since Spencer and I announced our engagement, a few questions spring from the lips of nearly everyone I see:

When are you getting married?
Have you chosen a dress?
Do you have a venue?
Are you going on a diet?

(Yep: all real, repeatedly asked questions. Including the weight issue — but that’s a separate post.)

Once we go over the basics, I invariably add that I’m not the only one recently betrothed; my sister’s fiance proposed on the same day. Most express surprise and even chuckle when I add that we’re both planning weddings for the fall of 2013, and then another question bursts forth:

Are you having a double wedding?

Never in my life have I even considered the idea of a double wedding. Though I love my sister dearly, everyone agrees we want our own day. I’m her maid of honor, and she will be my matron of honor; everything else aside, I wouldn’t want to take away from that. Kate and I actually are planning to have a double bridal shower, but that’s totally different from a double wedding. I mean: that’s insanity. Total insanity. Right?

Not for everyone, apparently. I wrote about the double-wedding issue in a recent column, and the letter and photo at top arrived from a reader who told the story of the wedding she shared with her younger sister in 1954. One of five girls, Betty’s father was all too glad to marry two of his lovely daughters off at once.

When I opened the letter, I literally gasped. How gorgeous and classic are those lovely brides? (And don’t worry: the photo is a copy!) I’ve always loved poring through old family albums, and the ladies’ vintage looks are stunning. I think the double cake toppers are adorable, too, and was so touched Betty took the time to send me her story. I showed it to everyone.

Married as 22- and 21-year-olds, Betty and her sister went on to have 17 (!!!) kids between them — and have enjoyed long, happy marriages. She kindly wished that for all of us.

Um, hopefully not the 17 kids part, though.

Getting the sparkly wedding ball rolling

Engagement ring and coffee

Though I’d vowed to refrain from much wedding planning until after January 1, y’all know I’m no good at waiting. I’d crafted color-coded spreadsheets and potential guest lists before Christmas Eve — all in the name of having a plan. I like plans. I like lists. I like organization. And now that 2013 is here, I’m in major wedding mode for our planned November nuptials.

It should surprise no one that the very first vendor I researched — before the venue, catering or florists — was the photographer. When my sister and I attended a bridal event with a friend last fall, we met a lovely mother-daughter photographer duo from our area. I was so enamored with the vintage quality of their photos and fun, friendly personalities that I immediately bookmarked their site — you know, “for someday.” I’ve had a wedding bookmarks folder in my browser since a friend was engaged four years ago, so you know I’m happy to be finally using some of this research!

In the months since that meeting, I’ve followed their event shoots with only the tiniest smidgen of jealousy — and fantasized about booking them someday. Just days after Spencer proposed, I’d emailed Maggie and Betty to get the sparkly wedding ball rolling — and once we finalize a date, Birds of a Feather Photography will document our big day.

I’m so excited.

I’m even more excited that Spence liked the ladies as much as I did, and that their work spoke to him like it spoke to me. There’s something timeless and serene about their images — and I’m thrilled they’ll be the ones behind the lens this fall. Knowing how passionate my family is about photography, I figured finding just the right people to document our wedding would be rough . . . and I feel lucky to have stumbled upon them so early in the process.

As far as other wedding-related matters? We have a color palette in mind, and I’ve mocked up a few potential save-the-dates. We’re visiting a prospective venue this weekend with my parents and sister, and I’m hoping it looks as lovely in person as it does online and in reviews . . . because it can accommodate our large guest list and budget. No easy feat. Kate and her fiance have already chosen their site and date (in September!), so it’s going to be quite a busy year.

I’m seeing wedding planning is filled with decisions “big and small,” as a coordinator recently said, and sometimes the sheer volume of what needs to be done overwhelms me . . . but then I remember we’re really planning a big ol’ party to celebrate our union, and everything is going to be fine.

Better than fine, even. Everything will be awesome.

That ring you’ve been just dying to see

I know, I know: on Christmas you were seated by the fire, snuggled up to loved ones with mugs of peppermint hot chocolate, and the whole moment would have been just perfect, but . . . as desperately as you tried to soak up the holiday, it was impossible. Why? You were preoccupied, friends. You were preoccupied because you hadn’t seen a real, close-up photo of my engagement ring.

Well, worry no more. Here it is. Sparkly and lovely and a little too big for my finger, but don’t worry — I’ll be getting it resized. Just as soon as I’m back from visiting Spencer’s family in New York, where I will be flashing this baby around in more than a foot of snow at New Year’s.

My ring

Erm, I’m kidding, of course . . . not about flashing the ring (totally doing that), but about everyone wanting to see it. Trust me: I’ve been on the other side of engagement announcements approximately 1,876 times, and it’s not always pretty. While my life has changed post-proposal, the world itself continues to turn. Others go about their business, oblivious to the fact that we are betrothed. And in an effort to not be That Person on Facebook and elsewhere, I have tried to limit all wedding-related commentary (for a while) and not annoy everyone within a 50-foot radius.

Unless you’re one of my two officemates. Or my sister. Or my parents. Or my actual groom-to-be.

Then you’re screwed.

I always thought I’d want a round-cut diamond — but I fell in love with this ring when we “casually” went to check out jewelry in October. It was actually the first one I tried on that day and, after wandering around the mall for a few hours checking out diamonds elsewhere, we went back so I could try it on once more. And after trying on a dozen others, I loved it even more.

No firm plans have been made just yet, but I’m definitely researching, planning and crunching numbers. We’re looking at the fall of 2013 — my favorite season. We see reds and leaves and apple cider. Or I do, anyway, because I’m trying not to slam Spence with too many conflicting thoughts until I have a clear idea of what I’m envisioning — and what we can afford. And I figured we’d wait until after January 1 to start the nitty-gritty discussions, anyway. Seems like a good “It’s a new year!” type of talk.

Though if you took a peek at my color-coded spreadsheets right now, you’d think, “Yeah, she’s definitely doing a great job of waiting until the new year.” And you’d be right, of course, because I’m not good at waiting — and am incredibly organized. Files and sticky notes make me happy. Though I have no real clue what I’m doing and can’t see anything but $$$$$$$ signs everywhere I look, this phase — the planning phase, the dreaming phase — has been very exciting.

As is the idea of spending my days with this guy.

Spence at sunset

P.S. Thank you all for your concern over my recent health scare. Ironically, after I started my round of doctor’s appointments and tests, the pain I’d been feeling mysteriously disappeared. I’ve felt well the last few weeks and, after some tests, what the doctor thought was going on turned out not to be a problem at all (thank goodness). Fingers crossed that I continue to feel A-OK. Thank you again!

Whose fall wedding is it, anyway?


And so it begins — my best friend is getting married! Nichole and Robert got engaged last year and have now set a date — Oct. 23, 2010. I know, it’s January 2009, but let me tell you — things are already booking up! With so many details to be arranged and sorted, starting early can’t be a bad thing. Plus, my sister and I are only too happy to help her begin the lengthy planning.

After having lunch with she and Kate today, I have all sorts of bridal terms whirling around in my head. My sister is a huge fan of “Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?” and knows the lingo like no one else I’ve met. I plunked down next to her at Panera and watched in pure amazement as she began to write out a check-list for our friend, detailing all of the items she should have figured out before D-Day (or W-Day, I guess). Who is this person? I thought. Kate could be a pretty sophisticated wedding planner. Hey, if the TV news anchor bit doesn’t work out, I know in which direction I should push her — she’s all about the brides!

Of course, I know next to nothing about weddings — just what I’ve gleaned from attending a few memorable family occasions over my lifetime and indulging in TLC and Style Network marathons of bridal shows. I haven’t been to a wedding in years, and I’ve never been in the bridal party of a close friend. For that matter, I’ve only been to a handful of friends’ weddings, period! But I’ve entered that eventful and somewhat terrifying phase of my life where friends and old classmates begin to have children, get hitched and buy their own homes — and I’m watching it all with a careful eye, trying to make my own path through all of this.

And I need to study up. Seriously. I’ve stepped boldly into the world of bachelorette parties, reception venues, catering prices and color schemes. I’m thrilled about it, but I’m overwhelmed, too — and I’m not the one getting married! There’s a bit of pressure associated with being close to someone planning one of the biggest days of their life. I’ve narrowed down a few of my thought processes to focus on choosing a reception site in Southern Maryland, and I’m looking at Herrington Harbor, Mount Airy Mansion and Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa as our top recommendations. Thank goodness I have my knowledgable coworkers to help me! I want to make some decent suggestions.

And thank God for Google. I rely on Googling the way others might rely on academic research, the kind and careful advice of friends and relatives — or even prayer. There is scarcely a question in the world I can’t answer by Googling my problem!

Since I need ideas for a fall wedding, I’ve found a hundred and one sites with all sorts of advice and clever ideas. And color scheme ideas? We have many options!


She’s already selected red as her main color, so perhaps we’re looking at a red/chocolate combination? I love the look of that! With accents of orange and gold, and a red sash for the bride? We could have tabletop decorations of fall foliage, perhaps some classy pumpkins by the pretty crystal wineglasses . . . is there such a thing as a “classy” pumpkin? We’ll find out, I guess! And then we could look for . . .

But let me not get ahead of myself here — whose fall wedding is it, anyway?!