Monday, September 14, 2015

No More Dumpster Weddings

Ever since Frank and I got engaged, I knew that I’d be using that blog title at some point. It comes from a somewhat trivial and yet life altering conversation from a couple of years ago.

My friend Sarah had recently gotten engaged and she was talking about her early-stage wedding plans. She said something to the effect of, “I’m not going to be a Bridezilla and get upset if everyone isn’t wearing the perfect shade of pink.” With no thought to any potential future wedding of my own and mostly with my particular taste in pink bike accessories in mind, I quickly shot back, “I would.” “Yeah,” she laughed, “no more dumpster weddings for you.”

Seeing as later in the conversation we touched on the topic that I hadn’t actually called Frank my boyfriend to his face yet, talk of non-dumpster weddings seemed a little premature. I was still at the stage where I got very anxious and uncomfortable if any outside party even insinuated that Frank and I might ever get married. It was not because I didn’t want it to happen; it was because I’d been down that road before and I only wanted it to happen if and when it was 100% from both our own free will and when the time was right.

For a long time, I was actually kind of proud of how little money and effort was put into my first wedding. It cost $1800 for the ceremony, a one-hour reception with cake and punch, and two nights’ stay at a suite at the venue. My mom found the place on the Internet, and the only decision that I had to make was red or white flowers. Although I can be pretty girly in some respects, I was never one of those little girls who had her wedding completely planned at age 9, so it was just easier to go with the flow, especially since I wasn’t paying for it.

After some reflection on Sarah’s joking comment, I realized what I had viewed for so many years as being low-maintenance was actually just not caring very much. She hadn’t actually been at the wedding, as we didn’t know each other yet. In fact, I didn’t have a single friend in attendance that was my own. I was young, insecure, and lonely, and I thought having met a guy that found me tolerable for more than six months would change that. I was going with the flow and getting married at the borderline old maid age of 24 because that was what I thought I was supposed to be doing at that point in my life. I realized then that if the point came where marrying Frank was what we wanted to do and was the right thing to do for us, not what we were “supposed” to do, that I was going to do it right and you know…care.

So for the last six months that is what I’ve been trying to do. I want to do the wedding thing right so I that I don’t regret being cheap or lazy about it later. The problem is that it does not come naturally to me at all, and I’m paralyzed by fears that what I do won’t be good enough. I suck at decorating, I’m not creative when it comes to cutesy ideas, and as I stated last week, I’m much better at spending money on bikes than dresses. Most wedding website ideas seem overly expensive, overly difficult, or just cheesy and not us, so I’m really struggling to be cute, authentic, and on budget with this thing.

The fact that we have gone this long without engagement photos or save-the-date cards is a testament to that. In perfect world I’d just buy a new outfit, get my hair and makeup done, and hire an experienced photographer to tell us what to do and what will look good while still capturing the essence of us. Ha…if only we lived in perfect world. Instead, I’ve been putting it off for months until we have a little more money, I lose a little more weight, I have the right clothes, the right idea, etc. I’m basically scared because I feel like we have one shot and I don’t want to screw it up. You can only imagine how I scared I am of the actual wedding. Not scared of getting married, as I feel like trials and victories of living together for the last year and a half have proven our readiness for that part. I’m scared that I will fail at properly showing my dedication to this union in the form of a big party.

Regarding the engagement pictures, I thought I finally had that one nailed. After we procrastinated through rhododendron season in the forest (rocks and rhododendrons are the essence of Rothrock, in my opinion, and will play heavily into the wedding décor), I got the idea to get pictures taken at a ‘cross race. Since we were just racing Nittany Lion Cross to get a race in our legs and wouldn’t be doing any other MAC races, there was no reason to race both days, so I got the idea to get the pictures done after the Saturday racing was over, spend the night, and then race on Sunday. I found a photographer who was going to be taking pictures of the race and made arrangements. I got the surprisingly cutesy idea for me idea to get a picture of us with our bikes on the UCI-spec starting grid so that we could send out save-the-dates that said, “Starting married life April 30, 2016”. Cat puke noises, right?

As the day approached, I was feeling pretty happy with myself for being so close to actually accomplishing something. I picked out a reasonably priced outfit with solid colors that matched my bike, and I was starting to feel okay about that the fact that I may never get back to the weight I was when I met Frank and that I’ve stabilized into healthy, sustainable lifestyle that involves another human being.  Pre-Frank weight came at a price that might no longer be worth it. I timed my haircuts wrong and sort of needed a trim, but my hair turned out well on Saturday, and after much a much longer than usual time spent on my make-up, I felt good like I looked pretty good save the on pimple that I hoped would be retouched. Basically, despite my fears of not being good enough, I was on the verge of actually doing something!

Ready to go in solid colors that compliment my baby shower bike!

We knew that there was a chance of rain at photo time, but we had flexible plans and packed our mud boots. Since we were taking ‘cross-themed pictures, a little rain might look cool, anyway. Then it came a complete, utter, raining sideways downpour at the time we were supposed to take the pictures. The photographer wanted to just take the pictures the next day, even though I needed to be there pre-riding for my race at 8:00. He seemed to think that rinsing off the locker room at the velodrome after my race was somehow acceptable preparation for engagement photos. (This presumption would be the cause for much insomniac rage as the night wore on.) As we were trying to quickly renegotiate in the downpour, we somehow agreed to try again at 7:00 a.m., even though I wanted to just go ahead and take the pictures and hope for “epic”, if not pretty. As we drove away and I realized what I had agreed to, the early morning, the fact that my one outfit was soaking wet, the fact that I would look like crap after a night of trying to sleep in a hotel, and that I had failed to bring some cosmetic essentials based because I don’t usually try to look hot for races. No amount of make-up can make ‘cross tongue look pretty.

As 2:00 a.m. approached after two beers and no sleep, I realized that there was no way that this was going to play out in a way with which I wasn’t going to be super disappointed. I texted the photographer to cancel, cried a bit, and then fell asleep surprising quickly with at least two extra hours before I had to get up.

I tell this story because I needed to get it off my chest and because I don’t feel like a Nittany Lion Cross race report would be complete without it. I’m still raw from having been so close to completing a wedding task in a way that I was proud of that I’m not sure what we’ll be doing instead. I guess it’s almost leaf season in Rothrock, which is almost as cool as rhododendrons. I mostly need to figure out how to “do a wedding” that feels like I tried without stressing myself out and making my fiance’ start doubting that he even wants to attend.

Frank and I talked about it during Saturday’s insomnia, and we have the things that matter taken care of. We will have a cool venue, good food, and probably some pretty good beer. The table clothes might be the wrong color, our “rocks and rhododendrons” might look cheap and silly, and there definitely won’t be perfect hand painted signs on the guest book table (or whatever, words like those hurt my head). The best part is that we will get the chance to show off State College and Rothrock to all the friends and family that we’ve wanted to visit, but never had a good enough excuse before. As long as they’re not coming for the decorations, I hope that the excuse will be good enough. I also hope that the photographer gets some good pictures of us, since I only have about seven months of trying to be non-dumpster left in me, and then you may never see anything except #scenicvistaselfies and ill-shot iPhone race photos with ‘cross tongue of us ever again.

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