Thursday, February 23, 2012

Our Wedding: Part I: The Department of Backstory

This is part one of what will be a series of posts looking back on our wedding. The plan is as follows:

I: The Department of Backstory
II: Some philosophy behind the wedding and thoughts on planning
III: The planning
IV: The Shower and Pre-Marital Dance Party (will come with photos)
V: The Wedding weekend and Honeymoon (will come with photos)
VII: Thoughts on marriage

Despite my occasional misgivings and frustrations I really enjoyed getting married, and I'm really enjoying being married, so I thought I'd write a little about the process as we struggle through the last of the thank-yous (anyone know who sent us the coffee grinder?). I had rather strong opinions on the whole thing and a perhaps somewhat-unusual view for a woman on the whole business (my official catch-phrase for wedding planning was GETTING SHIT DONE), and I'd like to look back on it and have WAKnight give his thoughts as well. I'm also going to discuss money, because I think that "it's MY wedding and it has to be THE BEST!" is complete bullshit, and I'm quite proud of our how our wedding turned out.

I also enjoyed getting married, and so far being married has worked out well (which is to say, no different from living together). I've already shared a day-by day account of wedding planning as comments on the Open Thread of the Estimable Coates, but its good to reflect. Since I've already yacked about this, this is mostly going to be Rachel's series of posts. 

I will say that I was always vaguely offended that the wedding was supposed to be the bride's day, so I enjoyed taking an active part of planning. Since neither of us really believes in 'separate spheres' for the sexes it made sense to divide wedding planning equally, rather than loading it all on the bride, while the groom was just expected to show up. Also, I wasn't going to let my mother in law (God bless her) dress my groomsmen and myself.

I shall start a little before our engagement, so you can understand where we're coming fro.

After I graduated from college I moved into a newly-vacated room in WAKnight and my friend Eric's three-bedroom apartment, a move that we'd discussed for several months. We were in an that odd point in our lives that many college graduates face - we'd only been dating for three years and weren't sure whether we should sign a lease together. But we liked each other quite a lot and definitely wanted to keep on dating, so I rented my own bedroom and we slept apart when we needed to -- thought the apartment was so small that we couldn't have fit in one bedroom anyway (my room was 8x8). Having another roommate, his girlfriend, and our wacky downstairs neighbor around also helped, since it didn't feel like it was just the two of us.

Early that summer we were getting ready to go to sleep and I asked Will, who was reading in bed, a question I'd been turning over for a while. "If this whole living together thing works out do you want to see about filing our taxes together?" He stared at me for a while, and then asked if I was proposing to him, and I admitted that I was.

I still couldn't have asked for a better proposal. 

Lo and behold living together did work out, and that September we went to some of our favorite local antique stores to look for an engagement ring. We found a beautiful rose gold ring from the 1870s with a tiny diamond held in a setting that makes it look like it's the center of a flower for $140, and took it to a jeweler to have it cleaned and resized. Total cost for an engagement ring? $180, not even 2 days salary. De Beers can kiss my ass.

Shortly thereafter we visited our parents, told them we were getting engaged, and asked for their blessing - they were pleased, and congratulated us -- I think my dad and Will's mom cried. Everyone seemed to be expecting it.

The next step in our plan, which we'd actually started planning long before we bought the ring, was to tell our friends. We decided to do it on our annual early October group camping trip to West Virginia. On a glorious fall day we hiked up Panther Knob with four of our close friends, my aunt and uncle, and their dog, and at one point stopped at a beautiful overlook (you could see for miles in every direction) to drink some water and have a snack. I palmed the ring to Will, we stepped out, and Will cleared his throat and said he had an announcement to make. Rodney whispered for Debra to get the camera out, but our other friends were caught completely off-guard when Will went down on one knee and held up the ring. He slipped it on, photos were taken, and congratulations were given all round.

We decided to shoot for May 2011 for the wedding, which would give us 18 months to get used to this "getting married" thing, and plenty of time to plan. In the months between October 2009 and October 2010 we told all our relatives, went to Great Smoky National Park for a week of hiking and camping, and got used to living together. We also had the gold ring and three .6 carat diamonds Will inherited from his great-grandmother made into an engagement ring for special occasions and a pair of earrings at a local jeweler's, which was very reasonable - if Will hadn't inherited the diamonds we never would have bought something like them, but they do look stunning.

I might have forgone a diamond entirely if it hadn't been for inheriting one.

I also bought Will an engagement gift - a pair of rose gold and quartz cufflinks from the 1870s from one of our favorite local antique stores, a fitting companion to my engagement ring.

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