Thursday, June 23, 2011

We're back

Just in case you were worried and haven't talked to us yet, we arrived back safely into SF last week.  We miss Hawaii terribly, but I'm glad to be home.  So far the best thing about being married is that I'm no longer planning a wedding and can devote time to other, more exciting ventures.

More update later.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

After days of lying on the beach and reading, Kate and I emerged from our water-front house and ventured out.  Yesterday, we drove north in search of good food and adventure, which we met at Postcards CafĂ© and the wet and dry caves!  As our red convertible was slowly winding the slim roads of the rain forest mountains of Hawaii, Kate and I couldn’t help but stop every half mile to take photos of this cliff, that beach, or the dozens of baby chicks that were following mama hen on the waterfront.  The cliffs were overrun with greens, purples, reds, and yellows, creating an over-run collage of intermixing colors and plants. 

Today our adventures led us kayaking down the river and hiking to a waterfall once used by Hawaiian royalty.  After our kayak downstream – which I’m sure looked peaceful, but left us drained physically and mentally – we hiked to the waterfall.  They told us to prepare for mud, but I didn’t expect to be calf-deep in it.  But after walking hip-deep in a raging river, I was ready for all that Mother Nature wanted to throw at me.  I have to admit, I really enjoyed slipping and sliding with mud between my toes.

As for tomorrow – ziplining!  Then we’ll be off to The Big Island, where we’ll get to see a real live volcano!  We’re having a blast…

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Since arriving in Hawaii I have lost all sense of time.  My daily rhythm is based on when the rooster crows in the morning, the tide comes in during the day, and the sun sets at night.  Everywhere I go I can hear the powerful and calming ocean breathe in, breathe out as the waves gift the beaches with coral from the reefs that peek out from the water.  Our house is right on the water, with a view of an expansive ocean that is only broken up by black lava on the beach and the bountiful green of the flowering plants.  There are mango and pineapple trees everywhere, just like the coral and shells that are prolific along the beach.  Everything is lush and colorful here.  The reds, greens, yellows, and blues all are vibrant against the lush mountain ranges that you can see from wherever you are.

When we arrived in Kauai, we were struck with the abundant beauty of this place.  And then I was immediately struck by the chickens.  They’re everywhere.  We’ve seen hundreds of roosters, chickens and baby chicks hanging out on the side of the road, on the beach, in our front yard.  I find them hilarious and fun, and have become an obsessive rooster watcher since our arrival.

Our house’s beach is fairly secluded, and it feels private at times.  There are about a dozen other houses that share the beach, but we have rarely come upon others enjoying the water.  Well, we’ve rarely come upon people.  Little sand crabs are abundant here, burrowing into the sand at night and digging themselves out during the day.  Little sand piles can be found throughout the beach, from where the crabs finally reached the surface again to eat little things they find on the beach. 

Just a short walk away from our house, a river meets the ocean.  It’s surreal how beautiful it is.  It reminds us of Disneyland, how over-the-top gorgeous the water and trees are.  The riverside is lined with banana, mango, and coconut trees, along with outrageously beautiful flowers that seem unreal in their exquisite beauty.  The water is brimming with fish and other almost transparent animals –almost all the animals here are invisible.  The crabs are the color of sand, the fish the color of fallen palm trees, the birds the color of mangos.  There are also hundreds of tadpoles swimming at the river’s edge, and I keep wondering where mama frog is – I haven’t heard any croaking, just the diverse trills and cock-a-doodle-dos of the birds. 

We’ve spent our time exploring the Eastern side of Kuauii.  The farmers’ market had all sorts of fruits I had never heard of before.   The banana options alone are overwhelming.  We bought some of the fruits and enjoyed a cold coconut.  After drinking the delicious coconut water, we returned to the stall to have the seller take a machete and chop the coconut in half.  We took the wet, silky insides and ate them.   It was delicious and nothing like what I have been led to believe coconut tasked like.  It’s like tomatoes – the fresh fruit has almost nothing in common with what is sold in the stores. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

A very short meditation on Day 1 of married life

Today we opened some of the cards and gifts that people have given us, and I felt so, so loved.  Yesterday, I felt so overwhelmed with love and opening those cards immediately brought those feelings back to me.  Kate and I are so lucky to have found one another and to have an outstanding community of friends and family who care for us.

The wedding was magical.  The reception too.  Our rabbi invoked the moment, and I was so glad to just stand under the chuppah with my love.  I cried as our rabbi and then parents blessed us, and as I saw the beautiful woman who is now my wife.  Later, at the reception, I was just surrounded by love and kind words.  It felt like it was over in a flash, and I didn't nearly get to say hello to everyone I wanted.  With a few very minor exceptions, the day was perfect.  We had a few great secrets up our sleeves for the day, including the rabbi's processional and our recessional, and it was fun to create a meaningful and fun space for everyone to (hopefully) enjoy.

More probably later.  In the meantime, I'm going to do laundry for the honeymoon, and I was wondering if you would like any of our leftover bubbles, baskets, aisle runners, table numbers, or anything else we come across as we unpack all the stuff from the wedding.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Calling in sick

Before this week, Kate and I have never been sick at the same time.  We've passed around the same sickness more than once, but always manage to get it at different times.  Unfortunately this week we've learned that when we're both sick at the same time we sound a lot like whining two years old.

Kate's sick with a stomach bug and my cold has come back with revenge in mind.  At last weekend's retreat, many folks came down with the stomach bug.  Kate's theory for my illness is that my immune system, fighting hard to keep puking at bay, has forgotten to fight off my cold as well.  It has become worse than it was last week, which is especially frustrating because I was finally considered myself "almost recovered" as of Sunday.

With the wedding just a few days away, I'm thankful that Kate and I have spent the last few weeks in a mad rush to the finish.  Since we returned home on Sunday, we've barely had enough energy to feed the cats, much less do almost anything wedding related.  There are still the programs to finish and the table numbers to glue, but we thankfully have nothing too time consuming to do before the wedding.  In the meantime, we've been sleeping in excess and I have been feeling guilty about - once again - calling in sick.  Ultimately, though, I feel resting now is the right thing to do.  I'm certain Kate will feel better before the wedding, but with this persistent two week cold I'm afraid that I'll be sneezing as I say "I do" and napping during our dance party.  So I'm calling in sick - again - and trying to get my head on straight enough to make sure all the vendors are paid, all the instructions are clear, and trying not to mind my 5 hour naps in the middle of the day.

But I seriously can't believe that Kate and I are BOTH SICK just 4 days before the wedding.  This is almost the worst.  (The worst would be actually being sick at the wedding.  Fingers crossed for health.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A week and a half before the wedding

A few weeks ago, Kate and I went to a friend’s wedding.  The entire (lovely) weekend, Kate was a walking to do list while I was confident everything would come together for our own Big Day.  A few days later, I joined Kate in the stress.  There are so many small details that need to be taken care of, and so little time!

Since then, we’ve created and updated over a dozen Google Documents, including:  Wedding budget, Wedding program, Wedding to do list, Wedding to do list for all, Music, Photo list, Wedding guest list, Very important wedding information, Wedding day schedule, Make up, and Aufruf Honors.  And that’s just the online documents.  We’ve also (almost) finished our centerpieces, aisle runners, and room set up; determined our wedding hair; bought me a new wedding nose ring; picked up our ketuba; finalized seating arrangements – for the ceremony and reception; confirmed with all of our vendors; ordered wedding cake; hired servers; planned meals for Friday and Saturday; and talked lovingly with our parents, who are planning other exciting activities for us that weekend. 

What a difference three weeks makes.  Just as our newly married friends (whose anniversary is next Monday!!!) said, a month before the wedding is all stress, but as it comes closer, you can relax more.  They were so right.  There’s still a lot to do, but all of the major things are taken care of. 

I’m still in wonder of people who planned weddings before the age of the internet.  Google documents, email, and this blog has allowed us to share our wedding decisions with others, many of whom have outstanding suggestions and solutions.  People are eager to help in a way that’s extremely humbling.  I’m so grateful for everyone who has been a cheerleader for this wedding and for our relationship.  Thanks to you, our stress is slowly easing into excitement, and I just can’t wait for the next 10 days to pass!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why I chose to be fat for my wedding

I love a meal overflowing with texture and taste - both are extremely important in a euphoric dinner.  I enjoy quality taste and an absurd quantity of texture.  I love how noodles and breads feel in my mouth, and I simply never want to put their tastes away.  Eating is genetic in my family; my mothers live to dine well and enjoy food to the point where they know many local chefs by their first name.  Why should I betray a family tradition when I'm planning a wedding that brings families together?

Eating simply makes me happy.  I love flavors rolling across my tongue, how Brie and crackers makes a delicious afternoon snack.  Planning a wedding is stressful, and I want all of my vices available to me, especially the delicious ones.

Not to mention, my dress is a little too big, and it would better if I gained 5 pounds - or 20.  It's freeing to know with 12 days before my wedding, my seamstress would prefer if I ate too much than not enough.  I don't think that happens enough with brides-to-be.

Most importantly, Kate will think I'm beautiful no matter how thin or fat I am.  Brides are always beautiful, anyway.

So last night I decided to enjoy my fat bride-dom and relish all the Brie, ice cream, and In-N-Out my body can handle.  I'll return to my Healthy Body Routine after the wedding and honeymoon.  That too makes me happy, but doesn't relieve stress in my current time-crunched life.  In the meantime, bring on the lemon cheese pasta and make my mouth water!

For those who are inclined to disagree, I say: Yes, I am fat.  I am technically obese and happy to have curves.  I intend to lose weight in my future, but in large part because I like how my body feels when I'm active and eat well.  I like how my mind feels when I'm inactive and eat poorly.  I often struggle between fat positive and healthy living, though one doesn't necessarily have to preclude the other.  It just always has for me.  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

16 days to go...

I wrote this yesterday, but then Blogger crashed.  So posting today. :)

I'm sick at home with 17 days to go until my wedding.  So what better thing to do than look at wedding websites in my PJs on the couch?

I stumbled upon a story of two women who were married in the mid-South.  It again reminded me how grateful I am to live with people who love and support me.  There is no one who is not coming to my wedding because I'm marrying the love of my life - who just happens to be a woman.  There is no one who has brought religion into a conversation as to why they can't support my decision.  No, I've just been loved and supported and our family and friends have been overly generous.  It's really overwhelming.  I feel so loved.

So, in short, thank you.  I love you too.

Friday, May 6, 2011

My mother is brilliant

It only takes three words to demonstrate my mother's brilliance: ice cream cake.

We were going to have ice cream sundaes.  But then you get into the logistics of how to serve the ice cream (pay servers? buy ice cream scoops? and how do you transport?).  MK humbly asked us something like, "I know you two have already probably thought about this, but just in case, what about ice cream cake?"

No, we hadn't thought of it.  I'm so glad my mother is brilliant.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

There's paint everywhere...

With less than a month to go, we are knee-deep in details.  But at least some of the details are still fun!

Last night we stayed up late watching Veronica Mars and painting all sorts of fun stuff involving paint.  When looking at the wedding site a few days ago, Kate and I realized we're going to need aisle markers of some kind.  We went off to Urban Ore (this amazing Goodwill of sorts for all types of household needs) and found jar lids for something like 10 cents each.  Last night we painted them green and purple, and today we're going to glue fabric flowers in each one. The lids are going to be attached to fabric, and - viola! - we have aisle markers!

We wanted to decorate the walls of our reception site, but weren't sure how.  Then we went to our friend's house, who had these beautiful 5 x 7 photos hanging on her walls with clothespins and ribbon.  We stole the idea, and last night we painted the clothespins with some great green and purple metallic paint.  Paired with paint chips we "stole" from Home Depot, we will hang wedding blessings (which people bestowed upon us when we announced our engagement) on the walls along with other meaningful decorations.

And other big and fun updates include, I had my first wedding dress fitting last week and my dress fits!  Whew.  I was afraid it was going to be too big, but when tied up correctly, it looks great.  I think it'll look even better without a train, missing a set of tulle underneath, and with a bit of a hem.  Sorry, friends, no pictures of that quite yet.  I guess you'll just have to wait for a few more weeks...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Back to our regularly scheduled program

The Seders are finished, and we're back onto wedding prep.  We've bought wedding jewelry, figured out flowers in the hair, finalized the wedding ceremony blessings, paid our caterer, and have begun following up on all the less fun details of A Big Day.  I'm over it already.  I just want to be married, in Hawaii, and get a couples back massage.

In the meantime, Kate's aunt and uncle threw us an amazing bridal shower and it was fantastic.  Kate has a humongous loving family and I treasure every moment I get to spend with them.  I had a blast and can't wait to go back down the coast again and visit when we have more free time.  One of the best things about getting married is that you get to be married to their family too.

This weekend we're going to a friend's wedding, and I can not wait!  I am excited to experience their bliss...and at the same time see what I can steal from them.

Chag sameach!  (Happy holiday!)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chag Sameach!

Chag sameach - happy holiday!  Tonight begins Passover and Kate and I will be celebrating out unleavened holiday TO THE MAX.  It's been such an exciting (and exhausting) holiday, and it hasn't even begun.  We're keeping a kosher for Passover home this year, and that takes a lot of work.  Unfortunately, it means we haven't been doing that much wedding prep as we try to rid our house of leavened bread and trade out our normal kitchen dishes for our kosher-for-Passover stuff.  I'll be back to regularly scheduled wedding updates soon, after the holiday.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Oh, what a beautiful morning, what a beautiful day...

It's been beautiful in the Bay Area.  The sun's been shining, the plants blooming, and women taking advantage by wearing ridiculously short "dresses"*.  Above is a picture of the empty lot on the corner, full of blooming flowers.

The first day of sun, I eagerly fished out my sandals from the bottom of my shoe bin.  I was so excited to give up my winter coat for lighter sweaters and wraps.  Stepping out into the sunshine felt so freeing.  And then it suddenly hit me - this is the weather we're going to have at our wedding.  Our wedding is THIS SEASON!  It's just around the corner - less than two months away.

Every day is one day closer to the wedding, and one less day we have to prepare for it.  Instead of this thought adding stress, it's felt so relaxing.  In less than two months, no matter what, Kate and I will be married.  We have food, a place, a rabbi, and a ketuba.  Sure, we don't know how our guests are going to get from the reception to the ceremony and back again, but we'll figure it out.  In two months, I'm going to be a really, really married lady.

In the meantime, Kate found a perfect shirt at Goodwill for the honeymoon.  It says Mrs. & Mrs.

Can't wait.

*This whole shirt as a dress phenomena has seriously confused folks.  Last week someone complimented me on my "shirt".  It was a knee-length dress that I wore with leggings.  

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kate's snake skin wedding shoes

If you've ever met Kate you might be a little shocked to hear that she wanted shoes that were so cutting edge they're not even in stores yet.  You might be more shocked to hear that these shoes are: purple, fake snake skin, and have three flowers on top.  I'd show you a picture if I could, but the shoes haven't been released yet.

Kate, Aunt Jane, and I went shopping for shoes in Walnut Creek's Macy's.  The Macy's is going through some serious remodel and the place was a bit of a mess.  So much of a mess, evidently, that they put out the Kenneth Cole Reaction lilac ballet flats before they were supposed to be released.  We found them, Kate loved them, and the shoes didn't come in her size.

So, naturally, we went back home and started Googling.  Except the entire internet had not heard of these shoes.  Zappos,, Kenneth Cole's website, Google images, and Google images sorted by color had never seen shoes like this.  Kate and I both started to wonder if we had hallucinated the shoes.  But since we both remembered the purple, flowered, snake skin ballet flats - well, that would have been one good hallucinogen to alter BOTH our memories.

Finally, after a few mis-dials, hang-ups, and a lot of time on hold I was able to get in touch with the Walnut Creek Macy's, who cleared up the whole mess. The shoes, just in, weren't yet on display or released.  We were going to have to find a Macy's that had the not-yet-released shoes in stock.

Thankfully, Pleasanton's Macy's came to our rescue.  By far the most customer service oriented of the Macy's we visited and spoke with, we placed the shoes on hold and easily went to go and pick them up later that day.

So now Kate has her entire outfit, though sans jewelry, and some pretty awesome shoes to match.  Who knew my suit-wearing bride's shoes would out femme my own?  Love is always such a lovely surprise.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This month's to do list

This is my March wedding "to do" list:
Finalize our calligrapher
Send invitations
Update RSVP wedsite
Confirm food
Talk with Menachem (our rabbi)
Decide on program language
Figure out music
Centerpieces (began)
Figure out aufruf kiddish
Shuttle (began)
Drinks (began)
Hotel room on the Big Island
Inter-island flights
Figure out what we're doing for Jody's birthday
Confirm Aufruf

There's still so much to do....

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kate's "wedding dress"

Banana Republic (and Gap and Old Navy) had a 30% off sale this weekend, and we found Kate's "wedding dress"!  BR no longer sells the vests online, but they had plenty of them in the store.  Kate looks great in the vest and pants, and we're really excited to have found something that she wanted.  All we need to do is find her a great button down!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Today's mail

Wedding dress re-visited

Remember that beautiful and simple wedding dress I bought?  Well, I just bought a different one.*

First, I needed to lose weight for that dress to fit me properly.  I'm not losing weight (or gaining either, thankfully), but that means that I was starting to get nervous about the dress.

Second, I gave into the Wedding Industrial Complex. Well, more specifically, Kate and I gave in.  She has encouraged me to spend lots of money (a lot of money to me at least) on a dress filled with sequins and embroidery and puff.  So we went to David's Bridal** yesterday and I tried on some dresses.

I liked the dress I bought originally.  But then I tried on something with a little more typical wedding-ness (embroidery, sequins).  Kate really liked it on me.  I thought it looked pretty too.

So I went to the internet and started googling.  And this is what I came up with.

Another A-line dress with embroidery.  I'm a little nervous about the sequins, but I did confirm the broach comes off (if you look at the pictures on the website).  It has a corset back and comes pre-bustled (thank G-d!  I don't want a train!)  I think it looks pretty.  And Kate's really into it - which is the important part.

I'm going to have to have it taken in, but it saves me from the problem I'm having right now.  The dress most definitely will fit.

*I had been saying the whole time that I can simply sell the dress again on eBay and recoup the $60 I spent on the dress.  Not that big of a deal.

**Do not go into David's Bridal on a weekend without an appointment.  You will regret it.  Also, David's Bridal is a scary contributer to the Wedding Industrial Complex and continues the myth that a wedding day is the bride's most important day ever.  Ugh.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Guest information

Invitations have been mailed and we're starting to count down the days (77 if you were wondering).  The pieces are beginning to come together and we're trying to put together an idea of who's attending, who needs kosher/vegan/gluten-free/delicious mac and cheese to eat at the reception, and how many awesome people we will get to see on Saturday morning (hopefully you)!

As part of all the logistical and fun details that are part of a wedding, we are having guests register online on our wedsite.  It creates an instant spreadsheet of "yes", "no", and "awesome children attendees".  You might have noticed that on the top right side of this blog you can now see "Guest Information".  That's for you, wedding guests!  It just gives you an outline of what's on the wedsite and where to go if you have any questions.

It's a holiday weekend, so book your flight, reserve your room, and figure out how to be in the awesomest area of all on May 29th.  Can't wait to see you there!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Engagement photos

Kate & Margee at Hogwarts (aka Exploritorium)
Engagement photos are here!  
And they're fantastic! 
(of course)

We posted a dozen or so on Facebook, but you can see all the great shots over at the website.  No messy sign-ins required.  

Simply go to: 
And put in: exploratorium


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My new last name

Thanks to Kate's aunt and our friend Shosh, our new last name will be Burch.  Like a birch tree, but different.  Taken from Smallenburg and Churchon.

I'm sad that I'm leaving my mother as the only Churchon left in the world (sadly the truth), especially given the amazing story that goes along with our last name, but I want our kids to share our last name.  Kate's electing to keep her last name as her middle name, but I feel that Margee Churchon Burch just sounds weird.  I'm sticking with Margee (Margaret) Manya Burch.

So here comes the brides, with their new last name.  The Burches.  (Not to be confused with the Butches.  That's the next family over.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lots of news

I owe you a bunch of updates, but have been terribly short on time.  I hope you don't mind the short update.

1. Totally Successfully Crafternoon!
Thank you to everyone who showed up to help make fabric flowers, find awesome quotes from books, decoupage candles, and keep me sane.  For those who couldn't come and join the awesomeness, a few (bad quality phone) photos below.

2. Invitations!
Invitations have been printed and sent.  If you find a mistake on the invitation, I don't want to hear about it.  The printer accidentally gave us twice the amount of invitations we ordered (300 rather than 150) so now we have over 200 extra invitations.  I invite (ha ha, sorry for the pun) any great ideas on what to do with them.  When we uploaded the spreadsheet of guests to The Knot, I thought they had accidentally doubled it.  Turns out, no, we actually did just invite 168 guests.  Ouch.

3. Last Name
Kate and I are going to change our last names.  We want to honor our heritage while also setting a path toward building a family together.  It's important for us that our children feel connected with both our families and with each other, and this is one of the easy ways we can help instill that idea and emotion.

We want to have a name that resembles both of our last names.  If you have any creative suggestions on how to combine Churchon and Smallenburg, please send them our way!  Our current favorite is Bergon.

And now, 
Photo Time!!!

Pooh Bear centerpiece.  Books bought at Goodwill and used book store.  Fabric flowers made by friends!

You can't see it, but these are awesome.  Decoupaged with pages taken from books, tissue paper, glitter and purple paint, and some amazing creativity.

Hi!  I'm a finished centerpiece!  I'm made with fabric flowers made in the crafternoon, pictures taken from a Shel Silverstein book (hellooooo Goodwill), some awesome fabric-type stuff from the East Bay Depot for Creative ReUse, and puff paint that Margee drew all over the book with.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Marge & Kat

The invitations have been ordered, and with only one mistake - I misspelled my name.  Thankfully, Kate caught it  when we got back the proofs, and Kate will not be marring Marge.

Which is exciting, because it means that we can employ our crafty friends this Sunday in helping us stuff and mail the invitations.  Which brings me to my next thing: if you're not on Facebook and live in the Bay Area, we're having a crafty wedding party this Sunday.  Help us create our awesome centerpieces and experiment with us!  Details on Facebook or by calling me or Kate.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What do you think?

I want an elegant necklace to go with my simple dress.  I was thinking pearls, but I really like this.  What do you guys think?  Details here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Engagement shoot

We're going to do an engagement shoot tomorrow.  I'm - of course - cynical and skeptic about it all, but Kate really wants to do it, and I do what makes Kate happy.

Unfortunately, we scheduled this today, and I don't have appropriate clothing (including shoes)!  I guess I'll just have to go shopping tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Amazing Photographer!!!

We have our photographer and I'm so excited!  Alison Yin is fantastic and photographed a wedding of a friend of ours, and came highly recommended.  She has amazing photos, pretty great prices, and we just love her.  Her house is not covered in pink or other things that might indicate fancy wedding obsession, and she is both professional and sweet.  But, most importantly of all, she takes great photos.

Kate and I decided early on that photography was one of the most important parts of the wedding for us.  It's how we'll show our kids our wedding, and remember it ourselves.  And already I'm so happy with our Alison.

We were looking for a photographer who knew what to expect at a Jewish wedding, would give us our high resolution images without a watermark, provide a second shooter at the wedding, edit our photos, and be clear about what they were charging for photos.  The photos need to be artistic and documentary style - no obvious poses for us besides the family line-up.  Alison is everything we wanted, and more.

When we entered her amazing Oakland house, we were greeted by her fantastic dog who was as friendly as Alison was.  Later, we met her boyfriend who will help shoot the photos on the day.  Her living room was beautifully arranged, and it was obvious her artistic skill doesn't end at the camera.  During the non-wedding season she shoots documentary photos, which is partly what she went to school for.  We spoke for over an hour, and both of us really liked her.  I can't wait!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Creating beauty

Picture from Maize in Montana

I'm grateful that Kate is making sure our wedding uses sustainable goods that are good for the earth and the people who made the items, but it's also such a pain when trying to keep the budget reasonable!  After rejecting some ideas, I think we've figured out what we're going to do for our centerpieces, thanks to some direction from our photographer (more on that in another post)!

I hope to decoupage votive candles (that were given to us by Kate's aunt) with book pages and colored decoupage.  Kate wants to create the actual centerpieces using fabric and paper (gotten from the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse) and make flowers that come spilling out from books.

I'm excited, and now that I have my creative juices flowing, I just want to go home and create!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wedding shower?

We're being thrown a wedding shower by one of Kate's awesome aunts.  (Kate has many awesome aunts, actually.  I'm marrying into an amazing family!)  The shower's not local, and it's pretty much going to be family only.  I kind of figured that would be about it, but now I'm curious - do any of you care that we don't throw a friends/Bay Area bridal shower?  Not that if you all say "OMG YOU SHOULD THROW ONE" I'm going to figure out how to, but just wondering what you guys and gals all thought.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Check list

Caterer?  Picked.
Menu?  Almost set.
Photographer?  Narrowed down.
Invitations? Finished and ready to print.
Dress?  Bought.
Hotel? Booked.
Love?  So much.

Kate's suit, wedding rings, wedding rights, centerpieces, decorations, programs, chuppah, seating, alcohol, and everything else can wait.  I'm feeling pretty good about wedding prep right now.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


The invitations are finished!  I'm so glad to have one more thing done.  We now have to figure out printing, but that's much less hassle than the "creating".


Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I'm totally in love with this necklace and everything else that's on creationtwinne's etsy.  A little more modern than I was expecting, but I just love how she creates these necklaces.  I emailed her to ask if she can do one with purple and pearls.  I look forward to hearing back.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Re-finding my sight

With the catering, the ketuba, the logistics, I think I've lost sight of the meaning of this wedding.  Things are calming down around here, and I think I've started to be able to breathe again.

Because, after all, all these logistics are simply so I can marry this amazing woman who I love so much.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A moment of silence

This post has adult language and themes.  It is my reflection on Marie Cartier's work, which documents over a hundred stories of what gay bar culture was like in the 40s and 50s.  With the stories of the bars also comes the personal stories of women who were raped, beaten, threatened, or had other awful things happen to them simply because they enjoyed the company of other women.  I am beyond grateful that I feel safe in my community and can marry the person I want.

I spent my weekend at Nehirim (a LGBT Jewish retreat) listening in part to Marie Cartier, and I'd like to take a moment of silence.  And this is why:

Before my time, it was not safe to be me.  It was not safe to be gay, much less bisexual or pansexual or transgender.  Don't look gay.  Or masculine.  Or different.  Sitting before McCarthy, in the formidable house of our government of the United States, you were asked "Are you a homosexual?" before "Are you a communist?"  More people were fired from their job because they loved someone who had the same parts as they did, than were black listed because of political idealism.  Except homosexuality was closeted, it wasn't televised, it wasn't ... sexy.  So you never hear about all those un-bedazzled homosexuals martyred for forbidden love.

Before my time, I could not have kids.  Well, I could have kids, but I couldn't keep them.  My husband knew what was best for me, for my children, for my maternal instincts, and have a doctor strip me of my parental rights.  Because what would be worse than sexual deviation creeping into their brains?

Speaking of brains, I couldn't have that either.  Before 1973, the APA considered it a disease.  The suggested cure?  Lobotomy.

And as long as you can trespass upon my mind, you might as well take my body with you.  The police raped the butches and dykes and drag queens.  The officer's pants around his ankles, he says to her, "I've never done this before."  The butch looks him in the eyes and says, "Well, you're doing it right now."  He violates her body as five officers - five men who took an oath to protect man, woman and child - watch.

Does his prick cure homosexuality?  I want to ask.

But I can't ask.  This was before my time.

Because now, in my time, I get to marry a woman.  Accepted, tolerated, celebrated by my community.  I will marry the woman I love and make a family with her.  We live together, we sleep together, we love our community together.  But it's recent, my time.  It's recent, and the people who came before are still here, are still living, are still loving.

So, for those who are here, and for those who didn't make it, I want to take a moment of silence.  In respect, in awe, in sorrow, in love.  I am blessed to live in my time, and I hope I never have to live in yours.

And let us say, amen.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fly me away

"I didn't realize how stressed you were until your last post" my best friend told me.  And, it's true.  I'm pretty stressed.  But I have to admit, it's not about the guest list.  It's about the guest list; buying tickets to Hawaii;  finding a catering; the many-stepped-ketuba making process; making, printing, and sending the invitations; and figuring out where we're staying in Hawaii.  It's a big list that is all marked urgent, and I seem to just run around in circles without having time to sit down and make a decision with Kate.

So yesterday, I sat down without Kate.  I worked on the invitation.  I figured out what flight I want to book to Hawaii.  I found a gorgeous Kauai house on the beach.  Kate came home later, exhausted from her last day at work at SFOP and then some volunteer work at PJA.  Even when Kate's exhausted, she has time for me and for what she feels she "should" do.  Kate completely amazes me.

She liked the changes I made to the invitation, liked the Kauai house, and we tried to book our flights to Hawaii.  (United, your miles system really sucks.  A lot.  We still don't have tickets and I don't think I'm going to keep my United account.)

We're going to try to book flights tonight, I already sent the Kauai house an e-mail, and we're almost done with the invitation.

And, maybe most importantly, I finished the guest list.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

We're going to Hawaii!

Tickets to Hawaii bought!!!  I got mine for $5 and Kate for $250.  Thank you airline miles!

(Do you remember when there were paper tickets for airplanes???)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The List

It'll be a great joy to have you at our party.

Yet, how am I supposed to greet over a hundred people in just under 3 hours?  Will I even know if you're there?  But I want you there anyway.  Even if I only see your face across the room and smile.  For that moment, when I see you, I will be so overcome that I get to celebrate this awesome experience with you.

If I could, I would invite everyone.  But space, food, and costs are all issues.  I want to invite you.  All of you.  I really do.  But I just can't afford it.  We've discussed ways, trying to make that work, but it won't.  It won't be what we want, what we can handle, what we can afford.

When people ask, "Am I invited?" it's a hard question to answer.  You might not be, and how do I say that in a room full of people - some of whom are on the list?

It's expensive to have a party like this.  Suddenly, I have to judge my friendships and ask myself some hard questions, such as "How well do I know you?"  I want you to come, but you don't have my number in your phone or know what I mean when I say "parents".  More importantly, will I know you in three years?  Six?  Will this be something we both treasure for the long length of our friendship, or a fun party that you want to go to?

How do you decide where the guest list ends?  I cherish my community and the people I know, and I don't want to hurt anyone by excluding them.  Already we've increased the size of the guest list considerably, and I hope not everyone RSVPs "Yes".  We simply don't have the space.

We're sending the invitations to the printers soon (I hope), and we're going to have to decide for a final time, who's on the list.  I hate this part of wedding planning.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Yummy in my tummy

We have no idea what to serve at our wedding.  What we want to eat is different than typical wedding food.  We want it to be:

  • Local and sustainable food 
  • Supports local businesses
  • Is delicious
  • "Comfort food"
  • Not fancy for the sake of fancy
We've been dreaming of Arizmendi's, Home Room, and the Cowgirl Creamery, but nothing is perfect.  We need gluten free and vegan options.  We need somewhere that is accustomed to catering, so our food isn't cold or burnt or late.  I'd prefer if it wasn't outrageously expensive, and was someone who was based out of Oakland or Berkeley.  

When talking wedding, all the norms are off.  Things are fancy, costs are higher, and a simple brunch spread just won't work anymore.  What do you think?  What would you want to eat at a wedding?  And - for the love of all things wonderful - please write down any suggestions you have in the comments.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Nerdy analytical data

I've been having some fun with Google Analytics lately, and I've learned many fascinating things.  The most amusing thing that I've learned is: the biggest keyword that people use to find this blog is "Kate Smallenburg".  It's five times more common than the second biggest keyword, "Joaquin Miller Wedding".

"Margee Churchon", on the other hand, has only directed one person to this site.  Hi, my lonely fan!  

Just kidding.  I also found out that there's a lot more of you out there than I would have ever expected.  Thanks for reading!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wedding logistics for your bum

Picture stolen from here

Like this small child in the picture, we hope that many of our guests will be comfortable sitting on the steps of Joaquin Miller Park.  We plan to make accommodations for our grandparents and others who may not want to toy with gravity, but for the cousins and brothers and other younger guests who will attend - it's the ground for you!

Of course, we don't want to ruin anyone's pretty dress or nice suit, so we want something to help pad your bum while sitting on the cold stone pathway.  You know those cushions you see at stadiums?  I can't find them for rent anywhere, which is frustrating.  I can buy them, sure, but I don't need 140 cushions after the wedding, and I don't want to inspire any sports-related bickering during the ceremony.

The best we've found are "chair cushions".  These nicer seat cushions would obviously have to be shielded from the dirty sidewalk by a blanket or sheet.  While I am amendable to this, I doubt these cushions come cheap.  Or, at least it doesn't appear that Stuart's Party Rentals will cheaply part with their cushions.

If you want a better view of the Joaquin Miller Community Park steps, click here for some gorgeous photos.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tikkun Olam

The picture's been updated because my fantastic friend found a picture of two women breaking the glass!  Yay Offbeat Bride!

Over at Offbeat Bride they have a lot of cool ideas.  They feature weddings that don't buy into the wedding industrial complex and are unique in some way.  My big hippie self just loves the site.

They have a "Tribe", where us brides (and grooms) can go to talk about wedding prep and exchange ideas.  I'm often inspired by my fellow engaged folks, and the other day I saw this great idea.

One of the iconic images of a Jewish marriage ceremony is the breaking of the glass.  There are many reasons people do this - to bring the wedding couple that many years of good luck and marriage, to remind us in this happy moment that there are other moments that are broken, to remember that the Temple in Jerusalem is in disrepair.  

On Offbeat Bride I saw,
"Instead of breaking a glass, we're going to glue a broken one - a symbol both of marriage and Tikun Olam."

Tikun olam means repairing the world, and is a core concept of modern day Judaism.  And what a better way to symbolize the marriage of two social justice folks whose independent life goals are to find a healing path for ourselves and our community?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Perfect shoes for a perfect dress

If you know me, you probably know I love shoes, especially comfortable and cute shoes.  I'll spend a lot of money on shoes.  And after I got my dress, I promptly went looking for shoes on the Fluevog website.  Fluevogs are the most comfortable heels I have ever worn.  I adore them. And you know what?  They were having a sale, and I got the most fantastic shoes ever!  They came yesterday, and I have to say they're even more perfect than they looked.  The purple is a little darker than it is in this photo, which is what I wanted.

Well, what I really want are these shoes.  But I can't walk in a four inch heel.  Sadly.