Archive for the ‘Helpful Wedding Planning Tips’ Category

Picture Posts, Picture Posts, Lots of Fun With Picture Posts

October 23, 2008

No time to blog today, I’m afraid. As proof, I even have a note from my wedding planner (me):

(Admittedly, some of the things on that list are “spa appointment,” and “manicure/pedicure.” Not exactly brain surgery, but still, gotta get done.)

These things aren’t going to ribbon themselves. (Luckily, thanks to wonderful little elves named L and K these puppies are in fact delivering themselves as far as I’m concerned.):

And these things aren’t going to thaw and stuff themselves into tasty little packages:

48 hours left. Unbelievable.

We Venture Into the Belly of the Beast for Round Three

October 7, 2008

There is a certain euphoric and/or contented look on the face of a man about to be handed a marriage license that will send him on his way to a lifetime of wedded bliss. And there is a certain look on the face of a man who has been forced to get that marriage license from the District of Columbia in a three-month-and-counting, at-times-extralegal process:

Yep, we took lunch hour Number Three today in the hopes that we would actually get our marriage license. (For the time being, I’ve shelved my quest for my $10. Temporarily, I assure you. But my main goal until the wedding is getting the document itself into my tiny clenched fist.) Long story short: we got the license. At least twice during today’s field trip to the Marriage Bureau, our kindly (and genuinely trying to be helpful) helper said, “I couldn’t believe it; it was right after y’all left the other day that we found out the law had changed!” And my fiancé and I just kept exchanging glances that loosely translated to: “Yes, it was right after we left because a city reporter called to find out why you were demanding documentation for a test no longer required by law.” But we stayed silent. The Future Mr. and Mrs. Bridal Bird, smiling politely.

Whilst we were in hellthe Marriage Bureau, they played four songs:

1. “Fire and Rain,” James Taylor – Maudlin tune about Taylor’s own substance abuse and the suicide of a former acquaintance. (Not a girlfriend’s plane crash as folklore would have us believe.) 
Suitability for a marriage license office: -1

2. “If I Can’t Have You,” Yvonne Elliman – Eh, not a bad choice. Obsessive maybe. But could work.  
Suitability for a marriage license office: +1

3. “Viva La Vida,” Coldplay – Are they using this to ascertain if couples are secretly gay, thus preventing them from marrying?
Suitability for a marriage license office: 0

4. “You’re In My Heart,” Rod Stewart – Yes, the song from So I Married an Axe Murderer. Awesome. Someone at the D.C. Marriage Bureau has a sense of humor.
Suitability for a marriage license office: +15

I’ll let Rod sing us out, because seriously, the lyrics to this song are pretty cool when you’re about to get married in 17 days.

The One Where I Will Beat the D.C. Marriage Bureau

October 6, 2008


Longtime readers of the Bird know that I tend not to take a lot of garbage from government entities. For the newcomers, I once got the D.C. Police Department to tow our truck back to our house after parking enforcement erroneously towed it. So it was with great zeal this morning that I added “make someone at the Marriage Bureau cry” to my wedding to-do list in flowery script. Why is that? Grab some popcorn. Settle in. This one is worth the length. Trust me. And spoiler alert: by the end you will likely want to become a Libertarian, swear off marriage in our fair city, or strangle someone. You will come to know that those are the three stages of D.C. government-imposed wedding grief. 

July 15
I call the Marriage Bureau and ascertain that in order to get the license that will usher us into wedded bliss, we will need to get blood tests for syphilis. You remember that, because I wrote about it. We bring our paperwork saying we’re syphilis-free and $10 per person to get the paperwork converted to the “official” blue index card, to the D.C. government Serology Lab. Then we go next door to the Bureau to get the license. I specifically ask the person on the phone how long those tests are valid, explaining that we will likely get them done but then not be able to come get them authorized and get the license for a while because I will be in North Carolina campaigning. “When’s your wedding?” the person at the Marriage Bureau asks me. I tell her Oct. 25. “You’ll be fine,” she said. 

 

 

  No, actually we won’t be. Read on.
  
July 18
I go get my blood test. I detest giving blood. It is awful as always. Test results are mailed to me on a plain piece of paper.

Aug. 5
Fiancé goes and gets his blood test. Test results are handed to him by his doctor on one of the official blue index cards issued by D.C.’s Serology Lab. His doctor tells him that he’s one of the few authorized to directly give the card to patients. 

Sept. 5
Because I am home from the campaign trail, in D.C. for two weekdays only, we decide to go get our marriage license together. Won’t that be romantic?

 

 

 No, it will not be. It will be the start of a total *&$% pain in the @*#&. 

We walk into the Serology Lab to convert my test result paper to the official blue index card. With glee, the bureaucrat behind the reception desk informs me, “No, ma’am, I cannot do that. This test is expired.” She makes sure to accompany this pronouncement with the pursed lips and circular neck motion that has become the universal symbol for “Ha ha, your fancy college degree can’t help you now because you’re in my house.” I tell her that I was informed these tests do not expire by the person I spoke with at the Marriage Bureau before I left. “No, that is not correct,” she says, sending the neck hula hooping again. I begin to hit a voice octave known as Bridal Bird is Displeased and a Tad Emotional, causing a kindly gent to come from the adjacent office to see what the problem is. He informs us that yes, in fact my test is expired and I got bum info, but my fiancé’s is fine because it’s on the official blue index card and that doesn’t expire.

 

 

 Yes, it does. We will learn this later.

My fiancé gallantly points out again that I specifically tried to head this problem off by calling well in advance and explaining that I’d be gone and asking if the tests would expire. Getting nowhere though, we thank him, write down his name, and leave with me still sniffling.

Sept. 6
I haul tail over to my doctor to get blood drawn yet again for this flipping syphilis test. Yet again, I am miserable because I hate having blood drawn. Yet again, I shell out $25 for this service. 

Oct. 2
12 p.m. 

My fiancé and I meet at lunch time for attempt two at getting the marriage license. OK, won’t it be romantic this time?

 

 

 No, it will not. Because after two hours, we will still not have our marriage license.
 

We walk into the Serology Lab to convert my second, unexpired test to the official blue index card. I pay my $10 and we’re on our way. As we head to the Marriage Bureau my fiancé notices that in small script at the bottom of the card it says that the blue card expires on Sept. 4. “It’s OK, I say. [Kindly gent from last month’s freakout] told us it doesn’t really expire. We walk into the Marriage Bureau and wait for for our names to be called.

1:15 p.m.
Our names our called. “Do you have an application filled out?” the woman says eyeballing our hands that contain only the magic blue index cards. “No, nobody told us to,” I reply. NOW we are handed an application while someone leapfrogs us in line.

1:25 p.m.
We finally get to the desk where she begins tapping away, entering our application info into the computer. This takes forever because of some sort of problem she’s having with her computer. Finally she says that she’s all set, writes our reference number down on the application. Then she looks at our blue index cards. “Ohhh,” she says. “I can’t take his. It’s expired.” My fiancé begins the explanation that no, in fact we were informed by the official at the Serology Lab that the official cards don’t expire. Now, it is important to realize one immutable law in the District: when you tell someone at one D.C. government office that someone at another D.C. government office told you a particular piece of information, you might as well phrase it, “Poobedy boo boo in the heeban habben blabbidy blah blah.” Because no piece of information issued within one set of walls in a D.C. government office in any way corresponds to the reality within a different set of D.C. government office walls. She informs us that yes, my fiancé will have to go get a new blood test. It bears mentioning at this point: his blood test cost $100 at his doctor’s office. Between the two of us we are up to $160 in testing and certification fees. Let me repeat that: $160. This is when my fiancé, a normally cool and collected guy, begins strenuously objecting to the Marriage bureaucrat that “The entire system is completely illogical! So we get these tests done today and our wedding’s not for three weeks! What’s to keep us from going out and getting syphilis in those three weeks?!” It is at this point that I hustle him toward the door and a waiting taxi.

2:45 p.m. (my office phone rings. It is my fiancé)
After the afternoon’s fracas, my fiancé walked back into his newsroom and began unloading about the idiocy we’d been dealing with. His colleague, city reporter Michael Neibauer finds all this odd because…wait for it…THE EFFING LAW REQUIRING THE EFFING SYPHILIS TEST EFFING EXPIRED ON SEPT. 11! He begins making calls and learns that, whoops! nobody decided to tell either the Marriage Bureau or the Serology Lab, so for a month, they’ve been putting nice folks like us through the ringer. (He writes a story in the Washington Examiner that runs this morning, which is later picked up by the Associated Press because folks across the nation are always happy to have their stereotypes of D.C. confirmed.)

Oct. 3
Less than 24 hours after a reporter from D.C.’s finest newspaper calls to ask why it is that D.C.’s Marriage Bureau is still requiring proof of a costly test when the law requiring that test expired a month earlier, I get a phone call. “Hello this is [Bureaucrat]. I was calling about the status of your application. As it turns out, effective today, a blood test is no longer required.” Oh really, Bureaucrat? Effective today, you say? Well how about that.

 

 

 Nice try, dear. Try effective Sept. 11. 

 

This morning
I call the Marriage Bureau and ask how I am to be refunded my $10 I was charged to convert my test results to an official blue index card when that card is no longer required. I am told by the supervisor that I need to talk to the Serology Lab because they’re the ones who charged me. He is the first of many people who will tell me that they were “just informed Thursday about all this so it’s not our fault.” He says he will transfer me to the lab. Instead of the Serology Lab, he transfers me to the DNA Lab, which promptly hangs up on my after telling me they’ll transfer me. I call the Marriage Bureau back and ask for the number to the Serology Lab. The woman who answers says, “I can give it to you but you don’t need a blood test anymore.” “I know that,” I say through clenched teeth. “I’m calling about how I get my money back.” We have, I kid you not, the following exchange:

Her: “You want your money back?”
Me: “Yes. I was charged for a test that is no longer required.”
Her: “Hold on.” (Leaves phone for a moment, talking to someone. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the guy who already snipped at me minutes earlier that it wasn’t his office’s fault. She comes back to the phone.) “You think $10 is too much to pay?”
Me: “For a test that is at this point no longer required? Yes, I do.”
Her: “So you think you should get that $10 back?” (I swear to God in Heaven I can HEAR her neck circling.)
Me (in an octave called Bridal Bird Has Had It With This Incompetent, Illegal Bullsh**): “Yes, I do think that $10 is too much to pay when your department tells me incorrectly that I need a test that hasn’t been required by law for more than a month!”
Her: “Well we just found out about that so it’s not our fault they charged you that money.”
Me: “Transfer me to the Serology Lab. Now.” 

The Serology Lab, as of 10 a.m. Monday, still knows nothing about this. “Who told you you don’t need a blood test?” the bureaucrat on the other end demands to know, incredulous. I point out that as of that very morning on the Marriage Bureau website it says that. She asks me for the URL so she can check it out. I also offer to send her the article from D.C.’s finest newspaper which points out that at least 200 other people were improperly charged by the D.C. government for the expired test conversion, to say nothing of what we all shelled out to our doctors and the time we wasted during the weekday. Oh, and this fellow bride probably won’t be too happy to learn that she passed out during her syphilis blood test and required emergency medical attention for nothing. She calls me back a few minutes later and informs me that yes, in fact the law has expired. “How do I get my refund then?” I ask. She pauses and says, “Well that money goes to the D.C. Treasury. You need to call them.”

 

 

 Bridal Bird’s not calling anybody at the D.C. Treasury, sugarbuns.

I said, “You want me to call the main number of the D.C. Treasury and ask them for my money back? You realize that that will get me nowhere. Certainly your office can provide a refund, as at least 200 other people were charged incorrectly by your office.” Bureaucrat says, I kid you not, “Oh I know. I totally get why you’re upset. But we don’t have your dough.” I thank her for her candor and support and tell her to have her supervisor call me. 

I’m getting my $10 back.

To be continued…

I Tried to Get Out, But They Kept Pulling Me Back In

October 5, 2008

Sept. 1, 2007
“I’m not going to get any bridal magazines. I think they’ll just make me a little crazy. Plus, it’s so much about the materialism that the wedding industry pushes.”

Oct. 1, 2008
“Oh God, I hit a foot.”

Freakout in 3, 2, 1…

October 1, 2008

Twenty-three days.

Do you have any idea how much I have to do in the next 23 days? What was I thinking leaving for nearly two months for the campaign to return only 35 days before my wedding? Why in the name of Jennifer Love Hewitt didn’t any of you step in and say, “Um, hey, Bridal Bird, I was thinking about it and it turns out…you’re an idiot.” Now it’s midnight and I should be stuffing welcome bags, prepping itineraries, getting my shoes dyed, scheduling a facial and a massage, figuring out what in the heck kind of earrings I’m going to wear, and brushing up on my waltz (why did we pick a waltz for our first dance?!), etc., etc. All this to do here in D.C., yet on Friday I’ve got to go up to New York for a dress fitting. And instead of tackling some of the list now, I’m sitting here watching the Sox-Angels game and stalling on going back through the kitchen because there’s a mouse in there. No foolies. Saw him earlier tonight. The wheels have come off the trolley at wedding central.

Never mind, I am going in the kitchen, to get a beer. I need a beer. Maybe the mouse will accept a beer in exchange for tying the ribbons on the giftbags.

Things I Would Blog About If I Had Time

September 15, 2008

* D.C. declined to give us a marriage license because we had our blood tests 35 days ago and they expire after 30 days. This is awesome because I specifically explained to them 36 days ago that I would be traveling and asked if this was a problem. I was told no, not at all. It clearly brought great pleasure to the Jabba the Hutt bureaucrat who informed us it would in fact be quite a problem.

* The marriage license office is next to the domestic violence center in the courthouse. I find this odd.

* I learned last week that I am having a very merry un-bachelorette party thrown for me in D.C. in a few weeks. How perfect is it? Well here’s the text on the invite: “Please join us for a champagne-kissed, not-to-be-missed, plastic peter-free to-do for our favorite bride-to-be!” My girls, they know me well.

* I am about to becoming an aunt again, as my sister/matron of honor has just gone into labor!

Surf & Turf

August 6, 2008

This afternoon I ducked out of work to join my fiancé and parents at the Hay-Adams for what is inarguably the greatest part of the wedding planning process: the menu and cake tasting. It was a far cry from my typical lunch, which lately thanks to Election ’08, is a bag of pretzels, polling data, and gut-wrenching anxiety. After much nibbling, debate and mind-changing in the pretzel-free serenity of the Hay-Adams’ Lafayette Room, we settled on the following menu:

Cocktail Reception Hors D’Oeuvres
Individual Chilled Jumbo Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce, Grape and Roquefort Truffle Rolled in Pistachios, Scallop Wrapped with Pancetta, Wild Mushroom Beggar’s Purse, Panko-Crusted Prawns with Spicy Chili Aioli

Preludes
Demitasse of Lobster Bisque with Cognac and Brunoise of Lobster
Mixed Field Greens with a Crouton of Local Goat Cheese with Shallot Vinaigrette

Entree
Combination of Petite Fillet Mignon Paired with Sea Bass Fillet on Sautéed Fennel and Chives, Pommes Dauphinois and Haricots Verts

Dessert
Fresh Fruit Dipped in Chocolate
White Chocolate Cake with Key Lime Mousse and Buttercream Frosting
Chocolate Groom’s Cake in Some Sort of Silly Shape (More on that at a future date)

Cake design (minus the bow and the monogram)

Now I need to get back to my breakfast, which thanks to Election ’08 is two Pepto Bismal capsules and the Examiner and Post op-ed sections viewed through a wince.

Why the Bridal Industry Hates Us Friday

August 1, 2008

Today this post title isn’t even sufficient. It should be “Why the Bridal Industry Wants to Crush Us, Drive Us Before Themselves and Hear the Lamentation of Our Women Friday.” Thanks to reader Nadine, who manages to find the most deliciously appalling bridal items, we have this week’s product: the Bridal Betty hair dye kit. The dye is bright blue to ensure that the bride has “something blue” on her big day. And that something? That would be her vajayjay.

Bridal Betty is the latest in a line of Betty-brand dyes invented for those who want to ensure that collar and cuffs match when the color of the collar came from a bottle. Remember the Eisenhower-era Miss Clairol ads featuring admirers pondering, “Does she or doesn’t she?” after a perfect blond beauty passes by? Well in this case, the groom better hope she does or else they’re facing some significant medical bills in the weeks ahead. “Forget about the flatware and dinnerware, give the gift of Betty!” chirps the website. Which raises the question: Does one register for tinker dye? I’ll let you go explore the myriad wonders that are the Bridal Betty website, because frankly, I’m not even capable of writing about it without violating just about every convention of ladylike propriety that I require on this blog. Be sure to check out the stencils, too. They allow you to…um…oh, just go read it.

This clearly calls for an update to the old saying, “Something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in her shoe.” I’m thinking, “Something borrowed, something blue, and a Smurf smuggled between her thighs all day much to the horror of the man who has just committed his life to her.”

“Time doth flit. Oh, shit.”*

July 17, 2008

The Scene
In bed, last night. Fiancé is reading, so I have a pillow over my eyes to block the light. The scalloped eyelet edge of it is hanging over my eyes, like a veil. Fiancé turns to me.

Fiancé: Aww, that’s how my beautiful bride is going to look on our wedding day.
Me: (contented sigh as I settle deeper into covers and prepare to doze off) Mmmhmm, only four months from now.
Fiancé: It’s three months away.
Me: Mmmh—WHAT?!
Fiancé: (counting out fingers) Mid-July, August, September, mid-October. Three months.
Me: Sweet mother of crap! How did I lose a month!? (spend next two hours staring at ceiling contemplating the 457 things I have to get done between now and Oct. 25)

The End

* It’s not really profanity if it comes from Dorothy Parker.

Martha Sure as Heck Doesn’t Have This on Her Month-By-Month Wedding Planning Calendar

July 8, 2008

UPDATE: Apparently my readership encompasses a slightly wider range of personality than I’d previously realized. (Hey, we’re all about the Big Tent here at Bridal Bird.) I wasn’t aware just how far over on the scale I had to set the tab for “humorless, unintelligent, more-than-a-little-stalkerish.” Thanks to a comment received on 9/8/08, I’m now up to speed. So the following post has been modified to reflect that. Apologies to all my other readers, who are on the opposite side of the seesaw wondering when Porky’s going to stop weighing them down and go play in traffic.

My fiancé has a nickname for me: Busy Bee. Rare are the occasions when I can just sit quietly, doing nothing. Sunday mornings with the Times, vacations, and laying out are the exceptions. I like to have projects, a To Do list, something to occupy my time. My fiancé and my dog—who typically jockey to see which of them can do Teamster lazy the best in the evenings and weekend afternoons—regard me with bemusement and raised eyebrows as I carom around whipping up a stromboli for dinner, installing a new light fixture, and planting flower boxes on the balcony. I don’t mind. To the contrary, I thrive on it.

As such, you’d think that with having a wedding to plan I’d be all set. There are invites to stuff, cookies to bake, seating charts to arrange. My cup runneth over right through ’til Oct. 25, right? Yeahhhh, see the thing is…I’ve decided to relocate to North Carolina in August and September to campaign for Obama. My oddly circular life finds me returning to the South where I worked as a crime reporter in the early 2000s. Now it’s battleground territory and I’ll be there organizing rallies, recruiting volunteers, what have you. I’ll be back in D.C. the first week of October, three weeks before the wedding.

Most people’s reaction has been to instantly take umbrage on my behalf. “But that’s ridiculous! How can they make you do that?!” they’ll ask. Well, it is a little ridiculous, but they’re not making me do it. I asked for it. When I left newspapers three years ago it was for this exact reason. I wanted to be able campaign for the candidates I believe in. I find myself now at a job that affords me the luxury of being able to leave for two months to do just that. That it requires me to step away from wedding planning for two months just before the event isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it’s also not an insurmountable obstacle. As it turns out, most of the things that had to be done for the wedding needed to get finalized before Aug. 1 and then the last minute stuff is just that—last minute. Most important, my fiancé was totally supportive as we mulled this decision. He knows how pivotal I believe this particular presidential race is to the nation’s future and he knows that I want to be able to wake up on Nov. 5 and say that I did everything I could to get the person I believe is the best candidate elected. [It bears mentioning that it wasn’t until well after we made this decision that he realized I would be gone for the first two months of Aggie football season, leaving him free to wallow in it 24-7 without fearing I’d come in and ask him to like, go to Bed Bath & Beyond or say, shower.]

And really, is it the worst thing in the world to step away from the whole wedding planning process for a little while? To clear one’s noodle? To just focus on the excitement of the impending marriage rather than taking an obsessive number of trips over to the reception site to make sure the flower beds out front look healthy?

Not that I’m doing that. (eyes darting shiftily from side to side)