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Now that the save the dates have dropped, it feels like the wedding plans are really in motion–largely because our favorite people on the planet [that’s you folks] are now officially part of the celebration! Thanks for dropping by our site. We’re trying to keep it full of useful information and fun stories, so we invite you to check back from time to time.

As a basic orientation: Most information for guests can be found in the aptly named Guest Info link up top. That’s where you’ll find all the details about lodging, transportation, and attire. If you want to see some funny and sappy photos from our courtship, go ahead and kick on the Photos tab. And if you want to read our open love letters and learn a bit more about each of us, visit the Meet the Couple tab. We also invite you to leave a comment introducing yourself on that page.

Also, since this is a very “home grown” kind of wedding (we are incredibly blessed to have loved ones doing pretty much everything but attire and food), our dear friend Melinda, aka DJ McLaffin, is doing the music for our nuptials. That said, this our [great big collective] party, so we’re curious about what you guys want to hear. We’re eager to see your suggestions, so please go ahead and leave them in the comments, or email olivia at: olivia.lindquist[at]gmail[dot]com.

Finally, and this has nothing to do with our wedding, but everyone should take two minutes to watch this amazing video of the night sky over a volcano in Ecuador.

Enjoy!

[Image Source]

As I was digging through the archives of my favorite wedding website–A Practical Wedding–I stumbled across this great post:

From My Grandmother:

  • Choose a dress you can wear again – out dancing.
  • The good thing about a wedding is it happens no matter what occurs (including a blizzard, a car wreck, total photography failure, and severe allergic reactions, all of which happened at her wedding. And yes, she giggled while she told me about it.)
  • Buying expensive shoes might not be a bad idea if they are made well enough to be comfortable and you can wear them many more times.

From My Friends:

  • Just remember, it’s not a wedding if someone doesn’t cry (and not from joy during the ceremony).
  • Advice From A Bride: Don’t mix Valium and champagne for the wedding, even if you just broke your leg. Not good.
  • Advice From A Groom: Mixing Valium and champagne makes the whole thing much more pleasant.
  • When you look around and say “Didn’t we use to talk about things other than the wedding? What happened?” Then your ready to get married.
  • After the wedding, you’re over it. Whatever centerpiece you picked? Yeah. You’re not going to care.
  • For God’s sake, have fun.

Not surprisingly, much of this struck me as pretty darn sound advice (even if I don’t wind up following all of it). I have to say, we’re feeling pretty relaxed about this big party we’re throwing, but I’ll take all the help I can get in staying that way. So I’m curious: what tidbits of practical, sanity-saving wedding advice do you have to share with us? Any words of wisdom from your own big day, or things you you wish you’d known? Our guests are, by design, a wise and awesome bunch, so we can’t wait to read your pointers!

The First Date

I’d had a series of rather pathetic dates in the fall of 2009. I’d joined match.com to get out of a rut, and wound up meeting all those guys who have to go to the internet to get dates. So I did what any sensible girl would do: decided to quit dating for a while. When I mentioned this to a good friend of mine, his immediate response was, “You’ve seen every chick flick ever, right? You’re going to meet the man of your dreams tomorrow. Trust me.”

Lo and behold, the very next day I got an email from Michael Bowen himself with the subject, “cooking and the red sox.” Shoot. This seemed promising. After a few emails (and pep talks from loved ones), I realized I had to meet this guy. All seven continents? A writer? A tall writer with a master’s degree, no less? Who could talk cooking and Red Sox? It seemed too good to be true.

A few days later, we made plans to meet at my favorite wine bar in Philly for a drink. Like a fool, I showed up late (for no good reason other than I really didn’t feel like going on a date that night) and after a few glasses of wine from a happy hour I was hosting for a women’s group. Of course, as soon as I actually got myself into Tria and sat down next this guy who, in a match.com rarity, was better looking than his pictures, I knew I was in trouble. I mean–wow!

The conversation flowed, I couldn’t stop laughing, and I couldn’t help wondering what else there was to know about this witty fella. By the time he walked me to my doorstep at 2am (despite the fact that we were both sick) and gave me a very sweet kiss on my doorstep, I knew I’d met The One. When I talked to my dear friend–and bridesmaid–Melinda the next day, I told her I was pretty sure I’d met the man I was going to marry, just in case she wanted to put that into a toast some day.

I like to tease Michael that he took twice as long to be sure. It wasn’t until our second date that he was quite so confident about our future. The good news is, we were, without a doubt, both right.

Geek outs vs. Freak outs

Even though we’ve only been engaged for a few weeks, we already (thankfully) have almost all the big things squared away. As we make decisions and try to stretch our budget, I’m realizing wedding planning moments often fall into two categories: the Geek outs, and the Freak outs. I’ve decided my goal for this process is to simply have far more Geek outs.

Freak outs tend to be the really stressful things, like trying to magically conjure up more money now that you realize how much even budget weddings can cost. Or trying to balance the guest list so everyone is happy and you share the day with people you love…without blowing said budget. Those conversations stress me to high heavens and often make me miserable, so to balance those, I’m savoring every geek out moment I can.

For example, my brother’s extremely talented girlfriend is doing our invitations. I love Becca’s artwork (that’s one of her recent pieces, above), and was awed by the work she did on her own brother’s wedding last September, so I knew she’d create something special for us. As I talked to her the other night–right in the middle of a separate guest list conversation I was having–she started mentioning some ideas she had, and I started completely geeking out. (Details coming later.) Guest list woes were instantly quashed as I started thinking about all the love and joy and creative spirit that was going to fill our big day.

Other geek outs have abounded as well. I’ll expand on each of these in due time, but check out all the talented folks who are helping to make our special day absolutely amazing, and absolutely us.

Melinda, my dear friend from college (and herself a bride-to-be) is going to help develop playlists and DJ the wedding reception.

Scott and Rachel (who are also filing some paperwork themselves this fall) are Michael’s friend originally, but I’ve fallen in love with them, too. They’re doing us the amazing honor of officiating the ceremony.

My amazing mama, together with many of the other women in my family, is going to do the flowers.

Jen, the cupcake goddess and holistic health junkie, answered my longshot question in the affirmative when I asked her to create our cake. Deliciousness guaranteed.

We still have some other talented friends we’re hoping to tap for things like photos and video, too. With people like this supporting and helping us, I’m sure my freak outs will be kept to a minimum as a rejoice over the idea of everyone coming together to make our day perfectly us.

Are you or did you have friends contribute their talents to your day? Please share advice or stories in the comments!

The Proposal

Our love story didn’t start with the proposal–it started with our very first date, which I’m sure I’ll recount later–but I think it’s a great story, and a good place to start this website.

As background, for those of you who don’t know, I was sure after our first date that Michael was The One. (The punk took twice as long.) I’m also the product of an incredibly loving marriage going 35 years strong…that got engaged after three weeks. My sister and her wonderful husband took four months before they were betrothed. This means it took a certain level of patience (or, at least, the appearance of patience) on my part before Michael popped the question after a whopping fifteen months. Yes, yes, I know–that’s really quick by most people’s standards.

When we headed back to the States for a visit in honor of my nephew’s birth, I was hoping to high heaven that Michael would pop the question, but kept telling myself it would be fine if he didn’t. After a few weeks Stateside without a proposal, I was trying to convince myself that really, this was fine. We were already living together, madly in love, and building a life together. The rest was just details. Right?

Forever the optimist (or stubborn girl, take your pick), I told myself that if he was going to propose on this trip, it would be at his favorite place in the States: the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, at night. Convenient, seeing as we were going to be in D.C. for a week. We hung out with his dad, we went to the Air and Space Museum, we went out to dinner with family and friends. On a Wednesday, we woke up and it was absolutely beautiful, so we decided to head down to the Tidal Basin to see the Cherry Blossoms–a first for me.

I admit: I looked at his pockets to see if there was a ring-box-shaped bulge. There wasn’t. That’s fine, seeing as the proposal was coming the next night, anyway. As we walked around, I was in absolute awe of the beauty around us.

Washington Monument with cherry blossoms

Shadowy photo under the cherry blossoms

We navigated the throngs of people, stopping for the occasional photo op. We walked through Georgetown, passed the Kennedy Center, spotted one of the cutest older couples in history, and saw more than one cute baby near the Tidal Basin. We made our way over to the Jefferson Memorial (remember: Michael’s favorite place…at night. And there was no ring box bulge in his pocket). We sat on a bench inside, then went out to the steps and looked at the view. At this point, Michael insists I had a hopeful, mildly expectant look on my face. I like to disagree, but, well, I’ll admit it’s possible. After a few minutes (I wanted to give him time, in case this was The Moment), I suggested we mosey along, and he agreed.

Michael pointed out the paddle boats on the basin and mentioned that might be fun. I, ever the pragmatist (except when I’m not) said sure, that’d be fun, but not if the line was ridiculous or it was $30. Fortunately, the line seemed manageable, and it was only $10. We started chatting with a family in front of us: a mom and her three t(w)eens. By the time we made it to the front–a whopping forty-five minutes later–we were joking and I offered to take one of the kids on our boat. We grabbed our life jackets, and I insisted on taking a few “We look awesome in our life jackets!” photos. Behold.

So cool in life jackets!

No really--so cool!

With our jackets tied tight and our ticket for the boat, we climbed in and started paddling out. After about fifteen minutes, Michael suggested we just coast. I agreed. Then he reached into his pocket and said,

I got you something.

And slid over a little box I’d previously given him a gift in. I opened it, hesitantly, and peeked inside. Oh boy. That looked like a ring. I looked up at Michael with a big ol’ “Whaaaaa?!” face.

He proceeded to utter some of the sweetest words imaginable, the details of which I can’t remember. The important part is, it ended with Michael asking me to be his wife. Of course, I said YES!

Here’s the thing: we were in a paddle boat. In life preservers. Do you have any idea how hard it is to kiss and hug your newly minted fiance when you’re in a life preserver in a paddle boat?! Additionally, you absolutely cannot jump up and down with excitement. Fortunately, with a little maneuvering, you can sneak a smooch and grab a photo or two like this:

Our first engaged kiss!

BLISS!

She said yes!

As soon as we got off the boat, I grabbed him for a proper smooch and a bear hug, and then we started calling our families. For the record–everyone knew! My darling man had tried like the dickens to get me the perfect ring–he aced it!–which required asking pretty much everyone in my inner circle. Fortunately, they are ace secret keepers, and I was absolutely stunned when he did pop the question.

All smiles under the blossoms

We finished the day with a quick visit with his wonderful mom (can I just say how happy I am that I love my future MIL?) and then dinner and drinks with his dad (ditto for the FIL!).

Cheers!

Welcome!

Welcome, friends, family, and curious strangers!

I’ve created this blog to help pass along information to guests and loved ones, and, with any luck, provide some inspiration and/or dose of sanity for other brides out there. Feel free to weigh in, tell your own stories, offer some unsolicited advice, and follow along with two people who are madly in love and planning a wedding in six months from the other side of the world.

Cheers!