My sister got married. I’ve freaked out a little.

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As we wait anxiously for my sister’s professional wedding photos to come back, I thought I’d tease you with this little iPhone treat. I have others — even taken with real cameras! — but not many, honestly. Which is strange. And good.

I made a vow for Katie’s day: I would stay present, physically and emotionally. I would not be updating the events in real time on Facebook; I would not be tweeting or Instagramming (save the one above!) or checking email. For once in my life, I would live by my long motto: be here now.

And more than anything, I wouldn’t be taking pictures.

That last one was hardest. It was easy to tuck my phone away for the day — a reprieve, really. My little hiatus last week was restorative in many ways, and I definitely needed the time to break away from social media and its many distractions.

Saturday was a great day, but it was a hard day. It was hard to be with my emotions, to sit still and not shrink from them. To embrace them, actually. I cried a lot. Not because my sister was getting married, but because my sister was getting married. I love Eric, my new brother-in-law; I think the world of him, in fact. But this wedding was both a beginning and an ending.

It was emotional. And raw. At one point, a friend walked up to put her arm around me and said, “Are you okay? You seem really . . . sad.”

And then I was embarrassed. My carrying-on may have prompted family and friends to think I was devastated by my sister’s nuptials, which just wasn’t true — but it was too complicated to explain. In that moment, I couldn’t begin to articulate the swirl of feelings in my heart.

It was happiness. Of course.

But also sadness.

And fear.

And anxiety.

And joy.

And wonder.

And hope.

It was everything, really, and also nothing. As I stood on the steps with the other bridesmaids, waiting for my turn to walk down the aisle, I felt an odd zen that I was in the right place at the right moment . . . that there was nowhere else I could possibly be.

And then I panicked, thinking I wanted to run and retreat into the night. I wanted to turn the clock back a day, a week, a year or three. Maybe then my sister and I would be back home in our pajamas, back when we were freshly engaged and just beginning to plan our dual weddings. Or further, back when I was home late from work in college and Katie was waiting up for me. Or much further, back and back, back to when we were kids with an entire summer day to do nothing but play Uno and watch the Nickelodeon line-up and play Barbies.

But we were there together in our too-high heels, all grown up. Katie with her hands in Eric’s. Me white-knuckle clutching a bouquet, squinting in the sunshine.

And then it was over. He was kissing the bride.

It went so fast. It all went too fast.

I’ve been in a bit of a turmoil this week, honestly. An existential crisis, perhaps. I haven’t even been reading much. My own wedding is six weeks away and there is much to do, but I haven’t felt like plunging right back into the wedding cauldron. Spence and I have made inroads in lots of areas and life is still busy busy, busy as ever, but I feel a little detached from it all.

But I’ve started moving. I transported one whole shelf worth of books on Tuesday — the first step in a daunting process. Spence and I have those tall bookcases from Borders lining the living room walls, and the prospect of neatly and categorically organizing my novels filled me with a sense of hope and calm. My books made it feel homier, like a place where I belonged. I felt happier stacking my books in their new home than I have in days. Knowing each hardcover will have a place to nestle is soothing.

I like knowing there’s a place for everything . . . and everything in its place. Including myself.

Even if I’m not sure exactly where that will be.

Even if life seems to move faster than I can process sometimes.

I will get there. I will have a place . . . with Spencer, and with my family, and with my career. I will have a place.

Even better, I will make a place.

Our place. Together.


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Life lately — and a little sanity break

Leaves


It’s probably a surprise to exactly no one that, five days from my sister’s wedding, I’m starting to freak out. Not because my baby sister is getting married (!), but because there is much to coordinate and figure out and settle. People to wrangle, decor to set up, logistics to configure. Jewelry to acquire. Speeches to finish. Family to hug and catch up with and, you know, an entire wedding to help coordinate.

Also, my baby sister is getting married. On Saturday.

I just. cannot.

They’ll be off to Hawaii shortly and I will begin the arduous task of packing up my childhood bedroom — for real this time — and moving my belongings to Spencer’s in mid-October. We’ve been getting things organized in prep for my move, and I’ve finally crossed from anxiety to wanting to just tackle that project. Though I’m only going 20 minutes away, the idea of moving most everything I own is daunting.

Daunting.

To say nothing of changing my addressand nameon everything associated with me. That should be fun!

So life lately: barely controlled chaos. Not to mention all the remaining details we must tackle for our own wedding happening in five weeks or so, but I actually feel calm about that. Weird, right? I mean, Spencer and I are in it together, we have a good team in place, most everything has been purchased and several vendors actually paid off . . . it could be much worse. I’m methodically going through my spreadsheets and lists, crossing things off as I go, and I feel less panicky than I’d expect.

But I’m sure that will come.

Some days I feel very overwhelmed. I can’t sleep. My stomach hurts. Other times I feel content, calm, relaxed. It’s a day-by-day, almost minute-by-minute flux . . . but I guess that’s how everyone feels before big occasions! Right now I’m focused on Katie and making her big day fantastic, and I know everything will come together beautifully despite some hiccups. All will be well.

As I’m wading into a pool of wedding and life madness, I’ve decided to take a wee little break from the blog. Though I’ve always written here because I enjoy it (and absolutely still do!), I feel guilty when I go days without posting . . . and I need to stem that guilt. I don’t like thinking I’m letting aspects of my life “slide” while I reorganize, regroup and adjust, but the truth is that I simply can’t keep up with everything right now.

To preserve the frayed edges of my sanity, I’m taking a vacation and will plan to return refreshed — probably in a week or two. I might not come back to posting five days a week at first, but we’ll see. I’ll write when I feel comfortable writing then retreat into a land of tulle, lace and moving boxes when I must.

Send your good thoughts! Your encouragement! Your wisdom! If you feel so inclined, send me a pumpkin spice latte! . . . Goodness knows I’m going to need all the caffeine I can get.

And I will definitely still see you on Instagram. I’ll be the one (finally) eating — and documenting — her feelings.

xoxo


The speech to end all speeches

Double cake
Double shower, but not a double wedding.


Less than 60 days until our wedding.

One month until I move.

And two weeks until my sister’s wedding.

It’s getting real now, friends.

Knowing my anxious self as I do, I feel like I should be panicking — or, at the very least, getting nervous — but an odd calm has seeped into my pores. Now that I’ve attended two bridal showers, my sister’s bachelorette party and am helping her put all the final touches on her big day at the end of this month, it’s finally hitting me: my sister’s getting married.

The best part of planning two weddings concurrently was probably that I had little time to ruminate on the fact that my baby sis will soon be a wife. After a lifetime of doing everything together, I think it’s only fitting that we got engaged on the same day and planned nuptials for the same season — though it hasn’t been without its complications at times. Still, planning weddings together was fun and, in many ways, helpful. Because there was no gap in experience, we could discuss vendors and venues and invitations in real time.

And now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty. I helped Katie coordinate her seating chart, designed her programs and invitations, will be going with her to make final decisions about decor on Sunday. And as her trusty maid of honor, I’m getting ready for the most crucial of all my assignments: my wedding speech. The toast. My moment in the spotlight with a microphone, when I’m supposed to get through some emotional words without sobbing like a lunatic.

Not likely.

I started a draft of this speech a few months ago, back when it seemed so far away . But now that we’re staring down her wedding date in two weeks, I’m realizing I really better get serious. And get cracking.

And as a writer, you know I’ve got to make it good.

I’m a little scared of this speech. When Katie first got engaged, I remember telling her I didn’t think I could speak at all — but realized I need to. I can’t just decide I’m not going to toast my baby sister and her new husband because I’m too emotional . . . and anyway, I’m doing better. I’ve processed what’s happening. I’m excited and at peace with the transitions, even if they won’t be completely smooth. (Nothing is completely smooth.)

So my speech. This epic speech. I want to be sweet and funny, thoughtful and celebratory, hopeful and endearing. I want her to feel loved and appreciated, and for Eric to feel welcomed and included. I know to be brief because no one likes a long-winded wedding speech, but I’m going to say what I want to say.

My goal is to somehow — through magic, caffeine, sorcery — distil into words what 25 years with my sister by my side have meant to me.

So, you know, no big deal.

Have you ever given an epic wedding speech? Do you have any tips or resources for me? I’m optimistic I can get through this relatively unscathed, but I’m going to have to drown my sorrows in wedding cake. It’s pretty much a necessity.


Sister bridal shower blow-out

Sisters


Have you ever attended a double bridal shower? If not, you totally should. It’s basically as fun and exciting and overwhelming as you’d imagine, plus chock-full of desserts and other sugary goodness! Though I doubt too many other people would be crazy enough to attempt something on this scale, we rocked it. Everything went beautifully.

I may have mentioned it, oh, 120 times, but my sister and I are both brides-to-be. Because our weddings are only six weeks apart, we thought it would be too much to ask our mutual friends and family to attend two showers in a very short time period. Also, my separate shower would have had to been planned for the time immediately before or after Katie’s wedding and, well, that was a recipe for chaos.

Two of our aunts organized and spearheaded this four-hour bonanza — and they were incredible. My aunt Jacki could go into event planning because she’s just. that. good. I’m not posting photos of them because I’m not entirely sure they’d be comfortable being on The Internetz, but trust me when I say that both ladies were fantastic (and are just all-around great people).

About 55 women attended on a rainy Saturday and I was truly delighted to see all of them. Though I get nervous in crowds and generally dislike being the center of attention, I knew I’d have to put aside my anxieties to focus on enjoying the day. And I did! Having so many of my favorite people in the same room at the same time was nothing short of awesome, and I was blown away by everyone’s kindness and generosity. Katie and I couldn’t have asked for a nicer event.

Also, I’m so excited that many of my good friends now know each other! And everyone knows Spencer. He arrived towards the end and was around to see some of the exciting cookware unveiled (like Le Creuset casserole and stock pot. Wahoo!). Having never attended a bridal shower, of course, I could see he was a little overwhelmed and unsure of the whole thing . . . but he got into the spirit!

And that’s enough yakking. It’s Wednesday — and that means photos, right? Eh, well, I guess I have a few. Here I am with my mom (left) and future mom-in-law — plus opening some gifts and generally doing what a Meg does best: eating cake and participating in all sorts of sugar-fueled socializing.


With Mom and Alex

Flower centerpieces

Le Creuset

With our quilt

Cake by Grandma

Cutting the cake

Electric knife

Family laughing

Napkins


Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.


Blinding me with science

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Einstein quote on our bookmark favors.


One of the wedding projects I’m most excited about has to be our table names.

Ever the classy geeks, Spence and I agreed early on that it would be fun — delightful, even! — to label our guest tables for famous writers and scientists instead of traditional numbers, an homage to our individual passions. I won’t unveil all my literature-themed choices just yet, but the physicists? Well, I’ll spoil a few of them.

If you’re anything like me, science remains a nebulous idea that brilliant minds ponder while I eat cupcakes and watch “Downton Abbey.” The fact that I’m marrying a physicist remains a source of hilarity, especially because I barely passed a chemistry class in high school. (Never made it to physics.) Our educational backgrounds vary wildly and are often entertaining topics of conversation, especially because my science-minded questions tend to go like this:

“So what is physics, exactly?”
“How big is the universe?”
“What’s the difference between ‘theoretical’ and ‘experimental’?”
“Is your work like ‘The Big Bang Theory’?” (Answer: yes and no.)

Because many of our guests may not be familiar with Robert Oppenheimer, Richard Feynman or James Clerk Maxwell (ain’t no shame in it), I’ve started crafting table tents to sit on the appropriately-named tables. There will be cards for the writers, too, but most of my choices — like William Shakespeare — should be familiar to friends and family.

The scientists, though? The scientists? Spencer’s hand-selected choices might as well be in a foreign language. Here’s a sentence I actually just typed, with help from Wikipedia:

“An American theoretical physicist who assisted in the construction of the atomic bomb, Richard Feynman is known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and the physics of super-fluidity of supercooled liquid helium.”

Um, whut?

Look, I know I’m not dumb. I’m an editor, a columnist — a well-read, frizzy-haired dynamo. But when it comes to anything scientific, I’m the one standing there scratching her head like a cartoon character.

I could fall down the Wikipedia rabbit hole all day, clicking on endless topics to sort out concepts others spend years studying . . . or, to simplify my life, I could just go ahead and pester my fiance about them.

He’s so cute when he tries to explain quantum mechanics to me.


State of the wedding, vol. 2

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We’re into double-digit days now, friends. In 93 days, I’ll be floating (and hopefully not tripping?) down the aisle to meet Spencer on the other side.

As far as wedding-related progress goes, I have to admit to feeling pret-ty good. Everyone I chat with about the wedding (which, let’s face it, is just about everybody because my brain is full of wedding things) is impressed with what we’ve accomplished with three months to go, though I know better than to get too cocky now. So many projects are last-minute by pure necessity: seating charts, flowers, escort cards. There will be much to do, y’all. Much.

But I’m just feeling really excited about it all. The nerves I expected to feel — especially about throwing a 200-person party — just . . . aren’t there. My OCD-like tendencies, particularly when it comes to spreadsheets and all things Google Drive, have really served me well. I don’t feel overwhelmed because I keep fastidious lists, and Spence and I have basically treated the planning process like a part-time job. Except minus, you know, any form of salary.

We’re offering the payment, that’s for sure.

It’s not all envelopes and arrangements, though. More than anything, I’ve just really enjoyed talking about the future with my soon-to-be husband — and tackling countless projects together. I don’t feel like our dinnertime conversations veer to wedding-planning all that much, actually . . . and I don’t say that in a braggy “look at us, so calm and collected!” way; it’s more in astonishment, I guess. I feel like we’re taking care of things gradually and they’re getting done gradually, so there’s no panic and chaos.

The panic and chaos might come. But maybe not.

So what’s the state of the wedding? Well, tomorrow I’ll attend a joint bridal shower with my sister — and I am ridiculously excited! My future mother-in-law flew in last night, and so many of our friends and family members will be getting together tomorrow for food and fun. I chose my dress weeks ago and can’t wait to see everyone. We’ve been talking about it so long, I actually can’t believe it’s here. My awesome aunts are throwing the shindig and invitations went out in June — where did the time go? The summer has flown.

Today, Spencer and I will be taking his mom out on the town to tackle all kinds of projects — including mailing our invitations! We finished them with the help of my mom and sister last week, and I’ve had them boxed and patiently waiting to be mailed. We’re driving down to lovely Loveville, Md., today because they have a special cancellation stamp if invitations are sent from their post office! And you know how I am with mail. That special stamp must be procured.

My first wedding dress fitting is Sunday. Since shedding 30 lbs., my dress is now four sizes too big. I’m a little nervous about how it will go, but I’m sure the talented ladies will make it fit even better than before. Now that I have the right red shoes, I can try it on with the proper footwear. Yay!

We’re also meeting with our awesome wedding coordinator/friend today to go over venue-related details like linens, day-of schedules and more. Spencer’s mom hasn’t seen our venue yet, being out-of-town, so I’m so excited for her to check it out! Plus, she’ll get a better visual of how everything will look — and go.

It’s a four-day weekend for me, y’all, and I’m so pumped. Let the fun begin!


Red shoe rankled

Disclaimer: this is a long post . . . about shoes. Grab a latte or duck out and save yourself while you can.


This July finds me a sweaty, red-faced bride . . . on a continued hunt for red shoes.

From the earliest stages of wedding planning, I’ve been specific about one aspect of my “vision”: that on my wedding day, I would glide (or, um, hobble. Whichever) to my fiance in a tea-length dress and red heels. When I found the perfect gown without too much trouble, I figured — naively, perhaps — that the shoes would follow suit. I’m as picky about my feet as the next woman, I’m sure, but I’m not a shoe hoarder . . . nor someone who typically has a hard time finding shoes.

But.

rsvp shilaThese heels, friends. These elusive, wacky, unknown and mysterious red heels. I’ve shopped in-person, I’ve shopped online, I’ve prowled the dustiest corners of eBay and Amazon and DSW and, lately, Zappos — where today’s selection originates. I actually ordered one pair of red heels on clearance directly from David’s Bridal, but losing weight has meant losing weight everywhere . . . and those heels no longer fit. I tried padding them with special inserts but, even if the slack in back could be taken up, the peep-toe — though adorable! — pinches my tootsies. Big time.

Of the many aspects of the wedding day we have to finalize, finding these dumb shoes is what’s making me the cuh-raziest. I have my first dress fitting in three weeks and am under orders to have my shoes with me. Because I’m wearing a shorter dress, though, I figure I won’t have the length issue many other brides do; as someone on the petite side, I know all about garments that run too long. So as long as I have a pair of heels with me, that should be fine, right?

Eh. Don’t mind me, over here mumbling nervously to myself.

Regardless of whether I will have the shoes in question for the fitting, I need to make a decision and check this off my list. I am going batty looking for red heels, friends, and while it was a fun little hunt at first, I’m starting to get nervous and frustrated. I’ve taken to bridal message boards for recommendations; I’ve badgered friends and bloggers for the origin of their own wedding shoes. I’ve made a giant pest of myself — all in the name of heels! — and it needs to stop.

So maybe that’s where you come in.

If I wasn’t so OCD, maybe I wouldn’t be in a blind panic about shoes right now. But being

a) a woman;
b) a woman who has attended many formal events; and
c) a woman who has attended many formal events and had her feet kill her,

I’m serious about finding shoes I can actually wear. Given that I’ll be on my feet for a good six hours or more on November 10, I’m not playing around. I don’t want to be thinking about how much my feet hurt in my wedding day. Friends have recommended doing the flip-flop thing for the reception, but I’m just not down with the idea. Everyone will see my feet. No flip-flops. No going barefoot. I am toying with the idea of getting a red flat to wear in case of emergencies, but that’s another thought (and another post). I want to do this thing right.

Like so many blushing brides-to-be (do any of us actually blush?), I’ve envisioned a certain heel — maybe satin, perhaps studded with rhinestones — that remains elusive. I have an idea of this shoe, but this shoe does not seem to exist. (Or if it does, it’s way out of my budget.) As money is definitely a factor, I need to stay below $100. Because I’m a klutz and will be nervous, the heel can’t be too high. I would love a slingback, if possible, because a strap will make me feel more comfortable, and I favor satin styles rather than a leather or patent-leather look. And they must be red, natch.

After hours (hours!) of searching online and in-store, I’ve made my top three choices.

red shoes

1. Coloriffics Devine in Red, $54.45, Zappos
2. Bouquets Dakota in Red Satin, $55.99, Zappos
3. rsvp Shila in Red, $51.99, Zappos


So. Since the prices are all comparable, we can go ahead and say cost is not a factor here.

So which one?

I’ll start by saying right away that shoe No. 3 is my favorite. I love the satin look, the red bow, the not-too-high heel and the peep-toe. On my epic list of “wants,” this shoe meets everything except the strap to hold it in place more securely. So what’s my hold-up? It’s very similar to the pair I already have from David’s Bridal that do not fit at all (and they’re also a size 8). Maybe that’s totally unfair prejudice against this shoe but, you know, there it is. That fear is what’s holding me back from committing.

Shoe No. 2 lights up my life for the same reasons as No. 3 but without the bow, which isn’t necessarily a problem. I like the ruching detail, and it looks like a sturdy heel that I can walk in without busting my face on tile. Don’t underestimate my ability to bust my face, friends; I somehow managed to bruise a toe against the coffee table simply by standing up Sunday. Like, I don’t even know what happened. One minute I’m walking toward the kitchen; the next I’m seething by a chair, moaning and fighting back stunned tears over a random toe injury.

These things happen.

And this brings us to Shoe No. 1. I might have gone ahead and taken the plunge with these babies except for the buckle detail. It has the strap, a sturdy base and a bow, but the heel is actually 5 inches (whoa!) and I’m not sure about a buckle with my lace-and-applique wedding dress. Will it look weird? Out of place?

Am I just totally going crazy at this point?

Because Zappos offers free shipping both ways, I’m seriously thinking about ordering my two favorite pairs, trying them out and returning the loser. I hate returning things (don’t ask why — it’s not like it’s a huge deal to go to the post office, where I practically live), so I’m coaching myself with the mantra that I will return at least one pair no matter what and not waste my money, as is usually the case.

No number of blog posts will bring me any closer to a decision until I actually get these on my feet, right?

So which two should it be? Now accepting votes. And assurances. And if you have any recommendations for other sites where I could drive myself totally nuts looking at satin uppers and widths and peep-toes, please share. Any thoughts on comfy heels or brands? Sites you love? Medicinal cures for shoe-sanity?

Send help. And diet soda.


EDITED TO ADD on 7/18: Thank you all so much for your feedback! Based on your responses, I went ahead and ordered No. 2 and No. 3 — just waiting for my shiny package to arrive. I’ll post a follow-up after I get these on my feet, and will definitely share the winner.