The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever

1282199049757270I don’t know when the epiphany came—whether during my third night of uncontrollable sobbing or the hundred year flood—but it was clear and true: Professor McGregor and I had the worst honeymoon ever. I would like to say it was all my fault, but no matter how hard I try, I’ve yet to control the weather or checked baggage or broken toilet seats. The sobbing, though, was definitely all me.

Darlings, there is a reason people fantasize about beach honeymoons. They’re easy! Hop on a plane, get picked up by a resort shuttle, then happily sip neon drinks under an umbrella for seven days. It’s a good recipe. Unless, of course, you’re the type who poo-poos this whole fancy umbrella thing in favor of exploration and the ever-present excitement of “Will there be bedbugs in this hotel room?” Spoiler alert: the professor and I are the latter type. Instead of a nice, relaxing trip to a warm beach, we went to Ireland. In the middle of winter. Without hats.

To be fair, Dublin was utterly lovely for the first week. The sun was shining. it softly rained a handful of times, and the people were doggedly friendly. Unfortunately, I spent that week 100% convinced that I would drop dead on the cobblestones at any moment. Omnipresent fear of your Untimely Doom does put a damper on romantic strolls, kittens. Our second day in Ireland, I was hit by these odd lightheaded spells, accompanied by nausea and fatigue. Then it happened again on the third day, then the fourth, and so on. Luckily, I had enough medical knowledge to know what was up: I was experiencing symptoms of DVT—thanks to use of birth control—and a blood clot was going to travel to my lungs, turn into a pulmonary embolism and kill me dead. There were no other possibilities. (She said in a fearful, crazed tone to her beloved at 3 AM.)

On one hand, my legs weren’t achy or swollen and there were zero chest pains, but on the other…THESE THINGS CAN BE ASYMPTOMATIC. I WAS DEFINITELY GOING TO DIE ON MY HONEYMOON AND LEAVE A GRIEF-STRICKEN PROFESSOR BEHIND ALL BY HIMSELF. HE WOULD THEN, HAUNTED BY MY MEMORY, TURN INTO A BITTER, ANGRY WIDOWER WHO KICKED BABY ARMADILLOS AND NEVER TRAVELED OR FELT JOY AGAIN AND IT WAS ALL MY FAULT FOR BEING AFRAID OF BABIES! *SOB* By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, and I’d been unable to sleep for three nights in a row for fear of my imminent corpsehood, Professor McG had the hotel find an open minor emergency clinic and shuttled me to a Dublin suburb to check things out. After all sorts of tests, I was pronounced completely fine, except for the prolonged lady dark times I’d also been experiencing. Exact prescription: “Rest and eat red meat. You’re probably vitamin-deficient from all the blood pouring from your uterus. Duh.”

images (1)By the time I felt better, it was our day to depart Dublin for the picturesque western coast. Galway, our destination, was famous for its seaside village shops and proximity to amazing natural wonders, like the Cliffs of Moher. We were going to experience real Ireland, by walking on bluffs and drinking tea in cutesy tea shops! It was going to be…awesome hit by a once-in-a-century winter storm! Yes, we arrived in Galway, just in time to be hit by Winter Storm Christine. Fun fact: when they name the weather system that’s about to hit you, the scenic cliffs turn into terrifying death traps. The cutesy tea shop I’d been stoked about? Flooded. The lovely seaside walk? Under water. The meandering stroll to city center from our hotel? Aided by 70 mph wind gusts and sideways hail. Adventures!

Even better, the “four star” hotel we were staying at made Motel 6 look posh. We arrived to a suspiciously stained comforter, broken-in-half toilet seat, and one of those king beds that is really just two twins, with a totally comfortable metal bar joining them together. Trip Advisor had let us down in a rather epic manner. Adventures!

Honestly, the list of travel disasters that hit us could be a mile long. Delta lost my baggage on the way back the States, Irish cashiers were utterly flummoxed by our chipless credit cards, and my umbrella was defenseless against winter storms. And yet…we had a blast.

shameless-honeymoon-movie-poster-9999-1010429406Through fear of my untimely demise and hurricane force breezes, Professor McGregor made me laugh and smile and fall in love with him all over again. He twice walked to the pharmacy to retrieve lady devices (tampons, yo), made sure I was always in reach of hot chocolate, and assured me over and over again that I had not ruined our honeymoon with my weird illness. And you know what? He was right. We had so much fun! It turns out that Irish food is really good, we both look fetching in wool hats, and getting away together was a much needed respite…even with all the crying. Plus, my beloved left with a new favorite whiskey and I with intimate knowledge of the Irish medical system.

So, perhaps I should revise: Professor McGregor and I had the best worst honeymoon ever. 

-Grace

P.S. Thank you all so much for your good wishes and congratulations on my last post! The wedding went off without a hitch – lovely weather, lovely food, and lovely conversation. Just like we wanted.

1507721_10152090030975853_1877263904_n

Cleanse This: Wedding Preparations Gone Mad

il_570xN.326980696In three days, Professor McGregor and I are getting married.

MARRIED.

There are a lot of moving parts involved in such a happening. So far this week, I’ve spray painted four dozen wooden snowflakes, made our seating chart, remade our seating chart when it turns out we had the wrong kind of tables, cut out a million tiny triangles for bunting, and seriously considered showing up in pajamas for the ceremony, so that I didn’t have to get my dress steamed.

Just to make sure I’m not forgetting anything important, I took to the internet. “Google,” I asked the great god of aimless questions, “What should I be doing the week before my wedding?” It turns out, the answer is: a lot of shit. There are checklists to be checked and eighty people to contact. There are, also, a lot of widely suggested things that I think are ridiculous.

  1. Getting a Facial – Take away my womanhood card, if you must, but I am not going to have my face tortured by some sadistic stranger wielding an extractor, just to have “a bridal glow.” They make make-up precisely so I don’t have to naturally exude a glow. This isn’t Twilight, I don’t need to sparkle!
  2. Starting an Exfoliation Routine – In order to walk down the aisle, my whole body is apparently supposed to be as smooth as a baby’s bottom. And yet I currently have no plans to remove the top layer of my skin, in order to achieve that. Lotion will have to do.
  3. Scheduling a Bikini Wax – Everyone on the internet is in agreement with this one thing: In order to have a good wedding night, you can’t have any extra hair down there. It’s just not womanly! Except, oh wait, it’s the natural state of a woman’s body. Pardon me, if I don’t immediately have it all yanked out with hot wax.
  4. Avoiding Excessive Caffeine – If someone tells you she’s sleeping normally the week before her wedding, do not believe her. If coffee didn’t exist, I would have had a mental breakdown right now. I give zero fucks if it makes me retain water, there will be caffeine.
  5. Getting a Spray Tan – It’s the middle of winter, why exactly must we pretend that I’m a naturally a toasted almond color? Pale blonde girl has always been a good look for me. I shall not trade it in for skin the color of carrots! 
  6. A Juice Cleanse – Go through the hell that has been this week without real food? Ha! Someone go get me a cheeseburger.
  7. A Colon Cleanse – Nope. Just nope. Google, I think it’s time you saw a psychiatrist, in order to deal with all these delusions you’re having.

– Grace

The Sewist Bride Buys a Wedding Dress

Two months.

Two months! In precisely sixty days, Professor McGregor and I are going to trot down the aisle and tie the proverbial knot. Woohoo! As you know, I’ve been a rather casual bride. We’re having a simple wedding: Sunday brunch, lovely low key little venue, lots of balloons and flowers and bunting. Thanks to a close held hatred of rigmarole, I’ve officially cut out a lot of the typical American wedding shenanigans. There will be no DJ or releasing of the doves or—just kill me now—garter toss. We can all agree that the marriage is the important thing, not having a gigantic sparkly princess day of wonder. That’s never been my dream.

Except, of course, for The Dress. The very small list of important Grace concerns in planning this shindig were, in order: Professor McGregor, the dress, cake. Since the dear professor is consistently the most lovely man alive and the (three) cakes are being made—fondant free!—by my longtime favorite bakery, the dress absorbed my worries. So, so many worries.

As an advanced sewist, there was one question to be answered. Will I make the dress myself? 

It’s a completely legit consideration, especially in this day and age. Not only are modern dresses hilariously over priced but they are, as I’ve recounted here before, remarkably homogeneous. If you want a strapless A-line white dress, no problem! The shops have rows and rows of neatly hung poofy confections for strap-haters. However, when you start swaying away from the herd? Fat chance. The section with sleeves is minuscule, colors other than white are unheard of, and no one who’s anyone gets married in a short dress.

For sewists, this is enraging. One trip to the bridal shoppe—they can never just be a simple shop, kittens—is enough to start even the most sainted bride plotting the doom of Badgley, Vera, and that hawker of polyester swill, David himself. Sewists are used to taking matters in their own hands. If a pattern doesn’t have sleeves, add them. If you hate the feel of flammable, melt-prone fabrics against your skin, don’t use them. Sartorial beliefs, we have them in spades! All it took was a couple of post-engagement internet browsing sessions for me to know the usual bridal shop was not my destiny.

So, I compiled a list. What was my dream dress, exactly? If I couldn’t find it, sewing was a viable option, so I could afford to be mindbogglingly specific. Thanks to vintage fashion catalogs, a vision quickly coalesced.

Note: Professor McGregor, if you’re reading this, stop right now! Your superstitious side demands it. 

Grace’s Dream Dress: A Bulleted List

  • Bottom-of-knee length
  • Lace bodice
  • Sleeves, preferably 3/4
  • Button back. Not a zipper with buttons over it, either. Silk-covered buttons with working loops or death!
  • Color featured somehow
  • Layered circle skirt for a 1950s silhouette
  • Natural materials, preferably silks
  • Lower neckline

Surprise! This dress doesn’t exist at David’s Bridal. Initially, I considered going with one of the oft-pinned, retro dresses of Dolly Couture, but I had serious doubts about their quality. Reviews were spotty, their standard offerings are all polyester, and no design perfectly fit my vision. Sewing was looking like my best option. And yet…

Y’all, I’m going to be straight up here. I didn’t want to sew my own wedding dress. Down that path lived stress and obsessively washing my hands while sewing and time-consuming muslin fittings. People kept asking me if I had a “clean room” to store it in, while I sewed. Fuck that. I can barely keep myself clean, much less my sewing room. Someday, I would love to make a complete couture gown for myself, but that day will come when there are no dissertations to finish or moves to make. So, I started finding vintage patterns, but dreading what my autumn would be like.

Enter Pinterest. On one of my random wedding dress pictures binges, I typed in the words “short British wedding dress.” The lovely designers across the pond are much more open to retro designs and lengths other than floor. I’d stumbled across a handful of designers with gorgeous not-quite-right-but-almost gowns.

Then I found her. Joanne Fleming, an up-and-coming wedding dress designer out of Brighton. She is famous for her craftsmanship, use of luxury French fabrics, and gorgeous twists on classic designs. If I wanted a bias-cut column gown, she had twenty amazing options. If I wanted a colored lacy confections, there were samples aplenty. And if I wanted a button-back, lace and organza, knee-length fifties confection with sleeves and a low neckline? Oh, that’s called the Annie dress.

Mine, custom made to my measurements and specifications, is shipping out next week. Next week! Yes, I have been ridiculously squealing “Wedding Dress!” at odd times, since getting this news. Professor McGregor is temporarily deaf from all the high pitched squees.

The only alterations I made were to add a blush pink back-bow sash and coordinating pink silk petticoat binding. It is lovely, it is wonderful, and I’m not slaving away in my sewing room, cursing the day lace was invented. Joy! 

What do you think, friends? Would you sew your own wedding dress or go with an indie designer/seamstress? I’d love to hear about what you chose for your own. Sure, it’s just a dress, but it’s probably the only one we’ll be asked about for the rest of our lives. It’s also worth noting that one of my favorite bloggers, Mel from Poppykettle, is much braver than I and taking the plunge on making her own. It’s sure to be a gorgeous, fascinating process.

– Grace

Note: Here’s a link to my favorite real bride shoot, featuring an Annie dress. Lovely, no?

The Apathetic Bride Weeps Over Mini-Quiche

001Last week, I had a meltdown. One minute I was calmly sitting in my office chair, returning e-mails, then the next I was sobbing like a fourteen year-old Taylor Swift fan—loudly, accompanied by flails.

This crying jag was, of course, brought on by pancakes. It’s totally normal to have a prolonged breakdown over fluffy breakfast foods, right? RIGHT? Fine, I concede. It was crazy and I lost my damned mind. There is only one thing to blame: the wedding.

My impending nuptials to Professor McGregor are making me have heart palpitations. It’s not that I’m worried about things going well, or stressed over what sort of quiche to serve, it’s that I don’t want to think about any of it. These aren’t Bridezilla moments, these are apathetic bridal nightmares. Sending the catering costs to my father made my want to jump off a tall bridge. Reading the word “tablescape,” as if it is a real, important thing to be concerned over—like the Sudan or whether or not to cut my own bangs—has me reaching for the hemlock. I want to get married, not plan an event.

And yet…apart from chucking the whole thing and eloping to Vegas, there’s no way to avoid it. People want to know what your colors are and how it’s all going and whether or not they can bring a plus one. Everyone wants to talk about our wedding, but it’s the last thing I want to dwell on. Because if I were honest with people, they’d be horrified. My bridal concerns, the things that keep me up at night and create untold numbers of tears, make me sound like an evil, ungrateful scalawag.

Naturally, I’m going to share them with you.

Wedding Things That Make Grace Cry: A List

  1. People RSVP-ing Yes –  Too many people love us. Throwing a wedding, and all that entails, has turned me into a person who actively wishes for people to dislike her. The more people who RSVP yes to this shindig, the more money we spend and the more people will be there to watch it go down. When we were initially drafting a guest list, I was super smug about my methodology, having a list of invitees and a running total of likely yeses. People, it turns out, are totally unpredictable. Maiden aunts we’d never considered attending have already bought plane tickets. Family friends are changing vacation plans around our wedding day. People are saying yes and are so excited about participating, but all I feel is nauseated, then guilty about feeling nauseated. If I post a bigoted political rant on Facebook, will my college friends bail out, at least?
  2. Having Events About Us – Part of getting married is being a rare and sparkling jewel. As a bride, you get not only a day of marriage, but wedding showers and bachelorette parties and lots of people wanting to hear about your plans. This makes me super uncomfortable. Professor McGregor and I fell in love and decided to spend our lives together, we didn’t cure cancer or hike across Antarctica in swimsuits. I didn’t do anything to deserve such attention! I wish there was a societal program, which allowed you to decide which major life events deserved epic parties. I’d choose first book deal and perfect macaron baking every time!
  3. The Cost of Mini-Quiche – Each mini-quiche produced costs $2. Apparently, those little egg pies are made not just of eggs and cheese,but gold passed through the digestive track of a rare Australian water ostrich. I never wanted to know this, darlings, but now I do. I also know the exact price of peppermint sticks, rented champagne flutes, and maple syrup. All of these numbers, swirling around my mind in a budgetary conga line, make me want to hurl. There is a reason I didn’t go into finance. Money stresses me out; spending vast quantities of it on one day stresses me out even more. As someone having a relatively modest & simple wedding, it boggles my mind what more mainstream brides must feel. Congress, won’t you do something about the inflation of mini-quiche?

If you need me, I’m just going to be over there in that corner, curled into a ball. Any wails you may hear are probably me, not actually a dying, rabid bat. I’m told this is totally normal behavior for a bride. When you’re planning The Happiest Day Of Your Life Ever, Including Major Career Milestones and Birth of Spawn, “happy” tears are natural.

– Grace

The Apathetic Bride Cheats at Cards

MailboxSurprise_GilElvgrenDarlings, I have seen the light. It is rubbery and comes in all the colors of the rainbow.

It’s also sold on Etsy, so get your mind out of the gutter. Last I checked, crafters weren’t hawking organic woodland creature vibrators yet. Though, if they were, I think we can all agree that one would be called “Foxxxy Lady,” because people can’t resist a good pun. What I’m actually here to buzz about today—It was too easy!—is something infinitely more pedestrian: a stamp.

People adore handing out wedding advice to newly engaged couples. Don’t tell them, but most of it is useless. So much about a wedding ends up being individual to the couple—by luck of venue choice, season of the year, or budget—and thus can’t really be prepared for with a handy one-liner from your neighbor’s mother. There is only one piece of advice that I’m planning to actively follow, as it came from my wise and reasonable friend, Girl on the Contrary. “Write thank-you notes as the gifts come, grasshopper” she said to me, over a giant plate of brisket.

That makes so much sense! The last thing I want to do is arrive back from our honeymoon, only to be faced by a mountain of 200 thank you notes waiting to be written. My hand hurts just thinking about it! So, I’m resolved to write them immediately upon receipt of gift.

Only…I’ve also already had to address Save The Dates, which was a giant pain, plus the invitation suites are looming. Is there no way to save myself from bridal carpal tunnel? Won’t someone think of my metacarpals!?

Someone did. Darlings, you can buy a self-inking return address stamp. Do you know how much writing that saves? On the invitation suites alone, you have to write “Professor McGregor & Grace O’Kelly, 100 Curmudgeon Lane, Not Austin, TX  666-66″ at least twice per invite. It’s the most tedious thing ever. So…buy a stamp. Seriously, if you do one thing I tell you to in your lifetime, make it the purchase of return address stamp.il_570xN.415978758_s0we

I bought the above one, from Rubber Stamp Press on Etsy, and I absolutely adore it. If Professor McGregor hadn’t asked me first, I’d probably marry this thing. It leaves a super clean imprint, legitimately looks hand written/fancy, and is so much fun to use. I stamped 10 sheets of paper, when it first arrived, just so I could use it. Even better, if you’re still in a name-changing quandary, this particular one doesn’t use last names. It can be used forever, even if you eventually decide to become Mrs. Ethel Frankenbaum-Woo. There are thousands of these available on Etsy, however, so the choices are endless. You can get one with penguins on it, symbolizing your shared love of arctic fowl, or one that looks elegantly minimalist.

If you want to spend as little time preparing for this wedding hoopla as possible, get a stamp. They are cheap and they are wonderful. I’ve named mine Archibald and swear to love him forever. That’s good practice for the actual wedding, right?

A Kick In The Cake Balls

cakeballsScrew the cake ball.

I’m sorry, that came off poorly. Screw the fucking cake ball. Darling readers, today I need to get something off my chest. Namely, the gross ganache covered bits of mushy cake mush that people keep trying to pass off as wedding cake.

These days, brides are doing all we can to be original. That makes a certain amount of sense. After all, you want your wedding to reflect the perfect, sparkly love that you and your darling darlingkins feel for each other’s naughty bits. Ergo, everything should be unique to you, including the cake! Why have plain, old wedding cake, when you can have something super cool like cake balls? Cake is for the olds. You and your darlingkins are young and hip and have a love like mushy cake mush. It is beautiful, non?

Non.

Kittens, regular cake is delicious. It comes in all sorts of flavors, is pretty to look at, delicious to eat, and covered in frosting. Why mess with a good thing? When people come to weddings, they expect wedding cake. It’s part of the fun! As a guest, I look forward to nothing so much as the end of the meal and subsequent cake unveiling. Will it be a lovely white cake covered in butter cream? Will the bride show her rebellious side and choose German chocolate? The possibilities are endlessly delicious! As long as it’s not covered in fondant sugary cardboard, the cake and I are compadres.

So, when people delete the cake altogether, my spleen starts a’twitching. It began with cupcakes, which at least retained the genre. They were smaller, but still had frosting! Acceptable. But then—then, kittens!—I attended a wedding with ice cream sundaes and another with fruit tarts. Raj and Griselda may have called them funnel cakes, but everyone knows that’s just another name for spidery donuts. The wedding cake, classic and delightful, is becoming an endangered species.

Cake balls are, in my book, the worst offenders. They dress themselves up as cake, with frosting and crumbling centers and dainty decorations, but they fail on every level. In order to get cake into a photogenic little ball, one must destroy it. The cake batter is made unnaturally gooey, so it can be properly scooped, then half-baked and covered in sugary cement. How does that sound appetizing? If I wanted crunchy mush balls, I’d eat a deep fried Twinkie. Cake was not meant to be scooped! It’s belittling to such a noble, respected pastry. Cake, my dear ground squirrels, should be cut—whether into slices or squares, I leave to you—but never, not ever, attacked with a spoon.

Further more, it should not be miniscule. Cake does not exist to be tiny and cute, but to bring comfort and diabetic comas. I don’t want a small ball of it on a decorative toothpick, instead of a sizable slice that requires a fork. Where are the people clamoring for less cake? Your bridesmaids did not don Spanx underneath those taffeta monstrosities, in order to eat small amounts of pastry goo. Only dessert communists would want to ration the joy.

I may not care about much, when it comes to my own wedding, but the people will have cake! More specifically, they will have cakes. We couldn’t make up our minds at the tasting—because cake is, as we’ve covered, delicious—so we’re having three. Wedding guests, I’d wear the stretchy pants, come December.

– Grace

This Extravaganza Needs More Exorcisms

IMG_5551I’ve seen Hell. It’s swathed in buttercream, wearing a tiara of evil. Call it not Beelzebub, dear ones, but its proper name: The Austin Bridal Extravaganza.

You think I’m exaggerating. It’s that word “extravaganza,” isn’t it? Nothing truly perilous ends in -aganza. Why, the sound alone suggests silk and tiny caviar hotdogs and all that is fancy! That’s what I thought, too. The setup was thus: a hundred of Austin’s most popular wedding vendors would be under one roof, handing out discounts and free samples. Free cake and less time spent Googling “Austin wedding gnomes?” Sign me up! Girl on the Contrary and I planned to eat delicious things, do some vendor reconnaissance, and cackle our way through the day. How harrowing could it be?

Two words: bridal dildo. You see, it’s not just florists and photographers who take stalls at bridal expositions. Any vendor ever-so-tangentially related to weddings has a booth. Festooned with blinking lights and polyester satin, they line the convention center. As you walk by, pamphlets and samples are thrust into your hands. Questions fire from vendors armed with wide, manic smiles.

Do you have a photographer!? Do you need super soft sheets for your marriage bed!? Do you want an angelic chorus of angelic angels singing you down the aisle angelically?

Would you like to touch my plague rat!?

Okay. That last one was wishful thinking. Instead it was: Would you like us to come into your home and sell dildos? For real. There was not one, but three companies there to hawk lube and not-for-that-digit rings. A “pleasure expert” would arrange to come into your home—ostensibly for a bachelorette party, but perhaps just because you want to know what color rabbit your sister-in-law owns—and sell sex toys. It’s like a Tupperware party, but with more vital cleaning instructions! Woohoo! Or, you know, not.

Attendees went wild for these booths. As they did the seven booths promising to make you beautiful for your big day, with just a little chemical peel. And the four booths promoting their bridal boot-camp exercise programs, because people can only love skinny brides. No one looked askance. Women with hot pink V.I.P. Bride stickers (in this case, Very Important denoting their ability to buy tickets online) cooed over tiny sausage skewers and his-and-hers personalized napkin rings.

That’s when it hit me. Brides will buy into anything. Whole posses of women, all wearing matching Candy/Brandy/Sandy’s Wedding EXTRAVAGANZAGASM t-shirts, roamed around assuring their very important friends that this was all normal. Of course, you need a lighting company to hang chandeliers from trees, darling! It’s not a bachelorette party, if you’re not saying “Pass me those anal beads, Nana.” Slap the word bridal on it and someone will think it adorable and necessary.

If I ever need another career, I’m choosing the wedding industry. Only, instead of a photographer or a pleasure purveyor, I have an altogether different plan. Just call me Grace O’Kelly, Bridal Exorcist. Because the only reason I can think of that a woman would feel the need to chemically peel off her top layer of skin, exchange vibrator tips with her future grandmother-in-law, and custom order a puce silk suit for her beloved is because she’s possessed. The wedding industry is spiking young women’s coffee with chevrom-and-mason-jar obsessed wedding spirits. It’s the only explanation!

Or, perhaps, it’s our materialistic modern sensibilities at work again. Either way, I’m thinking Ghostbusters III: With This (Cock) Ring, I Thee Wed would be a big hit.

As for GotC and I, we gorged ourselves on cake samples and left in a hurry. We may not have brought home any new ideas, but we did get some pretty sweet photo booth jazz hands. I’m totally cool being that bride who just doesn’t get the rest of it.

943648_10103321029297544_1865967332_n

Everybody who hates this extravaganza do jazz hands!

– Grace