How to Plan a Wedding in [Almost] One Year

September 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

I wanted to have this finished for our first anniversary.

I got lazy. I even stopped writing for myself for a while. That’s the downside of actually working in the creative field you want to be in. You do so much writing for other people that sometimes you forget to write for yourself, too.

I finally finished the first draft in April of this year, just in time for our 1.5 year anniversary. It’s now in the revision stage, and I’m sprucing it up to get it published somewhere.

But I thought I’d share an excerpt here. On our two-year wedding anniversary.

Happy Year 2. Love you, Squirrelface.


How to Plan a Wedding in [Almost] One Year

10 Months Before

Book a time to try on wedding gowns. It’s vital to coordinate a time when all your VIPs can be there.

Give your maid of honor (best friend) and bridesmaids (sisters) three weeks’ advance notice. Follow up on Facebook a week later with the time and location. Follow up one week after that to remind them about next Saturday. Keeping a constant line of communication with your bridal party is very important.

Text everyone on Saturday morning.

You’re a punctual bride. Arrive at the salon at 1pm sharp. Your maid of honor’s there. And your mom. That’s a start.

Meet with your consultant and chat about styles. All the dresses you want are available online only. Well, you might as well try on dresses that are like the dresses you really want.

Get a text from your sister at 1:30pm. So sorry, she totally forgot. Also, she just got called into work.

Let’s see that second dress again.

Are you sure you want to go backless?

This one feels too heavy.

Text your other sister at 1:45. And let’s see dress #1 again.

That’s the one. It’s so silky and light and fits your hips just right. And you don’t feel so bride-y in it. Not that it’s a bad thing. But feeling like a bride only two months in kind of freaks you out.

Make a downpayment. Wow, that took less than an hour!

Get a text from your other sister at 6:30pm. Sorry! She forgot. And just woke up.

9 Months Before

By this point, you should be in touch with your venue to talk about menus and tastings and floorplans.

Oh, look at that. There’s an email from them waiting in your inbox when you get home from work.

“What was the date you booked again? October 6th or October 13th?”

It’s a little disconcerting that they don’t remember details. But it’s nice of them to check. Verify the date and whip up some dinner like the June Cleaver you won’t be about 11 months from now.

There’s another email waiting for you after dinner:

“I’m so sorry, but here’s what happened. Another couple booked your date in August, three months before you did. I’m really sorry. We’re under new management and didn’t have the right datebook the day you called to book.

I’m really, very sorry. I’ll do anything to convince you to have your wedding here. September 29th is still available.

Again, so sorry.”

They… they what? Go ahead and flip the fuck out. You’re three full months into planning. You deserve this moment.

And… calm. This can work in your favor. You need a ceremony site, and your venue overcharges for their ceremony site. This is that perfectly-balanced point in your planning when you can Get Things For Free.

You reply:

“This is very disappointing. I fell in love with your venue as soon as I walked in. I can’t imagine a more perfect spot for my wedding. But my ceremony site is booked solid on the 29th.”

This is a lie. You don’t have a ceremony site yet (even though other online to-do lists will tell you to book one 12 months in advance). But they don’t need to know that.

“Didn’t you say something about hosting ceremonies for a fee? If there’s any chance at all for any kind of discount (since we already spent money on the other place), that would make it so much easier to move our date. I’d hate to not have my wedding at your venue at all!”

Receive the response:

“Yes! I’ll waive the $500 fee completely! You’re all booked for the 29th.”

Congratulations. You just booked a ceremony site and saved $500. But now you’ve lost a month.

4 Months Before

Start a yoga routine you won’t stick to, because who has time to get in shape? You’re five four months out from your wedding day.

And by the way, that event planner you talked to in January? The one you’re getting the free ceremony from? She doesn’t work there anymore. She left. In March. And they are so sorry no one followed up with you. They thought they contacted all of her brides. And you know they charge $1,000 for the banquet room, right?

You need to set this new chick straight, because that’s the main reason you booked the place. Back in November when you made your deposit, it was the only place within 25 miles of Philly that didn’t charge a room fee and wasn’t owned by Steven Starr.

Luckily, you’re still good at Getting Things For Free, even with only four months to go.

You come home from work, The Triumphant Bride. Nothing can get in the way of your perfect wedding now.

Your fiance is sitting on the couch, staring at the wall. He barely registers you walking in. He just got fired.

3 Months Before

This is the night you get drunk and text your mother-in-law to ask if you should still marry her son.

You can’t keep your Center City apartment. This is the worst part about getting married. Your fiance doesn’t like the city. And you hate the compromise. But you can’t stay here with the rent going up.

This is the place where you made yourself. This is where you moved with the paychecks from your first writing gig, even though it was sleazy hack work. This is the hub that’s a 20-minute walk away from your life-blood haunts in the heart of the city. This is the hardwood floors and fire escape cocktails and the windows that face northwest for maximum sunlight value.

Your fiance can’t find a job. It’s been a month. And you only have three more to go. And even though $34,000 a year is the most money you’ve earned in your life, it can’t sustain two of you. It can’t sustain the two of you and also pay for a wedding.

Get drunk.

This is where things get hazy, because you need advice but don’t want your parents to think that you need more money. Text the first neutral party you think of: your mother-in-law. (She’s the logical first choice after a bottle of wine and three gin and tonics.)

Ask her what you think makes sense: “Should I really get married to Joe?” (It sounds less alarming in context. Really.)

You’ll text back and forth for an hour. Her answer is yes. Really, I mean, what did you expect? You should have called your sister instead, which you’ll realize tomorrow morning when you’re deleting all those texts.

You’re going to miss this apartment.

1 Week Before

Shoes… check.

Headpiece… check.

Bridesmaids’ dresses… check.

Final alterations… check.

Some basic idea about what you might be doing for flowers, maybe… check.

A 101 degree fever… no. No. A 101 degree fever is not what you’re supposed to be doing the week before your wedding. Neither is Sudafed or missing the time from work you had blocked off for your honeymoon.

How much vitamin C can you take before it’s toxic?

Listen. You should have gotten more sleep the month before. Well, I mean, you would have if it weren’t for the downstairs college bros who play beer pong on their porch until 2 a.m. But sleep is vital, as is eating well. You should really take care of yourself so you don’t get sick the week before your wedding.

But you probably will get sick the week before your wedding, anyway. Just, please, give your apartment a walk-through before you start picking up your other sisters at the airport to make sure that you at least don’t have any damp towels hanging in your bathroom from that steam bath you gave your sinuses five minutes before you got in the car.

Have you ever mixed Sudafed with five of your little sister’s improved versions of a Long Island Iced Tea in under two hours? Don’t. It puts you in deep danger of spending your entire bachelorette inside an Atlantic City hotel room instead of at the burlesque show with more boobs than your fiance saw at his bachelor party. Unless you rally hard and impressively. At the very least, you’re never going to want Domino’s Pizza ever again.

1 Day Before

If you miss your nail appointment because you’re still in Atlantic City Instagramming an impressive hangover breakfast with all your sisters at noon, don’t panic.

If your dad gets the flu and can’t make your rehearsal, don’t panic.

If you still don’t have those goddamn flowers you should have decided on three months ago, don’t panic.

But most importantly, don’t be the last one to arrive at your rehearsal dinner because you stopped to buy a case of Yuengling with your sister first.

Oh, and that thing you said about your wedding not being anything like your sister’s, where everyone pulled an all-nighter the day before to make bouquets and centerpieces and cake toppers and photo booth props, because you’re way more organized than that? Yeah, that was a lie.

Didn’t you follow any of the planning advice online? The cashier checking out your flower order at Wegman’s at 2:30 a.m. doesn’t think so.

The Day Of

You’re not going to remember anything about this day. You’re just not. About a year from now, you’ll have a private moment with a friend of yours on her wedding day, about halfway through the reception, and she’ll look at you and ask with glassy eyes, “Did it go this fast for you?” And you’ll tell her, “No, I think it went even faster.”

But you’ll remember the most important parts, like one sister doing your hair while the other does your nails and your kitchen becomes the Ad Hoc Salon. Laughing at Internet memes every five minutes. That moment when your sister comes thisclose to threatening the bros downstairs with a baking pan.

The time in the car when you’re 20 minutes late because of traffic and still five minutes away from the venue when suddenly, like serendipitous wedding day magic from a sappy chick flick, your recessional song plays on the radio. Just like that. And it’s the first time your wedding day feels real.

Seeing yourself in the mirror for the first time.

The look on your fiance’s face when he sees you for the first time, even though he totally botched your first look shot by not opening his eyes in time, goddamnit!

The tissue your best friend kept tucked in her dress for when you needed it during the ceremony, and how you handed it to your husband instead.

The way it feels to say “husband” now.

All the things your dad says to you during your father/daughter dance.

And that moment where all three of your families get together for one photograph, something you never thought would happen when you first learned the word “adoption.” The gravity of that moment almost means more than the actual wedding.

Your wedding is about unity. Whatever happened in the months before don’t matter as much as this moment and all the moments that come after.

But seriously. Just buy your flowers before 2 a.m. the day of your wedding. There’s really no excuse for that.


The Art of Transition

May 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

The thing about massive change is that it’s scary as shit.

To cope, I do things like make up words. Words like freelanceployment, which is the status between unemployment and freelancing when you’re not profitable enough to sustain yourself, but you have enough prospects that maybe soon you might be. Saying it carries less of a stigma, anyway. It makes you sound more active than plain old “unemployed.”

I also do things like buy all the ingredients for stupid amounts of margaritas without my husband knowing (but he found out by the time this post got published).

But mostly, I listen to a lot of music.

I know some people in similar periods of change. Some are optimistically freelanceployed like me. Some are making big moves to other states. Some are new parents, and some are graduating college to start their own crazy job adventures.

No matter what kind of change you’re in the middle of, this mix is for you (and it’s getting posted before Sunday to make room for some Mothers’ Day sentimentality I may or may not create between today and then).


1. Forever Young – Youth Group, Waiting for the Weekend: “Forever young, I want to stay forever young…”

2. This Ladder is Ours – The Joy Formidable, Wolf’s Law: “See us walking through the sunshine / Ask me where I’ve been / Back to ire / Back to desire / This is where it all begins…”

3. Two Fingers – Jake Bugg, Jake Bugg: “So I hold two fingers up to yesterday / Light a cigarette and smoke it all the way / I got out, I got out, I’m alive and I’m here to stay…”

4. Ashes On Your Eyes – Deb Talan, A Bird Flies Out: “You are a phoenix with your feathers still a little wet / The ashes just look pretty on your eyes..”

5. Adulthood – Jukebox the Ghost, Safe Travels: “And I dare you to survive / Being old for the rest of your life / From adulthood, no one survives…”

6. Wildewoman – Lucius, Wildewoman: “She’s gonna find another way back home/ It’s written in her blood, it’s written in her bones / And she’ll only be bound by the things she chooses…”

7. In Between Days – Ben Folds, supersunnyspeedgraphic: “Yesterday I got so old I felt like I could die / Yesterday I got so old it made me want to cry…”

8. These Days – Dr. Dog, Be The Void: “I don’t wanna go / Even though my friends are gone and the music’s off…”

9. We Are the Tide – Blind Pilot, We Are the Tide: “Our time is ever on the road / The ride is in what we make…”

10. Land of the Bloody Unknown – The Middle East, I Want That You Are Always Happy: “I can’t raise the flags or ring them bells / But I can shoot my gun down the line towards my home / To the land of the bloody unknown…”

11. This Year – East Hundred, The Spells: “A rush of love is new / All good lies come true / So lift us up, up, up / Lift us up, up, up…”

12. Comfort – Deb Talan, A Bird Flies Out: “In days to come / When your heart feels undone / May you always find an open hand / Take comfort wherever you can, you can, you can…”

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Song Mix Sundays #13: Perseid

August 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

2:00 am, mid-November. Cold biting through my two layers of flannel pants. I’m perched on the hood of the silver Taurus in our driveway, head craned skyward, watching the Leonids peak. Dad tells me the history of the stars and my brain is full of universe.

The news claimed we’d see up to 3,000 meteors in an hour.

We must have seen over a hundred shooting stars that night, even in the light-polluted suburbs. I lost count in the first 15 minutes.

I was 16, and that was my first meteor shower.

The Perseids peak this weekend. If you’ve never caught a light show, grab a blanket and find someplace dark after local midnight. Sprawl in the grass for two or three hours with the bats and the crickets and the still night air, and watch the stars fall.


1. Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois – Sufjan Stevens, Come On Feel The Illinoise “Incarnation / Three stars / Delivering signs and dust from their eyes”

2. Sleep Tonight – Stars, Set Yourself On Fire “You will cry / And I will cry / Cause all the love’s alive tonight”

3. Human Qualities – Explosions in the Sky, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

4. Meteor – the bird and the bee, Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future “One night a meteor / Came to my door / And he asked me to dance / One night a shooting star / He traveled far / Just to ask me to dance”

5. The Violet Hour – The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow

6. Stars – The Weepies, Say I Am You “Tangerines are hanging heavy / Glowing marigolden hues / Teasing a half-pale moon / And I feel a pull to the blue-velvet dark and stars”

7. {Awayland} – The Villagers, {Awayland}

8. Belles – Andrew Bird, Break It Yourself

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August 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

I wonder if all city-dwellers are the same.

I have this habit, this Sunday afternoon ritual. I like looking at lists of weekend events to see what I missed and/or slept through – the “what if” of my weekend.

Here’s what I missed so far in 2013:

  • First Friday in January, February, March, April, May, June, July and August
  • Philly Beer Week
  • Manayunk Arts Festival
  • Free concerts at The Piazza
  • Manayunk Bike Race
  • Bastille Day at Eastern State Penitentiary (for the fourth year in a row)
  • Shakespeare in Clark Park
  • The Mummer’s Parade
  • The entire concert season at The Mann

I had a good excuse for Philly Beer Week: my body doesn’t like gluten. And that’s a terrible truth to learn about yourself after 6 (legal) years of honing a distinctly craft taste.
(Confession: I spent a week drinking every gluten-free beer The Foodery sells before caving to my body’s medical needs.)

I live in Manayunk. I do not have good excuses for the Arts Festival or the Bike Race.

I moved to the city four years ago with opposite expectations: Nights out in NoLibs. Weekend dining in Center City. Brunch with bottomless mimosas every Sunday. Reclaiming my suburban high school and college years with a lush, urban life.

I did brunch with bottomless mimosas exactly twice. And one of those times was a year after I’d left the neighborhood.

With every year I live here, I go out less and less. You’re having a party? At Barcade? That’s a drive, into Fishtown. Ugh. Couldn’t you have picked an empty Roxborough dive instead?

Do I get up and go, or do I crack open another cider and marathon shows on Netflix? The decision is crushing, and now I want to take a nap.

Is this what happens as your 20s deplete, or after marriage? How many people plateau into a plain life, into suburban shells that drive home in cars on city streets and lock their apartment doors at 6pm? I’m one of those people. I was always one of those people.

Then I remember Ashley. She’s 30. She doesn’t look 30, though. She’s the kind of 30 that always makes you think 20-something. I thought 20-something the first time I met her in 2012, at a concert we flyered for the radio station. She wears the best scarves and she cuts her own hair. And when she’s 40-something, she’ll still be the same. Boundlessly adventurous.

We had a conversation about 20-somethings a week or so ago. She’s seeing a 27-year-old, and can’t get over how much he complains about being tired. Like, all the time. He works all day and crashes at night, somewhere around the 7:00 hour. He never wants to go out, what’s with him?

“And I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m 30. And I’ve got tons of energy. I don’t know what your problem is!'” And as she said that, I saw myself. I’m 27, and I don’t know what my problem is.

I came to the city to live, to absorb the energy and radiate with it. I came for experiences.

I’m 27 years old. And I need to get off the couch.

Song Mix Sundays #12: Lazy, Hazy Summer

August 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

My two big passions in life: sharing stories and sharing music.

Sometimes, a good song tells my story better than my own words. That’s how Song Mix Sundays was born. Once a week, I compile a playlist of my favorite songs around a common theme.

August means the unofficial last month of summer. So here’s a late summer snack: 8 of my favorite tracks that embrace the last remaining lazy, hazy days.

Song Mix Sunday #12

1. Take Me Somwhere – Tennis, Cape Dory
It’s already August, but there’s still a whole month left for shore trips and late-night drives to nowhere. Take yourself somewhere.

2. Yellow Bridges – El Ten Eleven, Transitions
This song is a casual afternoon drive with the windows rolled down on that first day the humidity finally breaks.

3. Upon the North – Eliza and the Bear, Upon the North “I spent summers away / Hiding in rivers and lakes / I spent summers away / Hiding”
The perfect end-of-summer anthem.

4. Back Like 8 Track – The Go! Team, Rolling Blackouts
This song is the ultimate inner-city summer block party.

5. Sugar Bush – matt pond PA, Spring Fools EP
Play this song when you’re sitting on the back porch at dusk with a handmade shandy, right around the time the first fireflies come out.

6. Neutral Ground – Sea Wolf, Leaves in the River
Summer’s not over until I’ve lain on a blanket in damp grass at 2am, watching Perseid meteors streak across the sky.

7. Stay Young, Go Dancing – Death Cab For Cutie, Codes and Keys “Through autumn’s advancing / Stay young, go dancing”

8. Don’t Look Back – She & Him, Volume Two “Don’t look back, all you’ll ever get / Is the dust from the steps before…”
The end of one season is actually a beginning – a new season with new possibilities. Don’t look back; move forward.

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Things I Think About At 27

July 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

1. How did I gain 30 pounds in 2 years?
2. Why don’t my college jeans fit anymore?
3. Is 27 too late to make my big break as a young writing prodigy?
4. How many calories does my dinner have?
5. I hope my parents’ finances hold steady.
6. When will I finally live in a structure that doesn’t charge $4 in quarters for laundry?
7. Does this dress make me look like I gained 30 pounds in 2 years?
8. I hope my mom goes first.
9. I don’t really want to go to happy hour. I’d rather collapse on the couch.
10. What will my mom do with all the cats?
11. But I’m still too young to sleep all night instead of going out.
12. I’m not the ideal housewife. And I’m not sorry.
13. I’m so glad I’m not pregnant right now.
14. Yoga will make me shed those 30 pounds, right?
15. I need a new dress for this wedding.
16. What if the chemo doesn’t work?
17. I can’t wait for vacation.
18. I should paint my nails more often.
19. Can my mom live on her own?
20. I feel more 17 than 27.
21. Where’d the rest of my 20s go?
22. Is 27 really too young to hear, “But you look so good!”
23. I hope I’m still top copywriter next year.
24. I think Dad wants to be cremated.
25. Why do I keep having wedding nightmares a year after my wedding?
26. Cremation’s probably cheaper.
27. He’s gonna worry most about the cats, though. When it’s time, I’m mixing his ashes with Lady’s and Rebel’s and Molly’s and Gabby’s and scattering them all together. He’ll like that. I hope the chemo works.

Song Mix Sundays #11: It Starts With An Earthquake…

August 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

First an earthquake, now a hurricane. The East coast can’t catch a break this week.

I’m weathering the storm in my Philly apartment that dates back to the 1850s with windows that haven’t been replaced since c. 1902. I don’t know what tonight has in store for me, my electricity or my historical relic front windows.

So this week’s Song Mix Sunday is going up a day early so the rest of my East coast readers can party down before the electricity goes out. Or before we float away. Or both.

The theme this week? Natural disasters. 11 tracks covering tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and even a zombie apocalypse. Because you can never be too prepared. In your face, Irene!

1. T. O. R. N. A. D. O / The Go! Team / Rolling Blackouts
“It’s the T. O. R. N. A. D. O! It’s the T. O. R. N. A. D. O! It’s the prototype, it’s the double-strike from the ge-ge-ge-ge-ge-ge-get go!”

2. Earthquake Weather / Beck / Guero
“Something’s coming, sky is purple, dogs are howling to themselves / Days are changing with the weather / Like a rip tide could rip us away”

3. Hurricane / Eastern Conference Champions / Speak-Ahh
“I hear it coming, I hear it coming, sounds like a hurricane!”

4. California’s Burning / Augustana / All The Stars and Boulevards
“California’s burning, burning, burning to the ground…”

5. Calamity Song / The Decemberists / The Kind Is Dead
“Had a dream / You and me and the war of the end times / And I believe California succumbed to the fault line…”

6. Mt. St. Helens / Mirah / Advisory Committee
“There had been a great disaster / The hot winds came just after / A tremendous shock was filmed / Survivors often tell…”

7. A Record Year for Rainfall / The Decemberists / Always the Bridesmaid: Vol. 3
“I read in the paper today it’s been a record year for rainfall…”

8. Hurricane and Fire Survival Guide / Cloud Cult / Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)
“I’ll laugh my whole way through the hurricanes and fires…”

9. Sparrows / matt pond PA / The Dark Leaves
“And when that white dust fails and smoke pours from the sun / I know I must know better…” I’m pretty sure this song is actually about a bad break-up, but it’s apocalyptic references make it fit right in here.

10. They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh! / Sufjan Stevens / Come On Feel The Illinoise
Because zombie disasters are just as impending as natural disasters.

11. Natural Disaster / Andrew Bird / Noble Beast

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