That Fiancée Life

That Fiancée Life

It’s been a while since I posted anything here, I know. I’ve been writing, believe it or not, just not the postable kind of things. Lately it’s been spreadsheets full of budget items, and lists of people I know, and emails about flowers and vacations and such things, because you guessed it, I’m getting married!

At the end of 2023 I sat at a coffee shop with my friend Lyn and we both wrote lofty goals and dreams for 2024. She kept hers relatively reasonable, while I wrote Very Lengthy Lists of all the things I want to accomplish this year. Everything from cooking goals to traveling goals to budgeting goals to a fun challenge for every month of the year. Like I said, Very Lengthy Lists. I love New Year’s resolutions and probably always will. My theory is that if I set ten goals and only manage three, that’s still three more than if I set zero, and I always manage to at least accomplish some, so it’s a win!

 But this particular time as I sat there prepping all the things I wanted to do, little did I know that Lyn was sitting next to me with a life-changing secret up her little sleeve. She knew, as I did not, that I would actually be spending my whole year scrambling to plan a wedding, and even so, she did nothing to stop my lofty aspirations. Haha. Although I love setting goals, I also do not mind if they’re turned on their heads for better things. 

Want to hear how it happened?

So on January 7, I was sitting backstage after church waiting for Ian to take me home. He ran upstairs to use the bathroom before we left, and I was waiting with the biggest stomachache (yay, ulcers!), wishing we could go, when my phone rang. “Hey, I ran into JJ and he wants me to do a video. Can you come stand beside me? You don’t have to say anything, just stand there.” I thought nothing of it, since it’s not unusual for choir members to be asked to make random videos for our church’s social media. It didn’t even occur to me to ask what kind of video he was making. I just obligingly made my way up to the fifth floor choir room, which is actually the room in which we first met. 

JJ and Jess, who work for our creative department, were there with the camera and lights set up. I checked my makeup to make sure I looked ok for the video, not noticing that Ian was nervously edging around me the whole time, trying to make sure I didn’t spot the ring in his pocket. Like I said, my stomach hurt, and I was just trying to get through it and get home. We stood on our assigned spot in front of the camera, and as he began to speak, I confess I zoned out slightly, just trying to smile my best politician’s wife smile, and not look weird. I may be on stage a lot, but I’m still not exactly comfortable with a camera in my face.  

A couple seconds into it, as I awkwardly smiled and nodded, I suddenly registered that Ian had just said my name. What? This was a video for church, why would he mention my name? I looked at him in confusion, and when he turned to me and reached for his pocket, everything blanked from then on. Fortunately I have the video record to remember what he actually said, since I couldn’t even comprehend what was happening. It’s fun watching back and seeing the utter confusion and shock on my face as I try to process what’s going on. I recovered enough to tell him that of COURSE I would marry him, and well, here we are. (And for the record, the proposal shocked the stomachache out of my system for the rest of the day. Definitely recommend proposals as an effective ulcer treatment. 😀 )

(Photos by JJ)

So now what? 

Well, it takes a bit of time to get used to even being engaged. The sky is bluer, the grass is greener, the sun… no, I’m just kidding. The elements continue very much as normal, but there are some interesting changes that have taken place for me. 

Ian and I had long talked about our wedding and marriage, so the idea of it wasn’t new, but it’s a big mindset shift to go from “someday” to “that specific day”. It’s like saying that someday you want to write a book, versus having your agent hound you for drafts by a certain date. Suddenly, the budgeting and saving that you were casually doing becomes even more serious, and you find yourself eating dried out little oranges for lunch because every extra penny needs to go toward the wedding (at least, until Ian finds out and scolds you for not eating properly). Suddenly, you have to actually consider dates and venues and wedding dresses as solid items, not just foggy and fun ideas. Suddenly you find yourself asking, wait, do I actually know how to be a wife?

There’s also been a more subtle mindset shift that I didn’t expect. Just a little move from “me and you” to “us”, that shows up in how we share finances and time and family. We were committed before engagement, so it’s been a little surprising how much more committed engagement feels. I imagine marriage will again feel a bit surprising in this respect. 

And now I get to plan a wedding. “Get” is a strong term, because I don’t particularly enjoy event planning (although I can do it with aplomb), but it is ever so slightly more fun when it’s for my own day, so that’s nice. Happily I have lots of practice, from the hundreds of events I’ve handled for work the last few years. 

First of all, selecting a date is tough!! I cracked up when we were exiting the church, literally like fifteen minutes after being completely shocked with the proposal, and people were already asking us if we had a date. No, no, it’s not that fast. But really, nobody warned me how hard it would be to select a date that works for everyone. We had not only our wishes to consider, but also the end of my apartment lease and all the many, many schedules of our families, including new babies and graduations and trips they already had planned. And that’s not even counting the busy schedule of our venue and its availability, or the insanely busy schedule of the officiant and multiple vendors we wanted, or when we could have enough money saved for this event and its surrounding expenses, or hurricane season, or earthquake weather, as Eeyore would say! 

We finally did select a date that mostly worked for everyone, we booked our church for the day, we asked our officiant to save the date for us, and we booked our rehearsal needs. And now we are in the thick of the million bazillion little decisions that all have to be made by us, between now and then. Such fun. 

One of my favorite decisions we’ve made is choosing to eliminate a reception altogether, allowing us to focus instead on the ceremony, and to invite anyone and everyone we want to come witness our vows and chat over a bite of cake afterward. The church can seat more than enough people, so this has removed the hassle of trying to pare down our guest list to a reasonable size as well as the stress of a crazy expensive NYC reception, and means we can instead just show up relaxed and ready to celebrate with everyone who wants to show up. No worrying about tables and table decor and DJs and MCs and menus and first dances and everything – just a lovely evening focused on actually marrying each other and hugging everyone who came out. I tell you, even though some people’s receptions are great, my stress levels immediately dropped about fifty percent when we made that decision, and I’m still so happy about it. 

What does this mean for you? Well, it means YOU’RE INVITED!!! That’s right, if you think an autumn jaunt to New York City would be just the thing (and I assure you it is), then you are more than welcome to come celebrate with us. The doors are open to all, and the more the merrier! That aisle is mad long, so please come fill up the many rows of chairs I’ll have to walk past. I only ask that if you plan to come, you pop by our website and RSVP, so I can make sure to order you a slice of cake. There you can also find all the details of the day, our registry of course, and a whole list of my favorite places you should see while you’re in town. Click here to let me know you’re coming!

Now that we have a plan, and now that you know you are invited to come, what does being engaged look like? 

First, the most fun thing by far is researching the honeymoon. As un-fun as picking dates and budgeting for a wedding is, that’s how fun looking at beaches and mountains and posh hotels is. I would never, ever want to be a wedding planner, but a travel agent who books honeymoons, that could be kind of fun. Even though we’re trying for a low-key wedding, I know full well that I’m going to be exhausted and stressy by the time it arrives, and I cannot wait to take a week or two to do Nothing At All with my favorite person. 

Second, I’ve been thinking a lot about the changes being married will bring. I’ve been living alone for years now, so sharing a space with someone is going to be a big adjustment. You mean there will be someone else to make dishes and take out the trash and rumple the throw blankets and do laundry? What’s that like again? It will be a novel experience to have someone to talk to when I get home from work, and someone to eat dinner with and to share the food when I yet again accidentally cook enough for five people instead of one. Living alone has been pretty wonderful in many ways, but it can also be lonely when my life consists of only work and eat and sleep and back to work again. Although I admit I’m slightly apprehensive about having to share the shower shelves, I look forward to having someone around to notice my daily life, and to care for in turn. As Susan Sarandon said, ”In a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.’”

Another surprising thing I’ve found is that disagreements seem to matter less than they did while dating. Even the different little ways we would like to conduct our wedding don’t matter that much to me, so long as we can end up getting married. This has been a gradual change the past year as I grow and learn, but is especially pronounced with this new level of commitment. I guess it’s the matter of finishing the earnest quest of “Should I Marry This Person?” which exacerbates every little difference and conflict, and settling into “Yes I should, and I’m here forever so let’s get used to it.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m still plenty stubborn, but it does mean I have found my own opinions mattering a little less, and our disagreements not feeling like something which need to be solved right now so we can stay together, but instead, like something we have the rest of our lives to figure out together, so let’s not beat a dead horse, but lay it aside and eat some tacos together, ok? It’s very nice.

Finally, the thing I did not know about being engaged is that once you have a wedding to plan, it is on your mind 99.9% of the time. Even when I’m not actively wedding planning, the decisions to be made are floating around the back of my brain, always waiting to pop out at the most inopportune moments. “Long or short rehearsal dress? How do we go about tasting our cake? Will I regret low heels? Are roses too cliche or classic? Will anybody actually come, and if not, what will I do with all the extra cake? Have I budgeted enough for the singer(s) we want? Where will we take family photos? If I eat pizza before the wedding will it get on my dress? What shall I do with my wedding dress between the wedding and honeymoon flight? Did I add Tums to my packing list? Who can I ask to help usher and serve? Will my wedding dress fit when it comes? Corsages or flower wristbands?” It’s constant. My sister says it’s the same as being pregnant – it’s always on your mind, all the time. I struggle to compartmentalize, because I don’t want to burn all my friends out by talking about it too much, especially not since it’s still seven months and seventeen days away. I will happily accept tips on how to turn the noise off in my brain. Until then, I just write every little thing down and make lists and spreadsheets so my friends don’t have to hear about it ad nauseum. 😀

So that’s how being engaged is treating me. I’m glad it’s not a super long engagement because in many ways I just want it to be here tomorrow, but on the other hand, I really am enjoying the anticipation of being Ian’s wife. Anticipation is often half the fun of any big event, wouldn’t you agree? Once again, we’d love to have you join our wedding ceremony on October 25, at 7pm, at The Brooklyn Tabernacle. Here is our wedding website where you can RSVP, and I’ll keep updating it with more info and fun things as the day approaches. Love you guys, and thanks for reading my little brain dump!

4 thoughts on “That Fiancée Life

  1. I’d love to witness your special day if it wouldn’t be sooo far! Either way, we wish you a beautiful day and a long happy married life! We’re married 53 years now and both of us say that we’d do it all over again and with the same person! God bless you both!

  2. Oh how exciting to open Feedly and have a wonderful newsy blog post by Rachel! I agree with the no reception. Weddings are such a hassle and so expensive for what gain! It sounds lovely and I wish you the best.

    1. Thank you! A passing conversation gave me the idea and we’re so happy with it. Like 60+% of the work and cost just gone, like that.

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