Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How long does it take to find just the right shade of green ribbon? A very long time, apparently.

The second after I snapped this picture Sarah spotted a fifth green ribbon option on the wall behind me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Evan is one my many co-workers getting married this fall. In October.

Here he is, toiling away on a very big project at work.

His proposal was pretty adorable. Here's the description from their wedding website: "Evan proposed on a giant Scrabble board. His word (MARRYME?) was worth 1,872 points thanks to a custom-made 100-point question mark tile and the unorthodox use of 8 letters. After some initial laughing, crying, and joyful shouting, Shama said, 'YES!' and proceeded to play the word 'AVENUE' for a whopping 9 points. They did not finish the game."

When I took this picture, Evan, a little frazzled and overworked, said, "You should write about how my fiancee is annoyed with me because this project doesn't give me enough time to help with the wedding planning. [laughs weakly] That's what's on my mind right now."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Our ceremony isn't particularly religious, so there's the question of, what should we have for readings? Or should we have readings at all? We decided the answer to the latter question is "yes," and the answer to the former question is, "uhhhh..."

Neither of us have favorite passages of writing about love and/or marriage and what it all means. I was an English major in college but I've never been much of a quoter of great works. Or even not so great works.

After writing that last paragraph I sat here and thought, "Okay, think of one quotation. One line from something." The only thing that popped into my head was Elvis Costello's lyric from 'Angel's Wanna Wear My Red Shoes' that goes, "I said I'm so happy I could die/ She said drop dead then left with another guy." Not exactly inspirational.

Of course, there's the internet, but finding something unique on the internet is actually quite challenging. Most of the ways the internet works these days centers around getting you to go to the same places everyone else goes. If everyone types "unconventional wedding readings" into Google and visits the same few dozen recommended websites, most of which suggest all the same readings, just in a different order... how unconventional are they anymore?

(Maybe any reading not from the Bible could be considered "unconventional." So, you could type "unique wedding readings" into Google and get the same result, bringing the irony a little more sharply into focus.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

This dude is getting married in two weeks. Time to get your shit together.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I have almost no use for paper checks anymore. Everything is done online, or via instant withdrawal. Still, a few years back I got annoyed when I ran out of checks and ordered way too many boxes of replacements. I've been slowly working through those boxes, at a speed of two checks a month, for a long long time. The address on the checks is wrong. So much time has passed I feel like I should even have a different name by now.

I've been putting a real dent in those boxes this week, though. Lots of wedding bills coming due. Most wedding vendors apparently live in a quaint time bubble where written checks are the major form of currency (the same time bubble most landlords exist within).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This is what I've been saying to people lately when they ask me if I'm getting nervous or getting excited or just how the wedding is coming along in general:

It's like summer. Like being in school and looking forward to summer, wishing it would get here quicker, but also, at the same time, knowing you have finals first, stressing out and not feeling ready. Simultaneously wanting it here now, and wanting a little more time to study.

That's what it's like.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Friend and fellow improviser, Eckart, just got engaged to his longtime girlfriend.

Eckart: We own a house together now. I know I'm doing things in the wrong order but it seemed like a good idea.

Here he is pointing to the hand where a ring would or will go. I think that's what he's doing. Without the lady, there's really not much to take a picture of when a guy gets engaged. Nothing new to see yet, outwardly at least.

Eckart told the story of going out to a nice dinner with his girlfriend about a year into their relationship. Whoever had sat at their table before them had left a Tiffany's bag under the seat. His girlfriend found the bag, opened it, opened the ring box inside... and found it empty. Ouch.

Eckart: So when I decided to propose I took her out to the same restaurant, I went and got a Tiffany's bag...
Me: Was the ring from Tiffany's?
Eckart: No, no... it was... no, but that's not important. So, I put the ring in the bag and when she went to the bathroom I slipped it under her chair. When she came back she immediately said, "I can see that through the meshing on the chair." Oh well, what are you going to do? It still turned out pretty good.

I just noticed he's pointing to the wrong hand in the picture.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another picture from my parents' wedding album.

When Sarah and I were shopping around for photographers, looking through lots of portfolios, the main thing we agreed on was that we didn't like "effects" photos, pictures that were obviously photoshopped with new elements. For example, we saw a picture where a bride and groom were walking down a pier and walking next to them, headed in the other direction was the same couple, only slightly transparent. I'm not sure what it was supposed to mean, maybe their old lives fading away as they started a new one together, but mostly it just looked creepy, like they'd just brushed past their own ghosts.

I think it's that these types of pictures just don't seem real. And sort of silly.

And yes, this picture of my parents is kind of silly too, but I like it. Maybe because it's an in-camera effect.

Or maybe it's just the nostalgia factor. Maybe someday all those current black and white pictures with splashes of pastel pink or blue photoshopped in will seem quaint and retro instead of tacky and everyone will wonder, "Why can't we get pictures that look like that anymore?"

Monday, August 23, 2010

Before going into grad school, many many years ago, I had to take three of the basic GRE tests: Math, English, Critical Thinking.

I did okay on the Math. Above average on the English. And somehow got in the 99th percentile on Critical Thinking. Most of the questions on the test were things like, "Harry can't sit next to Sue. But Sue has to sit with Carl." It never seemed like the most useful skill in the world and the GRE administrators must have agreed because that particular test was discontinued the next year.

Now, working on the seating plan for the reception, my "critical thinking" skills are finally coming in handy. Between my 99th percentile aptitude for this sort of thing and several useful if imperfect internet seating tools, this should be a breeze.

But real life seating arrangements don't have right answers. Only different gradations of wrong answers. So... if Harry can't sit next to Sue and Sue has to sit with Carl... but Harry doesn't know anyone but Carl. Can Harry sit with strangers? Can you split up Sue and Carl? Now, when you say Harry can't sit next to Sue, does that mean just next to, or they can't sit at the same table at all?

And really, the problem has less to do with individuals and more to do with groups. The family groups. The work groups. The improv group groups. These groups are rarely divisible by perfect 8 seat tables. And it seems unavoidable to have empty seats and extra tables just to make everything work. It'll never all click together perfectly like some manufactured quiz question.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A little hungover and trying to whiten my teeth.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bachelor party. Paintball.

Sweaty and painful but fun. It was a good group for it too, all of us willing to get into the ridiculousness without being weirdos about. Basically, none of us were too good at paintball so it's wasn't unfun to be bad at paintball.

When we weren't running around dodging paint bullets we'd make dumb jokes, pretending to be in a war movie (although never, I think, in an actual war). At one point I said, in my best gravelly voice, "The whole time I was out there, staring death in the face, I kept thinking that I've got a good woman waiting for me at home. And if I get out of here alive I'm going to marry her."

In retrospect, it's probably unwise to play paintball so close to the wedding. Too many ways to hurt yourself. And I did walk away with several welts, including a couple on my hand. Somehow I kept getting shot in the hand, as if in a movie where an amazing marksmen shoots guns out of people's hands. And it hurt. And it left some marks. But luckily I only got hit on my non-marrying hand, so it should be okay.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I mentioned a few weeks back the wedding of Bagnall and Josh.

Their wedding pictures have hit Facebook and I thought I'd share this great one of them showing off the tag team wrestling championship belts they wore into their reception.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

While shopping around online for the event liability insurance we need to get for the wedding, I discovered that some insurance companies are now offering "Change of Heart" insurance to protect couples from "cold feet."

A bit sad. But the thing about it that surprised me the most is that you can take out a policy as late as 12 hours before the wedding. Isn't that basically inviting fraud? "Well... it's looking like this wedding isn't happening, better get some last minute insurance." How would they make any money? It's like buying auto insurance in the middle of a car accident.

When I mentioned this to Sarah she said, "Maybe that's a good sign. Maybe that means most people end up going through with it after all."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My friend, Shelly's last show on the Second City Mainstage. She's been hired to write for Saturday Night Live.

I was lucky enough to get to perform with Shelly for a couple years on the (now-retired) improv team Otis.

The show was great and Shelly was great in it. Sharp and funny and challenging.

At the closing of the farewell set at the end of the show, she ended her thank you speach with a story about her first Second City show, which her family came to see, and how she had thought it had gone badly, and that she had been bad in it. She talked about how she was visibly upset and how, on the car ride home, she refused to let any of her family members make her feel better. As she was unlocking the front door to her apartment building, though, her father rolled down his window and yelled out, "But you're in the game! When I was in high school I was on the team for four years and I suited up for every game and never got off the bench. Not once! But you're doing it! You're in the game!"

I'm not sure why sports metaphors always seem to work so well on improvisers, a group that is often not the most sports-savvy (or even sports-interested), but they do. And it looked to me like that story every performer on that stage well up a little. It got me too.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Also, when I got back into the office yesterday I found a package sitting on my desk. My wedding ring.

I was the only one working in the big front room that day, so it was mostly just me and the ring. I'd try it on, look at it, take it off. Try it on again. And think, "I'm getting married."

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm not sure what I all missed at work while I was gone, but this dance pad was left sitting behind my desk.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Another trip to Blueberry Island comes to an end.

After I got doused in beer, Meador, got doused in gasoline, several dips in the lake, fixing a grill and cooking on a grill, drinking, laughing, bickering, spending an hour trying to figure out how to play the Battlestar Galactica board game before one of us angrily yelled that they hated it and that he was going for a walk, a viewing of the entertainingly terrible movie 'The Expendables' and talking about a big year ahead with weddings and a baby and a new job (all for different people)... we were ready to head home.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Young had to drive out to the cabin later than planned because of a commercial call back, something that's been happening more and more often lately. Call backs, I mean.

Here he uses a laptop to show his new Honda commercial to Hansen and Trupe. And if you live in Iowa or Missouri you can see it too.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I find myself noticing things I wouldn't notice before, like what people do with their wedding rings.

Out on the pontoon boat I start noticing where people put their rings before they jump in the lake.

Here is Nick's, in the cup holder next to the steering wheel.

Martin put his in water-proof well in the table, with everyone's cameras. I noticed he checks on it after someone puts something new in there, maybe to make sure the ring isn't getting scratched.

Trupe doesn't wear a ring, and Hansen left his ring at home, not bringing it Blueberry Island at all, "so as not to lose it."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blueberry Island. My yearly cabin trip with a group of friends.

Drinking and various games of skill (or lack thereof).

Meador and Nick (far) are doing well at washers. At least, they're doing better than Trupe and I. The washers Trupe and I throw keep falling way short of the washer box. Eventually they start landing closer to the box, sometimes even bouncing against the side, but still rarely going in.

Trupe: This is brutal.
Me: Well, at least we're getting closer.
Trupe: You mean emotionally?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One month. ONE MONTH!

Was there ever a couple more in need of a professional photographer?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Massive group wedding shower at work.

I mentioned before, a lot of co-workers are getting married this year... but it's more than that... they're all getting married in the next few months. Seven weddings between now and mid-October.

And that's not counting people going on maternity/paternity leave.

The office may be a ghost town.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Another picture from my parents' wedding album. Honestly, I could probably do a blog post about every picture in there (and eventually may).

Here's a classic "struggle outside the church" photo with my dad and three of his eight brothers. Uncle Pat (aka "Mudboat"), Uncle "Spiker" Mike and Uncle Paul.

I can't exactly tell if they're supposed to be pulling him into the church or away from it. Is it "You gotta get in there," or "Don't do it man"? Or maybe it's a tug of war, Uncle Pat responsibly trying to drag him up the stairs towards his wedding, while the other two are headed in a direction less reputable.

Either way, I like those suits. I'd wear that suit exactly if I felt like I could pull it off.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sarah's bridal shower!

Here's Sarah with her grandmother and my mother.

First instance of families meeting!

Per tradition, I only made brief cameo appearance but it sounds like things went swimmingly.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Shane, like Trupe, needed a new invite. Even though I see him most Saturdays at Whirled News (minus all the shows I've had to miss for wedding stuff), I keep forgetting to bring him one.

Shane: I was starting to think you didn't want me there.

My second favorite all time wedding moment happened at Shane's wedding several years back. Well... maybe "favorite" isn't the right word. Or maybe I should say my second favorite wedding story came from his wedding.

Several people gave speeches at Shane's reception. When it was his grandfather's turn, he stood up and said, "Shane and I have had a falling out ever since he decided not to become a brain surgeon." He paused a moment... then sat down. The end.

"Shane and I have had a falling out ever since he decided not to become a brain surgeon." Full speech.

I think it was supposed to be funny. I think. At least partly. Either way, second favorite wedding story.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sarah: [via gchat] Is there a way you could write a post subtly hinting that women should not wear high heels and should bring sweaters to the wedding on your blog? Or just tell people I made you write a blog post about it. I don't care.
Me: Okay.
Sarah: Just get the word out!

Edited to add: Basically the ground sinks a little bit and we'll be outside all night so maybe it's a good idea not to wear "your best heels and maybe some would be more comfortable in flats, wedges; basically something that won't possibly sink and make you uncomfortable. "

Thursday, August 5, 2010

One last picture from Alex and Megan's wedding.

I feel like I may have accidentally caught them in one of the few quiet moments of it all sinking in, just coming from ceremony and pictures and about to head into the reception, both of them adjusting to their new rings.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We're still working on figuring out where to have our rehearsal dinner/gathering for folks who are in town early.

On the recommendation of a bartender we talked to during our last visit we looked into Turner Hall, an old city-owned theater. The video on their website opens, "In 1874 the citizens of Galena built Turner Hall for entertainments of respectable character."

We got a little excited at the prospect of it. It would almost have certainly have been too big, but the location was right and the price was very reasonable, especially considering you could bring in your own food and booze.

Sadly, it's already booked for that weekend with a play. Some entertainment of respectable character, no doubt.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sarah and I have been toying with the idea of doing something with pictures of our family members' weddings.

I asked my mom to send us a picture or two from their wedding. She immediately put her whole wedding album in the mail. I didn't realize it was all the pictures she had from the wedding or that she would send it uninsured. It didn't show up for a long time and I was beginning to worry that it was lost in the mail, something that seems to happen quite a bit in Chicago.

Thankfully, just before I started to panic, it showed up. A modest little album, about six inches by six inches, with maybe a dozen little pictures inside. All of them incredible.

Happy 36th anniversary Mom and Dad.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Driving home from Galena yesterday we both agreed that it was time to get back to eating heatlhy in hopes of losing just a little more weight before the wedding.

Then we realized we didn't have any groceries at home. So we stopped at KFC and out of morbid curiosity ordered the Double Down, a sandwich that uses two chicken breasts instead of bread.

Sarah: Tomorrow. We start tomorrow.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

We weren't looking to get married in a church, but the farm we're renting has an old chapel sitting on the grounds and it's a neat little space so we've decided to do the ceremony there instead of outside.

The chapel didn't originate on the farm. It has an interesting history, as depicted in numerous newspaper clippings and pictures which all hang in the back room behind the alter.

There's also an official transcript from the story on the chapel that ran on Paul Harvey News which reads as follows:

"Excerpt from Paul Harvey News… October 11, 1996

"A longtime Apple River, Illinois farmer so loved his land… that he always said he wanted to be buried on his land. He wanted forever to be a part of it. But when he died last summer and his widow set about to fulfill his wish… She was told that human remains may be entombed only in a licensed cemetery… or in a churchyard.

"She buried him in a cemetery but she continued grieving. Until the other day she heard that a church was bankrupt and abandoned… The farmer’s wife bought the church… Hired a semi to load and move the church with its steeple reaching 60 feet into the sky… Power company linemen lowered power lines to allow it to pass... And the church was trucked to the farm… And at a cost of seventy thousand dollars to buy the church and have it moved…

"The Apple Valley farmer has come home. Dug up from the impersonal pay-as-you-go place and buried where he wanted to be on his own farm… BUT IN A CHURCH YARD!"

The farmer's daughter runs the farm now. The story she tells about the little chapel doesn't line up with Paul Harvey's version 100%. The restrictions on where the father could be buried sound a little exaggerated, and the church itself was available not because the congregation had gone bankrupt but simply because they'd built a new church and didn't need the old one. Still, it's a nice story and a beautiful little chapel.

The farmer was the first person buried next to the newly located chapel (there are a few more tombstones out there now), and the daughter who runs the place was the first person married there.

And now you... more or less... know the rest of the story. GOOD DAY!