Tag Archives: weddings

A Bride’s Guide for the Anxious, Awkward, and Broke

22 May

 

photo wedding

This bride probably can’t focus because her mind is heavy with the burden of debt, social acceptance, and the to-the-minute schedule for the reception. Illustration by janwillemsen on flickr.

I want to talk about weddings for a minute. 

 

Mostly, I think I want to put my stance on weddings in one place so that when people continually ask me about my and Dave’s future, I can hand them a business card that sends them to it. Something like theJackieblog.com/whyarentyoumarriedwhatsgoingonthereitstotallymybusiness 

#passiveaggressiveweblinks

The Dave and I have been together for a long time. A very long time. Friends have had several full relationships within the cycle of our forever love – some have even gotten married and had children. There are a variety of factors that have contributed to this that really aren’t anyone’s business, but a large part of it has been both of our desires to do what we want in our own time. Stunning concept, I know.

But we’re coming up against that natural desire to send carbon copies of ourselves out into the earth, and when I combine my that with the need to simplify health insurance, income taxes, and a variety of other administrative hassles, it appears it’s time to throw in the towel and get married. So now we have to deal with all of that malarkey.

I’ve never really been the kind of girl to sit around and dream up what my future wedding will be. I’ve dabbled from time to time – had a private Pinterest board or two – but mid-pinning I’m reminded of everything that comes with a wedding and I’m overcome with a sense of dread.  So let’s talk about those things, shall we? Because nowhere, in the piles and aisles of ‘how-tos’ for brides, have I found a single book on “how to get married when you’re anxious, awkward, and broke.”

Some Crappy Things that Come With a Wedding

Thing 1 – The Attention: This has always been an issue, but with more social media apps than I can keep up with, it’s reached new woeful heights. There’s the engagement announcement, the wedding announcement, the constant questions about both. We can post it on Facebook casually or come up with some clever picture. Then do we roll it out across several platforms for the folks who are only on one? What about the people who aren’t on social media at all? Should we call them first or after? What if I need to do breathing exercises to talk on the phone? Then, I have to deal with people actually responding. Imagine how many clever jokes there are for a couple who has waited as long as us.

Work announced I got a promotion and six weeks later people are still exclaiming excitedly to me in person about it, which makes me want to tear off my skin and run away every time. If that’s a miniature test, the backlash from wedding-related announcements is going to make me self-implode. I’m already tired. People are already mad; I can feel it. Which is a shame, because we haven’t even gotten to:

Thing 2: The Invitation List: This is where it all goes way downhill. Even if I’ve done a proper job of announcing it and people were generally cool and I didn’t spontaneously combust from stress and anxiety, I still have to figure out this part: who gets to come? Are they the people who should come or the people who I want to come? Do Dave and I just figure out how much money we have (none) and how many people it can feed (none), divide that in half (zero) and then invite that many people (yes)? I guess I’m supposed to make rules for how guests get filtered through the decision-making and then extend the rules consistently and fairly throughout the process, but the rule I want to make is that they get to come if we want them in the room. That’s never actually how it happens. Even if we would be lucky enough to be the first couple in the history of all weddings to only invite the people we actually want to come, it means there will absolutely be more of:

Thing 3: The Drama: Even if a parallel Disney universe porthole opens up and sends me tiny magical mice to help me deep-breathe through the spotlight that comes with announcing, and even if some of those magical mice are deployed throughout the earth to explain to some people why they weren’t invited and others why they were, and even if no one has anything negative to say about that process (hilarious), there’s still going to be drama. Beyond the topic of who is supposed to come, people are going to have feelings about where it is, when it is, how long it is, what it’s like, where they sit, what the music is, if the favors are good enough, whether the food was good, and whether we chose the appropriate types and number of socially awkward wedding traditions. I have to say, I’m not really a traditional kind of gal. That part where single women scramble for the flowers publicly? That part where men go after the garter that’s been up the bride’s thigh? That part where a random man puts his hands up a random gal’s thigh in celebration of them being the two lucky catches? Has totally grossed me out forever. The dollar dance? Super weird. The part where the audience has to watch a bunch of different traditional dances take place? The cake in the face or maybe not in the face? The speeches, the toasts, the terror. The bachelorette and bachelor parties, the wedding shower. I have a lot of not awesome feelings about these sometimes requirements. Don’t get me wrong: folks should do what they want at their own weddings; it’s just that people seem to think I should also have to do what they want at mine. The only one I’ve been a fan of to date is a cookie table. I feel like a lot of people can really get behind that. Though I have to admit that’s a bit at odds with my issues surrounding:

Thing 4: The Work: Man, that’s a lot of work already and I haven’t event organized the event yet. I have to find a venue, probably think about making sure it looks all right, invite the people I argued about coming, track which ones will come and which ones won’t and guess on the rest, book and confirm and coordinate, make sure people know what to do and where to go, find some food and drink for them, probably get a cake and some entertainment or something… and then there’s all the worrying. That will probably be the most work of all. The amount of worrying that I will do and the time I will spend talking about all that worrying instead of doing something much more productive: that’s the heavy load right there. Speaking of heavy loads, it’s about time we address the elephant in the post:

Thing 5: The Money: This is the core of it, isn’t it? How insane is the money situation with weddings? Sure, someone will say something about how I can make it as expensive as I want or something. Or someone will offer to pay or help. Or I’ll be encouraged to put more work in to save more money – as if there isn’t enough work already. Yeah – I could try to figure out how to get a free or near-free venue. I could force a pot luck on everyone and tell them that because of our near-free venue, I probably won’t have a way to keep anything hot or cold so good luck. I could throw a pig in the ground with fire and say vegetarians be damned because I don’t have the money for pasta salads on the side (sorry gluten free folk). I could borrow everything possible and I’ll still end up paying a nice sum of money to make all of this happen or to at least make it happen in a way that’s worth all the work. And remember, people are going to have opinions on spending their money, taking off work, and driving some place to eat lukewarm food in the middle of the woods while a bunch of people just hang out.

As many times as I run through everything in my head, sometimes I still get to the place where I wonder if I just have to do it anyway because that’s what people do. What if I can get the money together? Then should I just do it?

But every time I come back to these three things that are definitely better than a wedding.

Three Things that Are Better than a Wedding

Thing 1: Starting a Foundation

I’m not even kidding. You can start a foundation with 5-10K – which, let’s be honest, is what we’re talking about. And that’s optimistic. Wouldn’t it be awesome if, when Dave and I got married, we celebrated by starting a philanthropic fund? Instead of all that money going into a one-time event, it can go toward something constant and sustainable that lets us fondly reflect on the spirit of giving every time we gift it.

Thing 2: Getting a House

So I recognize that this is something that I aspire to mostly because I’ve waited long enough in life to actually think it’s more practical to have a house than to have a party. But really. If I have to have a ceremony, I should just have it in whatever is my house-to-be. Anyone who wants to help pay can go in on that down payment with us. We can get celebrate in the back yard, have a proper potluck, and sleep for the first evening in our home together. If folks feel hellbent on wedding gifts, they can be focused on the housewarming celebration, which also takes the pressure off to have traditional wedding events and dances. 

Thing 3: Other people take us out to celebrate

I think this is in the realm of my million dollar idea series (along with Puppy Amusement Parks). We send invitations out to people to let them know we’re getting married. To celebrate, we welcome them to give us a call or email us to set up a date to go out together and celebrate. If that’s too intimate for them, then I guess we aren’t close enough to warrant a special celebration. And if they don’t want to or can’t pay for it – then I’m sure they can empathize with the fact that I feel the same way.

 

So there you have it: I’m adding to the bridal guide canon with this completely free how-to thinkguide support piece thing. No need to thank me, anxious dwellers of the earth. …Just don’t hold it against me if I fall privy to the trap of weddings and have to eat my blog post soon in shame. Don’t worry, if I change my mind you’ll know – I’ll feel pressured to make sure you get an invitation. 

 

My Struggle with Dance

4 Jun

napoleon dance

I wasn’t born a dancer.

I have the long, gangly limbs of an awkward schoolgirl married with the anxieties of a shut-in. Though I’m often mistaken for the kind of person who will get up and dance, it’s one of the pastimes I prefer our culture had never actually developed so that I could never live to be pressured into the misery of participating in it.

I danced once in middle school. I had developed a deep-seated complex about having to shower naked in the open with other girls and so to distract everyone’s attention from my conscientious objection, I stood on one of the benches in the locker room and performed a rousing rendition of “Father Abraham”, which I learned in Christian School.

Father Abraham had many sons, and many sons had Faaaaather Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you. So let’s all praise The Lord! (Right Arm!) Father Abraham… had many sons….

It went on in this hokey-pokey like fashion until all my body parts were involved. It was the dancing highlight of my first decade.

About five years later, I took a real stab at it in college. It was a pact between a friend and me– we were both ungifted with grace and thought taking Modern Dance would be an excellent way to help gain control over our gangly limbs. I remember it taking me several weeks simply to memorize the warmup routine. I also remember slamming my head off the stage during the final performance. Mostly.

A few years after that, I made one final and last-ditch effort to fall in line with society’s demand that I dance. After knocking out my gen eds, I transferred to a performing arts conservatory  with a nationally-lauded dance program. I was in the acting track and thought it would be prudent to dip my toes in the dance water to help not embarrass myself in future auditions that require rudimentary movement.  I signed up for “Dancing for Actors” – a class specifically tailored to actors who want to avoid humiliation. We learned basic steps and combinations and had to choreograph a piece and teach it to the class.

I struggled. There was a lot of stepping on toes and attempting to lead, which apparently isn’t permitted by humans with hoo-has. For my final piece, I choreographed “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and featured a freestyle section where everyone was commanded to channel their inner jungle animal and move through the space. It was beautiful.  It’s the only assignment on which I got an A.

And also the only assignment for which I didn’t dance.

My least favorite part of being a non-dancing human is weddings. People will always try to get me to dance at weddings. Somewhere along the way, someone told society that if you’re in an environment where other people are dancing and you’re not, you must not be having fun. The reality of the situation is that I’m highly skilled in self-entertainment (as a child I spent a lot of hours sitting in the car alone while my mom ran errands). But because society has been taught that dancing is fun and non-dancers are miserable, it becomes everyone’s personal mission to make non-dancers dance at weddings.

As if it’s not humiliating enough to have to scramble for a bouquet of flowers in front of everyone.

I have made two attempts at dancing in the past several months (a new record). The first was at a wedding where my friends pulled me onto the dance floor against my will and gang-danced me into a circular cage until I had to either move or ruin everyone’s fun. The second was last week.

I was at the wedding of a lovely and fantastic couple and feeling quite safe about the experience because Dave has been very vocal about his distaste for dancing. I remembered that quality being one of the things I checked off my “ideal man” list that I keep in my pocket at all times for cross-referencing. However, at this particular wedding, he was dancing.

This was an entirely new kind of pressure. Dave is a very attractive man, and weddings typically feature moderately attractive women. So added to the weight of ruining a wedding with my sourpuss non-dancing and the pressure of my friends egging me to do so publicly, I now had to consider that if I didn’t get out there and dance with him, some other boobed lady beast would.  So I did what any self-respecting woman would do: I asked the DJ to play “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness and threw caution to the wind. He followed it up with “Brick House” and two things occurred to me: 1) I don’t mind dancing if it’s to amusing music and 2) I don’t mind dancing as much now that I’m not so fat.

That last part is a big one.

For those of you following along at home, I’m halfway through a venture I’ve dubbed Project Fatass 365, wherein I must work out every day all year. There on that dance floor I realized that there was much less jiggle in my jiggy and that I wasn’t nearly as concerned with people’s eyes being on me as I used to. Not just because there is less of me and because I can better control what I have, but because I just care a lot less about what people think. Now that I’ve shed some of the megagut I was using to store my food for winter all year long, I have more energy to be my middle-school self.

I’m still not a dancer. I will probably never be one. I’m living proof that slides, be they of the cha-cha or the electric variety, are not universally demonstrated. But that’s okay because I do one hell of a Father Abraham.

So here’s to a new Jackie – a Jackie who dances not because she’s egged on or pressured or gang-danced to humiliation, but because she hears Brick House and wants to get funky and doesn’t really care what it looks like to everyone else. It’s a shame that I ever lost that spark that got me on the locker room bench in the first place.

But you still can’t make me shower in public.

Father Abraham had many sons, and many sons had Faaaather Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you. So let’s all praise the Lord (LEFT ARM!) Father Abraham….

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