One Awkward Wedding: Lemme, Lemme Update You

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Hot damn we're good looking.

Ok stop reading literally right now if you don't care about wedding nonsense.

Otherwise, buckle up because I have SO MUCH to tell you!

 It is official:  On August 16, 2014 I will become Ms. Has Yet To Decide If She's Changing Her Last Name (more on that later) aka a married lady! Whoop whoop! And we're planning to pull a full Kardashian and sell rights to our photos to the highest bidder so start making your offers now.

Yay! I'm making weird, dumb jokes, because you know I can't handle genuine emotional conversations, so I'll just go ahead and get it out right here at the top: I'm so excited! In 247 days (but who's counting?), I'm getting hitched! To Brian! My favorite guy. He makes me so happy every single day and I honestly can't contain myself from grinning ear to ear like a damn fool at even the slightest thought of calling him my husband. Squee!

Ok, we're done with that.

So. As is customary in all engagements, the moment that Brian popped the question, the world began to pop the other question which was: when? And also the other, other question, which was: where? And thankfully, no one has yet asked the other, other, other question of "why?" so I think pretty much everyone's on board with our impending union.

Phew.

We quickly stepped to planning because we knew a long engagement just wasn't for us. I know it works for some people, but it's just not our style. Because Brian is a teacher,  he has less flexibility in taking time off from work so we pretty immediately zoned in on August 2014 (between his summer teaching gig and the start of the regular school year) or March 2015, during his long Spring break. I was fine with either but ol' Briguy said he didn't want to wait all the way until 2015 to lock this down.

(One more quick interlude to mention how much I like this dude.)

And thus, we had our sights pretty well set on August 2014.

And the rest, they say, is history!

Just kidding, the rest, they say, is many weeks of researching,venue visiting, budgeting, list making and extreme emotional roller coastering.

I know it is gauche to talk about money but it's also gauche to talk about poop and I've never let that stop me, so a quick note on el dinero. I'll go into budgeting in detail another time (who's excited?!) (no one!) but will say here, just in case anyone didn't realize, weddings are motherflipping expensive. Like, SO EXPENSIVE. I always knew they were pretty pricey but now that I'm actually looking into planning one in great detail do I realize the incredible cost that goes into pulling off a wedding.

And I do understand (deeply) that none of these costs are necessary, but we've decided that it is important to us to celebrate our wedding in the so called "traditional" manner and therefore will incur the costs associated with such an event. Just to give you a sense of what we're working with here I've dubbed the term "Regular Classy" which is to say a mid-sized gathering of friends and family for a non denominational ceremony followed by a meal (with adult beverages) and boogieing down in a festively decorated room. She wears white, he wears a suit, toasts are given, tears are shed, badda bing, badda boom: married.

Despite the many hours I've spent reading wedding blogs and attending actual weddings, I honestly didn't have much of a concept of what it cost to pull this sort of spectacle off and let me just tell you, the results are staggering. Hence the emotional rollercoastering. Every time we find something we like we get super excited (UP!!) and then we see the price tag (DOWN!!) and then we become despondent (WAY DOWN!) and decide we're calling the whole thing off and getting married in city hall (SO FAR DOWN!!) and then we have a heart-to-heart and decide no! We love each other! We want to throw a bomb-ass wedding, we'll figure out the money and make it work! And then we're UP UP UP again, repeat, repeat, repeat.

And we're not talking like, releasing humanely raised turtledoves off a yacht in the south of France while Bruno Mars croons live in the background, oh no. Just REGULAR CLASSY in the middle of Pennsylvania and still we're looking at thousands (yes, like 3 zeros) more greenbacks that I ever dreamed of spending.

Blergh!

So gauche as it may be, I can honestly say that money was a very large factor for us when picking where to do this thing. We toyed with the idea of marrying here in our beloved Brooklyn (Go Nets!) but quickly learned that pulling off a wedding in the New York Regional Area is pretty much impossible if you are on our budget range. One venue I reached out to charges $19,000 just to reserve the space. That does not include chairs, tables, decorations, music, food, liquor or doves of ANY kind. The coordinator did say it might include cocktail tables which, for that kind of moolah, better be made out of solid gold or like, human bones.

NINETEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS! For a room! I will never get over that fact for as long as I shall live. And that's probably not even that expensive in the grand scheme of things! What is this world we live in, you guys? What is this world.

(And HERE is where I put the note that if you personally spent that kind of money on your own wedding totally good for you, do your thang. Also: how are you so rich and can I get in on that? Let me make a blanket statement that henceforth, every snarky thing I say about weddings or the WIC is but crazy broke judgmental lady's opinion, don't let me stop you from getting your nuptial onnn in however you see fit.)

And thus, we zeroed our sights on my ancestral homeland of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Armed with a date range and the knowledge that we needed to find a venue that fell somewhere within the tricky Venn Diagram of LOW COST and REGULAR CLASSY, we prepared a list of targets, set up appointments and made the arduous journey back to Good Old Pee-Aye.

And that, my friends, is where I will stop my story today. Return tomorrow to get the skinny on exactly what went diggity down on said wedding venue hunt, because this is already basically an epic novel and I'm just vain enough to think that my wedding planning journeys warrant a cliffhanger.

Until then!

Liz Ho

One Awkward/Awesome Day: Storm King Style

Hola amigos. First, I have to thank you all for the excitement and warm wishes re: Brian's & my big news. (If you haven't heard, we ended the government shutdown! JK we got engaged. Eleventy billion times more newsworthy.) We're supremo excited round these parts! Secondably, can we all just overlook the fact that I skipped my usual weekly recap last Friday? I have a few lame excuses that I'll bore you with this Friday, so you can just start holding onto your seat righttttttt....now.

Meanwhile, I wanted to share more cool nooz: have checked another item off my 30 Before 30 List, holla! 2 Down, 28 to Go.

Last weekend, Brian and I visited Storm King Art Center, this amazing, gorgeous outdoor sculpture gallery about an hour north of New York City. Oh, we also got engaged there, so full disclaimer: I'll start this as a 30 Before 30 / Travelogue post and then suuuper quickly veer into talking about how we came to be betrothed, so you've been warned. I really don't want to become that girl who's all like OMG I'M GETTING MARRRRRIED but also OMG I'M GETTING MARRRRRIED!  So I figured I could kind of sneak it in a bit? Also I'm aware that I have a short window of time where people still find this interesting before they're like shut the H up, we get it already, SO I'll just make the most of this before everyone gets sick of me.

Too late? No turning back now!

30 BEFORE 30: STORM KING; OR, HE LIKED IT & PUT A RING ON IT: BASED ON THE NOVEL PUSH BY SAPPHIRE: BASED ON THE REAL LIFE OF ELIZABETH HOBAGS

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I'm pretty sure I first learned about Storm King a few years ago while lightly stalking the facebook page of a very distant connection who has a cool life and decided it was a Must Visit Establishment if I'm ever going to embody the kind of cultured, hipster lifestyle I so dream of. If you would like to learn more about Storm King, visit their website and/or look at this sad batch of phone photos I managed to snap during the 11 minutes of our trip when my phone wasn't dead (more on that saga below).

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Basically blah blah it's 1.5 hours north of NYC, you can get a discount if you drive up in a zipcar or you can take a bus. Great scenery. Foliage. Art. Etcetera, etcetera. Highly recommended, the end.

Now let's get to the good stuff: ME!

We begin with a Lost style flashback to earlier this summer, as Brian and I are making the decision to wonen samen. I'm VERY into timelines, plans and attempting to control every aspect of my life - typically everything still totally falls down around me, but you can't stop me from trying, world! We'd both agreed that, for us, moving in was a step on the path towards officially locking it DOWN and didn't want to live together long before taking the next step. Basically, as I explained it to my mom, moving is a horrific nightmare and we wanted to get that whole scene over and done before making any other big decisions. We'd put "post Labor Day" as the basic timeline for when an engagement might occur, so true to form, the moment the clock struck midnight on Labor Day I was on HIGH ALERT.

We'd talked about engagement rings and though I knowwwww that engagement rings are ridiculous and paternalistic and basically just a marketing scheme by big diamond companies, and the path to our fingers is littered with the bodies of diamond miners... well, no DUH I still wanted one. (I seem to be like, equal parts angry modern feminist and deeply romantic traditionalist and have a feeling that the push-pull between these two dualling personas will be a recurring theme throughout this whole wedding planning process. That should be fun for everyone!) I do still maintain that it is absurd to spend a ton of money on an engagement ring (unpopular opinion alert!) but I mean, if Brian wants to buy me some nice jewelry and love me forever, well, I'm not going to say no to that. We didn't want to go shopping together for a ring, that felt anti-climactic to us, but he still wanted my input on style, so I took an exploratory trip to a few jewelers in late August with my friend Kathleen, who then reported the findings to ole BriGuy.

And then...I waited. Ever so patiently, constantly touching up my nail polish, just in case. 

This was sort of a weird time for me, like, emotionally. I like to be the one making plans, taking control and felt like we were on the brink of a Life Event and I just had to sit back and let it happen.  Surprise, surprise, I think the idea of an "engagement" is sort of backwards and old fashioned - I think it is important for couples to discuss their future as a unit, to make plans together but then when it comes time for the official asking, the man is in charge? Oh hell naw! Butttt then when it came down to it: hell yes!

Brian told me early on that it was very important for him to do this, to propose, to buy a ring, to be the man with the plan and I wanted to honor that - gender parity is important and deciding things together are important, yes, but I guessss that occasionally letting go of the need to be in charge and allowing your partner to do what feels right for them is important too. So I sat back.

And I'm glad I did - in the moment when he asked me to marry him, I could see how happy he was - how happy we both were and it was the right choice for us.

But I'm getting ahead of myself!

Ok that Lost style flashback got long and unnecessarily dramatic. Just a small glimpse into the internal life of Liz Ho. A fun place to be!

So, now it is Sunday, October 6, 2013, skies over Brooklyn are misty and grey but we decide to take our trip nonetheless. By this point I am 99.4% certain that IT IS HAPPENING TODAY! Clues include: it is our only free weekend all fall, Brian has been extra specially nice to me all week and, most convincingly, he had rented the zip car for the day (pickup time: 8 AM!) weeks in advance. Love this guy, but planning in advance is not usually his M.O. I was prepared. I put together a semi-decent outfit, despite the weather and had SPRINTED to the nail salon at 5:01 PM on Friday for a preemptive mani so you can trust my nail game was on point.

We bundled up and picked up our car and the whole while I was giving Brian the old up and down, wondering where he might be stashing a ring. There were no box-sized bulges in the pockets of his jeans or coat...he'd brought along his school bag so I'd assumed it was in there, but he was being super casual and blase about the whole thing. I mean, I was mildly suspicious when he packed a bag in the first place, but it all made sense- he threw in an extra sweatshirt and dry socks, just in case, and tossed in some deli sandwiches, too - and he never acted like he was hauling precious cargo - he let me shove in some clothes of my own and at one point even asked me to hold it for him. I began to attempt to regulate my expectations to a normal level in the event that this was just a regular day trip after all, no life moments to be had, but we all know how great I am at operating in a relaxed emotional state so let's just say I was buzzing like a bumble bee with a Zac Efron sized coke problem the entirety of our trip. (Too soon? Love you, Zac!)

Adding to my nervous state, my cell phone was once again breaking down. This was my second phone in two weeks, this time with a brand new battery, but I kept encountering the same issues I'd had in the past. Today was NOT the day for a phone break down. Not only is Storm King basically an Instagrammer's wet dream, there was a chance I'd have to make some SERIOUSLY important phone calls!

So we wandered the park, checking out the sculptures, goofing around but neither of our heads was 100% in the game. Brian was trying to think on his feet of when and where to pop the big Q and, as I just mentioned, I was... let's go ahead and say mildly preoccupied with both my phone and my naked ring finger. At one point we came upon my very favorite sculpture, this long, winding stone wall curving its way through the natural landscape to a gorgeous lake at the bottom of a wooded hill. We lingered and as we walked away, I mentioned to Brian how much I loved it. Also, at that moment, I managed to get my phone to re-start and pulled Brian back to the wall so I could snap some photos.

Brian was overjoyed with this plan, thinking it the perfect way to get me back to my favorite sculpture without arousing my suspicion but WAIT! We are foiled. Back at the wall we encounter a nice woman snapping a few photos. I strike up a convo and ask her to take our picture with my now functioning phone. She obliges:

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And informs us that she's on site for a photography class and will be hanging around that wall alllllll afternoon snapping photos.

Thanks for ruining our perfect engagement, woman. I hope you get a big fat F in photo class.

Justttt kidding.

We ambled onward (do you like how I'm making this into like, the longest novel ever written of all time? Forget Infinite Jest, just read my blog!) and found ourselves in a sort of remote, secluded area towards the back of the park, with a few funky sculptures and tons of trees. Brian knew this was his moment, but just needed to distract me long enough to catch me off guard.

Luckily for him, I made it easy just by being my usual attention hog of a self - I spotted a statue of a gigantic head, like Easter Island, and ran towards it, yelling "Brian! Take my picture with this head!" I handed him my phone and struck a pose. Brian took a few snaps and handed me back the phone, and then it went a little something like this:

Brian: "This picture is awesome."

Me, looking at the phone: "Yeah, it's pretty good."

Brian: "It's really big!"

Me: "Yeah, the Samsung Galaxy has a really large screen (followed by several seconds of idiot chatter about Samsung Galaxy phones)

Brian: "No, I mean it's awesome and big because it's exciting, we'll always remember this as the picture I took right before I asked you to marry me."

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My memories after that are a little hazy - I cried, there was some one knee action, Brian said the nicest things a human has ever said to another human and I, of course, said yes.

The ring is perfect, a vintage Art Deco ring from 1939, gold and gorgeous and delicate. Brian said he'd had it for a month (!) and had been practicing opening the box so he could get it right.  All other fellas on the planet, good try, but ain't nobody cuter than this guy. It's a fact.

We excitedly called our parents, or tried anyway. I couldn't get my mom on the phone - it turns out she was on a bike ride with her pals and out of service. I wanted to tell her before anyone else, so left about 73 frantic messages on her cell and at home and then my phone died, so I sent a few crazed texts from Brian's phone. I finally managed to get mine up and running again on the drive home and sent my sister a series of absolutely bananas texts: "WHERE'S MOM?!" "I NEED TO TALK TO MOM! ALSO SIT BY THE PHONE! YOU KNOW WHY!" until my mom called and we got to share the big news. My phone then proceeded to die on regular intervals for the remainder of our trip and despite a super romantic stop at the TMobile store, met its ultimate demise a few hours after we got home, but allowed me just enough time to chat with my siblings, dad and a few pals.

I started making corny remarks about every single thing we did all night as being the first _________ as an engaged couple - our first sandwiches, first drive over a bridge, first bottle of water, first trip to the TMobile store...first time going to the bathroom. God bless Brian, y'all, he's in for a long life.

And then we spent our first night AS AN ENGAGED COUPLE (!!!) sitting around our house in our underwear, eating Thai takeout and drinking fancy champagne. It was the perfect end to a perfect day - one that felt just right for us. There were no helicopters or flash mobs but just a little bit of adventure, a few mishaps, sandwiches, cheesy jokes, bathroom oversharing and pantslessness. All of my favorite things with my very, very favorite guy. I can't wait for a lifetime of days just like this.

*** The end! Thanks for reading all of this! I know I tend to shy away from the heartfelt stuff but I can't seem to help it thee days. #barf! I hope you might let me share, from time to time, our adventures on the marriage train. I promise this won't become some boring wedding blog, believe me, the world needs another wedding blog like it needs another Mormon mommy blog (zing!) (which is to say millions more, love you, Mormon moms!) but I have a feeling there will be some major shenanigans along the way (aren't there always?) and think it might be kind of fun to write through the process, especially working through those battling ideologies, as the Liz Ho who hates the Wedding Industrial Complex and the Liz Ho who has had Style Me Pretty bookmarked since her single days meet in the ring to duke it out. Let the next great adventure begin! ***

One AWESOME Announcement

Hello World! Please allow me to take a brief moment from our regularly scheduled programming for a small big huge amazing FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC Announcement:

Brian and I are engaged!

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Move over, Seth Cohen, there's a new man in town. And this time, he's real!

We're both pretty excited by the whole situation, in case you can't tell by the mega-watt grins.

Can't wait to have an eternity of adventures with this guy.

Many (many, many) more details to come (please, have we ever known me to be short-winded?) but first, just wanted to share the good news. Everyone knows that nothing's official in this world until you tell the whole internet.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go lie down - I'm practically cross-eyed from staring at my left hand all day.

HOORAY!