Wednesday, October 24, 2007

In which I bore you with wedding details.

So, I got an email from our wedding site on Sunday saying that people are starting to show interest in November 2008 dates and therefore we need to sign a contract and pay a deposit, stat. This set off a whole chain of events that, in a nutshell, means that the wedding planning is officially Back On. Because, oh my god, I can no longer sit around being like, "Eh, the wedding is over a year away! PLENTY of time!" Because it seems that most people plan their weddings for about a year after they get engaged, so lots of people are now starting to be interested in our date, which means that if I want to get specific vendors at good prices, now is the time. Or really, last month was the time. Whoops.

So the first thing in the chain of events is the caterer. Since the caterer is exclusive to the venue, I want to sign the contracts for the two of them at the same time, so that we don't somehow get screwed out of one or the other and then wind up totally stuck. So I emailed our contact at the caterer, who has been ever-so-responsive and also doubles as our day-of coordinator, to say that I'd like to sign the contract with her and also to give her our dessert and pasta selection, finally (we went with the pumpkin), since that will slightly change the price that will be reflected in the contract.

I figured she'd be happy that we wanted to sign a contract and hand over a check, but no response. Given how responsive she usually is, I found that strange--so yesterday I called her, and (you might see this one coming) a strange woman answered the phone and informed me that our DOC no longer works for the caterer, as of three weeks ago.

Ha ha ha ha ha HA. Was no one going to mention this to us? Could they not set up some sort of auto-reply to her email address informing people that she's no longer with the company? Somebody? Anybody? Bueller?

Anyway, I nicely refrained from pitching a fit because a) I'm not a Bridezilla, b) it wasn't this poor woman's fault, and c) I was at work. Instead, I told her who I was, she called up our file, and we spent the next half hour or so rehashing everything I'd already been through with the other woman. Including, let's see, the most important aspects--the menu and the price. Basically, the other woman had our "file," but that only meant that she had the original quote that we'd been given, which was a good $1,000 higher than the final price we'd negotiated and did not include the open bar. Luckily, I had a whole email trail of the back-and-forth, including the revised proposal with the correct price and the open bar included, so I just forwarded all that on to her and she seemed fine with it. Let's just hope that this woman is as good as she sounds and that the contract she sends reflects everything we specified at the correct price. Until that happens, my personal jury is still out. But being able to deal with this unexpected issue actually made me feel really organized, which was a first for me on this whole wedding planning thing.

Though I wasn't so organized on the menu--I had taken notes on what we'd selected during our tasting, but unfortunately I had assumed that our DOC had everything noted and thus gave the menu with our notes to Torsten's parents when they were visiting, because they asked if they could have it. Not irretrievable, but still, rather than having him try to call them and ask them to find it again, I just went to the menu options and tried to recreate the menu from memory. I'm almost positive that I got it right, and if not--well, hey, what I did pick sounded good too.

Speaking of Torsten's parents, this is the other thing that this email from the site set into motion. Since signing contracts means paying deposits, both Torsten and I sent emails to our respective sets of parents, more or less asking for money. Now, my parents have already agreed to pay for the wedding, within reason, less whatever Torsten's parents agree to spend. As you may remember, Torsten's parents already agreed to contribute, but how much was left up in the air. Torsten thought it would be half of the cost, but we weren't sure because they actually laughed when we showed them our projected budget. And his mom made comments like, "You could rent a site like that for $80 in Germany," and "I have a friend who could do the flower arrangements from her own garden for free."

Anyway, my mother, who is amazing--AMAZING--wrote back to my e-mail within 12 hours and simply said that a check in the amount of the combined deposits for the caterer, site, and photographer was in the mail. Because did I mention that she is amazing? And then Torsten's parents called and said that they will contribute an amount that is equivalent to approximately one-fifth of the total cost of the wedding.

There isn't really anything to do in that situation, besides just say thank you and accept their generosity for what it is. I mean, we asked them to contribute whatever amount they wanted, and we know that they feel somewhat alienated from the whole wedding planning process, and that the idea of the cost of a wedding in a big American city is totally outside of their realm of understanding. But we also know that they make about the same annual income as my parents and don't have any debt, even a mortgage. And Torsten truly believed that his parents would do what he would have done in that situation, which is to unreservedly pay for half.

Apparently his parents asked if that amount was okay, and it is, of course it is, because it's still a sizable chunk of money and we told them to give whatever they wanted to give. So Torsten said yes, of course, and when he told me about it later I told him to just write them an email saying thank you for the generous contribution. And it is generous, and I do appreciate it, and at least my parents won't have to pay for the entire thing themselves.

But it does rankle a little bit that Torsten's mom made a justification comment along the lines of, "We're sure that Jess's parents have so much more money than we do." Because that is patently not the case, and it's not really a fair assumption on their part, and it makes me a little upset that my parents are going to shell out the vast majority of the wedding cost even though it's not exactly easy for them to hand over that amount of money, and then their names will be listed together on the invitation as though both sets of parents had contributed equally. Even though I feel really petty thinking about the invitation thing.

Sorry, I just needed to vent briefly. Really, I am grateful that his parents are contributing at all, and I know it was a shock for them to find out how much the wedding will cost, and that it's hard for them to conceive of their son marrying someone that they've only met once, and it's tough for them to come to terms with the fact that their son is going to permanently settle in a country a whole ocean away. And we weren't planning to milk them for money and then go crazy with some lavish wedding--we've been working within a pretty strict budget this whole time anyway. And I already called my mom and told her the news, and she took it pretty well and reiterated what she's said all along, which is that we should have the wedding we want and that we shouldn't worry about cutting corners to save a couple hundred dollars here and there. Because--and I'm pretty sure this bears repeating--she is AMAZING.

But still. It seems unfair, and I feel bad for my parents. And also violently grateful to them, for being so generous, and for not asking us to pay. And I also feel bad for Torsten, who feels especially guilty about putting the majority of the cost burden onto my parents.

But now that I've moved into pay-deposits-sign-contracts-nail-down-details mode, I'm on a roll. I've looked into florists and bakeries, and I've called two DJs, with whom I will make appointments soon, and I have a list of potential officiants for a secular ceremony. Things are Happening, is the point here, and I feel so much better knowing I'm getting things done.

And also, yesterday Torsten got his American license. This means he can now legally drive in the US again. I can be a passenger! I can relax! I can look out the window! We can rent a car without paying the extortionate fees for an under-25 driver! It's like a whole new perspective on life. I cannot even begin to describe the extent of my excitement.


  1. Oh my word, reading all that makes me want to cry and hide under my desk. Eloping is sounding better and better. I wish I were as organized as you are!

    (Congrats to your man on his license!)

  2. i just wandered over here and found this and it sounds JUST like what im going through, except my future parents-in-law live in RI and not Eurpope - but money talks always always suck! Good luck!!

  3. Wow, so exciting about Torsten getting his license. Being a passenger is SO nice sometimes! Congrats.

    Also, about the wedding money issues. Money is always such a sensitive subject no matter who you're talking to or what it's about, but it really seems like you're handling the situation gracefully and have the right perspective on everything. Simply emailing Torsten's parents thanking them for their generosity says a lot (as opposed to demanding they put up more money). And I'm sure your parents see your gratefulness towards their generosity as well, and appreciate that you're dedicated to sticking to a budget.

    Sounds like you've got things under control!

  4. I totally feel you on the money issue. We experienced the same thing, only it was my parents who put up 1/5 of what Jason's parents did. (To be totally fair, this is my second marriage, but even adding what my parents contributed to my first marriage [in a teeny town where everything was either free or dirt cheap] PLUS what they gave us this time was still a considerable amount less than what Jason's parents gave us.) And, like you, we were on a strict budget. (Our whole wedding came in under $8000.)

    Jason had a hard time giving both sets of parents the same gift, knowing the level of participation (even in things such as decorating, showers, etc.) was not the same. It was a really touchy issue and it caused a lot of stress for the two of us.

    I'm glad you and Torsten are on the same page and you're not begrudging him his parents' decision.

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  6. Call me devil's advocate here, but since we paid for our own wedding - and kept it relatively modest as a result - I feel the need to mention the obvious, that parents are in no way required to pay for a wedding. Long ago tradition, back when wedding receptions were more frequently than not held in the church basement or at the local VFW, dictates that the bride's family paid for the wedding. Weddings are very much more expensive than they were back then.

    We did not ask our parents for money, and politely declined the offer. We kept it to what we could afford, and we enjoyed it no less than we would have if someone else were footing the bill.

    So...I guess I think you're very lucky that someone is paying for your wedding - no matter what proportion is being paid by whom. :)

    I'm very glad you got the catering situation figured out!

  7. La--You'll be fine! Really.

    Dreamgrrl--I just wandered back over to your blog, and love it! Thanks for the encouragement.

    Stephanie--Thanks for the support. And oh my god I am SO looking forward to our trip this weekend where HE will drive the rental car and I will just sit in the passenger seat being dreamy.

    P&D--I'm glad things worked out for you guys too. And I'm impressed at how inexpensive your wedding was.

    3Carnations--I don't actually think that's even a devil's advocate position, because I totally agree with you. I was trying to say that when I said that I was grateful to both sets of parents for their generosity, and especially to my parents for not asking us to help pay. I agree that we are very lucky.

  8. Oh the money talks/issues. My least favorite part of the wedding planning process BY FAR.

    I feel your pain.

  9. You are so blessed to have parents that will pay for your wedding! I'm practically dreading the day I get engaged solely for the fact that that will mean there is a wedding to pay for. Because unless he is insanely rich... I guess we'll be going to Vegas. No bueno my friend, no bueno.

  10. Oh, money and weddings. Guaranteed to cause the nervous tummy.

    Your parents are indeed awesome.

  11. Asking parents for money, especially big money, is soooo hard and soooo nearvous making. TM's parents only covered the rehearsal dinner and even talking about money for that was tough. I feel for you, and you said it perfectly, there's really nothing to be done about it but venting to friends and politely thanking them. Just don't let it put a damper on your wedding! :)

  12. I think I am going to offer each of my girls $10,000 if they elope. :)

  13. Yep - money issues suck. But, you handled is very graciously. My colleague is planning a wedding and her future in-laws had pledged a certain amount months ago. They planned their wedding budget accordingly. Just last week, they backed out of any financial contribution because of some unexpected expenses for another child. Now that sucks.

  14. Violently grateful. Do you listen to Bjork by chance?

    And that's one thing I hate about being single now. I have to drive everywhere. So thank god for the license! I know how you feel.

  15. I know what you mean about the comment his mom made: that would bug me more than ANYTHING ELSE--even more than if they'd contributed NOTHING.

    The invitation thing wouldn't bother me, though, because the names on the invitation don't have anything to do with who paid--and if anything, people will probably assume the groom's family contributed even less than they actually did. But if it drives you crazy, you and Torsten can do the inviting. "Jessica Surname and Torsten Surname invite you to join them as they..." etc. It's also pretty traditional to have only the bride's parents do the inviting; in fact, that's MORE traditional. The groom's parents are on there now only to help recipients figure out who's getting married.

  16. Wedding details! YESSSS!!! Please, it is not boring. At least not to me. Just a reason to check back often in the next year because, man, a WEDDING. Awesome!

    (Hmph. In reading my own comment I'm realizing I sound like such a LOSER and sort of a WIERDO. Ah well. What can you do?)

  17. ugh. If I ever decide to get legal with A., we are eloping, or having a goddamn potluck in the front yard.

    You are handling this with much more grace than I would!

  18. Just keep thinking about the actuall marriage and remember that this is simply a day, and that it should be a fun party where you get to look gorgeous. Money is fleeting no matter what. Just enjoy each other.

  19. My goodness, my brief thoughts of becoming a wedding planner were suddenly just dashed. :)

    I do have to say though that the MIL comments about the price made me laugh out loud. Great blogging material at least, no?

    And YAY for Torsten driving! I hate driving.


  20. Why do parents have to pay for their kids' wedding??