Music

The Well Organized Wedding

As of July 10, I will have been married for eight years. Time really does fly when you’re having fun! Quite a bit has changed in wedding trends since then, but the basics remain the same. In the spirit of wedding season, I wanted to share a few tips that I think will make your entire wedding experience run more smoothly.

1) Cut out unnecessary extras.

The wedding industrial complex is so real. Weddings are high stakes events: you only get one and you want it to be perfect. This makes you extra vulnerable to the marketing of products you don’t need. Companies know this, and they prey on your emotions.

I am here to tell you that there are three things you should not skimp on for your wedding. Get these three on point and yours will be a party everyone remembers for decades to come:

Food. Booze. Music.

And there’s no need to complicate it, all of those things just have to be high quality and plentiful. If you feed people delicious food, provide tasty options for drinkers, and have music that makes people jump out of their chairs to dance, no one will care about anything else.

Look, no favors! All photos by the incomparable  Timothy Teague .

Look, no favors! All photos by the incomparable Timothy Teague.

We cut unnecessary extras, and we had a gorgeous wedding with zero regrets. For example: favors. Think about the last wedding you went to. Do you remember the favors? Did you keep yours (or if it was edible, did you eat it)? If you skip favors, you’ll save hundreds of dollars and a couple giant trash bags going into a landfill somewhere - not to mention the time and effort of putting them together.

No monogram, no problem! (Cake by  Robyn Loves Cake , it appears she has moved to Orlando so check her out, Florida brides! The cake was SO good.)

No monogram, no problem! (Cake by Robyn Loves Cake, it appears she has moved to Orlando so check her out, Florida brides! The cake was SO good.)

We never even considered having specialty champagne flutes and cake cutting utensils. Cake cutting takes about five minutes, and the pictures are just as beautiful without an engraved monogram. Plus, if you do drink champagne at home, it’s far more practical to have a full set of glasses on hand that go in the dishwasher so that you can pour bubbly for all your guests and clean up easily after they leave!

This one's framed in my living room. Dress and veil by  Peter Langner  via  Marina Morrison , suit by  Ralph Lauren , tie by  Thomas Pink .

This one's framed in my living room. Dress and veil by Peter Langner via Marina Morrison, suit by Ralph Lauren, tie by Thomas Pink.

We also didn’t take engagement pictures. My sister snapped a few pics of us so that we had something to put on our website, but that was it. Our rationale was this: we knew we would get beautiful photos from our wedding, and exactly how many photos of yourself displayed in your own home do you really need? I think it’s lovelyto have one or two framed wedding photos, but I much prefer being surrounded by pictures of my family and friends than glamour shots of myself!

2) Hire a day-of coordinator, or, if you can swing it, a full-on wedding planner.

When I got engaged, I strongly suggested (well, more like insisted) that we hire a wedding planner. To say that my parents, who had very generously offered to foot the bill, were not wild about this idea was an understatement. They have thrown many parties before - what could possibly be so hard? Plus, why waste the money?

It did, in fact, rain on our wedding day! My planner had the staff (enthusiastically assisted by my dad) out there cleaning off the dance floor plus a backup plan in place, and it became a funny story to tell instead of a disaster.

It did, in fact, rain on our wedding day! My planner had the staff (enthusiastically assisted by my dad) out there cleaning off the dance floor plus a backup plan in place, and it became a funny story to tell instead of a disaster.

Fast forward to the day after my wedding, and my parents are the biggest evangelists of wedding planners that you will find. Weddings, even if they are small and simple, have a lot of moving parts, and if you want to truly be present and enjoy your day, you don’t want to be the one dealing with them. 

I talk a lot about organizing being a way to buy yourself quality time with the people you love. On no day is that more true than your wedding day! And this is also a place, much like organizing, where you want to look to your friends and family for referrals, and be aware that you get what you pay for!

3) Someone is gonna get weird. Be prepared.

Again, a wedding is high stakes. Everything from the amount of money spent to the numbers of people involved to the fact that this is (ideally, anyway) a one-time only event conspires to spike everyone’s stress. So it makes sense that someone you’ve always been able to count on to behave a certain way suddenly veers off in a totally unexpected direction.

Classic suspects for this kind of behavior are brides themselves, moms, and wedding party members, but sometimes it’s a special guest star like a groom, dad, or random aunt. You won’t be able to predict who your weirdo is, but once they surface, you’ll realize this is happening to you!

It doesn’t matter who it is, or what they’re doing that’s so inexplicably off kilter - what matters is that you understand that this person’s unusual behavior is probably coming from a good place and will pass once the wedding is over. If you can, be patient, listen, and try to figure out compromises.

Engagement is a joyful time, but there’s also a lot of pressure involved. If you’re getting married soon, I wish you low stress, helpful friends and family, and the wedding of your dreams!

LMW

What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of nymag.com (Ari Seth Cohen)

Don't Tell Me to Dress My Age

As a person who is solidly in "old enough for an article like this to apply to" territory, I wholeheartedly identified with it.  I've noticed I'm less comfortable with shorter hemlines without an assist from opaque tights, but care much less about being over-dressed for an event - I love to look polished and put together, and I don't care if that makes me stand out a bit!

Photo courtesy of luvvie.org

I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual

All I can say about this book is that it should literally be required reading for every human being alive today.  Blogger/humorist/all around rockstar Luvvie Ajayi presents practical ways to be an actual better person, all served with a side of her trademark sass to help the medicine go down.

Photo courtesy of Nice Life Recording Company

Meet The Rising Musician Who's Starting A Body Confidence Revolution

Well, I know what I'm going to be streaming in the car on the way to a client appointment this afternoon!  Lizzo's comment that absolutely took my breath away relates to something I've been noodling on for awhile: "I hate when things that are good for people become trendy and people belittle their importance.  That's happened with terms like feminist, activist, and safe space."

And now for something a little different...

My dad sent the following to our little family group yesterday.  My sister, sister-in-law, husband, and I were blown away by the acuity of his observations and the quality of his writing.  I just had to share it with you!

India, Two Weeks In

When Claire and I landed in Delhi two years ago, there was one window for internet-obtained visas and nobody in that line.  Now, with greater awareness, half the plane-load is in that line, but there is still only one window.  Such is India.  The people are modernizing much faster than the state.  The state is going to have to figure out how to get out of the way or get upended.  But, the state is notoriously bureaucratic and slow to change.  It is a tinderbox.

We are told that India today, compared to twenty-five years ago when economic liberalization began, is day and night.  Only that perspective gives me hope that this country can bootstrap its way into the 21st century.  The enormity of the challenge is overwhelming (I find myself using that word a lot but will try to reserve it for the extreme cases).

The country remained agrarian through half of the twentieth century, and 60-70% of the population today still lives in the rural villages that - for the most part - have no electricity, running water, or sanitation. That's nearly a billion of the 1.4 billion population.  The cities are a mash-up of crumbling Raj, tin-roofed stalls, and air-conditioned oases for the business community and the tourists.

Using the vernacular of the day - which is pretty nearly accurate - the top 1% are up to date, most everybody else in the cities is a wannabe techie, and the rest of the country is two centuries behind.  There is precious little industrial base.  The industrial revolution never came here.  Consequently, there is precious little middle class, and those that are earning their way to that level with service jobs rarely have any opportunity to accumulate capital.  Success for most urban immigrants is a motorcycle and a smartphone.

This is Jess's nightmare.  Everything about India is crowded.  Unless you venture out early in the morning, you can't possibly walk in a straight line for more than a few steps.  The sidewalks have long since been taken over - and roofed over - as stalls. People by the thousands, dogs (which have been inbred to the point of uniformity), cows which are sacred and therefore simply worked around wherever they choose to be, and an army of green and yellow tuk-tuks (three-wheeled motorized rickshaws) vie for footing on the streets.  Add in a million motorcycles and the habit of all Indian drivers to honk endlessly, and you have a pretty good working example of chaos.

Just when you are getting a grasp on this scene, you realize that you are only dealing with half the population.  You see very few women out and about, even in the cities.  The street is the men's realm, and for many of them it is the sum total of their realm.  Few appear to be seriously employed, in a country where even a full-time job might involve 3-4 hours of actual work on a good day and always includes 144 official vacation days per year (Sundays plus 10 weeks).  And get this:  there are a million Indians reaching age 18 and entering the job market PER MONTH!

Marriages are still arranged by parents in most cases - we hear numbers from 75% to 95% of families - and it doesn't happen until the man has a job to support a family.  (see previous paragraph)   Are you picking up on a growing problem here?   Increasingly, the young Indian men are not only unemployed but unattached into their 30s.  Pre-marital sex is a huge taboo.  Porn is very popular.  Arranged marriages are not, by and large, love matches.  A disturbing proportion of Indians must not ever know what it is to fall in love.

I choose not to adopt the Hindu belief in reincarnation, for fear of coming back as a lower caste Indian.  That would be purgatory (and is regarded as such by Hindus whose goal is to earn exemption from reincarnation).  It is hard to be optimistic for these people, except . . . that they have come so far in the last twenty-five years.

Visitors can't ignore the obvious, but they can escape it.  The top-end hotels - in many cases, former palaces of the maharajas who ruled over 100 separate feudal fiefdoms until the British decided to create India - are truly splendid.  Air conditioned sedans ferry the rich through the rivers of local humanity.  Line-jumping is part of the culture, and the tourist industry knows how to do it for their paying clients.  Being coddled is nice, but being the modern-day incarnation of colonialism and privilege is scary.

There is nothing the tourist industry can do about the polluted air and rivers, so they simply deny the issues.   We have now been in the cities and countryside across a huge swath of northern India, and we have yet to see a spot of blue sky through the gray haze.  You can smell it and feel it; you instinctively want to struggle to the surface to gasp fresh air as when deep in a pool.  We are surprised not to hear more coughing.  Lung disease must be a lingering future epidemic.

The tour guides swear the river water is pure, but they don't drink it.  The rivers drain from the Himalayas and serve as sewers across vast plains, and the accumulation of run-off during the heavy rains is beyond our ken.  We have seen the high water marks and find them hard to believe:  during the monsoon, the rivers rise 30-50 feet and spread to 25-30 kilometers wide in some places.  The Hindu practice of cremation and deposit of ashes in the rivers doesn't help.

There are the usual tourist destinations: temples, forts, palaces, shrines, mausoleums, monasteries, folk music and dance venues.  We allow ourselves to be herded with only a little grumbling.  Frankly, those things are hardly worth talking about.   They are not the story.   You come here to see a significant chunk of the world's population trying to find its way in the modern world, against enormous (dare I say overwhelming?) odds.

-Marshall Milligan

 

Weekly Peek

We were sure Super Bowl City spelled impending doom... Photo courtesy of 7x7.com

#SB50

So, there was this little thing called the Super Bowl that came to San Francisco recently.  I, like many locals, was generally grumpy about the whole thing, and not particularly excited about the hordes of revelers and accompanying traffic that would invade the city.  However, I have to admit that as I meandered my way through Super Bowl City last Friday to meet some girlfriends for lunch (near Embarcadero BART is our easiest mutual meeting point), I kind of got caught up in the excitement of it all.  I hope everyone who came to our fair city had a great time and took some of the San Francisco free spirit home with them when they left!

Photo courtesy of dispatch.com

PUPPIES!

Plus, you guys, there was a live Puppy Bowl stadium set up outside the Ferry Building!  I think I managed to stop by three times: both before and after said girls' lunch, and then again when I dragged my husband downtown the following day.  There's seriously nothing better than puppies to perk you up, especially since the volunteers would periodically pick them up and take them around to the crowd for pets and love.  There were tons of people all smooshed up close watching the puppies, and no pushing or shoving at all because everyone was literally in the enthrall of puppy magic!

Admittedly crappy cell phone pic, but look how close we were!

Nostalgia Trip

Friends of ours invited us to a Dave Matthews Band concert last Thursday.  Now, I had never been to a DMB concert before, but the Live at Red Rocks album was the soundtrack of my high school years.  Of course we had to go!  The venue was pretty small so even though we found a spot to stand at the back, we had a pretty great view of Dave and the band.  The man looks like he has not aged at all and is an amazing live performer.  

Photo courtesy of cooksillustrated.com

Party Go-to

We usually don't do anything major for the Super Bowl itself, but friends invited us over for a casual afternoon at their house with another couple and their kids.  There were 3 little ones total, which kept our attention even when the Super Bowl itself was a bit of a snooze.  The hostess had all the food covered, so I brought a batch of classic sugar cookies from the Cooks Illustrated The New Best Recipe cookbook.  The book was given to us for our wedding by one of my beloved high school teachers (thank you Mr. and Mrs. Meyer!) and every single thing I've tried from it has been excellent.  This particular recipe is a no-fail: there are no special skills required, they take about half an hour start to finish, and if you ever bake you likely already have all the ingredients in your kitchen.  

Rave Review: Table + Teaspoon

Remember how I discussed in this post how it’s totally ok to outsource the tasks you hate or don’t have time for?  I followed my own advice and hired my friend Liz Curtis of Table + Teaspoon to plan our anniversary party.

2015 marks 10 years as a couple and 5 years married for my husband and me, and we thought that was worth celebrating!  Our ideas were vague: gather our closest friends, fill everyone up with delicious food and drink, perhaps have a little live music.  We didn’t want to go crazy – no need to re-create our fabulous wedding that was just 5 years ago – but we wanted the event to reflect our style, both aesthetic and culinary.

Invitation from Paperless Post

This may sound strange coming from someone who is very organized, but I rather loathe event planning.   There always seem to be too many moving parts, and I always feel like I’m going to forget something.  That, and I’m terribly lacking in creativity when it comes to décor!  So we gave Liz free reign over everything – and were so glad we did!

Photo courtesy of Table + Teaspoon

From the get-go, Liz was amazing to work with.  She immediately understood what we were going for in our initial conversation, responded quickly to all our questions, and took care of every detail.  All we had to do was select the invitation from her pre-curated list of options, create a seating chart, and write the check. She did ask us to pick the dessert too… such a tough task!

Photo courtesy of Table + Teaspoon

I couldn’t have imagined a more lovely party, and it felt just like us.  A swing trio played as our guests arrived and were served champagne and delicious bites (everyone was loving the mini lobster rolls), and then we all sat down to a feast at one long table decorated in a preppy style that was perfect for us and still gave a touch of the fall season.  The wine flowed, everyone wanted more of the bourbon vanilla milkshakes that were served for dessert, and after a whiskey tasting we had to shoo everyone out the door so the staff could clean up! 

Photo courtesy of Table + Teaspoon

Liz herself was there the entire time through set-up, the event, and clean-up, and every person she hired was so kind and welcoming to us.  She found excellent vendors, from the venue to the band to the caterer, and coordinated everything seamlessly.  If anything went wrong, we never knew.

If you're planning a party, you owe it to yourself to call Liz at Table + Teaspoon.  She puts a beautiful, personal touch on everything and each event she creates is unique.  Check out her blog for more proof of her exquisite taste and creativity!

LMW