Archive for January, 2012

Reasons I’m Getting Married – Paper Products (Invitations)

January 29, 2012

To say that Sylvia has this thing for paper products/crafts has to be one of the greatest understatements since, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.” If it’s an ink stamp, piece of stationary, greeting card, or pretty much anything in a card shop or a paper shop, she’s all over it.

Just after Christmas, Sylvia wanted to go over to Paper Source to get some ideas on invitations and I was all for it. This was especially true because our friend John was in town and he’s essentially helping us essentially design the elements, if not the entire wedding itself. The more that we could get done before we’re pressed for time later the better. I knew going in that it could potentially be an overwhelming experience, so I mentally prepped for it and Sylvia even gave me a good out. If I got too overwhelmed, she just wanted me to walk away. I’m thankful that she’s aware just how much paper crafts mean to her and that she’s not insisting that I have a hand in some of the design unless I’m really into whatever it is. It really helps me manage my stress levels, which in turn gives me the capacity to help her manage her stress levels when they get a bit elevated.

Anyway, after we got down there, the three of us told them that we were there to look through some invitation ideas and they sat us down with a few of the invitation binders and we went to town. Unless you’ve already been married before or are currently going through this process, then it’s a bit of an understatement to say that there is a lot of options when it comes to invitations. You’ve got font, ink color, paper color, paper weight, paper size as well as the overall design of the invitation itself. Are you going to do a single card, or a folding card/paper invitation, or perhaps a two or even three piece ensemble? I’m proud of myself for not being instantly overwhelmed, but I will admit that I was nearly instantly befuddled that there would be so many options. I have no idea why in the world I thought it would be a relatively straightforward task considering that I think every wedding invitation I’ve ever gotten has been pretty different. Sylvia and John had a pretty instant connection going in terms of narrowing ideas down and man it was impressive to watch. I piped up occasionally if I either had an idea or concern or general opinion and I think I had some good ideas on small details, but thankfully they were doing most of the heavy lifting. When it came to color though, I totally checked out for a while.

See, I’m partially color blind. I wasn’t even really aware of it growing up as it was never particularly noticeable and there were only occasional shades of either orange/red or blue/purple that I would get confused about. It wasn’t till after getting teased about it in college and after I moved to Chicago and got health insurance with my current job that I actually had it tested. It’s silly because I could have just googled color blindness and easily have found the images that pretty much tell you how bad your color vision is. Once I was completely aware of it and how mild it was, I just sort of let it go when I see something differently than other people. Now, it’s a quirk and it can be fun to compare how I see something versus how most people see something.

While Sylvia and John were talking about all the different colors that we could go with, one of the clerks came over to see how we were doing. Thoughts and everything were thrown out there and the clerk casually mentioned that they had a tool that you could custom emboss anything that would take any oil-based ink like a rubber stamp. Sylvia’s eyes started to slowly light up as the wheels turned and she considered the ramifications of being able to custom emboss not just the invitations, but pretty much anything that she’d ever want to. When that moment hit, the look in her eyes was like every 4th of July fireworks display. Ever. All at once. It was simultaneously amazing and a little scary to behold. The clerk brought us over and showed us how the stamping, powder and tool worked and I’ll admit that I was pretty impressed. Once the demo was over, I didn’t have to even look at Sylvia as I already knew that at least one element of our invitations were going to be custom embossed.

Once that little bit of amazingness was over, there was more discussion on other elements of the invitations but nothing nearly as exciting as Sylvia learning about the embosser. We did find out that you can custom line envelopes, which is pretty cool, but it’s going to be extra work. Actually we’re putting a lot of work into the invitations as we’re doing nearly all of the work on our own. We actually had Sylvia’s mom and aunt over earlier this afternoon to help us with the construction of some of the elements and it was a grand old time. There’s more work to be done, but we’ve got a good dent taken care of and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Watching Sylvia’s joy about the embossing tool was essentially an extreme version of just how excited she gets by paper. I think it’s amazing. When you get to watch someone do something that they love, even if you don’t fully understand it, it’s really something. Sometimes I think that might just be what love is; the joy of your partner excited about something you don’t understand. While I might roll my eyes from time to time, I do at least get that paper is just an exciting thing for Sylvia even if I’ll never likely fully understand why. We all have things that just get us really excited, perhaps even past the point that anyone else, or even ourselves can understand. Heaven forbid that I judge anyone when it’s pretty clear that I have my own quirks.

Now that I think about it a bit more, I hope she’s not disappointed after the “paper” anniversary. Maybe every anniversary will have to be a “paper” anniversary.


The Wedding Party

January 22, 2012

Generally speaking, Sylvia and I don’t hold to tradition much. We’re not flat out against all traditions per se, but we often times ask why something should continue being a tradition if it doesn’t make sense to us. If we can’t find a good reason to keep it up, we just drop it entirely or at least temporarily until we can maybe get some more information that might change our minds. For example, we were temporarily against the idea of having Jordan almonds at the wedding until we got some back story/history on what they were about and now we really like the idea of having them. However, one of the traditions we couldn’t find a reason to keep was the idea of having our wedding party segregated by gender.

I believe Sylvia’s rough sentiment was, “they’re my guys, you can’t have them!” When we actually started talking about it more, we really really wanted our attendants to be with the person whom they had the stronger connection to, regardless of gender. Why should her oldest friend be on my side and my oldest friend be on hers? After doing some research, we determined that not only is it increasingly common to have mixed gender wedding parties, but that the general attitude leaning toward same gender parties really largely boils down to generation or societal background. Since “it’s just the traditional thing to do”, it didn’t pass our test of why we should do it in the first place. It’s really interesting too because it seems like opinions seem to still be pretty divided over whether it is more important to have the traditional bridesmaids/groomsmen or if it doesn’t matter and that those closest to you should stand with you regardless of their bits and pieces. It’s as though it’s a hot and current topic, but I haven’t really seen too many stories or articles making a big deal about it or even really pointing out that it’s a newer trend. It’s also interesting to me that I haven’t really heard much in the way of any basis for the tradition other than, “that’s how it’s always been done.” I can’t seem to find any stories or history as to why it’s a tradition other than it’s a tradition. It’s kind of weird really, but then again, maybe my research just isn’t good enough.

Also, since we weren’t going the way of bridesmaids or groomsmen, we wanted some way to distinguish each side. We could have gone with bridesmaids/bridesmen and groomsmen/groomsmaids, but the titles just sounded weird and cumbersome in that context. It made sense to us that we have just one title for either everyone or for each side. Also, ‘attendants’ sounded kind of stale, so we spent more time than I care to admit trying to come up with fun names for each side. And yes, it is a big deal getting married and we want it to be important and significant, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun with it, especially considering the kind of people that Sylvia and I are. That said, it was maybe a month or so ago that we were throwing out ideas for titles that could also work in place of “attendant” when we hit on some really good ideas. Sylvia decided she liked the idea of her side being “bodyguards” because then they’d be in a protective role and it’s all so very alliterative when you put together as “bride’s bodyguards.” I on the other hand, had a bit more trouble. I couldn’t find anything that just clicked or was as alliteratively as hers, but I liked the idea that I could attempt to boss my friends around for just one day even though they’d already know better than to actually do what I say. What encapsulates that idea more than a “minion”? It was more fun than I can truly relay in words to ask our closest friends to be our bodyguards and minions, especially since they all really loved the idea of not being separated from their close friend (us) and the titles were like the icing on top of everything else.

The other thing we discussed and figured out was that we wanted to keep the party small. We talked about having just one attendant for all of about 30 seconds and eventually settled on four each. Thankfully there wasn’t any sort of imbalance of the number of people that we wanted to have as attendants as that could have been particularly awkward or difficult to work with. Amusingly enough, both Sylvia and I each picked two girls and two boys for our parties, so everything is going to be very much divided down the middle as far as gender is concerned, it’ll just be divided across the aisle as well.

All in all, it was a pretty easy decision for us and thankfully everything just worked out and we didn’t have any serious drama. It very easily could have been a strange situation where one or more of our friends could have been not okay with the idea of being on the “wrong” side during the ceremony or they could have taken offence over the titles that we ended up wanting. Thankfully we’ve got such great friends with fantastic senses of humor. It’s almost as though they really like us!

Joint Bank Accounts

January 15, 2012

Shortly after getting engaged, Sylvia and I started discussing how we would create a banking framework that we could rely on when we were married. I already had kind of a rough idea on what I thought would work for us, but it was a bit too early in the planning of the wedding to even really get into details or try and hash out what we thought would be best for the both of us. We did know that we wanted to maintain separate accounts for personal expenses, because you don’t want your spouse finding out about a gift you bought them before you give it to them or you just don’t want to have an argument about something totally unnecessary that’s totally for you. I don’t care to know how much she spends on crafting supplies and I’m sure she doesn’t care to know what I spend on my hobbies or the occasional pizza at our local game shop.

When I thought about it outside of practicality, the whole idea of having joint accounts was nearly as terrifying as proposing to Sylvia in the first place. It’s something that we both knew that we need to make our lives easier, but we were also all too aware that arguments about money are one of the more frequently noted reasons for marital discord. Neither of us are poor with money, but it’s still kind of a looming thing to deal with the idea that you’re going to have finances that the other party will be part of at all times and that they can inquire about any time they wish. Having previously mentioned that I have had no concept of finances besides my own, it’s a huge shift in approaching something that would otherwise be so mundane. There’s also that element of oh crap, I really am an adult now, as I’m not just bonded emotionally to Sylvia, I’m putting time/money/effort into insuring that we have a fair and cogent financial setup.

I also realize that we’ve got our own particular quirks when it comes to spending money. Sylvia tends to be super thrifty unless there’s a big project, but even then she still tries to be as thrifty as possible. The one exception is travel because it’s just expensive to travel, especially overseas. I, on the other hand, tend to want to try to do the most with my money, even if that means I’m generally breaking even after accounting expenses and deposits to savings. This has lead to a few instances of me being called out by Sylvia as being too focused on money. She’s not really wrong, but I don’t exactly see it that way sometimes. To me, if I’m confident that I can make two purchases happen in a period instead of having to spread them out over time, then that will be more we can do in the long term instead of waiting with a list of things we want to do as they pile up. The shoe-drop to that is that I focus more when things are closer because I want to make sure that I haven’t taken on more than I’m actually capable of handling. I think my problem is that I perhaps treat it a bit too much like a game and that’s something that has to either stop or become more manageable under a joint banking situation. The other thing I forget is that the reason that things appear closer than they actually are is because I treat savings as gone once they’ve been transferred over. It’s kind of scary thinking about the potential problems or miscommunications that could arise, but I do think that we’ll be able to work through our alternate approches to find a solid foundation on how to manage our finances.

As the larger parts of the planning were sorted, I started throwing out ideas that I think would be good for us and Sylvia responded positively to them. I think she was excited because I seem to know what I’m doing and am able to handle most banking issues with little difficulty or at least more confidence. I think my particular knack for it may have come from working my way out of credit card debt after I moved to Chicago. It wasn’t easy, but I learned a lot and it seems like the experience will not only continue benefiting me, but should be good for our joint accounts as well.

Once we’d talked about it enough and figured out what we wanted the accounts to look like and how they should work, we had to figure out a bank to go with. About the only two requirements that Sylvia had were that the customer service had to be better than the bank she was currently with and she wanted to get a joint credit card to earn miles toward flights/travel. It took far less time than I expected to whittle the choices down and we decided to go talk to my bank to see what they could offer since I already liked their customer service. Sylvia ended up liking them enough while taking to the banker that we went ahead and set up joint checking/savings & applied for a card that was geared toward travel earnings. It was a bit sudden, but I can’t lie that remaining with the bank I was already with was a bit of a relief. Hopefully it won’t be too stressful for her to switch banks as that’s the last stressor that she needs to worry about.

Shortly after we got everything set up and we were waiting for our new cards to come in the mail, I realized that I was probably going to be largely in charge of keeping the accounts making sense, not necessarily spending the money though. I asked Sylvia she responded pretty strongly that I was in charge of keeping the accounts in order. On the one hand, I felt proud that she trusts me with such a huge responsibility, but on the other I got a little nervous. What happens when I die and I’m the only person who knows how things work? I really didn’t like the idea of that as it would potentially open Sylvia up to being taken advantage of. Thinking about it in that capacity, it’s my goal to try and keep her involved with the finances so if something does happen to me, then she can handle it like a pro.

Once those thoughts started bubbling through my brain, the first thing I could think of that would be potentially helpful to the both of us was to create a spreadsheet that we could use to calculate what percentages of our income would be going to what account based on however much we wanted to go where. The idea is to see how much we spend personally each month and to determine if it’s too much to the point that the joint accounts aren’t getting the income they need to function. It’s not particularly helpful to Sylvia at this exact moment since she doesn’t have a full time job, but I’m hoping that it’ll be good to see once she’s at that point. It was really helpful to me to see that I think that I need as little as under 10% of my monthly income for personal expenses. I’m sure it’ll change and fluctuate as I get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t, but at least it has me feeling right now that I don’t spend too much money on myself.

Another idea that I had which Sylvia said was pretty good was the idea that we need to keep a particularly close eye on the joint accounts at least for a few months. The idea is that there’s no way that we’re both adapted to having a separate set of accounts to keep track of and the best way I thought to get through that is for us to go through the statements together each month. It seems all too simple because it’s something we do each month on our own stuff, but it’s different when you’ve got two hands with access to the cookie jar. I think we’re going to even keep all of the receipts for each month so that we can have as much detailed information as possible. I’m sure we’ll have some disagreements on how some of the money is spent, but that’s part of the growth process. I just hope that we manage to keep a lock on it so that we can avoid that potentially divisive issue of partner/marital finances.

Reasons I’m Getting Married – Grocery Shopping

January 11, 2012

I like to go grocery shopping. I get to make a list and just go and take care of business. While Sylvia was away in England for a year, I had the time and to simplify and hone the process to the point that I could walk in, know where everything was, and be out within 10-15 minutes. I got so good at this dance, that I could visit two or three grocery stores in the time that it would normally take a person to get through one.

Why bother you ask? Because Jewel has a lot of great staples and a decent deli counter, but Trader Joe’s has better bread and snacks, and both Treasure Island or Whole Foods typically have far better cheese. If I need meat, I go to the Paulina Meat Market, or Gene’s Sausage Shop if I need brats. Once I find each grocery store’s strengths, I just want to get the best foodstuffs/ingredients that I could. This has become more and more pertinent for me as my income and financial management has gotten better and better, to the point that sometimes, I actually go grocery shopping and don’t look at prices except occasionally to make sure I’m not getting gouged. Having to worry more about the quality instead of the cost is such a liberating feeling, and since I go once a week, it’s a pretty regular thing that tends to just generally put me in a great mood. It doesn’t take long, I’m good at it and I can convince myself ever so sightly that I’m providing for the household, even if what I’m doing really is just an errand.

Sylvia however, hates grocery shopping. To her, it’s a boring, frustrating, bit of drudgery that she wants no part of. It’s rare that she comes with me to a grocery store because I don’t like forcing her to do something she has no interest in and it keeps my trips short since I can get in and out without us having to meet up or walk up and down the aisles since I generally know where everything is already.

A few days ago though, we were up in Evanston and we needed to pick up groceries. We knew a couple of days in advance that we’d be up that way, so we started a list of what to pick up on the way home. We hit Trader Joe’s first and I quickly realized why Sylvia hates grocery shopping. She wanted to wander the aisles looking to see everything they had. She had also not put everything on the list because, according to her, “I knew I was coming anyway, so part of the list is in my head.” I started to lose a bit of my composure as my two cardinal rules of grocery shopping weren’t even part of how she approaches the experience. Trying to maintain a list in your head is not only mentally taxing, but you’re probably going to be easily distracted when you wander up and down the aisles, focusing on everything (also mentally taxing) and wondering if it’s something you need. It’s a recipe for forgetting things you actually need as well as buying stuff you don’t actually need and spending more time in the store than necessary as well as being mentally draining. No wonder she hates grocery shopping! I tried to hurry her up so we could get out and on to the next store, but at the counter she had a bit of fun pushing my buttons by having the checkout clerk siding with her philosophy of grocery shopping.

Once we finally got out of there, she quickly realized we’d forgotten something that wasn’t on the physical list and then decided she’d rather go to the greeting card shop instead of tagging along to Jewel, which was fine by me. I managed to get through Jewel in about 10 minutes or so and without too many difficulties, but the shock of the experience at Trader Joe’s, coupled with the physical effort I’d put in helping a friend load a moving truck earlier in the day caught up to me. By the time she wandered over where I was finishing up, I was tired and kind of grumpy and just wanted to go home. Sylvia quickly clued in on this and pushed my buttons a little bit more. Anyone else pushing my buttons tends to make me kind of angry or at least annoyed, and I was kind of annoyed about it at the time, but I let it go so that we could get home without my dragging us down into an argument or any other sort of negativity.

Once we were home, I was still grumpy, but I started to seriously think about it, and I realized that Sylvia never does or says anything to be mean. She knows what my buttons are and pushes them for any number of reasons, the top two of which are 1) because it generally is funny and 2) she knows that I’m neurotic/OCD about certain things and I think it’s her way of pointing it out in a pretty supportive/funny way. She doesn’t tear me down at all, even though it would be super easy to given the things that I’m nuts about.

I mean really, how many people ascribe some Zen-level philosophy for buying groceries? It’s kind of funny and stupid when it’s put that way and that’s the heart of her and us. I can’t think of a better way to point out the flaws in your partner besides playfully pushing their buttons. Hell, I do it to her and I think that if I asked her, she’d probably feel the same way about it that I do. If you can find that kind of bond with someone that’s funny, constructive and revealing, why wouldn’t you want to spend the rest of your life with that person. I’m getting married because the woman I love makes fun of the way I grocery shop and because she’s right to poke fun at me the way she does. That’s likely more Zen than grocery shopping ever will be.

Figuring out the Rehearsal Dinner

January 8, 2012

Other than the wedding & reception, the other big event is the rehearsal dinner. Since Sylvia and I are actually doing the rehearsal dinner the night before the actual rehearsal (two nights before the wedding), I’m not exactly certain why it’s still being called a rehearsal. I guess we have to call it something and that certainly rolls off the tongue easier than, dinner-put-on-by-parents-of-the-groom-prior-to-the-wedding.

Sylvia and I did a little bit of research prior to my mom and step-dad coming up for the holidays just to get an idea of what venues were out there, but we didn’t really look at price or availability so much since I hadn’t taken the time to make any phone calls to either my mom or my dad to see what they’d be comfortable with spending. We knew that we wanted to throw something close to the hotels that we’re booking but it’s kind of hard to research, much less plan a big party in Chicago when you have no idea what your budget is. When my mom and step-dad were finally in town, we all had a discussion and they quoted a number, and once I called and talked to my dad about where he was at, Sylvia and I at least had a rough number and were off to the races.

Sylvia, being the planner extraordinaire that she is, had already looked at a few places just to make the process more streamlined, which is great since she’s a much better judge of venues/food than I am. I tend to like just about anywhere that has food, which isn’t really a valid metric in terms of trying to plan such an important dinner event, so I was glad that she’d done that bit of work up front. We quickly ran into two issues. First was the cost as there were a few places we liked, but the minimum you had to spend at one of them was in the 5 figure range, which didn’t include taxes/tip which is 11%/20% in Chicago. Secondly, a few places were already booked up. Apparently trying to plan a large party in downtown Chicago needs more than 9-10 months notice.

Once both issues cropped up, we knew we really needed to book something fast. Thankfully we didn’t have too much trouble since we had some pricing guidelines from my parents. Within the week after they’d left, the groundwork was done and Sylvia had emailed both of my parents to see what they liked/were comfortable with. We threw the 5 figure option on there just as a lark and because my mom and step-dad had expressed an initial interest in the venue before we found out how much it cost. Over the course of a day, Sylvia and I sort of figured out where we assumed we’d be going since it seemed to hit that sweet spot of location, cost, availability & quality.

The response back from them was actually kind of surprising. My mom was really excited by the 5 figure venue. Sylvia and I were taken aback, especially since the interest from her and my step-dad was still there even after we highlighted that we forgot to note that the minimum spend didn’t include the taxes/tip. Sylvia and I started to get nervous as it really was too much money and I was certain that my dad would balk even though I hadn’t heard back from him yet. While on the phone with my mom, and out of out of sheer frustration that she was willing to spend so much money on what was essentially just a dinner party that wasn’t part of the wedding itself, I directly asked her, “mom, seriously, what gives? Why are you so into this one place when we’ve got other options that are just as nice and so much less money?” Her slow and thoughtful reply was that she wasn’t sure that the others were “nice enough.” Then it hit me; my mom was worried that she was going to be perceived as a cheap or inadequate host. It had little to do with the venue itself, she didn’t want me or anyone else thinking that she couldn’t afford to throw a great rehearsal dinner as her only son was getting married. She wanted me to feel proud of her and the support she’s given me leading up to and including the wedding.

I’m proud of my mom relenting to my demand for why she was resisting anything but the most expensive venue. It’s hard sometimes trying to get at the root of why she thinks the way she does. I’m proud that she could let go and actually tell me what was going on in her head. Hell, I’m just proud of my mom in general. She put herself through at least 7 years of night school to get a masters, all for the sake of wanting to be able to provide a better life for me. I didn’t really recognize or acknowledge it while I was growing up since she wasn’t around, but true understanding of what all she’s done for me growing up has slowly crept into my consciousness as I’ve gotten older and my understanding of her has matured.

Even after understanding where she was coming from, favoring the most expensive venue also didn’t jive with my memories as a kid. Growing up in the South, I remember the concept of extravagance being frowned upon unless you were wealthy. If you were rich, you were basically required to flaunt it or else there would be “talk” that the money was drying up/gone or whatever. Actually there was always “talk” regardless of any real delineating factors because I guess there needed to be something interesting to bring to the conversation the next time you saw your sister/brother/parents/friend/etc. I really don’t know or understand where this culture of gossip started or even if it’s a typically “Southern” thing, but it sure seemed like it was everywhere in my family growing up. Sometimes I think it actually helped me be a better listener as, to this day, people tend to tell me quite personal things about themselves without any prompting from me. Gossip doesn’t really have value if unrepeated and I kind of like the thought that maybe I’m doing my part to devalue that currency as opposed to circulating it. Or at least trying to with pretty moderate success.

Anyway, if you weren’t already known to be wealthy, anything money related was like the worlds most cutthroat game of poker where nobody tipped a hand at what they actually had/were worth. Sometimes someone would try to be just a little bit flashy to suggest that maybe they did in fact have a bit more than you, thank you very much. Sometimes this game would escalate to the point that multiple parties could be outed for what they were actually worth when they essentially pushed themselves to or over the brink of financial ruin. Sometimes the game would just fizzle out after someone was able to tut-tut about it and nobody would take the bait. No matter what the outcome was, it was still sort of generally agreed that anyone showing any hint of wealth, real or not, was being a bit crass. We were all supposed to modest and if you could be modest and also actually have some financial security, you were the yardstick that the rest of us were measured by. The only exception I can remember was cars. It didn’t matter how expensive your car was, it just had to be American made. I’m certain that the history and birth of the SUV is buried in here somewhere.

Enough of the tangent though. Once my mom and I were of equal understanding, I sent and made sure that she checked out some of the info on the other venues so that she could understand that Sylvia and I didn’t pick one super great and expensive option and a bunch of other cheap, crappy ones. Once she realized that some of the places we’d been looking were actually pretty nice and not too flashy, we were all happily seeing eye to eye and she was on board with the modest option that Sylvia and I assumed we’d be going with in the first place. After giving my dad a call and picking his brain about it, he was for it too. Once we hammered out the potentially sticky issue of how both of my parents would be contributing to the tab, we had the venue booked within a couple of days. It was refreshing just how smoothly everything went at this point.

I’m glad that this particular part of the journey is over, and I wouldn’t say that the whole process of searching/discussing/booking the rehearsal dinner has been that stressful, but it’s been a pretty good reminder that even the seemingly innocuous question of “where are we hosting dinner?” can have a lot more going on under the surface than you’d probably otherwise think. It also often made me hungry.

Bridal Magazines

January 1, 2012

When I was in high school, we had this thing we did called the Buckle Game, named after a store in the mall. The goal of the game was to be able to walk from the entrance of the store, touch the back wall and walk back out again without being asked if you needed help by at least two clerks. It was an extremely difficult game because, from what I can remember, they worked almost entirely on commission and any potential sale was of the most dire importance. I can only remember one instance where somebody actually won. You could sometimes see a couple of clerks starting to circle before anyone got to the wall. It could be almost tragic in a ‘we’re-teens-in-a-mall-playing-a-mall-game’ kind of way.

Since we’ve been engaged, almost every time Sylvia goes to her mom’s house, she brings home at least two to three bridal magazines. It eventually became our own little Buckle game where I’d guess how many she’d come home with and it was always at least a couple. I might be showing just how out of touch with reality I am, but I don’t understand how so much content is created and printed so frequently. I do understand that people are getting married all the time, but I’m more and more convinced that there are more wedding magazines than fashion magazines which doesn’t add up because not that many people are getting married all the time, right? Fashion magazines seem more every day to me, but your wedding is something you plan over several months working toward a single day. Anyway, that said, Diane did pick a few of them up in other countries when she was traveling, but I still have a hard time parsing the concept that there are enough weddings out that it needs that much coverage and attention.

As they’ve become more of a consistent part of our household, I’ve learned a couple of things about wedding magazines. First is that they’re stupidly large! Seriously! They’re hundreds of pages each! It’s like somebody with a fetish for phone books hooked up with someone who likes pretty pictures and had babies. Lots and lots of babies. That’s actually the second thing going back to my previous paragraph; there are so many of the damn things! We’ve probably had at least 15-30 of them come through the apartment in total. So far.

Thirdly, easily more than 75% of most wedding magazines (including ads) are all about dresses. I understand that you want a great dress and there’s so much time spent fantasizing about what you’ll look like, but this is just something that I don’t experience. The closest I can come to that is occasionally there’s a t-shirt online that I’m sad that I can’t ever purchase, even though it’s probably a really good thing (side note, this is the one exception. I would totally purchase this if I could). The side effect of so many dresses is that Sylvia has a problem with having too many options that she likes. Sure, a large amount of content is great for generating ideas or possibly serving as a springboard to something else great, but a lot of it seems like white noise, at least from my perspective. It’s entirely possible that my perspective just isn’t up to the task of understanding the wonder of poring over hundreds and hundreds of photos looking for that one perfect idea.

Fourthly, I actually get kind of jealous that there are just so many things in these magazines geared towards brides. Sometimes I’d like to be able to pick up a gender swapped concept that’s all about whatever it is that a groom might actually want to look at. You know, to give us some ideas on the whole mystery of weddings or what we can do to look our best or maybe advice on how to handle particularly tricky family/guest situations. I’m sure that a lot of that is already in bridal magazines, but I have a hard time picking one up with the thought in mind that there’s anything geared toward me in there. It’d be a great idea that I’m not convinced would actually sell, which is probably why it doesn’t exist, but still. Sure, there are ultra-pale/thin models showing off a couple of suit ideas in the magazines that Sylvia picks up, but there isn’t much of an emphasis on variation or creativity. Maybe we do get a bit of a tradeoff in the fact that we’ll be able to wear whatever on the big day and then be able to wear it again whenever as opposed to something maybe a bit more fashion that’ll never be seen outside of a garment bag again, but still.

As a guy, there is a bit of comfort in the fact that we’re not getting bombarded by questions or ideas or any number of everything else, but it’s kind of unfair that we don’t even really have the option to be overwhelmed in the same way that our brides are. Maybe I’m just a bit confused/mislead by popular culture, but I still think it’d be great for a guy to one day pick up a groom magazine off the shelf and exclaim, “what do you mean I have so many suit/tie/suspender options?”

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