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Wedding Lit: Our Personal, Nerdy, Pop Culture-Filled Ceremony Script & Readings

November 23, 2016

Hello!

I got married!

While I’m a person who actually really enjoyed the tedium of wedding planning, the two things that I found shockingly difficult were 1) the ceremony script, and 2) the ceremony readings.

This was shocking because I am an editor and writer. I read constantly, both professionally and as a hobby. I should have had a lifetime of preparation for the ceremony script and readings, right?

Wrong.

Wrong wrong wrong.

The script was an obstacle due to our venue: we opted for a secular venue, as my family is Southern Baptist and Eastern Orthodox, and Chris’s is Roman Catholic, so we had a friend officiate. Said friend is not a justice of the peace or any sort of usual marriage ceremony official, and because I’m a bit of a Type-A lady who likes to do everything, I took it upon myself to write the script.

Well. Cobble together the script and then edit the hell out of it.

Most of the scripts I could find online were – to put it bluntly – dreadful. Or, if they weren’t dreadful, they weren’t right. I wanted it to be sweet and funny and monumental, but not be cliché or overwrought or cringe-worthy. The prospect of crafting something as important as the ceremony script (I became very serious about this sucker.) was daunting. I’m not particularly sentimental, so the idea of writing something incredibly sentimental was incredibly overwhelming. So I decided I would find sections of ceremonies that I did not find dreadful (OffBeat Bride, y’all.) and create a sort of Frankenstein ceremony script. When I finally finished it, I was ridiculously pleased with it. Not smug pleased, but, just, really, really happy with it and proud of it. It felt right.

So! In case you, or someone you know, are facing similar difficulties in regards to a ceremony script (I’ll stick a few readings that we shortlisted after the script), I’m sharing ours here – feel free to use it as you see fit!

[Processional: “Dawn” from Pride and Prejudice]

OFFICIANT: Please be seated.

[People are seated]

OFFICIANT: Today is a celebration. A celebration of love, of commitment, of friendship, of family, and of two people who are together in this thing called life.

The marriage ceremony has been an important feature across nearly every culture, religion, generation, and society. There are thousands of important moments that happen throughout all of our lives, but a wedding is regarded as a moment so critical, it needs to be shared in the presence of God and with friends near and far. With us today are guests from New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, both Washington, D.C. and Washington state, California, and right here in Arkansas, and one guest all the way from Germany.

But why this moment?

Because, despite all of our differences, love is what we all share. Love is a great unifier – a universal truth. No matter who we are, where we’ve come from, or what we believe, we know this one thing: love is what we’re doing right.

In this moment, we’re reminded that the ability to love is the very best part of our humanity. Everyone here has their own love stories. Some are short, while others are long. Some have yet to be written, while others are just getting to the good part.

Chris and Bethany’s story is one of technology and frequent flyer miles.

Four months after meeting online and starting a relationship, Chris was offered a job in Singapore. It was an offer he couldn’t refuse, so he accepted right away. But there were two problems: the first was that he would be moving in a matter of weeks, and the second was that he didn’t tell Bethany before he accepted.

He was so nervous driving to her apartment to tell her the news that he wasn’t watching his speedometer and ended up with a speeding ticket.

She took the news as well as could be expected. Both about the job and the ticket.

After a few days thinking things over, Bethany decided that distance wasn’t a good enough reason to end their relationship. As daunting as it seemed, she wanted to give long distance a shot. Twenty-first century technology meant that communication wouldn’t be so difficult: emails and texts and phone calls and video chats were completely doable. If they tried and it didn’t work out, then so be it. But if it did…well. Wouldn’t that be something?

Luckily, Chris agreed.

So after packing up and stepping onto Singapore Airlines flight 25, Chris traveled the 21 hours and 9,521 miles from New York City to Singapore.

He would take that flight three more times within the year. Bethany, to her credit, did it once.

Chris was only supposed to be away for one year, but the twelve months came and went, and turned into a year and a half.

Chris and Bethany found that communication was surprisingly easy. The twelve hour time difference was actually conducive to both their schedules, and though they missed each other, they were able to make it work.

It should be noted that even though the relationship weathered the distance, they were both very relieved when Chris moved back to New York.

That relief lasted for about a year, until, one day, Chris was offered a job.

It was, again, in Singapore.

This time, Chris talked to Bethany about the offer, and they agreed that he should take it. And that she should move, too.

So they did. They both stepped onto planes that would take them the 9,521 miles from New York City to Singapore, where they would start a new adventure together.

A few months later, they took a trip to Bali. (For the curious here among us, that’s 10,125 miles away from New York City). And so it was on a very sunny, very warm day, seated at an al fresco lunch by the Ayung River in Ubud that Chris proposed.

Bethany was so shocked that he had to remind her to say yes.

But yes is what she did say.

So now Chris and Bethany are in Springdale, Arkansas, which is – just so you’re informed – 1,303 miles from New York City. Distance aside, we’re all gathered here today, in this moment, to pause, look back, and smile at all the moments that brought this couple here. And to look ahead and imagine all the moments that are still to come.

We want those moments for you. We’re here to hope with you, to support you, to be proud of you, and to remind you that love isn’t happily ever after – it’s the experience of writing your story. It’s not one moment; it’s every moment.

Big moments like saying “I love you” for the first time; like moving in together; like getting engaged – and then there’s the smaller ones. Walking the dog, watching the few TV shows you can both agree on, hugging each other when you come home from work. These everyday moments fuse together into one big experience.

Even though this experience is so incredible, words fail us when we try to spell it out. That’s just the way it is with love: in the wise words of Winnie the Pooh, you don’t spell it, you feel it.

But trying to describe love is one of humankind’s favorite pastimes. We use the words we have to write stories, and poems, and songs about love. Though we each describe and experience love in different ways, we all know it when we see it. And we see it here.

So today, we have some words about what love is, coming from some of the people who love you the most.

The first will be read by Chris’s uncle.

Romans 12:9-16

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.”

The next will be read by Bethany’s friend and sorority sister.

“To Love Is Not To Possess” by James Kavanaugh

To love is not to possess,

To own or imprison,

Nor to lose one’s self in another.

Love is to join and separate,

To walk alone and together,

To find a laughing freedom

That lonely isolation does not permit.

It is finally to be able

To be who we really are

No longer clinging in childish dependency

Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,

It is to be perfectly one’s self

And perfectly joined in permanent commitment

To another–and to one’s inner self.

Love only endures when it moves like waves,

Receding and returning gently or passionately,

Or moving lovingly like the tide

In the moon’s own predictable harmony,

Because finally, despite a child’s scars

Or an adult’s deepest wounds,

They are openly free to be

Who they really are–and always secretly were,

In the very core of their being

Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

OFFICIANT: You fell in love by chance, but you’re here today by choice. You’re choosing each other. You’ve chosen to be with someone who enhances you, who makes you think, makes you smile, and makes every day brighter.

You’re about to make promises to each other that you intend to keep. You’re going to vow to take care of each other, to stand up for one another, and to find happiness together.

Please repeat after me:

[Chris’s Vows]
I vow to love you, encourage you,
trust you, respect you,
and go on adventures with you;   
and to create a home with you that is filled with learning, laughter, and compassion.
I promise to work with you to foster and cherish a marriage of equality,
knowing that together we will build a life far better than either of us could imagine alone;

Today, I choose you to be my wife.
I accept you as you are, love what I know of you, and trust what I’ve yet to discover.
I will care for you, stand beside you, and share with you all of life’s adversities
and all of its joys from this day forward,
and all the days of my life.

[Bethany’s Vows]
I vow to love you, encourage you,
trust you, respect you, go on adventures with you,
and to create a home with you that is filled with learning, laughter, and compassion.
I promise to work with you to foster and cherish a marriage of equality,
knowing that together we will build a life far better than either of us could imagine alone;

Today, I choose you to be my husband.
I accept you as you are, love what I know of you, and trust what I’ve yet to discover.
I will care for you, stand beside you, and share with you all of life’s adversities
and all of its joys from this day forward,
and all the days of my life.

OFFICIANT: You’ve both chosen to wear rings as a reminder of these vows. People often say wedding bands are a perfect circle, with no beginning and no end. But these rings did have a beginning. The metal was formed long ago, deep within the earth, and a series of lucky events caused it to rise to the surface. The metal was then liquefied, molded, cooled, and painstakingly polished. Something beautiful was made from raw elements.

Love, like these rings you are exchanging today, comes from humble beginnings: through a combination of serendipity, effort, and God’s grace, imperfect beings shape it into something extraordinary. I hope you always remember that today you’ve created something invaluable, and I’m confident you’ll protect the vows you’ve made to one another today.

[Exchange of rings]

Chris, as you place the ring on Bethany’s finger, please repeat after me:

With this ring, I marry you and bind my life to yours.

It is a symbol of my eternal love,

My everlasting friendship,

And the promise of all my tomorrows.

Bethany, as you place the ring on Chris’s finger, please repeat after me:

With this ring, I marry you and bind my life to yours.

It is a symbol of my eternal love,

My everlasting friendship,

And the promise of all my tomorrows.

So, by the power vested in me by Universal Life Church, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss your bride.

[Smooches]

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to present to you, for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Bloch.

Mischief managed.

[The crowd goes wild]

[Recessional, “The Bear Necessities” from The Jungle Book.]

Please proceed to the stables for drinking, dining, and lots of dancing.

 

Photo by Jessica Robinson.

Photo by Jessica Robinson.

 

luv_0460

Photo by Helen Hush.

 

Photo by Helen Hush.

Photo by Helen Hush.

Readings! It took me a lot of time to find readings I liked and that I felt were appropriate for our relationship and goals for our marriage. But find them I did (as evidenced above). I highly recommend those, but if you’re not over-the-moon about them, here are a few others that we shortlisted.

The Art of Marriage by Wilferd Peterson

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be created.

In the art of marriage the little things are the big things…

It is never being too old to hold hands.

It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day.

It is never going to sleep angry.

It is at no time taking the other for granted.

It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.

It is standing together, facing the world.

It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.

It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.

It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.

It is not looking for perfection in each other.

It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humour.

It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.

It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.

It is finding room for the things of the spirit.

It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.

It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.

It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.

It is discovering what marriage can be, at its best.

Sonnet 116, William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

“A Marriage” by Mark Twain

A marriage makes of two fractional lives a whole;
It gives two purposeless live a work,
And doubles the strength of each to perform it.
It gives two questioning natures a reason for living
And something to live for.
It will give new gladness to the sunshine,
A new fragrance to the flowers, a new beauty to the earth
And a new mystery to life.

By Jeanette Winterson

“You don’t fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet. And when you get there it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear. It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything just right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but then somebody signalled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump. Away you go, falling into someone else’s orbit and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home. And you can bring your dog. Or your cat. Your goldfish, hamster, collection of stones, all your odd socks. (The ones you lost, including the holes, are on the new planet you found.)

And you can bring your friends to visit. And read your favourite stories to each other. And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don’t want to be without. That’s it.

PS You have to be brave.”

 “Foundations of Marriage” by Regina Hill

“Love, trust, and forgiveness are the foundations of marriage. In marriage, many days will bring happiness, while other days may be sad. But together, two hearts can overcome everything. In marriage, all of the moments won’t be exciting or romantic, and sometimes worries and anxiety will be overwhelming. But together, two hearts that accept will find comfort together. Recollections of past joys, pains, and shared feelings will be the glue that holds everything together during even the worst and most insecure moments. Reaching out to each other as a friend, and becoming the confidant and companion that the other one needs, is the true magic and beauty of any two people together. It’s inspiring in each other a dream or a feeling, and having faith in each other and not giving up… even when all the odds say to quit. It’s allowing each other to be vulnerable, to be himself or herself, even when the opinions or thoughts aren’t in total agreement or exactly what you’d like them to be. It’s getting involved and showing interest in each other, really listening and being available, the way any best friend should be.

Exactly three things need to be remembered in a marriage if it is to be a mutual bond of sharing, caring, and loving throughout life: love, trust, and forgiveness.”

“Blessing For A Marriage” by James Dillet Freeman
May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding. May you always need one another — not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete. The valley does not make the mountain less, but more. And the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you. May you need one another, but not out of weakness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you entice one another, but not compel one another. May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another. May you succeed in all-important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces. May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!” and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back. May you enter into the mystery that is the awareness of one another’s presence — no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities. May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.

“Wedding Poem” by Neil Gaiman

This for you, for both of you,

a small poem of happiness

filled with small glories and little triumphs

a fragile, short cheerful song

filled with hope and all sorts of futures

Because at weddings we imagine the future

Because it’s all about “what happens next?”

all the work and negotiation and building and talk

that makes even the tiniest happily ever after

something to be proud of for a wee forever

This is a small thought for both of you

like a feather or a prayer,

a wish of trust and love and hope

and fine brave hearts and true.

Like a tower, or a house made all of bones and dreams

and tomorrows and tomorrows and tomorrows.

“Us Two” by A.A. Milne

Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,
There’s always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
“Where are you going today?” says Pooh:
“Well, that’s very odd ‘cos I was too.
Let’s go together,” says Pooh, says he.
“Let’s go together,” says Pooh.

“What’s twice eleven?” I said to Pooh.
(“Twice what?” said Pooh to Me.)
“I think it ought to be twenty-two.”
“Just what I think myself,” said Pooh.
“It wasn’t an easy sum to do,
But that’s what it is,” said Pooh, said he.
“That’s what it is,” said Pooh.

“Let’s look for dragons,” I said to Pooh.
“Yes, let’s,” said Pooh to Me.
We crossed the river and found a few-
“Yes, those are dragons all right,” said Pooh.
“As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.
That’s what they are,” said Pooh, said he.
“That’s what they are,” said Pooh.

“Let’s frighten the dragons,” I said to Pooh.
“That’s right,” said Pooh to Me.
“I’m not afraid,” I said to Pooh,
And I held his paw and I shouted “Shoo!
Silly old dragons!”- and off they flew.

“I wasn’t afraid,” said Pooh, said he,
“I’m never afraid with you.”

So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,
There’s always Pooh and Me.
“What would I do?” I said to Pooh,
“If it wasn’t for you,” and Pooh said: “True,
It isn’t much fun for One, but Two,
Can stick together, says Pooh, says he. “That’s how it is,” says Pooh.

The Invitation by Oriah

It doesn’t interest me

what you do for a living.

I want to know

what you ache for

and if you dare to dream

of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me

how old you are.

I want to know

if you will risk

looking like a fool

for love

for your dream

for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me

what planets are

squaring your moon…

I want to know

if you have touched

the centre of your own sorrow

if you have been opened

by life’s betrayals

or have become shrivelled and closed

from fear of further pain.

I want to know

if you can sit with pain

mine or your own

without moving to hide it

or fade it

or fix it.

I want to know

if you can be with joy

mine or your own

if you can dance with wildness

and let the ecstasy fill you

to the tips of your fingers and toes

without cautioning us

to be careful

to be realistic

to remember the limitations

of being human.

It doesn’t interest me

if the story you are telling me

is true.

I want to know if you can

disappoint another

to be true to yourself.

If you can bear

the accusation of betrayal

and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can see Beauty

even when it is not pretty

every day.

And if you can source your own life

from its presence.

I want to know

if you can live with failure

yours and mine

and still stand at the edge of the lake

and shout to the silver of the full moon,

“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me

to know where you live

or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up

after the night of grief and despair

weary and bruised to the bone

and do what needs to be done

to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me

who you know

or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand

in the centre of the fire

with me

and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me

where or what or with whom

you have studied.

I want to know

what sustains you

from the inside

when all else falls away.

I want to know

if you can be alone

with yourself

and if you truly like

the company you keep

in the empty moments.

So there you have it! Hopefully these are hugely useful and helpful, but if not, I do wish you the very best of luck in finding (or writing) a script and readings that are pitch-perfect!

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An American Abroad: Election Edition

November 10, 2016

Several people have asked me what my experience this election season – as an American living abroad in Singapore – has been like, so I’m going to attempt to explain it. Though I make my living as a writer and editor, I’m not particularly articulate (and am certainly not eloquent) when it comes to politics. But I’ll try anyway.

A bit of background for the uninitiated, though: Singapore isn’t all that different from the United States. It’s a young nation (51 years), a democracy (of the Parliamentary sort), and the population is made up of people whose ancestors – largely from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and the Middle East, but from other places, too – at some point made the move to Singapore. There’s freedom of speech and of religion, and it’s not a particularly socially progressive place, at least when it comes to the laws on the books. Not so different, right? Right.

When the campaign season started up, I received lots of questions about why there are primaries and the way our electoral system works, but people didn’t seem to be all that interested in discussing American politics.

All that changed when Trump started winning primaries.

“Are people actually taking him seriously? Why? How?” they would ask. “Do they not think he’s a farce?”

I didn’t have an answer.

That isn’t because I’m apolitical or because of my political affiliation (I’m registered as an Independent, actually), but because I legitimately could not understand how people could vote for him. There were some great people campaigning to be the Republican presidential candidate – people I probably would have voted for – but, somehow, Donald Trump kept winning primaries despite his inexperience. I chalked it up to white people liking his brusque, off-color comments and identifying with his white nationalism. But I also sort of thought that people were doing it because they thought it was funny, or that maybe they weren’t all that informed and voted for him because they’d heard his name before, or that they liked the little thrill of feeling defiantly anti-establishment by voting for someone so unqualified. In any case, I had conjecture, but I had no real answer.

When the party candidates were nominated, I began getting many more questions. What did I think of Hillary, could I believe that Trump won the nomination, who would I be voting for. But what struck me most was that people here were suddenly very engaged and very interested in the American election.

I’d always had a sense that the rest of the world watched the US in a way that the US, by and large, does not watch the rest of the world, but I never understood exactly what that meant until I lived abroad. Singaporeans (and other non-American expats I know here) watched the debates. They listened carefully. They read articles from newspapers and magazines and online sources all over the world. They sent them to me and asked me my opinion on them. They for sure had opinions.

Now, I generally am not engaged by or very interested in politics. I find politics and political rhetoric tedious and exhausting – I think probably a lot of us feel this way. But more than that, I always felt like the decisions didn’t really affect me (hello, privilege). My thought process was that one way or the other, I’d be fine. So I never really became invested. I never really cared on a personal level. And suddenly, here I was caring very much.

A large part of this was because I found Donald Trump to be so incredibly unqualified to be president. The other part was that I agreed with very little that came out of his mouth. I found him repulsive, hot-headed, narcissistic, willing to say anything for a headline, rude, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, anti-Semitic and immature. He wasn’t a person I could take seriously, let alone respect.

“How could people vote for him?” they continued to ask.

I continued not to have an answer.

So, Hillary Clinton became my candidate, and for the first time I’d be voting for a Democrat. Did I agree with everything she said? No. Did I like everything about her? No. But, I agreed with a lot of her platform. Most of it aligned with my hopes for America’s future and my idea of what America is: vibrant, diverse, kind, generous, bold, exuberant, tenacious, courageous.

I’ll be honest – I was excited to vote for her. I’d voted in other elections and always took pride in the act of casting my ballot, but I’d never been legitimately excited about a particular candidate. I was excited about her. Yes, part of this is because of her gender – I was thrilled to vote for a woman. But a bigger part of it was knowing that I was voting for someone who I knew without a doubt was the better person for the job.

When it came to light yesterday that she would not be the next president, I didn’t know how to make sense of the fact that a large portion of Americans voted for Donald Trump. I found it jarring that a large portion of Americans perceive and think about things so differently from the way I perceive and think about them.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the reasoning behind why some people voted the way they did – for example, I know many people who only care about abortion and will vote for a pro-life candidate no matter their stance on anything else – and I understand being afraid of change, and I do see the appeal of someone who isn’t a career politician. But I don’t understand voting for him. He isn’t just his “stance” on one issue. He isn’t just unqualified. He is vile – the things he has said and done prove that, to me. And, to me, voting for him – or against Hillary, if that’s how certain people want to couch that action – was saying that you either agree with his backward-looking vision for America or that you are okay with America being racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQIA, unconcerned with facts, and mean-spirited.

I’ve spent the last two days in an emotional whirlwind. I’ve never felt anything like this churning slurry of confusion, sadness, worry and rage. It’s the rage that’s new. (Hello again, privilege.) I’m furious about and heartbroken over some things family and friends have said to me. I don’t begrudge them their right to say it, or their right to vote, but I’m still sore about it. That said, I’m trying to be kind. I’m trying to be hopeful. I’m trying to be optimistic. I’m trying to love. I’ll get there.

This morning, I woke up and took my dog for a walk. During the walk, I mentally prepared for the questions that would come from friends and coworkers in Singapore today. I was ready to admit my disappointment and express hope. But when my coworker looked at me this morning and simply asked, “How are you holding up?,” I burst into tears.

That took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to cry today. I definitely didn’t expect to cry over the results of the election. But there I was, ugly crying at my desk anyway, sad to my core that the America I love and describe when Singaporean and non-American friends ask me what it’s like isn’t what I thought it was.

“How could they have voted for him?” they ask me.

I still have no answer.

Adventures in Wedding Planning {3}

October 16, 2015

Adventures in Wedding Planning

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.

Cheerful, right?

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.

Aural Addiction {May & June 2015}

July 2, 2015

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!

Communicating with Animals: A (Very) Short Screenplay

June 16, 2015

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
“He doesn’t care. He didn’t give any response.”

SHE
“He’s thinking about his response very diplomatically.”

HE gives SHE a “yeah right” look

SHE
“You don’t know anything about dog diplomacy.”

CUT TO BLACK.

Adventures in Wedding Planning {2}

June 12, 2015

Adventures in Wedding Planning

 

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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.
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Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a shot without a golf cart in it.

So, what’s the verdict?

Sassafras Springs Vineyard!

Photo from Sassafras Springs Vineyard website

 

Photo from Sassafras Springs Vineyard website.

 

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!

What I’m Reading {1}

May 14, 2015

What I'm Reading

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!

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