Monday, November 10, 2014

No He Just Did Not

I'm slipping in and out of denial about wedding planning. We've reached that comfortable place where the major work is done, but the details need attention. Or we could go to a movie...or anything besides handling the details.

At the moment, wedding plans have taken a back seat to putting the new place together. Will is already living there. I am gradually moving my things over. I've always known he is a minimalist, but he said something to me the other day that shocked my womanly senses.

We were discussing how I'm going to move and organize my purses. I was thinking maybe he'd build a cubby in the closet -or something- to accommodate the load. Then he said these incredible words that take a woman's breath away, "You could get rid of a few."


In moments like that there's really only one thing to do. Let your expression display full shock and appall. Then move all of your purses over anyway. I mean, come on.

I am half kidding. Of course I will organize the purses so as not be a nuissance. But ain't nobody giving up a collection of bags collected from San Francisco to New York. Mmmkay.

It is hard figuring out where things will go, but I'm creative. We'll find a way to make it work for both of us.

There really seem to be four things I collect in abundance:
--DVDs from less-technologically-advanced days

I have found several minimalist storage solutions thanks to an unhealthy amount of time on Pinterest. Let us browse the leading ideas.

DVD Organization
Seriously, my mind is blown. It is hard to throw away my DVD cases (read: hoarder), but this is so much simpler. I can actually find my DVDs now.

Ottoman Filing System
Again, wow. This looks great at the foot of the spare bed. And I can keep my papers present but hidden.

Bag Storage
Brilliant! You can use shower hooks to hang your bags. I will be trying this. 

I believe this clutch organizer was intended to hold wine bottles. Perfection!

Shoe Storage

Thanks to Ikea and Will's mechanically abilities I already have a shoe cabinet. Now, if I could just get a second shoe cabinet... ;)

Here's to joining a minimalist and a pack rat while (mostly) keeping the peace. I think it's going to be good for both of us. I'm learning that I really could make better use of space.

Friday, October 24, 2014

My Will

There is one person in the world whose eyes quiet me. One man who untangles my spirit by sitting contently and taking in every word I say. This man is brilliant, but he doesn't force his thoughts on me. He waits for me to find my way, and he walks with me so sweetly. Patiently. Shedding light naturally, without forcing a thing.

I am so blessed with this man. It's amazing to admire someone so incredible. And to have his love in return.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Holidays, Compromise, and Denial

You know those families that have holiday traditions and can't stand to be apart for any major festivities? I have one of those. And it's amazing.

One of the things I am a little anxious about is getting married and learning to share holidays. Make no mistake, I love my fiance's family. From the very beginning they have been wonderful. But...I'm trying to change my traditions at age 31. It's kind of tough! My family has a lot of holiday traditions that I am attached to. It's hard to imagine being married and deciding where to go for the holidays.

I honestly had put that thought out of my mind since we're only engaged. I mean, engaged people don't have to share holidays. Right? *nervous pause* RIGHT?!

Then I got an invitation to Will's family Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving day. The day my family always gets together.

*record scratch*

And at first I was like...

Then this...
Then this...

I guess somewhere in my mind I had blocked out the whole holiday compromising part of marriage. Well, because I thought I had another year to come to grips with it. Then it hit me in the face. Hard.

And I realized one of those adult truths that revives you from shock and nestles you into a warm, comforting hug: My family is about to get a lot bigger. And that's a good thing. All of these people that I've gotten to know over the last year and a half are going to officially be my people, too. Not just Will's people. My people. And I am really grateful about that, when I think about it.

So finally I was like...

As silly as this whole process must seem, it can be hard to change your traditions at a certain age. But I am looking forward to the traditions I'll share with Will's family and eventually with Will and our own family. So I'm going to try to, you know, open my mind a little and do Thanksgiving a new way this year. Here's to new family members and a new way of doing holidays. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Psychology of Happy Marriages

When i was in college, one of my favorite psychology professors would give life lessons based on psychological studies as a reward for being on point as a class. I loved it. One week he spoke about qualities of happy and unhappy marriages. According to studies, the number one reason couples fight is money. 

That fact has stuck with me over the years. I've already discussed that Will and I went through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU) course together. Finances have been part of our discussion for a while. We want to keep ourselves on the same page and be positioned for a strong future.

Recently one of my friends got involved with Primerica. I'd honestly never heard of the company before my friend introduced me to it. (He actually said that Dave Ramsey got started with this company and uses some of its ideas in his own work.) My friend offered to do a free Financial Needs Analysis for us. You know, I really thought I was decent at finances, but that whole experience challenged my thinking. 

Let me pause here to say I really encourage couples to take advantage of financial education. If the number one reason you're going to fight is going to be money, be proactive by increasing your understanding of finances and making a plan to deal with it together. One thing we've come to realize is that we do not share a brain. We have to get on the same page by reading and talking things out. Otherwise, what happens? We end up making assumptions. And you know what they say about assumptions, right?

There is obviously no one company that has all the answers. As much as we were able to take from Dave Ramsey, Primerica still taught us new concepts. I'm sure there are other gurus and companies that will teach us more. So I'm not pushing any one product at you, I'm really just saying one of the best decisions we have made so far is studying finances together. Ok, back to the story.

In FPU your main focus is getting out of debt. There are other steps, sure, but you focus every spare penny to the goal of being debt-free. When we went for our Financial Needs Analysis with Primerica they talked to us about the balance between getting out of debt and using the time value of money to build savings for retirement. If you'd like to test this concept, use this calculator

Basically, the whole concept is that when you invest money and draw a return on that investment, the total available to you will grow the longer you leave the money alone. So if I invest $200/month over 10 years at a 5% rate of return I will have contributed $24,000 and gained a $7,700 return for a total of $31,700. (I'm rounding here.) On the other hand, if I were to make the same contribution, stop contributing at all after ten years, then pull the money out after 20 years have elapsed guess what my total would be? Around $51,600! 

Holy. Crap.

I realize that I'm a little old to be saying this, but I have neglected my 401k. I'll admit it. I wanted to free myself of debt before I really focused on it. And I have a graduate degree in business. Mmmkay. I admit it. I still did not heed a concept I already knew about - the time value of money. 

Again I say, I really encourage people to take advantage of financial education. Will and I are both graduate educated and still we have a long way to go in learning to deal with money. This is not a problem specific to any type of person - we all have it; however, it's amazing what you learn and how it impacts the next 30 years of your life...and your satisfaction within your marriage. They say that women naturally seek security (savings, retirement) while men are naturally more comfortable with risk (investment) and decreased savings. When you know you're prone to disagree, it's time to get educated and find your path together. 

Fun marriage articles:

Moving And Creating A Home

After getting pre-approved for a home loan, searching the local market, feeling overwhelmed, and ultimately renting a sweet little place -- Will and I officially have our future home! And we're so relieved we didn't buy...because we don't have to remodel ANYTHING!

Ain't nobody got time to plan a wedding, a honeymoon, and a house. That's all I'm saying.

Last weekend we moved Will in. You know, men and women really view moving differently. I had about two bags full of cleaner and sponges, etc. He took one look at the place and said, "It looks clean to me. What? You want to wipe down the counters?"

Oh, honey. That's cute. Real cute.

He had no idea what he was in for. Sure, he knew that I'm Type A. But there's a difference between knowing and fully experiencing that little trait. After a day and a half of wiping down every cabinet and every surface, not to mention scrubbing the floors, he really grasped the force of me being Type A.

Now that all of his local items are in our new place we get to go raid our storage spaces. Yep, storage spaces. We've each rented rooms from people who had common rooms filled already. That means I finally get to dig out my couch and desk! I'm extremely excited. Of course, it will change the bachelor pad vibe Will has going on at the moment, but surely he can still find room for his guitars and road bikes if I inch my furniture in there just a...lot. There's a lot of furniture to move. *gulp*

It is hilarious watching his reaction to things I bring over since it is his place for now.

from How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days

The other day I brought two under-the-sink organizers. He looked confused. He turned his head sideways and asked, "What do we need those for?" This process is going to be hilarious. Men and women definitely do not fashion a space in the same way. It should be quite entertaining for the two us to compromise on how we use the space.

It's exciting to be creating our future home. He definitely gets the sweet end of the deal since he'll live there now without me. But that's a relief in itself. I have a lot of stuff. I'm kind of like Barbie, I travel with accessories. Having time to gradually weed through my things is nice. It doesn't force me to do it all at once. Of course, he also gets to experience the glory our new king-size memory foam bed every night. What?! That part does make me jealous. What can I say? I'm old school. I'd prefer not to live together until we're married. There's something sweet about it.

Here's to the next round of moving!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Favorite Invitation Discovery

I am a minimalist...well, if you exclude the massive amounts I somehow fit into one purse. I digress. In terms of general style, I like one object that functions in multiple ways.

One thing that bothered me about wedding invitations is the sheer bulk. You have an invite, a response card, and an envelope.

Seriously. Ain't NOBODY got time for that mess. Especially during wedding planning. My time is the most rationed treasure I own right now. There's no way I want to spend time arranging multiple items in an envelope.

Enter the send and seal invite, my sweetest find lately.

That's my design pick from Ann's Bridal Bargains. There are other options out there, of course. Do you see the design? That's one well-designed, continuous piece of paper. It folds into an envelop shape, and they print your returns address for you. All you have to do is fold, seal, and write the recipient's mailing address on the front. What?! If that's not enough, the response card is at the bottom of the invitation, and your address is printed on the opposite side so your potential guest cuts the response card off, slaps a stamp on, and sends their answer back as a postcard.

I am in paper love. This takes so many steps out in terms of having to stuff an envelope and write or stamp your own address in place, etc. I was PUMPED to find this option.

I feel like I'm peddling a product, but truly I'm just happy that there's such a simple invitation out there. I caught mine on sale for about $1.11 per invite, including shipping. I seemed to find tons of invites that were, at the cheapest, $1 but required that you purchase a separate response card. Again...ain't nobody got time for that.

Here's to good design. I am so thankful the world has smarty pants designers to think of such things.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Honeymoon Destination Reveal

Every time wedding planning gets stressful Will wraps me up in a hug and reassures me that we'll have a great honeymoon. The honeymoon has become our solace. And it's not just about wedding stress. As introverts we're a little nervous about some aspects of the wedding, but the honeymoon is our time. It's a personal celebration of the life we're beginning together. So when things get tough, he always reminds me that we have an amazing trip to look forward to.

 The simple thought of us getting away together calms my nerves. I have always known, wherever we go, it'll be the best time - because I'll be with my amazing husband. :)

Today Will really blew my mind. He booked our honeymoon. And I would've been happy with a cabin a couple of hours from here. But no. He pulled out all the stops. He booked a trip to...ITALY! We'll see Rome, Florence, and Venice over nine days!

WHAT?! Italy?! I would go anywhere with him and be happy...and now we're going to Italy? Yeah, I think I'm radiating at this point.

Of course, in true Type A fashion, I have started researching travel insurance, conversational Italian, and how to pack (read: stuff to the point the seams scream for mercy) a carry-on. It's going to be a wonderful experience - especially with my architect. I'm sure Italy is a different sight when you're traveling with a man who falls in love with buildings.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Blur of Events

It's funny how wedding planning has become a roller coaster. After pushing up the incline of finding a venue (2 breakdowns), a wedding dress (0 breakdowns), bridesmaids' dresses (0 breakdowns), a photographer (0 breakdowns), and a videographer (0 breakdowns). I felt like I'd found a resting place. I could safely turn my attention to, well, just living again. But wedding plans always find a way of pushing forward just when you think you've earned a break.

My family came up for a bridal show, which reignited planning.
My grandfather came to supervise his girls! He is a hoot. All of my Mom's sisters and my cousin also joined me. I have to say, it was nice to see everyone! 

But...I don't think I was prepared for the bridal show itself. We wanted to meet vendors. Oh, did we meet vendors. They all wanted contact information in exchange for the chance to win  shiny prizes. Translation: I am now the queen of spam mail. And I didn't win any shiny prizes.

All things considered, it was a good experience. It's nice to have family around to discuss ideas. We were able to see several great decor ideas that would be easy DIY projects. The venue we've booked is gorgeous already. We will have minimal decorations to allow it to shine; however, I have been looking for centerpiece ideas.

One of my favorite looks so far is glass with gold accents. Will has been recruited to help with this project. We're just beginning to experiment with patterns and textures so I'll have to post again once we've had time to pay around with this style a little more.

I made a Dollar Tree run and picked up several $1 glass vases. After taping off a few sections, Will spray painted the exposed glass gold. This picture doesn't do the project justice. (Oh, and those are just flowers I could find quickly - not wedding flowers. They are a little sloppy.) The vases look great. The gold is neutral enough to fade into the background when flowers are added; it's also flashy enough to add a nice bit of detail to the look.

My next project will be adding texture to the look. I have applied puffy paint to one vase. After it dries I'll spray paint the puffy paint gold.

Here's to easy DIY projects! More to come later.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Oversimplified Accounting For The Engaged

A couple of years ago, one of my friends got married. It was a beautiful wedding because these two people are so incredibly in love. It exudes.

A few months after that November wedding, I got an angry text from my friend. Since they were married in the previous year, they had to file their taxes as a married couple. It turns out, that meant a drastic change in their tax return. Rather than getting a refund, as they had in the past, they had to pay.

Fast forward to today. Since I've gotten engaged and started planning our January wedding, people have told me to have a December wedding so we can enjoy the tax benefits. Huh?

After hearing conflicting information for about a month I finally made an appointment with my accountant. I took our pay information so he could give me a final answer: Will we be likely to pay more or are we safe to expect a return?

I learned that every situation is different. He told me that there are tax breaks for couples who get married when there's a stay at home spouse, for instance. But Will and I are both earners so we would actually have ended up paying up if we had gotten married at the end of the year.

I'm no tax expert. At all. But I do advise you to see how marriage will impact your taxes for your own sanity. My friend and her husband had a road bump in their first six months of marriage because of taxes. They were fine in the end, but it was a very stressful realization in the moment.

Since money is the number one reason couples fight, I think it's good to not only look over things like taxes while you're engaged but also to talk about personal finance. As far as taxes go, it'd be easier to know you're going to pay in and save accordingly than to be faced with that surprise.

Talking about personal finance is a beast in itself. I have another friend who didn't realize her fiance was in credit card debt until they started marriage counseling. That's also a tough surprise. (You really learn a lot about how to handle these things when you're the last single friend.)

Will and I watched the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University series together. We outlined our personal debt and monthly budgets so we could understand the other person's situation and money philosophy. It's obvious now that he's going to be the saver, and I'm going to be the spreadsheet nerd who bugs her accountant with questions. :) I'm so glad we have taken the time to understand how we want to move forward together.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Coming Together or Falling Apart

I need to be real for a second. Planning a wedding is stressful. Not just to the couple, to the family. Not just to the family, to the friends. It's a cluster of confusion and tension. The trick is figuring that out before you let your troubled mind get the best of you and strain relationships.

Let me make the case in a simple point.

I have the sweetest mother any imagination can conjure. She gives to the point where it interferes with her own life. She constantly considers a situation from the point of view of the other person involved. You couldn't imagine a more genuinely tender-hearted person. But she is still a first born child. And, if you don't know, there's a whole theory on the traits associated with first-born children.

My Mom wants me to have it all. And I appreciate that, but I cannot -- in good conscience -- be that level of a diva. The problem seems to be that she raised me to be a decent person. Decent people don't take their parents for all their worth. They just don't.

This has led to my Mom and I disagreeing on several wedding-related things. She would love for me to have this cake:

For reference, I believe that's a photo someone took of Prince William's wedding cake.

I would love to have this cake:

To me, simple cakes that don't cost a fortune are precious. I actually want a Kroger wedding cake, which my Mom is, well, shocked imagining. But what's the point in spending $800+ on a cake? No one remembers the cake, as long as it tastes about average and feeds everyone.

So there's a little misunderstanding when Mom and I talk about wedding planning. She wants to give me the world. I just want simplicity. (Ok, except that time we went wedding dress shopping. I was happy to let her pour on the spoiling that time.) And I know, and remind myself, that this is her only chance to throw a wedding (only child thing). I know she's doing all of this out of love and the desire to make me happy. So I can't freak out about it. Because she's too incredible and her intensions are too pure to warrant that. I have to stay mindful.

That's one relationship example. There are so many other stresses. I seem to be having three main issues in terms of relationship tension.

Inviting People Ahead of Time

I am very free spirited. My version of planning often involves throwing something together two days in advance. It can be a problem.

It's going to be especially challenging to plan things since, well, my future mother in law is four hours away, my parents and MOH are over two hours away, and one of my bridesmaids is a stay at home Mom (read: no babysitter). So I'm dealing with a lot of people who need time to sort out how they're going to attend showers and all those other events.

I don't think there's a calendar big enough to stay in my face about all of that.

Explaining Not Defending

As an only child, I have certain personality traits myself. I definitely have a strong will and tend to get defensive when a decision I am entitled to make on my own is questioned. I have to remember that, yes, it is our wedding; however, I can be nice about saying no. I don't need to jump on the defensive when someone tries to provide other options to me after hearing what I plan on doing. It's ok to hear them out. It's better to keep the relationship positive, knowing you get to make the ultimate decision anyway. (Too blunt?)

Honestly, aside from our parents, there aren't a lot of people who have much pull on wedding planning. It doesn't mean I haven't picked up great tips from people. I have. It just means I try not to stress when people start dishing out unsolicited advice. Some of it is really helpful. The rest is harmless; it can be discarded after respectfully hearing a person out. Again, when a person has good intensions, it's best to honor that and let them have your ear.

Attitude of Love

This kind of goes along with everything I've been saying. When you know someone loves you and wants the best for you, you've got to cut them some slack. I once knew a girl who hung up on her mother because they couldn't agree on the right font for disposable reception napkins. I realize she was probably reacting to other pressures and stresses, but that really spoke to me. It let me know how vulnerable we all are when it comes to being in a bad position and having other people chime in with solutions. We can flip a lid pretty easily, because we're human. But there's another way.

Ultimately, I really want to have good relationships with family and friends once we get home from the honeymoon. Translation: I realize I'll have to take one for the team now and then. That doesn't mean roll over. That means decide what matters and what doesn't and make it a point to keep a loving attitude through the process. (I feel that I have actually stepped outside my body, pulled up a chair across from myself, and made that point. It's so important. And so hard when emotions are stirred.)

Through the process, I am aware that one of two things will happen. Either the joy of our pending wedding will draw me closer to my people, or the stress of planning the wedding will create tension between us. I want to support the first option. This wedding is not going to be perfect. There will be no television special noting all of our vendors and guests. It's just going to be a reason to be happy and be with loved ones. I hope that I can find ways to make decisions that are kind to the people I love. That doesn't mean I'm caving to every request, but I hope it does mean that I show respect and kindness when I disagree. God help me. I really want to come out of this thing with good memories.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Insuring the Bling

The ultimate action after getting engaged is insuring your engagement ring. Must be done. ASAP. 

It turns out, sometimes it's not a phone call away. In fact, I found myself in an interesting predicament. Most people insure their ring by attaching it to their home owner's or renter's insurance. Ummm...I'm a Dave Ramsey fan, and I haven't been carrying renter's insurance. I know, it's shameful. Before I continue on with that topic, one quick note.

When you don't have renter's or home owner's insurance, some insurance companies allow you to insure your ring through what they call a jewelry floater. It's a bizarre little freestanding insurance policy for things like...your flashy engagement ring. At least, I've hard there's such a thing. I've yet to find anyone willing to provide the option. It's like a unicorn. Or Sasquach. Rumors are there, but no evidence has been produced yet. 

Ok, let's continue on with the concept of renter's insurance. Trying to insure my ring has taught what an incredible idiot I've been, going without renter's insurance all this time. It's not expensive (my policy is $16 per month). It's peace of mind. You can cheaply attach things like your engagement ring to it and sleep better at night. Of course, everyone hopes they don't have to use it. But we've all heard horror stories about people who needed it and didn't have it. Can you imagine the expense of replacing run-of-the-mill items? Pots. Pans. Pants. Shoes. Washer. Cosmetics! (Is there a meeting for Sephora addicts?) I don't need to go on. Those things add up to a huge bill. Most of us couldn't pay to replace many items. 

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I suggest shopping around. My insurance agent was able to reduce my car insurance so that I could not only add renter's insurance, update my car insurance, and add an engagement ring schedule -- but also I could do all of that and still come out saving money.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Dress

Ok. Look. I've seen plenty of romantic comedies. I know the unattainable, lofty ideas they put in a girl's head, and I'm here to deny my brainwashing that 1) You will have an amazing time trying on dresses and 2) You will 'just know' when you find the right one, and it will be within your budget.

Let's talk about wedding dresses.

After seeing such out-of-budget and idealistic things, I went to try on wedding dresses. Of course, I had to make an appointment to try on dresses at the ultimate bridal shop. Since they put me on a list AND charged a registration fee, I felt this might be the kind of place I shouldn't step foot inside without a little experience under my belt. So my roommate and I went to a chain bridal store to test the waters.

Man. Chain bridal stores are nuts. You share your attendant with 2-3 other brides-to-be. That means a lot of waiting. And a lot of walking around in uncomfortable heels staring into mirrors. Still, it was a good experience. It taught me that dresses like this:

make me look like this in a skirt:

Great lesson. 

After trying several different styles on and learning a little lingo, I felt ready to go to the wedding dress mothership.

It turns out, the wedding dress mothership was quite impressive. There were three stories of glorious dresses. It also turns out they had my dream wedding dress -- in a size negative zero (only one they had) for about two thousand dollars more than I could spend. These things happen. 

So I took a breath and moved on into the land of -other-/-real- possibilities.  I shopped around in the room holding my size with my attendant, and was fairly successful at finding pretty alternatives. 

Well, I got the full sorority experience. I expected to be able to use proper undergarments provided by the shop. Nope. My sorority experience began with the attendant closing the fitting room door, hanging the dresses we had chosen, and saying "Strip." Calmly. As if it were no big deal. As if she were asking my first name. There's something very awkward about that, but I was surrounded by bridal gowns so I had already sort of lost touch with the concept of normal.

With the attendant's help, I tried on 10-15 dresses. (You really do lose count.) I did like one in particular, but I didn't have that moment. You know the one. This one:

People say you'll have that moment. I think it's an urban myth. In my case, I kept gravitating to one dress, even as I tried others on. It wasn't that I 'just knew' it was perfect; it's that I liked it. It was the right style for me. So much for the bridal freakout of certainty. 

Another thing. It was nothing like the lap of luxury displayed on "reality" television. I was secretly and, ok, outlandishly hoping to be offered that glass of champagne. For my nerves, of course. :) I guess they didn't want to remove a stain from $1,000+ dresses. 

Oh, and it's crowded. I had to practically throw elbows at points to get around. If there was a mirror, there was a bride surrounded by fawning onlookers. It turns out, it's a lot of people's day - not just your's. -wink- Also, there is quite possibly no hall big enough for two women wearing wedding dresses to be able to pass each other. It's just not possible. One of you has to make like a squashed fly and hug the wall while holding your breath, hoping all the while that your beadwork doesn't snag on her's. 

Still, trying on wedding dresses is a lot of fun. As much as I complain about how crowded things can get, it is also fun sharing in another bride's joy at finding her dress. Some people actually do have the freakout of certainty. And other people are so excited to see you (a complete stranger in a wedding dress) they fawn over you. So as much as I poke fun, it really is a wonderful time. Until you pay. It's wonderful until you hand over that debit card and feel the money draining from your account...or your mother's account, in my case. That's a little bit of a soul crusher. (To think I was trying to wrap up on a high note. Ooops.)

Sidenote: One thing that is a little stressful is choosing who will go look at dresses with you. Unfortunately, life happens and I wasn't able to have all of the people I wanted with me. My best friend was out of town and Will's Mom is too far away to make it on short notice. I was kind of happy the mothership only allowed four guests per bride. I chose my Mom (the sweet, practical one), my friend Tony (the one with fabulous taste), and two aunts. One of the aunts was so impressed with Tony she almost became his minion. It was fun to watch. If he said he wanted to see me in a certain style, she went scrounging until she found that style in my size and delivered it to me. I guess he had an air of experience about him. I don't know. 

The standout lesson I learned was a tip from my attendant. She told me only to show the dresses I liked to my people. She said that all too often brides are persuaded to choose a dress they originally did not care for. That was great advice. I appreciated that she was focused on my satisfaction and was willing to find ways to turn the conversation if my people and I ever got into a debate about a dress. She was 100% committed to me being happy with the dress, not my posse. I'm not downplaying their role, because each person I took had great points and insights. But if I were talking to someone and suggesting how to make the experience a positive one, that would be my #1 tip. Try on a lot of dresses, but only show those that you like. It's your wedding dress. You don't have to be diplomatic. 

A Marriage Vs. A Wedding

When Will and I first got engaged, a friend shared this with me:

My sentiment exactly.

I've read the stats on how most people spend an average of a million dollars (or $25,000) on their wedding. In all honesty, I thought that was absurd. Then I started planning our wedding...without a wedding planner. I don't think it's crazy now, I just think it's an unattractive option.

You have two available philosophies when you start planning a wedding. The first is to pay people to do things so you don't have the stress of doing it yourself. The second is to do it yourself so you save money by not paying people to do things. I have chosen the second, though I know it will cause many headaches over the next six months. It is entirely possible I will morph into a bridezilla -- though hopefully in Hulk increments that are irregular. God bless my people...and especially Will. Thankfully, he's the calm voice of reason during stressful times.

The thing about wedding planning is it really starts running your schedule. I hope that whatever comes during this process won't ever eclipse the ultimate purpose of all this planning -- to marry the sweetest, brightest, funnest (yes, I just used that nonword) man I've ever met. I'm sure that our marriage will be beautiful. Let's just hope the wedding isn't so bad...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Our Story

When we met, our average age was 28. (He's two years younger.) I was late for our first date. As usual. He was waiting for me at a local coffee shop. We talked for four hours. Four. Hours. We walked out as the staff was leaving for the night.

The longer I knew him, the more he got under my skin - in a good way. I knew it was serious when I noticed how much he loves the people in his life. He notices what they're going through and does all he can to be supportive. Case in point. His Dad owns a small business. Will has been working on creating a retail site so his Dad can avoid the fees charged by well known sites and sell his products directly. It's amazing to know someone who is so kind and observant. That's my Will in a very small nutshell.

After cooking countless meals together and learning the proper art of the road trip, we came to want more. So one June evening after work, he did the thing I never saw coming. He proposed on a random week day. With a card. And a gem-shaped origami ring box. I said yes.