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 say...you 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.
(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 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...
ELEVEN ****ING VASES!
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.
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.)