Melvin, the Security Guard: The Joys and Perils of Reception Hall Shopping

There comes a point while looking at reception halls when you wonder how and at what moment did someone hear or think they heard the call to join the wedding industry. For most I’m sure it really is something they enjoy doing. I imagine they often find beauty and joy personified in the giddy, wide-eyed, batting-eyelashes brides. I have met such people along our wedding-planning journey and I’d be lying if I said they didn’t make me feel special, beautiful and mildly idolized. I mean if a stranger is just beaming at you, their face aglow with iconoclastic admiration, something good just has to be going on right? But then there are those people who come right out of some cliché jail scene; the ones where the large, balding guard sits behind a wobbly, coffee-stained desk, his eyes closed and crossed arms resting on his stomach. Sometimes there’s a cigar butt hanging from his mouth and others there’s only a string of drool. We had just such a close encounter recently, when a man we’ll call Melvin introduced us to the anti-joys of reception hall shopping. To be fair, he wasn’t employed solely to work in the wedding industry but just occasionally asked to step in when no one else is around. He was a man of few words, who told us which door to go through and watched as we struggled to enter an obviously locked room. The oddity is that I expected a smile from him, something to show a personal, slightly sadistic enjoyment at another’s silly attempt at the impossible; he kept his mouth closed and revealed nothing to us but a blank stare. Later, a woman who was too busy to help, asked Melvin to open the door for us – which oddly wasn’t the door he initially told us to go to. He walked over, various chains, coins and keys clinking in his pockets, and unlocked the door. Like St. Nick in that poem – the one whose length is no longer suitable for today’s ADHD world – he said not a word and wiping a finger under his nose, returned to his desk.

Again to be fair, he wasn’t hired to be a people person. He seemed to be something of a night watchman filling in for daytime security. We were able to walk around ourselves just fine – the space really was beautiful – and the wedding coordinator who oddly doesn’t work Saturday mornings or afternoons had already emailed us all of the necessary business information. Melvin wasn’t hired to help us but he did, in his own way, and although I liked the place, I’m now hesitant to drop several grand on it. I have to wonder if I’m being unfair. Do I take this moment into consideration? Maybe I should give the wedding coordinator a chance to strut her stuff? I feel as if I need to define quality vs. boo-boos, or what my boss likes to call, “isolated incidents.” What do you think – did Melvin foreshadow a crash and burn wedding or was it inconsequential?

~ Bride


Deadlines: Crush or Be Crushed

Deadlines. Booo!

Talk to any wedded couple, and they’ll tell you that it’s important to make progress on wedding planning decisions. Time is of the essence, of course, and the last thing anyone wants is a bride scrambling to tie up loose ends on her big day.

Unfortunately, after what I would consider a pretty great start in hunting down the perfect reception location, we’ve lost some steam. I can’t tell you the cause, only because I don’t know it. So far we’ve found two reception halls we really like, but since then, it seems we’ve been a bit lax. It’s surprising, too. In May, picking a reception hall by the end of July seemed like an easy task.

Today is August 7. Apparently, not so easy.

Of course, I’m speaking in generalities, as a guy is wont to do. Specifically, I don’t have the slightest game plan figured out for what it is we need to do, and when we need to do it by. I’m sure there are a few glossy wedding magazines that share such juicy tidbits, but I’ve been of the disposition that once the big domino (the reception hall) falls, we’ll be able to knock over the others (invitations, flowers, music) in quick succession. Call it wishful thinking, but I honestly believe we’ll catch a second wind once the stress of locking in a great reception locale has passed.

And believe me – I’m game for hitting the deadlines. Conventional “best-bro” advice says to take a back seat in planning and let the little lady handle it just the way she wants. I won’t be hijacking the search for a dress or anything, but I’m definitely happy – and excited – to help (in other areas, of course) with planning and keeping on track.

Wow, did I just say that?

~ Groom

I consider myself a well-seasoned meet-that-deadline veteran. I’ve taken on the brunt of them with minimal groans and eyelid spasms. But now I have one that I’ve set, one that is not for a job, a class, a long-dreamed-of goal, or freelance work, and I tell you, it’s a whole different ballgame. First of all, this deadline feels soft and pliable. I can push it off to the side and it still looks as pretty and simple as the flowers I have to order to meet it. I’ve started wondering if I should be reading more into my lackluster drive to pummel this deadline into the ground. It’s not that I don’t want to plan a wedding, I do. It’s not that I don’t want to marry the man I live with – I want that more than anything. It’s just, at the end of the day, when I’ve met work deadlines, studied for the GRE and stuck to my daily commitment to write fiction, I find that I’m tired and that couch just looks so wonderful! Planning a wedding is something I can only seem to be excited about on the weekend, usually Sunday morning, when I can be in frame of mind to flip have-to’s to want-to’s. I recently discovered a term called the anti-bride; they want to get married but don’t want to have a wedding. I thought I might be falling into that but after I thought about it, I realized I really do want to have a wedding and a marriage. I just want to sleep and write too. What do you think? Is it possible to have a life and plan a wedding? If so, how? If you know, tell me!!! I could use the help.

~ Bride

Top Ten Songs Not to Play At Your Wedding

The Top Ten Worst Wedding Songs

Not playing songs like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Pink Floyd’s…well… anything at your wedding are common sense, folks. It’s not that they’re not great tunes, but you can’t dance to The Wall and you don’t want to have paramedics on stand-by when your parents try to slam dance. (Ah, those were the days. 90’s, you are missed!) With that in mind, either because they’re currently popular or are just plain fun, there are some songs that fall into the maybe-we-could-play-this category. The list below is comprised of such songs and although some may be so much fun to sing in your car or provide great insight at 3 a.m., ask yourself how would you feel watching your grandmother on the dance floor and getting her groove on?

1. Butterfly Kisses – Bob Carlise

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, lots of people play this song for the Father-Daughter dance. Yes, that’s true and also one of the reasons not to use it.*

2. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2

Hi, newlywed, my love-of-this-minute. Hear this song? Yeah, it’s actually my reality-television-worthy way of saying you should have fought for that prenup.

3. You Can’t Always Get What You Want – Rolling Stones

Hi there again, newlywed. Hear this song? I had them play it for me, to convince me to stay with you. Let’s just hope the lyrics stick around after the champagne runs out.

4. Creep – Radiohead

Yeah, leave this one on your “Me, Blue” playlist.

5. Every Breath You Take – The Police

Scene: Groom and Bride dancing together at their wedding

Groom: I have a surprise for you!

Bride: What?

Groom: I know about your Scooby Doo obsession.

Bride: What?!

Groom: Well… (Reaches behind head and pulls off mask) Jinkies, it’s me your stalker!

Bride screams, faints. Zoom in on maniacally laughing groom.

Fade to black.

6. Smack My Bitch Up – Prodigy

Bet you thought all that cookware on our registry was going into the kitchen, didn’t you?

7.  Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-A-lot

We really want our wedding to have that karaoke/high-school dance/drunken early-90’s’s themed party feel. Enjoy! Next up, Ice Ice Ice Baby and No Scrubs. RIP Left Eye!

8. You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC

Umm…we thought permanent emotional and mental scarring would be the perfect favor to give our parents, family and friends.

9. Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye

No, we really think it’s the perfect favor. Seriously.

10. Whistle – Flo Rida

Yeah, this song’s on iTunes best-sellers list. I’ll play it at my wedding and show I’m all up on what’s in. I’ll just bust my awesome moves and my Grandma will never notice the chorus starts with “can you blow my whistle baby?” Even if she hears it, she’ll never know. The double entendre is so complex.

~ Bride


We’ve all heard our share at wedding receptions. Everything seems to be going well until the DJ makes a dreaded introduction and the speakers start churning out a funk that sends the guests to the bathroom and the bar. Nothing smokes out the party atmosphere faster than tuneage that’s the equivalent of an Alabama roadkill buffet. Here’s my list of songs that are on the landmine list when it comes to our reception; and yes, I’ve heard each of these songs at a wedding:

  1. Escape (The Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes
    One word – “ouch.” This crap-tastic hit(?) from 1980 tells the shallow, cliché story of a couple coincidentally reuniting over their mutual search for extra-marital romance in the Personals section of the newspaper. “If you like Pina Coladas…” don’t come to our wedding, because they won’t be there.
  2. My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
    This song goes on… and on… and on. Titanic hit the theatres when I was in high school, and I saw enough misty-eyed teenage-girl longing for DiCaprio-style romance to last a slow voyage across the Atlantic.
  3. The Safety Dance – Men Without Hats
    This song isn’t funny or quirky. It’s just stupid. So don’t play it.
  4. Anything by Styx
    Yes, I know Styx is popular with some people, and that Dennis DeYoung is from Chicago. I’d still rather be mauled by rabid bears than hear “Come Sail Away.” If you ask me, the only “grand illusion” was the quality of this band’s music. I’m officially sending Mr. Roboto away for reprogramming. Blech.
  5. I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) – Meatloaf
    Something I won’t be doing? Playing this song.
  6. Achy Breaky Heart – Billy Ray Cyrus
    No comment.
  7. Rock ‘N Roll Part II – Gary Glitter
    This isn’t Madison Square Garden or Rupp Arena. Gary Glitter will be sitting a few plays out at our wedding.
  8. Piano Man – Billy Joel
    I respect Billy Joel as an artist, I just don’t care for his music that much. Besides, this song is vastly overplayed. Again, I’m fine with Mr. Joel:  just not this tune.
  9. You Give Love A Bad Name – Bon Jovi
    At a wedding? Ummm… no.
  10. Living On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
    Okay, so I’m a jerk for rounding out this list with two songs from the same artist. And yes, Bon Jovi was HUGE when I was a little kid. I just feel like we could all leave the stonewashed jeans and Ocean Pacific gear in the closet where we put them 25 years ago.

~ Groom

Love vs. Like – A Fight to the Finish

There are guys I thought I loved but didn’t, ones I thought I didn’t like but did, and ones that didn’t care about me but that I cared so much about I pretended to be stupid so they could feel smart. Of course this wisdom only comes after the fact, when the relationship has melted and run off down the sewer where we discard the good that has become painful and the bad that is ugly but annoyingly illuminating; or at least that’s what we think we do. But here’s the thing I’ve discovered; we never really leave any relationship behind us; we never move on to someone else completely cured of our experience; any attempt we make to hide what the person before didn’t like is fruitless; instead we learn to show our bruises to someone, compare our heart-shaped scars, note our similarities and differences and act according to our feelings. Now I need to insert a point of clarity here – each person in a relationship needs to act according to their real feelings (intuition included) and not the ones they’ve created or embedded into the other person. If you’ve done this, do not – I repeat, do not – beat yourself up! I’ve gotten stuck here many times. I’ve been that person who created reasons why it was okay this other person didn’t call me in X amount of days, or that he didn’t really mean it when he made those racist/sexist comments – he just has a terrible sense of humor that, after some time, I can cure him of. Being real, truthful, honest is the most difficult part in relationships. We hide behind the lies and excuses we say or create to justify staying. Now here’s another point of clarity I need to hit home; you can sincerely love someone and hurt them and they can sincerely love you and hurt you. The severity of the circumstances surrounding the hurt is something only the inflicted can judge and determine if it falls under the he/she’s made a mistake but they’re still a good, kind person category or if it’s one of the, cannot be forgiven to the extent it can be figuratively forgotten variety. (I’ve always thought the saying forgive and forget should be forgive and figuratively forget because we can’t truly forget a hurt unless we have some sort of memory impairment and the literal meaning caused me to spend too much time wondering if remembering a hurt is some sort of sign that I shouldn’t be with this person) So where does this leave like vs. love? What’s the difference? Can you have one without the other?

For me, like is finding someone attractive and enjoying their company enough to want to spend time with them; love is like plus knowing their idiosyncracies, meeting their uglies (bad moods, reactions, etc.) and feeling that all that stuff doesn’t make a difference; love without like is highly-combustible passion. When do you know you’re feeling like, love or passion? Now I hate this answer and I’m really hoping during this blog experience I gain some sagacious wisdom into this area of how do you know you love someone but for right now it’s this – you just know; you are confident there’s no delusion involved. I knew I liked my fiance on our first pre-date (yes, it was a pre-date) and I knew I loved him just four months in while we were out walking my parent’s dogs. I couldn’t tell you when I knew I wanted to marry him but at some point I did and through all of the fights and uglies over the last seven years, the feeling’s survived. Like doesn’t win over love and love doesn’t win over like – rather they’re a tag-team against life’s problems.

 ~ Bride


Ever notice that “love” is a four-letter word? Thankfully, not that kind of four-letter word.

I can’t pretend to argue that I know what love is better (or worse) than the next lucky fellow. That dude Bill Shakespeare had some words on it – a few of them pretty, more than a few a bit baudy – and he didn’t waste time with any relationship or commitment phobias. Suffice it to say, I don’t think I have those, either.

But what I do know is this: the love that I know – the love that I value – isn’t the flowery type or the fine-dining kind. It isn’t movie romance or infatuation on the stage. The love that I value is the kind that you get to come home to. The kind that lets you gripe about a bad day and offers comfort on a worse one. The kind that knows what’s best for you, even when you don’t want to admit it. The kind that counters a foul mood with compassion, heals sadness with laughter, weathers anger with patience, and forgives, forgives, forgives.

Nothing can beat that, and I think there’s something to be said for it.

To me, it’s the B-E-S-T.

~ Groom

Busting Guts & Building Guns

It’s official:  yours truly has started on a pre-wedding exercise regimen. And not just any regimen, mind you. This is one that needs to work. One with a timeline. One that I’ll actually have to stick to.


Yes, I’m trading in my couple of Hamm’s or PBRs with dinner each night for a pair of gym shoes and an early-morning trip six days a week to the fitness center at Moraine Valley Community College. So far, the results are mixed. I like the folks at the fitness center (shout-out to Ewan, Scottish expat and personal trainer extraordinaire) and I’ve noticed a difference in muscle mass, but it seems the spare tire and accompanying gut just won’t budge. I’ve plateaued after losing about 10 pounds, and any way you cut it, cardio work just plain sucks.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not gullible or desperate enough to jump on the latest diet fad or ingest the newest ancient Chinese herbal concoction aimed at shedding the extra weight. But I’ve got to admit, those grueling sessions on the cross-trainer every morning definitely give me time to wonder:  isn’t there an easier way? Dear reader, your thoughts, tips, and responses encouraged.

As for now, let’s all raise a glass to poor souls valiantly sticking it out on the quest to get in better shape.

Just make sure it’s filled with water.

~ Groom

One of the greatest truths about my body that I’ve discovered is that you can be a vegan and a marathoner for over ten years and still have cellulite. From this I’ve inferred two things; 1) there is absolutely nothing except surgery that will get rid of it and 2) my cellulite really is just as much a part of my body as an arm or leg and it’s time I accepted it.

For anyone who’s about to get married or thinks it’s a possibility at some point, I want to let you know that I’ve come across a few hidden glitches mixed in among all the exciting-preparations-for-the happiest-day-of-your-life. Yes, it’s a time to prepare for a life partnership but it’s also when you start checking in on yourself, noting all those things (physical, mental and emotional) that are okay but not where you’d like them. So now you have to make time for enough appointments to address them before the most expensive deadline you’ve ever had arrives. First, I want to be clear that I don’t think I’m going to walk down that aisle a shining beacon of perfection. All I want is to feel happy and healthy and yes, call me vain if you must, but on my wedding day I want to look, well, good. So, tell me; how do I convince my arms, shoulders and stomach that even though they didn’t really change much over the course of training for five marathons that now, as I’m engaged, it’s time to pick up the slack and grow or shrink as fast as when Alice ate those little cakes after falling down one heck of a rabbit hole? I don’t know the answer but I’ve started looking for it; I make it to LA Fitness a few times a week, unroll the yoga mat twice a week and manage to fit in a couple P90X sessions. I’ve kept up the chocolate-eating but switched in a few more salads. There’s supposedly food out there that when eaten for X amount of time will turn you into a radiant ball of light but I don’t know what it is and all I really want anyway is to have the equivalent glow of a night-lite. I don’t believe in diets; I believe in habits. I know that if I work out four to five times a week and repeat, then I can walk down that aisle one happy, healthy bride.

~ Bride

Engaged & Clueless

We’re getting married. On the whole, not an unusual affair but one that is for us and remains indisputably worthy of some formality, heartfelt sentiments, and many, many moments of indecision that all seem to be related to answering the question of what defines us? Which flavor of cake best showcases our taste? Are we trying to showcase an “us” or rather separating things into the categories of you pick this and I’ll pick that; all done in the hope of displaying an equality of sorts so to appear as solid and stable of a couple as possible. But here’s the thing – we don’t have the slightest clue what we’re doing, what to expect, or what we want this day that feels more mythical than real to be. So we’re writing about it. Separately. There’s the groom’s views and the bride’s views. Both will pop-up here of course, and maybe along the way to this fantastical day that, seeing how its in the summer of 2013 may not happen at all if those pesky Mayans got their calendar right, we’ll figure out what’s important to us, what’s not and what really is the point of it all. Some posts will elaborate on favors and flowers while others will fall into exploring love and marriage and the importance and meaning of forever. We’ll be here until the big day comes and then some. No doubt posting some after-the-big-day pics and thoughts. Who knows what this crazy ride will bring us but if you’re reading this and you’re a bride or groom or just a bride or groom-in-training, know that when we get good wedding tips we’ll be sharing them aplenty.

Take care and stay calm,

Bride & Groom