April 8, 2008

Cold Feet

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:19 pm by Jess

I had no idea “Cold Feet” would be so serious.

My wedding is two and a half months away. Meanwhile, my best friend is getting divorced. As one would expect, she is visiting bars and theraputically indulging in the local eye candy. She recently called me to say that not only had she enjoyed the view, but she had hit it off with someone and she was getting ready to go on her first date – that went along with the obligatory “Is it a date, I’m not sure it’s a date, he didn’t say…” business – in a very long time.

My gut reaction to this was of course, jealousy. I wanted to be going out, getting dolled up. It made it worse that she and I used to do this together, both single, both in shape, both fresh from college. I went to bed that night dreaming about old boyfriends, missed opportunities and more.

So it was official, I have cold feet. The first time this kind of feeling happened wasn’t so bad. The jealousy wasn’t actually jealousy, turns out, just a sheer curiosity of “What if.” Or rather, “Who else.” Unfortunately, this second feeling was worse, more intense and more disturbing.

The second wave of cold feet was panic. It happened as I lay down to go to sleep, about two weeks after my bout with jealousy. I closed my eyes and began to mentally assess the decision of marriage. I have done this before with Jonathan, with friends, even with a Pastor, but this was the first time that my lone brain and conscience dove deep into the heart of the matter, without anyone else’s words to distract me. And my brain said, “How can you be making a decision that will affect the next 75 years of your life?!” “How can you be making a decision after 1/4 of your life that will affect 3/4 of your life?!” and on and on. (Oh yes, I plan to live until I am 100.) Now I say this with the honesty of someone who has had real panic attacks and is frightened of ever having one again: I would not joke, I had a small panic attack. Actually, I visualized the morning after my wedding, waking up and seeing Jonathan and the thought that ran across my brain was, “I have now made the decision and if it is the wrong one I will have to live with it for the rest of my life.” In my visualization of this I began to have a panic attack at the thought that the decision was behind me, and then in real life, in my bed, I began to have a small panic attack.

Perhaps you know what I am talking about. Jon is fully aware of all this but seems to be much less affected, so actually, perhaps your husbands-to-be know what I am talking about.

The next morning I met a friend for coffee to discuss this “episode.” We had a long and important talk. I was nervous to tell her my real opinion, and elated to hear that she was of the same opinion as me: People aren’t meant to be monogamous.

I know this might shock many people. I am not saying that they shouldn’t be, or that they cannot be. I think the opposite on both counts, in most cases. However, from the evolutionary perspective to just plain old daydreams of the average adult, I don’t think manogaminity is 100% natural. (Yes, I said manogaminity, because that is the word that she and I coined after racking our brains to no avail for the real word.  I like this one better, and I am keeping it.) The decision of marriage then, to me,  is a promise to be manogamous, and a decision to honor that promise knowing full well that I may be tempted, I may someday be really tempted for reasons that seem absolutely cruel, and that I will also be tested. And I expect the same from him.

I am still wallowing in the cold feet a tad bit. This sort of decision in modern day, when we aren’t marrying to bring two villages together, or to have kids to work on the farm, or to give motivation during war time, when we are marrying for this pretty modern reason of reciprocal love, is extremely intense. However, the excitement of knowing that this person I love will be bound to me, and me to him for such a long time starts to feel very special, exciting and lucky. I think there will definitely be times when I second guess this decision – or so I have heard from EVERY SINGLE married woman I know – but as long as I feel those other three things, it’s the right thing.

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April 7, 2008

Oh Switzerland, must you be so difficult.

Posted in Cultural Differences at 6:18 pm by Jess

One of the biggest concerns about our wedding was finding someone to marry us. The two obstacles we encountered were 1) Religion (Jon being a Jewish convert and me being Agnostic) and 2) An outdoor ceremony.

Our first thought was to have close family members and/or closest friends take turns in reading texts, poems etc. I felt this option was viable because I am not very religious, (thus I don’t need religion for the wedding to be a formal, fully profound event) and so the things I would like to be said should come from someone who knows me and Jonathan. However, having family members speak, instead of witness and enjoy, was odd and less than agreeable.  When I mentioned the idea to my mother she completely balked, “Then it’s an informal get-together and not even a real ceremony. The non-affiliated air of the officiant is important!” she said. She always does articulate things better than I do…

We lit upon a seemingly perfect idea. There is a family friend of Jonathan who is very spiritual and who knows us both well, as I gave him English classes when we lived in Neuchâtel. So, he knows us both but not enough that it would be awkward.

Long story short, he refused to speak for us on the grounds that he is part of a highly orthodox/strict religious sect. Something more similar to a cult I believe. He and his whole family have subscribed to it and not only can they not aid a non-religious wedding, they may have to consider coming at all if we really cannot “think of the true center of a wedding, God.”

Next up we tried the civil hall officiant. She married us officially. Oh yes, we are married already. For over a year. I suppose I can let the cat out of the bag (or have I already?) since we finally told our parents recently too. The logistics of a marriage in Europe are that the legal “real” marriage takes place at city hall. It can actually be a whole wedding ceremony with guests etc. Some people choose to do just this and not have a religious ceremony. Others choose to have the “Civil” wedding, either alone with the two witnesses or with a few close family along, and then have a larger religious wedding. This latter ceremony includes the church wedding, the cocktail hour and the reception dinner. The thing is, no one here can seem to understand why Jon and I want to have a “Second” ceremony if it is not going to be religious, and we have already done the civil.

Well, because the civil marriage is not generally separated from the ceremony in America, I do not feel married yet. Legally I am, and thus I have the visa and permit to live in this country and stay with Jon. However, from my upbringing, a marriage takes place in front of friends and family. There are vows and rings exchanged. Promises are made. It is a witnessed event. Therefore, I am (and nor is he) emotionally married. I literally do not know the date of the civil papers we signed, and I am currently experiencing all the normal cold feet of a woman approaching her first marriage.

But I digress. So, the civil attendant would not preside over a short ceremony in the outdoors because it would be “unethical.” I don’t get this, and I cursed about it for some days. She could legally do it, but she chose not to because she believed it would morally nullify what we did in her office. She also added that it was very strange that we were having an outdoor wedding.

Yes, brides in America, please be aware that you are LUCKY to be able to basically choose the most random of places and then turn them into a location for a (religious or not) wedding. Here it is pretty rare for the ceremony to take place outdoors, and the vendors and officials all seem very confused by it. We were even shocked to discover that the site where we will marry has only been used twice as a marriage!! (I mean, it’s a GEM! And now we get to work out all the kinks with the site because they really only have little experience with wedding arrangements. Sweet. ) Basically people here only do this kind of ceremony if its religious, thus it would be in a church…

So what to do?

The solution came this past week, when we met with a local Protestant pastor who is very open-minded.  Finding her was a little difficult because we originally called a pastor in the village in Jon’s original birth village (Yep, he was born at home). They said we had to call the pastor of our current village, since that is where the “connection would be.” They then said that their pastor was a visitor from another nearby village, and then eventually we tracked her down. She is, as I said, open minded. She has given us a book to read and for us to pick out the readings that we would like, and then she said she will merely “surprise us” with one reading of her own choosing. The only negative side is that she is insisting on a much longer ceremony than I wanted. I was thinking forty minutes max; She says an hour. Also, though I liked her and am very happy that our day will have the formal air everyone expects, I don’t like the feeling that I am not “allowed” to deviate from normal tendencies. It is logistically nearly impossible, and then the people I spoke to about our predicament were very wary of the idea of a creative wedding given by friends and family. I feel like I’ve lost a bit of me in this passage, even if I am happy with the outcome. But I was too nervous to dissapoint people with a “too informal” ceremony, and still am. It isn’t just about pleasing us two, in fact I want my close family and friends to feel a real and deep set of emotions along with us, and if they really feel that wouldn’t happen with a more “creative, mixed ceremony” then for me it’s not worth it.

Oh well. You win some you lose some. On to the next thing!

April 3, 2008

Bad Timing for a Wedding

Posted in About this Blog at 11:46 pm by Jess

The woes of the US Economy don’t just hit the banks and big-shots here in Europe, they also hit the lowly bride-to-be. There’s no way that I could have anticipated the turning of economic events that have taken place this year when Jonathan and I chose the wedding date last summer. Now it seems it is the worst timing.

The disappointing aspect to the situation is that nearly no Americans are coming to the wedding. I am not angry, and as the string of No’s flooded into my inbox or to my mother’s telephone last month I only felt fear and worry. I am fearful for my family, and for everyone suffering as all must be through this low point, and also worried at the prospect of moving to America next year, when this thing might not be over. Certainly I am disappointed. Up until last month 3/4 of those Americans I’d invited has already said no for various reasons – though mostly for money. I was already lamenting the fact that we’d chosen PEAK season for airfare in the worst kind of virgin-tourist decision style. I reminded myself that this was to allow the most important persons to be with me (Interestingly, almost ALL the most importants are involved in school and dictated by summer breaks) and this soothed me some. From then on a group of ten or so Texans were leaning towards coming, and sending promising signs.

A month ago the economy tumbled, and they decided to stay home. I believe the reason I did not cry, or get upset, is because I know they want to be here and it’s out of there hands. It’s really just bad timing for a wedding.

The irritating aspect is that my parents are paying the majority of the wedding bills and as the dollar continues to fall, so does the reach that their dollars have here. Which in turn means that as the dollar falls, the amount that Jon and I need to come up with on our end, in Francs, rises.

Taking all this into account, it is not surprising that I did nothing at all for the wedding during the month of March. I don’t have trial hairstyles to do here, or makeup runs, or dress fittings here. It’s been incredibly stress-free (so far) and to be honest, I forgot it was going on for a few weeks last month. When I did, I felt down that I was not in America where I could be having these appointments, get-togethers, maybe even a bridal shower. I’d be spending evenings browsing magazines over coffee with my friend in Barnes and Nobles, and weekend days in Michaels with my mom, finding craft materials. Here, I tried once to wait for Martha Stewart Weddings incredibly cumbersome site to load, gave up after fifteen minutes and never visited again.

One day, Jon even asked me if I was still happy to have chosen to have the wedding here.

Well, I could answer him honestly yes at the time – when I was probably at my lowest about this thing – and so I know that it was the right choice. I live here; we live here. I am a very DIY, hands-on kind of planner. I could not enjoy something that I had to plan blindly. Besides, Switzerland is, ah-hem, a tad bit prettier than Indiana. I feel absolutely no real connection to Indiana and would have insisted upon a destination wedding somewhere in America we’d never been. I.E. This shin-dig would’ve become very expensive.

Now that it is April things are picking up speed. I suppose the debut of spring has a profound effect on my mood as well, and I’m more motivated to tackle this list of things to do. And what a list it is. What was I thinking not doing anything in March?!? Oh yeah, I work better under pressure…

I am happy to have the wedding here. I am thankful that my close and truly intimate family is coming. My oldest friend is flying in for 36 hours in total. My other best friend is coming for a whole week. Jonathan is currently trying to coax me down from my soap-box about Geneva’s prices and indulge on a manicure here with her. Good thing he started early. My mother, brother, father and mother’s two best friends are coming. These two women are incredibly goofy and lovable and will bring a presence to the wedding that is truly unique. In fact, there is a part of me that really connects with them, and really only comes out when they are around. They take care of my mom too. So, they’re presence is a blessing.

Additionally, and this may sound crass but I’m a pragmatist, the small number of travelers means much less logistical work for me. I can actually visualize all of their flights, train rides, and the weekend flowing. (I do visualize it. I don’t sleep much.) I only get hung up about getting them to the wedding. Details! Seriously, I really just need one person to rent a car, or for Jon’s Aunt to be generous enough to help chauffeur, and to be honest, with the economic situation as it is, I am not inclined to ask travelers to rent a car. This detail I KNOW will work out, so I am not worried.

Finally, as the realization that very few Americans were coming has hit home, I have found myself scratching things off my list of to-do’s. I very much wanted to go the extra mile in crafty projects for this wedding. My mom constantly warns me not to overload myself, and I remind her that as I am not having a Bridal Shower, Bachelorette Party, or Rehearsal Dinner, I really can stand to make a newsletter for the reception toilets. I’ve got the time. Yet, now that it’s just the small group coming I’ve scratched that off the list.

If I sit down and think about the depth of this action, well, I get really confused. This post could get long as I attempt to explain to you, and to myself, where my motivation came from to do all these little crafty touches/matching color schemes (marketing, expectation, pride, the desire to impress?) and where they’ve gone now as a result of not having the audience I anticipated. Why don’t I still want to do these things for the few who come? Why don’t I want to do them for all the Swiss (whom I know nearly all of) coming? I still want to find sexy teal shoes (to no luck), but I’m knocking off the Bathroom Newsletter and a few other things.

I think Switzerland has a lot to do with this. Living here has given me perspective and intimate knowledge of a balanced life. I’ve also discovered the ability to enjoy, without guilt, the pleasures I find in life. Therefore I can actually look at a list of potential wedding crafts, calculate how many weeks are left, and weigh that against my desire to get the camera back out, get out for long walks as spring commences, to make collages, to relearn Italian, to go hiking in Italy, to make actual meals instead of dumping tuna and crackers in a bowl as I narrow my “list” down, and to clean the apartment at a consistent rate. When I do this weighing exercise, life wins out. Imagine that. I don’t think that I would have the same answer in America, at least not me, prior to this experience.

In face of my disappointment about bad-timing, and my subtle irritation about people who do not write me back, and dresses that have not been ordered, I am able to pinpoint with clarity the things that matter. A single card, out of the blue, from a friend in Neuchâtel who I see often enough, showed up in the snail mail to wish us Congratulations. My Dad is learning French. He would never tell me, but his girlfriend does, and he’s even ordered CDs! My mother is reading a self-written poem (hmm, Dad might too, but two poets reading is likely as smart an idea as having two chefs make the meal) and she is currently also taking French class and practicing the poem in French with a tutor. My best friend is learning a special blessing dance to perform for our guests. My other friend is flying here for 36 hours, did I mention? Last but not least, there’s Jon, which is all there really needs to be.

(A clear sky wouldn’t hurt either.)

April 2, 2008

Two European Bridal Events

Posted in Attire at 8:57 pm by Jess

For your calendar if you live in the area, or you’ve got it like that and can flit over 🙂

french-mag-6.jpg

and much later in Paris,

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you can visit their website at http://www.mariageaucarrousel.com

Personalized Wedding Candles

Posted in Favors at 8:57 pm by Jess

How about this for a personalized, and appreciated favor: They smell so good, they come from Provence!

Visit Alcante Bougies (That means candles in French)