Oct 20, 2013
I haven't been signing into PW lately. My wedding date was originally set for June 30 (incidentally, the same day as SF Pride... ha!) Life is, however, that which happens when you are bust making plans. On February 15, just over a year after being diagnosed, the melanoma that had invaded my sister's body overwhelmed her and she passed away in her sleep.
We had known Joy was terminal about three weeks earlier. I had just started a new job at the Capitol, and with a promotion I was under a lot of pressure to impress. After a phone call from my brother in law to leave work and drive to my parents' house because Joy had "something to tell me", I practically ran out the door and drove the entire hour to my parents' house in tears.
Joy was always supposed to be my maid of honor. Even at the young age of 16, she asked me to be her maid of honor 14 years ago. I have three wonderful women whom I refer to as my "best friend" but of all the people in the world, Joy was my true best friend. I knew she always had my best interests in mind, and knew that no one could possible understand me as she did. She was 7 years older than me, but never found it below herself to play with Barbies with me, take me to the mall, or try new restaurants together. There was no one whose opinion I trusted more, especially when it came to anything wedding related.
Needless to say, I knew that I could not plan a wedding by June. Some people go through worse and still pull off a wedding under a similar timeframe, but I couldn't bring myself to celebrate, let along ask my family to celebrate, so soon after a tragedy had occurred. My aunt passed away just months before my sister's diagnosis, and the constant stress and loss taken its toll on us.
Today, my sister's daughter, my niece Adrienne, turned four. Each year on Adrienne's birthday, FI and I would join my sister and her husband to celebrate a dinner with Adrienne. It has been a hard day, but spending some time with my sister's family was very therapeutic. Here's a pic of us today at dinner:
While I am feeling a little better, I know that this will take time. I have gotten back to planning things here and there, and hey, someday I'll even get my save-the-dates out! Joy will be at my wedding, in some way or another--that's how it's always been meant to be. Sometimes I still can't believe there can be our family without her, even a world without her. At the same time, time seems to be flying, and I feel that before I know it, we'll be together again.
(I'm the one on the far right, and Joy is right next to me. This is us with all of our stateside cousins from my mom's side.)
How hilarious is this photo? Source
...but doable, I think :/
As many of you may know from personal experience, you don't choose who you love. This being the United States of America with the glorious First Amendment and all, religion shouldn't get in the way of one marrying the love of their life and marrying the wo/man of his/her dreams... right?
I know more than a few grown men and women who are products of an interfaith Jewish-Catholic marriage, which, combined with several episodes of the 1990s TLC series A Wedding Story, led me to believe that people do this all the time, and that finding an open-minded officiant willing to co-officiate with another open-minded officiant would be no sweat, especially in the cobalt-blue state that is San Francisco. As it turns out, it's actually really, really hard.
Ugh, these lucky bastards... I mean, nice people who obviously figured out something I have not yet. Source
Like all great wedding planning feats these days, I started with a Google search. We were immediately able to find a rabbi who specializes in co-officiating interfaith weddings. We scheduled a phone call with his wife/assistant/manager (I dunno, like a Sharon Osbourne for rabbis?) During the phone call, she said that they plan out the ceremony for you, it's all very specific to the couple, etc. AND they have done several weddings with Filipino Catholics. SCORE... right? Well, she went on to say that their fee for very, very basic service with minimal interaction with us and planning is $1050! I wish I could put numbers in larger font than it is already in... our budget is continually climbing toward the heavens and this had me righteously pissed off, especially considering that this didn't include the amount we would donate to the priest's parish. Convinced there had to be a more managable solution, I headed back to the interwebs.
I kept searching on Yelp and Google, and it had been pretty hard. I read blogs of people who got married this way, and they all got married in other states. I went on to ask every single observing Jew I know if their rabbi would co-officiate, which just led to dead ends.
Then, I realized that I hadn't even bothered to ask "my side" for help. So, I have been emailing back and forth with the deacon at the Archdiocese of San Francisco. He said that special dispensation is required for weddings outside of the church, with even more difficulty getting approved for weddings outdoors. However, I'm really impressed by how easy the conversation has been with him in exploring our options. I'm still really hopeful that we can work something out.
In addition, I have found InterfaithFamily.com, which has given me referrals to rabbis in our area that might co-officiate. FI is still in the process of getting in touch with them, but based on what I have been able to research about these rabbis makes me much more hopeful.
::::AND NOW ALL BLINGY WITH RINGSHOTS!*::::
*Ha! Most of the ringshots are at the end!
Well, well, well... here we are. We did it! I managed to wait it out, and he managed to pull it off without completely falling apart at the seams. I'll start at the "beginning":
About a month ago, I realized that baseball season would soon be over. Huge Giants fan that I am, I got the idea to have a group of friends from all over go to a game (partially to hook up two of my friends who are geographically separated, but that's someone else's engagement story [crosses fingers]. I pored over the Giants schedule, and started proposing various dates to all of my friends. It seemed that September 3 was the best date for everyone. Incidentally, this is my BFF's birthday AND Nick and my anniversary. Knowing Nick is a huge fan too, I figured this was fine since this is year 6 for us and we've already had five of these things and it would be nice to include friends for once. I wrote on my BFF's Facebook wall to get her approval. She quickly gave the thumbs up and we had a drawn-out "conversation" about it in the comments.
Later, I told Nick about our plans. He got kind of whiny and said that he didn't want to do it on our anniversary. "It'll be fun," I told him. "We have the whole weekend for just us." A week later, a friend of mine asked me if we had solidified plans for the game. I went on to bug BFF, again on Facebook, to which she responded that she'll get back to me soon. I updated Nick on this, and he said, "We can't go to the game on Saturday. I have something planned in the city. It's a surprise."
For whatever reason, this set off a rollercoaster of proposal anxiety. I had whittled it down to two reasons he could possibly be so adamant about having the surprise on that day and that day only:
- He got an awesomely perfect reservation at some Gary Danko-type place and they are completely immovable.
- He is going to propose.
Thus, a series of clues from our interactions made me think, will he, or won't he? This includes:
- He's being very sercretive about our anniversary :)
- He's very busy at work and it seems to be consuming him completely :(
- He's acting differently, could it mean... :)
- He doesn't seem nervous or shifty in any way the way he would be if... :(
- He let me sit around all of Friday night to watch wedding shows and he actually watched with me! :)
- Did I mention he doesn't seem nervous at all? He is Mr. Quivering in My Boots while testifying in hearings and Mr. OMG I Can't Think of an Excuse on the Spot and They're Still on the Line Waiting for Me to Say Somethinguhhhhhhh... IJUSTCAN'TBYE--AAAAAAAAH!! :(
So, September 3 finally rolls around, and I'm still 50/50 on a proposal happening. I have deduced that we are going somewhere fancy for dinner. The first plan for the day: brunch. We went to a restaurant in the Mission District called Slow Club. It's typical New American Mission District eatery. I think my food is great, he just thinks his is good. I am happy anyway. We jaunt through the Mission and get coffee, browse through shops, soak in the neighborhood while the sun is trying to break through the clouds to really bring the crowds out. We happened upon an alley completely covered in beautiful murals. We walk through, carefully studying each one; the next thing we knew, we had gone from bougey Valencia Street to the heart of it all, Mission Street.
We decided to keep walking, and we happened upon Commonwealth, THE restaurant the SF Chronicle has been lauding as the future of SF dining. I had been bugging Nick to take me there practically since it opened. "This is where Commonwealth is?" I asked; Mission Street is so bustling and gritty. "I guess so," he said. "This is where we are having dinner." I completely wig out.
I then suggested that we go to Dynamo Donut, the place featured on the Food Network for selling a maple bacon apple donut. It spite of a filling brunch, the espresso inside me was like, "Rawrrr, feed me!" We sat on their patio overflowing with climbing flower vines tumbling over its neighboring fences. As we gleefully talked and ate donuts.
We decided to head back to his parents' house to get dressed for dinner. I had only brought a cocktail dress, thinking we were going somewhere old, like Gary Danko or Michael Mina. However, newer restaurants have more casual dress codes. In the first truly angsty moment of the day, I start freaking out. Rather than frantically running to the store to find a dress, I throw my peacoat on and hope for the best.
We drive back out to the city from the Peninsula, me uncomfortably shifting in my cocktail dress. When the hostess seats us, and immediately sit down and commit to keeping the dress on the entire dinner. Having reservations at the opening for the night, people started trickling into the empty restaurant in their casual wear, and I grew more and more self concious. I was barely able to order, barely able to talk. Suddenly, after ordering and somewhat getting rigid, the prospect of getting amazing food and realizing that Nick had had a permanent smile all day finally snapped me out of my funk. It had been such a wonderful day, right down to finding incredible parking everywhere I went. I really didn't want to ruin it. We went on to eat some of the most unbelievable food I'd ever had.
Summer squash (chilled soup, raw shaved salad, crispy blossom, salsa verde, vadouvan oil)
Slow-cooked farm egg (with padron peppers, pickled chanterelles, basil, hato mugi)
Sea urchin (with toasted brioche, tapioca, kimchee, caulifflower, and wild greens)
Grilled sardines (with french beans, marcona almond, grapes, bread emulsion, and lovage)
Crispy young hen (with carrots cooked in hay, marble potatoes, dill, buttermilk mousse)
peanut butter semifreddo in chocolate ganache with frozen "popcorn" and caramel
Toward the end of dinner, Nick says, "Just so you know, we're having dessert somewhere else. We can have dessert here, but we're going somewhere else too and there will be dessert." Foodie fiends that we are, when the waiter slip dessert menus in front of us, we can't resist.
"I'm going to tell you where we're going now," Nick said. "Guess." This produced nothing from me. He went on: "Where have I wanted to go back for dessert for six years?"
I thought back to our first date, that which I had referred to many times over to friends as "THE BEST FIRST DATE EVER." Because of a late start, young Nick and Karen had forgone dinner and had smoked hookah (my first time) at a Mediterrean restaurant, drove to Fisherman's Wharf and visited Ripley's Believe it or Not and Rainforest Cafe completely on a whim. We then walked on the side of Pier 39 and watched the sea lions bark at each other. It was great, touristy fun, but without the tourists, because it was pretty late. The whole night, we just talked. No matter the venue, we just always had something to share, and it was easy. No nervousness, no awkward silences, nothing. Just us.
"Uh, Rainforest Cafe?" I said, laughing.
"Yeah, actually," he said, laughing too.
"I almost said 'Ripley's Believe it or Not,'" I said, still laughing.
"We're going there too."
"We're going to do our first date. All of it. Is that OK?"
What kind of question is that?
We finished dessert part one at Commonwealth and headed to Fisherman's Wharf. We hadn't really been back since we first started dating because it is a tourist trap nightmare. By 9:45 pm, it's a wacky but manageable playground, all the while maintaining its cheesiness. We found another great parking space and headed to Ripley's.
On our first date, I told him that I am afraid of fake people--you know, lifelike, museum-grade mannequins. Ripley's has a LOT of them. I would get a little awkward, avoiding the fake people without looking like I was scared. This played out again on our second visit. These things scared the bejeezus out of me. We walked through awkwardly, more and more sure that he's going to propose.
Rainforest Cafe, the trappiest of tourist traps, was next. We saw a photobooth in the gift shop. He insisted that we take some pictures. We do, they look terrible, and my suspicions grows.
We are seated, and we look at the dessert menu. On our first date, we only had strawberry shortcake. With no strawberry shortcake in sight this time around, we were underwhelmed with the dessert selection. We agreed on the cheesecake, ordering it just for the sake of ordering it. We were getting tired, but I was determined to power through because I wanted everything to be perfect, for his sake. Even if he didn't propose, he had wanted to recreate this night since our first anniversary.
By the time we get out of dinner, Rainforest Cafe is closing. We headed out to the pier. Cold sea wind started nipping at our fingers and the lights we dispersing through the sky in the gauzy mist. In four-inch heels, my right big toe was killing me. In vain, I consider suggesting that we turn back. I couldn't let myself. As we're walking across the planks, the sea lions converse in earshot and a group of people are hanging out by the benches. We stand against the rail and watch the wildlife. A young couple comes from around the corner and lingers nearby.
Thus begins some of the most disjointed conversation of our lives. We are completely stumbling over each other, interrupting each other's sentences, me trying to play it cool. I said, "Remember? This is where you should have kissed me, not awkwardly in front of your parents' house." I then scrambled to say random things like, "I just read something about that restaurant over there in the newspaper" and "What is that ship over there?" I also try really hard to say things that would spring up naturally, reminiscing about our first date. I said, "Remember when we were here, and we were talking? You were telling me so many things about yourself. We shared so many things."
That first night, Nick told me something he had never told anyone. He confessed to a pointless, destructive act he did which led to him getting kicked out of middle school; he was so ashamed, he didn't tell anyone, even his sister. Yet, on our first date, out on that pier, he told me. After he finished his story, he expressed how guilty it made him feel. "You probably think this is horrible," he said. For some reason, I understood. "Some people just do things like that sometimes," I said. I was unfazed by his action, but I was blown away by the fact that it didn't bother me; I just totally understood him.
Suddenly, Nick turned conversation toward that topic. "I felt like I could tell you anything, and it was our first date."
I noticed that the couple was gone and looked behind him and saw the group of people walking away too.
After this, I'm not really sure what he said. He got down on one knee as I sat there on the bench, and I held him by his sleeves and pulled myself closer to him. Everything he was saying was so wonderful, but all I remember is the feeling. He sounded exactly the way he does when he has been crying. I burst into tears as he tried to talk and fumbled with the box in his coat pocket at the same time. I was so happy and tearful and I wanted to hold him so much, but I just touched his face and started kissing him between words. I finally looked right at him through all the tears and was able to hear him say, "I want to grow old with you. Will you spend the rest of your life with me?" It was so dark that I looked down at the ring and I had no idea what was going on down there through all of my tears. I saw tiny flecks of light reflect through the facets, but I didn't even really care. I nodded. I just wanted to kiss him and kept saying, "I love you."
We walked back to land in such giddy tears that I couldn't even feel my feet and I wasn't cold at all. We sat under a light for a while and talked about the ring. I finally got a good look at it; it's the EXACT ring I wanted (see the below post, "Guessing Game") I had stored a bunch of pictures of rings I liked on our computer and he did a search of images on the hard drive, saved them, and had a jeweler custom-make the one he liked the best. He didn't know about my PW profile, so he never looked for it!
On the walk and drive back, he revealed he whole scheme, how plans fell through, how he made them work, how he asked my parents, conspired with my sister to get the ring, made secret trips to San Francisco from Sacramento to shop around and get it made, etc. I said, "I knew it--I knew this would be exactly like the end of a Scooby Doo episode!"
We got home at around 1 am. We had already spent much of the car ride deciding how to tell everyone. His parents are in Europe, so we are alone in their house. He hadn't told them that he would do this on this date, so it kind of messed up his plan to tell them afterward. We called them on Skype and shared the news. With all this excitement, we talked about everything for another hour and a half before falling asleep. I woke up at 5:30 am, my mind racing. I finally decided to turn the computer on and have the TV on in the background. Now, I'm on PW writing about my engagement with Say Yes to the Dress in the background!
All this time, he had told me he wanted to surprise me. What surprised me most was how little the hype and "surprise" really mattered to me. I knew exactly how it would happen, because we just know each other. We finish each other's sentences, we predict each other's actions, we always know what kind of food the other is in the mood for--we just know. He knew exactly which ring I wanted, and I knew exactly how he would propose. We know each other; that is how it has been from the very beginning.
Now for the good part... the bling!
I went a little nuts. I had an idea and I ran with it for longer than necessary.
The first color scheme I wanted to practice with is something I saw yesterday when BF and I were driving around town. It was a mostly cloudy day in Sacramento, and in the middle of crazy storms, the clouds parted and I saw colors like this:
Which inspired me to try something like this:
So I did some research and threw together this:
OK, it's a little heavier on orange than I wanted, and there's not enough gray, but I was pretty satisfied with my trial run.
There's another color scheme that I'm more serious about. It's inspired by the Ascot scene in My Fair Lady. For those who haven't seen the movie, everyone at Ascot is wearing blacks, whites, and grays; the set is sophisticated but the colors... well, there are hardly ANY colors. Check out this entry from Weddingbee Pro for an idea of what it looks like:
I was watching a small documentary about the movie, and the designers were aiming to have Eliza's costume to add "a splash of color" to an otherwise colorless world.
As you can see, Eliza's costume is black and white with more contrast than the other costumes. All of the colors comes from the flowers in Eliza's hat. You can see it better in the Barbie made to replicate this costume:
So, I wanted to have everything clean and contrasting in black and white, with touches of the colors from Eliza's hat in the details, like the flowers, the stationery, and ribbons - the little things that take the most time anyway. The little colors I wanted to draw out the most were red, purple, and that natural wheat color.
Here's the color breakdown:
This is what I got:
I feel like it doesn't have enough black and white, but it's a start. I really don't think the red and purple will be that dominant, and I feel like red and purple are too intense to have it all over the place. I am in love with that dress - it reminds me of Audrey Hepburn, so I think it's perfect! I also wanted to include the African violets because Eliza Doolittle sells violets. I also LOVE white anemones!
While no definite planning is happening, we discuss a lot of logistics. We have major budgetary restrictions considering the size of our guest list and wedding location. Here's what we know so far:
- room for up to 200 guests
- dance floor
- BYO alcohol allowed
- available at least until midnight
- edible favors
- within 4 hours of Sacramento (where we live) and the Bay Area (where we're from)
- customizable menu
- all paper containing post-consumer content
- live band
- beautiful outdoor setting/ majestic view of nature
- available past 1am
- no cake cutting fee
- able to hang things from the ceiling
- close to comfortable, affordable lodging
- a trusted acquaintance to be DOC at a friends-only rate
- local flowers picked in season
In our dreams:
- sushi/raw bar
- bone china on the registry
- a teary moment in a new Lazaro a la Say Yes to the Dress
- E-session and day-of pics by my brother's friend, Ed Pingol
We've talked about getting married for years. We know it's down the line. But when? Where? With whom and with WHAT?
The BF has grown accustomed to my wedding obsessions. We wouldn't be talking marriage if he weren't well aware of my little hobby. That having been said, I often feel that he has an inflated idea of what my expectations are in this whole thing. One of the categories I think he is most concerned about is the one that kicks off the whole shebang...
Yeah, I know... we're in a recession, I'm unemployed, and to tell you the truth, I don't think about the ring that much anymore because of the ways things have been. I do, however, worry that this is what is going to be our biggest barrier to getting engaged. It's silly. Even if I told him I don't really care about the ring anymore, he would insist on getting me "the ring you want" because 1) he wouldn't believe that I suddenly would stop caring after years of caring and 2) his family had certain expections of him and he chose a career that makes less money than, say, the doctor or lawyer they hoped he'd be; he doesn't want things like the wedding and my ring to be indicative of a lifestyle choice that would be deemed a "failure" in their eyes. It's silly, right?
He often jokes about... well, everything, but this in particular. The running joke is that he'll propose to me with a bagel. That's right...
Ideally, I never pictured anything huge, definitely not anything more that 1.5 carats. He's also worried about choosing the wrong setting. I insist that I don't want anything that fancy. Maybe something a little unique, but I would be perfectly happy with a plain ol' solitaire.
Here's what I envisioned as the happy medium:
Something about hidden diamonds is kind of awesome.
Oh well. Keep dreaming, I guess....