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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Well it's finally over.  (My life that is.) (HAHAHA! OMG! LOL!  Get it? You know, because I'm married that means my life is over?!?!?)

I'd heard stories of brides getting depressed when they return home from their honeymoons because the anticipation of their dream day is past and "real life" just isn't quite as appetizing.  A few of the "Wedding People" I've come in contact with while writing this story even suggested that it would happen to me.

And they were right.

It has taken a couple weeks longer than I intended to write the final chapter. I'm just too broken up about the fact that I'll never again be copied on emails chains where four women debate the merits of type-fonts that from my view are exactly the same.

The truth is that I'm relieved.  I feel like a weight has been taken off my shoulders.  Unfortunately, that weight has been repositioned to my left ring finger.

Why don't they tell you how miserable, painful, inconvenient, unnatural and generally hellish it is to wear a wedding ring? (Or any ring for that matter. I can't think thumb rings are all that comfortable--but when something looks that awesome, you've just got to go with it...)  The whole physics of it are completely stupid. "Hey--I've got an idea: Men already hate the idea of marriage, so let's take the most touch-sensitive piece of their body and wrap it in--get this--METAL!?!?" The only thing more-unpleasant would be if had to wear a piece of hard-plastic on your crotch in Little League...

And what's with this new trend of guys sporting these ultra-thick, wrist-watch-width rings that look more like hubcaps than signs of eternal devotion?  Guys--you know that successful and somewhat-stylish 45-55 year-old guy in your office who seems to have everything in his life together but is burdened by his gaudy, gem-stoned, gold wedding band from 1979?  His ring looks better than yours!

Beyond the pure misery that is the wedding band, I'm enjoying marriage quite a bit.  I promised not to reveal anything about the honeymoon, except to say that the waterslide at our hotel on a scale from one to Patrick Swayze in Road House would rank as about a 9.6.  And despite the shock of re-entering society and some inherent disagreements about when Christmas decorations should be put up (I voted we decorated prior to the October 27 wedding) we're getting along fine.

It's a growing cliche for people to say that their wedding was "a blur", but I've found that cliches, like stereotypes, exist because they're at least partially true. (And don't argue with the latter. There was one passable male dancer at our wedding and it happened to be the only person that was A) gay and B) black.  Case and FAAAAAAAAAAAAAABULOUS point.)

I have no doubt that seeing the pictures will bring back some memories, but even three weeks after the wedding, it remains a series of snapshots of what I'd say was undoubtedly the greatest night of my life if I could only recall where I was and what I was doing.
Despite that, this has been an incredible learning process, so I'll attempt to offer some guidance to the poor souls who follow my path toward an inevitable divorce that stems from an argument over the superiority of jam over jelly.

There were many things I could have included, but here are the ten things I learned along the way that your soon-to-be-wife might not find in a bridal magazine:

1.  Your Opinion Doesn't Count
I'm not saying that it doesn't matter. It just doesn't count.
In many cases, you'll be the first person consulted for every decision, but when it comes time to tally votes, Your Opinion Doesn't Count.
And rightfully so.
You have horrible taste and you really don't care, so why are you getting so bent out of shape about an appetizer that you can't pronounce?  You'd eat kibble if they put a toothpick in it.

2.  Play Project Manager
Because your opinion doesn't count, you need to find another way to contribute.  So take on the role of a project manager, ensuring that everything falls within Scope, Schedule and Budget.
I mean--you're going to fail. Trying to get a woman and her mother to color within any of those lines would take an act of piety that would make Moses blush--but you're going to get a tremendous amount of points for being involved without crushing your fiancee's (sometimes moronic) dreams.

3.  When in Doubt, Don't Send an Email
This is probably a great lesson for life, but because every decision in this process is so emotional for your better half, that everything is amplified.  If you write something in text and ask yourself, "Is she going to understand what I'm getting at?" do not press "Send." 
Just pick up the phone.
Or better yet, wait until you see her that night.
Trust me.
(And yes, my sarcasm went over really well throughout the process. Particularly when the host hotel asked by how many rooms we'd like to expand our room block and I responded, "I don't know...300?")

4.  Don't Let an Idiot Plan Your Bachelor Party
I wrote about the Dos and Don'ts at length, but this one is pretty easy.  Imagine your Best Man in your mind.  Ask yourself, "Would he attempt to rollerskate down the chute of a cement truck to impress a woman he's never met?"  If the answer is "Yes," politely ask one of your other friends to do the planning.
I'm all for inviting idiots to your bachelor party--they provide endless entertainment--but under no circumstance should they hold the reins.

5.  Sacrifice for a Wedding Planner or Coordinator
We were incredibly lucky and had Melissa's parents give us the gift of covering virtually every cost for our wedding, but even if you're not picking up the check, there will inevitably be a conversation about budget.  I don't care if it means sacrificing those short ribs that you considered making love to during your food tasting--spend the money on a Planner or Coordinator. 
Ours was incredible. I realize that she was paid for her services, but I feel like we should be showering her with gifts.  Its to the point that I kind of want her to be our friend (even though we could never invite her places because we'd be embarrassed by how disorganized our daily lives are.)
But I promise you--on eyeballs of my unborn children--that whatever your Coordinator costs, she is worth it. If not for the visible "doing" on the day of and preceding the wedding, for the stress she removes from your bride's shoulders (and therefore YOUR shoulders!) 

I wonder if Heather would coordinate the our next Saturday morning trip to "run a few errands". She could totally get us through everything in time for me to take a nap...

6.  Avoid All Things Trendy
Or gimmicky.
Or even funny.
You know how you thought it would be awesome for your groomsmen to all put on baseball caps halfway through the ceremony?
That two seconds of "awesome" will be followed by 40 years of crippling regret. 
You know how you're really into some song that came out a month ago?
Don't make it your first dance.
You know how a member of the cast of an internationally-loved television show volunteered to sing at your wedding?
Wait...that happened to us.  And we did it.  And it was awesome.

(I'll pause for a second to allow you to soak in what you just read and let your mind shift to the conclusion that this anonymous writer that you've been reading for the past 25,000 words is even cooler than you'd thought and actually has world class street cred.)

Now let's move on...

7.  You Register at Home. Not at the Store.
You should certainly go to the store and take every advantage of firing the registry gun in embarrassingly-dramatic fashion. (My personal favorite is singing Bryan Adams, "Everything I Do I Do it For You"  and then firing the gun like a bow and arrow.)  (At least two people understand that joke.)

But the real registering should be done at home.

Walk around your house.

What do you need?
Register for it.

What do you want?
Register for it.

What is old and needs replacing?
Register for it.

If you walk around a store, everything is going to look good.  Those $11/hour summer-hires are wickedly enticing with their displays and creative lighting.  And if you make all of the decisions there, you'll end up with things that you don't want or need.  Like...I don't know...maybe...


8.  Make Sure Your DJ Knows the Word "NO!"
We interviewed three DJs. All were over the phone (as we were getting married out-of-state) but we both gravitated toward the only one of the three that definitively told us "No."
He was really nice about it and didn't make us feel bad, but at some point he stopped us in our rants and said, "Look--this is your event. I'm going to do it the way you want me to.  But you're getting married once. I literally do this 75 times a year.  I know what I'm doing and I'm not going to screw it up.  If you have songs you don't want me to play, that helps.  But of the ones you want me to play, beyond your first dance, if it kills the dance floor, I'm going to kill the song.  You're not going to remember that I didn't play a certain song--but you will remember if nobody is dancing."
And to no surprise, he was an absolute professional.

I had my most-music-critical friends coming up to me and telling me that they'd never heard wedding music that good.  I couldn't take credit for it, because we only requested two songs.
There was one couple that didn't like his music and were really vocal about it. The woman went up to him and laid into him for his musical selections. (Bear in mind--there were fifty people dancing for the two hours preceding this ridiculous exchange.)  I saw what was happening and walked over.  She was walking away as I got there and the DJ looked at me and said plainly, "Oh don't worry--I'm not going to listen to a word she says."  It was magical.

9.  Do the Seating Chart
I know I made a lot of jokes about it, but as we were making our rounds, thanking everyone for attending, I knew every single person's name.  Melissa was asking for help the entire time, but I was greeting relatives of hers I'd never seen before as though I'd known them since Will Smith was just a rapper.  It was like I had The Force.  It was that scene in Star Wars where Luke is wearing the blinder-helmet and blocking all of the laser-beams with his light saber.

Or not at all, but still awesome.

10.  Find a Release
Getting married is stressful for men.  It's not the same as it is for women.  They have to worry about planning a wedding---all we have to do is worry about planning a life.
First you have to deal with the emotional element.  Our whole lives to that point are spent pretending that we're hunters, just looking for our next prey.  Even proposing has an element of conquering to it, but once that hysteria settles, we have to find a way to present ourselves as a loyal, committed, loving husband. It's not an easy transition for everyone.
Add to that the fact that--in many cases--we now have to provide for a family. Things like life insurance, mortgages, taking on our spouse's college debts and everything else kind of conglomerate into a soup of peril that can keep even the most-medicated among us up at night.

So my suggestion is that you find a way to let go what's on your mind.  For some it is exercise. Others it is music.  For me it was writing this story.  (For the record--I do not suggest writing a blog that you intend on turning into a book about your wedding. That idea has been done. It wasn't done well or with any particular gusto, but it was done and you need to find your own idea.) (No seriously. Now you're just being mean.) 

Whatever it is, you need to find an avenue to channel the stress of a woman you were pretty sure you loved at some point screaming at you because you licked the envelopes to your Save the Dates without her being there to watch. 

Actually, screw it.  Don't listen to anything I wrote here.  Just buy yourself some scotch.

And live happily ever after.


This blog WAS my voice in the wedding-planning process. I've enjoyed every second of writing it and couldn't have done it without the support of a lot of important people.  
First and foremost, Melissa.  Crazy as it sounds, many girls wouldn't have enjoyed their fiance writing a tell-all story of their engagement, particularly one that paints her as an evil, gin-chugging devil-woman.  Fortunately--mine didn't portray you as such.  You're an incredible sport and a great wife.
(So far...)

Second to my family (and my NEW family.)  A lot of people have and will read this and I'm sure it has come as a source of embarrassment and confusion.  You're all saints for putting up with it.

My friend Anne has been encouraging me to write for the better part of a decade. I realized just before I proposed that I finally had a topic that I could stick with.  To no surprise, she was there the entire way, telling me when I was funny and when I was horrendously unfunny.  

To that point my friend Bill--who has been my sounding-board for every joke I've written since I was 18--was probably the least-helpful person in this process. Every time I'd send him a text saying, "is this funny?", he'd respond with "Yes" and then offer three ways to make it exponentially more-offensive.  Future editor--any time you see something in the text that is far too vile for print, just rest assured that Bill inspired it.

While I avoided my favorite writers during this process to ensure that my voice was mine own, my basis for opinion remains eternally influenced by the two finest sports talk radio hosts in the country, Dan Patrick and Mitch Levy.  My passion bucket overflows for both of you.

I wrote a chapter dedicated to the "Wedding People" that found me through this process.  There were thousands of you that I interacted with at some point, and I'm sure I'm forgetting someone, but three did more to advance me in my writing than any others. Cole, Chris and Mindy--without you obnoxiously blasting my rants to the world, I wouldn't have reached as many helpless souls as I did.  As for the rest of you--you know who you are, and I genuinely appreciate every one of you and hope that we never meet, as it will undoubtedly ruin the glowing impressions you've made to this point.

And finally to my readers...
After the first couple of chapters I put up on the web in blog-form, I took offense that people weren't reading all of them. Then I realized that I read about 500 words a day on the web, and most are in two-sentence chunks. Sitting down and reading a weekly or bi-weekly post about a WEDDING...from a DUDE...had to be one of the more-miserable experiences of all of your lives.  Thanks to anyone who read and eternal thanks to those that gave their feedback (even if I knew you were lying about how much you enjoyed it.)  At no point in my life have I felt so flattered as during the process of this wedding, and each of you reading my work ranks near the top of that list.  (Notice I said "near".  Melissa marrying me is secretly #2 behind you guys reading, but if I write that, she'll get ticked and go back to taping General Hospital in high definition instead of regular definition, therefore eating up our entire DVR storage...) 

But thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thanks to every single one of you.  (Even you.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I cannot to tell you how much I appreciate my fiancee, Melissa.

Yes--there are weeks like this one, where we have been so busy that we haven't seen one another, and we miss our interactions.  And she's nice and cute and whatever...but that's not what I'm referring to this time either.

No--where I really appreciate her is when I'm reminded how painful being single was.
And that's not to imply that we're settling.  Absolutely not the case. In fact--I wouldn't have gone out with every woman in Western Washington if I wasn't looking for someone specific.  Now I've found her and I never have to deal with the single fiasco again.

That's not to say that the road to finding her was a smooth one.  Far from it.  I've been on more bad dates than a fallen palm frond.  (You know...because dates grow on palm trees?) (And the ones on the ground would presumably be bad?)  (And the fronds would have fallen on top of them?)  (Dates.) (You know--DATES!) (The fruit that looks like it is dehydrated, that isn't actually dehydrated, and instead is just gross?) (Dates man! Come on!)  (That was a great joke and you missed it.)

So in an odd celebration of how wonderful my future bride is, I offer you my six favorite Ms. Wrongs before I met Ms. Right...
(Why six? Because five doesn't tell the story.)

6. The One that Didn't Show (Denver, CO--2004)
I'd known this girl--clearly not very well--for a little while, and we finally decided to have dinner.  Feeling daring, I decided to cook.  So like any straight man's man, I set a full table--napkin rings, salad forks and all, and cooked a--I don't mind saying--fantastic rack of lamb and and risotto.  I think I even had garnish on the plate.
And I ate it alone.

Three days later, I got a call that went something like this:
"Hey. Sorry I didn't call you. (STRIKE ONE!) I got in a big yelling match with my baby-daddy (STEEEEEEEERIKE TWO!) about something and had to go over to his place.  When I got there, his girlfriend jumped me, but I totally kicked that b****'s a**.  Even ripped out her extensions!"  (STRIKE THREE! YOU'RE OUTTA THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

5. Don't Drink and Text (Seattle, WA--2009)
I'll spare you the setup story, because they are all ridiculous and this story is long enough.  This time a coworker had lined me up with someone, and it took about 3 months for it to come together.  So we met. For dinner.

And it went amazingly well.

Fun conversation. Lingered. Was honestly one of the better setups I'd been on. (And at this point--I'd been on A LOT of them.)  I walk her to her car and realize that I had tickets to the Lion King (on stage) and didn't have a date.  Very suavely, I lead the following exchange:

Me: "Do you have plans next Friday?"
Her: "I work until seven, but no."
Me: "Okay. I'll pick you up at seven. Dress about like you are dressed now...and maybe grab something to eat, because we probably won't have time."
Her: "Mysterious--I love it!"

That was Friday.

Saturday, she sends me a text or two. I respond.  This goes on here and there for the remainder of the day.

I'd planned to call her Tuesday, but I realized that we were going to be tight on time to get there by 8:00, so I called Monday.

No call back.

Tuesday? No call back.

Wednesday night I'd decided that I didn't have a choice but to call her again (these tickets weren't cheap!) and just before I was going to, I get a text from her that read:
"Hey--I had fun the other night, but I don't think there was much chemistry, so I won't be able to make it Friday."

Well poop.

I went about my night, knowing I'd be crawling over to a female friend of mine and begging her to go so I wouldn't have to a) go alone or b) take a dude (who probably wouldn't makeout with me anyway...)

Then it hit me.

Flashback to Saturday when I'd drank way too many beers, way too early in the day and mentioned that I was boldly taking a second date to such a big event.  My friend Nick said, "Shoot--if you're going that far, you may as well send flowers as well!"

And I did.

I've never dialed so frantically.  I get "Proflowers" on the phone and the conversation goes like this:

Me: "I ordered some flowers on Saturday for Friday delivery and I need to cancel."
Woman on phone: "No problem." (Two minutes of hold time.)  "Sir, these are set for February 13 delivery.  We can't cancel anything within 3 days of Valentine's Day."
Me: "Okay--just change the address--I'll send them to my mom."
Woman: "I'm sorry sir--we can't do that either."
Me: "Okay--just charge me for them and don't send them."
Woman: "No sir--you don't understand.  This is the only week that we ship instead of have local florists deliver.  They've already been sent."

Which led to the following text exchange between the cancelled-date and I:
Me: "You're going to receive flowers on Friday that I can't cancel. If you'd be so kind as to throw away the card, you can do what you like with them."
Her: "That was sweet, you didn't have to do that."
Me: " s***."

4. Creative Photography (Seattle, WA--2009)
Online dating is a weird animal.  There is true strategy and science to it, and I did it for a long-enough period of time that I became pretty good at it.  What to look for, what to avoid, etc.

There was only one time where I was truly duped. 

No need to get into detail, but our email (and then text) exchanges went on much longer than I normally like. (A lot of people fall victim to 50-email exchanges, so your kids have names before you've even met!)  And in these exchanges, I realized that her pictures--while seemingly good--were always taken at weird angles.

And then we finally met.  And I understood why.

Her head was roughly the size of an Oldsmobile.

I've got a big head. A VERY big head. And next to her's mine would have looked like a jelly bean. 

It was enormous. 

Indiana Jones outran it in the Temple of Doom. 

Three ballooners tried to attach baskets to it and float it around the world. 

I saw Neil Armstrong walking on her forehead.

So what I'm trying to say.

Is that her head.

Was gigantic.

3. The Fortune Teller (Denver, CO--2003)
It was literally my first night out after moving to Denver after college and I got a girl's phone number.  Now--keep in mind that I had no idea what she looked like--but I had a phone number.

And when I say that I had no idea what she looked like, I mean you could have lined her up with Serena Williams, a Storm Trooper and Papa Smurf and I couldn't have told you which one she was.

But I'm new to town, why not?

We meet for drinks and apps at a place that she suggested. 

Not cute.  But her head was at least proportionate.

I'm looking over the drink menu and trying to convince myself that she's good-looking enough and the waitress asks for her drink order.  She orders wine.

A BOTTLE of wine.

I'm no cheapskate--but that's bold.

I went along with it, but as I'm taking my first sip, she says, "You're a Libra, aren't you?"  She was somehow correct in the pre-facebook-era and continued, "You're very much about things being in balance.  We really need to work on that."

And on my first post-college date I did something I never had the courage to do again. 

I picked up the winelist and checked the price of the bottle.  I then filled my glass all the way to the top and drank the whole thing down in one swig.  She sat shocked and was even more shocked when I reached into my pocket, threw down the appropriate amount of cash for the wine/tip and walked out of the restaurant.

Quite easily the toughest thing I've ever done.  (Which is why I don't go looking for bar-fights on most weekends...)

2.  My Shortest Relationship (Seattle, WA--2008)
This girl I've subsequently become friendly with--so I'll protect her identity and call her...I don't about "Tephanie"?  That will work.

I'd just moved back from southern California, and I when I say "just moved back", I mean that I'd literally just driven 1200 miles in fifteen hours, parked my car, taken a shower and headed to a bar to meet up with my friend Brett, who'd thrown a party that night and was out with a few people for a few dozen post-game drinks.
Well--he wasn't with a few "people", it was him and about 9 of his wife's sorority sisters.  Great ratio--but we hadn't seen each other in such a long time, we barely spoke to anyone but each other.

Despite that, I got an email from Brett's wife two days later, saying that her friend..."Tephanie"...met me and apparently wanted the two of us to be set-up. 

Like a doctor's mallet to the knee, my immediate reflex was to email Brett an email that could have been shortened to three words: "Is. She. Hot?"

He responds "For sure. Broke up with a guy about six months ago and hasn't been out since.  Go for it."  And I agree to call her. 

I do a day or two later. She doesn't answer. I leave a message.

The next day, she calls back at about 2:00 in the afternoon---clearly trying to get my voicemail--but I'm in sales, so if the phone rings, I answer.  The conversation went something like this:

Tephanie: "Oh...hi...this is Tephanie."
Me: "Oh hey, how are ya?"
(3-5 minutes of uncomfortable back and forth...pretty normal.)
Me: "So--free at all this weekend?"
Tephanie: "I could meet up Saturday night?"
Me: "Okay, dinner it is.  Meet me at ______."
Tephanie: "Okay, sounds good."
(We start working out the details and then she pauses.)
Tephanie: "You know...I haven't done this in a while.  Sorry...dinner seems kind of "datey" to me.  Could we just meet for drinks?"
Me: (Thinking---woohoo! Just saved $40!)  "Sure, yeah...whatever, that's fine. Want to do the same place?"
Tephanie: "Yeah, that's perfect."
(A pause.)
Tephanie: "Actually...maybe not drinks.  Could we meet for coffee instead?"
Me: (Now feeling a little strange about the whole thing) "Yeah...I guess? If that makes you more comfortable.  That afternoon maybe?"
Tephanie: "Sure, that would be perfect.  Thanks for being so understanding. Again--I haven't done this in a while."
Me: (Laughing) "No problem...this can be stressful."
(More silence.)
(A bit more silence.)
Tephanie: "I'm sorry, I'm not ready for this.  I feel like I'd be cheating."
Me: (Silence.)
Tephanie: "I'm sorry...I've got to go. Bye."

What is most-amazing about that story--despite being an introduction and break-up all wrapped into one, it somehow wasn't the last time it happened.  Am I really that bad over the phone?  18 months later it happened again.  That time I drew tears from the girl...for some reason the second time isn't nearly as laughable...

1. Armageddon (Seattle, WA--2010)
My last online date.  Actually--my last first date before I met my bride-to-be...and fittingly so.

It began innocently enough.  We'd emailed four or five times and decided to meet for a beer. Perfect.

Me being me, I got there about 45 minutes early and cell phone Tetris just wasn't going to kill the time.  So I decided to go for a walk that I will never forget.

It was only 3 blocks between my car and a drug store (where I needed a couple of things anyway).  Little did I know that it was 3 of the most terror-filled, plague-ridden blocks a warrior has ever trodden.

But off I went.

"Hey look--a new Thai place!" "Why are there so many Volvos in this neighborhood?" "Better get under the is starting to rain."


Blowing right by me without noticing was a girl I'd dated years before and hadn't spoken to since.  I'm not saying she was a drama-queen, but her post-alcohol tears actually shift the tides.

If a black cat is bad luck, seeing her moments before a blind date would be like a swarm of black cats kidnapping you and throwing you under a ladder, directly into a shattering mirror.

But like a ninja, I ducked into the bank next to me. Phew.

Cold-sweat was overtaking me.  So I took in the deep breaths of the gloriously air-conditioned community bank. 

Remember in Top Gun when Maverick and Goose are goofing off and then realize that someone has "missile lock" on them? It kind of felt like that.  My eyes darted across the bank to the other entry and I spotted a girl I'd gone out with about six months before and conveniently forgot to call. 

I'm not certain that I actually hit the deck, but my moment of relief in the bank's cool air was over and I was back to the sidewalk.  I glanced back, breathing heavily and am pretty sure she spotted me.  So I kept moving down the sidewalk. 

Feeling safe, I stopped at a deli and grab a bottle of water to calm myself down.  Keep in mind--it is only about 65 degrees out, but I'm sweating as though I've just done P90X on the surface of the sun.

The water hit my lips and trickled down my throat. My body absorbed the cold, wet relief as if it had never tasted something so sweet. 

I'm safe.

But I need to compose myself.

And I'm running out of time.

I've got fifteen minutes to walk another block (yes--this happened in about a 200 ft.-stretch.) to the drug store, walk back to my car without being spotted, and then meet the potential girl-of-my-dreams for a beer? IMPOSSIBLE YOU SAY!  But I wasn't about to back down now.

Breath calmed, sweat stopped, nerves quelled, I take my first steps onto the sidewalk.  Step one, clear. Step two, clear.  Now I was moving. I could feel the tiny muscles in my feet firing to keep me moving forward and the strength was returning to me.  But the moment I began to relax, directly in front of the drug store, staring directly at me is...


The first bullet had struck my abdomen and the next my left-thigh.  This was a kill-shot, directly to the forehead.  It left me lying on the sidewalk, bleeding as I let out my final breaths.  A cold end to a man that just wanted to meet a girl who was sane...

My body made it to that date, but my mind was nowhere near. Any hope for success in that relationship had died bravely on that sidewalk moments before.

Thankfully, a month later, I met the girl of my dreams.  No violent baby-daddy.  No run-away texts. No palm-reading. No mid-call break-ups.  So what if her head is slightly larger than normal? It's mostly hair! And compared to my dome, it looks tiny.

Thank you Melissa for never making me go through this hell again. 

This blog is my voice in the wedding planning process. If you ever have questions, comments or complaints, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

We finally found a venue.

And set a date.

You can begin your mourning now, because you only have 13 more months of me before I graduate from "Groom" to "Helpless"...

So with that, we're finally able to do a few things--most notably select our wedding parties (now that we know we have a venue big enough that I don't only have my brother and Emilio Estevez standing next to me on my wedding day.)

We're going big. Why not?  Seven a side.  Sure--there are plenty of people who we'd like to include in even that large number, but seven it is and we're going forward.
In Melissa deciding that seven was the number and me making that fit, I realized that I really only know her sister and one other person in her wedding party.  I know who all of them are, and am even facebook friends with the majority of them, but the fact remains--I don't know these women. 
Why is that?  Sure--most of them are on the eastcoast, and one is in London, but there has to be more to the story.
I recalled something my father used to say to me in high school when our house was never the height of the social scene. 

He'd say, "If you're children aren't inviting their friends to the house, they're either ashamed of their friends or ashamed of their family."  (My father of course overlooked option C: Your son is a social pariah and would gladly invite over his friends if he had any.)
What I do know of Melissa's friends is that she's crazy about them.  So it isn't the former.  Which regrettably means that she's clearly ashamed of me in every way. 

Okay. That's not true either. I think the truth lies somewhere between "Very few of them are nearby" and "You're a weird dude and I am not sure they're going to like you."

Well, fair enough. But I want to help, as I truly want her friends to be part of our lives. 
And in reality, you're really just introducing me to their significant others, so we can occupy each other while you two have girl-time.

With that in mind, I've created a little cheatsheet of sorts, so she can quickly dissiminate who she should introduce and who she shouldn't.  We'll call it:


No hard and fast rules. Many people I like violate one of these.  (In fact my friend Tobin violates nearly every one of them and I've tolerated him for about 25 years now...)  So as with any guideline, they are just a rough boundary for your info, my darling wife-to-be.

1.  He has one of those stickers on his car where Calvin is peeing on another brand of car-maker.

What is the thinking here?  "I own Car X and therefore, I hate everyone who drives Car Y.  In fact, I now hate them so much that I'm going to buy a sticker of a cartoon urinating on the logo of Car Y.  That will teach those bastards with different tastes!!"

2.  You "LIKE" generic stuff on facebook.

I understand hitting "LIKE" on the occasional fanpage.  Your friend Becky owns a nail salon and wants publicity--so you click a button and !pow! you've done her a solid. 
Or your favorite movie is "Gross Pointe Blank" and you want to add that logo to your bio to tell the world that you are a Cusack Super Freak! Fine.
But when you're surfing America's greatest time-waster and clicking "LIKE" on things like "Taking naps", or "Traveling" or any other item in the list of generic things that EVERYONE likes, it is probably time to reconsider your relationship with facebook.

3.  You have a tattoo that you don't at least partially regret.

I have no problem with ink, but the reason I've never had a tattoo (aside from the copious-amounts-of-body-hair thing) is that I can't think of anything that I want on my body for eternity.
Maybe you regret the size. Maybe you regret the color.  Maybe you regret the placement.  But if you can tell me honestly that in a private moment, alone with your thoughts, that you don't at least regret 1% of that rainbow-colored, smiling sun with the words "Carpe Diem" that you plastered on your lower back for eternity, I don't think we're going to be texting much in the near future.  (And yes...I know someone.) (And's a dude.)  (And yes...we give him endless amounts of crap.) (And yes...he is much taller, smarter and more-athletic than I am and I'm thrilled that I have one thing to forever hold over his head.)

4.  (Back to car-decor...) You put one of those "26.2" stickers on your car.

It's bad enough we had to listen to you yammer for 8 months about how you are "so busy" because you were training for a marathon, now we have to ride in your Camry with this ridiculous hipster emblem on the back?
Running a marathon is a great accomplishment (and one that I will undoubtedly never complete.) But lots of people do it.  People with truly unique accomplishments rarely flaunt them. I don't know any personally, but I'm guessing there aren't a lot of Nobel Prize winners who suddenly adorn an "NP" sticker on their car to let people know how special they are.  No, instead they let their accomplishments speak for themselves.

5.  (And this is the biggest one...) You're openly-straight.

I am not one to bash anyone for who they choose as a makeout buddy, but if there were a group that outwardly picketed, harassed and occasionally injured straight-men-who-won't-shut-up-about-how-much-they-like-women, I'd be the first onboard to start chucking AA batteries at these moderately-evolved dufuses.
Have you ever been around one of these a-holes? 
You know the type: They say pointless, inconsequential things like, "Dude, the chicks in Oklahoma are hot!"  They use moronic acronyms like "MILF." And if you're really lucky, they will pull you aside at work to tell you how nice the secretary's rack is.
You know openly-straight guys! Your buddy who makes a point of TiVOing the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show so he can turn it on when other dudes are over as a not-so-subtle reminder that he is into women and not afraid to waste an hour of your time proving it to you!
Not ringing a bell? Maybe you know his girlfriend.  She dresses like a hooker, likes to go to strip clubs with cars full of dudes and has a pink jersey from the local NFL team. 
Still not coming clear? Just picture the worst person you know. I'm sure he's openly-straight and you just haven't figured out why you dislike him so much.

This blog is my voice in the wedding process. If any of you have questions for a male with an opinion, please don't hesitate to ask.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Twice this week I've been surprised with the news that my close friends are having kids.

Well.  To be precise.  They aren't having kids. Their wives are having kids.
Time to eliminate two and a half ridiculous practices while I've raised the subject.

1. "WE" are not pregnant. "SHE" is pregnant.  "WE" can drink a gallon of scotch while stuffing our faces with a platter of seafood and "WE" will be just fine...well...unless "SHE" kills you for it.

2. Unless the "baby-alert" calls are from my brother or my wife's sister, I am not going to be an "uncle".  The widespread use of "uncle" and "aunt" as a contrived nickname is so overblown that it has lost any and all meaning.
And beyond that, it is downright baffling for a child who is trying to learn their first words.  "Okay...Mom and Dad's brothers and sisters are my aunts and uncles....but so is this guy Steve who sleeps on our couch and smells like the recycling bin.  Are all adults my aunts and uncles?  Does that mean that the milkman is my uncle? Oh nevermind...he's my father..."
And to go on an even more ridiculous rant, how about these people that introduce you to their kids with a title attached to your first name?  "This is Mr. Jeff!  This is Ms. Michelle!"  What is that? What are we, camp counselors?  When I was a kid, there were about three male adults I could call by their first name (and zero female!), and I did, without a Mr. or Mrs. attached to it.  Every other person was Mr./Mrs. and their LAST know, how it is supposed to be?
Mr. Jeff and Ms. Michelle is not polite. It is stupid.


Okay....and I'm back!

Did you miss me?
Back to babies.

I'm just shy of 31. I'm at a point where these types of phone calls aren't necessarily commonplace, but are by no means shocking.  Melissa and I were looking at the guestlist to our wedding and there could literally be 20 women on the invite list who are nursing at our wedding.  (That horrendous image will leave me about 3 minutes before I die on November 2, 2088.)  Biologically, it is time to start receiving these calls.
And in the past, I've always been excited to hear baby news.  Who cares if I'll never see my friends again, I'm really happy for them, and in a totally non-creepy way, I love kids.  They're fun.  And way more interesting than their parents! 

But these two were different.  Why?  Because they were the first baby-alerts since Melissa and I got engaged.

Before, I could celebrate. 

Now I realize that I'm only a couple of years away of being in charge of another human life; a task that I'm by no means prepared for. There are literally hundreds of reasons that I'm in no way equipped for fatherhood right now.  I offer you a few:

-I have some things that I'm not ready to baby-proof.  Like my six-inch-plastic-Tiger-Woods-figurine-I-found-at-TJ-Maxx-after-Tiger's-meltdown-and-figured-it-was-the-last-Tiger-Woods-toy-that-would-ever-be-produced-and-therefore-bought-and-now-display-on-the-mantle-as-an-amazing-half-ironic-half-awesome-piece-of-art.  It is very fragile!

-Do you realize how expensive babies are?  To hell with the ridiculousness of wedding expenses, babies make them look like a bargain! Want proof?? Go to Baby Gap.  Look at their sizes. You have to buy the little poop-machines a new wardrobe every fifteen minutes or they will outgrow them! 

-I really like to sleep.  And am terrible at it.  You know the sound of an insect landing on a pillow three rooms away? No? I do. And it wakes me up.  Imagine how terrible a screaming baby is going to be--particularly when absent-minded parents choose to amplify that horrendous noise with a bedside baby monitor!

-You know when you get a blister on your foot and it is full of fluid and you just kind of push on it because it feels cool and you want to see what happens?  I sincerely hope that soft-spots don't feel the same way.

-Twins are everywhere these days.  Is this really what we need: parents who can't handle one child having to learn to handle two?  That's God's equivalent of the dad who finds out his kid is smoking and makes him smoke an entire carton until he throws up.
(Not to mention that twins lead to bunkbeds. And do I really need another means to bump my enormous head on things?)

-What if he looks like me?  I'd never forgive myself!

-And what if he is a she? God help us...

But it could be worse.  We could be talking about getting a dog...

(Please address your dog-loving hatemail to: Thank you!)

This blog is my voice in the wedding process. If any of you have questions for a male with an opinion, please don't hesitate to ask.

Monday, September 26, 2011

We spent the weekend in Seattle with two of my favorite people, a couple that flew up from Sacramento for the full-blown Seattle experience.

Friday night--Oktoberfest. (You know...because when you think "Oktoberfest", you think "Seattle!") 

A word on Oktoberfest:
I'm no expert on German culture, but whomever plans these American Oktoberfest celebrations is undoubtedly a) racist and b) an alcoholic.
It's just beer. That's it. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there more to it than that? Aren't there bratwursts and parades with giant floats of Dirk Nowitski and Einstein?  Something!?!?

Saturday--A glorious result to a glorious football game on a glorious day in Seattle. (Washington 31-California 23.)

Throughout the weekend though, the "wedding" subject kept arising. No surprise I guess, it was the first time we'd seen them since becoming engaged, and because they've been married for five years, they're about as close to Yoda as we will find at this stage of our lives.
Funny though, every person you speak to about the process of wedding-planning has "one thing."  As in, "If I could tell you 'one thing' it would be choose carnations over roses" or "If I could tell you one thing, it would be to not sit your drunk, racist uncle near the stage where the R&B group will be performing."

And every "one thing" is different.

So it isn't "one thing".

It is, at last count, one hundred thirteen things.

Some are great advice. Some are self-serving. Some are absolutely ridiculous. I offer you a sample:

"If I could tell you one thing, it would be to make sure you get something to eat."
Fine point. There are countless stories of the bride and groom never getting a single morsel of the food they agonized over selecting. They're left hungry, exhausted and pee-your-pants drunk.
I've seen it dozens of times, but I really don't have much sympathy. In most cases, it is entirely their fault.  A few tips to ensure you eat:
-Avoid The Sweethearts Table.
You think "Oh look how charming that is when the bride and groom are alone, in the center of the room, with everyone they love around them looking on."
They think: "Well my meal hasn't arrived--what a perfect time to talk to the bride and groom!" Don't even think of picking up a fork without your offensive line (immediate family and/or wedding party) surrounding you!
-Do Pictures before the Wedding: Oh please. You know damn well that you shouldn't be wearing white.  Does it really matter if you see each other before the wedding?  Do yourself a favor, get dressed two hours early and be able to grab some delicious coconut prawns during cocktail hour.
-Skip The Salad: Give yourself a head-start on the rest of the populous by going straight to the main course at the head table. A few bites of steak and fingerling potatoes will get you through the night much better than a few scraps of lettuce, dummy.

"If I could tell you one thing, it would be to stop and take mental snapshots of your wedding day."
Oh come on! You stole that from The Office and it was a stupid idea when they did it.

"If I could tell you one thing, it would be to be careful who you let speak at the wedding."
Great idea. In fact--this is an entire entry in and of itself (that I'll write in about 3 days when I'm out of ideas.)
I tend to think this applies more to the Maids of Honor than anyone.  (Sure, there is the occasional half-whitted Best Man who doesn't realize that the ROAST is Friday night and the TOAST is Saturday. But beyond that, even poor best man's toasts are usually okay.)
I have seen some disasters on the female side, most of which begin with a small sniffle and then turns into a snotty, sobbing mess.
Maids of Honor--if you write something down and you think it might make you cry, WRITE SOMETHING ELSE DOWN!  There is nothing more pathetic than Maid of Honor blowing her nose in her fingers and nothing more gross than her hugging the bride and groom immediately after.
Brides--Who says your Maid of Honor has to do the toast? We're getting married in an era where online ordainment, in-wedding photo booths and bins of candy in lieu of cake are such commonplace that they're almost becoming cliched.  Pick someone who can get through it. For all of our sake.

"If I could tell you one thing, it would be to hire a wedding planner---even if it is only for the day of the wedding."
This is one of the rare topics I don't have a strong opinion on. On the one hand--I see it. I see why they are there and I see why they're so heavily compensated. On the other, holy mother of all that is good they are expensive.
I'm leaving this up to my bride and her mother. There is one thing I can tell you for certain though--if we do in fact have a wedding planner, you better believe they will be wearing a massive headset (complete with an 8-foot antenna!) and will be required to talk to all of the vendors like she's talking on a CB-Radio.
"Breaker! Breaker! We're ready for the Flower Girl. Over."
"10-4. That's affirmative. We are go for the Flower Girl at 1632 hours."

"If I could tell you one thing, it would be to not use my photographer."
With the exception of "Realtor", I can't think of a service-provider that is more universally loathed by their clients than wedding photographers. Check out your facebook page--you know eleven of them and had no idea.
But you are going to hire one. And you are going to pay through the nose for hundreds of really nice-looking pictures of people and things that were in no way what you were hoping for.

"If I could tell you one thing, it would be to register for an authentic Indiana Jones whip."
Brilliant.  Not only a great gift (for any occasion) but will come in really useful for disciplining the neighbors' kids.

This blog is my personal voice in the wedding planning process...but is by no means meant to be private. If you enjoyed it, don't be afraid to press the "SHARE" button on the facebook link, or the "RETWEET" button on the twitter link...or just forward it on to your friends and family.
And if you didn't like it, you are clearly a black-hearted social devient with no taste. (But share it anyway, I need the help.)

If you have questions about weddings, sports, pop-culture or life in general that you'd like me to answer in the blog, just hit the email button on my profile and I'm happy to include it in an upcoming entry.

Thanks for reading,

The Groom

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Just because I don't have anything specific to write about doesn't mean that I won't further victimize you with my opinions.

A few quick-hitters.  Some of them are even wedding-related.

-We're quickly realizing that the only negotiable pieces of a wedding reception are chairs and alcohol. Beyond that, you're pretty much dead where you stand.
And the question is really dealing with an inverse relationship between the two, namely "Can we get our guests drunk enough to know that we're cheaping-out on chairs?"

-I've found myself in a tweeting-circle with a bunch of established wedding bloggers, planners, etc. on Twitter and am constantly surprised how nice they are to one another despite being direct competitors.  It's like my real job except the exact opposite in every way.  There isn't another market in the world where competitors are this nice to one another.  Not that any of them deserve it, but just once I'd like to see a tweet that says:

These ideas are stupid. Try harder. RT @anonymousweddingblogger Check out these fun new napkin folding ideas!

-Starbucks' Apple Fritters look like your lower-intestines.  Which is appropriate because that is the part of your body they're going to do murderous damage to. 

-You know how your fiancee has a 19-year-old friend named Stephanie whom you've never met but you're in touch with every 3 or 4 days? No.  Yeah me neither. Totally don't know what you're talking about.  And it totally isn't creepy in the slightest.

-The Hampton Inn in Missoula, MT has a readerboard outside that says, "Come as a stranger and leave as family."  Translation: the bellboy intends to knock you up.
Even if you're male.

-I have a great dry cleaner, but he doesn't really speak English.  So I get really frustrated when he asks me questions that require an explanation. Today's exchange was:
Him: Hey! We don't see you lately!
Me: Yeah, I work from home now, so don't do as much dry-cleaning.
Him: Oh, you take cleaning somewhere else?
Me: No, I just don't wear dress shirts anymore.
Him: Oh, you bring shirts somewhere else?
Me: (Stepping into traffic.)

-I saw a wedding venue online that was setup like "theater-in-the-round."  Note to bridesmaids--you may want to increase the normal "one week of exercise and a crash-diet" model for your prep for that one.

-Just overheard in the bar at Famous Dave's BBQ in Missoula:
Woman: "What types of cabernet do you have?"
Bartender: "We have Kendall Jackson, 14 Hands, Sutter Home...I think that's it."
Woman: "Oh...none of those are from the Sonoma Coast, are they?"
Bartender: "I don't know...but don't think so."
Woman: "Okay. I'll just have a white zin."

-I heard a guy in ?Georgia maybe? got two DUIs in a night.  Consider the new standard set.

-I've noticed a lot of wedding blogs are about invitations. Is this really important? I mean--do people really have a tough time convincing others to let them buy them a $300/plate dinner and grant them access an open bar? 
And has anyone in history looked at a wedding invitation and said, "These colors are not complimentary. I'm not going to the wedding of my step-sister Elaine."?

This blog is my personal voice in the wedding planning process...but is by no means meant to be private. If you enjoyed it, don't be afraid to press the "SHARE" button on the facebook link, or the "RETWEET" button on the twitter link...or just forward it on to your friends and family.
And if you didn't like it, you are clearly a black-hearted social devient with no taste. (But share it anyway, I need the help.)

If you have questions about weddings, sports, pop-culture or life in general that you'd like me to answer in the blog, just hit the email button on my profile and I'm happy to include it in an upcoming entry.

Thanks for reading,

The Groom

Monday, September 19, 2011

Saturday was my Gettysburg.

A battle of attrition, where on the surface everyone should love one another, but in reality, it is a bloody battle to see who can die slower.

That's right--Saturday we looked at five wedding venues in a single day. 


I know many of you have never had the pleasure of visiting a wedding venue, but that is really beside the point.  How many things can you do five times in a day and actually enjoy them?

Well yeah...there's that.  But other than that.

Five appointments.

-Five times asking "So this 'all-inclusive package' doesn't include ____?"
-Five times looking at a completely blank conference room, hearing your tour guide say, "Isn't this a great space?" and resisting the urge to say, "It is four blank walls with a carpet that looks like ceiling if the Sistine Chapel if it were painted by blind four-year-olds."
-Five times listening to someone who got married in a Kansas City courthouse tell you that $7.50 is a completely appropriate price for a Bud Light.

All told it was a productive trip.  Two great sites. Two good sites that just don't fit. And one site where we resisted the urge to urinate on the desk of their wedding coordinator. 

No need to bash one site or rave about another, because we haven't exactly put together a legal team here on this unpaid blogging site...but there is a rare opportunity to contrast men and women, as it became abundantly clear to me that my future bride and I were looking at these venues through dramatically differently-shaded lenses.

Here are a few examples:

What she saw:
A blank canvas, where with the right angle of sunlight, right flower arrangements, the right lighting and right chairs, she could make the Princess of Wales blush.
What I saw:
Grass.  A bunch of grass.

What she saw:
Palm trees whose shadow would cast perfectly over an alter, giving the audience a view of sunlight and the bride the luxury of natural shade.
What I saw:
A chick at the adjacent pool who decided to tattoo an alligator on her right boob.

What she saw:
A beautiful modern spa that could be completely blocked off for the bridal party for hair styling, manicures, pedicures and spa treatments the day of the wedding.
What I saw...or rather "heard":

What she saw:
A menu that "looks good."
What I saw:
A menu that for some reason asks you to pay 40% more for apps, salad and dinner than you would if you bought them individually.

What she saw:
Mimosas and Key Lime Pie tarts to greet us to begin our tour of the facility.
What I saw:
A wedding coordinator who knew exactly how to butter-up the person who wears the pants in our relationship.

What she saw:
An unattractive bridal suite in an otherwise beautiful resort.
What I saw:
An unattractive bridal suite in an otherwise beautiful resort. That thing was hideous.

What she saw:
A dining area that could really "pop" with white lights running zig-zag across the space.
What I saw:
Nebraska take advantage of a BS call to take a commanding lead over my beloved University of Washington Husky football team.

What she saw:
A beautiful ficus.
What I saw:
A great place for my friend Ryan to puke up twelve $7.50 Bud Lights.

Did we find a place? Maybe.

Do I expect to have another marathon of site viewings before this thing is over? Yes.

Will I go through with it out of the fear of what might happen to me if I don't?  Absolutely.

This blog is my personal voice in the wedding planning process...but is by no means meant to be private. If you enjoyed it, don't be afraid to press the "SHARE" button on the facebook link, or the "RETWEET" button on the twitter link...or just forward it on to your friends and family.
And if you didn't like it, you are clearly a black-hearted social devient with no taste. (But share it anyway, I need the readers.)

Thanks for reading,

The Groom