Monday, November 30, 2009

Do You Skype??

As I've alluded to before... the Architect and I moved from our home in New England all the way across the country to California this past summer. This now officially means that we are planning a serious long distance wedding. From our new home in the San Francisco Bay Area, Bar Harbor is a 6-hour flight (to Boston) and then a 5-hour drive up to Maine. Luckily we got a lot of the heavy lifting part of wedding planning done while we were still living in New England (choosing a venue, florist, wedding music, my dress, etc.), but now we are faced with the problem of doing pretty much everything else with one hand tied behind our backs. Everything and everyone related to our wedding is back on the east coast, and we are way out here on the west coast.

My bridesmaids are no exception. While my sister (and lovely MOH) is conveniently living out in California, the rest of my bridal party is back east. I definitely miss my girls. It has been difficult to keep in touch across 3,000 miles of country and 3 hours of time difference, so this past weekend we decided to have a group Skype session so that I could catch them all up on what's been going on with wedding planning. I don't know if you all have ever used Skype before, but the program is ingenious! It's really easy to make free phone calls from your computer to another friend's computer, and the sound quality is crystal clear. It also has a great video-chat feature, as long as your computer has a webcam. The architect and I tested out the video feature a couple of weeks ago, and it was like we were in the same room with each other. I can only imagine how great this is for people in long distance relationships, since actually seeing the person you're talking to is so much more satisfying than just hearing their voice.

Unfortunately Skype's video feature doesn't work for group chats, but my girls and I still managed to have a great (audio only) conversation, and I caught them up on all of the wedding happenings of the last couple of months. This was also a great time for us to talk about dresses, and I think we may have come to a consensus (which doesn't involve orange). I'll tell you more about that soon...

So... do you Skype too? Have you turned to technology for keeping in touch with your wedding party? Since our Sype telecon worked out so well, I think we're going to make them a regular occurrence as the actual wedding date draws nearer. Oh, and BTW, we are now less than 8 months away from our wedding date. Wheee!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

When Parents Act Like Children

From the time that the Architect and I got engaged, we knew that we were going to have a big hurdle to overcome in our wedding planning process. While we want our wedding to be an awesome party for all of our closest friends and family, there is a small detail that gets in the way. The architect's parents are divorced.

Now this isn't the friendly kind of divorce where after many long years the parents have learned to be "friends" again and appreciate each others' quirks. This isn't the kind of divorce where the parents put on a happy face and just grin and bear it through events that they both should be present at like college graduations... or weddings. This is the nasty kind of divorce, with court hearings and custody battles. The architect's parents have not had a civil conversation with one another since their divorce, almost 20 years ago, and I'm pretty sure they haven't even seen each other in the last 10 years.

Now, along comes our wedding into the mix. The Architect is on good terms with both of his parents, so both his mom and his dad will certainly be attending the wedding. Naturally, the Architect is a little stressed out b/c his family dynamics are going to be placed on center stage for the entire weekend of the wedding. We would like to be sensitive to the wishes of both of his parents throughout our wedding weekend. Afterall, we know that it is going to be extremely stressful for them to have to see each other at wedding-related events. Still, we also sort of kind of wish they would just GROW UP a little bit and be mature adults when it comes to the need to see each other. Afterall, their son is getting *married*. If there was ever a day that called for putting our differences aside, this is it.

There are a number of things we are planning on doing to ensure that the wedding weekend goes smoothly for all involved parties. There are also some outstanding issues that we have no idea how we're going to handle.

  • When it comes to drawing up the seating chart we will be placing the Architect's mom and dad at different table that are far away from each other.
  • When it comes to making hotel reservations for our wedding, we will be making sure that the Architect's parents end up at different hotels from one another... and we will also try to assure that the two hotels are far away from each other.
  • We will not be participating in the lovely wedding tradition that is the anniversary dance. While I have absolutely loooved anniversary dances at other friends' weddings, we do not want to be highlighting the fact that my parents are still happily married after 30+ years, while the Architect's parents are decidedly not. (Both of his parents are in serious long-term relationships, but neither has ever remarried... ya' know, b/c a nasty divorce can make you never want to get back up on that horse ever again.)
  • ...and just in case things get ugly... we will have our groomsmen on alert just in case anyone needs to be *ahem* politely asked to leave the wedding festivities
One of our remaining problems has to do with the rehearsal dinner, which will be fairly small and hosted by the Architect's mom. Seeing as this will be a fairly intimate affair, and she is paying for it, the Architect's mom doesn't want the Architect's dad to be invited. My initial reaction is that it's fairly bad manners to not invite the father of the groom to the rehearsal dinner, but I also understand where the Architect's mom is coming from. Basically, we have no idea how we're going to deal with this little issue quite yet, so suggestions are certainly welcome.

Do you or your fiance have divorced parents? Is their divorce causing issues with your wedding planning? Do you have any good advice for how to deal with parents when they don't act like the grown-ups that they are supposed to be?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Getting Our Drink On

The Architect and I absolutely love spending a Saturday night heading out to a new bar, trying a couple of fancy cocktails, and splitting a couple of appetizers. Given our love for yummy cocktails, we of course wanted to feature some signature drinks at our wedding. We will be having an open bar at our wedding, since it (sort of) fits in our budget, and we would absolutely hate to make our friends pay at a cash bar -- but we still have the option to put together a short cocktail list with some of our recommendations. (And of course this also leads to the possibility of cute cocktail menus. More DIY projects, here I come!!) We immediately picked out 3 cocktails that we both enjoy drinking, which automatically made the list. We would still like to add one more signature drink -- something on the more girly / fruity side. Since I like to drink like an old man, I'm not much help in the girly drink department. Here is our current list:

"The Dirty" -- A dirty martini. We like ours with Grey Goose vodka (yes, we are vodka snobs like that), extra olive brine, and garnished with blue-cheese stuffed olives.

"The Stormy" -- A dark and stormy made from dark rum and ginger beer (no, not ginger ale, ginger beer). The more ginger flavor the better.

"The Cheeky" -- A Pimms cup (Pimms and ginger ale) garnished with a thin slice of cucumber and a strawberry.

We would like our last drink to be called "The Fruity". This drink should appeal to those who like a lighter sweeter fruity cocktail, since we feel that we're lacking that in the rest of our cocktail list. Any good ideas out there??

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Not Orange

When it comes to my wedding -- and life in general -- I am having a total love affair with the color orange. (I hope that doesn't count as cheating on the Architect!) Orange is the main color for our wedding, my power point slides for work have a sleek modern look in orange and gray, and I even wear a fair amount of orange. Luckily it works with my complexion. However I've figured out over time that this isn't the case for everyone. I get a lot of comments like: "Wow, you look good in that orange sweater. That's a color that I just can't pull off."

Since I totally love wearing orange, when I picked it as one of our wedding colors I was so excited about having bridesmaids in brightly-colored orange dresses like these:

All of my bridesmaids are so nice of course that they said that they would be 100% on board to go along with any bridesmaid dresses that I decided on. However, I could sense that maybe they weren't exactly jumping with joy over the idea of wearing orange dresses... and in my sister's case she expressed these sentiments more vocally (isn't it great how sisters do that?). My sister may have equated an orange dress to being forced into wearing something like this:

I would be really really sad for my bridesmaids to hate their dresses, so I decided that it was worth it to go back and re-examine some other bridesmaid looks (and colors) that might have more of that rewearability factor. (Is that even a word?)

What do you think? Are you considering your bridesmaids' opinions in choosing their dresses? Would you be happy to wear orange as a bridesmaid, or would you take it as some sort of cruel punishment?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Our Dirty Little Secret

Ok internet... I'm going to let you in on something. It's our little secret though, ok? Only a few select people are already privy to this information...

The Architect and I are already married. Legally, that is. We are still viewing our wedding next summer as the "real deal", and we will not be wearing rings or referring to one another as "husband" and "wife" until then.

So here's what happened. Last winter, while we were still living in Boston, I took a job that was to start this past September... in California. That's right, 3 time zones away on the other side of the country. The architect and I planned out the entire move. He would move across the country with me and either find a new job or transfer within his firm to their west coast office. ...And then the economy took a nose dive. All of a sudden there was no work for architects, and the Architect's firm was no longer willing to transfer him to the west coast.

We REALLY didn't want to have a bi-coastal long-distance relationship, so we ran some numbers, and figured out that we could make things work while the Architect searched for a new west-coast job. So this past summer, we packed up our entire apartment, and headed off in the Architect's car towards the wild west. ...But first we did the responsible adult thing and made sure that the Architect would have health insurance while he was not working. I found out that I could add him onto my insurance at my new job for free(!) employee contribution to speak of... *IF* we were married. So we made the logical decision and decided to tie the knot.

Our official wedding was held on a beautiful Monday morning at city hall. The only people in attendance were ourselves and the Justice of the Peace. (Massachusetts doesn't require any other witnesses to be present.) We didn't exchange rings. We just said some vows and signed on the dotted line. Really, we tried to make our official ceremony as anticlimactic as possible, so that the wedding that we were planning was assured to be the main event.

Still, the official ceremony was a big deal. Afterall, we were pledging our lives to each other and signing the document that would make us husband and wife in the eyes of the law. To commemorate the event I again wore the short white strapless dress that the Architect had bought me for our engagement. (Pretty much there was no way that I was going to buy a new dress for a ceremony with no guests that would be over in about 5 minutes.) After the ceremony was over we took a couple of pictures and then headed out to breakfast at our favorite brunch spot before we both headed off to work.

*Photos by our justice of the peace

So there you have it. Our very played-down no-frills "official" wedding took place just over a year before our actual planned wedding date. I am thrilled that the Architect now has health care just in case, and I cannot wait for our wedding date next summer when we make things official in the eyes of all of our loved ones.

Did you have your legal wedding ceremony at a different time from your actual wedding? What caused you to make that decision? Did you celebrate your legal ceremony in any special way?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Colorful Inspiration

With our garden-themed wedding, what better way to choose a color palate than to be inspired by the garden itself? ...and that's exactly what we did. Without further ado, here is the original inspiration for our wedding color scheme:

The orange garden lily! I love these flowers. They grow in so many gardens in New England in the summer, and I think they're simply beautiful.

Going with this theme makes the main color in our color scheme orange. Yes. ORANGE. It might seem a little bright (or a little harsh) to some people, but I am really excited about having such a bright pop of color as part of our wedding. ...and no, I am not making my poor bridesmaids wear orange dresses. Originally I wanted to, but luckily my wonderful little sister (and MOH) talked me out of that one... which is a different story for a different day.

The rest of our color scheme? We're going with greens and small accents of deep purple -- also inspired by a New England garden in the summertime. When I tell people that our wedding colors are orange, green, and purple, most times they just stare back at me like I'm a crazy person. Maybe I am, but I will try to convince you otherwise with an inspiration board.

Reception, martini, cake, Chuppah (picture from my good friend C), dress, bridesmaids, pomander, bouquet, couches, flower arrangement

So... what do you think? Beautiful or hideous? (I hope you'll side with me on the beautiful side.) What inspired your wedding color scheme?

To Change a Name -- Part II

So when I last left off I was oh-so-excited about changing my last name to the Architect's. ...But then I started thinking. See... I'm an academic. I went through 6 years of graduate school to get my Ph.D., and along the way I published a number of scientific papers. I have also started to make a (small) name for myself in my field. Yay for career success! But all of that success is tied to my maiden name.

So I started to worry about what would happen if I did change my last name when I got married. Would people be able to follow the change? ...or would some people fail to make the connection, and then it would look like I was a new person in the field, just starting out? In academia, it seems like it is more common for women to keep their last names than to change them these days. So, I was also worried that changing my last name would be frowned upon by women in my field who feel that your identity (and your scientific identity) is tied up in your birth name. I even toyed around with the idea of changing my last name in my personal life, but keeping my maiden name in my professional life... but that just sounded really confusing.

Finally I did the only logical thing that I could think of, and I turned to my fellow female astronomers for advice. I was heartened by the fact that many of my colleagues supported my name change, since it was clearly what I wanted. With their support, in the end I have decided to go with my initial idea and I will be changing my last name. Career-wise, I have come up with a plan that will hopefully keep my publication record and professional record clear and easy to follow, spanning my name change.

For those of you who are interested, here is my 4-step plan:
  1. For at least 2 years following my name change, I will publish under the name 'first name' 'mother's last name' dash 'father's last name' 'new last name'. Yes, that is three last names. However, I'm hoping that this scheme will tie together my unmarried and married last names so that my publication record is easier to follow. After 2 years I will drop my maiden name entirely and start publishing under my married name only.
  2. I am having my married name and my maiden name linked in the search engine for astronomy papers. ADS is the one search engine that astronomers use most frequently to look up papers. Luckily, the people who run ADS are able to link two names if someone decides to change their name. (How progressive of them!) So now, when a search is done for my new last name, papers from my old last name will still pop up on the website.
  3. I will be announcing my name change at the beginning of any scientific talks that I give for at least the next year or two, so that people take note.
  4. I will also be noting my name change at the top of my professional CV and resume.

So, what do you think? Have I thought this through sufficiently, or am I committing career suicide? Is your name tied with your career success? In that case, what decision are you making when it comes to changing your last name when you get married?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

To Change a Name -- Part I

While it used to be the norm for women to take their husband's last names upon marriage, the times have a-changed, and these days modern brides are left with the huge decision as to whether or not to do the name change. I've always sort of thought of this as a problem faced by our generation of women... but it turns out that certain members of my parents' generation (namely, my parents) were also in on the name changing conundrum. My mother, as an enlightened woman marrying in the late 1970s, decided that she would rather keep her own identity (and therefore her own name) when she married. When my parents had kids (me and my sister!) they decided to hyphenate their children's last names. That's right, my last name is 'mom's last name dash dad's last name'...

...and it is a huge pain in the you-know-where.

It turns out that having a hyphenated last name is not exactly easy. Pretty much everyone butchers it. You always ALWAYS have to spell it for people. Also, many companies' computer systems can't handle the hyphen. This is particularly a problem with airlines when it comes to flying. How many times have I heard "The name on your ticket doesn't match the name on your frequent flier account"? Ummm... thanks airline, but really it's your fault, since your computer system doesn't allow for punctuation as part of a last name. Doh. ...and need I also go into the drama that was standardized testing and college admissions?

Ok, so I think I've made my point. I have spent the better part of my life pining to get married, simply so that I could change my last name. In fact, my #1 criteria when deciding whether or not to date a new guy was always -- does he have a nice last name? Yes, that's right. I could have met pretty much the hunkiest, nicest, most awesome guy in the world, but if he also had a hyphenated name then I was totally not going out with him. Luckily, the Architect has a very nice last name. It rolls off the tounge well... although it does make me sound quite British, which I am decidedly not. When the Architect and I got engaged I COULD NOT WAIT to change my last name to his and be over with this hyphenation thing once and for all.

Unfortunately, there is a small twist in this story, which ultimately caused me to reconsider my name change. Stay tuned as the saga continues next time...

Do you have a hyphenated last name? Do you love it? Hate it? Feel indifferent?

** As a side note, ladies (and gents) I do not mean to imply that you shouldn't hyphenate your last name when you get married. I just think that you should know what you are getting yourself into. Hyphenation is the right route for some people. But you should also know that hyphenating the last names of your children may cause some psychological trauma... as it clearly did in my case :-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Venue Saga Concluded

Ok internet. It is time to reveal the final choice for our wedding venue. And the winner is... dun dun du-dun:

The Asticou Inn!

Yes, this beautiful wedding venue definitely turned out to be one of the splurges in our wedding budget... but in this case, easy won out over cheap. Because we went with the Asticou, we now have at our disposal one very talented event planner named Tom who will make sure everything on our wedding day goes over without a hitch. He is responsible for pulling off beautiful weddings like this:

and this:

and this:

Our wedding ceremony will take place in that beautiful garden that I showed you before. Here's what it looked like on the day that we visited the Inn:

The view of the garden and Northeast Harbor -- photo by the Architect

We will then have our cocktail hour up on the back deck of the Inn, overlooking Northeast Harbor.

The back deck of the Asticou all set up for a wedding

Finally, for dinner and dancing we will be having a tented reception, just like we always wanted.

I am so excited for our summer-Maine-modern-elegant-garden wedding at the Asticou.

Is anyone else out there as excited about their wedding venue as I am? Are you also planning on taking advantage of multiple settings at your venue like we are (garden - deck - tent)?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Partee Time!!

I love me a good party, and if there's one thing I've learned so far in the wedding planning process, it's this: If you plan things right, getting married can consist of not one, but several awesome parties, all thrown in your honor. Hmmm, do I enjoy being the center of attention? Maybe. Just maybe.

About a month after the Architect and I got engaged, we experienced the first of these parties. My parents were kind enough to throw us an engagement party at their house. While my parents wanted to host this event, party planning seriously stresses my mom out, so we all decided together that this should be a pretty laid back affair. (I helped my mom with the planning, to keep the level of stress to a minimum.) I knew I wanted cupcakes. Also, the Architect and I conveniently had 6 bottles of champagne sitting in our fridge leftover from a party that we threw after I defended my dissertation earlier in the spring. (Another party for me?! You shouldn't have...) Other than cupcakes and champagne, we decided that we would serve wine and beer, sparkling lemonade, and apple juice for the little ones. For food we checked out a number of options, and in the end we decided to go with a local catering company who would provide platters of assorted sandwiches, along with several different salad options. Since the party was planned to take place mostly in my parents' backyard, we also needed some additional rentals. We used another local company that my mom knew of to rent tables and chairs, some serving implements, ice buckets for drinks (plus a keg cooler !), and 40 champagne glasses -- yes, we used real glass. Mama don't like no plastic champagne glasses. The outcome was an amazing party for 40 of our closest friends and my parents' closest friends (many of whom have known me since I was just a baby). The weather even managed to (sort of) cooperate. If you live in New England, then you probably remember how TRULY AWFUL the weather was this past spring and for most of the summer. The fact that the weather managed to behave for at least two-thirds of our engagement party was nothing short of a miracle.

Ok, enough of my blubbering on. I'll let the pictures of the event speak for themselves.

MOH M. (a.k.a., my lovely sister) and me, posing by the food and waiting for our guests to arrive

My mom found these lovely napkins from Marimekko

My mom also picked out these lovely yellow flowers, and the Architect and I supplied a variety of glass vases to put them in

Food porn. Yum. Our sandwich and salad spread was just asking to be devored by hungry party-goers.

A rare picture of Groomsman C and his girlfriend

Our guests (including one of our little guests!) enjoying themselves.

My parents' friends took the chance to do some catching up

What a coincidence! My friend S and my mom ended up sporting nearly identical dresses.

There's the bubbly! I'm really happy that my mom insisted on using actual champagne flutes. The effect was quite nice.


My dad made a lovely speech. (At this point we moved the party indoors, since the New England weather decided to cease cooperating with us.)

Really, could you think of a better meal than cupcakes and champage? I wish I could eat like this every day.

The kids' parents all decided to make their little ones eat their cupcakes on the stairs, so as to avoid ruining my parents' furniture. How thoughtful! Plus, it made for some really cute pictures.

Someone told us that we had to feed each other the cupcakes. Thanks, but I think we'll save that tradition for the wedding.

There. That's better. What a wonderful party!

In case you are interested, here is the list of (Boston-area) shops and vendors who we used for the party. I would recommend all of them, however I can't speak to the costs, since we were not involved in the budgeting for this event:
Cupcakes -- Sweet
Wine / Sparkling lemonade / Juice -- Trader Joe's
Beer (pony keg) -- Downtown Wine and Spirits
Napkins -- Marimekko
Flowers and Other Paper Goods -- Whole Foods Market
Catering -- Bakers' Best
Rentals -- Peterson Party Center

Did you have an engagement party? Was it a high class affair, or a low-key shindig?

And Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

The Architect and I have been out of town with little internet access for the past week. While we have enjoyed our time exploring the California coast immensely, I realize that I've been neglecting my duties as a blogger. When we last left off, we had been dealt a major blow in our venue search. With our first choice for a ceremony location crossed off our list it was time to start our venue search in earnest. Here is the list of our criteria:

(1) Ceremony and reception either take place at the same location, or very close to one another
-- We wanted to make things easy for our guests (and for ourselves)
(2) Ceremony location is preferably outdoors
-- What's the point of getting married in the summer on the Maine coast if you can't enjoy the fresh air?
(3) Ceremony and reception venues can accommodate at least 100 guests
-- We were dead set on having approximately 100 guests...although I'm sure you know the tendency of guest lists to balloon out of control
(4) Decoration-wise, the venue should be a blank slate
-- Number 4 is important, yo! The architect and I both have very specific thoughts about design. These thoughts usually include the words "clean lines", "modern", and "minimalist". While ballrooms with crown molding and antique chandeliers are beautiful, they're just not us. We needed a venue that fit in with our design aesthetic, and for this reason we were already thinking along the lines of a tented reception, since you can dress up a tent pretty much any way you want.

Want to see what we came up with? Sure you do...

The Asticou Inn

I actually came across the Asticou very early in the planning process, when we still thought that we would be able to have our wedding ceremony at the Thuya Garden. The Asticou was less than a half a mile away from the Garden, so it would have been a great place to have our reception. The downside to the Asticou? It was a little pricey. But... the upsides were numerous. They had an in-house wedding coordinator and they did all of their own catering. The food was supposed to be pretty good too! To me this meant one thing: Fewer headaches. I haven't discussed this before, but at the same time as we were hunting for venues, the Architect and I were also getting ready for a big cross-country move (more on that in a later post), so we knew we would be doing a lot of our wedding planning from afar. Having an onsite event coordinator would essentially save us from needing to hire a wedding planner, since clearly no matter what, we were going to need some help planning a Maine wedding from California. Another plus for the Asticou -- they have a garden (!) where they hold wedding ceremonies. While it wasn't quite the same as the Thuya Garden, it wasn't too shabby either. Maybe I would be getting my garden wedding afterall...

A tented wedding at the Asticou. Beautiful? Yes. I think so.

A garden wedding (!!!) ...and see the view of Northeast Harbor in the distance? Hey, it's not the Thuya Garden, but it ain't too bad.

The Inn's back deck with more to-die-for views of Northeast Harbor in the background

A view of the Inn. Isn't it charming?

The Causeway Club

The Causeway Club was our only non-tented wedding option that we looked into. Causeway is a golf and tennis club, but they also have a big beautiful old barn with two decks where they hold events. However, after talking to the Club's manger, I was a little worried that our wedding would be a tad on the large side for what could fit comfortably in the barn. For a wedding at the Causeway Club we would need to hire caterers and bartenders, which is more of a hastle, but would also give us a lot more choices for food. (Did somebody say "tastings"!?)

Back view of the barn and the back deck

The inside of the barn. Bright, beautiful, and we could decorate it however we saw fit.

The front deck of the barn. It looks like a great place for a little cocktail hour action...

Fox Fields Farm

This 70-acre farm is available as a rental property during the summer. Essentially, we could rent the house to stay in for a week, and over the weekend we would host the wedding on the expansive lawn. A wedding at Fox Fields Farm would probably involve the most work. We would need to coordinate everything -- caterers, bartenders, and setup and rentals of tents, chairs, tables, and linens. The property is beautiful though, and here we would have the most control over all of the small details, since every single decision would be our own.

Front view of the house (and small barn)

Quintessential rural Maine

The house is right on the coast. How perfect?

This image is pretty low quality, but it shows the back lawn where we could have a tented reception.

So... our venue saga continues. Which one did we choose? I'll let you know soon, I promise. In the meantime, what considerations were important to you in your venue search? Did you also find that there was a trade-off between all-inclusive venues (less work, but also less control over some of the details) versus do-it-yourself venues (lots more work, but you can have every single detail just the way you want it)?