Everybody listen up! Wedding planning is serious business! We have things to do. Important questions to answer: Where? When? What’s our budget? What’s our color scheme?! According to the book we bought, we are already years behind schedule!
Faye and I decided right after we got engaged that no matter what anyone else said about this process, we would stay stress-free and have fun with it. This mantra worked for about, I don’t know, let’s say 20 minutes – at which point I started to have one of my patented freak-outs.
Me: (Pacing around the ottoman in our tiny living room) Where do we even BEGIN?!
Faye: We could start with figuring out where we want to get mar–
Me: (Tripping over the ottoman onto the floor) Forget it! Let’s elope! Can you get me the ice pack?
I don’t like to plan things because I don’t like to ask people to go out of their way for me. If you and I were to make plans to go to dinner and a movie, we would most likely end up in your part of town at your favorite restaurant discussing the movie you chose for us to see. And if the food tastes like boiled cardboard and the movie was as predictable as yellow mustard, well then I am glad that it wasn’t my fault. I won’t make you feel bad for it either, because I know you were the one who went out on a limb with your choices. Everyone wins.
So you can see why planning a wedding might be challenging for me. I am expected to be involved with picking the food my loved ones will eat, the chairs they’ll sit in while eating it, the colors they’ll see all night, and the music they’ll dance to. I am asking people to take off work, spend their money and fly across the country for us.
But it had to be done, and we had to start somewhere.
Picking a city to get married in was unexpectedly complicated. Although I like to tell people that I grew up in Chicago, I spent my childhood frolicking in an excellent township just north of the city called Evanston, Illinois. After graduating from Northwestern University (yes, I went to the school whose campus began on my parents’ street) I moved to Los Angeles to try my luck in the TV and film business… And after my father passed away in 2001, my mother and sisters moved out to Los Angeles as well. At which point I moved to New York City (not because of you, Mom! I promise.)
I tell you all of this to demonstrate that, while I am fortunate to have a large group of terrific friends in all three places I’ve lived, none of them feels exactly like home.
Faye has also moved around quite a bit. Her wonderful (large) Italian-American family lives in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. She went to school in Vermont. Worked in D.C. and then lived in Thailand for three years. Got her Masters in New York.
All of this moving about makes it even more remarkable that we ended up living only three apartment buildings apart on the same street in New York City. It makes me wonder what wedding planning would be like if everything was that easy. What if we had grown up in a simpler time, when couples met when they were three? When both families lived in the same village and there was one church to get married in and one restaurant in which to celebrate.
Faye: Interesting fantasy. But can we focus on the “where.”
Right. The place. But how to choose?
We made a pros and cons list of our top three choices.
New York City:
Pros: Great food. Amazing city and fun destination for people to visit. We live here so we can be involved in the planning on a daily basis.
Cons: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. The first space we called – a loft in Queens – cost $6000. For a completely empty room. It just so happened that $6000 was our initial budget – for the entire wedding. Also, New York meant travel and hotels for both of our families, which would be hard for them. It would also mean that after the wedding, people would just go back to their hotels scattered all about town and our local friends would just take the subway home. It would all be over so fast. It might not feel much like an “event.”
Pros: Great weather. Near my family and many of my friends. Beautiful settings.
Cons: Very far from Faye’s (wonderful, large) family. Very far from us – which would make planning difficult. My mom doesn’t have a backyard anymore.
Pros: Near Faye’s family (have I mentioned that there are a lot of them?) We could possibly do it in her parents’ lovely backyard. Only a four-hour drive from New York, so we could make frequent visits for planning.
Cons: Most of our friends would need to fly there, triggering all my anxieties about having people go out of their way.
But, looking over the list, I had a bit of an epiphany seeing the word “backyard.” Part of me always thought I would get married in a backyard. Ever since I was a kid I pictured my mom setting out appetizers and worrying about the weather while my father laughed and worked the grill.
The amazing thing – apart from the fact that I had daydreamed about my wedding since I was a little boy – is that Faye had a similar vision of a backyard wedding. Under the setting sun. Watching the stars begin to dot the sky. Dancing under the moonlight until our feet were covered in dew.
Faye’s backyard is perfect. I love it that she grew up in that deep green grass under those amazing angular trees. I love it that we could exchange our vows under the grape arbor (Italians call it a pergola) her father built with his hands.
And I have a feeling that if we get married in Faye’s backyard, my father will be there too, watching over the grill, making sure everything turns out just right.
One decision down. Maybe I can do this planning thing after all.
Unless you want to do it for me?
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