Thursday, December 11, 2008


As soon as you change your Facebook status to 'engaged', the ads start coming. Lose weight, fatty! Give me money to 'manage' your wedding for you! Don't you want wedding photos of you and your generic groom in front of a sunset? We can make it happen!

Then this conjunction of ads came up today and I had to take a screenshot:

The best thing about this is the tagline "Guilt free shopping." Yes, there will be no consequences of using this credit card! February 2009 is ages away! Only takes 5 minutes to apply because we won't ask you any rude, nosy questions about whether or not you can afford to pay it off. Don't worry, the debt consolidators will take care of all that!

And sandwiched in the middle, an invitation to spend some dough on your Special Day. Possibly guilt-free.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Meg over at A Practical Wedding just posted some Wedding Rules which made me think about mine. When we sat down to talk about our wedding, it was pretty easy because we felt the same about nearly everything. Our main goal is to be comfortable, happy and relaxed on our wedding day. Here are the rules by which we are planning our wedding:

1. No wedding colours. Meg had this as one of her rules, and it sounds like she's copped a bit of flak about it. I've had a few people express concern that we haven't chosen colours, too. But here's the thing about colours: they are seductive, and they are dangerous. If you choose teal, then you will be more likely to burst into tears when the table runners you ordered are too green; you will also be more likly to make impulse purchases because "it's so cute, and it's in our colours!" Not having wedding colours is part of our theory that the more you strive for perfection, the more stressed you will become, and the more disappointed you will be with little flaws. I want our wedding to be colourful, but I don't need it to be perfectly matched.

2. No creepy oversharing, references to ecstasy or bliss, or "nod nod wink wink" stuff in the ceremony. That stuff is weird.

3. Related: no garter toss. I HATE this.

4. No uncomfortable clothes. I wouldn't wear high heels or a corset to your wedding, so why would I wear one to mine?

5. No video. We'll be asking our friends to take photos (as if we could stop them) but we really don't need or want a film of the wedding.

6. No speeches.

7. No "first dance."

8. No registry.

9. As little as possible should be purchased just for the wedding. No special knife to cut the cake, no special glasses for the toast, no 'heirloom handkerchief' (note to sellers of wedding crap: you can't buy an heirloom. It becomes an heirloom once the buyer has passed it on to his or her descendants. There's a clue right there in the name!). Clothes and will be able to be worn again; glasses will be rented; if we decide on favours, they will be something people might actually keep, as opposed to photos of us in pewter frames.

10. No going into debt. If we can't afford to pay cash, we don't get it.

P.S. The blurb for that toilet paper pictured above promises that not only will this product "bring a smile", wedding guests "will be amused and amazed with your attention to every detail when they discover...even the toilet paper has a wedding theme!" Well, if it's going to impress my guests, I guess it's worth the $10 a roll. But can I get it in my wedding colours?!?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I wrote a while ago about bouquet alternatives and made the following statement:
To tell you the truth, though, I think I'm going to drop into a florist on the morning of my wedding. I've never been in a florist's without liking at least some of the flowers, and I figure I'll find a pretty bunch and make them into a bouquet myself. If I can't find anything I like, I'll just grab a bunch of daisies from my mum and dad's garden!
Since then, however, I have talked to my mum, and she has made it clear that she would like to pay for my bouquet, and that she would like it to be a Bouquet, not a bunch of daisies. I'm fine with that; I'm going without so many traditional elements that I figure I should give in on this one. It's a mother-daughter Fun Thing, right? (Note: it is probably only a Fun Thing if you are not too bothered by the outcome; if you are going to burst into tear on finding that you can't afford orchids, or that tulips won't be in season, it will be just another Stressful Wedding Thing.)

So. Flowers! I, like most people, like flowers in the abstract but am not too knowledgable about the names of my favourites. Luckily, I have the internet to tell me what is in season when, and give me pretty pictures!

Photos by ComputerHotline

Poppies are so lovely! They're fragile and asymmetrical and windblown and romantic.

Photo by Vaula

Anemones are similar but more simple and very sweet.

Photo by Flickrolf

I'm not sure what this flower is, but it's lovely. (I can see that I definitely do have a specific taste in flowers!) I think it must be a poppy or a relative, since the buds are similar. This photo is fantastic, too-- it looks like a snapshot from the seventies.

Photo by John Hann

Daffodils will be in season in autumn, and they're lovely. They might be a bit too structured for what I'm envisioning, though.

Photo by wolfgang.wedenig-wuschL

And I honestly do love the idea of carrying daisies on my wedding day. Unpretentious, pretty and low-maintenance!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I Hate Planning My Wedding is perhaps my very favourite wedding blog of all. In fact, I have been meaning to write about it for a while now. I don't have time now, though, because Engaged & Enraged (the hilarious author of this blog) has tagged me to tell 7 facts about myself!

The rules:

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by including links to their blog.

4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog!

Okay, here it goes. What have I still not told the internet about?

1. One of the things that makes me feel most calm and happy is sitting outside, holding my rabbit on my lap and stroking his back.

2. I think glasses are fantastic accessories and kind of wish I needed them.

3. I would rather read than do almost anything, including go to parties and go shopping.

4. I constantly worry that people hate me, because I'm loud and annoying and obnoxious, but I'm not sure how to be any other way. Also, I tend to worry about this after the fact, not at the time, when I could actually do something (ie shut up).

5. My favourite kind of lollies are the chalky, pastel ones like the kind they use to make candy bracelets and lovehearts. In fact, I'm not allowed to buy bags of them because I sit and obsessively eat them until I get a sugar headache! I also have a bit of an addiction to popping candy, but that's not so bad because it takes me 20 minutes to slowly eat a little bag and they only have about 3 grams of sugar (plus something worryingly called 'propellant').

6. My ideal job is writing and illustrating comics and children's books. My ideal job which I might actually be able to make a living from is working in a museum.

7. I love aquariums so much that going to them is almost like a spiritual experience for me. My favourites are the giant sea-turtles, the cuttlefish, and the rays.

Thanks, E&E! Hmm, I don't know that I can find 7 people who haven't done this yet... how about 6?

The Confusions of Hogsandwich

Another One Bites the Dust

Jo Emmons




Second image by Dawn Endico on Flickr; third image by Amarand Agasi on Flickr; others by me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

bouquet alternatives

Recently invisiblyrose posted in her wedding blog Another One Bites the Dust (which is great, by the way) that she is looking for flower-free bouquet alternatives so she doesn't spend her wedding sneezing. I started to write a comment on her blog and then realised, wait a minute! I HAVE A WEDDING BLOG. So here you go!

I too have been thinking about my bouquet. At first I thought, that's just an extra thing to spend money on! We'll do without it. And then I read an excellent comment by another bride: IT GIVES YOU SOMETHING TO DO WITH YOUR HANDS. And I realised that not only would it be a great relief to have something to stop me fidgeting at the (non-existent) altar, I would in fact benefit in my daily life by having a bouquet to hold. When I'm waiting for the bus, for instance, or standing in line for sushi. I have never really worked out what I am supposed to do with my hands.

Anyway! I have looked around Etsy for some bouquet alternatives, and I've found some lovely ones. Check em out!

If you're going for a somewhat traditional look, you might like a silk bouquet, like this one from Hannah Roses.

The Russian's shop is a little bare right now, but she always has lovely things. I especially love the bouquets she makes from vintage and cotton fabrics, they're so bright and pretty.

Suili crochets the most gorgeous semi-realistic flowers. Since she sells them by the stem, you could buy a few different kinds and make your own bouquet, or just get a mass of one kind.

But for sheer cuteness, you can't beat button and felt bouquets like this one from Violonjello. This is probably the kind of bouquet I would lean towards; it's so fun and colourful!

Hand-crafted bouquets like this are not cheap, but they are lasting decorations for your home, so if you love them they're not a bad way to spend your wedding budget. To tell you the truth, though, I think I'm going to drop into a florist on the morning of my wedding. I've never been in a florist's without liking at least some of the flowers, and I figure I'll find a pretty bunch and make them into a bouquet myself. If I can't find anything I like, I'll just grab a bunch of daisies from my mum and dad's garden!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

summer bride

Pink, turquoise and yellow wedding by tinymonster

It's starting to really feel like summer here! This would be a fun outfit for a summer wedding.

Can you tell that I really, really like colour?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Weddingbee and the right to marry

Photo by l3m4ns

If you read the wedding site Weddingbee, you might be interested to know that the owners have sold the site to eHarmony, a company which positions itself as "Christian" and disallows gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from using their site.

Going through the process of planning my wedding and thinking about marriage has made me very aware of the injustice that other people are denied this right. One of the things that attracted me to our celebrant was that one of the first things she mentioned on her webpage was that she did commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples (in fact when I told her about that she said they're her favourite ones to do, because they're so special). I don't support companies that build discrimination and prejudice into their corporate mission.

I guess what I am trying to say is: BITE MY BUM, EHARMONY

Sunday, October 12, 2008

wedding photography

Photo by Jon Fravel

I just finished reading One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding by Rebecca Mead, and I highly recommend it. The cover of my copy has a quote which compares the book to Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death (one of my favourite non-fiction books, and one which I re-read regularly) and the comparison is just. Like Mitford, who investigated not death itself but the way that the funeral industry shaped practices and attitudes to death in order to maximise profits, Mead investigates not so much weddings and brides but the wedding industry and how it has shaped the way we celebrate marriage. Her prose style also reminds me of Mitford's: sharp, dry and often hilarious. My only complaint about the book is that it wasn't longer; I wish I could have read it for twice as long.

Photo by Modomatic

One of Mead's targets is wedding photography. I have been thinking about this recently. Our budget has no room for a photographer; instead, we will ask a couple of artistic friends to bring their cameras and get a few nice shots. Sara, the author of one my my favourite wedding blogs $2000 Wedding, recently wrote about their decision not to hire a photographer and made an exceedingly sensible point:

We have never hired a professional photographer for other important events in our lives and never plan to. College graduation, birthday parties, the birth of our first child--we are fine with all of these things being captured by an amateur's click. Our wedding didn't seem any different. In fact, we were afraid that hiring a professional photographer might make our wedding feel like a show.

Robert and I feel the same way; neither of us particularly enjoy being photographed, and we're not the sort of people who will take out a wedding album and coo over it. (Are there any such people?) In One Perfect Day, Mead argues that the purpose of the professional photographer, like so many other elements of the modern wedding, is in fact to create the experience of faux celebrity and record an image of perfection, rather than to record reality.

Formal portraits are still a standard part of a wedding photo album, but the purpose of wedding photography today is not to preserve for posterity a documentary image of the individuals who are getting married... Rather, wedding photos today capture a couple's specific incarnation as bride and groom, and their arrival at the apogee of romance.

Photo by Brian and Mimi Tsai of Life Mosaics

I have never been interested in being professionally photographed. However, when I started looking at wedding sites on the internet, I noticed something new. Wedding photographers now take pictures of what is known in wedding-speak as "details". The bride's shoes; the centrepieces on the table; the groom's hand-made cufflinks; the bridesmaids' vintage parasols. Here is an excellent example; the wedding photos include the invitations, the 'gift pails' for the guests, the matching white umbrellas available in case of rain, the colour-matched drinks, the votive candle holders in a fabric that matched the bride's dress. These are things that I doubt many guests will remember; in fact, most of them wouldn't even notice. But luckily, the photographer was there to record them. Mead writes that the wedding album functions

as a means of capturing images of the material production upon which so much thought, time, and money have been expended. The wedding album serves as a riposte to the disquieted murmurings a wedding can generate amongst family, friends, and the couple themselves-- all this, just for one day?-- by ensuring that the sugar-spun flowers on the wedding cake and the silk grosgrain ribbons wrapped around the bouquets' stems are preserved not just in memory, but upon archival-grade photographic paper.

A good set of wedding photographs can be called upon to justify all the expense that preceded them; and the anticipation of acquiring a good set of photographs can also encourage that expense in the first place.

This sums up my discomfort with wedding photography. Weddings are ephemeral; they will leave behind some good memories, but in all honesty those memories will not be enhanced by buying matching pale pink candles instead of cheap white ones. The insistence on "details" in both wedding photography and in wedding blogs and sites (even those that claim to be "alternative" or "indie") insists that the ephemeral can and should be made concrete, and that the more beautiful and perfect your decorations, shoes and cake, the more wonderful your memories will be.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Damn this thing is fun. It's like playing dress-up with Barbies!

I would love a 30s-style wedding outfit like this. So much fun!

Friday, October 3, 2008

links for reubenesque brides

Hee hee, I am having fun thinking of charming euphemisms for fat. Being an artist who specialises in adorableness helps you not mind so much about being fat, actually. Fat things are the cutest things!

Exhibit A.

Anyway, I have been looking at sites which have plus-size dresses. Because I'm from Australia, I've only been checking out sites that ship internationally, so if you live in the US you can probably find lots more. I also wasn't specifically looking for bridal dresses, although some of these site do carry those (or even better, pretty white dresses which haven't been categorised as 'bridal' and so cost half as much). I also ignored any sites which had what I considered to be overly expensive dresses. (One site had a cheery "Coming soon!" in their $200-$300 page, and a single lonely dress in their $300-$400 page.)

B & Lu
Cherished Woman
Daddy-O's (retro forties and fifties style dresses, absolutely gorgeous!)
Size Appeal
Torrid (including some very pretty and affordable wedding dresses)
eShakti: beautiful Indian-inspired dresses that you can apparently customise as you order-- add longer sleeves, etc. Looks like a fantastic source for pretty wraps and shawls as well!

And a couple of Australian sites:

City Chic

I hope this is useful!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

being a plus-size bride

When I first started looking around for ideas for a wedding dress online, I typed "fat bride" into Google. Apart from one livejournal community (and a site for pregnant brides-- ahem, that's not fat, that's a PERSON INSIDE YOUR BODY) the other links all seemed to be jokes and cartoons about the hilarious idea of a bride being fat, or laments and cries for help. I realised I should have used the current euphemism for fat, plus-size. I've had better luck with that, although if you don't want a big, white, expensive dress, it's quite a lot more difficult to find something you like (unless you like extremely matronly styles and colours like burgundy and navy blue).

I've also started getting advertisements for wedding-related weight loss on my Facebook. I'm assuming every woman whose status is 'engaged' gets these, since it's commonly assumed that all women have problems with their body image and want to spend a lot of time and money on their 'problem areas'. But as an actual fat bride, these ads make me a little uncomfortable.

Listen, I know I'm fat. And no, I'm not particularly happy about it, and I am doing something about it. I lead a healthy life, I eat lots of vegetables and wholemeal bread and low-fat milk and all that stuff. We've bought a Wii Fit and I try to use it several times a week. I didn't start this process because I am going to be a bride; I started it before that, because I want to be healthy and comfortable and fit.

But even if I continue to lose weight at a healthy and sustainable pace, I am not going to be thin by April. And I don't think it's healthy to think of my wedding day as an end point, or as something to strive to be different for. I've seen suggestions that brides-to-be start having regular facials (hee hee) so that their skin is glowing on The Big Day. Listen, if you can afford that stuff and you really think it makes you look or feel better, why not do it regularly anyway? Those are good enough reasons. The Big Day is not really a good reason.

So I'm going to be a fat bride and I'm okay with it. Hey, I ate cheesecake this morning. (Someone brought it into the tearoom. What am I, Ghandi?) The only downside, really, is that it cuts down on my dress options. Still, if I can't find something I like, I can always have it made. I've actually found a pattern for a dress I love, and it would be good to be able to pick the exact fabric I want. (Really, the main reason I want to buy something off-the-rack is because I'm too lazy/busy to go to a bunch of dress fittings.) Anyway, I'm currently going through some sites with pretty plus-size dresses, so I'll be posting soon with some links for anyone else who's interested. And maybe the next woman to search for 'fat brides' will find this instead of Weight Watchers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

dressing up

I've seen so many inspiration boards on the net I think it's getting to me. I signed up for Polyvore. I comfort myself with the knowledge that I am doing this during work hours. I am not so far gone that I would spend my own time on this.

My mum has asked if she can pay for my wedding dress. I would never have asked her to, but I'm happy to let her have her way! Luckily, we have similar tastes and generally think the same things are pretty. I've told her that I don't want a white dress and she is fine with that. (I have nothing against brides who wear white dresses, aesthetically or politically. I don't think that white carries the connotation of purity or virginity in our culture anymore, and it's a perfectly nice tradition. But I am all about colour.)

Dressing up is a wedding tradition that is important to me. I don't need a thousand dollar dress, and the thought of a $6,000 dress makes me feel a bit sick. But you can dress nicely without spending an enormous amount of money. I want to wear a dress, because I spend most of my time in jeans and skirts and t-shirts, and I want to make the importance of this day and this ritual by taking pains with my appearance.

I'm hoping I can find a pretty, comfortable dress in a shop, but if I can't, I'll probably get something made up by a local seamstress. I'd like to pay (well, I'd like my mum to pay) less than $200. I'll probably make my own accessories or buy them from artisans on Etsy. And I'll wear comfortable flat shoes which I can wear again to other occasions. (I don't own a pair of heels and never will.)

I'm not getting my hair and make-up done. This is mostly because I want to feel like myself on the day, not like a doll. I hate the feeling of Stuff in my hair, it just makes me want to wash it clean. And the only time I've worn foundation in the last ten years was for a dance recital (you don't want to look washed out under the lights, dahling). I'm not really interested in being fussed over, either. I'd rather spend the morning drinking champagne and hanging out with my friends. (Note to self: do not get drunk before your own wedding.)

I'll still feel dressed up, though. I'll wash and dry and brush my hair carefully, and I'll put on a little eyeliner and (waterproof) mascara. I'll be wearing my new dress and I'll polish my shoes ( note to self: do not wear the shoes for the first time on the day) and I'll put something pretty in my hair. That's enough for me, I think.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

we have a celebrant!

Yes, we have found someone and booked them and I can heave a sigh of relief.

(Note to non-Australian readers: apparently this is not a common term in other countries? It refers to a civil celebrant, which means someone who is licensed by the State to carry out marrriage ceremonies.)

I don't want to name her because I feel a bit odd about including identifying details in this blog (plus, what if she ends up being awful? I won't be able to complain in case she sees this!) but hopefully I will be able to recommend her highly after the ceremony. I immediately clicked with her on the phone. After my unfortunate experiences with other celebrants, I realised that being snubbed by these people was the best possible thing, because it meant that I saw immediately that these were not people I wanted associated with my wedding. When I told this lady that I was interested in a quote, and that I had had a hard time with other celebrants, she was shocked and sympathetic, and immediately talked me through her prices. We arranged to meet at her house on the 22nd, and I dutifully wrote "Tuesday 22nd" next to her address on my notebook.

Of course, you might have noticed that the 22nd was Monday. I didn't! And so we rocked up at 7:30 on Tuesday evening to be met at the door by a surprised lady in her dressing-gown.

She was very nice about it, went and changed and sat and talked to us for nearly two hours. We talked about all the things that were important to us, the kind of wedding we wanted to have and the kind of people we were, and we really clicked with her. We were planning to meet with a couple of other people but we were so happy we decided (through silent eye-talking) to sign up with her right away.

Her prices were around the same mark as the other quotes we had been getting, but when I mentioned that we didn't want a rehearsal, she offered to take some money off. We were really grateful for that-- we'd talked to her about being on a budget, and she was very understanding. I even talked about not feeling comfortable with the ideology of weddings and over-consumption, and she agreed.

It was really exciting talking about the ceremony and the vows. I look at a fair amount of so-called 'wedding porn' on the internet, but I hardly ever see anything about the ceremony. It's all about the 'details': the letterpress invitations, the gorgeous red shoes, the origami centrepieces. And while all of these things are nice, it was good to talk about what we're actually doing all of this for. It's starting to feel very real, and I can't wait.

So the venue and the celebrant are both booked, which makes me feel pretty good! I don't think there's anything else which urgently needs attention, so we can relax (well, concentrate on the massive amounts of artwork we're supposed to be working on) until later in the year at least.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I just read an article in the New York Times about 'party peer pressure'. I found this really interesting, because it's about the way we think about 'events' and how we plan them. Coming-of-age events like bar and bat mitzvahs, quinceaƱeras and 16th/18th/21st birthday parties are becoming frighteningly elaborate. The author of the article blames her tension over her son's bar mitzvah over "tension between following custom and putting one’s stamp of individuality on the affair" and her desire, "subtly, of course... to outshine everyone else." But I think there's more to it than that, and it's captured in this quote from a doctoral student:

Patricia Arend, one of Professor Schor’s students, is writing her doctoral dissertation on women’s fantasies about weddings and how consumer desire works. One reason for the high cost (the national average is $28,704, according to the Wedding Report, a research firm Web site), she said, is that “the wedding industry has been extremely successful in inserting shopping into the wedding ritual.”

For example, for some, making an outing of looking for a wedding dress is now as much a part of the tradition as the engagement ring and bridal shower. Women will go to a high-end wedding boutique with their mothers and friends to try on dresses, with the intention of buying a less expensive one somewhere else, Ms. Arend said.

“But then you try on a really nice dress with the fine material and craftsmanship,” she said. “and the salespeople say, ‘Why wouldn’t you want to spend this for the most important day of your life?’ ” And suddenly the bride is paying two or three times more for a dress than she intended to.

“As more and more of these things become normalized, it’s harder to resist them,” she said.

These events, which exist because they mark and celebrate important moments in life, are strange and difficult to plan because they are once-in-a-lifetime events. (Hopefully.) People don't want to 'get it wrong', but unfortunately the people they turn to are the people who make their living feeding off this anxiety. So we hear things like, "It's worth it to make your day perfect!" and "You'll regret it if you don't splash out!"

Of course, I don't think that everyone who makes their money from weddings is awful. People want pretty dresses and shoes and suits and flowers, and it's fine that someone provides that. But there is a whole industry devoted to making you feel utterly inadequate. It amazes me that there is even one wedding magazine, let alone hundreds. Seriously, is the world of weddings so fast-paced? Are we making constant strides in napkin technology? No, those magazines exist to make money but selling advertising space, and so it is in their best interests to expand the influence of the Wedding over every part of your life. Forget ordering a cake and buying cute shoes: you should be getting regular facial scrubs at the skin-care clinic for the six months leading up to the wedding! Experimenting with different kinds of self-tanners! Investigating different make-up looks! Don't talk to your partner about which kind of cake you like best: these are the hottest cakes right now! These are the colours you should use! ARGH!

This post has turned into a rant and I'm not sure where I started. Oh yeah, anxiety!

I have noticed that many women on wedding forums ask questions about tradition. Can we have a chocolate cake instead of a white one, or do we have to have both? How much of our budget should we spend on flowers? Since I don't particularly want to set myself up as yet another authority, I want to stress that this is my opinion. (But seriously, I am right and everyone else is wrong.)

Your wedding consists of two parts: a ceremony, where you marry your partner, and then a reception, which is a party to celebrate this. In neither of these do you have to have any particular traditions, except those required by law. There is no "right" way to have a wedding: there are only things that seem right/fun/meaningful to you, and things that don't.

For example, I am going to ask my dad to walk me up the aisle. Yeah, I know it's a tradition rooted in patriarchy. I don't really care. It means something to me that my dad will have a special part in my wedding. My mum will be a big part of the preparations with me; I want him to be involved, too.

I won't be having my wedding in a church, because that has no meaning for me. I won't be wearing a veil over my face, because that doesn't seem like much fun. We won't fill the house with flowers, because it's not important to us. We won't be doing a first dance, because we can't imagine anything more excruciatingly awkward.

Don't listen to people who tell you that you "need" their product or service for your wedding. And don't think that because this is a momentous, sacred, beautiful occasion that you can't say, "Nah, I don't want to pay that."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

why i need a stranger at my wedding

You might have noticed that we have budgeted $400 for a celebrant. If you live in the US, you might be thinking, That's crazy! It only costs $5 and a stick of gum to get married in my state, and anyone can perform the ceremony! Well, lucky you. Unfortunately, in Western Australia, we prefer people to live in sin, and even just getting married at the registry office costs $340. That's why they call it the Sexy State! (Not really.)

Anyway, you are required by law to have a proper marriage celebrant and it seems that the absolute lowest price you will pay is $350, so we budgeted for $400 because we want to get someone we like. Today I have been calling celebrants to get quotes, and it sucks.

It turns out that it is a gigantic faux pas to call a celebrant, introduce yourself and say that you are calling around for quotes. I have been greeted with a freezing silence by all but one of the people I have called. When I explained that we don't want a rehearsal, one of the women was openly disdainful. On another call, the woman took the opportunity to tell me that the most important part of the wedding was the ceremony (really? I thought it was mostly just an excuse to eat cake) and that the money wasn't really important (when ever someone says this, they are trying to sell you something) and the most important thing was that we found a very professional person and "if you pay peanuts, you may end up with a monkey!"

To which I should have replied, "Holy shit, really? I can get a monkey to perform the ceremony? Fucking sweet!"

Anyway, I wanted to write about this because I was surprised at my reaction. I felt awkward and embarassed. I know that I have a right to ask for quotes. I know that treating a wedding as though it's so sacred that money doesn't matter is ridiculous, and that you can be very serious about your relationship without being obsessively serious about your wedding. But it still made me feel like crap to be talked to as though I was kind of trashy to be considering the issue of money. And that makes me angry.

The thing is, I've been to a few weddings, and I've almost always found the celebrant to be a bit rubbish. They're soppy and false, or they crack jokes, or they talk about themselves, or they forget the names of the people they're marrying (seriously). So I'm not necessarily expecting the ceremony to be the most wonderful moment of my life. It will be special no matter what, because it is the moment when I marry the person I love. But it's not necessarily going to that much more special because I paid $600 for someone to rehearse the wedding beforehand, or because we get to sign the certificate with gold-plated pens in chairs with matching organza ribbons.

Now that I think about it, though, it really would be more special with a monkey.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

my engagement ring

Engagement ring

This is my engagement ring. It belonged to my maternal grandmother, and was made around 1930. It has one diamond and several diamantes in the setting. I am surprised to find myself with a diamond ring on my finger, because I've never been interested in diamonds. When Robert started hinting that he wanted some help finding a ring, I looked around a lot, but nothing seemed right. I asked my mum if she had any old family rings, and when she showed me this one, I immediately knew it was the right one for me. Robert paid for it to be resized and fixed (there was a microscopic break in the setting) by a lovely local jeweller and the entire thing cost $60.

Buying a diamond ring new from a jewellery store is an incredibly wasteful way to spend money. Most large jewellers don't make their own stock: they travel around the world picking up cheap stock and then come back to their stores and sell it an outrageously inflated prices (often more than 300%). Once it has been sold once, it is instantly worth much less. If you really want a diamond ring, consider buying second-hand, from a reputable pawn shop or antique dealer. You might also want to consider the source of the diamonds you're buying, and whether they've been ethically mined. Buying second-hand means that you are not adding to the environmental cost of mining, as well.

There are also lab-made diamonds which are indistinguishable from mined ones. These are much, much cheaper, and for that reason have a stigma attached to them. The stigma attached to lab-made diamonds, like the status accorded to diamonds in the first place, is based on price and conspicuous consumption, not use-value.

But there's no law that states that you must have a diamond engagement ring. You can find some really beautiful rings on Etsy, with beautiful stones and interesting designs. Best of all, you're buying directly from the creator.

How about a unakite stone, like the ring above (from TreAnelli)? Or garnet? Or moonstone?

Or you might decide not to have both an engagement and a wedding ring, but one ring which serves for both. You might not even want a stone in your ring, but it doesn't have to be boring.

This lovebirds ring from Shere Design is so adorable!

If this baby octopus ring (from the incredible VeraMeat) had been available when I was looking around for rings, this could very well have been The One. I LOVE this!

This is a ring that you'll be wearing for the rest of our life, so of course you want it to be the right one. But beautiful doesn't have to mean expensive, and expensive definitely doesn't always mean beautiful. Ignore what's expected of you and find something that you love.

Monday, September 8, 2008

budget item: food

Okay, so I probably should have been more clear when I put down $100 for food. I got quite a few gentle comments asking if I planned to provide dinner for 8 or crackers for 80. We will not be having a sit-down dinner but a buffet, and we will be asking people to help out.

Asking people to help with your wedding seems to be a touchy subject in some circles. (Actually, when it comes to discussing your wedding on the internet, everything seems to be a touchy subject. I am scared of wedding forums! Even the "cool" ones like Indiebride's Kvetch seem to be minefields of drama and judgement.) We're not going to be putting "Bring a plate!" on the invitations. But a lot of our friends and family have offered to help, and we're accepting that help gladly. We'd much rather have friends bring cupcakes and curry puffs and fruit than have them buy us wedding presents. It's much more practical, it costs them less, and it's also really special to me that our wedding will be the product of so many people who love us. I was really inspired by this lovely potluck wedding featured in Offbeat Bride. The idea that our close friends won't just be turning up and watching, but will be an integral part of the process, makes me happy.

So yes, there won't be a "theme" to our food, and it's all be piled up on a big table for people to pick at, and there will be not enough of some stuff and too much of other stuff. People will probably be eating off paper plates with plastic cutlery (although I haven't cleared this with my mum yet; I might be pushing it too far). But everyone will have enough to eat; the food will be delicious; it'll be fun and casual and relaxed; and no-one will be going into debt over it.

Actually, the nicest wedding food I ever had was at a little wedding where there was no sit-down dinner or buffet, just a (seemingly never-ending) stream of finger food. I ate sushi and spring rolls and samosas until I was grateful I'd worn a skirt with an elastic waist! It was delicious, completely satisfying and so much fun. I've been to other weddings where I've sat at the last table looking enviously at the other people being served, eating, and finishing their meals before the staff even got to our table. The food is always 'safe' (meat, fish or bland vegetarian) and made en masse so it's always fairly average. A sit-down dinner just isn't worth the money, in my opinion.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

budget breakdown

Okay, on the weekend Robert (Grug) and I went over the budget for our wedding. While my parents have offered to pay for the alcohol (a huge relief, since this would be the most expensive part of the whole thing), we are trying to pay for everything else ourselves. Here is how we broke it down:

Venue: $200
Celebrant: $400
Jessica's clothes: $200
Robert's clothes: $200
Rings: $100
Decorations: $50
Food: $100
Invitations: $65
Wiggle room: $185

TOTAL: $1500

Our wedding is in late April, so we have 15 fortnights (we are both paid fortnightly) to save up. We added the wiggle room because a) it made it a nice, neat amount and b) we want to be prepared for surprises. We both have debt which we are paying off, and we are determined not to let this wedding add to our debt. So, from now on, we are each putting $50 a fortnight into our wedding fund. This may sound like a laughably small amount, but as most of our spare income goes into paying off our debts, it's the most that we can spare. If we get some extra money from other sources, we'll put it in there too. (That sounds rather sinister, like we are running numbers in our neighbourhood. I just mean money for Christmas or from selling comics.)

We have an extra incentive to stay inside our budget (and undercut it wherever possible) as we will be using whatever is left over for a little honeymoon. If it's just $150 left over, we'll get a nice hotel room for the night; if we have $400, we'll have a few nights in a bed and breakfast.

I'll post on each of the budget items over time, but this is essentially the plan we're following. Please tell me it's not crazy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

venue = booked!

Well, I just booked the venue for the ceremony. This feels very real all of a sudden!

We're having the ceremony at my old University. Since I now work for them, we get the venue at half price. It's still $200, which feels steep, but it also really feels like the right place to have it. We were considering public parks, some of which would have been free, but we wouldn't have been able to stop people having a barbeque or a game of football next to us. And this particular location is one that is special to me. I spent many hours there, usually reading alone. It's my favourite place on campus: it's quiet, shaded by trees, and it feels a little like an outdoor cathedral. Since we're having the reception/party at my parents' house, I'm happy to spend a little on the ceremony venue. I really want to be standing outside, under trees.

Monday, September 1, 2008

um, a wedding blog?

This feels weird. I am not the kind of person who writes a wedding blog.

I've never dreamed of a big, white wedding. I've never sighed over diamond rings. I've never clipped pictures out of magazines for the future.

Now, I'm engaged, though, I need to plan a wedding. And it's kind of hard! There are so many people telling you what you need to do and buy and plan. And a lot of them want you to pay them money. My fiance and I don't have a lot of money, and neither do our parents. We'll be paying for most of this ourselves, and so (of course) I've turned to the Internet for help. I've been looking around for wedding blogs to read, but almost all of them are so crazy! Even the ones who talk about budgeting and doing it for a reasonable price say things like, "We saved so much money having the invitations printed instead of getting a calligrapher! And I got my dress on sale for $7,000 so I saved $3,000!"

Um, apart from the alcohol, I'd like to do the whole thing for $1,500. Am I crazy to think that this is a pretty large amount of money to spend on what is essentially a party?

So I've started a blog. Partly because it helps me to write about things. Partly because I hope people will give me feedback and help and ideas. And partly because I want there to be one more place on the net that doesn't encourage the idea that a wedding without hand-dyed linen napkins is no wedding at all.