Category Archives: loving/commiting

wedding graduate…

Editor’s Note:  On August 13, I am remembering not only my reception day one year ago, but also the day I met my husband 5 years ago.  To me, August 13 will always be our “true” anniversary.  It is when my life long adventure with Mark started, and then 4 years later, the day we gathered our friends and family to celebrate. 

Wedding “Graduate”, continued from A Very Short Engagement:

So the party planning began. And it was so much easier now that I was already married. It mostly stayed in perspective, especially reading APW daily. We decided we weren’t doing a sit down dinner and what we really wanted was a big cocktail party and dancing.

We decided to spend money on our venue, The Catalyst Ranch, because it was unique and more “party” than “wedding”. It reminded me of Pee Wee’s Playhouse which happens to be one of my all time favorite shows EVER. They had vintage tables, chairs, and couches so no decorating or linens were needed and the sound system was also included.

I collected .50 vases from goodwill to fill with wholesale assorted flowers. We splurged on the vintage photo booth that made real pictures.

I found a 50’s vintage dress in gold satin with a petticoat that made me feel like Ms. Yvonne (see Pee Wee reference). Our friend’s 3 piece jazz band played for the first 2 hours and then we played ipod DJ with some classic Motown and dance tunes.

Part of me still wonders how different it would have been had we just done a “normal wedding”. It almost sounds easier to have a template to follow, although I know that its not! Eloping is a lot harder emotionally than one might think. I felt like maybe I missed out on something that I’ll never get back. We were engaged just before the holidays so no one had time to throw us any engagement parties or bridal showers and there wasn’t a bachelor/bachelorette party (which was actually just fine with both of us!)

At the same time, I can’t imagine having a ceremony in front of everyone. I wouldn’t have had fun. And I probably would have lost my mind planning the reception had I not already done the important part: be married! In the end, I love our elopement story and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I was pleasantly surprised by who made the effort to travel to our party (hello Vancouver BC and Alaska friends!) and truly missed the ones who couldn’t make it. All in all, we had a beautiful representation from both of our lives of family, old friends, and newer relationships we had established together. Its crazy to be immersed into a room full of people that you love. Everywhere you turn, there is one of your favorite people! Everything felt perfect and I didn’t have a care in the world during the party.

Of course it wasn’t perfect, but in the end the little things didn’t really matter and the bigger things were out of our control. Thankfully I didn’t fret over my DIY simple flowers, or the fact that my hair flower piece arrived on the day of the party, or when a song I didn’t plan to have on the playlist took over the ipod. I laughed when my brother in-law accidentally dropped his dessert on the bottom of my dress (apricot sauce blends nicely into gold satin) and when my bra cups kept falling off my sweaty dancing body (note to future dancing brides: invest in a good bra!)

I’m glad that I let it all go and took in all the love and friendship that surrounded me. I just wanted to soak in every moment and really be in it. The best part is that I got to go home with my very best friend and lay in bed and giggle and replay the whole night back to each other until 4am. Let the happily ever after begin!


a very short engagement…

As we approach New Year’s Eve, Mark and I are getting ready to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary! I am reflecting on our elopement and all the emotions that went with it. I married my best friend on 12/31/2009. It truly has been a year of marital bliss. I hope the honeymoon phase never ends, but I also know that we have the foundation to get through anything life throws at us!

I’ve never had the wedding fantasy. Whether I never thought I’d find my prince charming or figured I wouldn’t be able to afford that sort of affair, I just didn’t ever dream of a big white dress and a traditional wedding. I never ogled engagement rings, knew nothing about diamonds, or ever looked twice at my friend’s wedding dresses. I’m a very low maintenance practical woman, if I don’t say so myself.

But pre-engagement talks suddenly evoked a checklist of things I felt had to be done in order to be married, or engaged for that matter. And those damn bridal magazines? F’em. I blame them most of all for my temporary lack of sanity. Thankfully I was engaged to a reasonable man who helped me keep it all in perspective. And I found A Practical Wedding blog that empowered me to do my own thing.

We didn’t want the “traditional” shin dig. We wanted to have a small private ceremony followed by a big celebration with friends and family. Again, I had no desire to walk down an aisle and be the center of attention. Its kind of odd, because I am an extremely social person who loves to play hostess and throw big parties. I just don’t like being the guest of honor, or public speaking, or all eyes on me.

We started looking at venues for the party. I looked into fun simple ceremonies that could take place in gorgeous park settings if we only had 6 people. I fantasized about a destination wedding on a beach. We were a year out in our planning so we didn’t make a lot of decisions.

Mark started grad school and we discovered that his school health insurance plan wasn’t comprehensive enough for a cancer survivor (childhood leukemia). We then found out his COBRA insurance was possibly going to triple in price in the new year. I have kick ass insurance through my job. We started discussing an elopement. I didn’t want to get married over Thanksgiving or Christmas, so we decided to take New Years Eve and make it our own (just 10 short weeks after our engagement)!

I tried to arrange for a friend that was ordained to marry us at the Conservatory amongst flowers and tropical settings in the dead of winter in Chicago. That fell through with a week to go. My then fiancé kept telling me that all that mattered was that we were going to be married.

I still wanted something pretty and special. The courthouse sounded so sterile (its in a basement…) I started getting nervous, wondering if I was doing the right thing by eloping. Would I regret this? A week before our planned elopement, a health care law was passed making the “need” to elope obsolete. We decided to do it anyways. We were too excited to wait until August by then!

I made a bird cage veil with the help of a family friend that made me “feel like a bride”. The day before the big day, I went to a flower shop and made the most beautiful, simple hand wrapped bouquet I could have ever dreamed up.

We arrived at the courthouse and waited with anticipation with a group of about 20 other couples. Everyone cheered as each couple came out of the judge’s quarters. He said the nicest things to us about the importance of marriage and loving one another. We exchanged rings and made out. It was awesome! Then we checked into a fancy hotel, drank champagne, and had a photographer friend come by for a photo shoot.

For the elopement I decided what was important were pictures to share with everyone since we had no one else present. I didn’t want people to think we did it because we had to. I wanted them to see that we really just wanted to be together. Our pictures turned out more beautiful and unique than I ever could have imagined. I’m so glad we decided to document that piece of our adventure.

We sent out text messages at midnight wishing everyone a “Happy New Year, Love Mr. & Mrs.” On Jan 2nd, which fell on a Saturday, we had a huge brunch (that lasted until 1am) for all of our local friends and made our official announcement that we were married.

And then, we started planning the reception…

Side note: We did talk to our parents over Christmas and received their blessings before we eloped. It didn’t feel right to us to not at least include them in the decision. Given that we are late 30’s/early 40’s, they graciously obliged and supported us.


Having recently gotten married, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a wife. Part of the conversation comes from my daily enlightening reading over at a practical wedding*** A portion has been mixed in from reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest novel “Committed” (which has so many ear marked pages to share with my husband that I practically read him the whole darn thing). As a newlywed, I am also currently reading “The Commitment”, by Dan Savage. And a sprinkling of this conversation comes directly from discussions with my girlfriends about whether I feel “different” now that I am married.

I guess I am also trying to justify the difference in my own head, having just spent way too much on a great non-traditional party after an elopement. Why didn’t I just do it the regular way? Why did I still feel the need to gather all my people in the same expensive room post wedding? (new posts “a very short engagement” and “wedding graduate” will be available oh so soon). Why didn’t we take a trip around the world instead?!?

The main difference for me in our relationship, in our life together, in marriage, is that Mark is my family now. He is my next of kin and my beneficiary. In the eyes of all of our family and friends, we are together and counted as a definite pair. And we had a big kick ass party to seal the deal! We have created our own secure unit of 2. A place in the world that is sacred and safe and full of love and trust. Our family of 2 makes its own rules and sets its own values. It has its own hobbies together and still allows for the autonomy of the individual with alone time and independent interests (unfortunately, Mark’s only independent interests these days revolve around grad school).

Our “family unit” has always made communication a top priority, long before we even knew we would be a family. We talk about everything and then some. When we disagree, we talk even more to better understand where the other person is coming from. We learn how to compromise and not purposely push each others buttons. Our relationship isn’t perfect, but we do everything we can to keep it as close to sublime as humanly possible. Communication is the key. If one of us is unhappy about something, then we are both aware of it and working towards changing it. The negative subsides and the “happy” takes over, if for nothing else than for the satisfaction of knowing we can deal with whatever comes our way if we just talk about it.

Meg at a practical wedding asked some thought-provoking questions after her recent multi-state Book Club meeting:
What kind of marriage do you believe in?
Personally, I believe in a marriage that is honest, trusting, understanding, compromising, supportive, and that fosters a safe environment to pursue our dreams or retreat from the world into. I believe in a marriage where two people come together and make a commitment to one another that they both agree upon. In the fine print, it also means that we are legally and financially responsible for one another.
What difference does it make what you believe?
The difference my belief makes is the comfort of knowing that we are both operating from the same definition. We can choose to expand and grow that definition with intelligent discussion. We can set stable, definite benchmarks that we know we can rely upon. There is a faith in giving your heart so completely to another person. It helps that we are guided by the same boundaries. To each their own, but this is what we’ve decided for our relationship.

Marriage to me seals that commitment and makes it “permanent” in the eyes of our community. Although we all know divorce is possible, marriage is still a larger statement than just saying we love one another, which is why I truly believe that right should be made available everyone (hello my LBGTQ friends!). We should all have the ability to state in an easily recognized manner (ie: marriage) that we are declaring a certain level of commitment.

So ya, I guess I had a lot to say to start the marriage conversation. Oh don’t worry, there is so much more to come! I’m only half way through The Commitment and have yet to be part of the Committed book club discussion (coming soon to a coffee-house near you). I didn’t even touch on gender roles, children, tradition, my engagement, my elopement, or my celebration. Just wait for the wifey to start pouring out of me! I think someone just pulled my string…

***Meg over at a practical wedding has created an incredible, supportive, and *ah-hem* practical community of women in all stages of adult life, from “pre-engagement” to “wedding graduate” to “reclaiming wife”. Wedding planning is certainly discussed but more importantly, relationships, emotions, values and life decisions regarding children, money, home ownership, etc are really examined from all angles. There is no right or wrong and the community embraces everyone with an honest opinion. Many a beautiful thought-provoking discussion takes place in the safety of Meg’s comment boards. Hands down my favorite, most welcoming blog ever.

moving on up (and in)…

Mark and I were together for a year when the 2 bedroom, 2 story apartment upstairs from his man-cave became available. We had talked about moving in together before winter hit (sub zero Chicago nights mandate that you snuggle a warm body if its available to you!). The timing seemed right and so did the price, less a very important amenity: a bath tub.

You see, I’m a soaking kind of lady. A weekly bath was always a part of my pampering routine. Cleansing my spirit, if you will. There is just something about running a hot bath with mineral salts and a dash of essential oils. Lighting candles, turning down lights, turning up Nina Simone, pouring a glass of vino, and melting all the day away. It feels so decadent. The thought of living without this weekly treat was almost too much to contemplate (oh, the drama!) As soon as I saw the rehabbed kitchen, central air, walk in tiled shower, and tons of natural light in the beautiful new place, I was sold. I joined a gym that has a whirlpool and steam room, and signed a year lease to live with Mark in a tubless home.

Living with a significant other was a first for both of us. Mark is so easy. He had no apprehension whatsoever at all. I, on the other hand, trapped by the inner workings of my ever questioning mind, freaked out. What if he annoyed me to the brink of insanity? What if he was actually a slob and had hid it from me for the past year? Who was going to be responsible for emptying the dish washer and grocery shopping and making dinner? And why was it so hard to get rid of my duplicate $10 coffee bean grinder?

I read a fun book that helped ease my mind and allow me to feel somewhat in control of the action I was taking. “Shacking Up: A Single Girl’s Guide to Moving in.” I read it cover to cover and discussed the contents thoroughly with my “shack mate”. He was patient and kind and did his best not to outright laugh at my petty concerns. After basically telling me I could have everything he owned in the event of a breakup, I conceded my old beat up sofa and coffee bean grinder for his nicer models. The chores fell into place naturally after a few weeks and most of the problems I anticipated never came to fruition.

The rest has been co-habitation bliss. 3+ years of coming home to the man I love, snuggling his warm bum on cold nights and cranking the a/c in the summer to still allow for a cuddle. We have furnished a comfortable life together. Communication is the main key, but also required are love, honesty, patience, kindness, compromise, and general consideration. And sometimes, I treat myself to a spa trip for a nice long soak.