Thursday, March 29, 2012

Will You Marry Us?

In the summer of 2008, my sister (who is now my Maid of Honor) and I went on a pilgrimage to Australia.

We traveled with a small group of youth from the Diocese of Richmond to Sydney for World Youth Day to meet and worship with Catholic youth from around the world, be witnesses to the faith in a global setting, and see the Holy Father in person (albeit from very far away in a crowd of thousands).

see, we're veeeeeeeeeeeery far away in the crowd
yay for big screens!
Richmond sent our tiny group of youth with one adult chaperone, an elderly couple who were pretty much there just for the site-seeing, and a priest that my sister and I have known for years because he used to be our pastor.  This priest was our group leader, meaning he had our registration information, was able to check us in at the school that was offering shelter to WYD pilgrims, and knew how to acquire the packets of information that included vouchers for public transportation and FOOD.  Very important bit right there.

Here Father is both posing for the camera and making sure I don't fall off the railing I've climbed up on to snap this picture

Father arrived in Australia about a week or so before we did to attend "Days in the Diocese," a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture, find all the best restaurants, and learn the bus and subway routes.

Our ten days in Sydney were definitely an adventure, but the actual airline travel to get there felt adventurous in itself.

I'll spare you all the gory details, but suffice it to say that our group from Richmond was delayed by over 24 hours due to various kerfuffles from the airline.  When we finally made it through customs and were lamenting the fact that our luggage wouldn't arrive until the next day (marking 3 whole days in the same clothing at this point), my sister started to freak out a little bit.  You see, none of us had international cellphones on us.  We had no way to get in contact with our group leader who would have shown up at the airport the day before and been unable to find us.  Without Father, we were lost.  (There's a nod to a certain Shepherd and a call to "feed my sheep" in there somewhere, but I won't dwell on it.)

Just as her worry was starting to spread to the rest of us, my sister vocalized what we were all thinking: "How are we going to find Father?"

Then all of a sudden, we heard my sister's name coming from a few paces away.

How on earth he knew where to meet us is a mystery to us, when the airline couldn't even tell us what time- or even if- we'd even be arriving in Sydney.  But there he was.  From that moment on, he garnered the moniker Father Ninja.

Because Fr. Ninja has been a family friend for so long, the best priest I've ever known, and a crazy fun travel buddy, I knew I wanted him to marry us if he could- or at least be there as a guest.  Mr. Geek has since met Fr. Ninja and agrees about his awesomeness, and we both thought it would be better to be married by someone we actually know, as opposed to a complete stranger- the pastor of the church we're getting married at.

Fr. Ninja with my sister (MOH) and me after altar serving at Easter {personal photo}

So once we'd made a decision about where to have the wedding ceremony, the very first "vendor" we booked was Fr. Ninja!  I think maybe I was more nervous asking Fr. Ninja to marry us than Mr. Geek had been when proposing to me... I left a long, rambling voicemail message and later received a positive response!

So how did you choose your officiant?  Is the person marrying you a friend you wanted to invite to the wedding anyway?

Much Love,
The Geeks

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Location, Location, Location

In the last post, I mentioned that picking a date was much easier than picking a location for this little party of ours, and yet the date-setting process sounded a bit involved.  How on earth could decision making be any more complicated?

Courtesy of Google Maps
There's an awful lot of dots on that map, neh?

Tradition states that the wedding should be held in the bride's hometown.  This is pretty practical advice if the bride hasn't moved far from her hometown and if the groom's hometown is nearby.  "Hometown" normally means this is where all the couples friends and family live or at least are from.

Not so much with us.

Technically, my hometown, the city where I was born, is the southernmost dot on this map- Mobile, AL.  A significant portion of my parents' families live there still- including one of the flower girls for our wedding and her older brother, the altar server for our wedding.

I may have been born in Mobile, but I spent most of my life in a much more northern dot- Roanoke, VA.  (Spent a few years in central Kentucky before moving there, too.)  I made my lifelong friends in Roanoke, the girls that helped me fight my way through the horrors of middle school and fly relatively below the radar in high school.  Roanoke is where my family met the priest that will be marrying us, the role model that became my Confirmation sponsor, and other wonderful families we want to invite to the wedding.

I went to college just down I-81 from Roanoke at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, VA (the dot that's practically on top of Roanoke's dot).  At Tech I picked up another bridesmaid, and she and one of the friends I'd made in Roanoke snagged husbands by the time we were done with our engineering degrees.  I grew up in 3 different states, and though that's not really a whole lot compared to military children, I can't really call any of the towns my family has ever lived in "home."  When I think about "going home," I think about going to Blacksburg.

Mr. Geek, on the other hand, is from one of those western dots- Little Rock, AR.  His parents and many of his family members live there or close by.  He went to college at Louisiana Tech University in the dot just south of Little Rock, Ruston, LA.  He met some of his best friends there, including groomsmen, his best (wo)man, and the extremely talented photographer who shot our engagement session.

(Wondering how on earth we met when we grew up so far apart?  Watch our engagement video!)

After graduation, I, like so many other Hokies, snagged a job that brought me to Northern Virginia.  Because we'd been talking about marriage for so long at this point, Mr. Geek saved his pennies and moved here less than a year after I'd settled in.  (Those two NOVA dots are the places we live now.)  We both have friends and coworkers here (and in DC and Maryland).

So what's that red dot on the map?

The summer after I started my brand new big-girl job, my dad got a new job that moved my parents and sisters to Alexander City, AL.  The older of the two, my maid of honor, is finishing up an art degree at the University of Montevallo, and my baby sister lives with my parents in Alex City.

Before my family moved, I had always assumed I'd be getting married in Roanoke.  This turn of events tossed a wrench in the works, so by the time Mr. Geek proposed, I was warming up to the idea of  DC wedding.  Every Sunday at my new parish, I'd picture myself walking down this aisle and was dreading the idea of paying DC wedding prices on my modest barely-out-of-college budget.

And then we talked about it.

During the same conversation in which we picked a date, when I was still finding myself distracted by my brand new bling, we had a rather long conversation about exactly where we were going to get married- a discussion I'd never thought was necessary, because I'd pretty much made up my mind already.  This was the first conversation we had where I realized that Mr. Geek is not the "traditional" groom the Wedding Industrial Complex (WIC) tries to sell us- the uninterested groom who has no opinions on anything wedding-related except for where to go for the honeymoon, who answers the question "which do you prefer?" with just a grunt, if anything.  Mr. Geek is just the opposite of that- in this instance (and in some others), he didn't even need me to present option before he made his opinion known.

Ladies (and gentlemen?), my groom has a brain and a heart, and he's using both just as intensely as I'm using mine in this wedding planning adventure.

So anyway.

Mr. Geek asked what I thought about having the wedding in Alexander City.  The question caught me off-guard a bit, but he had good points.

That red dot is (roughly) in the middle of all the other dots on that map.  In all honesty, the people we are most concerned with having near us on The Big Day are our closest family members, and Alex City is reasonably close to those most important people.  Because our friends and family members are so spread out, this wedding is going to involve considerable amounts of travel for pretty much everybody, no matter where we have it.  In addition to Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Virginia, we want to invite people who live in DC, Maryland, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Arizona, Texas, Missouri, California, and Washington, among other places.  Although we absolutely do not expect all of our loved ones to make the effort to be there with us that day, we want to make it easiest on, well, our parents.  Plus, he figured I'm going to need my mom's help throughout the planning process, and it would be easiest for her to help if the majority of our vendors are where she lives.  (Oh how right he was on this one!)

photo courtesy Emile Frey

So...that settled it!  When we finalized the date with our parents, I talked to my mom about what she thought about having the wedding at the little church where they are parishioners, and though she was taken aback at the idea, Mr. Geek's logic prevailed on her, too.

Red dot it is!

How did you decide where to get married?  Are your friends and family scattered across the country like ours?

Much Love,
The Geeks

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Very Important Date

The night we got engaged, I called and texted pretty much everyone in my phone's contact list.  I bet you can guess what the number one response was.

"Congratulations!  Have you set a date yet?"

Did I mention this was less than 24 hours after he popped the question?

For most engaged couples, picking the "where" is a lot easier than picking the "when."  For us, it was the complete opposite.

Let's start at the very beginning- I've heard it's a very good place to start.

For as long as I can remember, I've had a very specific image of what a bride looks like.  She's young, she's radiantly happy, and she's wearing a long, white, lacy, long-sleeved dress with a crown and a full veil.

What can I say- I'm a detail-oriented person.

My very specific image of the perfect bride comes from this picture:

Isn't she the most beautiful bride you've ever seen?
Ladies (and gentlemen?), meet my Mammaw, my dad's mother.  It's fitting, really, that she should provide my image of an ideal bride, because she and my Papaw have also provided one of my images of an ideal marriage- my parents have provided another.  Since I was very young, mental images of My Wedding Day have changed greatly, but my dream bridal ensemble has always resembled this.  (Perhaps with a slightly different crown.)

See, I've always felt a bride should look like a princess.  And princesses wear long-sleeved white gowns on their wedding day!

Ariel, whose dress, incidentally, looks a bit like...
My mom's!  Chyeah, 1986!
And a real princess, Grace Kelly
That settles it, then!  Princesses, and therefore all brides, wear long-sleeved dresses.

That makes a June wedding a bit impractical, wouldn't you agree?

When Mr. Geek and I finally did sit down to talk about setting a date, we knew we didn't want to be engaged for much longer than one year- and he proposed the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Since my vote was for the cooler months, that meant we were looking at a time frame of October 2012 - March 2013.  We knew we'd be getting married in a Catholic church, and the Church doesn't really like having weddings during Lent- a time of penance when we try to step away from boisterous celebrations and over-indulgence- so that meant anything after mid-February 2013 was out.  Getting married in a church also means we have to consider how it will be decorated based on the liturgical season, and Christmas doesn't end until a bit into January.  Neither one of us particularly wanted a Christmas-themed wedding- no offense to baby Jesus, but we didn't really want a Nativity scene in our photos.  This meant that if we were looking at 2013, there would be a short window between the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of Lent- mid January to mid February.  Although we still hadn't picked a physical location for the wedding yet, we knew that we would at least have friends and family traveling from places that get snow, and a lot of snow tends to fall during that time period (this year's freakish non-winter notwithstanding), which could make airline travel away from those places a bit difficult.

Fall 2012 it is, then!

For the aforementioned concern about decorations, we decided to avoid the Advent season as well- though, ironically enough, purple ended up becoming part of our color palette.  (More on that in a later post.)  Now we had definitely narrowed down our possible list of dates to October or November.  We looked at every single weekend in those two months (save Thanksgiving) and ranked them from most ideal to least ideal.  November 10th got our vote for most ideal, as it's the Saturday of Veteran's Day weekend and I work for the federal government- meaning one less day's worth of vacation time I'd need to take to go on our honeymoon!  We hoped that other friends and family members would also have a three day weekend from work or school and would therefore be enticed to travel to wherever we decided to have this shindig.

Armed with a list of prioritized dates, we sent text messages to the two most important people involved in this wedding planning process- aside from the bride and groom- our mothers!

Luckily, we heard back quickly, and the reaction was positive for November 10th.

photo courtesy Emile Frey

How did you pick your wedding date?  Were you as picky as we were?

Much Love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

To Start: A Bit About Us

 Hello hello hello!

I'm so excited for all of you to join me and Mr. Geek as we plan what will be the most important day of our lives thus far.  But I guess before we dive into the wedding talk I guess y'all should get to know us!

Dressed up as Umbridge for the HP7pt2 premiere // {personal photo}
I am a complete and total geek- if that isn't clear to you now, it will become painfully obvious as I post about our wedding plans.  I'm a Southern girl who managed to end up just outside Washington D.C. and still hasn't quite adjusted to the North.  I'm the oldest of three daughters, which means I'm a little bossy, a little maternal, and a little type-A.  I inherited my dad's creativity, daring, and engineering brain; I inherited my mom's passion, organization, and desire to take care of EVERYONE.  I met Harry Potter at age 12 and calculus at age 16 and in both cases, it was love at first sight.  I first started experimenting with sewing in middle school and finally got a machine for my 23rd birthday- a tool which is seeing a lot of use during wedding planning!

Mr. Geek proves he is tall enough to ride all the rides at Hershey Park // {personal photo}
Mr. Geek is also pretty nerdy, if you can't tell already.  He, too, was born and raised in the South and wound up here in Northern Virginia only because he was chasing me- not because he loves the traffic here.  Aside from his devastating good looks, his amazing sense of humor is what first made me fall for him.  He, too, sacrificed the best years of his youth in pursuit of an engineering degree, and the only visible scars left are a few grey hairs.  Mr. Geek is definitely not a hands-off groom and has almost as many ideas and opinions about the wedding day as I do!

So how did we meet, how did we fall in love, and how did he propose? 

 Lucky for you, we anticipated such questions, and with the help of Mr. Geek's friend Emile, created this nifty little video:


Much Love,
The Geeks