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.)

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February 20, 2008

Our Story

Posted in About this Blog at 12:17 pm by Jess

In January 2006, I flew out to spend the week visiting my father, who was working on a project in San Francisco. He could not get vacation time to visit me in Dallas, so I flew out to visit the city for the first time, and to meet him for dinner every evening.

Meanwhile, Jonathan, who was making his way around the world on a personal voyage, was spending three weeks in the city of San Francisco, staying in a hostel, and taking photographs. He was spending his last day in San Francisco, searching for chocolate to ease his sweet tooth, on the day that I met him.

I suppose that I really owe our meeting to a ruddy faced Irish man named Dan – the Concierge at the Marriot Hotel. I consulted with him for awhile in the morning, laughing at his jokes, as he pointed out all the places in the city that I should visit. He gave me a map, and drew out a route that I might start out with.

So I did. I visited Haight Ashbury, the Botanical Gardens, the Japanese Tea Gardens all before noon. Then I took a bus north from there, to the wharf. At the wharf, I grew hungry for lunch. I called my Dad from my table inside McCormick and Schmitts, to tell him how much I was enjoying this vacation already, staring at the island of Alcatrez in th view, and eating a giant crabcake. Little did I know how much more I would mean that sentence, just a few hours later.

I polished off the crabcake, paid and stepped out into Ghirardelli Square with a ravenous sweet tooth. So, of course I went directly into the Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop, just for a nibble, and a large coffee. As I was ordering, I saw a handsome young man practically attacking the chocolate on the shelves. He would pick one up, study it and then put it down, just to pick up another, and then another. Obviously, he could not make up his mind. So, I said to him, ” You know they give free samples right?” I wasn’t really sure, but I pestered the teenage boy behind the counter into giving this man one. He turned and smiled, and I saw that his face was even more handsome face-on. Behind him I noticed that there was only one other person in the shop – a girl of my age.  I honestly figured that she was his girlfriend and not wanting to make a fool of myself,  quickly left. Outside in the courtyard square, I walked around reading plaques. Suddenly, this cute man was passing me. He smiled and said “Thanks.” And he just walked right past me! I was confused. So, that was not his girlfriend, but still, he did not stop to talk to me either. I made a little tour of the buildings, then walked back across the square. And there he was again! This time we just looked at each other and smiled. I thought to myself at the time, “Jessica, this is so very stupid, and not like you. Just stop and talk to him!” But when I turned around to do just that, he was gone.

I was so disappointed. I get shy for the first time in my life, and he disappears. I believe that even in those first moments, there was an undeniable spark. Why else would I have been so dejected, and feeling that I had really let something important walk away?

Turns out, he was waiting for me to come out of the square. I guess he is lucky that I did – I could have left the other way. But I didn’t. And there he was, on the boardwalk, taking photos. I walked past him, and pretended to look at the trinkets at the sidewalk kiosks. I saw out of the corner of my eye that he had noticed me, and then walked behind me with his camera, continuing down the street. I started after him, but he leaned down to take photos, so I passed him again. Another stop to regard the souvenirs, and he was just about to walk past me again when I wheeled around, now at the corner of the street. He stopped, smiled at me, looking very confused and anxious. I blurted out“Hello, Would you like to walk together from here?”

We could say, the rest is history, but I’ll tell you a little more. Jon and I owe our meeting to our sweet tooths, specifically for chocolate. We spent the first day knowing each other walking hours and hours around the city, actually marking off everything Dan the Concierge had suggested I find in a week, and trying no less than five different chocolate shops.

Just before dinner, as we were watching the seals at Pier 49, my dad called me to say that a business meeting had come up, and he had to cancel dinner. So, we ate together too. Jon picked the restaurant, and not knowing it, he picked The Stinky Rose – a restaurant that makes every single dish loaded down with garlic. We even had garlic ice cream!

A few hours later I found myself, at four a.m., after having stayed up talking at the hotel lobby bar, saying an awkward goodbye. He had to leave, to get on a plane to Hawaii in three hours! (Oh how I pitied the people sitting near him as his plane was delayed on the tarmac for six hours. I woke my own self up in the middle of the night with the stench of garlic!!)

A week later, or perhaps even less, I flew from San Fran back to Dallas, repacked my luggage, and flew to Kona, Hawaii, where  I spent a most magical three weeks with Jonathan, and then his father who arrived after a week. There was a little more traveling to do on Jon’s trip. I moved from Texas, temporarily, to my mom’s in Indiana to wait for him to finish visiting China and Australia. Then he came to meet all my family in Tennessee, Texas, and good old South Bend, Indiana. So exotic after China, I know. This was only after knowing each other, oh, three months, but something told me that I should introduce him to the family. At least they had a right to meet the guy who was pulling me out of the United States, to live with him in Switzerland, which is exactly what I did in May of 2006.

And eventually, he gave me a ring, and inside the ring is engraved “Chocolate and Love Ever After, Love Jon”

February 8, 2008

About this Blog

Posted in About this Blog at 3:21 pm by Jess

I realize that there are many wedding blogs in existence already. Good ones, blinding ones, disappointing ones. In fact, there are an overwhelming amount of blogs on any and every subject out there. So what could one more hurt? 🙂

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Seriously, I have a few goals with this blog for you readers, so let me share them with you now:

§§  I would like to get more experience in wedding planning, and work my way into the business. So, I need to learn. This blog will be my way to document what I learn in each area of a Wedding. This blog will be a great tool for anyone who is out there looking to plan her own wedding, or a first time planning any event. Please share your own tips if you feel inclined!

§§ I am going to share what I learn with your. So many companies tried the hush-hush, introverted method and have not grown. The best companies succeed because they share information (Ok, the fiancé is an open-source guy, so he has also influenced this mentality). I may get into this subject in the blog, but the point is, I hope to share and help people who are searching for wedding ideas too.

§§ I’m also planning my own wedding. I’m going to put down all the details of my own planning and eventually, show you the final result.  I am a writer at heart so my personal entries will have ideas, but they will also be personal stories. My wedding planning will always tell you about the different customs and traditions, obstacles and surprises that arise when planning a wedding in a foreign country! This will also be helpful to any people living in one country and hosting an event that invites guests to visit from another country.

§§ For people trying to hold a relatively budget-friendly wedding, you can look for Budget Friendly Posts, or just read along about my wedding – I have a budget of 15,000 dollars. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but given that there are 800 million individuals on earth suffering from malnutrition, it is plenty. My mantra is “Make it Happen, Make it Memorable.”

§§ Last but not least, you will get eye candy! Everybody needs inspiration, and everyone likes some good wedding eye candy.

February 7, 2008

Bonjour Mes Amies

Posted in About this Blog at 7:25 pm by Jess

Welcome to my new blog, Weddings Start to Finish.

Before I tell you about this wedding blog, let me start by telling you a bit about the author. I am a 26 year old Aries, living in Switzerland. I have lived in a few other countries, but I mainly grew up as a Midwestern Girl with Texan roots.

Before falling for a European man, I worked a 9-to-5 job that was actually more like, well, 8-to-10. It was rough. The one bright side to every single day was the work I did with the company’s Event Planner, working as her assistant for certain projects, and planning and producing my first event. It was a Christmas party for needy children. There was nothing over-the-top, and the budget was something like 1,000 dollars. And yet, the stress was incredible.

I discovered an odd thing. My “important” day-job bored me. I got a high, truly, off of the stress of helping with these events. I already knew that I was a list junkie, but turns out there was a place to put those list-making skills to work.

But then I quit my job. I moved to Switzerland. I have lived here for two years now, loving my boyfriend, loving the food, but wondering what happened to that spark I used to have. Last fall, the boyfriend proposed. It took about 24 hours. And oh, about 8 a.m. the next morning, over a café au lait (I still drink skim, even here thankyouverymuch) and a croissant, I started to make a list for the wedding.

That list scared me. Wow it was long.

And I looked at that list, and thought “Yes!” This is where its at. I dig the stress people, sick but true.

So, a little randomness about me, just to get more intimate:

I love chili, but mine mixes beef and beans (Gasp, don’t tell the Texans in my family). I like to eat cheese with dark chocolate. I don’t have a favorite color. I live amongst the Alps: I don’t ski, snowboard or embrace the cold. Taco Bell is one of my favorite foods. So is this cheese, which is just more fun than most cheeses, scallops in black truffle shavings and fresh raspberry jam. I once stopped my car from careening over a cliff, only to hit another car and get a ticket for “Driving with inadequate brakes.” My best friend has a number in her name. I never liked birds, not before they got trendy, not now. I’m slightly anal about my piling system, and I am extremely direct.

So there you go. Is there anything you want to know?