Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thank God for family

I spent this weekend with lots and lots of family, and am now preparing for more family visits later this week.  It's so great to have such amazing family to visit, though after the third family I am starting to get completely exhausted.

This weekend my moms met Kate's brother, sister-in-law, dad and bonus mom for the first time.  The introductory hello turned into a wedding meeting after the breakfast plates were cleared and we were on our third, then fourth, then fifth cup of coffee.  All I can say is thank God for family.

The meeting, while totally and completely overwhelming, made me and Kate think about event and logistic details that need to be decided in the next month.  Many of the things that we talked about Kate and I hadn't discussed yet or even realized we needed to think about.

I am so thankful that we both come from great families who can help us put on this great wedding ceremony and event weekend.  The meeting changed how we had been viewing the wedding, and I really don't know what would have happened without them and all the rest of our great families.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I bought my wedding dress!!!

There is so much I want to write about, but I'm simply exhausted.  We just returned from visiting family all throughout California, and I'm glad to be home.  But I wanted to quickly update about my "Christmas present" to myself.  I bought/won the wedding dress!  I have a wedding dress!

More wedding dress details are over at this link. I bought the dress for a total of $68, though I expect alterations will cost me a pretty penny (if I end up paying for them instead of having a friend do them.)  I can't wait to try it on!  I'm dreaming of simple accessories - a strand of pearls, maybe - and just being very elegant.

Yay!  I'm so excited!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


For those of you who celebrate, Merry Christmas!  I am currently enjoying my third of four holidaies of the season.  Today we will be celebrating my second Christmas, after already celebrating all eight days of Chanukah (which will again be celebrated with grandparents in Michigan).  I am so very blessed to have such a great and loving family and have such fantastic friends.  Love to you all!

(And next year, my goal is to celebrate only two holiday celebrations!)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's all about the dress - kind of

Over here on blog-central, it's been all about the dress.  At home too.  But not because I want the perfect dress.

I want to get the dress shopping out of the way.  I don't really care about the "perfect" dress, I just want a dress I feel and look good in.  I know generally what that is (an A-line with a little detail).  To go green I've been looking at used dresses online, on eBay, eBay classifieds, craigslist, and Amazon.  But going online shopping isn't the same as doing it in-person.

I want something tangible to prove that I'm getting married, to prove that there is progress being made in this wedding planning business.  But the wedding is just a day, it's the marriage I care about.  And I'm going to feel beautiful and radiant on May 29 no matter what I'm dressed in.

But I did bid on a dress yesterday!  Who knows if I'll get it.  But it was the style I wanted and a great price.  I'd prefer to go dress shopping with my mom- and I still may do that even if I get this dress.  But how could I pass up a dress I really liked for $65?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No wonder

I just told my friend that I haven't had a one-on-one fun outing with any friend in months.  At first I thought I was exaggerating, but I just looked at my calendar, and - nope - it's true.  No wonder I haven't had time to do wedding prep!  I simply haven't had time.

Though, while in Sacramento last weekend for winter holiday with the family, Kate, Izzy (brother), April (bestie), and I jumped quickly into a bridal boutique on our way to lunch.  (We were passing it on the way, and I thought it would be fun to go inside.)  Even with 75% off the dresses, they were still way outside my price range.  Why would I spent $3,500 on a dress for one day?  Plus, I don't even like beading!  I don't get the wedding industrial complex.  The dresses weren't even pretty, they were just over-the-top.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Delicious or acceptable?

Since the last time I posted here Kate and I have decided that we won’t be using Old Spaghetti Factory as our caterer.  We both want to showcase our California roots and Kate and I want our Oakland wedding to reflect our commitment to the local community.  We also care deeply about supporting local businesses and using local food.  OSF, a large corporation that doesn’t use locally sourced foods, doesn’t exactly meet these expectations, so we decided to nix the delicious browned butter and mizithra

I was surprised by people’s overwhelmingly negative reactions to OSF.  While Arizmendi’s (another catering choice we’re considering) was funky enough to pass the more traditional foodie inspectors, people though OSF was unclassy.  Comfort food – the theme for the reception food – is not, evidently, “acceptable wedding food”.  These criticisms don’t come from my family – whose opinion I deeply cherish – but often from people I don’t know exceptionally well and aren’t necessarily on the invite list.   

And really, who cares?  Most people aren’t going to remember the food anyway.  And I’ve had “acceptable wedding food” - half the time it only looks beautiful, and tastes disgusting.  I care what the food looks like, sure, but it also has to taste Oh My Goodness good.  And, afterall, this is a party Kate and I am throwing to celebrate this great union.  I never though it was very classy to tell someone else how to throw a party, anyhow.  Or maybe it is.  I've never really understood Ms. Manners, despite my  mom's attempts to civilize me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


You guys, Old Spaghetti Factory caters!  If you've never eaten out with me, you might not know this, but OSF is my favoritest favorite restaurant ever.  (I mean, have you TASTED their spaghetti with mizithra cheese and browned butter???)

Not only does OSF cater, but they also will deliver the food to you (and possibly serve it too!).  The closest OSF is in Concord for us (30ish minutes away, and you know I'll drive there for spaghetti), and they'll deliver to Oakland!

It's cheap, it's delicious, and I know I love it.  I can't wait for the manager to call me back with details!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My blessed family

(I just love this idea)

This post on Offbeat Bride totally made me cry.  (Take this with a grain of salt - I cry easily.)

[Chanelle writes about marrying someone of the same-sex, and the views of their families.]
Unfortunately, Chanelle's family is not as supportive. It was a hard burden to bear, but the fact that her aunt made such an effort to fly across the country in a show of support really made up for the absence of the others.
During the ceremony, we invited all the witnesses and supporters of our marriage to leave their fingerprints on a tree, hand-drawn by Chanelle's sister, signifying the greater community in which our relationship has and will continue to grow. This simple, yet beautiful, act of involving our loved ones really helped us understand that family is what you make it and even with all the heartache associated with our blood family, our chosen family has always been there for us.

We are so, so, so, so lucky to both have amazing families - all of them!  My moms, my dad's family, her mom's family, and her dad's family all just love us to pieces. We come from supportive backgrounds and no one is going to boycott our wedding because we're in a same-sex relationship.  No, instead they're making us chuppah pieces, helping us find our hotels, going dress shopping, and just excited by the upcoming event.  They're being so helpful, sweet, and fantastic, and I just am overwhelmed with love.  

We are blessed in so many ways.  For having found one another, for living in this great, and for having such an amazing and blessed family.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chuppah pieces

Kate and I are having a traditional Jewish marriage ceremony with a ketubah (Jewish marriage contract), aufruf (we'll be called to the bimah together to recite a prayer over the Torah the Saturday before our ceremony), and we'll be married under a chuppah* (wedding canopy).

Our chuppah is being made for us by our immediate family - parents, siblings, and grandparents.  Each person was assigned a square (12" by 12") to decorate however they wish, which will then be sown together by Kate's mom to create the canopy.  This weekend we got the first square from Kate's dad, John.  It's absolutely gorgeous and it makes me so excited to see how the others will turn out!!!

I am posting quickly as my new printer is finishing up with the materials for tomorrow's workshop, otherwise I'd post a picture and explain a little bit more about the awesome Jewish traditions we'll be upholding in May.  Can't wait until then!

*It's pronounced huppa

Monday, December 6, 2010

Proposition 8 at the Ninth Circuit Court

This morning Kate and I stood outside the Ninth Circuit Courthouse before the Proposition 8 trial began.  We stood alongside rabbis, ministers, atheists, children, grandparents, parents, and couples all listening to the stories of people effected by Proposition 8.

When the proposition passed, I was in Ohio working for Obama.  My path hadn't yet crossed Kate's, and I had no idea the impact this law would have on my life.  Sure, I was devastated on behalf of my parents - I started crying during the Obama celebration when it looked the Prop 8 had passed - but that is nothing like this experience.  It's different when you feel the need to race to court RIGHT NOW (which - for those of you who don't know - is how we got engaged) because tomorrow they might take away our right to marry.  Or maybe they've already taken it away.  It's different when it's the love of your life that you're trying to marry, not just the love of your family.  Not more or less hurtful, just hurtful in an entirely different way.

So this morning at 7:30, standing outside the Ninth Circuit Courthouse, on the precipice of what could be our right to marry, I was exhausted and excited.  I had gone to bed entirely too late last night because Kate and I were doing media interviews after my rained-out event.  But, more than the physical drain of too-early a wake up call, I am exhausted by going to all these court cases.  I'm exhausted that we have to fight bigotry to simply say "I do", that people challenge one of the best things that has ever happened to me, the love of my life, Kate.

Yet, it's exciting.  What if I could legally marry Kate?  What if we could enjoy the universally known commitment - marriage?  We'll be married in May no matter what, but signing those domestic partnership papers is definitely going to feel like a blow.  Separate is not equal.  Let's hope the Ninth Circuit Court realizes that too.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Online dress shopping

My mom has been sending me some great wedding dresses after I wrote the last post.  Thanks, Mama!

More money than I'll spend on a wedding dress, but it's gorgeous!  Here $1,000- $1,500




Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dress shopping

So that we match, I'm going to pick out my dress before Kate chooses her coordinating suit.  I haven't begun dress shopping, but after looking at the beautiful Jessica McClintock dress online I got excited and went to go try it on.  In gold. Of course the color was awful, but I also didn't like the cut of the dress.

Then I tried on this dress.  I hated the sweetheart neckline, but the dress itself was amazing.

Now I'm thinking of this, this, and this.  Simple, beautiful A-line white dresses.  I think I'm going to have to just have a seamstress add a sash and straps, sadly, because the bridal industry doesn't believe in color or practicality.  

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A dress I love!

I love this dress, you guys.  Love, love, love, love, love it.  There are only three things that would make it better:

  1. If it came in my size
  2. If it came in white or champagne or some other off-white color
  3. If it had a sash.  I want a sash to add some pizazz and color.
This is the first dress that I have been inspired by.  Tonight I'm going to go to Jessica McClintock to check out what other fabulous dresses they might have.

Monday, November 15, 2010

THE dress

I've watched a few episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress", and it's all rather obscene.  Rather than feeling inspired to spend thousands of dollars on a dress, I feel like running the other direction - right into a sun dress.  I do not want to look like an ice queen or sexy beauty pageant princess.  I want to look fantastic and beautiful - and I don't need an $11,000 dress to accomplish that.

I'm not intoxicated by most of the traditional gowns.  I want a dash of color.  I want some pizazz.  I want straps to keep it up that heavy white beast, because I'm going to dance the night away.  But, most of all, I want to feel both comfortable and beautiful.  Traditional "bridal gowns" don't feel like they even begin to give you those options. I am not looking forward to wedding dress shopping in a few months.  Any ideas, friends?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Moving day came and went

Kate's finally home after her work trip to Kansas, and I supervised our movers coming into our new (amazing) Berkeley apartment.  I've found my socks - finally - and even know where our pots and pans are!  The books are still in boxes throughout the house (we have a lot of books!), but with so much space to store stuff it doesn't feel cramped.

We've put wedding planning on the back burner until after our stuff is put away - and likely until after the holidays.  We are lucky to have an abundance of loving family, which means that figuring out Christmas/Chanukah/winter holiday logistics leaves a lot to fret over.  And I can only fret over one major thing at a time.  So, right now, it's moving and family.  I guess two major things at a time.  Maybe sooner rather than later it'll be the wedding again, but right now I'm just excited that I get to say "I do" with Kate sometime soonish!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Caged Bird

I don't understand the bird and cage motifs that are so popular right now in weddings.  Caged birds don't remind me of anything positive, especially not in the context of a wedding.  Personally, I prefer to be free to blow bubbles.

Moving time!

We signed the lease this morning, six days after we began the housing search!  We're going to make our kitchen kosher tonight and do our laundry in the new place.  It's so awesome to be a grown up!

In unrelated news, we visited Pasadena this weekend so I could meet Kate's brother John and his wife Jessie.  I can't wait for them to come up and visit us in return.  I can't believe how lucky I am to be marrying into such a great family!  Kate's family are total sweethearts, which I guess shouldn't be surprising since she's so amazing.

More wedding stuff to come shortly, but in the mean time pardon our moving boxes, we need to pack!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We're moving!

My parents are some of the smartest people I know, and recently my mother wisely said, "Where are you going to put the centerpieces before the wedding in your small apartment?"  Good question, Mama.  I have no idea.  I don't even know where my wedding dress could go before the wedding.  Let's not even think about space for wedding presents...

So, we're moving.

Without any intention of following through, I did a lazy search on Craigslist and saw an apartment half a block from our shul.  It's an ideal location six blocks from BART, one block from Andronico's, and close enough that our Shomer Shabbos friends (people who won't travel on Shabbat) can come and eat with us.  So we went to go and look at it, and loved it.  It has three walk in closets!  I think that's enough space for centerpieces, don't you?

So we applied for it - and go it!  Just to be clear, Kate and I began our housing search on Tuesday and finished it on Wednesday.  The hope is that we will be signing the lease next week.  Easiest housing search ever!

Bathroom with a full tub

The living room.  Walk in closet on the right, with a dresser!

The bedroom.  Walk in closet on the right.  No dresser.

The kitchen.

Not pictured: laundry room downstairs, third walk in closet in the hallway, our own parking spot, and our synagogue half a block away.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wedding dresses

Yesterday, I almost bought a $80 wedding dress at Thrift Town.  It was almost perfect: ballroom, with straps, used, and not too ornate.  But it was a size too small and too long, and with all of the necessary alternations, combined with the fact that I didn't even know if it would fit after letting out the seams, kept me from purchasing it.  I'm still hopeful that with seven months to go, I will be able to find that used, perfect dress.  Or maybe I'm just living in fantasy land...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hiding the walls

Do you remember the green alcoves that Kate and I didn't like at the Community Center?  Kate and I have been brainstorming madly on how to cover them up.

Originally we thought we'd do something like this:
But, you know, longer and prettier.  Then we starting thinking about the cost of fabric, the work, and the aesthetics, and pretty much gave up the idea.

We moved on to thinking we could hide it behind branches and ferns.  The idea of coordinating folks to gather the branches and ferns seemed daunting, not to mention figuring out how to hang them.  But such a pretty idea!

I just saw an awesome picture on Ruffled.  Why don't we cover them with art we make ourselves?  On sheets!

Who knows?  The aesthetics of our reception is low on the list of priorities right now, but it's fun to think about these things.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I just spent a lot of time working on the invitation, and I think I might see an end to this creative process sometime soon.  As much fun as creating the invitations has been, five full invitation drafts later I'm ready to be done for awhile.

I was inspired not by the Oakland tree, as I thought, but by this really cool font, Futura (above).  I was looking for Hebrew fonts, and came upon this instead.  The Hebrew font is Torah Sofer, which I think augments Futura fairly nicely.  And this tree to the right fits in nicely too.  It looks nice.  I'm hoping there's not a sixth invitation draft, at least not quite yet.

Choosing Oakland

When picking a venue, Kate and I fell in love with a few places in Marin, but we kept looking.  We really wanted to have the wedding in the East Bay, and specifically in Oakland.  Oakland gets a pretty bad rep when you see it in the news, but it's an absolutely amazing community.  I'm an alum of an Oakland college, and I chose Oakland to make my home.  We both wanted to get married in this great city, and show our family and friends what we love about the city.

I've been playing around with invitations recently, but have been having a hard time finding the right tree and colors to include.  My latest idea is to use the City of Oakland tree to subtly show off our Oakland pride. It's my new inspiration.  I have no idea if my Oakland pride will get me through this creative slump, but here's to hoping!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Where should we go for our honeymoon?

After this event planning extravaganza, I want to sit on a beach somewhere and do nothing for our honeymoon.  So Kate and I were really excited about visiting Hawaii for our honeymoon.

BUT!  While Kate and I were out at a nice restaurant yesterday, I realized that I might have made a fatal flaw by choosing Hawaii.  What about the food?  If you've ever eaten with me, you likely know that I really like good food.  A place that highly values spam is not what I think of when I think of ideal honeymoon food.  I want something covered in butter, full of carbs, and filled, covered, and stuffed with a lot of cheese.

So, what do you think?  Where should we go for our honeymoon?  Hawaii's still our top choice, but now I want to explore some other options.  Ideas?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Emily & Ali's wedding & wedding colors!

I really like this wedding featured on 100 Layer Cake, and Kate does too.  The moment she saw it on my buzz feed she said something to the effect of, "You just shared this because you liked the vest, didn't you?"  She knows me well. I have already started my wedding vest campaign.  Wouldn't Kate just look absolutely amazing in a vest?

And as I mentioned in the last post, we've picked our wedding colors - purple and green.  This picture really inspires me.  The purple and green are just so lovely together!  I'll get you the "official" colors sometime soon.

Monday, September 27, 2010

We're so excited!

Now that we have a date and location, it feels real to us and we finally feel free to move forward with planning.  This weekend, Kate and I sat down and made a huge three page to do list of all the things we need to get done before the wedding.  While a three page to do list would normally feel daunting, with eight months to plan it just feels exciting.  We see this as an opportunity to mesh traditional rituals with what makes sense for us, all ending in a giant party affirming our relationship.  What's not to love about that?

We have been holding off on doing a lot of things, because mentally we weren't ready to move forward until we knew the date and location.  But now we feel free to do them!  This weekend we chose our wedding colors (main - green, purple; highlights - blue, yellow), began assembling our invitations (think trees!), started assigning wedding party roles (wedding day coordinator, chuppah assembly person), designed our wedsite (coming to you soon!), and discussed the ceremony itself.

So, so exciting!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Save the date!

We're getting married!

Sunday, May 29th, 2011
Joaquin Miller Park

More details to follow

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Joaquin Miller, pictures!

I promised you pictures, and here they are!  We're still waiting to hear if we got the date.  Waiting very, very impatiently.  I don't know when we should hear back, but hopefully soon.  If we don't get May 29th (the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend), I'm not sure what our second and third choices are.  Sometime in June, probably.

And, I found a voice mail from the coordinator on my phone.  Whoops, turns out she did originally call me back in a timely fashion, and I really shouldn't have insinuated otherwise in the last post. Sorry, Desmona!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Just sent in the application!

I just faxed in the application for Joaquin Miller Community Center!  Evidently there's a name for the pretty WPA fountainy thing - the "cascades" - and you can reserve it too!  The name is as romantic-sounding as the location is, too.  Though the reservation form leaves romance at the door...

Pictures to come soon of the community center.  Let's just say, it's pretty awesome with amazing views.  And they rent flatware and table clothe rentals, which is pretty awesome (and fairly rare!)  Hopefully the newly stained floor smell will dissipate by next summer.

We don't know yet if we got the date we wanted (May 29 - the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend), but we'll let y'all know as soon as we do!

After the excitement of actually finding a venue we both love, I think the most exciting thing is that now I can focus on other things - like FOOD! and DRESSES!  and SHOES!  and DECORATING!  and a KETUBA!  How much fun is that?  

(Seriously, this wedding stuff is so much fun!  We get to plan a big party for the folks we love and all come together and celebrate this union that's forming.  Life is pretty awesome.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tomorrow, Joaquin Miller Park!

You know, I did give Kate access to the blog - she has her own log in and everything.  But I guess that whole "I'm too busy to hang out with my fiancĂ©e" also means she's too busy to update over here.  So, for the time being, I think you're stuck with good old Margee.  Sorry, folks.

Anyway, I was going to say that I'm hella excited about tomorrow.  (See Kate, this is what happens when you don't update - your girlfriend makes this blog hecka Nor Cal on you.)  We FINALLY have an appointment to see Joaquin Miller Park Community Center.  Remember that place?  The one I gushed and gushed about?  Kate  talked to the woman there and set up an appointment for tomorrow morning. (My theory is she accidentally picked up the phone; she still hasn't called me back.)  I can't wait to see it!

I'll let you all know how it goes.  We're really hopeful that this is the place.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

So much

Margee's note: Some super, lovey-dovey stuff is to follow.

Like in every relationship, Kate and I have developed our own sort of language.  We can have an entire conversation just through eye contact and context, neither one of us saying a thing.  And our verbal conversations might skip over important words.

Kate and I spend a lot of time saying, "I love you" to one another.  We both feel so lucky and amazed by the other person.  To convey this abundant feeling of love, we often say, "I love you so much."  And from there, we've begun only saying "so much" to describe this amazing, overwhelming feeling.

It sometimes amazes me that I get to be with Kate.  Other times it just feels natural, like this is what life is supposed to be.  I'm so lucky that I get to marry Kate one day next summer.  And, what's even more amazing, is that I know Kate feels the same way.  I guess that's why we're so excited - and not stressed - about this whole wedding thing.

I love Kate.  So much.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Can you help us get married?

We're so excited to get married next summer, and are saddened by the inequality that keeps us from legally enjoying marriage.  Please help us create a world where one day all unions - no matter the gender of the couple - will be able to be celebrated.

This is why we've registered for the Marriage Equality USA Bridge Walk.  We'll be walking from one end of the Golden Gate Bridge to the other - and then back again to support MEUSA!  Can you sponsor us?

MEUSA has no paid staff people and is completely volunteer-run, yet they're the most effective grassroots marriage equality organization in California.  During the Prop 8 campaign, they were the only organization giving major resources to the central valley, people of color, and people of faith.  As you may know, post-Prop 8 polling suggests that's exactly where resources needed to be concentrated.  Their energized expert board, leadership, and grassroots organizers are some of the absolute best people I've ever worked with.

The Bridge Walk is the Sunday after next, September 26.  We hope to raise $180 before then.  In Judaism, 18 is a significant number.  The letters add up to "Chai", to life.  Many Jews give monetary gifts in a multiple of 18 as it is considered an expression of a blessing for a long life.  So our goal is to raise $180 for MEUSA, an organization that is fighting for our right to be blessed with one another for life.

Thank you so much!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Just dreaming...

I'm not in the wedding dress market yet, but sometimes it's nice to dream...

David's Bridal Satin Off-the-Shoulder A-Line with Side-Drape wouldn't fit me anyway...

Oh my goodness, do I love these Pearl Hart Fluevogs 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Joaquin Miller Park, again

We went back to Joaquin Miller Park today.  It's just as gorgeous as we remembered it.  If only the community center would call us back so we could make arrangements to view the reception area.  I think this might be the place....

It was a nice way to start out the Jewish new year.  L'shana tova, friends!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Engagement party!

A big THANK YOU to everyone who was able to come to Sunday's awesome engagement party.  I had an absolute blast!

I didn't think to take pictures for most of the party, and am very thankful to whomever borrowed my camera to take pictures.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Because of that amazing friend - whoever you are! - there are some pics below of the fun picnic at Lake Merritt.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A full weekend!

This weekend was Kate and my engagement party.  It was amazing!  I can't believe how many folks showed up.  Thank you all!  It was a blast!  Pics to come soon.

Today we had a more relaxed day and explored Redwood Regional Park and Joaquin Miller Park as two possible wedding locations.  Redwood Regional Park didn't offer what we wanted - there wasn't enough room to move around, the grass was too yellow, and it the picnic areas weren't secluded.  But Joaquin Miller Park was pretty amazing.

Today's favorite was the Woodminster Amphitheater park.  The WPA-era fountains gurgled next to the gorgeously landscaped plants.  The beautiful foreground of art and nature highlighted the Oakland skyline and views of the bay.  Every direction you turn, you see magnificence and extraordinary beauty.  We got there as the sun was setting, making the park seem even more magical.  It also strained our camera (a.k.a. Kate's phone) and we could only capture mediocre pictures (below).

I think getting married on the steps would be just magical.  

A little bit up the hill (we'd have to have folks drive it) is the Joaquin Miller Community Center.  It has an awesome view, and we hope a beautiful inside for us to host the reception.  

Joaquin Miller Park has a lot of options to choose from, though.  Other one's we're considering are:

Fernwood Grove
A secluded area of redwoods with picnic benches.  We like how quiet the area is and how beautiful it is, but it's oddly shaped.

Palo Secco Wedding Site
This has redwood trees, a dried creek, a clearing, and picnic tables for some post-wedding and pre-reception fun and yums.  

A random pretty redwood grove
Who knows if it would have enough space to hold all 125 people on our guest list, but it's pretty!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I'm the dress. I hope there's a vest!

All I'm going to say is that Kate would look freaking hot in a vest.  Do you hear me, honey?  HOT!

I guess I also want to say that Offbeat Bride has another amazing wedding featured on their site.  This one's of a super cute big lesbian couple who went up to Canada to get married.  It might sound familiar to some of you, because you've heard me talk ad nauseum about how amazing and transformative my moms' Canadian wedding was for me.  (They too went to British Columbia to get legally married.)  So now I'm talking Canada without talking about the gross stuff (how awesome my parents are, and how much I love them, and blah blah blah).  Nope.  Just that Kate is pretty hot.  And would look pretty hot in a vest.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Yes please!

Oh my goodness.  What a gorgeous wedding.  It's - of course - on 100 Layer Cake, the blog I slammed the other day for being too stylized.  And what do they have just a few days later?  A DIY fun, outdoor wedding.   This is what happens when you think you're too cool for school (or a wedding blog, as it may be).

Go over to 100 Layer Cake to look at the most adorable wedding photos up right now.  You can see them all here, or a few of them down below.

Trees?  Bubbles?  Hoola hoops?  Wildflowers?  Planted flowers?  Dancing shoes?  AWESOME!!!

The dress is meh, and I'm not sure what happened with the wedding decorations, but I love the idea of mixing fun and nature together.  Of course, the lovely hippie Kate agrees.  She suggested bubbles while we were hanging out in Dolores Park the other week.  I'm starting to feel like a stereotype.  (Dolores Park, DIY, bubbles, three cats, u-haul.)  Next thing you know we'll give up our cars for bikes, move to the Mission, and start sporting some faux hawks.  Right after, of course, our delicious, beautiful, and fun DIY wedding.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Marin venues

We've looked at some awesome places already, and we're planning on visiting some more this Monday.  We started in Marin, and now we're looking at places in the East Bay.  The three places we've looked at were all amazing and beautiful.

San Francisco Theological Seminary
It looks like a freaking castle!  How awesome is that?  And do you see that labyrinth?  Can you imagine how awesome it would be to get married in the center of a labyrinth and have all your friends and family around you?

Sadly, we're probably not going to pick SFTS because -while absolutely gorgeous - they don't have a great reception hall without crosses.  And as two good Jewish gals getting married, a cross would just ruin my mood.  And while it's beautiful to have a wedding and reception outside, there isn't enough shade to keep my delicate white skin from turning into the color of a lobster.

Cost: $800-2900

UU Congregation of Marin
UUs are awesome, and this church is no exception.  They have right on their website that they're welcoming of all gender identities.  Isn't that awesome?  And not to mention the place is absolutely beautiful and they have tons of weddings there, so the coordinator really knows what she's talking about.  They provide tables and chairs too, and are really accommodating.

We probably won't go with them because the arbor, what's pictured to the right, would not comfortably fit all 125 guests we're looking at having at the wedding.  It's an awesome reception site - cheap too! - but as a wedding and reception venue, it just barely doesn't make the cut.

Cost: $2095

Frantoio, Frantoio.  Your food is so amazing!  They make their own olive oil and - oh yum - can you tell!  The food melts in your mouth. Plus, the coordinator is really friendly.  We drove around and found this adorable park (Bayfront Park) just 6 minutes away that has both wild flowers and water.  It's amazing.  This is definitely a possibility.

Cost: $32 per person, $3,000 minimum

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The search goes on!

My mother found the most amazing blog post ever.  I have no idea how my mom finds such amazing things, but she is a serious Master Googler.

City Homestead (the blog) outlines exactly what we want in a wedding location (beautiful, outside, cheap, in Oakland/Berkeley), then gives a comprehensive list of all these great places!  The awesome post is here.

I haven't even been able to really dig deep into the blog yet, but it's amazing.  My current favorite is Joaquin Miller Park in the Oakland hills.  I'll let City Homestead describe it for you:

Joaquin Miller Park (Oakland hills): Beautiful WPA-era park with several popular wedding sites and some picnic grounds available as well. Owned by the City of Oakland, but very close to the EBRPD parks; I have trouble keeping track of which parks OPR runs and which parks EBRPD runs! Alcohol and amplified sound require permits. (This is also the only city park in Oakland that allows alcohol.) Picnics must be done by 10 pm.
Cost: Varies by specific site ($100 to $200)

Now, if you're too lazy to click the link, this is the picture you're missing:
Awesome, right?  Do you see those picnic tables in the sun?  SCORE!

I can't wait to have the time to go through the rest of the locations!

Wedding venue

Looking for a place to get married is some hard stuff.  On one hand, we're surrounded by such beautiful options here in the Bay Area.  On the other hand, it's the Bay Area so everything costs an arm and a leg.  Neither Kate nor I are interested in the "It's The Best Day Of Your Life" sentiment, though our list of what we want in a venue would suggest otherwise.

What we're looking for:
  • Outdoor Ceremony - This is pretty much mandatory.  The one exception has so far been the Mills College Chapel, which is surrounded by glass doors looking out onto the beautiful and tree-filled surroundings.
  • Cheap - Weddings are expensive, and I have yet to resolve the "there are children dying in Pakistan because of flooding and I'm spending thousands of dollars on a day" dilemma.  So, we're looking to spend less than $2000 on venue if we can.  This will be different depending on food.  Ideally, we'd like to spend less than $30/person on food.
  • Holds 125 guests - Because, you guessed it, we have 125 people on the guest list!!!
  • Trees or water  - for the outdoor ceremony.  With very little - if any - cement.  No manicured gardens, if can be helped as well!
  • Yummy VEGETARIAN food - If it's a picnic, pizza from Arizmendi's, a delicious restaurant, or a caterer, I like good food and I want good food at my wedding.  We are also going to do this kosher-style, so if there's going to be any meat at the reception, it will be limited to fish
  • Sunday morning/lunch wedding - after mass, so Armida & Dick (Kate's grandparents) can go to church Sunday morning
  • 45 minute drive from Berkeley - We are asking family and friends to come to our synagogue with us on Saturday morning, so we don't want folks driving crazy amounts of places
  • Hotel nearby - Ideally the hotel will be very close to the reception site so if folks have a little too much fun, there's no safety problem while they're trying to get home.
  • Reception and ceremony at the same place is not mandatory, but ideal.  We would like the two sites to not be more than 10 minutes apart.
  • Dates - Most of June and most of August, and the first half of September.  Ideally, Labor Day weekend, but I have no expectations that such a date will be open this late.  We can not have it in July because of our rabbi's availability.  
  • East Bay - We're looking in Marin, but I'd really like the wedding in the East Bay, if at all possible.  Afterall, that's where we live!
Where we're looking:
  • If it's in Here Comes the Guide, we've probably seen it.  Maybe haven't looked at it super close, but I have gone through every single (!) East Bay, Marin, and San Francisco entry.  If it's not on our spreadsheet, and you think it warrants a looking at, please send it to us!
  • Parks!  We haven't had nearly enough time to check out parks yet - or anything in the East Bay - but I there's a good chance we might get married in a park.  They're beautiful, cheap, and I have been scheming up some super cute ideas for picnic baskets, games of frisbee, and other things that simply bring us joy - like bubbles!
Some considerations on venues:
  • Alcohol is expensive and not allowed everywhere
  • Catering is really expensive!  A "cheap" meal often begins at $25 per person - before a 20% fee and service charge.  Catering lists are often even more expensive.  And - on top of it - I really like good food.
  • Flatware is annoying to rent.  So are chairs, table clothes and tables themselves
  • Music is also annoying.  If you have it in a park, there's no electricity.  If you have it in a neighborhood, then there's neighbors.
  • Set up time is important - unless you're using the trees are your natural decoration.  Sometimes it's hard to get set up time if you're booked for only a few hours.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blogging about a life partner

I read a lot of blogs.  There's the "typical" wedding blogs: Style Me Pretty, 100 Layer Cake, Classic Bride, and Ruffled.  These blogs have sections called "real weddings" because most of the pictures are models trying to get you to pretend that their picture-perfect, Photshopped, size 0 stylized photo shoots are actually weddings.  Even their "real weddings" don't feel very real; it feels like the wedding is done for show, not for commitment or community affirmation.  (Not to mention, of course, everyone remains very straight.  You wouldn't want to ruin a wedding by allowing gay people in it.)  The blogs are pretty to look at and have cute things here and there, but my I prefer blogs show actual real and beautiful weddings.

My favorites are The Broke-Ass Bride, A Merry Wife, Offbeat Bride, and 2000 Dollar Wedding. There's a lot of reasons I like these blogs, but today's 2000 Dollar Wedding post was a prime example.  She talked about the joys of marrying a life partner.  Most of the fashion wedding blogs talk about the look, but few talk about the people and the marriage.  I want to marry Kate so I can spend my life with her, not so I can look like a princess for a day (though I have every intention of looking freaking awesome on my wedding day).

Sara, the author of 2000 Dollar Wedding, said:

In the process of planning a wedding, it can be so easy to get preoccupied with all the wrong things. There are so many details and distractions. But at its core, this is what it's all about. It's about formalizing our choices and our commitments. It's orchestrating a moment of seriousness and celebration that allows us to proclaim our love and our intentions out loud. It's a precious moment--worthy our attention and effort--but it's just one precious moment in a long line of many.

I would much prefer to get my advice from Sara than Calvin Klein any day.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Inspired in part by beautiful weddings like this one featured on Style Me Pretty, and in part by the fact that we both love nature, we have been tossing around the idea of getting married in a park.  On our way home from the gorgeous Pigeon Point hostel, we drove off Highway 1 to see if we could find any parks that might tickle our fancy.

We happened upon San Pedro Valley Park in Pacifica.  We haven't called them yet to figure out logistically what might be possible, but the location is absolutely gorgeous.  But, more importantly, they have tables!  Tables for 125 is hard to come by in parks!

If we were to have a park wedding, I have been thinking it might be cute to have a caterer make everyone their own picnic basket with goodies inside.  Then people can go back to the tables - with nice table clothes and center pieces - and enjoy some backyard fun, after which they'll play Frisbee, horeshoes, tag, and other fun games.

San Pedro Valley Park, Pacifica
Top (from L to R): Tree from "marriage site" (bottom right), tables to have the reception (x2)
Bottom: Horeshoes, moss that Kate really likes, the clearing I'm calling the "marriage site"
From Collages

Yay! We're getting married!

I am here to announce the engagement of my awesome self, Ms. Margee Churchon, to the Lovely Lady Kate Smallenburg.  (She wouldn't like me saying Ms. Kate Smallenburg because that implies one of two genders and there's someone out there who doesn't fit in the binary gender model, and she likes to be all inclusive and stuff.)

We started this blog because you love us.  You ask us all sorts of awesome questions, and we wanted to be able to show you some of the awesome ideas we're throwing around.  So, come and join us for the ride as we explore venues, caterers, decorations, and reveal some tidbits about ourselves.

We're looking at a date in summer of 2011 (June, August, or September) somewhere in the greater Bay Area.  It'll be a nice, big Jewish wedding.  Our wedding is really important to us - we view it as community affirmation of our relationship - and actually, the biggest frustration in this whole process is that practicality keeps us from inviting all of our big, loving, amazing community.  We're blessed with many family members (okay, Kate's blessed with many family members - she has more aunts than I have family), and we're really excited to be under the chuppah with family and friends.