Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Outtakes and Bloopers from the Summer of Wedding Planning

Dear reader, I have been neglecting you. You see, wedding planning is exhausting. I did not know this when Beau and I happily and naively chose our wedding date and began what became a long and often very emotional process.

Because of this, I neglected my blog a bit over the late spring, summer, and early autumn. There was only just so much I could do! You, dear reader, missed outfits and events that I really had planned to share with you. On the principle of "better late than never," for your illumination and entertainment, I will now present some outtakes from the long hot summer of wedding planning.

First, some outfits.

This was one of my many "omg, it's hot!" outfits. I liked the early 70s vibe the hat added to it, and brown, dull on its own, really does suit me well, especially when paired with gold.

I took all kinds of great photos to show you the matching gold and pearl, Avon parure I had pulled together, piece by piece. I even found some images of women in the 1960s wearing similar matching jewelry sets. I had plans for this post but then I got busy, as I kept doing over the summer.

So: my ambitions for a complicated post have been reduced to these few photos for you. This ring, by the way, is not Avon. It's Birks, diamond and gold, and I love it. I even wrote about it here.

This little swing dress from Old Navy served me well in the heat and in my fatigue. It looked smashing with this Mod Cloth belt, but, mostly, I wore it beltless. Anything tight on my lower back can hurt so, as like as not, off came the belt.

Plus, I'll admit, near the end there, the stress of the wedding led me to pay less attention to what I ate than I usually do. I free-swinging dress allowed me to camouflage my growing belly till after the wedding, when I could eat better, and decide whether or not to embrace my belly or see if I can reduce it just a tad. (Whenever I talk like this, Beau pleads, "But don't lose too much weight!" Bless his curve-loving self.)

I still did experiment a bit with my outfits, because I always do. In early September, we had a very welcome thunder storm while the temperature remained quite warm. What does one wear in a setting like that? Why, a long cape ...

... over shorts and knee-boots, of course!

I felt a bit like cheer leader.

And I looked so much like my father in this newsboy cap, which is like the ones he wears, that I just had to mimic his self-important, thousand yard stare. I was being silly but the photo was a hit with my pals on Facebook; they didn't realize that it was a spoof.

I paired the whole outfit with my version of "tough" jewelry: my spiky (like me), Marcel Boucher brooch, and a chain/stud bracelet thing that I got in a grab bag at Value Village.

Speaking of tough, having discovered Old Navy, I thought I'd try their stretchy, pixie pants in plaid. My aim was an 80s punk rock look...

... complete with my version of a punk bracelet: an offering from Victoria's Secret of all things. (Of course, I bought it second hand.) That triangle ring is another Birks ring, also diamonds and gold. Someone once said it looks like something Keith Richards would wear so, ever since then, I've called it my Keith Richards Ring: not exactly punk rock but rock and tough, nonetheless, so appropriate for the look. N'est pas?

The pants are meant to end mid-calf, but they're just the perfect full length for this short gal. Still, generally, I don't think the look worked that well. I'll do a much better job of it when it gets cooler and I can wear it with my moto jacket and high boots (red, if only I can find some, let alone some that don't hurt my back; I've got my eye on a pair of Dr. Marten's that are not, at the moment, available in my size anywhere in the known universe).

The photo shoot was totally worth it, though, just to see my 11 year old step-son's shocked expression when I gave the finger to the camera.

His face looked something like this. He's such a sweet kid.

Speaking of step-sons, my 14 year old is obsessed with cars. Everything about cars excites him, while little else does. In an attempt to bond with him, I try to like cars too. I've never even owned one and I don't know how to drive, so you can imagine how well that's going for us. However, the one place where we can find some common ground is in our appreciation for the design of vintage cars. I find myself taking photos of them to show to him when I get home. He then tells me the make, model, and quality of each one. He knows them all by heart, kind of like me with vintage jewelry design.

But back to a few more outfits. I like this "flutter sleeve," Jessica Simpson, t-shirt, but wasn't thrilled with this outfit.

I tried the "high low" thing, tucking the shirt in in the front and not in the back. It wasn't doing my belly any favours.

Still, I got a few fun photos our of it, including this one, in which I think I look as butch as I'll ever get. Okay, laugh if you like. I know the pink cane, shoes, and shirt might not scream "butch" to you, but there's something about my body language here that, to me, says "butch, a little bit butch."

But mostly, it was femme stuff, like this floral dress, one of Beau's favourites.

And this, 40s style floral dress. One day, a trial run for my wedding hairstyle just happened to perfectly match the dress.

That was a fun coincidence. Everyone at the wedding dress shop ooohed and ahhhed when I walked in.

And, still in the 40s theme, there was this bathing suit from the Esther Williams line.

So, yes, of course I had fun with outfits over the summer, despite the stress, the nerves, and the heat. But, mostly, when I think of the wedding planning, I think of exhaustion. Beau and I were pretty drained most of the time. I sometimes wondered if I would ever feel rested again.

We're both prone to high anxiety and consequent exhaustion, and we began feeding off each other's stress. It was tough. For one thing, Beau and I discovered that we have wildly different organizational and planning styles, each of which works wonderfully when we work alone, but caused a lot of arguments when we tried to work together. If you know about Myers-Briggs personality types, you'll know what I mean when I explain that I'm an INTJ and Beau is an INTP. That J/P difference caused all sorts of friction between us.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was only two weeks before the wedding that we finally figured out how to work well as a team. But we did finally figure it out. This will serve us well in the future.

We didn't change our minds about getting married though. We knew our love is real, worth celebrating, and worthy of marriage. But we were still stressed out!

And the heat did not help at all! It was one of the worst summers I've experienced here on the west coast.

Attempts at escape from the heat were largely futile though everyone tried. In our neighbourhood, this often meant immersing oneself in our local lake and then lying perfectly still in the shade. That's my knee there on the right, resting on my triangular knee pillow, friend to anyone with lower back pain.

No matter what we tried, it was still "too darned hot" (to quote Cole Porter). Sun sun sun! Too bright, too hot, too very too (as they said in the 1930s)! Here, I'm shielding an old friend's eyes from that sinister sun. Otherwise, he could not pose at all.

I tried every type of light and airy outfit I could muster up.

I got a lot of use out of thin, gauzy fabrics.

When at home, I wore as little as possible, no matter how I looked. Here I am, flush faced, pillow between my knees for back pain, hair pulled off my face, dignity of little concern.

Note the calamine lotion on my elbow. The mosquitoes were out in full force all summer and, lucky me, they only seemed interested in my blood. Beau was not bitten once. Even my step-sons mostly evaded the mosquitoes, but not me!

Kitties don't care about how we look though. They just like to be near us. Is there a more soothing sound than a cat's purr right up close to your ear? I think not!

Beau and I set up a little spot for me to rest my back in the shade under the balcony but it didn't really help. Note our cat on the right there, belly up and spread-eagled, as cats are in heat.

At one point, he decided to cool down by sleeping right, smack in the middle of a bunch of flowers. He's not exactly slim, so he left a big, cat sized hole in the middle of the bunch.

Fortunately, said flowers just turned themselves at right angles and kept on growing with dignity. I'd never seen anything like it.

I wish I'd been as adept as that plant at turning at right angles to solve a problem. Probably because of all the stress and tension, I had two major pain flares, one near the beginning of the whole wedding planning process and one just a few weeks before the wedding. The second one caused me to buy my very first walker. The first one was so hard on my system, that I started to get burst blood vessels in and near my eyes. I looked like I'd been beaten and some people were stupid enough to make "jokes" that Beau was giving me black eyes. Ha ha. Not funny.

In fact, my history of abuse definitely made the whole process harder. First of all, there was just the fact of my physical disability. There was so much more to consider when planning the wedding. Would we sit for part of the service? Would I have a footstool? What chair would I use? Could I find flat shoes pretty enough for a wedding? Where could I get their soles changed so they had shock absorption? How much would standing still for all the dress fittings hurt me? Would I be well enough to pose for photos? Was there somewhere we could honeymoon in town so I didn't have to endure the pain of travel?

It went on and on and on. When we tried to find relief by, say, going out for dinner, my pain interfered with my enjoyment, and what might have been minor irritations became tipping points for tears. Here I am, waiting for a table longer than able-bodied people because I needed a chair and could not sit on a stool. Don't you think they could have asked an able-bodied couple to move? Yeah, I thought so too, but they didn't.

And, of course, once I was out, if I tried to be like regular people and have a drink, this is what happened. This is what always happens when I drink. It's not exactly an allergy, but it's something hot, sweaty, uncomfortable... and pretty ugly. This red, swollen face? That's the main reason we decided not to have alcohol at our wedding. I preferred not to look like this in our wedding photos. Plus, of course, it left us more money for important things, like my wedding dress!

Then there was the trigger factor. No matter how much I love Beau, no matter how gentle and thoughtful he is, there are still parts of me that think love is slavery and marriage is the ultimate form of that slavery. When I was eight, Smother and her buddies even conducted a fake wedding, complete with hideous abuse, saying that I was now married to evil, so they could do anything they wanted to me. And they did. It was soon after this that my back was injured by gang rape.

Needless to say, I had flashbacks aplenty, even on the wedding day itself. It seemed so unfair that the abuse was marring what was supposed to be a happy process and a happy day.

Then were just the "normal" wedding planning woes, like discovering that the "waterproof" mascara I'd picked for the wedding wasn't in the least bit waterproof.

Meanwhile, Beau was dealing with his own stuff. It's a long story and his to tell, but what I can say is that his own process led him to get his very first tattoo. Ironically, it was from the same person who gave me my first (and only) tattoo, 24 years ago. She was very sweet. Beau being Beau, he had a complete sweat-flop panic attack about 30 seconds after the needle hit his skin. She stayed calm, and asked him to tell her the story of why he was getting his tattoo. This calmed him down and she was able to continue.

I think his tattoo is quite sexy. Can you figure out what it is? Hint: think chemistry.

So the wedding planning wasn't easy for Beau either. For one thing, he hates being the centre of attention, something that's pretty hard to avoid at your own wedding. He didn't like the primping and thinking about his appearance. (The above is his Brill cream mishap.)

In there midst of all this, he finished his PhD thesis! His thesis defence was incredibly successful. Their only real complaint was that he's too modest about his work. I could have told him that. Silly rabbit. He doesn't know how great he is, but I do.

I bought him this, build your own spaceship, magnet set as a "yay, you finished your PhD" present. He sat right down on the floor and played for an hour.

We had a lovely little backyard party to celebrate both his PhD and his 40th birthday. Yep, he's my younger man.

As you can see, despite all the stress, our summer was by no means all bad. Lots of good things happened too.

Americans finally gained marriage equality.

I bought myself some vintage jewelry, of course.

Beau was super brave and photographed his ostomy for Ostomy Awareness Day. He posted it all over the place. (That's right: I'm not the only one in this relationship with a disability.)

I met two adorably friendly kittens who liked to climb all over me and fall asleep on my bosoms (a.k.a., "pillows from Heaven," according to Beau).

Jessica Fletcher wore this outfit, an almost dead ringer for the one I wore in my last post before the wedding.

The bears continued to get up to all sorts of shenanigans, about which Beau knew nothing whatsoever. Really!

I bought myself an opal as an early wedding present to myself. Opals are my birthstone but I'd never owned one. 

I thought it was about time I did. Every October baby should!

The September Vogue came out, the 4th since Beau and I got together. We always think of the arrival of the September Vogue as an anniversary of sorts.

We got to watch all the little birds picking our blueberries. It's a quite complicated process for them and each bird seemed to have its own preferred method.

The cats liked watching the birds too, but, being 13 and 19, they're not much threat to them.

We started getting visits from male hummingbirds, in all their red-capped splendour. Hummingbirds are so hard to photograph!

Photo by Justin Lam

Fortunately, upon hearing my life story, our chosen wedding photographer asked to take more natural photos of us in our home, and he managed to get a few great shots of our hummingbirds.

Photo by Justin Lam

In fact, he took a lot of amazing photos which we have yet to use! We will, though. Don't worry. This one's our favourite.

Of course, there were our cats, each with his own, ever so distinct personality. Milo loves to hold hands.

They pretend not to care about each other but I have photographic evidence that they do cuddle ...

... at least once the weather finally cools down, which it actually did, finally!

And so we got closer and closer to the wedding day. Our friends from out of town started to arrive. My bridesmaid and surrogate sister, Lena, and her husband stayed with us and kept us sane by taking some of the practical burdens of the final days off our shoulders. Here's Lena, cheerfully polishing the silver.

We had a nice wine and cheese party before the big day. Here, my old friend and surrogate uncle and I hammed it up for the camera.

As they say, a good time was had by all, now a mere two days before the wedding.

And then we got married. In the first few minutes of our (in town) honeymoon, we took our first selfie as husband and wife. The time to rest had finally arrived. We were so ready for it! And we were ready for this new chapter of our lives together. I'm excited to see what it brings.

(I'm sharing this with The Style CroneStyle Diary By Osy, Happiness at Midlife, Fashion Should Be Fun, Rachel the Hat, Style Diary by Yosy, Not Dead Yet, Elegantly Dressed and Stylish, and I Will Wear What I Like on Not Dressed as Lamb.)