something blue: friends

{Originally posted to Love, Lillian as a guest blog post}

This idea came to me as I sat in the passenger seat of Tricia’s car pondering HOW on earth to choose a wedding party from my most incredible group of good friends. So I guess, it’s fitting that she asked me to guest blog on this topic.

Instead of embroidering my wedding gown with blue thread or donning blue shoes, I asked 13 amazing women to be my "something blue.” Blue is, perfectly, a bride's symbol of loyalty and fidelity.

I sent invitations, each with a handwritten note of thanks for our sincere friendship, asking each woman to “stand up with me in spirit” by wearing a “token of blue.” 

My mom and I hosted a Something Blue Brunch in their honor, at which the ladies received embroidered handkerchiefs and spent the morning laughing, telling stories, and shedding sentimental tears. Then we packed up mimosas to go, and headed to pottery-painting. I now have a treasured set of mugs, bowls, and a creamer and sugar painted by my dearest friends.

Our programs featured a small passage about true friendships and listed each woman’s name. Some wore brooches, some wore beads or wraps, others bought dresses. They all looked beautiful in their blue!

Most importantly, for me, each person was able to give of herself in an individual way, whether that meant visiting the hair salon on the day-of, meeting for lunch on Friday, toasting with an “Ode to Sarah” at the rehearsal, or sending heartfelt cards or books in the weeks leading up to May 2 … the list goes on. I was blown away.

As the invitations said, I carried them with me in the months leading up to the wedding and most definitely on the day of. And, thanks to my sisters’ thoughtfulness, I now carry their love with me in the form of perfectly unique mugs filled with warm coffee.

Non-traditional Wedding Party: Something blue

Be sure to visit the love, lillian blog today to see a guest post by me about my something blue (in the photo above!). I sent invitations, each with a handwritten note of thanks for our sincere friendship, asking 13 women to “stand up with me in spirit” by wearing a “token of blue.”which turned out to be one of the proudest and best decisions I made about the wedding party. I wrote about what they mean to me the week of the wedding. Sneak peeks of the photos featured with the guest post below. Check it out!

something blue brunch

something blue hand-painted pottery


What's really different?

On the occasion of a Friday, I thought I'd share a realization that surprised me. It happened about a week after the honeymoon.

For about a year, I grew my hair out for the wedding, something that still kind of perplexes me. You see, I cut my hair in college and vowed I'd never go long again. I did end up with a gorgeous updo for the day, and long hair in a ponytail in the Bahamas was fun. Once our gifts were put away and life was readjusting to normal, though, I knew the heavy, unruly hair just needed to GO. I made a lunch-hour appointment for a hot, sunny June Friday, and returned to work about 9 inches lighter. (See below.)
I've written before about "ah-ha" moments with this whole being married thing. One thing people say before you get married is, "Do you think it will be different (when you're married)?" And my answer is "yes, of course!" But I think driving back to the office with my sunroof open and the wispy strands blowing in my face, I felt something. Up until this 10 minutes I spent in the car with my new hair, I just wasn't sure things had changed. Suddenly, I felt released. I thought, "Holy cow. I'm not growing my hair out anymore. It's over! I'm free! We're married! Things are different!"


Pretty thing of the day: Color inspiration

I just love this photo, styled by Leslie Sherwing of the blog Creative Mint! Those fabrics are fantastic and the beads and ceramic are so pretty. Sherwing posts tons of simple photos, meant to illustrate a feeling or inspiration through color. And I just love the Simply Hue blog, which featured these creative shots recently. Both offer lots of cool, non-wedding-related stuff to get creative thoughts flowing and take your mind right out of its little box. Tomorrow is Friday! How glad are you about that?!


DIY Aisle Runner: Oh, the dilemma!

When we set out planning the wedding, I knew there were some things I just didn't want to "mess" with. Most of these things were details that the wedding industry and tradition seemed to say must be done: a slew of bridesmaids, pew bows, a full mass, a gigantic and ornate wedding cake, lots of kitschy group dances (the bridal party dance, the macarena, etc.), favors, etc. One of these little things was an aisle runner. Long story short -- my mother really believed I needed an aisle runner.

The subject repeatedly came up. I tried to explain to her: "If I have one, I don't want a cheap paper one, and it's just not something I want to invest time or money in. But if you realllly want me to have one, go for it." It became a joke. I'd get home from work, and (since I always talked wedding with mom on the way home from work), Patrick would ask if I won the aisle runner debate yet. Well, I lost. But not in the end.

Taking matters into their own hands, my mom and wonderful friend and neighbor Marty crafted the beautiful aisle runner above from about 100 ft. of simple ivory muslin. In its center, they hand-stenciled the gorgeous "Sarah Jeanne and Patrick Dale" from our invitations.

It was stunning in the church, and I was glad she did it. Interestingly, it is one of the things about the wedding that guests have mentioned the most. "Oh I loved your aisle runner!" or "The whole day was so beautiful and lovely, especially the aisle runner." Mom's even had requests from others for homemade runners. This is hilariously ironic, but so sweet.

I like to think that piece of muslin took on the generous and loving hearts of its makers and that's why it was so adored.


Cohabitation: "...the silent phase?"

Real conversation with my dad a few months ago:

Dad: "Have you gotten to the silent phase yet?"
Me: "The silent phase?"
Dad: "Yeah, the silent phase," he says, "of your relationship, where you kind of coexist without speaking."
Me. "Oh. Um, I don't think so. Is that good?"

So, we've passed the one-year mark on living together. Now we're about four months into married cohabitation. And I think we've made it without getting to too much of an extreme "silent phase." Here are some real-life Tuesday kind of updates for you:
  • I still have not mastered the shower lever. But my hubby still seems to have issues with aim when it comes to the hamper, and I hate dirty socks and T-shirts on the floor. See my earlier post about "lessons."
  • The battle against dog hair is not one that a person can win when she lives with a 75-lb. black lab.
  • The honey-do list is a real thing. And I thought men were always over-reacting about those! Ours is long, and we are entering phase II of do-it-yourself-ville. Upcoming projects include: whipping up some closet space; removing 70s-style, knotty-pine, yucky paneled built-ins; new countertops and painting kitchen cabinets. Ugh.
  • When we were dating, I would always groan when Patrick said, "I have to mow the yard." It seemed like he was ALWAYS mowing the damn thing. Now, in this rainy summer, we kind of argue about which one of us GETS to mow the grass (a.k.a. spend about 2 hours alone, doing a mindless task during which no one can speak to you or interrupt you, listening to good radio on the noise-canceling headphones). Who knew!? Maybe this is the precursor to the silent phase?
So, we're not in the silent phase, but we do peacefully coexist without much effort. Sometimes that means spending a few hours in silence. Hey, peace and quiet is OK with me.


Monday Moment: "Oh my..."

This may be one of the most hilarious moments of my wedding day. Everyone was lining up to make the walk down the aisle, and we came up the stairs from the basement dressing room. I got to the door to come out, and they all said "No! Patrick's out here!" (Which is silly because I saw him first thing in the morning that day, spent all day with him until about 30 minutes before "go" time.) Anyway, they shut the door. And there I was standing in the stairwell behind the closed door, all alone. And my heart started racing and I started shaking. I took a deep breath in, and the tears started welling up. Lip began to shake. Anticipation!

Then the door opened! It was Tricia! Good friend! Dear, sweet wedding coordinator!

She was like, "They left you in here!?" I nodded. We burst into laughter. So we stood in the stairwell together, taking deep breaths, and waiting until Patrick took his mom down the aisle.

I am so glad that we have this on film and that I can remember that feeling of relief at seeing her face. There were lots of little snippets like that on the wedding day, ending in comic relief. After all, you can't giggle at yourself during the ridiculousness that is a wedding, when can you giggle?


Post wedding slump: The truth

I feel compelled to write this post. Not because I’m a Debbie Downer, but because I think it’s something that recent brides (and probably grooms, too) are kind of ashamed to admit and to talk about. And I think, in the same way it seems weird to have a baby and then be plagued by depression, it feels selfish and out-of-body to be sad that your wedding is over. Don't get me wrong. This is not one of those wompy commercials telling you it's OK to pine for your wedding. Let me start at the beginning:

Flash back to May 9, and you could have fooled me. There I was, beach-skinned and relaxed, completely in love, rested, relieved, overjoyed to be married! I was flying! So I totally get where this entry on Post-Wedding Freedom was coming from. The happiest I have ever been.

Fast forward to mid-June: I have just been run over by a semi. I feel deflated and guilty for even considering the fact that … I might be depressed? Is post-wedding depression real?

Folks, we had a legitimate, well-balanced wedding. We did the detail thing, but it was no great overdone masterpiece. We were counseled by 3 priests and a Lutheran pastor. We attended a (WONDERFUL!) weekend-long retreat about marriage. We talked about our future, we started a savings. We came in under budget (gasp!).

Like I said. You could have fooled me.

We came back and life smacked us in the face, as it should, really. Life goes on. That's the POINT of a wedding. But I slunk into this awful, pity-filled, strange reality. I was a little resentful that my wedding was over. I was flabbergasted by things like my new name. How dare they change my name! I trolled wedding blogs thinking hateful thoughts about all of the lucky women planning their weddings and overanalyzing my flowers, my details...things I honestly decided on and LOVED on the day of my wedding. I went home and hated everything. Which was bizarre because I wanted to love it.

Good news is that I am out of that funky sludge now. I was right in the first place, and I love my life. I love my husband. Things aren't perfect. But people aren't either. And post-wedding slumps are OK. As long as you are self-aware enough to pick up and carry on. And especially as long as you have a partner who will patiently carry you when you can't.


How fitting

Well, just as I posted about Eat Pray Love and finished reading it, writer Elizabeth Gilbert decided to go ahead and announce her semi-sequel to the first memoir. How fitting. Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage, was reviewed today in The New York Times. Conveniently, it is her “more sober and considered and confident and mature” take on the concept of wedded life.

I like the idea of someone approaching marriage as though it is something to aspire to understand. And I like the idea of marriage as something "sober and considered and confident and mature." Check out the review.


Exciting news! "Wishes" on A Practical Wedding

Check out one of my favorite blogs today! On A Practical Wedding Meg wrote very kind things, and featured an excerpt from my post about our wedding reception wish jar. Her blog was a breath of fresh air for me as I prepared for my wedding, always down-to-earth and real. It's a huge compliment to be featured!

On an unrelated side note, please say a little something to the power in which you believe on behalf of my sister, Emma. Today, she's headed to Poznan, Poland, for her second international rowing competition, the 2009 Adaptive World Championships. Go USA!


Monday Moment: "When You Come Back Down"

This time last year, I posted about ceremony music. The first time I heard Nickel Creek's "When You Come Back Down," I felt it in my gut. And every time the song played I strangely imagined myself walking down the aisle to the non-traditional bluegrass melody. It is such a soft song, and so poignant but strong and steadfast.

In the end, though, I opted to enter to Pachabel's Canon in D. Instead, we wove the song into our very traditional Catholic ceremony as a theme.

The priest mentioned its meaning for us as a couple in his homily (or sermon): "For Sarah and Patrick, this song speaks of God’s love for us and unconditional support and their parents’ faith and support of our dreams individually and as a couple. It was also especially important for them when they were long distances from each other."

Here are a few lyrics: "When you're flyin' high, take my heart along/ I'll be the harmony to every lonely song/That you learn to play ... When you're soarin' through the air/I'll be your solid ground/Take every chance you dare/I'll still be there/When you come back down." Our programs featured these words on the inside cover.

But second only to our actual VOWS in the ceremony was my little brother's rendition of the Nickel Creek song during our unity candle. He played the guitar and sang with his friend Sarah. It was a telling reflection on our love and the love we’ve experienced in life, and one of the most intimate parts of our ceremony.

I think you can build little moments like these into a wedding, and I think you can do it in ways that aren't trite or contrived just for the sake of being "unique." Now when I hear the fiddle and violin, I hear my brother's voice and feel Patrick's hand in mine at our wedding. Sappy? Yes. True? For sure.


DIY: Sugar & Spice bachelorette gift

Last weekend we celebrated dear friend Lauren, who will be a bride in (holy cow!) 22 short days. Since we're long-distance friends (boo!), we wanted to give her a bachelorette/lingerie gift that was also kind of like a shower gift. Enter a set of canisters (from her registry) with the labels "sugar, spice, naughty, and nice." The "ingredients" turned out so adorably that I wanted to share the results! A great idea to mix it up at a party typically filled with pink Victoria's Secret boxes (which are also awesome to get, don't get me wrong!).

It's hard to tell from the photos, but we filled each canister with candies (Hot Tamales for "naughty," jelly beans for "sugar," taffy for "nice," and Hershey's kisses for "spice") and about 2-3 pair of fancy undies that went with each theme. A set of heart-shaped teaspoons was tied to the bag. Even they were oozing with cheezy-ness, labeled "a pinch of patience," etc. We included a "Sheet Music" CD of sexy songs and an amazing surprise item for her hubby-to-be. The bride loved it, and we all loved snacking on jelly beans as she opened the rest of her packages.

TGIF! And thanks to Miss Shea for the great pics, as usual.


Forever & sincerely

I was stunned by how poignant my latest summer read, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, was for me at this time in my life. What a fantastic book about self discovery and about living! As I read, I thought about how we all battle individual demons that say, "you're not as good as so-and-so" or "you should be making this choice" or "that's selfish." And all we are all really maybe trying to do is be ourselves and live our individual destinies.

Funny, in the whole hilarious, uplifting, moving book, I was most struck by a small pair of sentences in her afterword:

"In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe its wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long we have voices."

Um, yeah. What she said.

P.S. Thanks TPR!


The importance of friends

I feel sorry for women of a time when marriage meant abandoning your own social circle for your husband's. This pity is rooted in the fact that I am certain that women need friends. And that women with friends make better wives.

When you say your vows, your life changes. But you do not, intrinsically, become a new human being. Recognizing that helps to put a new, married life in perspective.

I read The Girls from Ames while on my honeymoon (That's it in my hands above. Funny enough, a gift from another good friend!). It's the story of 11 girls who grow as friends through their lives. The author cites many studies about marriage and happiness for women. Research showed that the happiest women had long, successful friendships with other women.

I think it's important for new wives not to wrap the cozy blanket of "us" around every future experience. You're still you and you need your friends.

Though I've been thinking about this post for a while now, I knew I had to write it this week. I just spent four days on a beach with incredible friends. We talked far into the night, and laughed, and accessorized each other before going out to dinner. At one point, a friend said, "There are just some things you cannot talk to your significant other about." So true! And those things aren't snaky secrets, they're things other women understand. They are tears, doubts, thoughts that other women understand.

I missed Patrick while I was in North Carolina, but I returned feeling like I'd just had a soul-hug. Releasing some of those cares into the safe harbor of friends makes me more able to give to him fully.


Monday Moment: Marriage

This is maybe one of the most touching photos in our collection of images from May 2. It's my mom, giving "the face" to my goofy dad during a family portrait. Mom acts disgusted, but I think of that look as a look of ultimate love. If you're lucky, that look, dear readers, is marriage. Why? Because that's fun. That's who dad is. That's not taking life too seriously. That's living.


Happy birthday, littles!

This week, I am officially old. Anna and Michael a.k.a. "the kids" (dubbed by their older sisters) turn 18 and 20, respectively this week. Aren't they cute? Happy day to two of my absolute most favorite people on earth. MWA!


Monday Moment: At the Poop Deck?

This, friends, was truly a moment. This was a "holy cow we're married" moment, a "this cannot be real" moment, a "how cool is this?" moment. Day three of the honeymoon in Nassau, we ventured out for dinner to a place we giggled at on day one in the taxi to the resort. Patrick nudged me and said, "He. He. We are totally eating there."

So, why was this such a moment? Well we made reservations for what we thought was a fun, bar-type restaurant and ended up sitting here. On the beach and all alone by lantern-light with our toes in the warm sand, a breeze giving sunburned skin chill bumps, and the waves crashing in before our eyes.

So we were giddy, of course. But as we buttered our rolls, I remember watching my husband (as of yesterday, my hubby for three months!) with the knife and the smile and closing my eyes.

WE'RE MARRIED! HE'S MY HUSBAND. And simultaneous terror and delight spread through my veins. Terror at the rest of life beyond waves and insanely gorgeous beaches. Delight at having chosen this bread-butterer for my own.

We talked about this moment, and we both decided that we still have moments that kind of stop us in our tracks, thinking, "are we really married?" Slowly, the terror is subsiding (wink, wink).