Wedding Whites – Nightfall

After the gorgeous toasts and the sinful meal (Are brides supposed to gorge like that the night before their wedding?) we had one more trick up our sleeves for our Friday night rehearsal guests – Movie Night!

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We bought two carts full of blankets from Ikea. We forgot that they don’t have bags, so the blankets were spilling all over our car. My mom helped us wrap each blanket in twine.

Friday evening was planned to every last detail by both me and Sam. I really pushed for those mountaintop toasts, but I have to give Sam credit for the movie. This was her idea. We wanted something fun and lowkey, because after all, Saturday was going to be a big day. After dinner and s’mores we led our guests down to the great lawn where we had a giant blow-up movie screen set up on the edge of the lake. Meg from That Time Events set out the blankets (An Ikea purchase as a gift to our guests) and lanterns to make everything super cozy, while Lisa and Stephanie from Cedar Lakes Estate made sure there was wine and popcorn for all.

We kicked off the festivities by releasing giant paper lanterns into the night sky as a slideshow of photographs lit up the screen in the background. We nearly set a tree ablaze, but otherwise the lanterns went up without a hitch. Then it was movie time. Sam and I had settled on cult favorite Wet Hot American Summer. We weren’t surprised that most of our aunts and uncles had never heard of it, but we were shocked to find that some of our cousins just a few years younger than us had never seen this gem. We curled up and enjoyed movie night until Sam and I were ready to sneak off to bed.

My dad still maintains that Friday night was his favorite part of the weekend. It was a warm, no-frills evening for everyone to enjoy being together and for us to spoil our guests (and ourselves) a little.

Of course, Heather Waraksa was there to capture the magic.

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The Final Countdown

What is the typical bride usually doing the week of her wedding? I have no idea. But I can tell you what Sam and I have been up to.

On Friday we got facials at Bliss. They do a great job there, but generally I regard facials as the worst. I have big pores so facials are a mostly unpleasant task that end with the esthetician reminding me that those huge pores are only going to get bigger as I age, and that if I take better care of my skin and use the products she suggests then maybe, maybe, I can save myself. So we did that.

We have more poking and prodding coming up this week. Some of which is enjoyable–mani pedis–and some of which is not–getting waxed. Tomorrow the dogs are getting groomed, of course, and we are picking up our dresses. On Thursday we are heading up to Cedar Lakes Estate. The more we can get done and organized on Thursday, the better, that way come Friday we can relax as friends and family begin to arrive for the rehearsal.

We also decided to lay low for Labor Day weekend, but ended up seeing a lot of friends that we don’t see very often. It has been nice to spend time with loved ones as the excitement mounts, especially because at the wedding we know that we won’t possibly have a chance to spend very much quality time with everyone. The extra work-outs at Punch Fitness and Soul Cycle can only do so much when I’m brunching at the new UES Meatball Shop, drinking, and meeting friends for dinner. Juice cleanse? Who needs it! Once the dress fits I say we are good to go.

We’ve also been checking the weather religiously, but more on that tomorrow. I am just about packed, which is not easy for me. I detest packing and am known to either grossly overpack or bring a bunch of underwear and like, two tee shirts.

Today it’s out to New Jersey for some last minute errands, another trip to Soul Cycle and a concert with some friends. Staying busy has helped keep me pretty calm, since we are getting married in FOUR DAYS!!!

Maybe I didn’t adequately explain …

Technically Samantha and I have both officially changed our names. Until September 7th when we both become Mrs. Abby, we are both currently Miss Abby. I say “technically” because I haven’t even considered when I am going to the dmv or dealing with social security. For now I just enjoy saying Miss Abby and I am going to wait until after the wedding to make it any more official than that.

I would walk you step-by-step through the name-change process, except I’ve already forgotten it. This past month has become one big, mushy memory in my mind. I’ll do my best!

I should start by saying that the tedious process of changing our names has nothing at all to do with gay marriage. Had either one of us chosen to take the other’s last name the process would have been easier. The marriage license would have allowed either spouse to take the surname of the other. Path of least resistance, why, we’d never take it! Straight couples who decide to swap middle names and mess with last names have to do the same thing we did. That being said, we certainly confused some of the employees downtown who could’t quite figure out why two women were simultaneously changing their names to Abby, so it sounds like what we’ve done is a little out of the ordinary.

Step one is to start your name change petition which will cost $65. Once you fill that out you must print it and follow the steps outlined for you. Bring it to civil court to file the petition. In New York City this is done at 111 Centre Street. You complete your petition and then you are sent upstairs to the cashier, who then sends you back downstairs at which point you are given your court date. The cashier is easily the nastiest person in the building, and you can either pay with exact change or a personal check. We were the idiots using the atm. They do not accept credit or debit cards and they don’t care that you didn’t realize you’d have to pay six other hidden fees. They want exact change!

So on another day, likely the following week, you return to 111 Centre Street to see the judge. If your experience is anything like ours you will enter a large windowless room and cautiously approach the court officer who has no patience for your confusion. He’ll swipe the papers from your hand then tell you to sit down, and without any prompting will let you know, “You’re gonna be here a while.” Then you will sit quietly in fear. Then a judge enters, but you don’t talk to him. Then some guy calls your name, you chat, you sit back down. You wait another 40 minutes and someone else starts handing out your petitions as the judge reminds you all to read your documents thoroughly, because even if they got it wrong, once you leave here this is your new, permanent name. They tell you which newspaper you’re required to publish with and they give you that information. Ours was the Irish Echo, so when we called we obviously spoke to a lovely Irish lass named Mary, and $70 later our name change was published the following week, at which time we received an affidavit. We then took that affidavit back down to Centre Street where we finalized the paperwork and bought certified copies of our name change documents. TA DA!

And finally, as I guessed in my first post about our name change process, “What’s in a Name?” this did take three trips downtown.

Final Venue Visit

Yesterday was our last trip up to Cedar Lakes Estate before the big wedding weekend!

My parents hadn’t seen it yet, so they met us up there. Both our Jeep and their trusty old Tahoe were completely packed. We dropped off wine, boxes of gift bags and other goodies. While we’re discussing gift bags, let me just say that I want to know who began this tradition and why. I would also like to take this opportunity to say that I think they’re stupid. I mean, they are. Hey here’s a water bottle and some Advil, thanks for coming!  The whole process is just a waste of time and they really usually contain water, some headache meds and some pretzels, right? Silly.

Ok, now that I’ve made my feelings known I can move on. The lovely Stephanie led us on a tour around the grounds to show my parents everything from the ceremony spot to the kickball location. It was a gorgeous day and our fingers are crossed that September 7th looks just like it.

Also, Stephanie snapped this gem of us.

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Beep Beep! Here come the Semons!

The Height of Comfort

A few confessions.

First, I have huge feet. I’ve always hated my size 10s but I’m a tall girl so yea, I get it. Second, I have a sneaking suspicion that too many brides purchase their wedding shoes based on one thing: The photo. Don’t be coy. You know what photo I mean. The curve of the rhinestones glistening, awaiting the moment when the bride slides her foot in. Show time. The photo of the wedding bands precariously dangling from the  stiletto heel as the shoe rests upside down on the windowsill, a bouquet effortlessly and thoughtlessly placed beside. The pop of blue beneath  hiked-up skirts. The shoe photo is as much a part of wedding photography as the first look, and honestly, I think it’s stupid. Why should I overspend just so The Photo has the right designer name scrawled in the footbed? Why should I suffer through the discomfort of pinched toes for a photo that will never be mounted on my wall? I won’t do it. Neither should you.

I’m about 7 inches taller than Sam and you’re right, it doesn’t really matter because we’re both girls, but I don’t need to slip into 6-inch wedding heels and really tower above her in all of our photos or crouch down to make eye contact during our wedding vows. I don’t need the height and I truly value comfort. I’m not even thirty years old and I find myself regularly drawn into Aerosoles thinking, “Ooh those look so comfy.” It’s not simply the practicality of life in New York City that has gotten me to this point, it’s the practicality of life. I’m not a small girl and I’m sick of being uncomfortable. For my wedding shoes, I decided months ago, I was going with sandals that were either flat or nearly flat.

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Nothing but potential.

The search has been on for months. For a long time I was reluctant to order shoes online. I preferred to try them on and see how they felt. With the wedding just over a month away I finally logged onto Zappos last week and ordered six pairs of shoes.

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Not for big-footed gals.

The giant box arrived after I’d been traipsing the city all day, and I thought it was a good thing that my feet were swollen. Part of me wanted the Stuart Weitzman jelly shoes to work. Depending on how you look at it they either evoke Cinderella or they’re just absolutely ridiculous. That’s a combination I can get into. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t quite get into the shoes. I put on each pair then walked over to Sam and asked for her opinion.

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My feet are tomatoes. And okay, these are kind of ugly.

The silver embellished sandals earned a response of, “No way. Those are the ugliest things I’ve ever seen.” I thought they were kind of spunky, plus, I keep reminding myself, no one is really going to see my shoes anyway. I returned all but one pair of Seychelles sandals,  which are the current frontrunners. I’m going to bring them to my dress-fitting this Friday to see how they look.

Our wedding ceremony is in the woods and I just want something cute and simple. Sam’s DVF wedges are showstoppers, though she’s likely to twist her ankle if she doesn’t practice walking in them soon. I’m excited that her shoes are going to give her so much height. Honestly, I’d just go barefoot if I could.

Vows.

We’ve been putting off some wedding “housekeeping” as of late. Call this hotel to check on the room blocks, update this excel sheet, wash the dishes, do the mopping … Cinderelly, Cinderelly, Cindarelllla! One thing we have definitely been putting off is writing our vows. I checked in with our celebrant Elizabeth to make sure we’re not completely lagging, and she made me feel much better that we wouldn’t need to have our vows written until September 1st. I am fairly confident that we will write them before that.

Vows are one of those things that we overcomplicate. I’ve never had to stand in front of a large crowd of our nearest and dearest and tell Sam just why it is that I love her, or how it is that I intend to make our lives together something beautiful. I feel all of these things, but when it comes to my words I’m more of a write it down kinda gal. Standing up and speaking those words? Yikes.

A friend of Sam’s suggested that we sit down together and discuss a theme for our vows. I think this is great advice, so that one of us isn’t telling jokes about how we met while the other is making sentimental promises about our future. I like the idea of having a common thread when it comes to writing our own vows. Elizabeth sent us some tips to help get us started. These include answering some basic questions about our personal priorities and values and what marriage means to us. Answer these questions, the document tells me, while listening to soft music in candlelight, drinking tea or perhaps a glass of wine. Then take a break. Mull this over and come back in a few days. My problem (in life and in writing) is that my best thinking is done when I wake up suddenly in the middle of the night, or when I’m in the shower, or I’m getting on the bus. If I can, I always jot these thoughts down. Sometimes, though, I have to shave my legs and by the time I’m out of the shower those lovely words are down the drain.

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There’s always this option

I have a feeling of the content I’d like to cover in our vows. I want them to be succinct, as most of our guests know us and know our story and I don’t think that vows are the time to recount our whole history together. Still, as I’ve been reminded, this may be stressful and even a little mortifying, when you’re not a sentimental person, but the ceremony and the vows are a couple’s one chance to ask their loved ones to listen as they make a promise to each other. Sure, it’s a precursor to the open bar but for all of the ways in which Sam and I drive each other nuts, our vows are also a chance to reflect on all of the ways that we love each other and want to make each other as happy as can be.

Now if we can just figure out how to get the kiss right …

What’s in a Name?

When my sister got married, she gave up our family name, Semon, for another. What woman in her right mind would give up such a dignified name, you might ask. What woman would deny herself the joy of repeating in person and over the phone for every appointment, for every dinner reservation, “Yes, it’s Semon.” (Pronounced: See-min) When my brother’s wife took the name, I thought, “That is true love.”

Sam has a similar story. She’s a Goettlich (Pronounced: Get-Lick) It doesn’t produce the same immediate lascivious reactions as Semon, but still, when the two are paired, like a great steak and a full-bodied Cabernet, the results are exquisite. How did two women with such tenacious last names end up together? Fate. (Obviously. This was the work of the Gods, or perhaps the tides, maybe the moon, like a menstrual cycle.)

Typically, and rather simply, when a man and a woman are married it is customary that she takes his name. Sure, I was teased in school, but my name gave me a thick skin, I even liked it, repeating it for substitute teachers a touch too loud and a little too boldly; Semon. Still, I dreamed of the day I would marry and thus inherit a fancy new name. Then I met Sam. In the beginning we didn’t worry about a last name. That would have been silly, to worry about crossing the bridge when we had yet to scale the mountain in front of it, but then we reached the mountaintop, the glorious summit, our U-Haul trailer hitch intact, and we decided that we wanted to be married. Still, there was the possibility of keeping our respective names. And why not? I love being a Semon. I do. But Sam and I plan to have a family in the future, and that there was our problem. What would become of our children? If we are to be two women in a marriage that most of our country doesn’t even recognize, then we would want to band together and share the same name, and if we were to bring children into this world, we would want them to carry that name. So what were we to do? Semon-Goettlich? Goettlich-Semon? Our friends had a blast conjuring Semonlich and Goetsemon, both major contenders. “Our poor future children,” I lamented. “Our poor unborn babies,” Sam replied. “What kind of monsters would raise children with two mommies and the last name Semon OR Goettlich OR Semon-Goettlich OR Goettlich-Semon OR Semonlich OR Goetsemon?” We cannot. And we will not.

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Our friends threw us a fabulous little engagement soiree. Here we are posing in front of one of our future name options. It’s worth noting that decorations also included a penis pinata and a vagina installation made of streamers and a deflated pink balloon. I know what you’re thinking, “What creative types their friends are!”

Negotiations began. Sam wasn’t going to take my name (Though Sam Semon does have a ring to it) and I wasn’t going to take Goettlich, of that we were sure. There was no paternalistic solution to our dilemma. We needed a name. We considered the maiden name’s of our Mothers, names passed down through our families, and finally we decided to do something that many other couples have done before us, we will take Sam’s middle name as our last name. Simple. Nice. Solution. Step one was complete. We had a name.

Next, we needed to find out how to change our names. This would not be as simple as other couples getting married in New York. We each have to petition the court for a name change. When I filled out my paperwork and I was given a space to write why I wanted to change my name, I explained that my fiancee and I would both be taking her middle name as our last when we get married. Aside from petitioning the court for permission to change our names, along with the $65 fee we will each need to pay, we will then need to publish our name-changes in a NY newspaper. I’ve read that the Irish Echo is the cheapest place to do that, at $35.

So now we need to take this down to the court. We also need to go there to dissolve our domestic partnership before we can obtain our marriage license. My practical side would like to find a way to do all three of these things in the same visit, while my realistic side reminds me that nothing in this city has ever been quite that easy and admits that this will likely take no fewer than three visits. When I try to ask my friends or family how they did it most remind me that they were married in other states while some remind me that it was different for them, since they were taking their husband’s last name. We’re doing this the long way.

I will certainly update our name change mission as it approaches completion, but for now I suspect that this is not so much hard as it is time-consuming and frustrating, but of course, worth it. From what I know about relationships, that’s really all that marriage is anyway.

I am stress-eating as I write this.

Hey! Just checking in. Invites are out and we already have a few responses back, shout-out to those who open the invite, fill out the response card and toss it in the mailbox and do not pass go! Now that the invites are safely in the hands of our guests (we hope) the fun really starts. Response cards will pour in over the coming weeks and then we will chase down the stragglers once we pass our Please rsvp by date. Don’t get me wrong. We love stragglers, we adore them. Many of our loved ones are indeed stragglers. Hell, sometimes we’re even stragglers … but not when it comes to rsvping. I don’t ever straggle with small stuff, only with life’s important obligations like having a career path and a dependable income, but that’s neither here nor there. What happens, I wonder, when the USPS lets us down, and friends and family don’t receive their invites? Sure, some people will ask about it, but what about those who don’t? Scary thought. Not as scary as a wedding weekend hurricane, but scary nonetheless. This thought, and other tiny stressors, are what keep me from falling back asleep when I wake up  in the early morning hours to pee. With the wedding only 79 short days away, I am  spending my final days leading up to the event reminding myself to stay calm. Stay calm Laura, I tell myself, some things are out of your control.

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Here is a visual pick-me-up: Winston and Luda checking out my wedding jewels.

I’m not into yoga, I’m not good at sitting still and just breathing, and since it’s officially, streaklessly crystal clear that in the final months leading up to this wedding I will not be starving myself, but instead drinking wine and carbing up, I am relying on Soul Cycle, Punch Fitness, the crappy treadmills in my gym and the East River Promenade to keep me sane.

Oh, and Sam. I’m relying on Sam to stay calm, which is ridiculous. She’s never calm about anything. Sigh.