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.)



  1. Sarah said,

    We’re planning our wedding in my hometown in Canada from the UK, and I feel like I can relate to a lot of what you’re saying. I sometimes feel like I missed out on some of same things you mentioned: hitting the craft stores with my Mom or going dress shopping with my bridesmaids. I’ve found myself feeling rather sad not having my closest girlfriends around at this exciting time.

    But planning from afar has also given me some perspective that I don’t think I would have had if I was living in Canada. It has allowed me to realize what is really important. I’m going to be married to a wonderful man in front of family and friends and it really doesn’t matter if I don’t have the time (or the luggage space) to organize some of the crafts or decor that I see in Martha Stewart…

    Anyways, best of luck with the rest of your planning! (and by the way, you write beautifully).

  2. Christina said,

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. You basically captured everything that I had been feeling as well. I got engaged in Feb 07, and decided to plan a destination wedding to Barbados for June 7, 2008. We invited over 80 people, knowing that most wouldn’t come but we at least thought we would have 40-50 people. With the wedding a few weeks away, we will have a total of 20! It was hard for me to say that a lot of the “no’s” was due to the economy because some of our guests have been taking trips throughout the year. So, I was angry and confused about my anger. Out of the 80 we invited only 35 or so returned RSVP’s, no cards of congratulations, and 1 gift that was actually mailed to our house. We invited mostly family and people we thought were truly our friends. These folks were around before the engagement but during the engagement they disappeared. So, like you, I started to cut back on things that I wanted to do for this wedding. After reading your posts, I learned that what I’m feeling is total disappointment, and that I should thankful for those that are able to make it. I guess this is God’s way of putting the importance of marriage back where it should be, on you and your love.

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