Wedding season, open them wallets

Mr. Gingermermaid and I did not have a conventional wedding with the “save the date” magnets, and the flowers, and the bridal parties, and the chicken or fish, and the showers, and the church. We got married, somewhat in secret, in my childhood home with just our immediate family and one very close friend.

We didn't things totally traditionally, but gorilla warfare of birdseed did happen.

We didn’t do things totally traditionally, but gorilla warfare of birdseed did happen.

Our circumstances weren’t necessarily unique by today’s standards, but at 6 months pregnant, after finding out extremely late in the game, we chose to have a ceremony before, rather than after the birth of our son and decided that the money towards the wedding would go to something more practical, like a down payment on a house or our child’s future. So boring, I know.

We don’t regret it for one second. If we did it all over again, there would still be no chicken or fish.

With wedding season in full swing now, and at the verge of 30, many of our friends are sealing their relationship with that certificate of ownership. Faced with attending wedding after wedding, we are finding that the tradition and culture we reject, and our peers embrace, is incredibly irritating and costly.

Issue 1, Babysitters

My husband and I are the first among our friends to have a child, and as cliche as it may be, it’s the truest statement ever stated: you don’t get it until you have kids (hate me now, I would too).

When we get invited to weddings where there are no kids allowed, or where we have to travel far, it can be a logistical nightmare. It’s not like we can leave the kid at home with a stack of TV dinners and the Netflix password. We have to arrange for his coming or not coming.

  1. Travelling in a plane or car for any period of time with little people, not easy. Who wants to sit next to the baby on the plane? Not me, in fact, I would put my kid in the front and sit in the back if I could. Dear flight attendant and passenger in seat F3, your problem now.
  2. Packing for a child to go on a trip is almost like moving from a house to a studio apartment, too much stuff and not enough space.
  3. Not every family has grandparents or siblings on the ready who can take a child in for an evening let alone a weekend or more. And contrary to popular belief, mainly just my friends’ belief, babysitters don’t fall out of the sky and they certainly don’t do so cheaply.

Issue 2, Party Time

When a wedding is announced, about a half dozen other events are also announced: engagement party, wedding shower, bridal shower, bachelorette party, bachelor party, wedding. Because I have the pleasure of being friends with this person, I’m expected to work all these events into my schedule, taking my few but precious vacation days, and bring along a gift per event. If I don’t, betrothal drama!

My husband has been invited to countless bachelor parties in his days, but the most recent affair was a bit too much. It was a 5 to 6 hour drive away and 4 days long. The initial cost for the affair was $700 per person to cover the escapade.

$700 and 4 days! My husband and I would prefer to go on vacation together, put in a new water heater, cover day care costs, or pay the mortgage on our new house rather than spend it on a party. There is absolutely nothing a bachelor party offers that can’t be done locally or in one evening for a fraction of the cost. Bachelor/ette parties are excuses to get be college drunk and see strippers. The guise of “I’m getting married, one last hurrah!” does not need to exist for this to happen.

Mr. Gingermermaid made the trip to this particular bachelor shindig for one night. We had other plans that weekend to work around and leaving a parent alone for an extended period of time with a baby is not easy (props to you single parents). My hubby took a lot of flack for this.

Issue 3, Gifts!

While visiting friends, an early wedding gift arrived for them while we happened to be in their company. The gift was not what at the monetary level they expected from these particular guests. They mocked the gift and the cheapasaureses who purchased it (from the wedding registry).

Gifts at weddings were established as a way to give a married couple a start. There used to be a time when engaged couples all lived at home with their respective mom and dad. No cohabitation until the exchange of vows. Post-wedding, the newlyweds moved into a new home with nothing. Nothing. So gifts like plates, toasters, and towels were a way to give couples a base to establish their home and life together.

Nowadays, almost every couple lives together and has more than enough clutter. Gifts of money are becoming the norm. I recently wrote a check for $50 to newly wedded couple that are millionaires. I felt like I was throwing a cup of water into the ocean.

Gifts are not mandatory, contrary to popular culture, especially when the cost to attend the wedding is a financial burden in itself. Some invitations even state that presence is enough and presents are not necessary. I’m not sure if many newlyweds believe that.

The cost of attending/being a part of the wedding add up:

  • engagement party gifts
  • wedding shower gifts
  • bridal shower gifts
  • bachelor/ette party costs/gifts
  • wedding gifts
  • bridal/groom party rentals, purchases (I believe brides/grooms should cover most of these costs)
  • hotel costs
  • travel costs
  • time costs

There’s also this concept of tit for tat. Many of the weddings we’ve attended and consecrated gifts for, we have never received a reciprocal consideration. No  “congratulations” card let alone a check or gift ,and we didn’t even make them spend a dime on attending*.

*People criticized us for not having a wedding because we wouldn’t receive gifts/money. Husband and I thought the cost of having a wedding versus the possible “profit” of throwing a soiree were ridiculous. We never expected anything, and still don’t, but we don’t like having expectations thrown on us with an exceptional flair for the dramatic when the same consideration is not extended.

Issue 4, It’s all the same

Weddings are generic. There is this equation that hotels, wedding planners, and tradition mixed together. Weddings that attempt to be unique still follow the basic formula.

  1. Photographer takes staged photos of prep.
  2. Ceremony.
  3. More staged photography.
  4. Reception begins with snacks and drinks.
  5. Mr. and Mrs. (or Mr. and Mr. or Mrs. and Mrs.) enter.
  6. Awkward speeches.
  7. Father/daughter, Mother/son dances
  8. Awkward speeches.
  9. Dinner with linen covered seats and garish bows and tables with ugly flower displays.
  10. Cake smash!
  11. Dancing.
  12. Hangover.

For a grand total of $25k.

The real definer if the wedding is fun and worth all the hubbub? Open bar.

Issue 5, Divorce

It happens. We all go through the wedding hoopla and then a few years, or even months, down the way, the couple splits. It sucks for the couple and it sucks for the guests. Essentially the money and gifts given become collateral in the divorce proceedings.

Look, I venture to guess that most people who are getting married do not anticipate a divorce. Otherwise, why marry?

But in the cases that the relationships are rocky prior to any aisle trotting, it’s important to consider the whole picture. I knew of a couple that wasn’t sure if they should go through with the wedding or not. After all the planning and people RSVPing and making their plane/hotel reservations and blah blah blah, they figured they could work on their issues after the ceremony, right? So they married. Four months later? Seperated and well on the way to signing divorce papers.

Do the guests a favor, save their time and money and call it off. A teetering couple is going to lose out bigger if they go through with the wedding.

Issue 6, What we all want

Cake smash! Nom nom nom!

Cake smash! Nom nom nom!

The Gingermermaids are very happy with the way our wedding went down. We embraced a few cutsie traditions for our parents (and me too) but ultimately we didn’t want much more than that. We support that our friends do want the whole deal and we’ll participate in all the hoopla and spend the dollars to rent a tux and get our hair done like everyone else. It’s their day, after all, and they are our friends and we want to support them in their commitment to one another.

Some people take our perception of weddings as resentment that we didn’t get to do things the traditional way because of little Gingerguppy. When people tell me that I really want to have a wedding, a bachelorette party, a honeymoon, I want to tell them that what I really want to do is punch them in the face for not respecting my viewpoint. Not everyone wants what everyone else wants, like I’m sure that person doesn’t want me to punch them in the face even though I really, really want that, far more than a wedding.

One final note, weddings shouldn’t be the best day of anyone’s life, the future together should hold far better days. We don’t want to start our life at the climax of our time together, we want it to only get better.

 

Blogger’s Note: I embraced the following kitschy things: a dress that fit over Gingerguppy, sunflower bouquet, birdseed (which I hated and am still pulling little seeds from my hair), photographer, flower girls (because my nieces really wanted it), and cake smash! If you read my post about my own wedding, you may find some hypocritical statements to what I’ve made here. I’m not perfect 😉

Life before little person

Now that my life has turned into servitude to an 8-month-old, I can’t quite remember what my life was like before the little GingerGuppy sprung forth into my life.

That’s not even a little true. I totally remember what my life was like. The word that comes to mind is FREE.

Free to come and go without an entourage of diapers, bottles, miniature clothes, loveys, pacifiers.

Free to to go to sleep when I want without the risk of waking to the howling in the next room.

Free to leave chocking hazards where ever they may land.

Free to spend all the money on me, me, me, my cat, and me.

Free to go to the movies, go to dinner, go get tipsy, without having to find a sitter or tote along an ornery passenger.

Free to live wherever and however I deemed wondrous.

There are moments where I miss my freedom—where I remember how easy life was a self-involved city girl who only had ME to worry about. More and more each day, though, I start to pity the younger, freer me and be happier with the little man who has the fattest, adorable-ist thighs that ever squirmed this earth and has seized my existence and made it his own.

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D’awww. How sweet and grown up we are.

The carless life

My hubby and I recently moved out of the city and into a “city.” Not quite the size and caliber I’m used to, but by Wikipedia definition, it’s a city.

We live downtown—downtown as defined by “small city” (can you tell I’m slightly bitter and snobby about the change?)—with pedestrian access to restaurants, small shops, and a train that takes me to DC three times a week for my 2+ hour, one-way commute to work (what have I done?!).

There is a handful of bus lines that do a handful of bus routes, but for the most part, without a car, the options for getting around are limited by where my legs can take me and by the highways that create an obstacle for safe transiting.

Without a car, I feel trapped, but with a car, I would feel trapped in a cycle of motor dependency which I’m not willing to undertake. Look, I’m not completely without a motorized carriage, my husband has a car and we use it to get to places and pick up mass quantities of food and diapers, but I refuse to become a two-car family.

When I lived in DC and walking was my transportation exclusively, no one batted and eye when I’d say that I walked to and from work every day—it was expected. Here, when I tell people I walk to the day care to pick up my baby or skip to the train station, they look at me like I’m such a crazy, brave soul.

“You walk from there?” the other mothers mutter.

I explain, “It’s only a little over a mile away.”

I receive a look like the most ridiculous statement just projectiled from my mouth and I try to explain, “See, we just moved from DC and I used to walk everywhere so this is no big deal.”

The next look I get is that I’m some pretentious bitch (which I totally am, but not for this reason) and that I should return to my stupidly expensive, small apartment and not bother the kind people of this little Maryland town—I mean city.

I am overambitious at times, not understanding the lay of the land here. There are no bike lanes as far as I can see and sidewalks are not a given. Just because it’s a mile and some change away, doesn’t mean it’s a walk away. I learned that little lesson in a rainstorm. Thanks pickup truck that sprayed me with water and made my rain boots absolutely useless! (Pickup trucks, ugh, another side effect of this damn “city.”)

I’ll figure out the best commuting methods and routes the longer I live here and, hopefully, adjust to my new environment. Ideally, it will never come to 2 cars, especially one of those mom vehicles—my nightmare—the mini van.

 

The focus is on the poop

My baby decided not only to be conceived despite preventative measures, but also decided to be born a month early—a week before the conference I spend all year planning for that serves as the main role of my career. This Gingerguppy is going to be trouble.

I’m happy to say that along with his mother, Gingermermaid, little Gingerguppy is also a ginger. After he got stuck, in an uncomfortable position for both he and I, one of the only things the doctors could tell was that he was, indeed, a redhead. So three hours after the discovery, he entered the world with a most bruised face and a fine set of lungs.

Through his nine weeks, this little guy has been quite a feat. He was underweight, blue from bruising, yellow from jaundice, and just a difficult monster. After a week in the hospital, numerous pediatric visits (I saw my pediatrician more than my husband, at one point), we finally seem (cross fingers) to have him sorted out. And how do I track his progress? Why, the poop!

I have never been so excited about poop, pee, and farts, or all other possible bodily functions. If my husband changes Gingerguppy’s diaper, I ask for a report on the remnants:

“Did he pee or poop? How much? Compare it to a handful of change. What color was it? How heavy was the diaper?”

Each feeding:

“Did he spit up? How much? Compare it to a handful of change. What color was it? Was it projectile?”

We were given a chart of images of what to expect in his diaper, and I studied and compared. Prior to motherhood I was squeamish about such items, but the overprotective, anxiety-ridden lady I am has reared it’s head and I find that I have a hawk-eyed focus for the disgusting.

Now that I’m focused on what’s important, I hope I can get this little guy focused on a normal awake/asleep schedule. This isn’t as fun or easy to manage as poop.

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Sleeping like a baby is a statement made by people who don’t have babies.

I won’t eat my veggies!

Let me preface this post by stating that politically I am registered independent. I am mainly independent on principle as I want to make my political opinions on issues rather than party lines. Do I have bias? Of course. But I am trying to keep as open a mind as possible to see beyond red and blue. In my opinion, political parties are shortcuts to political decisions so people can put little effort and thought into the political arena.

Anyway, this whole government shutdown crap is really irritating and completely unnecessary. You can’t trust information from any source. Every news station aims for ratings and holds a bias one way or the other. Please note, Americans, if you get your information from Fox News or MSNBC, you are NOT getting news, you are getting your ideas and opinions validated by rather loud and obnoxious commentators who are paid to incite passion in their most extreme of audiences.

With complete confidence, I can say that I abhor the “Tea Party” (but I enjoy tea parties and anticipate having many an imaginary tea in the afternoon with my little son) and I can’t stand the way the Tea Party has taken the Republicans hostage. Look, I know the Republican party needs to evolve and welcome itself to the 21st century as they seemed to be stuck in the 1950s, but not all Republicans are bad and some have some good ideas. Some. Mostly are archaic. But the Tea Party is a fad that will be looked upon in American history as an extreme group that destroyed the better part of its party it branched off from.

I like Obama, but he isn’t infallible and sometimes he just needs to grow a pair. There is no negotiating with people bent on sabotaging your presidency who do not care for attempted bi-partisanship; they are set on making no other Democrat president ever again and ruining everything good he can and may do even if it may benefit the country as a whole.

Obviously, this is my two cents and like most people in the government, I’m not going to be able to back up my opinions with facts, interviews, research, mostly because I have a job, a baby on the way, a blog, and quite frankly, these folks are supposed to be taking care of the government for me so, as Nike put it, just do it. Although I can piece together facts from NPR and my Time magazine intermixed with some seemingly unmixed articles from The Washington Post and The New York Times, I just want to lay out my thoughts on this whole debacle by portraying my rendition of what is going on:

Pres. Obama: John, eat your veggies or you get no dessert.

Speaker Boehner: I don’t want to eat my veggies. You can’t make me.

Pres. Obama: I’m telling you, no dessert if you don’t eat your veggies.

Speaker Boehner: I’m having cheesecake.

Pres. Obama: No you are not. First finish your veggies, then we can talk about your behavior, then we can talk about you maybe having some cheesecake.

Speaker Boehner: Cheesecake.

Pres. Obama: This is not an issue we are going to debate. You already agreed to put your veggies before your dessert. You know it’s good for you even if it’s hard to swallow.

Speaker Boehner: Cheesecake.

Pres. Obama: No.

Speaker Boehner: How can we continue this conversation when you won’t negotiate.

Pres. Obama: You knew this when you sat down to dinner. In fact, you approved the menu.

Speaker Boehner: I’m done here. I have to go read some literature with Ted Cruz.

Pres. Obama: You walk away from this table, and there will be no dessert for anyone. Why do you want to ruin it for everybody else?

Speaker Boehner: You’re unreasonable.

Pres. Obama: Senator McCain ate his veggies. He’s waiting for his cheesecake.

Senator McCain: Seriously, Boehner, why can’t you see that if you just eat your veggies, we can all have cheesecake. Maybe later we can discuss the kind of veggies we want to eat, but right now, we need to finish our plate.

Speaker Boehner: What if I just eat the carrots?

Pres: Obama: The brussel sprouts too.

Speaker Boehner: No deal!

Senator McCain: Syria!!!!!

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This is how I view the great democracy that is the US of A. For how high we think of ourselves, well, it’s time to mellow out.