How to Know He’s Perfect For You, Part 23

This weekend I was in desperate need of some retail therapy. Engagement is an emotional adjustment because every single relationship in your life is changing. Even your relationship with yourself is changing as you take on a new identity.

Like most women, I tend to drown my sorrows at the mall. What’s better than new shoes and the choice between Starbucks, Auntie Anne’s,¬†Cinnabon, and Chick Fil A? Having just lost all my fun money (see my previous post), this isn’t an option anymore. And window shopping isn’t as much fun when you know you can’t buy the stuff. So, what is Nature’s remedy for an emotionally distressed engaged woman with no more spending money?

THE REGISTRY.

Maybe it’s a good thing that I lost my disposable income during my engagement. God’s timing is usually en pointe. Thursday evening we went to a “Sip and Scan” event at Macy’s, and registered for a few things, but it wasn’t so great, only because there wasn’t a lot of stuff that I wanted. I almost cried at one point, and James had to pull me back from the brink of a bridal meltdown (blame it on the sleep deprivation).¬†SATURDAY, though, I wised up and went to my favorite wish-I-could-buy-everything store: WILLIAMS-SONOMA.

James came with me, which was a very brave¬†move considering my¬†almost-tear fest 2¬†days before.¬†Poor guy, I don’t think he was expecting what was about to happen. I literally registered for almost everything. It was a frenzied display of “Ooo¬†click that one! Did you get this one? We need 6 of these! I want this pan! And this pan! And don’t forget the ocean blue Le Creuset¬†Dutch oven!” I was so excited. Sure, there were moments of stress: “Connie, why do we need a Paella pan?” “James, I’ve been dreaming of this day my whole life, and I¬†would love¬†a Paella pan.” But there were also moments of sheer glee, like when I found the French onion soup bowls. And the Ruffoni hammered copper au gratin pan.

At the end of a few hours, we handed the scanner back to the employee and ate a few samples of pumpkin thingies.¬†That was the moment James turned to me and asked if I would like to split an Auntie Anne’s pretzel on our way back to the car. I do. Happily Ever After, Amen.

Cheesesteaks + Football = Love

Cheesesteaks + Football = Love

This weekend, James and I took a mini-vacation to Philadelphia. It’s one of our favorite places to visit. James is a huge fan of the Philadelphia Soul arena football team, I am a huge fan of Philadelphia’s colonial history, and neither one of us believes in setting a limit on cheesesteak consumption.

Surprisingly, for all the times we’ve gone to Philly and checked out historic sites and football games,¬†we’ve never really spent much time in City Center. Even more surprising is that for having lived 26 years in the Megalopolis, James had never seen a skyscraper up close. I had a feeling it would be a new thing for him. I knew he has never been to New York City, even though it’s only 4 hours from where we live. So while we were driving through the middle of Philly, I pointed through the sunroof and said, “Hey, Look up!” He peeks up through the roof and says “Holy Shit!!!” It was his first close encounter with a structure that was nearly 1,000 feet high. This was his first view:

Comcast Center, Philadelphia's tallest building

2012, the year of engagement. That was almost the title of my Facebook¬†album for the pictures from this weekend. After years of dating and worrying that things will never¬†fall into place for you to finally get married and¬†start a life together, it happens.¬†Suddenly,¬†you have people¬†running around worrying about caterers¬†and guest lists, and 800,000,000 details and decisions that threaten to take the focus away from what’s most important, the relationship that is¬†on its way¬†to becoming¬†indissoluble. I¬†love the commitment and the promise of a future together that comes with engagement.¬†I love knowing that a wedding is just a number of months¬†away. But I do miss that, before we were engaged, every date was purely about getting to know each other. I want more of that. I’m really glad that the Catholic Church requires some marriage preparation sessions. I’m looking forward to spending more time focussing on each other, and not so much on wedding details.

So, during this year of engagement, James and I will be doing everything we can to keep our focus on us, and not our wedding. We’ll be making memories, seeing new things, and learning as much about each other as possible. Sure, we have a lot of business to attend to, with finding a place to live and picking¬†out a cake. But I’m trying hard not to stress about wedding decisions. The most important thing we’ll be doing this year is beginning to form our new identity as a family.

Wedding Website Adventures

We finally picked a date! June 1, 2013. I can’t really even describe what¬†a relief that is, and how happy it makes me. Next step, wedding website.

Actually, we already have one. I made something about 7 months ago when we first got engaged using WeddingChannel.com. To be honest, none of the pre-fab backgrounds and formats were really working for me. It’s a great and¬†easy tool, especially¬†if you have zero experience blogging or website building, but I just wasn’t happy with the appearance. None of the options were really us.

Finally, it dawned on me to make my own site using WordPress. Why did it take me 7 months to figure that one out? The great thing about putting your wedding website on WordPress is that you have way more control over the formatting, the background, and the title. Also, we can keep it going long after the big day as a blog about our life.

Recent Web Development Activities

Going along with all that, this week I’ve been crazy into site building. Right now I’m still working on a site for my mom’s painting, www.ConniesArtGallery.com. I know I need to learn a lot more about upgrading appearances, but I’m getting somewhere. I’d like to have a job writing web content soon, so I’m trying to learn as much as I can about the technical aspects of web development. I worked for a year in SEO, so I know a little, but I need to learn more. So that’s what I’ll be doing this week during my down-time. Does anyone know of any free online tutorials that are¬†especially helpful?

Why does everyone spend so much on weddings?

Flipping through bridal magazines trying to get some cute ideas for our upcoming big day, I started getting a little sick to my stomach. No, not cold feet. I was a little sickened by some of the extravagance, to be honest. It seems like so many people spend so much time and energy on the wedding without putting much effort at all into preparing for a life together.

I grew up in a Catholic family, and so did James. We were taught that marriage is a Sacrament. This means that marriage is much more than¬†just a civil contract, it’s sacred. In it, two people are joined forever¬†by God, who¬†gives them the grace and strength to live out their vows.¬†This puts it on a level way beyond our secular view of marriage. Take a look at the Catholic marriage vows:

“I, (name), take you, (name), to be my (wife/husband). I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you, all the days of my life.”

That’s some serious business.

I want our wedding to be about our¬†enormous family and the life we’re beginning together. I don’t¬†want the Plaza in June,¬†the $15,000¬†gown, or¬†the $5,000 carriage ride in Disney World. Just my James and our family and close friends (which adds up to¬†over 300¬†people so we really have to scale it back! We’d like to keep it 200 MAX, preferably less). Now it’s true, having a party for 200 people that involves food and dancing is very expensive. But that doesn’t mean it has to be extravagant.

Look at the difference, for example, between Kim Kardashian and Kate Middleton. Two very expensive televised events, but that’s where the similarities end. Kim married a guy she hadn’t dated for very long in a Hollywood glam ceremony where everything was the absolute most expensive it could possibly be. It was extravagance for the sake of extravagance. Will and Kate had been dating for YEARS. They showed the utmost dignity throughout the engagement and wedding, and didn’t make a show out of their love. It was expensive because it was the royal family, but it was tasteful. You could tell that they truly loved each other and had been waiting for that moment for a long time. Will and Kate’s wedding displayed true love. Kim and Kris’s wedding displayed extravagance.

I also don’t like all this emphasis on the wedding being all about the bride. It’s not just my day, it’s¬†his day too! It’s OUR day. I’m sure I’ll have some crazy stressed out moments along the way, but I want to always remember that the bridesmaid’s earrings have absolutely ZERO consequence. What matters is that James and I are¬†being joined together in¬†a lifelong commitment to love and honor each other for the rest of our lives. That is what we are celebrating. And that is priceless.

Engagement Stress = Blessing in Disguise?

Like most girls, I love the movie Bride Wars with Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway. One of the major themes of the movie is how engagement stress can either drive couples apart or bring them closer together.

James and I have had our share of engagement stress. Thankfully, we’ve been able to recognize that with every road-block comes a chance to work together. We’ve never put it in those words, but it’s true.¬†Every issue that has¬†popped up in our path has made us turn to each other for help.¬†Everything that’s happened to us has been another chance to hold hands and walk forward.

Recently I was telling a priest some of the struggles we’ve gone through, and he pointed out that perhaps it truly¬†is a blessing in disguise. People that have fantasy engagements do not always get the chance to prepare for what marriage really involves: sharing and sacrifice. I pray every day for a happy marriage. Maybe this is God’s way of answering my prayers. If we learn what to expect now, we will have an easier time adjusting later. Maybe if we can be happy together in bad times, we can be happy in good times.

I know I’m very young and often na√Įve, but I have a good feeling about this.