State of the wedding

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Initials carved out of vintage books. Can there by anything cooler for a literature- and science-themed wedding?

As of tomorrow, we’re exactly four months from the big day. Items are being moved. A first song has been selected. Jewelry has been borrowed. I’m getting used to the “W” word — wife — and actually accidentally called Spencer my husband recently. Husband! Six months ago, I could barely say “fiance” without giggling. Though Spence and I had discussed marriage, obviously, I felt like daydreaming too much about being a fiancee myself would somehow jinx things.

Like they could be jinxed.

So: 123 days. I’m starting to get nervous, as expected — mostly about the logistics of coordinating so many people on such an important weekend. But I’m mostly excited. We’re more than halfway through the planning process . . . I mean, can you believe I got engaged more than seven months ago?! (Maybe you can. Sorry if I’ve been exceedingly annoying.) I knew the whole experience would fly by and . . . yes, it’s definitely flown.

Next on our giant, sparkly “To Do” list is to get our invitations addressed. They’re already stamped, both with the calligraphy address stamp and the postage stamps, but I haven’t been pushing hard to start addressing them with guests’ information because . . . I love mail. You know this about me. I’m really, truly looking forward to mailing these babies when my soon-to-be mother-in-law is in town next month (we’re even driving to a specially-named town because, you know, it’s the little things).

After the invitations are sent? Well, hopefully the RSVPs will pour in. I think I’ll feel calmer about the 220-plus invited guests when I have a better idea of who will actually be attending our nuptials. It’s hard to visualize everyone being at the same place at the same time, but that’s also the most exciting part! I’m enamored with the idea of my friends meeting my extended family and Spencer’s awesome family and everyone just hanging out and eating cupcakes together. That’s what life is really all about.

And I’ll totally be eating cupcakes too, y’all. No doubt about it.

Spence and I have been tackling various decor projects recently, which has been one of my favorite parts. Because we had 11 months to make decisions, we’ve been accumulating pieces — flasks, glassware, book-themed goods — over time. Those book letters at top are the latest acquisition. With my mom’s encouragement, I felt brave enough to turn the “S” from a textured purple to a rich red. As someone who admires craftiness and creativity but lacks the ability to bring her schemes to life, I’m so happy with how it turned out! And I know just where we’ll put them.

We have tons to do, no doubt. But as we get closer to both my sister’s wedding and mine, we’re also getting into the really fun, celebratory stuff. And I can’t wait.


Accepting with pleasure

RSVPing


In today’s edition of things are becoming real: my sister’s wedding invitation arrived last week.

I shouldn’t have felt as simultaneously excited/nervous/teary-eyed/crazed as I did given that I personally helped create them. I mean, we spent hours designing and typing and printing and stamping (with a rubber stamp) and stamping (with postage stamps), so the arrival of that little blue envelope? Hardly a shock. I actually addressed my own invitation, for goodness’ sake.

But something crazy happened when I arrived at my soon-to-be home and found that piece of mail on the counter. I viewed it with fresh eyes, oohing over the details with Spencer before I untucked the RSVP card and dug around for a Sharpie. Writing our names on that card — Ms. Megan ABC and Mr. Spencer XYZ — felt very official. It’s one of the last times I’ll write our names separately.

And, you know, I was RSVPing. To my little sister’s wedding. Because she’s getting married — in three months.

Since we both got engaged last December, I think I’ve held myself together well. Three years apart, my sister and I have been close since the day she made her grand entrance into the world. We may have had our growing pains over the years, as all siblings do, but I fully expected myself to come unhinged at the thought of my sister tying the knot. Because we’re planning weddings simultaneously and both preparing to leave home for the first time, I feared my level of unhinged-ness would reach a critical point.

But it hasn’t. I’m okay. Better than okay, even — and really trying to embrace this transition.

Transition. I’m learning to both love and hate that word.

To have been a thin wall away from your sister, best friend and confidante for 24 years is a pretty amazing thing. Though I’ll admit to having my nervous/sad moments about our impending nuptials (and thus our separation), I’ve noticed a distinct change lately . . . and I can only describe it as hope. Though I’ve always been excited to marry Spence, don’t get me wrong, that joy was coupled with anxiety about all the other upcoming changes.

Changing households.
Changing my address.
Changing my name.

But less than six months from my big day, I’m trending far more toward excitement. I’m thinking less of what I’m “losing” and more of what I’m gaining. Just picturing Spence at the end of the aisle on our wedding day is enough to activate a wellspring of tears. I genuinely can’t wait.

And the tears at Katie’s wedding? Oh, they will fall. I will be as emotional as I’m ever likely to be, trying to muddle my way through some sort of maid of honor speech, and it will both be a beautiful and a hard thing.

But it will be more beautiful than hard, I know. In time, our families will form new traditions. Make new memories. Have new shared interests. I look forward to the new dimensions we’ll share as my sister and I enter the truly “adult” portions of our lives . . . though there will be tough days and great days in equal measure.

I do accept. With pleasure.


A very vintage wedding

Our wedding is going to be one pearl-studded, vintage-inspired day of science and literature and love.

And since weddings are, for the most part, a shining beacon of tradition, I’ve been going through vintage family photos. I started out curiously, just wanting to see how my mom, grandmothers and great-grandmothers dressed, but then a comment at A Practical Wedding got me thinking about how beautiful a display of our family wedding photos would be at the reception.

Great grandparentsI have my maternal great-grandparents’ photos from the 1930s (one set is pictured at right). I have my grandparents’ photos from the 1950s. I have my parents’ portrait from 1980 and, soon, my fiance’s parents’ photo from the 1970s. Seeing our families through the ages, making a pledge so important that we wouldn’t be here without it, has added extra weight to our day. Come November, we’ll be adding another branch on the family tree — and, in due course, welcoming children who will someday peer at our wedding photo.

The women in my family all dressed differently on their wedding days. I mean, check out Great Grandma’s rockin’ hat up there. My other great-grandmother wore a very long veil, while my mom and grandma chose shorter ones. My paternal grandmother looked radiant and sophisticated in a sleek ensemble; my maternal grandmother wore a poofy, lacy gown. Similar eras, different choices.

How do I want to look on my wedding day? I ask myself and daydream, staring at Etsy-generated favorites lists of jewelry and pouring through websites of shoes, hairstyles, makeup tips. With my vintage-inspired dress, I know I want the red lip/red shoe look. I want to look sophisticated, too, but still playful and fun. And I just want to feel . . . like me. Like me on my wedding day.

Can there be a more surreal experience?

Regardless of whether the women in my family chose short or long, lace or taffeta, there is, of course, a theme in each portrait: they’re beaming. Smiling with their lips and their eyes. And in the photo I have of my paternal grandparents, their beautiful tiered cake sits ready to be sliced on a table. Maw Maw is looking right at the camera while my grandfather, a man who sadly passed when I was young, is looking at her.

I could do with a photo like that, too.


I love to cry at weddings

Flora Corner


“I love to cry at weddings! Oh, how I love to cry at weddings . . .”

As a high school theater nerd, I remember our production of “Sweet Charity” and one of its iconic songs. I played a “dancer” (dance hall dancer, that is . . .) in the show, and “I Love To Cry At Weddings” was a big final number. I remember liking the catchy tune, but the lyrics didn’t really connect with me. At 17, I hadn’t been to many weddings — but I couldn’t fathom why anyone would actually shed tears at one. I mean, aren’t those happy times?

But, you know, I get it now. It’s an ending; it’s a beginning. It’s a promise and a confirmation wrapped into one emotional package. When our friends Michael and Bethany tied the knot last weekend, I was sniffing and stifling my happy sobs in the sunshine. After nine years together, the high school sweethearts made the big leap — and their happiness was absolutely contagious. They were literally beaming.


Mike and Bethany


It was such a happy day. In addition to being over-the-moon excited for them, it was so nice to have so many friends gathered in one place. That’s the part I’m most looking forward to about our own big day: having our nearest and dearest in the same room, perhaps for the first and only time. There has to be something magical about looking out at a space filled with so many people you care about.

Plus, it’s funny to imagine my coworkers dancing with my friends dancing with Spencer’s family dancing with my grandparents. Just: worlds colliding.

The details of the day are what I most love to capture — and there were plenty to document. As they were married on May 4 and are “Star Wars” fans, “May the Fourth Be With You” was a recurring theme. We even enjoyed some Darth Vader-shaped cookies as appetizers before it was time for barbeque . . .


Darth Vader cookies

May the 4th

Barbeque


The whole day was warm and sun-drenched and beautiful, and I just felt so lighthearted. It’s a great change from the mire and muck of the winter. The wedding felt like the official kick-off to spring — and “wedding season,” if others’ Instagram photos are any indication. We definitely have enough celebrations on the docket. I’m thrilled.

I really do love to cry at weddings. In our whacky, unpredictable world, I don’t think I could tire of celebrating happiness.


Ceremony

Flowers for ceremony

Sugar flower

A toast

Wedding jump

Games

Birdseed


Exchanging vows with a bark: ‘Wedding Dogs’

Wedding Dogs


After getting engaged, I was amazed by how many people asked one interesting question: was my dog going to walk with me down the aisle?

For some dog lovers, the idea of tying the knot without their four-legged friend is impossible. Whether their canine is standing in as “best dog” or simply soaking it in from the audience, our pups — our confidantes; our buddies — are members of the family. And they want in on the action.

Katie Preston Toepfer and Sam Stall penned Wedding Dogs: A Celebration of Holy Muttrimony — and it’s just as cute as you’d expect. A collection of photos from weddings across the country, each spread features photos of a canine collaborator along with the story of the wedding they attended. With the Humane Society estimating that approximately 78.2 million owned dogs take up residence in more than 39 percent of U.S. households, I’m surprised we don’t see more pups as ringbearers.

In the introduction, Toepfer writes, “For those who know the joy of being loved unconditionally, who know what it’s like to be greeted each day by a flurry of fur-spinning excitement, this book is for you. Whether or not your precious four-legged friend was a part of your wedding day, or even if you’re yet to tie the knot, I hope this book will be a source of laughter, joy, and inspiration.”

Though we don’t plan to include Rudy, my family’s beloved golden retriever, in our nuptials, Spencer and I often joke about how he would react to being coerced into walking down an aisle. Rudy has a mind of his own — and the lure of so many people around to throw him a ball would be too distracting. There’s really no telling what he would do.

And he was totally not interested in other dogs’ fifteen minutes of fame with this publication.


Rudy and book


In Wedding Dogs, some of my favorite spreads featured Lexi and Hayden, two Labrador retrievers who wore flowers around their necks, and a trio of pugs included on their owners’ wedding announcements (they were banned from the formal ceremony!). There are so many great photos, though, and the stories are equally precious. Written in vignettes, it’s the sort of book you can easily “ooh” and “ahh” over on a lazy afternoon, soaking up the gorgeous scenery and equally heartwarming pup stories.

So grab a glass of champagne and celebrate in spirit! These well-mannered pups — and their creative owners — deserve a toast.


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Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for my honest discussion


Engagement photos


Photography is so important to us.

Before we were even engaged, I attended a bridal show with my sister and a friend (whose wedding is next weekend — yay!) at the lovely Flora Corner Farm. There we immediately met Maggie and Betty, the dynamic mother-daughter duo behind Birds of a Feather Photography. I was so enamored with their soft, vintage-inspired photos and sweet personalities that I immediately came home to show Spencer their work. I felt a little silly, being as we weren’t “there” yet, but I just couldn’t contain my enthusiasm.

It was October, a good two months before he proposed, but we’d quietly gone to “check out” rings the weekend before. I figured it was the first of a few trips, maybe, and that we’d talk a few more times before really broaching the subject of marriage again. I got a funny, puckered look on my face every time we talked rings . . . mostly because I was afraid he wasn’t thinking rings.

But he was.

Unbeknownst to me, Spencer returned to the store days later for the ring I loved. We got engaged on December 16 — but you know that already! Though I’d vowed to wait until after Christmas to really start wedding planning, I couldn’t help myself. I was so excited and eager to start researching venues and colors and dresses, but I knew my first mission: getting in touch with Maggie and Betty.



We met with them just after the New Year, our first “official” wedding-related meeting, and they were the first vendor we booked. We signed our contract with them before we even officially had a venue . . . or a date, really. I just knew their photography spoke to me, and we had to have them. Thankfully, Spence felt the same!

Now just 198 days from the wedding (!), things are shaping up. And feeling really real. We had our official engagement shoot with the ladies back on a brisk day in March, and I was so thrilled with the whole thing that I barely felt chilled. I talked about choosing to keep my hair wavy, and that decision that still makes me smile. It was just a really fun evening!

And after seeing the results, I’m so thrilled we chose Birds of a Feather. The images are exactly what I was hoping for — ethereal; lovely; serene — and if these were so awesome, I cannot wait to see the pictures from our wedding! Though these expenses can be pretty intense, I know we will never regret a single cent spent on photography.

Pictures capture emotion, devotion, love. They encapsulate a day and preserve it in a way our memories, ever faulty, cannot. I’ve never heard someone lament, “Gee, I wish I didn’t have so many pictures of this once-in-a-lifetime event.” Because seriously? You can’t have too many pictures. There is a balance between documenting a day and really savoring it, but that’s why we’ve hired professionals. They will help us remember it forever . . . even as it passes in the blink of an eye.

Here are a few of my favorites from our engagement shoot, held at Jefferson Patterson Park in St. Leonard, Md. If you ever find yourself in Southern Maryland, first of all? Um, call me. We’ll go crab pickin’. And then I’ll direct you to this place, because it. is. gorgeous.


Engaged1


The big dress acquisition

The Dress


I had a vision.

Though I haven’t gone into wedding planning with too many preconceived notions (whatever my Pinterest board would suggest), I did know what sort of wedding dress I wanted. Watching countless episodes of “Say Yes To the Dress” and simply admiring others’ gowns from afar, I knew which trends I liked — and which made me cringe.

I’m a rather simple lady — with simple tastes. When others asked what sort of look I was going for, I answered the same way: something vintage-inspired, tea-length and fun. Something unique — something with character. I didn’t want anything strapless, gaudy or sparkly. No rhinestones. No mermaids. No long trains. It’s not a slight against anyone who likes those looks, of course; I just knew it wasn’t me. And you’re supposed to feel like yourself on your wedding day, right?

Right.

My decision to go dress shopping was a little spur-of-the-moment. I’d spent days pouring over styles from a designer I couldn’t afford, and was generally making myself anxious about the whole experience. I was worried I wouldn’t like the way I looked, would cringe at my reflection. I was worried I’d fall in love with a dress that would take a hammer to my budget — or worse, that I wouldn’t find anything at all.

Dresses don’t always bring out the best in people.

Scared I wouldn’t find what I was looking for at a local chain salon, I’d already contacted designers about custom-making a gown. (Crazy, I know.) But after my sister had success finding her dress a few weeks before, we returned to the same place “just to look.”

And I came home with a dress.

Well, metaphorically — that baby had to be ordered! But after trying on five gowns in varying shapes and styles, I knew the second one was It. That little number had many of the elements I was seeking, though with a few modifications . . . and I’d tell you what they are, but I can’t risk Spencer popping in here! I’m trying to keep the full details under wraps for as long as possible, though I am bursting with them.

What I can divulge? It is vintage-inspired, and it is tea-length. Those were my two biggest requirements. Though I did try on a long dress with gorgeous applique, I really couldn’t picture myself in a gown with a train. And it was heavy. I was tempted for a minute there — really tempted — but I couldn’t commit. The flowing dress just didn’t feel true to my vision.

And I have a vision.


Meg in veil


The wedding itself is taking shape. The hardest part has been combining all of our ideas, thoughts and inspirations into one cohesive plan. After settling on literature/science, the other elements have started falling into place. Spencer’s awesome cousin, Katie, one of my bridesmaids, is a talented artist . . . and she will be designing something so cool for us. We’ve met with other vendors in recent weeks, and will be speaking with our first potential officiant this weekend. It’s exciting and a teensy bit stressful . . . but mostly exciting! And since my wedding coordinator has also become a friend, Jen is helping me stay organized and calm.

Calm is good.

Though the dress was supposed to take months to arrive, I was called to pick it up this week. We ducked into the salon so I could try it on again — and I was relieved to discover I still loved it. It was strange to be there, standing barefoot in this gown — and to feel like “a bride” in the middle of my hometown. Everyone says that moment is one of the moments: the point at which you realize, Hey — I’m getting married.

That was true for me. Putting on a veil, tottering on too-high heels before a floor-length mirror . . . yes, I felt it. Felt that “bride” feeling, however we define it.

But the truth is that I’ve felt that “we’re getting married!” surge of excitement and adrenaline for months — and I feel it every time I look at my guy.

The pretty dress? Just the icing on our (wedding) cake.


P.S. Though I am planning on wearing red heels at the wedding, those heels are not my heels. So, you know, don’t get freaked about the bows.