Invitations need to go out by Friday.
Now, to us it seems like the wedding is still sort of forever from now. Six weeks? Seriously? You're talking to two people who are very tired of living in two different places. Six weeks might as well seem like six months.
But to everyone else, that's the bare minimum for getting an invitation to a wedding. So they're expecting them round about next Monday.
It turns out the biggest thing about sending out invitations is not actually picking out the invitations (we're not all that picky) or putting them together or even gathering the addresses...it was getting everything completely settled for the church and the hall for the reception so when we sent invitations we weren't saying, "Hey, come to our wedding. Time and place to be determined. We'll be in touch!"
We've had a guest list since July. That part was actually easy too, though we found it had a disconcerting ability to keep growing indefinitely. We've had a couple of months to think of everyone we might've forgotten. We've had to keep close tabs on the list too, since the family budget is including two weddings in one year. It's a good thing the family business is in good form this year, but Dad has had a few moments where he's said, "I have FIVE daughters!!" like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.
We've gathered almost all the addresses, set up an invitation (Elizabeth does beautiful work if anyone's interested in a good invitation designer), printed lots of test copies ("Nope, we like the watermark fainter than this - but that font is great"), decided to do most RSVPs by Internet form (it's an interesting innovation...we'll see how it works!), and gotten all the stamps. But the real effort this week - and the major items we're very relieved to check off our list - has been finally settling on what we were going to do for a church and a reception hall.
It's not really a big surprise to any of us that we decided to go to Macomb Christian church and that we're having the reception at Crank's Catering's hall. We've been pretty much expecting to do that for weeks, but we had to sit down with the family and make the final decision and somehow that kept getting put off. Then there was a last-minute suggestion Ben's home church River's Edge Fellowship might actually have their building open on Monday the 28th after all (they originally told us - correctly - that it was unavailable on Mondays). We spent a week trying to find out if that was true or not and it turned out that because the building is being shared by three churches, it's pretty tough to find a free day.
We also were setting up details of the reception with the folks at Crank's. Since we're doing a dessert reception, we had to think about things a little differently than if we did a tradition dinner. We didn't want to just have cake and cookies and call it a day: we're doing dessert instead of dinner because of the time, not because of the budget. I think what we came up with (thanks to Aaron, Elizabeth, Mom, and Joy for all the research!) is going to be pretty neat. But the details were pretty much only settled on this morning right before heading over to the hall to put a down payment on it. After that we drove the five minutes over to Macomb Christian and settled things there, which means that...invitations need to go out tomorrow and we are certain today that the information on them is accurate.
Now if we can take care of the photographer, we'll be doing good.
Traditions and Decisions
One of the strangest parts about preparing to join my life with Ben's is discussing what to do about holidays.
You know, when you grow up in a household, you just go along with your parents' traditions and decisions. You have certain ways of doing things, certain expectations, and there just isn't much you mess with. Christmas Eve is always at Aunt Rosie and Uncle Dennis's house, Christmas is always at Aunt Peggy and Uncle Dan's house, and someone always has to make the pies on Thanksgiving because that's what we always bring.
When you're married, you have to combine two sets of those traditions and come up with something your kids are going to take for granted every year. It's a weird task.
This year, for instance, is going to be odd simply because Thanksgiving is happening right on top of our wedding. We've got family from out of town on both sides coming in because of our wedding and both families want us both to be present. We found out during Easter this year that double-family-holidays are really for the birds. You don't get to spend enough time at either family's house and you eat way too much. Not a good plan when you have to fit into a tux and wedding dress (one for each, not both for both. I know some of you were thinking it.).
But for the birds or not, I think we're going to have to spend Thanksgiving with both families this year and begin our plan of alternating next year. We're not too keen on making going-back-and-forth our new tradition.
That's just the location, though. And it's all about the extended family, not just the family that exists of Ben-and-Lauren-and-hopefully-kids-someday. When it comes to us, it's almost like a blank slate.
Ben would very much like to celebrate the Biblical holidays, which means certain holidays neither of us has ever really celebrated before like Passover, the Feast of Trumpets, First-Fruits (harvest), the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Day of Atonement. We do sort of celebrate Pentecost and we do set the Sabbath aside, but other than that we hardly even notice when the days come and go.
The biggest tangle to unknot regarding these holidays is separating what God wanted his people to be celebrating from what the holidays have eventually evolved into. Delving into the traditions of a holiday can get to be kind of a sticky mess, especially when you come to joining Christian understanding of what the holidays mean to the ancient preparations God intended his people to make. The holidays are all about the coming of God to his people: a prophecy he fulfilled once and is going to fulfill again. Ben's point is that the holidays were meant to give people who believe in God a glimpse of how the Kingdom of God functions and what events are going to take place on Earth before the end, so it would make sense to actually do the preparation God laid out for us to do. Even if it turns out God didn't specifically command us Gentiles to set those days aside as he commanded his Chosen People to, if he thinks it's a good idea for his children then we're interested in it too. God gives good gifts to his children, Jesus reminded us in Matthew:
Matthew 7:11 (ESV)
11"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"
It's one thing to understand the philosophical "whys" of celebrating the Biblical holidays, though: it's another to actually figure out how to set them aside. It's always a bit of a tug to keep things from intruding on the Sabbath; but we're kind of used to that. The holidays can be a little tougher because they often occur on odd days when people don't necessarily understand why you're taking the day off when you're not Jewish. If I had a nickle for every time I said I couldn't do something on Saturday because I celebrate the Sabbath and someone looked at me oddly and said, "Why? You're not Jewish, are you?" I'd have a much bigger savings account these days.
At any rate, Ben and I have been talking a lot about holidays and how and why to celebrate them over the past few weeks and one of the oddest things is starting from scratch saying, "Do we want to do this? What about that?" It's like the first time finding out you were in charge of planning and making a meal.
One thing's for sure: neither one of us is much of a party person. Apparently our idea of "celebration" is...not doing much at all! We'll never be the type to host an all-out New Year's bash or have themed birthday parties (I already warned Mom Turner about this and apologized in advance). My guess is our holidays will usually consist of resting, having a nice meal...and visiting with our families in a relaxed sort of way.
But I do promise to continue making fudge with Anna at Christmas time. This is one tradition that should carry on.
Preparations: Bridesmaids Dresses
When Benjamin and Leah got married, the process of getting ready for their wedding felt like a big tutorial on what to do for ours. Not that we looked at everything they did and said, "Oh yeah? WE'RE gonna do better than that!" because we didn't. But they sure made a whole lot of things easier for us just by having to do stuff first.
Take the bridesmaids dresses, for example.
One of the biggest things we learned about bridesmaids dresses is that everyone always wants to pick the perfect color and there are lots of designers that cater to that...for a price. You can pick any color and any style in the rainbow, but all dresses labeled "bridesmaid" seem to have a few things in common: they're expensive and they take a long time to arrive.
Leah and Benjamin picked white dresses with blue sashes. Seemed simple enough at the time, but it turns out when you want something really specific, sometimes it can be really hard to get. When you see the dresses, it's hard to believe it took so much work to find them because they really weren't all that complicated in and of themselves. However, having a bunch of girls with different ideas on what they should have in a dress means hundreds and hundreds of pictures. I remember coming home one day and finding both Elizabeth and Anna practically cross-eyed from looking at dresses and Leah ready to have everyone wear a bathrobe. "This decision isn't supposed to be so hard!" she said.
We looked at that and realized something: it's easier to find a dress and then pick the colors rather than pick the colors and find a dress. I don't think we would've thought of that otherwise, but what that one little realization did was save us all a whole lot of time. When we were looking for our wedding, we had a few restrictions of our own, but they most revolved around one idea: Kim is pregnant. We need a dress she can wear and look good in and match with the other girls who aren't; and the other girls don't want to look like they're pregnant too!
I also didn't want black, although I think that mattered more to me than to Ben. Black is elegant; but in bridal parties sometimes I think it looks sort of like a funeral more than a wedding.
So in the end Joy discovered and sent a picture to us of a JCPenney bridesmaid dress (JCPenney has a bridal collection - who knew?") that actually resembles my dress fairly strongly, is a beautiful lavender color, isn't strapless, does have the right sizes available, looks beautiful, and is even on sale. We ordered two last week and they arrived promptly. They do everything needed, even fitting Kim without needing alterations because of the style. We basically have to get some shawls (they're not really warm enough around the shoulders!), hem everybody's hem (they're way too long!) and we'll be set. It's so beautifully simple we all were smiling. Except those who were laughing when Jenny stuffed a pillow inside the dress to see if it would fit Kim. Kim says, "Looks like it'll work great unless I'm having triplets - how big did you think I was going to get, anyway?"
It's fun when things go so smoothly.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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