Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A taste

So, on Monday my sweetie and I had a date with our photographer.

Our photography package includes an "engagement session." An engagement session is essentially a chance to get some photographs of you as a couple before the wedding, in a more casual atmosphere, with your regular clothes. It also gives you a chance to work with the photographer before the big day, get a feel for each other, get comfortable with the camera (I think this would require quite a few more sessions for me :-). In our case, we were also hoping it would give us a chance to get some nice outdoor pictures, since our wedding is in the dead of winter. We were planning to walk around the West Village, a very picturesque neighborhood, very Old New York.

Alas, that did not happen, because the weather simply would not cooperate. We had an appointment last week, but canceled because the forecast was for severe thunderstorms. Which never materialized, of course. We rescheduled for Monday, when it naturally rained all day. Since my sweetie is leaving for Seattle shortly, we couldn't reschedule indefinitely, so we decided to do it indoors. Happily, my coworker came up with the brilliant suggestion of Chelsea Markets. Our photographer had never shot there before, and he was really pleased with the lighting. And, as a 19th-century biscuit factory, it has a cool atmosphere, too.

We had a good time :-).

Friday, July 13, 2007

I now pronounce you...our officiant

So, the whole Seattle thing has distracted me from blogging, and a regular reader has chided me for not blogging about our search for an officiant.

Looking for an officiant was a somewhat intimidating proposition for me, so I put it off for quite a while, until I started to have little panicky thoughts like, “What if I put it off so long that we end up with no one to marry us???” I am sure all of the officiants I contacted after this panic attack would laugh if they knew about it: more than one commented on how early I was, at eight months out!

I guess looking for an officiant is not something a lot of couples need to do: more than a few acquaintances were puzzled when I mentioned it. If you attend a church or temple or mosque, I suppose you would simply have the pastor or rabbi or imam marry you. Or, if you are marrying interfaith, you would be specifically looking for a religious leader who would be willing to bend the rules. But my sweetie and I are atheists, and so we were looking for a nonreligious ceremony, which made things a bit more difficult.

Of course my first thought was a judge or justice of the peace, but I couldn’t find any leads to such a person. Having a friend get ordained on the internet is not an option in New York state (and, after we attended a wedding recently which was officiated by a friend of the groom, we decided it wasn’t a nice option anyway). So I searched for nonreligious officiants.

I was a little unnerved by how “nonreligious” seems to be used interchangeably in this context with “interfaith” or “nondenominational.” I do not consider these synonymous at all. As atheists, we did not want any god in our ceremony, even a generic one. We also agreed that we did not want a minister or rabbi who was simply willing to do a ceremony without god: it seems wrong, to us, that any religious leader would be willing, essentially, to be an atheist for pay.

This narrowed the field considerably to the following:

Ethical Humanists: I contacted a couple humanist ministers and also the New York Ethical Society.

A “civil celebrant”—the organization Celebrant USA ordains “civil celebrants” to perform nonreligious rituals such as marriages, baby namings and funerals. In New York State you still have to call yourself a minister in order to be legally licensed to perform weddings, but their platform is secular.

In the end, after all the angst, the search proved easier than I expected.

We met with two officiants—the first was very affordable, a member of the American Humanist Association. She was very sweet, and we had a nice long discussion in a cafĂ© about weddings, Humanism, and politics—she is an activist in numerous liberal causes. When we parted, she gave us several brochures to read about Humanism.

We had mixed feelings about her. On the one hand, she was very inexpensive ($250), but on the other she would provide only the very basic service. We would need to write the ceremony ourselves (she did give us some samples for inspiration), and unfortunately neither of us has a real idea of what we want to ceremony to look like—another problem with having no religious tradition to lean on. And, to be frank, we were a little put off by her very liberal politics (we are fairly liberal but not radically so), and I wasn’t sure I liked that Humanism feels very much like any other religion when she speaks of it. Though many of my beliefs align with Humanism, I’m wary of evangelists of any stripe.

The second person we met was a “civil celebrant.” She is on the opposite end of the cost scale, pretty expensive ($800). She arrived with her husband (who chauffeurs her) in tow, and the two of them were calm, organized, and funny. When we discussed our religious backgrounds, my sweetie asked for hers, and she said, “I believe in ritual.” She said she became a celebrant because she felt the important events in our lives should be marked and celebrated, even if you are not religious. Her service works like this: we fill out a detailed questionnaire, about our beliefs, how we met, any personal details we want included, etc.; she writes a ceremony based on this, personalized to us and our story; we edit as much as we like. Then, on the day of the wedding, she shows up early, makes sure we sign the marriage license, coordinates the ceremony with the DJ and the photographer, and, she promises, gives us cues throughout so that we do not need to remember a thing. She also said that, if we choose to write our own vows, she will be sure to bring backup vows, in case we never manage to get anything down on paper (“You would be surprised how often this happens.”). The day after the ceremony, she files the license with the city.

Can you tell we liked her? In particular I loved how careful she was to let us know that she would direct everything, that even if we showed up on the day in t-shirts, barely recognizing each other, and stressed out of our minds, she will make sure the ceremony is beautiful and meaningful. I think on the day I will be incredibly grateful to have someone calm and in charge. It will be totally worth $800 to me.

So it was easy after all, and I’m very happy to have it done, especially now that my sweetie is about to leave town—this was really a task we needed to do together, so my panic attack was perfectly timed :-).

Knitting catch-up

By the way, I’ve been knitting like a fiend:

Norah Gaughan’s lace hoodie pullover, from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2005. Knit in Berroco Pleasure, color Emotion, 11 balls. Size 9 and 8 needles.

The shawl for my sweetie’s Nana, who is turning 90 in September.

I am ridiculously proud of this shawl, because I adapted two patterns and a stitch pattern (feather-and-fan) to create it. I put quite a bit of thought into the design: I decided to go with a tie-front shawl instead of a traditional triangle or rectangle because I thought Nana, who uses a cane, might find it easier to keep on. I chose a washable wool yarn because I didn’t think Nana would care to hand wash it. And I chose feather-and-fan because it’s a pretty lace pattern which still looks good even unblocked (most lace patterns need blocking to look like anything but a snarl of yarn), because I sure don’t expect Nana to block it every time it gets washed!

Knit in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted, color Iris Garden. I used about 2.5 skeins, on size 9 needles. Patterns were Tie One On (for the basic shape) and Hip in Hemp (for the increases within the stitch pattern) from Knitty.

And finally, Coachella:

Knit in Blue Sky Alpacas 100% cotton, color Flamingo, just under 3 skeins. I changed the hem to this wide ribbed hem, which I like much better than the original.

Both pullovers were true stash busters. Love 'em!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Life has become rather interesting of late.

My sweetie has gotten a job across the country. Though he first applied for this job back in May, he did not go out there for an interview until a few weeks ago. So from the interview until now it all seems very fast. But, it's done: he's accepted the job, and he's moving across the country in less than four weeks.

The irony does not escape us: we decided on getting married in NY because I couldn't face planning the wedding long distance (my parents live in CA). Now, with seven months to go, my sweetie is moving, and the question arises: do I follow now, or later?

I still can't face the long-distance planning, plus it unnerves us both to think of me quitting my job and losing my paycheck seven months before we're about to blow a big chunk of money on a wedding. So we have decided I will stay here, and move after the wedding.

I'm sad: I will miss my sweetie.

I'm freaked: I've agreed (for he did ask me before interviewing for/accepting the job) to give up my job, my home, my friends, my life, and move across the country. For a guy. I'm giving up my life for a guy.

Before he got this job, we had planned to move in together right about now: his lease is coming up, and rather than renew, he was either going to move in with me, or we were going to rent a new place together. This seems to be the pretty standard path I've seen most of my friends follow: live together, either before or after engagement, become entwined in each other's lives, then get married.

Now, instead, my sweetie will give me a kiss and essentially disappear (save for maybe a handful of visits) from my life for seven months, only to show up for the wedding. At which point we'll be joined for good, and I will have no trappings of my previous life but him and the home he's found for us.

I feel like a war bride, or a frontier wife, or something weirdly...old-fashioned.

It all seems very romantic, but I have to admit it's freaking me out. I'm not such the spontaneous type. I had a Plan. And while I understand that marriage involves change, I didn't expect such drastic change. And I didn't expect to be separated for so long beforehand. What if I forget what he looks like? (OK, I'm not really worried about this--consider it a metaphorical fear.)

I am also excited: I've wanted to try something new for a long time, and this is a great opportunity for it. I'll be glad to be back on the West Coast, and I love the thought of embarking on the adventure with the guy I love. I have no real fear that our relationship will fall apart under the stress. I think we've looked at the pros and cons of the move with pretty realistic eyes, and I think this is a good choice for us.

But the part of me that's gotten used to "Me," that has a very clear definition of "Me" as a single, urban woman with a job, who owns her own apartment and is very independent, thank you very much; the "Me" who made it to 37 without getting married, who wanted to be single throughout her 20s and didn't even start dating for real until she was 32; the "Me" who had her life planned out as the eccentric "Aunt" to all her friends' kids, elegant in caftans, art, and cats, letting the kids crash in her NYC condo when they were teens fed up with their parents; that "Me" is completely terrified. That "Me" is wondering if I'm making a huge mistake, putting all my eggs in the basket labeled with the name of one man. Can he handle it? Can I handle it?

Life has gotten very interesting.