On Wedding Planning

I cried for about two hours last night.

We finished the entire series of 6 Feet Under, which really set me off. I cried for a long time after the credits rolled up the screen, my tears soaking into Greg’s t-shirt while he held me on the couch. For anyone who hasn’t seen this show and who ever thinks big thoughts about life and death and love and everything in between, it’s a must see.

When my sobs finally subsided, Greg and I went back to talking about the wedding — something we’ve discussing a lot in the last couple of days. We’re back to being unsure of where/when/how we want to get married. I feel like we’ve already gone through a thousand incarnations of how we want to do this but every few weeks we find ourselves back at this place of trying to figure it all out.

Right now we have a beautiful space here in Chicago reserved for April 11, 2009. We both love the space and we’ve taken friends and family alike to see it and they all love it as well. We could definitely imagine getting married there, amid a glow of candles and people we love. And April 11 is my Grandmother’s birthday which is quite meaningful.

But try as we might we can’t quite seem to make it all work financially. While Greg’s parents have given us a generous sum, I’m receiving no financial support from my family, and I have no means by which to contribute myself. This has been a source of much shame and humiliation for me. I know that it’s not always this way, but typically the bride’s family takes care of the wedding, and even if we could stretch things to make the reception work with Greg’s parent’s money, I couldn’t pay for a rehearsal dinner, fund our wedding bands or back a honeymoon.

The silliest part of it is that we really do have a fair amount of money from Greg’s parents and we’re so grateful for it but the thing we come back to over and over again is that even if we could double that money or just add a few thousand to it, we’re uncomfortable spending that much on a wedding. The conundrum then is that we both get sad when talking about not having a wedding. If we’re going to get married we want all of our friends and family to be there with us.

The bottom line is that we’ve explored it all at this point. Chicago, Cape Cod, Greg’s hometown, and even the latest idea of Playa del Carmen. Over and over again we run up against walls of money, wrong dates, too much flying, not enough connection to that place, money, and on and on until I’m in tears and Greg is doing his best to reassure me that it will all work out.

All I really want is to get married in a meaningful ceremony. I’ve never wanted anything more in my life than to marry Greg Boose. And I just don’t care about all the details. I’ve never been one of those girls who cares about invitations or flowers or place settings or guest favors. I appreciate them at other people’s weddings but they aren’t important to me at all when I think about what my wedding means to me and what I want to get out of it.

Last night we started talking about having a really small ceremony that would be just for me and Greg and his immediate family. I don’t think I’d want to invite anyone at all. And that’s what makes me cry. In that kind of thing I’d only want my parents and I can’t have them. There are, of course, close friends whom I would love to be with me on my wedding day but I have so many amazing people in my life that I think it would be too hard to pick only a few. I think that not having family has enabled me to forge some incredibly close bonds with many people and I’ve come to truly view my large circle of friends as family. Not having them all there would be incredibly hard.

I’m feeling quite defeated over this whole thing. I would marry Greg this afternoon. And if it were up to me, we would just go somewhere, an island somewhere, just the two of us, and say our vows quietly to each other. Because that’s all that matters to me.

But Greg’s family matters a great deal to him. And that matters to me as well. One of the things I love so dearly about him is how much he loves his family and how close they are to each other. I do very much feel that I am marrying not only him but his big, wonderful family and I want to honor that as best I can.

Oh, I’m just writing myself in circles. I haven’t figured anything out. I don’t know what to do. I sat on the floor in the dark by my desk last night petting my old cat Lily and crying. She’s 14 years old and I’ve had her since I was sixteen. I’ve had her since both my parents were alive and I was in high school and lived at home with them. She’s the last remaining member of my immediate family. And I sat next to her last night and petted her fur and let tears drip down into translucent circles on my t-shirt and I wished more than anything in the world that my mom was here to help me figure all this out.

And then I cried because I missed my mom and because my memories of her seem so used up at this point. I have no new memories. Each memory I have is so worn out — I’ve played them over and over in my head that they’re like old videotapes that don’t even seem real anymore — and I can’t really remember what it was like to sit next to her or to talk to her as a daughter talks to her mother.

When I finally went to bed Greg just put his arms around me and told me how much he loves me and we fell asleep that way.

On a lighter note, my girlfriend Mick and her husband Michael and their three year old daughter are coming to stay with us this weekend from Los Angeles. I can’t wait to see them and to show them Chicago. They’re thinking about moving here next year when Mick graduates from the same psychology grad program at Antioch in Los Angeles that I did. If they do move here then Mick and I could go into private practice together…which just sounds heavenly.

Tonight I’m taking Greg to the opening night of the new Cirque du Soleil show, Kooza. He’s never been and I surprised him last week by getting us tickets. I can’t wait to see what Greg’s She Wrote, He Wrote post on Cirque is going to be like.

And speaking of SWHW, we have a new post up called Stop Us If We’ve Been Here Before: Brioso Vs Jack Rabbit. 




  • Andi
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    You don’t know me, but I do know how you feel. Only when I got married, my mother was alive, but she didn’t want anything to do with my wedding–no help, no planning, no money, and she didn’t even come. She is dead now, and I often wonder why she didn’t want to be a part of her daughter’s wedding when I married the most wonderful husband in the world. There will be lots of people telling you to spend tons of money on a wedding, but it is a mistake. There are many ways to save on a wedding, and your wedding should be about you and Greg and no one else. Maybe the thing to do is have an intimate ceremony with immediate family only, then have a big party to celebrate with all of your friends later. There is no need to do all of the traditional insane money dropping on a fancy catered reception, when you could have a lovely party anytime, anywhere. Especially with your entertaining skills! I spent $2000 on my wedding, and I don’t regret anything! Remember the old saying to “Plan your MARRIAGE and ATTEND your wedding.” The marriage is the important thing. Good luck to you, honey!!! I send my best wishes.

  • antonia
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Hey. My husband and I went back and forth-destination wedding/small intimate ceremony in the backyard, small church in athens…
    one day we just looked at us, having planned a big old event in Athens deposits and everything and realized we were miserable!
    so we went back to our original ‘vision’ the small intimate space with people we all knew, and 6 months later it happened, the original, first-feeling-this-is-what-we-really want kind of wedding and it was beautiful!
    So my advice is to stick with the original vision, it’s usually right. OH and 6 feet under left us in a stooper,not to mention that we watched the whole season during a particularly bad nyc winter

  • Carroll
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Wedding planning can make you crazy, that’s for sure. And of course this particular “writing myself in circles” post is leaving you wide open for all the “here’s how we did it and it worked for us” stories (to which I cannot refrain from adding my own — see below) But, in the end, as clearly you already know, it has to be all about you and Greg.
    40 years ago, my own beloved husband and I were married in my college roommate’s parents’ living room, by his (my husband’s) family minister. Her (my college roommate’s) father walked me down the “aisle” — my parents were not invited or involved in any way. Our reception consisted of tea sandwiches, petite fours and champagne in the back yard surrounded by his family, my roommate and her family (who were like surrogate parents to me) and just a very few close friends.
    It was perfect!
    For us.
    For you, the addition of a festive party or three in various venues, maybe *after* the honeymoon would allow you to feel well-celebrated, and very much-loved. Greg’s hometown for friends and extended family members there — Cape Cod or wherever that nice looking Aunt and Uncle are situated later in the summer perhaps. And maybe you could come home from a honeymoon by way of LA where one or more of your good friends from that area could fete you?
    You’ll figure it out, Claire — and when you hit upon the solution that fits for *you*, you will know immediately that it, finally, feels just right.
    Oh, and that two hour crying jag? I had that too. Only mine started the minute we walked into the motel room on our wedding night and I saw the beautiful flowers he had arranged to have waiting to surprise me. Suddenly the whole avalanche of pent-up emotions came pouring out and just *would* not stop. My poor brand new husband must really have wondered what he’d gotten himself into. But, 40 years later? It’s just another lovely memory & part of the well-woven fabric of our marriage 🙂
    You’ll be fine, Claire. The most important part of the whole thing you wrote about here? Greg’s arms around you and his shoulder to fall asleep on!

  • Amber
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Claire, your soul bathes in the cool memories of your parents and the loving radiance of Greg, your family and friends. If you imagine visiting each of us, when the time is right, and allowing us to relish in your marriage “after” the official ceremony, we would all dance, laugh, and toast the occasion. You are one of the closest concepts of a sister to me….and I will smile with such glee when I know you’ve committed to this incredible man (and his family) for life, whether my toes are aching in some fancy heels next to you, or whether I soak up the video/pics of the stunning moments from afar. There will always be an instant where all of us who love you are celebrating and holding your soul up to the light at the moment you sanctify you love with Greg. Please take heart that the party will just continue over and over again as your travelin’ feet and merry husband journey to all corners of the States “post-ceremony”. Do what is best for you, for Gregg, and your blessed union will be special no matter whether it’s a courthouse, Mexican beach, or Chicago space. I send you all of my love.

  • sarah
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    One idea you could try is to think about how you may feel about your wedding day 10 years from now. Would it be enough for both of you to marry on an island and have a grand reception after (which would save money)or does a wedding with loved ones present matter the most?
    You could have someone film your private ceremony on an island so that you could share it with everyone at a reception party….
    Just some thoughts…things will work out the way they were meant to.

  • RzDrms
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    i really love and agree with sarah’s ideas (as well as the others’). my friend and her hubby did a wedding for less than $5,000. about 20 at the wedding (immediate family only, a few nice flowers, a pretty dress, the last at seemingly no cost to you, etc.). then a very intimate dinner at a nice restaurant for maybe 40, with all the same dish, except for the vegetarian.
    they then had a reception three weeks after the wedding at their home, the home which they had blessed at the same time, and it was LOVELY. simply lovely. i truly believe had there been a video of their wedding there, it would have been 110% perfect (it was already 100% perfect).
    it’s all about you and greg though (and, it seems, his family). i’m sorry your parents can’t be there. perhaps all of your “extended family” (friends, aunts, uncles, etc.) CAN be, though, after the fact.
    btw, my friend and her hubby were MUCH more relaxed, laid back, friendly, sociable, less stressed three weeks after the wedding, and they easily socialized with attendees at the “after-reception.” it was simply blessed.
    just some (other) thoughts.

  • Posted June 27, 2008 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    I agree with the comments above especially Andi at the top. You’re going round in circles, reving your wheels but losing traction.
    So here’s what you do.
    Morning: Simple ceremony with only Greg’s nearest and a couple of intimate friends of yours.
    Afternoon: Just you and Greg doing something you want. Slow and dreamy like a hot-air balloon ride. Your private bonding ceremony.
    Evening: Catered party by pros and invite everybody. So you just rock up and enjoy basking in the well-wishes of friends and family.

  • Posted June 27, 2008 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Thank you all for weighing in with such warm words, advice and tips. And thank you for sharing personal stories too — it was all very reassuring to read.
    Andi– It made me sad to read that your mom wasn’t able to attend your wedding but I really loved your advice, “”Plan your MARRIAGE and ATTEND your wedding.” So well put. Thank you.
    Antonia — love that you’re reading my blog these days — so funny. Oof, 6 Feet Under in the winter sounds like too much. I really think that finishing that show added so much to my emotional state the other day! Thanks for sharing your wedding planning process!
    Carroll — your comments are always so reassuring and so motherly. Really. Thank you. Greg and I were talking the other night about how fun it would be to meet you.
    Amber — aw, you’re like a sister to me too, dear. Thanks for being such an amazing friend, co-worker, bridesmaid, confidant, engagement-fever buddy. Love you so much.
    Sarah — thanks for your insight — I like your idea of keeping in mind what I want this day to mean years down the road.
    Courtney — thanks for sharing the story of your friend’s wedding — it sounds like they really did in such a good way for everyone involved. I’ll have to muse on that.
    Paul — thanks for sharing your thoughts — it’s feeling more and more like we might end up doing something like you suggested. (And I’m off to read your blog as soon as I get a second to breathe — I can’t wait to check it out!!)
    Thanks again, everybody!!

  • Posted June 27, 2008 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Hey Claire, I think you are on the right track in trying to keep it small and simple. For me, I think one of the worst things of my life would be to feel trapped at my own wedding with a lot of people I barely know, and everybody is looking at me, and trying to shake my hand, and I am working my bottle of Purell like there’s no tomorrow. And thinking let’s just get the fuck out of here. Now, a smaller wedding I think I could handle, and actually have some intimate fun – which is how I always like my fun. But don’t make it too small, because if you do not invite me, I’ll never talk to you again. And if you do invite me, I’ll take some picture for you if you want, so you don’t have to hire some wedding photo dude who makes everyone stand is a row.
    Much love,

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *