Tag Archives: Wedding

Bookstore Experience: The Wedding Sanity Edition

As it turns out, Barnes & Noble is a pretty hopping place on a Saturday night. According to a friend who works at the cafe there, B&N is really The Place To Be – which makes me feel a pretty good about admitting that our Saturday night date was at a bookstore. Not only are we true to ourselves and owning our nerdiness (yay bookstores!), we’re also the cool kids (I think this is a yay… hm.).

Anyway, I’m not writing to tell you about how awesome we are (pretty awesome). I’m writing to tell you what was supposed to be a story about how I got enraged at the bookstore, but I think that’ll be a post for tomorrow.  Today? Good wedding deeds:

We had our cocoa at the tables in the cafe, read through some magazines. Had to get through some trashy ones to learn about Katie’s Holmes’ apparent drug problem and bratty daughter (but Suri is oh so cute) and then continue on my quest to find a magazine that 1. doesn’t make my brain rot (Katie Holmes already did that; thanks, Katie); 2. Is interesting (sorry Runner magazine, you’ll just never be mine); 3. and doesn’t make me hate everyone (hello, every women’s fitness magazine ever). The quest was largely unsuccessful.

As we got up to leave, we noticed that the girl at the table behind us had a wedding magazine on her table. And next to that, a stack of about 15 wedding magazines. And, you guys, she looked a little stressed out. “Turtle,” I hissed, “should I tell her it’s going to be okay?”

approximate size of *one* of her stacks of magazines. poor girl.

Turtle gave me a look that said, I married you and I bring you out in public and yet I’m still surprised when you ask me these things – why? I should know better by now. You can tell we’re married because I can get all of that from just one look. But she answered, “See if she has a ring – you can only say something if she’s actually engaged.”

So I leaned over to pick up something that I, ahem, dropped (um, a piece of trash on the floor? A cup from someone who’d been sitting there before? You know, something I would have otherwise ignored), and confirmed: a ring! So what did I have to lose? I took a deep breath, leaned over, and said, “Excuse me, I just noticed all of your wedding magazines. If you’re looking for some sanity, you should check out A Practical Wedding. It really is wedding sanity.”

And she looked at me with sort of crazed eyes (I mean, I think? I don’t really know her, so maybe her eyes are always like that. But she did look a little panicked.) and said, “Oh my goodness, thank you so much. I definitely could use some sanity.”

I feel like I’m a happy little wedding fairy.  Why aren’t more people telling people it’s going to be okay?  Instead it’s “YOU NEED THINGS.  YOU NEED MORE THINGS! THEY. MUST. MATCH.”

If I weren’t as shy as I feel and I knew her a little better, or if she’d said, “tell me more!” I then would have listed off every website ever that has the sanity (hi all you readers who also write!).  But I am kind of shy and I didn’t know her and mostly I felt awkward.

What would you do?

Coming soon, the story of my bookstore experience: The Enraged Version.

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Across the Shoreline: You came for me in fast forward

After making our way up slopey beaches, leaping into the air, and leaning on the people who were there for us to lean on, my brand new wife and I go some time to ourselves.

Sort of.

One very vivid memory I have of the day was finishing our pictures with our brigadeers and suddenly realizing I could take off my dress.  You guys, the dress was pretty.  It satisfied whatever need I had to wear a dress, and whatever need other people had for me to wear a dress.  I liked how it looked.  And I was ready to get the eff out of it.  And then?  All comfortable and still dolled up, it was time to spend some time with my wife.  Oh yeah, and our photographer.

Check out the rings on those fingers!  These were some of the best moments of a day full of best moments.  It was just the two of us, and the instructions we were given were essentially, “Act like you just got married and you’re happy about it.”  Um, no problem.

After a few photos outside the building and out by the water, we wandered into the woods. At this point, I was just on a strange, thrilled, calm high. I couldn’t believe we were married. I couldn’t believe there was still so much of the day to do, and I was excited about all of it, even though I could hardly comprehend that there was more of it. It all felt surreal –

– and what better way to ground yourself in the craziness of all of that than to find your new wife and remind yourselves of each other? So, unprompted, we had our first dance. No music, just the two of us, spontaneous-kitchen-dancing-style.

You guys? I for serious love her.

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Across the Shoreline: The Brigadeers

Our bridal brigade kind of rocked, and it was superfun spending time with them after the ceremony.

At that point, we were both all kinds of wrapped up in each other, and, as I remember it, drifting through our photographer’s instructions and laughing a lot. These people were exactly the right people to understand that, to get that we were a little out of it, riding on this Marriage High, and enjoying it right alongside us.

Here’s a note: if your photographer tells you to do something that sounds a little silly, like, “Hey, everyone walk towards me up this sandy and possibly dangerous slope and don’t fall!” – she knows what she’s talking about. Some of these pictures felt a little ridiculous while we were doing them, but we were thrilled with how they came out. Let it be known to the world, we love Ellie Leonardsmith.

Here’s another note: having a second, secret photographer taking the same pictures from another perspective is kind of awesome. A lot of our photos were fantastic surprises, and it was really fun to see what our guests were probably seeing!

Finally, we got a few shots with our “sisters” – mine biological, and my wife’s as close as you can get.

Next up, I get out of my dress (ooh la la) and the two of us sneak off into the woods…

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Across the Shoreline: The biggest smiles

First of all, my wife is kind of amazing.  I have been dealing with some pretty major anxiety for the last, oh, 13 days, and she has been a rockstar.  She checks in with me, she lets me whine or cry, she makes sure I’m taking the right amount of meds, she reminds me to check in with my doctor.  Ladylove, you are wonderful.

So while we’re talking about the other member of my fantastic marriage, why not show you some more pretty pictures?  After we danced our way back up the aisle, we took off together!  I had heard of couples taking some time between the ceremony and reception to have some quiet time together, to giggle and be excited and take in the enormity of it all, and somewhere along the line we decided that the ideal place to do this was in a boat.

Don’t worry! We do know enough about boats to realize that we won’t go far without paddles or while facing the same direction…

This made for a lot of fun and some pretty great pictures, but we also had a lot of people looking at us.  I didn’t feel like we could go very far (Look! Everyone’s waiting for us! They’re waving! They’re staring! Are they bored?), but it was really wonderful to get out on the water, just the two of us.  There were two guys out fishing and they seemed to get a kick out of us, two brides, out on the water, too.

We made our way back in, took a group picture, and then it was family picture time.

all of our friends and family, except our amazing photographer friend. we know she was there because we have all these amazing pictures without her in them. thanks Ellie!

They say you have to smile a lot, and we did.  The thing was, though, that it wasn’t hard to smile a lot.  We were pretty damn happy.  People kept saying, “Kiss! Kiss!” so we kept kissing and making faces.  It was all sort of whirlwindy and wonderful.

us with our immediate families

us with a portion of my extended family (I LOVE my grandma and brother in this picture!)

I think the prompt was "everyone look at Bird!" How could I NOT make a face? Also, isn't my family beautiful? The answer is yes.

us with Turtle's mom and grandpa. I love this picture.

Next up: our kickass bridal brigade photos!

You know, I used to think that all the family portraits were sort of silly and not for me.  The truth of it all is that it was really fun getting to spend time running in and out of these little groups, and hearing our photographer prompt everyone, and having so many people around us, all being so excited!  The only thing I regret about these pictures is that I wish I had more! I wish I had some with just my siblings or with each of my parents individually, or each of my grandparents.  But I do love what we had.  If you’re on the fence, more is best! That’s my new take on things.  If you’ve done it already, what’s yours?  If not, what are your thoughts?

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Across the Shoreline: Done with patient waiting

On Wednesday I got to hang out with the always-fabulous Mrs. Octopus, who has been writing some stellar wedding recaps, most of which bring tears to my eyes or at least make smile.  So there we were, cuddling with her dog and talking about how cold we always are and the abilities of the amazing seltzer-making machine, when she suddenly declares, “You know, you really need to write your recaps.”  We talked about other stuff, too, but really? Yes, I do need to write my recaps.  So welcome back to Wedding Recap Land, where we last talked about our vows.  This is a bit long because I just want to tell you all about it!


As we finished reading each other our vows for the first time, our rings returned from their travels among our guests.

About a week before the wedding, we met with our  minister to go over the script of the ceremony.  There were some things we really wanted her to include and other things where we said, “If you can just get the gist of this idea, we trust however you’re going to say it.”  After she all, she is a minister, she’s done a lot of weddings, and we really like her and the sermons she has given in the past.

What I mean to say here is that I don’t actually know exactly what we said about the rings.  She talked about what they represented, and maybe said something about how we use our hands for almost everything in our lives, and that in everything, the rings will be a reminder of our promises to each other today.  We repeated after her, which I really liked; we could hold hands and look at each other for all of this.

After all of the repeating and the promises came this:

With this ring, I give you my promise to honor you, to be faithful to you, and to share my love and life with you in all ways, always. With this ring, I thee wed. And I put the ring on her finger.

Then she repeated her promises, and said the same: With this ring, I give you my promise to honor you, to be faithful to you, and to share my love and life with you in all ways, always. With this ring, I thee wed. And she put the ring on my finger.

Turtle’s long-time dance teacher and friend stood up to give our final reading by Rumi:

Face that lights my face, you spin
intelligence into these particles
I am. Your wind shivers my tree.
My mouth tastes sweet with your name
in it. You make my dance daring enough
to finish. No more timidity! Let
fruit fall and wind turn my roots up
in the air, done with patient waiting.

At this point, it’s all a little bit of a blur.  A blur of happy, of Oh My God we’re married, I think – are we married? Has she declared it? I think we’re married! Somewhere in there, our minister said, “By the power vested in me by God and the state of Massachusetts, I now declare you legally married!” Everyone whose face you can see in this picture is absolutely beaming.

And then I think she gave us permission to kiss.  So we did:

Which was closely followed by our flinging our arms around each other in utter joy.  I love the looks on everyone’s faces here:

You know how sometimes you’re just like, “Why do I/you/we/they need a wedding?  Why not just go to the courthouse, or just stay together and make that decision every day? That’s romantic.  Who needs a piece of paper?”  If you do know what I’m talking about, then you also knwo that there are about a million different entirely-accurate answers to that question.  But this picture here reminds me of one of them: here, we are thrilled to have each other, and everyone around us is thrilled that we have each other.  Here, we have just promised big things and all we want is to be in each other’s arms, full of that joy.  This is a picture I can look back on and forget that my wife didn’t take out the dog or that we’re worried about our heating bill or that I’m supposed to be cleaning the house rather than writing thing (maybe that last one is irrelevant, but oh well).  This picture brings all of the Love, all of the Yes and the I Do back to the surface for me.

Okay, now hit play:

We stood there, grinning, in front of everyone and waiting for the music to start, and when it did we rocked our way back up that aisle (please note my grandmother’s wonderful expression here; she’s in the amazing orange):

If you missed anything, you can catch up here.

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Across the Shoreline: What This Would Mean

Our vows were something of a production in the making.  We originally thought we would write them together, but that ended in both of us snapping at each other and one of us walking away (um, that one might have been me. Might have been.).  We eventually decided that we would write them on our own and then compare… and that evolved into “Our vows are a secret to be revealed on our wedding day! And also it’s a contest – most tears elicited wins!”

The contest part was mostly a joke.

We both spent a lot of time scouring the internet for inspiration, and sharing a lot of the inspiration we found.  While we did look at a lot of people’s vows to each other, the ones we came up with were ours, and because of the sacredness of them, I am not going to share them all here.  But! I will share some of them.

“Turtle, 11 months ago, after you finally agreed to marry me, I sat down outside and thought about what this would mean, and here is some of what I wrote:

I know it won’t always be like THIS, it won’t always be the way it is right now, and things change over years and decades.  But I think we could always have this important place for each other, and we could always value each other this way, and have whatever adventures we are having together – in Massachusetts or Oregon or New Hampshire or New York.  With one dog or five… or, fine, just two.  It’s amazing and wonderful and lucky that we can both live the lives that we have individually dreamed about and they can fit together so perfectly, almost make the other’s POSSIBLE, almost fill in the spots we maybe didn’t realize were empty to start with.  I feel blessed to have you.

“Today, I, Bird, take you, Turtle, to be my wife, and, in doing so, I take you to be my partner, friend, and closest family…

“I promise to rejoice with you in the good times and to struggle with you in the bad… I promise to support you and to have faith in you… and to give thanks for you always.

“I realize that we will grow and change in our life together… I promise that I will return to the words we are saying to each other here today and to try always to live by them.  I will be my best self for you, for me, and for us… I am proud from this day forward to be called your wife.”

Then it was Turtle’s turn.

“Bird, you are the sweetest part of my day… Today, I ask you to be my truest companion, my cherished partner, and my wife.

“I promise to love you when love is simple and when love is complex.  I promise to create with you a home filled with joy, kindness, respect, and comfort.  Our home will be abundant with experiences that have shaped – and will always shape – our shared life:  more tea than we could ever hope to drink, a porch filled with plants in various states of aliveness, falling asleep on the couch, figuring out who takes out the dog and who feeds the cats, stopping whatever separate tasks we are engrossed in to dance around the kitchen, and all the other adventures that make up this blessing that is our life.”

AND THEN. I debated not stopping her, my beautiful about-to-be wife, in the middle of her vows.  But then I realized that I couldn’t not stop her: I don’t remember what I said, because I felt bad about interrupting, but I said something and I grabbed her arms as a beautiful hawk flew right over our heads.

I can’t express how powerful this moment was.  The hawk was much closer than you see it in this picture; it was right there.  It felt like a wonderful, beautiful blessing from the world.

After a few minutes, we all recollected ourselves and continued:

“I am unspeakably blessed that I have found my home in you and that one part of our journey has ended and another one begun.”

Turtle’s vows were, I think, the part of the ceremony for which I was most present.  I did not want to miss a word, an ounce of meaning, a look in her eye.  I soaked up those vows.  Funny, though, I also kept thinking, “Ooh, that is GOOD! I should have said that!”

I was going to tell you what my favorite line of her vows were… but I went back and read them again and realized I would have to post all of it, every word.  Each line is full of meaning, intention, and *us*.  I am so lucky, you guys.

How did your vow-writing go, or how do you see it going?  Did you/will you share beforehand, or surprise each other on your wedding day?

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Across the Shoreline: The Wonder That’s Keeping The Stars Apart


One thing that was really important in planning our wedding was to make our guests feel involved.  We didn’t want them to just be people who were there to watch, and we didn’t invite anyone who would want to just come and watch.  We wanted people there because they have been important in our lives individually, and we hope they continue to be important in our lives as a family.  We wanted these people to be present, intentional witnesses to our union, and to actively acknowledge and support us.  A huge part of this was the ring ceremony.

We had been to a couple of weddings in the year before ours in which the rings were passed around to each guest for them to hold and bless.  A few months before our wedding, one of our friends lost her wedding ring; she looked down one day and the ring was gone.  As a gift, her wife had her own wedding ring melted down and divided into two rings, and the two of them celebrated still having rings that had been warmed by their family and friends.  This story made the blessing of the rings so much bigger for me, and I realized that there is power even in the small blessings that we bestow on small things.

After the first two poems, our minister took the rings from my brother, who had been keeping them safely (and nervously) in his pocket. Note: giving your wedding rings to a sixteen year old boy and making him stand in front of 50 strangers in nice clothes can be really, really intimidating.

My awesome brother, concentrating.

First, Ellen talked a little bit about the significance of the rings, and then she read a Celtic explanation that Turtle had found and loved:

May the element of Air bless these rings.  Air is at the beginning of all things, the direction of East, and the dawning of a new day.  May your lives through the reminder of these rings be blessed with continuing renewal of love.

May the element of Fire bless these rings. Fire is the passion within your love, the spark of love itself, the heat of anger, and the warmth of compassion.  It is the direction of South, the heat of midday.  May your lives through the reminder of these rings be blessed with continual warmth.

May the element of Water bless these rings.  Water nourishes and replenishes us, the waters of emotion and harmony pour vitality into our lives.  It is the direction of West, the afternoon and evening.  May your lives through the reminder of these rings be blessed with fulfillment and contentment.

May the element of Earth bless these rings.  All life springs from the earth and returns to the earth, the direction of North, the nighttime.  May your lives through the reminder of these rings be blessed with strength and solidity.

She finished with, “And now, Bird and Turtle invite all of you to pass the rings between one another, pausing to say a prayer, a blessing, a best wish for the future, or simply warm them with your love, before passing them along,” and the rings were off:

As the rings traveled, my other bridesman read e. e. cummings’ i carry your heart. To be honest, Turtle really wanted this poem, but at first I didn’t; I thought it was too cliche, too overused.  Who doesn’t have this poem as part of their relationship?  And then she told me that it’s our wedding, it doesn’t matter what other people do in their relationships, this is a poem that is important and authentic for us.  And it seemed like the perfect poem for Ean to read, so that’s what happened.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)
i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

The rings were still moving, and our minister had everyone say something about how they promised to affirm and support us.  I don’t really remember what she said, but I do remember that we spent an enormous amount of time picking out the words from various places and editing them excessively before giving them to her… and now I have no idea what they were.  Funny how that works.  So our community affirmed our relationship, and then my sister gave a reading:

Messenger, by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

As the rings continued to pass from hand to hand among our family and friends, we prepared to say our vows…

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