I had a wedding nightmare last night.
Actually, I had a series of them.
Which really baffled me because, uh, I haven’t been doing too much planning lately and I definitely don’t feel stressed about it.
I’ve done all the big stuff: set a date, booked a venue, (custom!)ordered a dress*, hired a planner (since I live half a world away, this seemed like a prudent decision), engaged a photographer, got my bridesmaids in place, booked the band, started setting up a wedding website.
Since all of that is out of the way, we’ve been going through the finer details with our planner, slowly deciding on color themes (black, white, and goooold! But not Gatsby black, white, and gold. Like, a relaxed black, white, and gold.), vendors, and hotels. Actually, the hotels has been the most frustrating part thus far! Because we’re getting married during a holiday weekend that is also probably going to be the first home game for the Razorbacks, but no one knows for sure because the schedule hasn’t been officially announced yet, hotels are not too keen on reserving room blocks. This is super annoying. But it isn’t frustrating to the point of causing absurd amounts of stress.
But even so, here I am, having series of wedding nightmares.
The first was this: I was getting ready the day of the wedding, having a grand time. I unzipped the garment bag, and—record screech—it’s the wrong dress.
This one I can sort of explain. My dress should be arriving at the boutique I bought it from within the next month or so, and I won’t be in the U.S. to pick it up and make sure that everything is as it should be with the dress. Someone else will have to do that—and send tons of photos of the dress my way—for me.
So, okay. Anxiety about that is understandable.
In any case, I woke up and was like, “What a dumb dream” and went back to sleep.
Then I dreamt that a) Chris’s brother, who is the best man, refused to come to the wedding, b) the wedding planner didn’t show up and the venue wasn’t decorated, c) we didn’t have rings or a marriage certificate, and d) I openly sobbed through the entire reception.
I’m sure this is totally normal. A wedding is a huge, eventful, sentimental day in a person’s life and one that takes a ton of work and planning. Of course it’s hanging around in your sub-conscious. Of course it’s something you worry about.
But even so, I’d prefer to not have nightmares about my wedding.
Then again, I’m the person who still has the nightmare about realizing the week of finals that you signed up for a college class you completely forgot about. So. There’s that.
*Here’s the (custom!) ordered dress story. I was trying on dresses and deciding between two from the same designer. I loved the bottom of one and the top of the other. So the consultant I was working with says, “Let me call the designer and see if we can work something out.” And I was like, “You can do that?!” and she was like, “Yep!” So she calls and asks if the designer can basically mash-up two dresses and they were all, “Yeah,” and so I was all, “Cool.” Voilà. Custom dress.
I started sharing the music I’d been listening to over on my author website, but decided to move this little feature over here.
(I have two identities and two websites and sometimes it’s really confusing? Like, should I only put book stuff on the author website, or should I put life stuff there, too? I mean, I’m a bit of a creeper so I like to know about authors’ lives, but maybe most people don’t really care what authors they read are thinking/doing/eating? And I mean, it’s not like it’s a secret that I write under the name Erin Brown so if people find out my real name is Bethany Larson, cool, you know? Juggling two names is hard, is what I’m saying.)
In any case, here are the songs I’ve been jamming/writing/chair-dancing to over the past couple of months. Some are new, some are old, some are obscure, some are definitely not. Enjoy!
INT. DAY – HE and SHE are sitting at the kitchen table, eating breakfast. DOG is stalking around the table, waiting for someone to drop a bit of food for him to scavenge, and avoiding HE, but giving him sideways glances.
HE, to DOG
“I’m sorry for being a jerk to you last night, but you should also be sorry for being a jerk to me last night.”
Flashback to DOG jumping and hitting HE in the man parts. Back in the present, DOG turns and walks away
“He doesn’t care. He didn’t give any response.”
“He’s thinking about his response very diplomatically.”
HE gives SHE a “yeah right” look
“You don’t know anything about dog diplomacy.”
CUT TO BLACK.
Want to know what happens when you’re planning a destination wedding to your hometown and you travel from where you live to where you grew up for your sister’s wedding?
You get her good and married, then start planning your own wedding as if you’re some kind of frenetic wedding obsessed tornado.
Chris and I saw every venue in Northwest Arkansas in the span of a couple days.
That isn’t exactly true. We saw seven venues. But it felt like all of them.
And here’s the deal: there was no bad option. All the venues were gorgeous and cool and very, very different from each other. This was partially because I, er, haven’t quite chosen colors or a theme other than “I want it to be super fun.” I tend to like what I like and sometimes what I like are things that don’t go together. So I smash them together and say I LIKE IT, DEAL.
Anyway, we could have put all the venue names in a hat, closed our eyes, and randomly drawn a venue name and it would have been great.
But, when we really sat down and started nit-picking the venues—and we really, really had to nit-pick. We were literally saying things like, “I mean, is it too perfect? Does that mean that something else will be destined to go wrong if we go with something that is too perfect?” For real.
What did we see you ask?
- Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
If you live in or near Arkansas and you haven’t been to Crystal Bridges yet, you’re doing it wrong. It is a small, accessible collection of American art ranging from pre-Colonial to contemporary art in a variety of mediums and styles. Yes, they have Hudson River School pieces. Yes, there’s a Rothko. There’s John Singer Sargent and Norman Rockwell (They have freaking Rosie the Riveter) and Andy Warhol and Georgia O’Keefe and all of the abstract expressionists and Jasper Johns. It is a cool spot. And, y’all. They do weddings. It’s pricey, but for a museum, it’s a steal.
- Magnolia Gardens
This spot is so charming. It’s a garden that still has a bit of country flair. And there’s a gazebo for all my swoony Stars Hollow needs.
- Pratt Place Inn & Barn
If you’re interested in a barn venue, this place is it. It’s big, it’s red, it’s renovated on the inside, and it is glorious. And the inn is quaint and lovely and available for a discounted rental with the rental of the barn. And, on top of that, there’s a two bedroom cottage that will fulfill all your English countryside dreams. But in Arkansas. Yes.
- Autumns Ridge Plantation
This is a very new venue that is actually someone’s extremely gorgeous residence with a spectacular view of the Boston Mountains. They actually got married in their backyard and realized that they were living on top of a goldmine. The space for the wedding parties to get ready are probably the nicest accommodations we saw and the backyard event space is made for those of you who want an outdoor wedding with a view.
- Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks
I grew up in Northwest Arkansas and had somehow never been to the botanical gardens before. I don’t know how this happened, but it’s true. Verdict? The gardens are lush and lovely and the reception space is killer.
- Sassafras Springs Vineyard
This is a super cool vineyard that comes with chapel ruins and a reception space that is a converted horse barn. Also: vineyard.
- St. Catherine’s at Bell Gable
When we pulled up to St. Catherine’s, the sun was beaming down onto the chapel and there were—I kid you not—two white horses grazing in front of it. It looked like we’d stepped into some sort of ethereal, medieval fantasy world instead of being just outside of Fayetteville, Arkansas.
So, what’s the verdict?
Sassafras Springs Vineyard!
Ultimately, we wanted a space for both the ceremony and reception, that was scenic and interesting, that could be dressed up but still feel casual enough that people won’t feel stuffy, and that, more than anything, we felt comfortable with and knew would be a fun spot for us and our guests.
So, venue acquired! Everything else to go!
A lot of great fantasy, lately!
Golden Son by Pierce Brown
The second in the Red Rising trilogy, this sucker was such a gut punch. Brown is an author who doesn’t go easy on his protagonist, Darrow, and the entire book will have you hungrily flipping the pages, needing to more as you read more. The action is intense, the plotting is tight, the motivations are ever-changing, and the end of the book will leave you gasping and counting down the days until the third book comes out.
The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta
As my friend Michelle (whose debut novel you can add on Goodreads now!) put it: “I could read three more books of these characters sitting around having breakfast together.” And it is so true. Over the course of three books, you get to know a very large cast of characters in a way that feels personal—and you love all of these characters. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where I legitimately enjoyed every single character and was rooting for all of them. The writing is masterful, the world-building is lush and thorough, the characters are incredibly complex, and the trilogy is just so wonderful. There’s mystery action and delicious romance and political machinations and rich histories and backstories and JUST READ THESE BOOKS, OKAY.
Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo
The first book of the Grisha series, this sucker weaves Russian folklore and mythology into an easily digestible, completely addicting YA fantasy novel. It’s dark and moody and beautifully rendered—it’s a world of magic that makes you feel like if you could just get to Russia you could find this place.
Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Be warned: this book is erotic fantasy. It centers on a Phedre, who lives in a world where sex isn’t taboo or something to be ashamed of, and serving as a courtesan is a way to act as an instrument of the gods. Read: there is a lot of sex in this book. But! The sex is actually sort of running in the background of the narrative and isn’t truly what the book is about. Really, it’s a murder mystery. A really long, really intense murder mystery. And it’s AWESOME. If you aren’t the type to be easily embarrassed or offended, definitely pick it up.
A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab
The concept of this book is really cool—in it, there are four Londons in parallel universes, all of which exist in the same location, with the same time, but are vastly different places. Three of the Londons have magic, and the one that doesn’t (our world, basically) still has doors that universe travelers can go through to pass between the Londons. All in all, this is an adventure story wherein a very atypical YA female main character meets a traveler and basically forces him to let her travel with him. And yes, adventures ensues. I honestly didn’t love this one the way I wanted to, but the characters in this are vastly different than YA archetypes, which, in and of itself, makes it worth your while.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
It’s a Sarah J. Maas boooooook! Considering how obsessed I am (and everyone who has ever read those books are) with her Throne of Glass series, it’s no surprise that I really liked this, although it inherently had some issues because it’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which is just a story of manipulative Stockholm Syndrome. But that doesn’t mean I dislike it. I just have some issues with it and those issues can’t be resolved, sadly. But, issues aside, this is one hell of a Beauty and the Beast retelling. It’s very dark and twisty and once you hit the mid-point of the book you will not be able to put it down. You’ll think you need to run errands, and that you’ll get up and around when you finish the chapter, but you won’t. You’ll keep reading until you’re finished with it. Because you are Sarah J. Maas’s bitch and there ain’t nothin’ any of us can do about that.
So those are the things I’ve been reading lately. Feel free to share what you’ve been digging into in comments!
So, uh, I’m engaged.
It’s still really weird to say that. I mean, the engagement is still new—Chris proposed on March 30th, so it’s only been a couple weeks, so of course the word “engaged” is still weird.
Not to mention “fiancé.”
But once you get engaged, people ask you a) for the proposal story and b) when/where you’re getting married.
So, I’ll take this opportunity to do that now.
Chris and I headed to Bali for a long weekend the week of my birthday. We like trips and tend to travel when we have the opportunity/whim to do so, so planning a trip to Bali wasn’t necessarily a “sign.”
In fact, nothing about the weekend tipped me off. We ate, we went to the Monkey Forest, we rented a motorbike and road it around the island, seeing what we could see. Chris mentioned that he really wanted to go on a sunrise hike, and as he hadn’t asked or suggested anything else, I agreed to go, despite the fact that we had to wake up at 2:30am to be picked up, driven an hour away, and then begin a two hour hike at 4:00am in the dark with headlamps.
We get to the volcano—Mt. Batur—and meet our guide, who was approximately 15. About an hour into the hike, it becomes extremely clear that the hike is actually a climb. A very, very steep climb over lava-rocky terrain.
I was not amused. In fact, I told Chris about twenty minutes from the summit that I was so exhausted I was going to cry, as well as some other choice words that I will not write down.
By the time we get to the top, we’re tired and sweaty and oddly cold. So we eat our breakfast and wait for the sunrise, which was really, truly gorgeous. Then we start the climb down.
Unbeknownst to me, Chris hike-climbed up that freaking volcano with a diamond ring in his backpack, planning to propose on top of the volcano, at sunrise.
But because I was kind of being the worst, he decided that it wasn’t the right time.
So instead, Chris suggested we go to a swanky restaurant at a very fancy resort on our last day in Bali. I figured he just wanted to go somewhere nice and when we pulled up on our motorbike to the Samaya Hotel, we were both shocked at exactly how fancy it was—so fancy that they took us to the restaurant, which is really, actually named Swept Away (because it’s by a river), by way of golf cart instead of pointing us in the direction of the restaurant and letting us walk.
Anyway, we get to the restaurant and it’s just us. This wasn’t on purpose, just coincidence. We order, have a couple cocktails, eat, and then order dessert. Then, before the desserts come out, Chris says, “So, I got something for you.”
And then puts a miniature Tardis on the table in front of me. I open the Tardis, which contains the ring and then Chris gets down on one knee, at which point I yelled, “Oh my God, what are you doing?”
I sort of blacked out/went into shock, so I’m not 100% about what was actually said, but I think he said, “Will you be my companion?” (a Doctor Who thing—since, you know, Tardis) and then I stared at him and finally said yes (or maybe it was “Sure, okay” because I’m an unromantic jerk) and then said something along the lines of, “Except I want to be The Doctor.”
After I giggled like a maniac and the restaurant staff congratulated us and brought over our ice creams—which they did not comp, in case you were wondering—Chris told me about the volcano plan.
So yeah. That’s the proposal story!
Which now leads to part b of the question everyone asks: when/where are we getting married?
The when is probably late summer/early fall of 2016. There isn’t an exact date because there isn’t an exact venue yet. And there isn’t an exact venue because, well, we got engaged two weeks ago, and, uh, we live in Singapore and have to get married in the U.S. for it to be legal in the U.S.
“But, Bethany, booking a venue, even from abroad, can’t be that hard. You have the Internet.”
This is true. I do have the Internet. The problem is that we’re not sure where we want to get married, meaning the state, not the venue.
We’re considering both Arkansas, where I’m from, and New York, where we met. There are a lot of pros/cons for both places, which doesn’t make the whole figuring out the where any easier. But, we’ll be in the U.S. in about a month and are going to be looking at venues in both places.
Fingers crossed that seeing the venues will help us make a decision.
But that will be another story for another time.
I will be back in the U.S. for a few days on Thursday and, y’all. I. Am. So. Excited.
So I made a list of all the things I’m excited about.
(It’s in no particular order.)
1. Seeing family and friends
2. New York City & Northwest Arkansas
3. Coats & sweaters & scarves & hats & gloves & hot beverages
6. Super Bowl
7. Decent beer selection at basically everywhere
8. Trader Joe’s
10. Buying skin products and not worrying if they have bleach in them
13. Trader Joe’s chocolate lava cakes
14. People who know how to walk in crowds and/or crowded areas
15. Stocking up on Burt’s Bees chapstick. (It’s $8 a tube here.)
16. BEN AND JERRY’S (It’s $20 a pint here.)
17. IP addresses that Netflix and streaming services don’t reject
18. Getting a haircut so that my hair no longer looks like straw.
19. Affordable boozy brunch
20. Good Mexican food
SEE YOU THURSDAY, AMERICA!