Thursday, October 25, 2012

a day of wedding planning

After I got engaged, it took a while to sink in that I'm actually getting married. The wedding will be in Chicago, after all, while I live in Virginia. So while my mom has been talking to vendors and dragging my complaining little siblings around to various reception sites, I go weeks at a time without the wedding even coming up in conversation. I love that wedding talk isn't taking over my life, but at times, because of the distance, it almost doesn't feel real.

So Friday was my very first marathon day of wedding planning (I'm sure there will be many more of them since I'm planning long-distance). Mum and I spent at least half the day in the car.

We woke up bright and early for 7:00 am Mass at my church, St. Isaac Jogues... on the feast of St. Isaac! It was so cool to be there on his feast day. Our pastor spoke beautifully about how we can follow this great saint's example.

And I didn't mind getting up so early because the morning sky was beautiful.

At 8:30 am we dropped Angela and Joseph off at school.

Then Mum and I went to our 5 meetings for the day (Frank was with us for the first three):

1. Meet with the priest at the church where we want to get married.

2. Check out Reception Site #1

3. Take Frank to his job interview

4. Meet with the seamstress for my first wedding dress session (!!)

5. Visit Reception Site #2

3:00 pm pick up the kids from school... and go home to help Caroline get ready for her high school's Halloween dance!!

How cute is she all dressed up for the dance? Skippy makes a perfect Toto. Her friends came over to the house to get ready and they raided our costume closet. Listening to them get ready brought back so many happy memories.

My view for most of the day was Frank listening intently to my mom...

who was giving Frank and I a full, complete run-down on the sacrament of marriage. And it was awesome. Every word she said was pure gold.

Seriously, I wish I had had a tape recorder in the car. Mum was on fire. She gave us all kinds of advice, from the very practical to the deeply spiritual, and all of it was the kind of thing you want to write down and remember forever.

You know, sometimes I think about doing an engagement series on this blog asking well-known Catholic women to write down their advice for engaged Catholic girls. But I realized on Friday that I don't need to ask anyone else for advice as long as I have my mom around, because she is so articulate and well-educated in her faith, and so passionate about living it. I don't think anyone could give me better advice about marriage as a Catholic. I feel pretty darn lucky to have her to learn from. :)

Also, Angela stole my camera on the way to school and enjoyed taking self-portraits of us in the back seat.

Our meetings went well, although we still have a lot to figure out. Frank's interview was a smashing success. They practically wanted to hire him on the spot. I'm so proud of him - law school is rough but he works crazy hard and is so good at what he does. And he was born to be an attorney. :)

While Frank was at his interview, Mum and I went to the second potential reception site, a hotel near my parents' house. The hotel's very nice event planner showed us around and went over the contract with us. At one point he asked me, "So where's your groom?"

I said, "Oh, he wanted to be here, but he couldn't make it."

The event planner smiled and said, "Is he one of those show-up-at-the-altar types? He doesn't want anything to do with planning the wedding?"

"Oh no," I said, laughing. "He's very involved and he has lots of ideas. Actually, I'm pretty sure he's done more wedding planning that I have at this point."

The event planner gave me a sympathetic look. "Are you ok with that?" he asked.

"Oh yes, I love it! It's nice not having to do everything by myself. I'm glad he wants to help."

The event planner looked genuinely surprised, and then said, "Ah, I see. You're not a controlling bride." Turning to my mom, he said, "She's the opposite of a bridezilla."

My mom and I both started laughing. "Yes," I agreed, "I'm the opposite of a bridezilla." Maybe the guy was just trying to butter me up, but I really was flattered. I think being the opposite of a bridezilla is a good goal to shoot for, and his comment made me feel like I'm doing something right.

Probably the best part of the whole day was visiting the dressmaker's shop. I'm getting my wedding dress handmade, like my mother did, and her mother before her. Before I got engaged I didn't expect to do that, but my mom suggested it and of course I jumped at the chance. At first I felt a little silly when people would ask me, "Where are you going to shop for your dress?" and I said, "Actually... I'm getting it made," but then Mum suggested that instead I say, "I'm designing my own dress," and that sounded just right.

So yes, I am designing my wedding dress, and I walked into the dressmaker's little shop with a very specific idea in mind. Mum and I talked to the seamstress for hours and she drew up a beautiful design based on my description, complete with fabric samples. I love working with her already - she very quickly understood exactly what I had in mind. I won't give away any other details about the dress, except to say that the dressmaker told me she was very excited about the project because she "almost never gets to work on traditional gowns!" And then she quickly added, "You don't mind that I'm calling it a traditional gown, do you?" I quickly assured her that I didn't mind. In fact, I consider it a compliment.

As I sat there in the shop touching samples of soft white fabric, I sat back for a moment to take in the magic of what was happening. I'm at a dressmaker's shop with my mom, I realized, the thought unfolding softly, and we're planning what my wedding dress will look like. This is really happening. 

For the first time since I got engaged, I felt like a bride.


  1. Thank you for sharing your story..Hope everything will be prepared and organized.. Looking forward for your successful wedding.

  2. These must be such days for you, Tess. Many, many blessings on you! I imagine your mom is a wonderful role model for you in so many ways.

  3. Thank you Sister! It's such an exciting time. A lot of big changes, and quite a lot to think about, but really wonderful.