Sam and Mark's Super Happy Wedding Funtime

Posts Tagged ‘Planning

I may have pulled my hair up, clipped some Kleenex on my head to mimic a fancy fascinator, tossed on my wedding dress, and swished around the apartment like a pretty, pretty princess.

I have to test this thing out.

What I found is that hair makes a difference. A big difference. Originally, I was going to do my own hair. I was going to find some lovely headband on Etsy, plop it on my head, and be done. The trouble is, this dress requires more than that. This dress, like Audrey II, requires a bit more than I can eek out of my fingertips. This dress requires a full size professional.

I know what you are going to say, I know because I’ve said it: PLEASE. You can do your own hair. You can. You really can. It isn’t that hard. Get some product, some clips, watch a youtube- bob’s your uncle- bouffant. Easy. This is not an expense you should try to justify. This is frivolous. This is silly. This is everything you aren’t. Don’t give in to wedding bell peer pressure. This isn’t a requirement. You don’t need hair for your wedding. YOU ONLY NEED LOVE.

But at what point does austerity stop? I mean, I DO NOT need to get my hair done. But I also DO NOT need a dress. I DO NOT need a sit down meal, or wine, or friends or family. Heck, I could even forgo witnesses with a confidential marriage license. I DO NOT NEED ANYTHING.  I CAN DO IT ALONE.

Well, almost alone. I still need Mark.

We can have indulgences. It is OK. It is our wedding, after all. If Mark wants a bespoke suit, Mark can have his bespoke suit. If I want a professional to make my hair do something other than lie flat against my face, then let’s book an appointment. I’m not going to get my hair done because I have to have some crinkly eight tier updo I saw in some magazine. I’m not getting extensions or changing color, I’m just getting someone to make me look like my best self. I’m not doing this because of SOCIETY, but I am doing it because it is my wedding day and I’m going to wear a pretty dress, and damn if I don’t want some pretty hair, too.


Last month, I had to send an email to the vendor about ordering invitations. A simple email: “Hey, I want to order invites. Please give me details.” This should take a normal person 5 minutes. This should take a PROFESSIONAL PROJECT MANAGER 2 minutes. It ended up taking me 3 weeks.

I want to get married. I want these invitations. I want these things. I do. But- Gah. Emails. Follow up. Communication. Blerg. This crap is hard to do.

Flash forward to now,  almost a full 2 months from the first bout of procrastination, and I have finally purchased the invitations. Of course they still must be created, reviewed, printed and mailed- which takes another 789 days- but the ball is rolling. I should have them sometime after the actual event. Here’s an invitation to that thing you may have already gone to, or would have gone to, if a certain someone didn’t sit on their hands for 2 months.

I really don’t know why these tasks are so difficult for me. Maybe I think Mark will take them on and so I put them off? But. Well. Mark is many things, many wonderful things, but he is not a mind reader. I know this. And yet I still push this crap around hoping that it will be magicked into existence.

So. If you get to the wedding and there isn’t an officiant or chairs… well, now you know why.


Ladies and Gentlemen, we have officially entered what I have decided to call the “Apothecary Jar” phase of wedding planning.


This is the phase in which we have a wonderful discussion in which we decide to jam a lot of crap in apothecary jars to make pretty centerpieces and all is lovely and wonderful and then I totally freak out because no one will be at our wedding to see them. Because my wedding is an inconvenience. Because I am reclusive and weird and never go out, so why would anyone bother coming out for me. Because I enjoy freaking out.

But whatever. My parents will be there. My brother. Mark’s family. Mark’s friends. My friends. And if they can’t make it, then they can’t make it. Things happen. Life happens. It won’t stop me from loving them. It won’t stop me from getting married. It won’t stop me from eating a delicious fish dinner. It won’t stop me from getting drunk (it will probably just make me extra drunk). And it won’t stop life from going on. It won’t make my marriage better or worse. It is one day. One party. One moment. One memory.

So I’m going to go back to focusing on all the wonderful, colorful, odd, fun what-have-yous we can throw into apothecary jars. That is a much better use of my time.

My High School french teacher, in discussing marriage and culture in France, told us that in France you have a civil ceremony and you have a religious ceremony. And that some couples (the horror) only have a civil ceremony (the horror) because in France, only the civil ceremony counts (the horror). (My french teacher was a bit of a bible beater.)

This little nugget of information stuck in my brain. It brightened my day. It appealed to me in a way that I didn’t quite understand at the time. A civil ceremony. Not in a church. Not by the church. But a real marriage, a real recognized marriage, that has nothing to do with religion.

You see, 14-year-old Sam had never really thought about marriage (she was only 14). 14-year-old Sam just kind of thought you had to go to church, or get a minister, or something like that to get married (and yes, her parents didn’t do this, but that didn’t mean 14-year-old Sam put 2 and 2 together). And 14-year-old Sam knew she didn’t like that idea, but because she never really thought about it, hadn’t really, well, thought about it. But here was this little seed. Given to her by a person she mostly despised for her condescending, overtly religious tone that seemed inappropriate for the classroom. A small, round, seed of thought, planted in the soft mushy gray matter of her brain.

I did some checking and my french teacher was correct. French law only recognizes civil marriage, performed by someone in the French Civil Authority (officier de l’état civil), which includes the Mayor (maire), the Deputy Mayor (adjoint), or a City Councillor (conseiller municipal). This is not relevent to the rest of this story, but I thought you might like to know. Additionally, France does not recognize gay marriage, but they do have something called Pacte Civil de Solidarité (PaCS), which gives the couple (gay or straight) some (not all) of the legal protections of marriage without officially being married. Now you know.

This isn’t about France. This is about City Hall. But I bet you can guess where I am going with this.

Flash forward 20 years. Now I am an adult. Sort of. And I am preparing to get married. Hitched. Wed-ed. And now we have to decide all sorts of things- the when, the where, the who, the how. What do we want? A country wedding? A city wedding? A beach wedding? An elopement?

We went through them all, slowly eliminating them one by one. Too expensive to my beloved Cal Academy and Ferry Building. Too complicated to Monterey and Mendocino. Too Barn-y to all the rustic wine country weddings (while beautiful, rustic tends to not have sufficient bathroom space. I’m not using a port-a-potty at my wedding, I’m just not that girl). Elopement was eliminated (though not without a bit of a battle). We eventually decided on The City. Our beautiful city where we met and fell in love.

Of course, narrowing it down in the city was still tough. We have beautiful beaches and parks and forests and hotels and ballrooms. Heck, we have boats and islands. We pretty much have anything you could possibly want. Anything.

But the other side of anything I want is that I didn’t really want much. I want to get married. I want it to be official. I want it to be secular. I don’t want birds in flight at sunset or fireworks or the sea lapping at my bare feet. I don’t want bare feet. A wedding is a legal union. A wedding is official and proper and witnessed. It is a serious thing. It requires paperwork.



City Hall. What could be more perfect? Let me revise that- what could be more perfect for me?

I guess some people don’t think wandering cold, bureaucratic halls in your fancy clothes screams wedding. But I do. I totally do.

The cold, bureaucratic halls.

A wedding is, at it’s core, a celebration of paperwork. We are not going to be more committed to each other after the vows than before. We are going to be more publicly committed, sure. And we are definitely going to be more legally committed. And that is thanks to the power of paperwork. A magic form that changes our lives. A form that gives me access to all these rights and all these new tax rules. A form that lets me change my insurance- outside of open enrollment. It is a powerful form.

So, City Hall. Center of municipality. Center of society. Where laws are made. Where decrees are decreed. Could there be a better place for paperwork of this magnitude? I think not.

San Francisco City Hall. Beautiful, historic, City Hall.

The current City Hall is a replacement for the original which was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. The replacement and the surrounding buildings in the area known as Civic Center were all designed and constructed as part of the city beautiful movement. Construction started in 1913 and finished in 1915 (just in time for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition). The dome on our City Hall is the fifth largest in the world and 19ft higher than the US Capitol building. Our City Hall has been home to student protests, state funerals and Gavin Newsom’s famous “whether you like it or not” speech. Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were married there. And steps from the Mayor’s Balcony was where George Moscone was shot to death by Supervisor Dan Brown.

City Hall is more than just a place to fill out forms and pay fines. It is the heart of The City. It is the bloody, painful past and the hopeful, enthusiastic future. For someone who lives solely in the secular world, this is a true cathedral. I can think of no better place on earth to get married.


That is the Mayor’s Balcony. Over the clock is the inscription:



I love this. I love the beautiful details in the building. I love the grandeur.

The Grand Staircase

4th floor light-well under the rotunda

Light well from below

The view from the Mayor’s Balcony

So that is where we will be getting married. Right there. On the Mayor’s Balcony overlooking the grand staircase, we will add our small but significant moment to the layers of history in this beautiful place.

When I was really sick last year I stayed home and watched every episode of “Say Yes to the Dress” available on NetFlix. Wedding dresses are a little silly. And brides who spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a dress they wear once, these women, these families, are effing crazy. But I watched them tear up and cry and hug and bridge generation gaps and have these moments that they would remember forever. And thanks to the power of television, be able to relive any time they felt like it.

And I cried with them (I had the flu!) and I laughed with them and I was so happy for them for finding this thing that brought them such emotion. And I was happy for myself that I would never, ever spend that much on anything. I was to practical. Too realistic. Too unsentimental for such trivial nonsense.

In the old days (of western culture),  if you were a a regular person, your wedding dress would just be your best dress. This was in a time when dresses were worn daily, so women had a best dress.  If you look to the past, the only people who wore gowns (and few were white) were nobility and they were showing off. Weddings were land deals and political maneuvers and you needed to put your money and power on display. Prominently.

Clever advertisers in post WWII America sold us on the idea of a big white ball gown. Just like De Beer’s sold us on forking over mad cash for a crazy diamond ring. The big white dress is a new thing. So getting all teary-eyed over tradition is just non-sense.

And yet anytime I’ve seen a friend in a stupid big white dress, I tear up.

So now that I’m faced with the prospect of getting my big white dress, I feel decidedly uneasy. Part of me thinks I should just find a really pretty dress, screw the word wedding, and be done with it. A nice party dress. Something I could wear AGAIN some day. Then there is another part of me, some weird twisted part of me that says no to this. This part of me is insisting I should forgo practicality and get a dress that screams (in my own special way) Wedding Dress. A dress I’ll only wear once. A dress that probably costs more that I am comfortable spending.

This is, of course, further complicated by my size. Most party dresses in my size are for older women on cruise ships. While, this may in the end fit the theme of my wedding (more on that later), I don’t think it fits my personal style.

These dresses scream “Isn’t that lovely, Mertyl?” and “I love shrimp cocktails” and “My what a fabulous buffet!” (Though, I do kinda like the gray one.) Overall, this is not what I want. I want a pretty, fancy dress, but these… these just are not right. I want something fun and fabulous and that doesn’t look like I pulled it off the “Mother of the Bride” rack at David’s. I’m the BRIDE, dammit! If I’m going to thwart tradition and avoid the this:

(though, it is lovely, isn’t it?)

Then I want to look really cool doing it. And chic. And young.  There, I said it, I want to look young. And like a bride. But a bride NOT in a wedding dress.

Practicality is probably not going to win this battle. Size will make it exceedingly difficult. And my own refusal to not wear a wedding dress but yet a wedding dress, is probably going to invoke some sort of stress spasm that may or may not require medication. In the end, it will be a gut feeling. Something will pull me and I’ll say “yes, that is it, that is the one.”

And I’ll probably get all teary-eyed and ridiculous.

Soft holds on my venues mean I guess this is going to actually happen! Now the fun begins- PAYING for all this…

I’m getting married here:

but maybe don’t expect that weather…

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Sam and Mark