Aug 1, 2006

Losing Joy in a Mountain of Details


Last weekend Larry and I met with our wedding planner group: Martin, Debbie and Doug. As reported, we did a read-through of our service, recited our vows, and proceeded to have our first “Freak Out” Moment. It was a weekend to feel freaked out. Not just because of the vows, or because we were in Woodland Hills where it was 119 degrees the day before. The fact we still didn’t have our wedding location was the biggest stress.

But I was carrying high hopes for a certain church, because I’d been a member there for many years, I knew the pastor. When I emailed him he replied they’d love to have us, as long as the admin guy could clear up the details. But in five business days I’d sent three emails, made four calls, left two “live” messages with the receptionist. And no one called me back.

Finally I stopped by the church right before our planning meeting and asked – no, begged – the youth pastor to have someone call me. Tell me anything. Even “no” would put me out of my misery. He nodded sympathetically … perhaps he had also experienced speed and accuracy of communication over there. Still, I left with high hopes to our planning meeting. At this point, the joint was the only viable option we had.

It’s hard to plan a wedding at a location you’re not sure you’re even going to get. Even harder when the planners have never seen it. Doug, Debbie, Martin hadn’t. Only Larry had, and only for a couple minutes. And Larry wasn’t into wedding planning, anyway. “You’re the girl,” he said, the last time his nonparticipation irked me. “The wedding details are more important to the woman. You make the choices of what you want. And I’ll make it happen.”

Okay, I could truck with that. Larry was planning the entire honeymoon and post-reception barbecue; I could do the wedding and reception. Yeah, we were planning a ceremony, a simple reception, then continue with an evening barbecue at Doug’s. That’s how ambitious we were. It kind of evolved that way when we realized we couldn’t do a ceremony in the back yard. Then it was: ceremony at a church, reception in back yard. Then we realized we’d still have 120 people in a back yard. So we figured, ceremony AND reception at a church. Barbecue in the back yard for the die-hard partiers

Now I understand why they say to plan these things well in advance. It’s not just reserving space. It’s allowing time for the foolish ideas to die on the battlefield of reality.

So here we were at Doug’s. We’d just read through the ceremony, and now we’d walk through the reception … at a location we are still not sure we’ll get, and a space no one really knew except me. Still Doug decided to take over as band leader

Okaaaayee,” he said in his thick Ohio accent with the fleeaaaht Veeeaaowals.

Doug: Okeeeay, so you’re gonna …see. Alriiieeet. So … (he adjusted himself in his beanbag chair. Yyer gonna walk out and teeaake yer pictures, righeet? Ya gatta allleeow at least 45 minutes for phoe-toes.

Larry: We aren’t going to take 45 minutes for pictures.
Susan: We’re going to take as many ahead of time as we can.
Doug: Well ya still gatta get the feeamilies togetherrr” Doug reminded us in case we forgot we had families.
Larry: I don’t want that “everyone in ascending order, then descending order” thing.

Doug: Okay so yer gonna leave and get pictures taken and the guests are gonna go where, the peahteeyo?
Susan: No, we’re talking pictures in the patio.
Doug: Well they can go where the cake and refreshments aaahrre.
Susan: That is also on the patio. We’re going to get the last pictures of us on one end of the patio while the food is being set up on the other end.
Doug: Great idea! What’re yer guests gonna do while you’re taking pictures? Give ‘em cake?
Debbie: We can’t give them cake before they cut the cake.
Doug: Then give them refreshments other than cake.
Susan: The refreshments are with the cake, on the patio, where we are taking pictures
Doug: that’s a bad idea.
Susan: You just said it was a good idea!

It was starting to feel like that Guard scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Doug was trying to help us, but I wasn’t appreciating his attention to detail. In fact it was making me nuts. I wrote on my notebook and pushed it over to Larry:

MAKE HIM STOP TALKING.

Larry didn’t say anything. So Doug kept going: All about where to put the cake, how to cut the cake, when to cut the cake, where to situate the bride and groom, etc. etc.

Doug: Okay so then they’re going to announce you and you’re going to come out.
Susan: Wait, coming out of where? The guests are going to COME IN to the patio where we already ARE.
Doug: You can’t do that. We’ll have to sneak you out, let them in, and then bring you back. We’ll announce you and then you do your dance.
Larry: (nervously) We’re doing a dance?
Doug: If you’re going to have the first dance, you gotta do the dance now.
Larry: Why do we have to do the dance now? I thought we were dancing at the barbecue.
Doug: Well fun dancing for everyone. But if you want the reception to feel complete, people are going to expect the First Couples Dance.
Larry: They won’t leave until we dance?
Debbie: Look, you guys can do whatever you want.
Larry: No First Dance. Pretend we’re Baptist.

Doug: Well do you want to have the toasts and speeches now?
Larry: We’re not having speeches.
Susan: Larry, that was the one thing you said you wanted: for it to feel like a community event, and give people a chance to share.
Larry: OK for a best man’s Toast, but I don’t want a bunch of people blabbing on and on.
Susan: So when it’s at the barbecue it’s “sharing,” but at the reception it’s “blabbing.”
Larry: That’s not what I meant.

Doug interrupted us with more details. Where are we going to have the receiving line? He’d suggest the receiving line in a section of the space he’d just suggested putting up the tables. Or have the bride and groom cut the cake before they were introduced.

I wrote on my notebook again: MOVE ON and showed it to Larry.

Larry said nothing. Why wasn’t he saying anything to Doug? Was he too chicken to say it? Or did he think I was being bitchy and I needed to get over myself? Or was he thinking it would just go away? Because it wasn’t.

Doug: What kieend of ceeeake are ya gonna get? Are ya gonna have the cake delivered on Friday or Saturday?
Susan: We don’t know yet.
Doug: Because you don’t want them to deliver on Saturday if they don’t deliver on Saturday.
Susan: That kind of goes without saying.
Doug: Now you’re gonna have to figure
out if the cake will fit in the refrigerator. Have you seen their refrigerator?
Susan: WHY ARE WE GOING THROUGH A VIRTUAL TOUR OF A REFRIGERATOR IN A KITCHEN OF A LOCATION WE DON’T EVEN KNOW IF WE ARE GOING TO GET?

I didn’t actually say that. Instead I got up and went to the kitchen, poured myself a stiff drink of Fresca, came back and announced: You guys are so wonderful, thank you so much. I think I’ve reached my limit on details. I think it’s best I figure this out in my mind and then let you know.

Doug: Well, we're done. We’re done.

We were done. On top of the Vows and the jitters that brought, we’d just walked through a cobweb of details and tried to visualize them happening in a location we didn’t even know we could get.

We stood up. Debbie gave me a hug. “Susan you guys can do whatever you want, OK?”

So when Larry and I were standing out in the steam-iron hot night, we had more than just the vows on our mind. We also had the sea of details.

Susan: Next time I write "Make Doug Stop Talking" and "MOVE ON" on my notebook, I mean it. If anyone's goign to tell him to be quiet, it should be the guy.
Larry: Sorry I only saw "MOVE ON."
Susan: I didn't want you to have to read my mind.
Larry: I just want it to be simple. But I realize even the simplest thing isn’t simple.
Susan: I know it’s frustrating. But there are details we can’t avoid.
Larry: I just don’t want to lose the joy of it.
Susan: Well, it might get buried under the details for a while, but it’ll be there.

He gave me a hug. I felt calmer already.

My married friends would be laughing hard right about now. The “joy of it” had a lot more levels of Lost or Buried ahead of us.

We had still had four weeks before the wedding.
Only four weeks to plan. A whole four more weeks of stress.
Depends on how you look at it.


The "Make Sure He doesn't Leave" Scene from Monty Python & The Holy Grail

FATHER: Guards! Make sure the Prince doesn't leave this room until I come and get him.
GUARD : Not to leave the room even if you come and get him.
FATHER: No, no. Until I come and get him.
GUARD : Until you come and get him, we're not to enter the room.
FATHER: No, no. No. You stay in the room and make sure he doesn't leave.
GUARD : We don't need to do anything apart from just stop him entering the room.
FATHER: No, no. Leaving the room.
GUARD : Leaving the room. Yes.
FATHER: All right?
GUARD : Right.
FATHER: Right.
GUARD : Can he leave the room with us?
FATHER: No, no. No. You just keep him in here and make sure he--
GUARD : Oh, yes. We'll keep him in here, obviously, but if he had to leave --- FATHER: No, no, no, no. Just keep him in here--
GUARD : Until you or anyone else--
FATHER: No, not anyone else. Just me.
GUARD : Just you.
FATHER: Get back.
GUARD : Get back.
FATHER: All right?
GUARD : Right. No problems.
FATHER: Where are you going?
GUARD : We're coming with you.

1 comment:

Elleann said...

It's like a nightmare at this point, ain't it? Enough to make you almost lose sight of what it's all about. If this wasn't your first wedding, I'd suggest you do what a couple of friends of mine did (his second, her third, so it's more understandable!)

One Sunday morning, he, she, his two teenage kids, her one teenage kid and a minister they both liked and respected simply headed up onto the mountain, to a pre-selected spot, where they exchanged vows in the coolness of a wooded grove. Then they came back down and had open house for a long, happy, boozy lunch for the extended family - all the relatives. A week later, they had an open house event to which family and friends were invited to celebrate the marriage - and all the pictures from the week before were there - framed, loose, whatever, so they could see a bit of the ceremony as it were.

But I know first ever weddings are a bit different from that! :-)

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