Matron of Honor’d!

Some weekends are busier than others: sometimes the most I accomplish is a shower and a glass of wine.  But last weekend?  Not only did I shower (twice!) and have a number of glasses of wine, but I emerged with a husband a year older, a married sister, and a new freakin’ brother.  What a weekend indeed.

Friday we opened our humble home to 30+ of our nearest and dearest to help celebrate the hubby’s 34th birthday.  It was the quintessential ugly party,* with loud talking, group hugging, and a fridge full of High Lifes.  My special man specifically asked for a cake with a unicorn on it, so I (best wife ever) made that happen.  And, I learned, that this is what happens when the nice lady on the phone at the Shaw’s bakery says, “yeah, I’ll just draw a horse with a horn on it”:

Narwhalicorn. Photo by Shannon Bullard Sweetser.

And yes, that is a horse with a horn on it!  Perhaps we should have discussed further where exactly the horn should go.  Still, a narwhalicorn-y good time was had by all, and I also managed to not burn down the house/myself alive while lighting 34 birthday candles.  Perhaps my favorite part was when, at a particularly noisy, crowded moment, my parents appeared at the door, looking somewhat shell-shocked after their 7-hour drive from NY.  The great thing about them, though, is that they can make themselves comfortable in pretty much any social situation, including an apartment full of 20- and 30-somethings with beers.  I remember one party a few years ago at my old apartment in Allston where my dad spent almost the entire night at our kitchen table talking about poetry with my friend Adam.

(In fact, there’s a picture…)

Candlelit discussions (with beer) in 2007.

In short, my parents are awesome, and my friends think so too.

And yes, it’s now official: there are no more unmarried folk in my family.  We managed to marry my sister off withut a hitch (ha), despite my own pre-wedding stress (way more than before own wedding – go figure).  In a lot of ways, the wedding was the polar opposite of ours (well-organized, a traditional ceremony, a chuppah that stayed up, no inmates shouting vulgarities…**), but it actually felt just as relaxed and fun as ours was.  There were unexpected moments, too: the rabbi quoted Garrison Keillor and the bride and groom danced to the Rolling Stones’ cover of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now).”  Most importantly, though (to me), I delivered my first/maybe only Matron of Honor speech.  It was hard figuring out what exactly to say to my sister and her new husband; I felt like I could’ve spent hours talking about our childhood, and how bad I feel about the years we didn’t get along, and the person I know her to be that not everyone else gets to see all the time.  Instead, I did the best I could to convey all that in a tidy 5-ish minutes, and wrapped it all up with this:

I may not be much of an expert on marriage yet, but I do know that you two obviously care so much about each other’s happiness, and in my very humble experience, that’s really important.  As for everything else?  We’ll all figure that out as we go.  You two have the perfect people around you to help you learn.  

I’ll leave you with something I recently read in a book by Rebecca Woolf, which I think serves as the perfect blessing:

“Marriage isn’t about genetic perfection.  Marriage is about the half-eaten cake in the fridge.  ‘I made it for you, but then I got hungry.’  It’s about the late- night snack runs, even if they’re the wrong kind of snacks.  It’s about trying.  And messing up.  And falling down.  And getting up.  And making up… Marriage is about the flowers that grow wild in the sidewalk cracks, often disguised as weeds and equally hard to manage.  Blooming year-round.  Dandelions with wishes to blow against the wind if you believe.  And I do.”

I’m not one to toot my own horn, but there were very few dry eyes in the place.

And now, I give you the obligatory photo recap:

Mister and Missus. Photo by Brandon Vick.

Sisters. Photo by Brandon Vick.

The b-maids. Photo by Mary Corcoran.

Photo by Brandon Vick.

Dancing with my mama. Photo by Mary Corcoran Photography.

Dad! Photo by Mary Corcoran.

I made them cry! Photo by Brandon Vick

(Not pictured: adorable twin flower girls, me making ugly crying faces, and the wound I gave myself with my own heel while dancing the Hora.)

All in all, a productive weekend, I’d say.  And lots more to talk about soon, everyone.  Exciting things on the horizon.

* An “ugly party,” according to Cat Rocketship of Offbeat Home, is “all about friends. A good ugly party will make newbies in your social circle feel like they’ve made new friends, you’ll have a sticky kitchen floor, and an ugly party will probably leave a few old friends asleep on a futon. ”  Read this article for more.  (Seriously – these are my favorite kinds of parties)

** Another story for another day.

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Emily Thinks About Weddings and Other Big Life Things.

NOTE: I promise, dear blog, that I will not let the fact that Instagram is now (FINALLY) available for Android come between us.

Speaking of which, let’s talk photos (and some other things).

In case you didn’t know, my parents are professional photographers,* and have been photographing weddings for pretty much my entire life.  What this meant was that my sister and I were never lacking for wedding photos to ogle.  I certainly went through various wedding-fantasizing stages, but when it came time for me to do it for real, we ended up with something low-key, low-stress, and very much our own.  (Our centerpieces were board games; we began the ceremony with high-fives, and I dyed a streak of my hair to be my “something blue.” )

Us, right after making it official.

Also, our friends and family were a huge part of the wedding.  Our cupcakes were made by a baking-savvy friend; my mom sewed our chuppah (which ended up being more of a backdrop due to the wind!); my dad wrote and recorded the song he and I danced to.  We had a close friend perform our ceremony, thanks to Massachusetts’ one-day marriage designation.  Not to brag, but basically, we have awesome friends who helped make it an awesome day.  And this is kind of how I see marriage in general.  It doesn’t make sense for us (and, I’d argue, a lot of people) to retreat into seclusion and close ourselves off to the rest of the world now that we’re married.  It’s not that we’re not a team–we are–but I see it more as a smaller unit,** encircled by bigger ones.  Maybe it’s the crunchy, vaguely Commie hippie in me speaking, but I just don’t think we’re meant to live cut off from each other.  It takes a village, et cetera.  Our family and friends aren’t any less important to us now that we’re married.

See? Encircled.

So now, my younger sister is planning her wedding.***  In less than three weeks, almost exactly three years after I got married, she’ll be creating a new little circle all her own, with her and Brandon (or, as I’ve come to call him, FUTUREBROTHER) as its nucleus.  Around that little circle will be bigger ones, with her family, both biological and the one they’ve created from friends.  I got to meet some of them this weekend at my sister’s bachelorette party, and I can now say with conviction that these circles are made up of some genuinely wonderful friends.

Caution – wild girls.

Or maybe it’s not quite a circle.  Maybe it’s a web, or one big crazy connect-the-dots, with lines drawn here and there, from me to my sister to my husband to my mom to you and back.  The more tangled, the better – because that’s what makes it strong.  We all need each other.

So what am I getting at here?  Let’s see.  Marriage is big.  And it’s frustrating, and wonderful, and maddening, and joyful, and three years into it I can hardly claim to know a darn thing about it.  But I do know this: having a network of people is important.  It’s like a big nest, made up scraps of this and that, where a fledgling family of two can be safe and warm and supported.

Bride and maid of honor, overwhelmed.

And I love knowing that my sister and I are now pieces in each other’s brand-new nests.

*And damn good ones, at that.

**May I never grow out of giggling at the word “unit.”

***And she’s blogging about her nearlywed status, too!

Photo-A-Day 14/Happy Valentimes!

day fourteen: heart

That’s right, that ❤ counts as a heart.  This is from the note that came with the flowers sent to me at work today by my sweet husband.  We don’t usually do anything particularly extravagant for V-Day, but I guess I had mentioned more than once that I’d never had flowers sent to me, so he must’ve gotten the hints I were (somewhat) subconsciously dropping.  And I’ll admit it: it’s kind of freaking awesome to have a stranger deliver you flowers at your place of employment.  They came early enough in the day that I got plenty of smug*, sitting-next-to-flowers time.

So now I just have to wrap up my workday so I can go meet that sweet man of mine for some Valentine’s Day sushi.  We’re going to check out Thelonious Monkfish, which I am super excited** about.  Also, I look really cute*** today, if I do say so myself, which always feels like an accomplishment the day after a burlesque show when I’m running on fumes.****

So here’s to lurve.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

* That’s right, I’ll admit to feeling smug.

** Dude, they have something called Gaga’s Monster Roll!

*** I’d have an artistic pictorial of my outfit for you if I was a proper blogger, but since I’m still getting my bloglegs, you’ll just have to make do with this awesome bathroom mirror shot (feel free to Photoshop a Pop Tart in there if you’d like):

A successful Work-Appropriate Outfit I Wasn't Embarrassed To Be Seen In.

Top: Urban Outfitters circa 2007; cardigan: Target via my friend Lucy at our clothing swap; skirt: J.Crew courtesy of gift card from my mama-in-law.  Flat hair: shut up, I ran out of hairspray.  

**** Fumes = six hours of sleep and all the glitter I couldn’t wash off this morning.

On Looking Forward.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this need to always have something to look forward to.  There have been times, when I can’t sleep, that I’ll concoct elaborate, cinematic scenes of the future to lull myself to sleep.  In my early adolescence, it was the moment when that boy finally notices me and we kiss!  Later in high school it was college when my future would begin.  I was going to go to a free-spirited, bohemian college, where I would wear long flowing skirts with thrifted boys’ t-shirts, with my hair in a haphazard pile on the top of my head.  And then, of course, my future daydreams took the shape of a wedding.  It wasn’t so much about embracing the Wedding Industrial Complex (as the daughter of two wedding photographers, I knew better) as it was about this magical, glowing day, where every last detail was creative and interesting and beautiful and mine.*

And while I know I have certainly not grown out of this looking forward (now it’s babies, naturally), there’s another feeling along with it too.  In between daydreams of having an interesting, fulfilling, creative career, and imagining how freaking awesome our kids will be, I have these moments of sheer contentment.  I’m finding joy in things like coming home to someone I love, in the home we made for ourselves.  We have a home, full of things that reflect who we are, where we’ve been, and who we love.  We have a circle of creative, talented friends who are here to support us.  We’ve made a life, pieced together with bits and pieces of this and that, like a nest.

Past and present. (Portrait on the right by Ashley Goldberg.)

And when I do find my thoughts drifting to that dreamy future, I actually feel like maybe I can just go and make it happen.  And I think this is the first time in my fledgling adulthood I’ve really felt that way.

The face of contentment (and a little red wine).

So, yeah.  It’s pretty damn cool.

*my wedding was actually rather magical, but that’s another story for another day.

Photo-A-Day 6

day six: dinner

Instead of photographing my food itself (because a) it wasn’t very interesting, and b) aren’t you sick of looking at photos of food?  Check out my friend Alli’s article about this), I’ve captured for you here our dinner ritual.  Here, you have assumed the point of view of our TV (and makeshift tripod), which will soon be showing us 30 Rock reruns.  The husband has recently decided that for the next year, this is the only face he will be making in photographs.  I’m not sure why he decided to include the most recent issue of Bust. 

(edit: he says: “I was pretending that Maya Rudolph was eating the food.”)