A Pain in the Neck

Sorry for the light posting this week, but I've got some serious neck pain and have been trying to avoid the computer as much as possible. I'm shutting down for the long weekend. Hope you all have a great Memorial Day! We'll be getting our drink on, swimming at the lake, and hosting friends. Have fun!

WeddOMG: The Shoes

Maybe my mom felt a little deprived because we only went to one bridal salon to try on dresses, but within thirty seconds of driving away from that appointment, she was already talking about what shoes I was going to wear. The next day she dragged me around from store to store, looking for something that would work. I really had to indulge her on this one. The reality of the gown purchase hadn't even sunk in yet. Couldn't we just enjoy it and celebrate our success? We were being so efficient up until that point, and now here we were, on a Saturday at the mall, attempting to find bridal shoes.

I don't know about where you live, but here in the Triangle area, department stores just don't carry many bridal-appropriate shoes. I get that lots of brides are opting to do the bright pop of color on their feet, but I am trying to avoid the obvious trends like that. Plus, our color palette doesn't really lend itself to footwear. I just want a white--or maybe silver--shoe that isn't too high or uncomfortable.

My shoes are hardly going to be visible, so they just need to be the right height and not clash with my gown for the occasional peek at my feet when I'm out twirling on the dance floor. Oh yeah, and they have to feel good. Like, better than any of the formal shoes I have ever worn in my entire life. Let's be real: most formal shoes hurt like a bitch. How many proms did you spend barefoot?*

So, I've been consulting the online bride forums, and over and over again, I've seen women recommend Jimmy Choos for their comfort. The price tag for a pair of pumps is more than shocking, but for something that is going to feel and look fabulous? I think it might be worth it.

While perusing the Jimmy Choo website, I saw that there's a whole bridal boutique! My current obsession is this sparkly pair.


What do you think? And a larger question: bridal shoes--splurge or save?

*My answer: four.

A True Partner

(Some of you have asked to see my wedding dress. I'd love to share it, but I'm keeping it a secret from Carolina Man! Feel free to email me at thenonstudent@gmail.com if you want a picture.) 

In the past, the term "partner" was one I used only because I hated referring to a significant other as "boyfriend." Saying "partner" sounded less sophomoric, more serious and committed. And sometimes it kind of confused people who were used to hearing the word only to describe gay and lesbian couples. I sort of liked that. It felt like I was being ultra-politically correct by using it.

But in reality, I had no freaking idea what I was talking about. I threw around the term "partner" mostly because I wanted to be treated like an adult and I liked the way it sounded, not because it was a true reflection of that relationship.

Partnership is teamwork. It's unity and commonality. It is a locked-arm-in-arm way of moving forward into the unknown of the future. And it's also wrapped up in the mundane tasks of daily life, like unloading the dishwasher even if it isn't your turn. Or picking up the dog's poop again. It's learning to love someone's family as your own.

Carolina Man is my partner in the truest sense of the word. Yesterday after my mom left to go visit my uncle, he held me as I cried, feeling overwhelmed not only by her departure, but by how my life has changed over the past year. Change for the good is still change, and it can sting in the most unexpected ways. As difficult as it is to feel those things, I know I can do so safely in his arms. No matter how I'm feeling, or what triggered my emotions, he is reassuring and affirming. Those moments are what deepen and solidify the trust we are continually building.

The best compliments Carolina Man and I have received as a couple are the ones that reflect our striving to act as a team in all that we do, whether that's in how we have conversations with each other or how we train our dog Lucy. My mom said the other day that she knew we would be great parents because we will raise our children with intentionality. I believe she is absolutely right about that.

Carolina Man and I still have so much to learn about each other. But with each hurdle we encounter, we do so with honesty, respect, and love for one another.


I Said Yes to the Dress!

No one was more excited about shopping for a wedding dress than my mom. She works for an accountant, so for the first few months of wedding planning leading up to Tax Day, I was spared from the daily deluge of emails with links to gowns my mom just had to see me try. Once she was done with tax returns, she was in full dress shopping mode and made plans to come to Carolina asap.

Wanting to make the most of our weekend together, I booked five appointments for us between Friday and Tuesday. My friends told me I was beyond nuts, but part of me knew we wouldn't end up going to all five appointments, especially when we started at the creme de la creme of bridal shops in the Triangle--Alexia's Bridal.

Mom and I showed up a few minutes before our appointment. I was a bundle of nerves and excited energy. With all of the craziness of work, I seriously had not given much thought to wedding gowns, and despite my addictions to wedding shows, I wasn't prepared for the emotional element of the appointment. Once we met our consultant, I felt much more at ease. She was attentive, sweet, and seemed to get the feel of the dress I wanted. A few minutes of questions later, and off she went in her platform heels to pull some gowns for me.

I stripped down, got into the bustier she got for me, and stepped carefully into the first gown--a beautiful A-line lace number with cap sleeves and an open back. It was beautiful, and I loved how I looked in it. There's something to be said of that first gown you try on, especially when you add the veil. But, the most I felt about it was that it was a gorgeous gown.

And I felt that way about the next six dresses I tried. I absolutely loved each one; they were beautiful and flattering, except for a very couture Vera Wang gown that resembled a Q-tip. Mom and I were out on the floor to look at one of them in the light when we spotted a lace Monique Lhuillier gown with a sweetheart neckline. I had to try it.

As I slipped into the gown and the consultant zipped up the back, I felt this surge of emotion building up. As I walked out to the mirror where my mom was sitting, my voice got shaky and I got teary. "This is how I want to look on my wedding day," I said through the tears. It was elegant and intricate, yet simple and classic. I couldn't have told you what it was about the gown that made me feel that way, but it all just came together and made me feel like a bride. Like I was actually going to wear this gown to marry the love of my life.

I don't know. It sounds silly, but just like meeting the right partner, you know when you know. And I knew. But I didn't know if my mom knew. She said it was beautiful, but she wasn't reacting any more than she had to any other dress. This kind of made my heart sink. I decided to try on some totally different gowns, just to make sure I knew what I wanted. They were pretty, but they paled in comparison.

Finally, I slipped back into my favorite gown, and that was it. I never wanted to take it off. And once my mom knew that it was the one for me, she let her guard down and the waterworks started. She later told me that she didn't want to influence my decision  and tried to be as neutral as possible. I appreciated that, but deep down I wanted my mom to love it, too. Once I knew she did, I was sold.

Buying that gown has made the wedding so much more tangible. I can picture myself getting married now. And as sad as I am to wait nearly a year before I get to wear it, I am so excited. This whole process has been so easy thus far. It's meant to be.

A Point of Personal Privilege

It has been a heartbreaking week to be a North Carolinian. As I've been making bridal gown appointments and chatting with perky wedding gown consultants, I've been thinking about how my state has not only added another layer of discrimination against gay and lesbian couples who want to marry or otherwise have their relationship recognized by the state, but also it's added a new discriminatory precedent for those couples who, for whatever reason, have decided not to marry.

A few weeks ago I watched the denomination that baptized me uphold its stance that homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching." In the debates, I heard over and over that "we love everyone." But if someone were to say to me that they loved me, that they loved Carolina Man, but yet they believed in all seriousness that God condemned our relationship, our love, our being together? That is not love, at least not the kind I want. The kind that judges what only my partner and I can know--the way that we honor, respect, and love one another when nobody else is around.

I feel torn. Ought we to marry at all, knowing that in so doing we are buying into a political and in our case, religious reality that says no to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters? I used to question if I'd ever marry, but only because I thought I'd never find someone, not because I legally couldn't. I've taken my freedom to marry for granted.

Perhaps it all is too easy for us straight folks to get married. Because honestly, if there really is a threat to the institution of marriage as we know it (and honestly, I have no idea if it's truly worth saving in its current state), the threat is how lightly it's portrayed publicly and how nonchalantly it's entered into privately by us straight folks. And no, I'm not saying divorce is evil or anything like that. God knows, it was best for my parents to get the hell away from each other.

But, in my eyes, nothing could be better for the "institution of marriage" than for more committed couples--in whatever form they take--to be part of it.

Bridal Gown Bonanza

My life was overtaken by The United Methodist Church General Conference, which was essentially a giant clusterf@$#. I don't think anyone left there feeling good about much of anything. Yay, bureaucracy.

But, now that that's over I can concentrate on other things. Like bridal gowns. Mom is heading here on Friday, and I've scheduled four appointments, all evenly spaced, to get my gown shoppin' on. I think this will really make the reality of getting married a bit more real in my mind. I remember going with my friend L to to get her dress, and how it all suddenly clicked. She was a bride! I'm looking forward to having a moment like that.

I can't say I'm overly nervous about it. Finding formal gowns has always been a treat, maybe because I'm 5'9" and the formal wear industry is biased to favor us gigantors. I'm going into it with an open mind about what I'll end up with. Strapless, with straps. Lace, silk, satin. I'm open to them all. The only thing I don't think I could go for is SUPER POOFY DRESS. One of the salons scared me a bit by advertising that they have an entire line inspired by Disney princesses. This could go poorly.

So, a question to my fellow brides-to-be/past brides/people who have gone wedding dress shopping: how many stores did you go to? How many dresses did you try on? And did you have an "OMG this is it" moment where you knew you didn't need to try on anymore?