Who Is Gloria Morgan?

Our wedding web site allowed guests to contact us with questions about our upcoming nuptials. Early this year, we received this question from Gloria Morgan: 

Which of the accommodations have the highest thread count? Renaissance Marriott, Hampton Inn & Suites Asheville Biltmore Village, or Best Western Smoky Mountain Inn?

“Who’s Gloria Morgan?” Michael asked me. 

“I have no idea.” We chalked it up to spam.

Over the next few months, though, Ms. Morgan continued emailing us with inane questions.

  • For the Laurel Ridge Country Club: Shirt/shoes optional or mandatory?
  • Hi Rebecca and Mitchell! Hope this email is finding you well! Will Laurel Ridge Country Club be supplying two ply toilet paper or should we bring our own?
  • Hey guys! Sorry to bother you with so many questions! Is the Laurel Ridge Country club Segway accessible? I checked with Dawn but she wasn’t totally sure. Thanks! -GM
  • What is the anticipated pollen count for Waynesville on June 16, 2018?

I stopped reading them after a while. Just deleted them as soon as I saw her name. But then I realized a spammer targets one person and moves on. Or, usually, a whole group of people. But this person kept up with this for months.

Then I started putting other pieces together:

  • Our wedding web site included our home address, as we were having a barbecue there the day after the wedding.
  • The web site also had the time and day of the wedding.

I began to wonder if this person was going to rob us while we were at our own wedding. But I didn’t tell Michael this. He was stressed enough about getting house projects finished before our guests arrived.

Thankfully, I was on such a high on our wedding day that I didn’t think to much about it, though if, upon our return home on our wedding night, our house had been ransacked, I can assure you it’s the first thing I would have told the police.

On one table at our wedding, there was a basket that said, “Leave your wishes for the Mr. and Mrs.” The day after our wedding, Michael and I went through them and found one written by none other than Gloria Morgan.

Now it finally kicked in. Someone was playing a joke on us. Someone who had attended our wedding. So instead of a universe of spammers, we now had a mere 110 people as suspects.

But again life prevented us from thinking about it much more. Over the next three weeks we had a “mini-moon” in Savannah, a road trip up to Lake George and Schroon Lake, and  then yesterday’s big event: the New York Party–for all the folks in my home state who couldn’t make it to the wedding. And for those that did, but wanted to have good food, good company, and good wedding cake all over again in a much more casual environment. 

IMG_3451

At Canoe Island Lodge on Lake George. Ignore the pitchfork coming out of my head.

So last night, after everyone left, Michael and I sat down with my parents and my Aunt Janet to open gifts and read all the cards. We had just five left to read when Gloria Morgan struck again. “F*** Gloria Morgan!” I said. In her card, she had enclosed two 20% off coupons from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. The first had expired back in 2015. The second had expired in January. (Though everyone knows you can use those coupons long after they expire.)

“Who’s Gloria Morgan?” Dad asked.

We explained the messages, the note at our wedding. Michael and I both searched our emails to quote the questions she’d asked us. (We could only find half of them — we’d deleted the others.) 

“So it has to be someone who’s good with technology,” my mother said. “Which leaves me out,” said my father. “Me, too,” said Aunt Janet and my mother, in unison, laughing.

“It has to be someone who was at both parties,” Michael said.

“Or maybe they weren’t at this party — they could have sent the card with someone else,” I said.

“I might have seen Jeffrey put two cards in the basket,” said my mother. “Bethany can be a prankster.” And so it was that we sent a text to my brother Jeffrey and his wife Bethany. They claimed to have no idea what we were talking about. Though Bethany was at a bachelorette party, and admitted she may have been too drunk to understand what was going on.

“Gloria Morgan. GM,” pondered my mother. “MG! Meg Gallo!” proposed Aunt Janet. Or maybe Meg’s boyfriend Jimmy. He was just quiet enough and just funny enough and just unknown enough to maybe have been the guilty party. Michael texted Meg.

Michael: Thanks, Gloria Morgan.

Meg: Who the f is Gloria Morgan?!?!

Michael: We think it’s you.

Silence.

Meg was working in her ice cream store on a gorgeous 75 degree evening, so probably didn’t have time for our nonsense. So I called her boyfriend Jimmy. “Are you Gloria Morgan?” I said. He sounded a little confused. He has my number in his phone, so knew it was me calling. He feigned innocence.

Two hours later, we get a text from Meg: “I don’t know what you are talking about. . . I sling ice cream and don’t have time for shenanigans.”

“It’s obviously someone who keeps stuff around in their house for a long time,” I said, referring to the three-year-old Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupon. My parents certainly qualified on that count, but I hadn’t been in the homes of most of the other people in attendance in quite some time.

We tried Aunt Sharon and Uncle Dominic, starting our calls with, “Is it you, Gloria Morgan?” Both claimed innocence, “but let us know when you find out.” They called back mere minutes later with their suspects. “Your mother or Aunt Janet.”

“Nope, they’re both right here. And not savvy enough with computers to do it,” I said.

“I wish I had thought of this,” said Aunt Janet. At least one of us is definitely stealing this idea.

We tried contacting a few other suspects, but with no luck.

“You’re going to have to write a blog post about it,” my mother said. So voila. Will the real Gloria Morgan please stand up? And if she would like to remain a mystery, here’s what I want to say to her:

Dear Glo (as she signed one of her missives),

I would like to congratulate you on:

  • Your creativity.
  • Your consistency.
  • Your ability to print in a way that I swear was my sister Meg’s handwriting.
  • Your ability to scare the crap out of me.
  • Your ability to make a lot of people laugh over this story.

And thanks for not robbing us on our wedding day. 

With love,

Mr. and Mrs. Weston

p.s. Michael proofread my note to you and would like add: Stop sending us f’ing messages.

 

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Wedding Day Conversations

“A lot of people get married here in Savannah,” our trolley tour driver explained. “This square here,” he said, gesturing to a lush lawn dotted with live oak trees and benches, “is a popular place for weddings. But it used to be a cemetery. I imagine the ministers don’t tell that to the bride and groom.” All of us on the trolley laughed, but I was laughing for another reason: it reminded me of something my dad said to me on my wedding day, just a few days earlier.

As Dad and I stood awaiting our cue to walk down the aisle, he asked me, “Did you hear about the body?”

“The body? Uh . . . no.”

My maid-of-honor was given her signal and dutifully proceeded. Dad and I moved forward. “I’ll have to tell you later,” he whispered.

My niece Bella, the flower girl, was given her cue and pranced away in her white ruffled dress, basket of rose petals in hand.

I wondered what on earth Dad was talking about, but then we were summoned forward. “Walk really slowly,” my father reminded me, speaking from experience. This was not his first time escorting a daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. I turned the corner to see a crowd of my closest family and friends standing at their seats, bodies turned to watch us, big smiles on their faces. I smiled back — a look that wouldn’t leave my face the rest of the night.

As intrigued as I was about “the body,” I forgot all about it as Dad and I walked towards Michael. I didn’t think of it at all as the ceremony proceeded, as we said our vows, as we exchanged rings. When it was all over, Michael and I walked out together, followed by our bridal party, and then my parents.

“Congratulations,” Dad said, shaking Michael’s hand. “She’s all yours now.” We mingled with the rest of the bridal party as we waited at the big double doors for our grand entrance. Then, Dad found us again and said, “So Jessica and I found a body on our way here.” Apparently, he hadn’t forgotten where we’d left off.

“What?” I asked.

“Yeah. We were driving here, and Jessica’s looking out the window and says, ‘Dad — did you see that? There was a body on the side of the road!’ So we pulled over, and I thought the guy was dead. Really. He was just lying there, not moving. A young kid. Twenties. He had a pulse, but wasn’t breathing too well.”

Jessica called 911, but was having trouble explaining where they were as neither she nor my father live in North Carolina (where my wedding was being held). Dad started flagging down other cars. He directed one guy that stopped to call 911 back and give a more precise location. Then another car stopped. “This woman got out and said she was a nurse, and her husband was a doctor. So I said, ‘Good. My daughter’s getting married in an hour. I gotta go.’ And we took off.”

And he arrived in time to walk me down the aisle.

A few days later, while on our “mini-moon” in Savannah, I had to laugh at the differences between traditional southern decorum and what happened on my wedding day: In Savannah, they might not tell couples they’re about to marry on a former cemetery. But in my family? We don’t have that kind of restraint.

Saying “Yes” to the Dress

Three months into my wedding planning, I heard that some brides now buy two dresses: one to wear for the ceremony, and a different one for the reception. I thought this whole idea ridiculous for a variety of reasons:

  1. One dress is expensive enough — why buy two?
  2. A ceremony lasts, at most, an hour. Spend all that money to wear a dress for an hour?
  3. I hate shopping. It’s bad enough I have to find one wedding dress.

So I quickly concluded that no, I will not be buying two wedding dresses.

Well, if I ever write a book about my life, I should call it Never Say Never. 

A month before our wedding I was getting a little stressed. Every make up person I was calling was already booked. And I had gone to my first “trial” for my hair, and we had to schedule a second trial because we had yet to find the right style. I was lamenting (okay — crying) over these silly things, and Michael was dutifully listening, when I added, “And I don’t even know if I like my dress!”

“What do you mean you don’t like your dress?” he asked.

“I didn’t say I didn’t like it. I just said I’m not sure I like it.” Michael wrinkled his brow, then added, “Well, if you’d let me see it, I could give you my opinion.”

Since I had bought the dress (months ago), Michael wanted to see it. “It’s supposed to be a surprise,” I’d say.

“Why?”

“Because that’s the tradition.”

“But we’re not doing a lot of the other traditional wedding things,” he said.

“Well, we’re doing this one.”

But at the moment of this crying fit, I decided this was another tradition we could let go. Except that the dress was no longer in my possession.

“Okay,” I said to Michael, “I’ll show it to you. But I can only show you a picture of me in it, because I don’t have it right now.”

“What do you mean you don’t have it? Where is it?”

“In New York. We didn’t like how the bustle turned out, so Mom took it to her seamstress in New York to see if she could do something better.”

“What’s a bustle?” Michael asked.

After explaining how trains and bustles work, I showed Michael the picture on my cell phone.

Like a good fiancé, he said, “Well, first of all, know that whatever you wear you’ll look good.” I rolled my eyes and mumbled, “thank you.”

“But if you want my opinion . . .” he paused.

“Yes, I do,” I confirmed.

“Well, I’d rather see you in something more fitted.”

The lacy A-line dress he saw me in was fitted to just above my waist, then dropped straight down. I knew exactly what he meant. I started crying again.

“Listen,” he said. “If you want, we can go try on some dresses right now.”

“No, we can’t,” I cried. “You have to make an appointment. And the place is closed right now. And I have so much to do at school tomorrow.”

“I’ll call tomorrow,” he said. “Just text me the number.”

And so it was that on a Friday afternoon, Michael picked me up from school and accompanied me to the place from which I’d purchased the dress. I walked in and explained, “I’m just not sure about my dress.” The woman didn’t blink an eye, just smiled and said, “I certainly understand. Let’s have you try on a few more.”

“And I know it’s weird that I have my fiancé with me,” I said.

“Not at all. Brides do all sorts of things these days,” she said, walking Michael and I over to the racks of dresses. Michael picked a rack and started looking. “No, hon, those are way too big. Only look at these ones,” I said, showing him the racks that held my size.

We picked out dresses, then Michael sat down while I tried the first one on. Michael’s eyes bulged when he saw it. I think he was holding back tears. “Oh my God. Is this really happening?” he asked. I smiled. “She didn’t even zip it up yet, hon.” I stepped up on the pedestal in front of the three way mirror. Michael’s mouth dropped open. “Let’s put a veil on,” said the saleswoman. As she did, Michael nearly jumped out of his seat. “Hon, this is only the first dress. I don’t even like this one,” I told him.

“What do you mean you don’t like it? What don’t you like?”

“I’m not sure. I just don’t like it.”

“How are we going to find the right one if you can’t tell me what you don’t like about it?” Thankfully, the saleswoman jumped in. “When she knows, she’ll know.”

After trying on six dresses, we put one on hold and left the store. “I don’t want to buy another dress tonight. I just want to see some other options,” I told him.

“Well, where else can we go?” We called bridal shop #2, and they had an opening, so off we went. This time our saleswoman did what we had hoped someone would do: she gave us her opinion. After trying on six dresses, none of which I liked, for reasons I couldn’t explain, the saleswoman said, “Show me the dress you have.” I showed her the cell phone picture. “That’s a great dress for you,” she said. I started thinking, Well, then I guess it’s the one, but then she added, “I’ve got two more ideas.” I liked how I looked in both of those ideas. But was I sure I wanted to wear one of these instead of the dress I already had? I wasn’t. But the clock was ticking, so I said yes, and we bought a second dress.

But now I felt like I was in a worse position. Instead of having one dress and just saying, “Eh — go with it,” I now had two dresses and still wasn’t sure which one I wanted to wear. My only consolation was that the first dress cost only $300. Which was still more than I’d ever spent on a dress, but in the world of wedding dresses was pretty cheap. And the second dress didn’t cost much more than the first one.

My maid-of-honor took the pictures I’d sent of both dresses and put them into one side-by-side picture. And after shamefully admitting my dilemma to friends and showing them the picture, I still wasn’t sure.

Dress #2 (L), Dress #1 (R)
Before Tailoring

Three days before the wedding, I confessed to my mother. She reacted just as I’d predicted: a slight look of surprise splashed quickly across her face, and then she said, “Well, try them both on and see which one you like better.” So we did. And I chose the second one. But brought both to the wedding venue. Just in case.

Me and my personal shopper 🙂

“Yeah, We’ve Got That.”

Eight years ago, my parents bought a house in Schroon Lake, New York. It was a former boarding house — ideal when you have five children who like to visit with their friends, significant others, kids. It’s just a block from the lake. A block from the supermarket. A block from the tiny downtown (a coffeeshop, a couple restaurants, a wine bar). All in a quiet town of 1600 souls. The only downside to their purchase? The house was sold to them completely filled with someone else’s stuff. 

To those of you not wanting to clean out your house in order to downsize and move to Florida, take this lesson from a woman in Schroon Lake: Sell your house. With everything in it.

I don’t just mean the house was “furnished.” Oh, no, that would be too easy. Every cabinet, drawer, and closet had stuff in it. The basement? Full of stuff. The plastic storage box on the side of house? Full. With plastic animals you can decorate the lawn with.

But wait! There’s more! Every wall was covered with framed prints. Every surface covered with tchotchkes. We’re not talking about coming across some priceless antiques. We weren’t so lucky. They say one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Well, in this case, one woman’s junk is . . . one woman’s junk.

“She moved to Florida,” my mother said. “None of this stuff is really the style you would have in Florida.” Ah, my dear, empathetic mother.

And for my father? It was like a treasure hunt. Every time they went up there, I’d get calls about what else they came across. Boxes of Christmas decorations. A closet full of games.

Lucky for my parents, Schroon Lake has a town-wide garage sale every Labor Day weekend. People lug their stuff to the park on the lake, display their wares on tables, and hope someone else wants what they no longer do.

But for my parents, lugging all this stuff to the park — even though it was only a block away — was hardly going to make a dent. They didn’t have just a table or two worth of stuff. So what is a Gallo to do? Well, in the case of Lou Gallo, you head to your barn in Poughkeepsie, pull out your 20′ x 30′ red and white striped tent, throw it in your Honda Odyssey, drive up to Schroon Lake, put the tent up and your front lawn, and voila. Since their house is on the way to the town park, a few carefully placed signs (and a large red and white tent) made it easy to attract those out that day in search of treasures they didn’t know they needed.

Long story short: It took four years of Schroon Lake garage sales for them to clear the house of all the stuff they no longer wanted. I remember one year when more than one person showed up on our front lawn in Schroon Lake and said, “I always look forward to seeing what you guys have each year.” Yes, my parents were now “known” for their garage sales.

I wasn’t often able to help Mom and Dad clear out the house, but I was able to be present for a couple of those garage sales. Five tables displayed kitchen wares. Mom hung a string from the front porch post to the tree and draped bedspreads on it, hung curtains from it. Dad leaned some tires up against a tree. “Did you find those in the basement?” I asked him. “No. We brought those from home.” As in their main home in Poughkeepsie. Yes, for these garage sales, my parents imported stuff. 

I recently heard that most Honda Odyssey’s are now sold to people over 60. Yeah — the one’s who no longer have kids  to tote around. They say it’s because the seats are so comfortable for driving. In the case of my parents, it doesn’t hurt that they can also hold a lot of stuff. Like the aforementioned tent. And tires.

Which brings me to this morning. When my parents texted a picture of the back of their Honda Odyssey.

For those of you needing a translation:

  • That’s my sister Liz giving the thumbs up.
  • That’s my sister Jessica (nicknamed “Eagle Eye” at a young age) asking for further detail.
  • That’s Dad. The man whose every car usually has duct tape in it somewhere, wondering how on earth this one doesn’t.
  • That’s me. Feeling like I just earned 10 points in the favorite child competition because I have duct tape on hand.

And that whole “wedding or bust” thing that Dad wrote? That’s my wedding. You know, the one happening in four days. You see, Michael and I are having a BBQ at our house the day after the wedding. Michael was worried about the weather — specifically people roasting under the sun in our backyard. “We’ll have to rent a tent,” he said.

“We don’t have to rent one. My dad can just bring one down,” I said casually.

“Your dad has a tent?”

“Yeah. We had lots of parties at our house growing up. He used it all the time.”

“What does this tent look like?”

“Red and white stripes. Here. I’ll show you a picture,” I said, opening up my laptop, thinking Michael might not want the circus look.

“And sun doesn’t come through that?” he asked.

“Seriously? That’s the point of a tent, hon.”

And so it is that I called Dad and added the tent to the long list of supplies he’s bringing down for the BBQ. “I’ve got two, ” he said. “I’ll bring both — just in case.” In addition to the chafing dishes, sternos, coolers, and drink dispensers. Lucky for us, despite four years of garages sales, Dad’s still got those.

 

 

A Broken Record (My Very Own!)

After college, I worked for two months as a physical therapist, then resigned. Crying after work every day wasn’t something I thought good for my mental health.

I didn’t leave without a plan, however. I had been visiting a former place of employment, reminiscing about my time there, when I was told they had an opening: a temporary position, but one that would pay me enough to leave my current one. And so it was that I returned to being a seasonal park ranger at Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site.

After that position ended, I took a three week solo trip to Europe (solo because all my recently-graduated friends only had two week vacations, so couldn’t join me). Then, after a six month temporary position with the US Census Bureau and a one year position with Americorps, I took my first-ever job that didn’t have a definitive end date. And I hated it. So you’re telling me that after a lifetime of having summers off, two weeks off at Christmas, and a week-long Spring Break, I’m expected to spend the rest of my life with two weeks vacation? Maybe four after I’ve worked there a few years? I wasn’t liking this one bit.

A therapist told me I had “situational depression.” The “situation” being the job. She also told me I was having a quarter-life crisis. Two twenty-somethings had recently written a book about it, which she told me to read. I did. Then I resigned from my job. And learned that situational depression is cured by changing your situation.

I had held that job for a mere eighteen months. That was in 2002, and for the last sixteen years that job has held the record for the longest full-time job I’ve ever had.

This wasn’t intentional. But I like traveling. And the only way I could figure on being able to travel as much as I wanted to was to save up some money, then resign and take off. Because no job was going to give me a month off to travel. Plus time to go home for Christmas. Plus a few other days off for my sanity.

Now part-time jobs? Those I could hold for a while. I’ve been tutoring math since I was in high school. And what’s funny is that just about when I’d get sick of tutoring a kid, we’d hit Christmas Break. And I’d get my drive back. Until just before Spring Break, at which point I welcomed the week off. And then there was the mad dash to get my students to finish the year on a high note before the blessing that is summer. After which I had the energy to start it all over again.

All of this prompted many people to say I should become a teacher. “Oh, no,” I’d explain. “I like working with kids one-on-one. I don’t want to have to deal with a whole class of them.” Well, never say never.

This past March marked my nineteenth month as an employee of Carolina Day School. The record has officially been broken. Though part of me wonders: can I really count this as a full-time job? I have nine weeks off every summer. Two weeks (sometimes more) at Christmas. A full week for Thanksgiving. A full week for Spring Break. And all those Monday holidays. Some teachers say, “Yes, but we work so much during the school year, that the hours add up to a full-time job.” Well, maybe for them. I don’t go in early. I leave on time almost every day. And I work a max of three hours on a weekend. I think about my job a lot, though. And talk about it tons. Because I love it. I love the variety. I love the challenge. I love my colleagues and administrators. I love my kids. I could go on, but suffice to say: Yesterday marked twenty years since I graduated from college. It took me twenty years, but I’ve finally found work I love.

The Color Lavender (aka the First-World Problems of Planning a Wedding)

“What’s your color?” people would ask me.

“I don’t have one,” I would say.

Apparently, most people choose a color scheme for their wedding. Guests would see this color in the dresses of the bridal party, in the flowers that make up the bouquets, in the centerpieces gracing the tables, and on the invitations. But me? I chose my venue because I walked in and thought, “I don’t have to decorate this place at all and it will still look good.” In other words, who needs centerpieces? I’m also the woman who, the day after I got engaged, bought myself some roses at the supermarket. They lasted so long, I decided I’d buy my wedding flowers there. The morning of the wedding. And my bridal party? I didn’t need them all to match. Because there was only one person in my bridal party: my maid of honor. I told her she could wear whatever she wanted.

“So you don’t have a color?” she asked.

“Nope.” She just smiled. This is what friends are like. They accept you and all of your oddities. (I have learned in these last four months of wedding planning that not having a “color” was seen as more than just a bit odd).

Then my sister Liz called and let me know my nieces (ages 6 ad 9) were wondering if they were going to be in the wedding.

“Sure. What do they want to do?”

“Flower girls, probably,” said my sister.

“Okay. Then they’ll be flower girls.”

Liz texted me a couple weeks later to let me know that the elder of her two daughters, Ava, announced that she will not be a flower girl. She will be a junior bridesmaid. “Um, okay,” I said. “Is there a difference?” I had to look it up. It seems age is the only qualification for such things: nine to fourteen year olds qualify for this role.

“She wants to wear a different dress than (her sister)Bella,” Liz told me.

“Sure. They can wear whatever they want.”

“You don’t have a color?”

“No.”

“Well, what color are your flowers going to be?”

“Probably some pastels. Yellow, pink. Whatever they have at the supermarket that week.”

Because we were on the phone, I couldn’t see Liz’s eyes roll, but I knew it was happening. She didn’t say anything for a minute. She finds me baffling sometimes (often?). And I’m guessing she was trying to figure out how to continue this conversation with me.

I filled in the gap with, “Your girls always look cute. I’m sure they have some adorable dresses in their closets right now that would be perfect.”

I started to realize that me trying to make everyone’s lives easier by not dictating a color could, perhaps, be making their lives harder: too many options. Lucky for me, a few weeks later, my mother came down and we went to Michael’s to get ideas for flowers. And I loved a little gathering of lavender. “I can just carry this,” I told her. She put it in the midst of some blush colored roses and I said, “That looks nice, too.” So lavender it is.

But do you have any idea how many shades there are of lavender? I didn’t either, until I informed Liz of my selection. She went online to order swatches and texted me, “I am ordering swatches in lavender, lilac, wisteria, and Tahiti. The Dusk color is too grayish/brown, right?” I don’t remember what I responded. I might have rolled my eyes.

Thankfully, my maid of honor (Dawn) had requested contact info for my sister, Liz. I was overjoyed. Someone else to deal with the minutia of dresses and colors? Go ahead!

To Liz’s credit, she was concerned about the pictures. Something about Dawn and her girls matching. “Honestly, Liz, if they’re in three different shades of purple, I really don’t care.”

“Just don’t want the dresses to clash. That would not look good,” Liz texted.

“But it would be memorable:)” I responded.

“I don’t like the girls to look sloppy,” she wrote.

I didn’t get how clashing colors equaled sloppy. I gave up.

A few weeks before this, my three sisters, who are not in the wedding, were texting with me about my choice of color. Jessica asked, “Should Meg, Liz, Bethany (my sister-in-law), and I all plan to wear a shade of purple? Or do you want us in pastels?” I know most brides dictate the color for their bridal party. But a bride has to tell her siblings what to wear, too??? I have a hard enough time picking a color for a maid of honor, a junior bridesmaid, and a flower girl. Besides the fact that I am the least fashionable of all my sisters (in-law included), so why they’d want me dictating anything about their clothing was beyond my comprehension.

“You could wear red with orange polkadots and I would be fine with that!” I wrote. Jessica responded with an emoticon of a face with a puzzled look on it. Obviously, she didn’t understand my humor.

Thankfully, Meg understood. “We are not in the wedding party so why would we have to coordinate?” she wrote.

“We don’t have to coordinate,” Jess wrote. “I just thought maybe we would want to for family pictures.”

At this point, I was going to have to walk away. I tried humor. I tried patience.  So I went rogue and sent a text just to Meg, explaining that we take family pictures at every holiday, and we don’t coordinate our outfits for those! Meg then went behind my back and wrote in the group text, “Becky just informed me we take family pics all the time and don’t match.” Meg included an emoticon of a person laughing so hard they are crying their eyes out. At least someone understood.

So, to sum it all up, here’s the latest on my wedding planning minutia:

  1. I will have lavender in my bouquet.
  2. My maid of honor will wear lavender, or a color that goes nicely with lavender.
  3. My nieces will not clash with my maid of honor.
  4. My sisters will wear whatever they want.

I have said for a few years now that I just want a surprise wedding. Just like a surprise party. I show up. Guests shout, “Surprise!” I’m handed a bouquet, a wedding dress, and we get married. Then all the guests, whom I didn’t have to worry about inviting, eat food that I didn’t have to decide on. And there’s a color scheme. That I did not pick out. And if you asked me at the end of the night what that color was, I’d say, “A color? I didn’t know there was a color.”

On Planning a Wedding

I’ve always wanted to get married. I’ve never wanted to plan a wedding.

“If it were up to me,” Michael tells people, “we’d elope on a beach.”

“If it were up to me,” I say, “we’d have a party in the backyard. And it’d be potluck.”

But there’s a third party involved here: Dad. AKA The Man Footing The Bill.

Let me summarize: we’ve got a hermit, a frugal conversationalist, and a guy who’s been saving for years in order to throw his daughter a big party.

Michael has wondered when he will win out over my father. Well, not this time.

And so it is that our wedding will be held at a traditional venue. And our invite list includes 190 people. And we’re not only fine with that, we’re happy about it. Because ultimately, who cares? We just want to get married. Who complains about a dad who wants everyone to have a great time?

Thankfully, the planning hasn’t been difficult at all. We booked the second venue we looked at. The first officiant we talked to. The second photographer. The first DJ.

This doesn’t mean no research has gone into this. But lucky for me, Michael loves that part. Or just realizes if he doesn’t do it, it will never get done. I have zero desire to sort through sixty venues. Michael narrowed it down, showed me his favorites, I picked two, made the appointments, and voila.

But there are some things that take a Motherly Intervention. I hate shopping. Of all kinds. Clothes. Cars. Groceries. That whole minimalist thing? Probably stems from the fact that I’d rather live without than have to shop for something.  Mom came down in October to take me dress shopping. I booked one appointment. In 90 minutes, this place got me in and out of 35 dresses. We narrowed it down to three. A week later, I went back in and bought my dress. (Though not one of those top three, but that’s another story.)

Mom tried to get me to pick out shoes on her most recent visit, but, at the first store, we were told the summer shoes wouldn’t be out for two more weeks. I didn’t want do go to a second store, so I said, “Meg (my youngest sister) is coming down in a few weeks. Can we stop shopping if I promise I’ll buy shoes when she comes to visit?” Mom gave in.

My plan is this: The first day Meg is here, I’ll be working. So I’ll give her my car and the addresses of three shoe places so she can go do reconnaissance. So by the time I’m done with school, we can get this shoe thing finished up in no time.

Yesterday we booked our final vendor. And today I looked at the DJ’s questionnaire. “Write Yes, No, or IDK if you don’t know.” I had a lot of IDK’s.

  • Will you have a grand entrance? IDK
  • Music to enter by: IDK
  • Would you like to go into the first dance immediately after your entrance? IDK

These are the details I really don’t care about. Thankfully, there are wedding planners. One of the top “Careers I Never Want To Have.” My plan is just to say to her, “Tell me what people do.” Then, I say, “yes” or “no.”

There’s one thing I was sure of, however: I want to enjoy the time with my friends and family. So why on earth would I want to spend my cocktail hour away from them taking pictures? Let’s get those pictures done before the ceremony.

“So you’re going to do a First Look,” my sister Meg said.

“A what?”

“That’s what they call it. He has his back to you, you walk in, and as he turns around the photographer gets his expression.”

“Seriously? You’re kidding me. They have a name for this?!”

Meg laughs.

I relate this story to a few of my students, one of whom informs me where the “groom doesn’t see the bride before the wedding” thing comes from. “Arranged marriages. They didn’t want the groom to see her, because if he didn’t like what he saw, he might run.” Well, Michael has seen plenty of me. At my best and worst. If he was going to leave, he should have done it by now. So that tradition? Definitely not needed.