Whenever people told me in the past they were very busy with "wedding plans", I always wondered what was taking so much time. I mean, a wedding is essentially a big party wherein most of the elements are actually prescribed and the choices that need to be made basically revolve around what colors you like and what kind of meal you want to have. How much time does that really take?
As it turns out, if other people are anything like us, the big preparations are not actually about the party. If you think about it, there's a lot more that goes into creating a new family than just the ceremony that makes it official. The philosophy of marriage all on it's own is gigantic; but after that there are a lot of physical things to make ready. There's the creation of a whole new household to consider. There are some big ol' time-consuming decision-making study-requiring things that come into play that have nothing to do with a little couple-hour event called "a wedding". Some biggies in our case have been finding health care, learning how to buy a house, getting ready to move, changing names, and setting up how life together should work. There are some deceptively small tasks involved in these things. Finding out about healthcare can take hours and hours of research, questions, and phone time. In order to buy a house, we had to find out where to sign a purchase agreement. It's a little like being a kid again, where every task you are asked to perform requires you to start from scratch learning how to do it!
There is, for instance, the matter of gifts intended to start a new family off in life. I had no idea it would take so much thoughtful consideration to prepare for the fact that people actually want to give us gifts. Gifts were never big on my radar when I pictured getting married because in my mind, the fact I was getting married at all eclipsed the details of the wedding itself.
Then Mom Turner said firmly, "There's going to be a shower at the beginning of October." And our friend Bonnie called us up a month ago and said, "We have decided to give you a shower. Which means we need you to get busy and make a registry."
We were initially going to skip the shower. It was a lot of work, fuss, and time, especially as everyone was just resting up from Leah and Benjamin's wedding. Ben and I looked at each other and said to our families, "Don't do this to yourselves, guys: we don't need a shower! Just having everyone be able to be peaceful and rest for a few weeks seems pretty nice to us."
Our wonderful friends and family said, "Sorry guys, but you need things and we're going to arrange for you to get them."
It's a uniquely humbling thing when you realize people love you enough to insist on taking care of you. Somehow, I've become used to being a person who takes care of things and gives people gifts, not one who is being taken care of and given things. The least we could do was fulfill the one request being placed on us to get a registry ready!
Now, a registry is a really funny thing. At what other time in your life do you create a complicated, itemized list of gifts someone might consider getting you? Most of the time it seems hopelessly self-serving. In the case of a wedding, however, it turns out people are actually grateful if you sit down and create a wish-list of items you foresee needing to begin life as a married couple. Still, when Ben put me in charge of creating a registry and I sat down to begin filling it out, I was overwhelmed. Starting just with the choices of what stores to focus on and heading right into needing to sort out what colors would go with our currently-nonexistent house! Then there was the ethics of the whole thing. How in the world can a person justify asking for things that just plain cost so much money? I wondered.
I talked through email with some sensible friends who got married a few years ago about making the registry and they gave me a lot of helpful advice beginning with basically this straightforward point: people want ideas of what to give a couple getting married. That's what a registry is. Don't ask for chintzy things because then folks feel bad getting them and besides, he who asks receives. People want to be able to give nice gifts. Pick out something they'll be happy to find out you like.
Okay, I thought. It's a wish list. Not a demand list. Not a list of what we absolutely positively have to have in order to begin life together. Simply a list of what interests us if anybody is interested.
Even with that in mind, it took me a surprisingly long time to make that registry. I think because I took it very seriously. If I was going to put something on this "idea list", it better be something it would be worthwhile for someone to spend money on. Not silly stuff. Not stuff that was going to break or wear out right away. Not stuff that was ridiculously expensive for the use it would actually get (who knew it'd be considered an essential part of bridal registries to get LUGGAGE, for goodness' sake?). Not stuff it was too boring to give as a gift.
Bonnie said, "If you're going to pick out every day dishes, pick out something people will have fun buying. If you pick out just plain white stuff, it's not much fun to get for someone else."
Mom said, "Look for good sheets. Out of all the nice things that were given to us at our wedding, those were the best."
Turns out the first thing to do wasn't actually to pick out dishes or sheets but to figure out what style and color of things to look for. It was a big weird to do this because we didn't have a house at the time. Ben knows what he likes and doesn't like when he sees it, but he couldn't describe it to me; so in the beginning I had to start showing him pictures and say, "Thumbs up or down?"
I wasn't expecting Ben to be the pickier of the two of us, but as it's developed, I like lots and lots of things and Ben has a much narrower "like" factor. Because of that, he became the deciding vote in picking something out. I would find pictures of something that I thought would be nice and then run it by him for final approval. It was exciting when I could start predicting what he would like and not like before he actually commented. I knew I was starting to get it when I finally showed Ben a picture of some dishes I was pretty sure he'd like and he said, "Ooh, wow, I really like those!" I almost felt as victorious as the few times I've managed to scrape by a victory over him at chess.
Amid all the bits and pieces that comprise normal household goods, it turned out that what mattered to Ben the most was how things felt. He wanted things to *feel good*. Comforters, for example, were "too noisy and scratchy" for the most part. I can now proudly say we have personally felt all the comforters in stock at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. That was fun; except by the end I was starting to get a bit worried we weren't going to find one Ben would like. That was another victory moment when we did.
I also spent more time reading reviews on nice sheets than I ever thought to devote to the subject. Turns out high thread counts do not always equal nice sheets or ones that will make it more than a handful of times through the wash without tearing. When you're making out a registry online, reviews become a life-line to common sense: there are a million choices out there, but only people who've actually used these things know if they're any good.
Mom kept asking me if I was having fun. I honestly said, "Well, right now it just seems like a lot of work and research." It wasn't until one day when Ben and I unexpectedly had time to go into the store and take a look at some stuff I wasn't sure he'd like that I suddenly felt excited. Maybe it was the moment when I walked up to a kiosk and typed our names in and saw there really was a wedding registry all ready to be printed out. Or maybe it was when we decided to buy a set of the dishes just to see if we really did like them. Or maybe it was the moment when Ben felt all the blankets that were on the shelf, found one he liked, and said, "This one! I like this one."
Whatever it was, it seems like making the registry is one of the things that has made it seem real that Ben and I are truly getting married and really are going to need to outfit a new house and people really do want to get us things to help us out (although...may I say that it feels pretty weird to pick out bedding before getting married?). Even if no one gets us anything off the list, the process of thinking it through and carefully picking what to suggest (if anyone's interested!) ultimately makes me look forward to being married more than I had before. For one thing, I sure know a lot more about Ben than I did when we started; and if you'd told me that before we got busy on the registry, I would've pointed you to the 400-plus pages of our emails and said, "Yikes...what's left that we haven't talked about?"
So. This is an account of just one of those "little" details I didn't realize when I listened to other people talk about getting ready to be married. One of the things that goes into "planning a wedding" that I never thought about...and has turned out to be one of the more time consuming and ultimately interesting parts of this whole procedure.
Oh yes. About healthcare: that's going to have to be the subject of a whole new post.
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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