Thursday, December 9, 2010

Symbol vs. Show

Traditionally, people threw rice at weddings. I don't know how old this tradition was, but numerous internet sources suggest that it dates to ancient times in some form or another, and that the use of rice reflected guests' wishes that the newlywed couple have a lifetime of fruitfulness and prosperity. This makes a lot of sense.
Though not actually providing the couple with a meal, literally showering them with food is powerfully symbolic. (I'm reminded of It's a Wonderful Life, when Mary Bailey hands the Martinis "bread, that this house may never know hunger; salt, that life may always have flavor; and wine, that joy and prosperity may reign forever.") 

We're not allowed to throw rice after our wedding. Though the exploding-bird thing appears to be a myth,  there are apparently worries about both liability (someone might slip) and clean-up (someone's gotta clean it up). I might, I suppose, accept a substitute of birdseed, confetti, rose petals, etc. Throwing something just feels, viscerally, to be connected to the age-old practice of throwing rice. Like it means something. Those, however, offer the same disadvantages to the church, and are similarly forbidden. (I wanted to invent something that could be thrown at newlyweds that would not cause a mess or a safety hazard, but it's kind of hard to do.)

What could we do instead? Most people blow bubbles these days. Some ring bells. And honestly, I'm not feelin' it. Bubbles have been blown at every wedding I remember being at (I think I might have gotten to throw rice once, as a little girl, before it was forbidden, but I can't remember clearly), and I never had any objection. They were fun and they were pretty. What's not to like? But I'm trying to be a little more mindful in planning my wedding than I ever was as a guest. I had never asked myself "Why blow bubbles?" before, but I'm asking it now, and, as best I can tell, there's no answer. If I had asked, "Why throw rice?" I would have gotten an answer. I wouldn't have staked my life on its historicity, but I could have more or less believed that people were throwing rice at us because they wanted us to have a fruitful and prosperous life. But I can't come up with an answer for "Why blow bubbles?" Instead of blowing bubbles without knowing why - replacing powerful symbolism with empty show - I think we're going to skip it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Take 2: Wedding Dress for Sale

I recently tried selling the dress I'd first bought on eBay, but had no luck. I've now listed it at the 100 Layer Cake Marketplace, in the hopes that it will sell there. If you're interested, it can be seen here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wedding Dress for Sale

I'm finally getting around to trying to resell the first wedding dress I bought. It's a new, perfect condition, size 8, ivory, strapless, beaded wedding gown by Emerald Bridal. You can bid on it on eBay here! Tell your friends!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bridesmaids' Dresses!

I went shopping with 3/5 of my bridesmaids last week. My sister Laura, and my cousins Gina and Jamie are local, but my sister Anna is away at school, and Ben's sister Laura lives on the other side of the country. We went to the J. Crew Bridal Boutique in Manhattan, and then hit up a couple other stores - some combination of Bloomingdale's, H&M, GAP, Banana Republic, Zara. 

I was not the nicest person to shop with. I find making clothing decisions to be very stressful. I am not even remotely qualified to make fashion choices for myself, much less for anyone else. 


The above was the part of this post that I had written before today happened. It was going to be all about how I was an unlikeable grouch while we were shopping, and the salesladies at J. Crew were unhelpful because the dresses I wanted were only available online, and they played (or were) dumb about what was available online, but (after I apologized for being a grump) it all turned out okay in the end, because we ordered the dresses online and that was it!

And then the dresses showed up. Awesome, right? Or it would have been, if they had all been the right color! And if I were a good practical bride with my priorities straight, I'd still be writing a post about how it'll all be okay in the end, because the color of anyone's dress has nothing to do with my wedding, my relationship, or my marriage, and that's what's really important on my wedding day.

Instead . . . I'm pissed. And frustrated, and freaking out. Because they were on sale, which means all sales were final, and what if they won't take it back, even when the mistake was J. Crew's and not ours? And what if they run out of the right color (which is being discontinued) while we're resolving this error, and there's NO WAY for my sister Anna to wear the same color as everyone else? And the dress was labeled as being the right color (clover), when it was actually the wrong color (wintermint) . . . what if all the "clover" dresses left in their inventory are actually wintermint dresses labeled as clover dresses, and there's ALREADY no way to buy another dress in the same color as everyone else's? Do I have to start over and pick a whole new dress? And eat the cost of the dresses already bought? Do I leave Anna in a different color dress, which is in no way complementary to the color of the other dresses? She's one of my maids of honor, but I need to either have both of my maids of honor wear the same thing as everyone else, or have them both in something different . . . if I have one maid of honor in something different, it looks like I'm just having one maid of honor, and then my sister Laura gets left out, and THAT'S not right. 

Anyway, this is what the dress is supposed to look like: 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Blaire Reinhard Band

Choosing a wedding band was difficult for us. Ben - and countless other people - kept suggesting my cousin's band. My cousin's husband, Keith, is the drummer in The Blaire Reinhard Band, and we love them and have seen them perform numerous times. But I had serious doubts. Not about the band, because, as I've said, we love them. They rock. We also know they have plenty of experience playing weddings.

My standard response, when they were suggested, was "Unfortunately, the band isn't available that night. Their drummer has to go to his cousin's wedding." Keith is family. Family is supposed to spend your wedding day celebrating with you, not working for you. I didn't want him to be "on the job" when he was supposed to be eating dinner with the family, drinking sambuca with my uncles, chasing his kids, dancing with his wife.

It's an indie wedding trend to make your wedding meaningful by encouraging the participation of your loved ones instead of involving strangers as vendors. I get that, but while it sounds great in theory, it can only go so far in practice. Being good hosts is important. And while good hosts may graciously accept assistance from their guests, they certainly don't put them to work to the extent that the guests would work while the hosts eat, drink, dance, and socialize. That's just not okay.

So I didn't pursue having the BRB play at our wedding, and we began looking into DJs for music options. Then my dad went ahead and asked Keith whether the band would play, despite my objections to the set-up. He said they'd be glad to, but I said I didn't want them there unless Keith could be a guest, too. Turns out he can combine both fairly easily! (Just goes to show, it never hurts to ask!) So we've managed to set up a band/DJ combo arrangement, and are incredibly excited that we will be having the Blaire Reinhard Band playing at our wedding - while still being able to celebrate with the band members!

Here's a sample of what you're in for:

Thursday, September 30, 2010


It's been a while.

We went through a period of time where we sort of thought, "Well, we've taken care of all the big stuff. We can sit back and relax now!" That more or less lasted until I moved home, and my mom politely informed me that there was so much left to do and that I was not doing it fast enough.

The ensuing weeks have involved lots of decision making. Or rather, lots of attempted decision making. We have discussed extensively, but not made any decisions about, everything from favors to bridesmaids dresses to flowers to where to register to the song to which we'll have our first dance. We've made lists: of songs to have the band play, of things to register for, of guests who will need hotel rooms, of Mass settings we like, of songs to have the band NOT play.

With all the wedding talk we've been doing, none of what we accomplished seemed substantial enough to justify blog posts.

But I just made a phone call that seemed very substantial indeed. My dress has come in, and I just set up my appointment to try it on at the store! To put on, for the very first time, my very own wedding dress, the actual, physical clothes I will wear when I marry Ben!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Decisions, Decisions: Photographers

We were entirely at a loss as to how to begin looking for wedding photographers, so we started out following Jill's advice, left in the comments of this post: by googling "wedding photos + View on the Hudson" to see other photographers who had shot at our venue specifically, and how their pictures had turned out.

My mom had also been looking, and we got ideas from friends and relatives as well as, in at least one case, from a wedding blog, which left us with a pretty substantial list, that we then narrowed down by price, style, and grammar. (Listen, photographer-who-shall-remain-nameless: If you think that saying "da" instead of "the" is cool, that's your prerogative. But if you think that using it in on your professional website is appropriate, you have to expect that you will drive away those potential customers who do not think that using "da" instead of "the" is cool.)

We arranged to meet with as many of the photographers as was possible on a single day, and spent a weekend in NY that looked like lots of our weekends in NY do lately: the wedding-family-wedding-family-wedding sandwich. (It went photographer #1 - graduation party - photographer #2 - grandparents' house - photographer #3.)

The first photographer we met with was Ryan Kaplan from Small Moments Studios in Suffern. As we left, we looked at each other and Ben said, "I'd be fine canceling the other appointments now." We thought Ryan's photography and his personality were wonderful and would fit our wedding perfectly, but we decided to go through with the remaining appointments anyway.

After my cousin Emma's 8th grade graduation party, we met a second photographer, whose photography was beautiful but whose personality didn't do it for us. Then, after stopping by my grandparents', where Grandma gave us homemade cookies and zucchini from the garden, we met with the last photographer. Her photography and personality were both wonderful, and she gave Ryan a serious run for his money. We thought we could have worked well and been happy with either of them, but in the end we decided that Ryan's style better fit our needs. (His price was better, too; there wasn't a huge discrepancy, but we did feel extra confident in our decision, since all the relevant factors - style, personality, price - lined up.)

We're very excited to work with Ryan!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wedding Dress Friday: This time, it's for real

This past weekend, I went home, with the intention of showing my mom the dress I had bought and looking at bridesmaid dresses with my sisters and my cousins. My mom was disappointed not to have been there when I bought the dress, and - given my unspoken misgivings - I agreed I was going to look at just a few more dresses. We went to RK Bridal, in Manhattan, which has both bridesmaid and wedding dresses. The whole point was supposed to be looking at bridesmaid dresses. I already had a wedding dress, right? I was just humoring my mom, right? But we spent most of the morning trying on wedding dresses.

RK Bridal doesn't take reservations, so we made sure to get there early, before the store opened, and we managed to get our names first on the list for wedding dresses, which meant we were the first group to be assigned a consultant. Our consultant was Olga, who was fantastic. I probably tried on a dozen dresses, which, added to the 2 dozen or so I'd tried on at the Running of the Brides, puts me way over the average for number of wedding dresses tired on (which I think is around 10-12). (Remember when I said I'd try on a couple dresses and pick a pretty one, and be done with it?)

The dresses - most of them - were gorgeous. It's a completely different thing, I realized, too, to try on a dress at an actual wedding dress store. (They use binder clips to hold the dress in place so you don't have to just imagine how it would look if it actually fit! Binder clips!)

My sister Laura got there late, and so she'd missed the first couple dresses I'd tried on. After I'd tried on my dozen or so, and ruled out several, I started over, trying on what was left a second time. I walked out of the dressing room, in a gown that my mom, sister Anna, and cousin Jamie had liked the first time, but which Laura was seeing for the first time. She instantly burst into tears.

That means that's the dress I'm supposed to wear, doesn't it?

It's not the dress I bought.

I spent a while going back and forth, eventually, between the dress that made Laura cry and the dress I ended up buying. Olga told me that the first was more "bridal" and the second more "sexy," but that's not really the way I saw it. Sure, the second is closer-fitting, and open-backed, but when I wore it, the feeling I had wasn't "sexy." (It wasn't "unsexy," either, of course.) It was "bridal." I could see myself walking down the aisle in that dress. I smiled a lot when I put it on. And when I imagined myself walking down the aisle in that dress, the image in my mind was of Ben waiting at the altar, not of the dress itself. It was a dress that I loved, that looked awesome, and that knew its proper place, being amazing while simultaneously getting out of the way to let me focus on what really mattered - my groom. The only thing that prevented me from choosing was that I was weighing the dress I loved against the dress everyone else loved. Once I realized that, the decision was easy. I picked the dress I loved.

Pictures after the break! (Dear Ben, Don't click this link. For real this time. Love, Kathleen)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wedding Dress Wednesday: Part I

I bought a wedding dress. And then . . . I bought another wedding dress. I'm still trying to come to terms with being the kind of girl who buys two wedding dresses. I'm not entirely sure what kind of girl that is, but I doubt the words used to describe her are complimentary. Fickle, materialistic, and extravagant are a couple that come to mind. But with each dress, buying it seemed like the only reasonable thing to do at the time.

On July 30, I went to the Running of the Brides at Filene's Basement, with two friends, Jessie and Maggie. I did not go to the crazy running/throwing elbows/stealing dresses out of the hands of other women portion of the day, but after going to work in the morning, I took the afternoon off and headed over to Friendship Heights. I probably tried on close to two dozen dresses. Lots of them were exactly the type of dress that I'd had in mind: sleeved and lacy. All of those looked awful. Many were accompanied by beading of the variety that made Jessie remark that they looked like they'd been Bedazzled by a kindergartener. In short, it seemed that the only sleeved dresses they had were quite dated, and had likely been making periodic appearances at these sales since their heyday in the early '90s. Someone picked up a dress that looked nothing like what I'd been picturing myself wearing. It was strapless, beaded (though tastefully), and a color close to champagne. But it was beautiful, and when I tried it on (it fit almost perfectly), it was incredibly flattering, and strangers stopped to tell me how great it looked. And since the price was right ($249), I bought it. At a sale like the Running of the Brides, there's no thinking about it and coming back for it another day. It was now or never, take it or leave it, and I could not leave behind a dress that was so pretty and looked so good.

I'm not sure I would have taken such a dramatic step away from the image I'd had of myself had the dress been more expensive, but at $250, I felt like it was too good to pass up, and it wasn't a huge sum of money if, in fact, I ended up returning to the dress I'd imagined. (This from a girl who regularly carries groceries home in the palms of her bare hands to avoid paying DC's $.05 plastic bag tax, which just goes to show you how much weddings skew your perceptions.)

Almost immediately, I began to have the niggling feeling that I was talking myself into this dress. Part of me was disappointed that I'd "caved" to the prevailing trend of the strapless dress, a feeling I couldn't shake, no matter how many times I firmly told myself that not doing something just because everyone else is doing it is just as silly as doing something just because everyone else is. My mom said things like "If you love it, then I love it," which is not exactly a glowing endorsement. And then there was the feeling that I would not have ever shared with anyone, had I not eventually gotten a different dress: the feeling that, when walking down the aisle, I'd be overwhelmingly disappointed in what I was wearing.

But . . . it was just so pretty! There was no denying that it was a gorgeous dress. There was no good reason not to wear it, and the good reasons to wear it were not limited to its pragmatic attributes - like the fact that I already owned it. No, my (admittedly limited) aesthetic sense continued to tell me that it was a beautiful dress, and that I, or any other girl, would be lucky to be married in it. (Which is undoubtedly true.) My sentimental side, though, just kept saying, "But . . ." And "but" was all it took for me to decide to try on some more dresses this weekend, which you will soon read about in another post.

And after the break, I'll post pictures of me in the first dress. I'm hiding it behind a page break because I haven't the foggiest idea whether or not it's ok for Ben to see a picture of me in a wedding dress that is not the dress I'm wearing to my wedding.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Engagement Pictures!

My lovely and talented cousin, Jamie Vitale, took some engagement pictures of Ben and I when we were in NY this weekend. The first of them is now posted on her website! Check it out!

Update: More pictures!

Friday, July 9, 2010

I bought a box of Frosted Flakes, today, for a snack (don't tell my mom), and the expiration date was April 30, 2011.

My cereal is so romantic.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wedding Dress Wednesday - Searching for "The One"

While at home this weekend, I tried on my aunts' wedding dress. (Yes, that's appropriate pluralization; more than one of my aunts wore this dress.) I liked it a lot. My mom expressed reservations about whether the cut flattered my figure, and I could see her point. Do I love the lace at the neck enough to make up for the fact that the skirt makes me look a  little thick about the middle? (Sometimes I think I do. From the waist up, this dress is everything I want in a wedding dress.) Besides, Mom said, "when you watch Say Yes to the Dress, they say that when you put on "the" dress, you and your loved ones just know, and it overwhelms you. I don't get that from this dress." I told her that was all propaganda. You can't take your dress-buying (or dress-borrowing, as it may be) cues from a show designed around the wedding dress industry.

For generations, didn't people get married in their mothers', sisters', aunts', or cousins' dresses? Or in pretty dresses they already owned, or in dresses they could afford? Back when getting married was simpler, women got married just fine without searching for "the" dress.

Or did they?

Over the course of the weekend, I heard stories from relatives who got married 15, 25, or 50 years ago, and they each had stories - though not in so many words - of looking for and finding "the" dress.

An aunt, who got married in the late '90s said that she went to one dress store, and tried on 3 dresses. The first two had been suggested by the saleslady, though she liked a different one. When she tried that one on, she loved it and she bought it.

My mom, who got married in 1982, said that she had liked the look of her aunt's wedding dress in pictures, asked to try it on, and knew as soon as she did that she didn't need to try on any more dresses.

My grandmother, who was married in the '50s, told me that she got her dress in a warehouse. Some friends from work had connections, so she was able to go to the warehouse to see dresses before they were distributed to stores. "As soon as I saw it, I liked it," she said. And that was the dress she got.

Now I'm torn. I really hadn't thought that I would try to find "the" dress. I would find a dress that I liked and that was flattering, knowing that there are probably hundreds of dresses out there that would fit the bill. I would not buy into the wedding dress industry-sponsored propaganda. I would not seek it far, seek it wide, seek it low and high. I would try on a couple dresses, pick the one I liked the best, and I would have a wedding dress. My wedding dress shopping would, ideally, hearken back to the simpler days of wedding planning. And now I learn that even in the simpler days of wedding planning (my grandparents' wedding didn't have RSVPs; they just planned to have enough food in case everyone they'd invited showed up) brides sought and found "the" wedding dress. Is my attempt to mirror days gone by actually a romanticized attempt to invent days that never were? What's a girl to do?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Here's the thing: When I spend my time actually trying to plan a wedding, I end up with no time to write about planning a wedding.

Back soon.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Decisions, Decisions: Reception Venues

Once I had been disabused of a few not-quite-realistic ideas for the reception (you mean we can't fit 200 people on my parents' back porch?), I didn't have a lot of specific ideas or desires for the reception. Just someplace nice, you know? My parents went to see a couple venues while we were still in DC, and there was one that my dad was apparently ready to make a deposit on right then. (Mom convinced him that maybe Ben and I should see it before any final decisions were made.)

While we were in NY so I could go to Michelle's bachelorette party, we scheduled appointments to see several places. We spent only a few minutes looking around the place my parents had already liked, went with my parents to speak to second venue, and the two of us went alone to third.

The one in the middle we did not like at all. While the dated look might not have been a deal-breaker for me, the funny smell and the bug on the table definitely were.

The other two were pretty similar, and we ended up going with the larger one, simply because our families are, well, large. And we even have friends, too. Trying to be simple or not extravagant is more or less a moot point when you're up to your ears in relatives, but we wouldn't have it any other way!

The reception will be at The View on the Hudson, which has . . . wait for it . . . a beautiful view on the Hudson! (The other place we really liked, which was in Nyack, several miles upstream, actually had almost the exact same view from the opposite perspective.)

Next up: Wedding bands, photographers. Does anyone know how to choose wedding bands or photographers?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wedding Dress Wednesday - Sterling by Augusta Jones

Yikes! I didn't realize just how much Wedding Dress Wednesday would be missed if I skipped it one time! Sorry! The weekend before last we had barbecues, and birthday parties, and more birthday parties - not to mention some gardening, and homework, and we went out to eat, and so even with a holiday weekend I was busier and more tired and had less time for browsing wedding dresses and blogging than I usually do. But, I'm back, and hoping to be able to blog about some of the other wedding planning we have going on.

Earlier this week, my mom and my sister send me a link to this dress, which I just love!

It's Sterling, by Augusta Jones. At first glance, I think it's gorgeous, although it's hard to formulate a coherent opinion when the website doesn't show the model standing. (Why, if you were trying to show your wedding dresses, would you not show the model standing?) I'm also not 100% sold on ivory. Does it look like you're trying to make a statement when you get married in something other than a white white? I don't want to unintentionally make a statement. (And yet, I kinda like the color . . .)

I do love the details, especially the lace and the scalloped pattern on the sleeves, which, it strikes me now, is very similar to the pattern on my grandmother's dress. (Dear Ben, Don't click that link. Love, Kathleen)

I think Mom and Anna have a pretty good idea of what I like in dresses! (or at least, in what I like in pictures of dresses. Maybe I should try one on one of these days?)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wedding Dress Wednesday - Simplicity

Although I can't find the original source of this picture, I first saw it here. It's listed as a Jim Hjelm bridesmaid dress. While I think I'd tend towards a more "wedding-y" wedding dress, there's something incredibly appealing about how simple this is in all respects. It's a simple color, simple fabric, simple design, simple silhouette, etc. Wedding planning, and weddings themselves, are, I'm learning, anything but simple. So anything simple seems, well, nice. I like simple these days.

(PS. Expect big things in the comings days/weeks. I have pictures from our NY engagement party and news about receptions venues!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010


This adorable story has everything I like. Museums, romance . . . and really, what more is there? From the National Museum of American History blog, a description of museum work:

I’ll admit it. Working at the National Museum of American History has some pretty great benefits. I get to meet famous Civil Rights leaders, organize lectures with prominent historians and interact with visitors from all over the world. But until Saturday, I had never helped plot an engagement.

And then the very sweet story of a creative proposal at NMAH!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wedding Dress Wednesday - Philosophical Musings

No fancy pictures today. But I've been thinking about where wedding dresses fit into our wedding plans. I got some flack for suggesting that $1700 was too much to spend on a wedding dress. Let me try to explain why that is.

There are a lot of ways in which I conceive of our wedding day:

The beginning of an indissoluble union that will fundamentally and forever bind us together.

A solemn declaration of our love for each other.

The first day of the rest of our life.

The creation of a new family.

A giant party celebrating Life and Love.

The bringing together of our family and friends as part of our new family, part of the rest of our life.

Notice what's missing from that list? "Fashion show." Of course I want to look nice. But I've never been a fashionista, and so beyond that, I'm not sure how much time or effort should go into picking out what I'm going to wear on my wedding day. Wedding websites and books recommend allocating 10% of your wedding budget to your dress. That seems nuts. My clothes are not 10% of the experience of my wedding. Going to David's Bridal and spending $300-$500 on a dress seems much more in line with the proper place that a dress should hold in the grander scheme of the wedding. 1-2% of the budget, 1-2% of my time and effort, 1-2% of the wedding experience.

(Note: There is every possibility that I will be eating my words when I find a gorgeous, expensive wedding dress that I just fall in love with. Don't judge.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Follow up to the Name Change Post

Ben and I had previously discussed my feelings on changing my name, but we talked about it again, on Gchat, after I posted about it earlier this week. When it came down to it, there were some serious factors to be considered:

me: well, like I said, it would be a little sad for me either way
  both changing my name and not taking your name would be a little sad
 but I look forward to being "The Naylors"
 me: and we've already got those coasters with the Ns on them
 Ben: so, there's no going back now!

Thanks to Jamie and Pat for the coasters with the Ns on them! (and for making major life decisions a little easier!)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wedding Dress Wednesday - My Grandmother's Wedding Dress

When I was at home last weekend, I tried on my very first wedding dress, the dress my grandmother wore when she married my grandfather in the 1950s. It's satin with lace, and it was worn by both Grandma and, in the 1980s, my aunt Linda. (The lace isn't original, but was replaced when Linda wore it, and is so yellowed that it would have to be replaced again if I were to wear it.)

I'm going to keep shopping around, doing some of my shopping in relatives' closets and some of it in bridal boutiques. But here's dress #1.

Ben, the rest of this post is not for your eyes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"Do you mean to tell me, Katie Scarlett O'Hara . . ."

I don't make too much of a habit of reading wedding blogs, but every so often, I'll browse them and find that something catches my eye. So it was last week when I noticed this discussion On Name Changing and Weddings at A Practical Wedding. It came at an appropriate time.

After we set the date, on our -1 year anniversary, I wrote Ben a card and signed it "the future Mrs. Ben Naylor." (Note: I was quite amused by how strongly all the posters over at A Practical Wedding objected to being called, as they put it, "Mrs. Hisfirst Hislast." Apparently that was a highly un-feminist way for me to sign a card.) I've never seriously considered doing anything but taking my husband's name, and for as long as I've known that Ben would be my husband, I've wanted to be Mrs. Naylor. (I may or may not have practiced signing my future name in the margins of my Museum Studies notebooks long before we were ever engaged.)

And yet, I always knew that giving up my name would be kind of sad. I have a rockin' name, after all. It's potentially the most interesting thing about me. I've always referred to it as my conversation piece. The most common reaction it gets is "Is that your real name?" and the second most common reaction it gets is "I have to tell my wife your name!" Men are forever telling their wives my name. It's been commented on by almost every professor I've ever had, not to mention everyone from waitresses to sales clerks. For a while, before I met Ben, I had every intention of finding and marrying a man by the name of Butler, so I could keep the theme going - Katie Scarlett O'Hara Butler. If his name were Rhett, so much the better, but I expected Rhetts to be hard to come by. I didn't expect Butlers to be so hard to come by! Of course, it's a good thing they are, as I'm very happy with my Naylor.

When I walked out of work Friday afternoon, April 30, I hadn't yet bought the -1 year anniversary card, but I had already planned exactly what I was going to write in it. And it hit me, there at the corner of 7th and Pennsylvania. 365 more days until I was Mrs. Ben Naylor meant I only had 365 more days of being Katie Scarlett O'Hara. And that made me want to cry. And it still does. (But then, I've been a little emotional all day. You should have seen how hard I cried this afternoon when the women of Walnut Grove banded together to rescue the ruined wheat harvest while their husbands were away.) I have no intention of dropping any of my names; I've figured I'll take O'Hara as a second middle name, though I hear that doing so can mean extra paperwork. But the really remarkable thing about my name was always how much interest it generated, how many people liked it, how men I'd never spoken to before would come up to me and tell me their wives loved my name ("I've never spoken to you, much less your wife! How does she know my name?!"*), how it leads to 15-minute conversations with the girl behind the counter at Bed Bath & Beyond.

That's over, isn't it? No one will know both of my middle names unless I tell them. The fun was never knowing when one of these random, pleasant conversations would happen. Now I'll know that they'll likely never happen. As much as I very much look forward to being Kathleen Naylor (which really is a wonderful name, isn't it?), this is going to take some getting used to.

*He was the guy who processed the paperwork for our office, so he'd seen my name, and told his wife about it, before he'd actually met me.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

It's About the Marriage, Not the Wedding

From the very beginning of our engagement, Ben and I talked about wanting the phrase "It's about the marriage, not the wedding" to guide our wedding planning efforts and give us perspective. We don't really need infusions of perspectives yet; we're incredibly excited both to get married and to be married. From what I hear, though, it's easy to lose perspective and get bogged down in the wedding-planning details.

Maybe because it's so relevant to my life right now, this struck me as one of the most touching PostSecrets I've ever read.

This is the front and back of a postcard that was posted on PostSecret this past weekend. The front reads "I work at a bridal salon. I pray for strangers' marriages while I steam their gowns." The reverse reads "I wish people would spend as much time on their marriages as they spend on their weddings."

I'd love to have the writer praying for our marriage while she steamed my dress.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Engagement Party, DC Edition

Because we have parents, family, and friends in both DC and NY, Ben and I are honored to be the very lucky recipients of two separate engagement parties. Ben's parents threw us a lovely party over the weekend. All of our local friends were there, and I got to meet Ben's coworkers, as well as some of his relatives I hadn't met before. It also may have been the first time we merged friend groups en masse, though, as we'd all attended Georgetown together, our disparate friend groups aren't exactly perfect strangers.

The party was really nice. Ben's mom had gotten a lot of good food. And then there was a cake. An enormous cake. A delicious, enormous cake.

It was chocolate with, I believe, a buttercream icing, and little silver balls called dragees (according to the ever-knowledgable Lauren!) Ben's dad gave a very sweet toast in which he said nice things about me that I certainly don't deserve, and then we blew out the candles. I've gotta admit, I wasn't expecting candles on an engagement cake! (Ben wished for a championship for the Hoyas; don't worry, I'm going into this with my eyes wide open to the fact that they're his first love!)

We had a wonderful time and want to thank all the friends and family who made it so wonderful!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wedding Dress Wednesday - Another Look at Color

Some of you may be aware that I've always been partial to the color green. And by "partial to," I mean "addicted to." Sometimes I have to force myself not to buy things that are green, because so many of the things I already have are green. So, as I spent Tuesday home from work with a stiff neck, I enjoyed experimenting with the dresses on the David's Bridal website that have accents in any of a couple dozen different colors.

This dress is pretty, although I'm not sure I love the "pick-ups" on the skirt, which can better be seen if you visit the website here: Satin Pick-Up Gown. Once you get there, play around with the different colors that the sash can come in; I'm fond of both Kelly and Clover, which are the two (almost indistinguishable, at least online) shades of green that show up in the top row of the color choices.

Which one is your favorite color?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Negative One-Year Anniversary

Kathleen and I have been discussing when to get married for a while. I felt pretty strongly about having the wedding when it is at least semi-warm. Kathleen felt pretty strongly about not having it around our birthdays (mine is May 22, hers is May 31). But we also don't want to get into June-July-August when it's wedding season and it gets difficult and expensive to book decent reception venues. So, we decided that April would be a good month.

Kathleen called the Catholic Church in Suffern, where we are going to get married and they had two available dates in April, 2011- the 2nd and the 30th. We ended up deciding on the later date and I called and left a message for the monsignor.

I got a call back from him about 2 minutes before we were set to publish at the Cook Political Report (it's pretty hectic at this time) and I believe what came out of my mouth when I answered the phone was "oh damn, can I call you right back, we're about to publish." A) Probably not a good idea to curse during a conversation with a priest. B) He didn't know what I did for a living and probably didn't know what I meant by "we're about to publish." But, I called him back a few minutes later, and we settled on the date.

So friends, Kathleen and I will be married at Sacred Heart Church in Suffern, NY on April 30, 2011 at 3pm. Kathleen came over after work as we had the John Carroll block party a few blocks down the road that night. She gave me a -1 year anniversary card and a bag of chocolates. She can be hard on herself for not being romantic enough, but I teared up at what she wrote to me in the card (which will stay between us). In return, I got her...nothing. I didn't even think to do something even though Kathleen apparently said that we should celebrate the -1 year anniversary. Guess I'll have to make that one up to her ;-).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wedding Dress Wednesday - Kendra

This afternoon, looking for some fresh Wedding Dress Wednesday inspiration, I googled "lace wedding dress." (Ok, maybe not so fresh - after all, 99% of the dresses I've posted so far have lace.)

One of the results on the first page was for, the website for a bridal shop that sells custom wedding gowns at reasonable (actually: really cheap) prices. While they may need a professional to redesign their website, and ordering a custom gown from someone whose work I couldn't see in person, in advance, is not high on the list of things I want to do, I found a couple of dresses that I think are just gorgeous.

The Kendra, above, is one of them. I think I've got a lace problem, because how I feel about a dress is directly proportionate to how much lace it has. (See: Dalmacia, Mia Solano, Ivanka Trump) This dress is beautiful. It's described on the website as "Beautiful Strapless Styling With Sequin Encrusted Lace Overlay Bodice. Slimming Dropped Waist with slight A-line silhouette. Fitted Styling With Slimming Princess Seams On Bodice. Gorgeous All Over Ancelon Lace Over Lay. Lovely Train." (It's the eternal italics and overuse of capital letters that really make me think they need to redesign their website.)

The front:


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wedding Dress Wednesday - Ivanka Trump's Wedding Dress

Ivanka Trump's wedding dress has gotten a lot of attention. I think it's well-deserved, but I also think it's amusing just how revolutionary a wedding dress with sleeves is these days.

(Getty Images)

According to Cathy Horyn of the NY Times, the dress, by Vera Wang, was inspired by Grace Kelly's wedding dress. Ivanka insisted on the sleeves and high neckline as a result of having converting to Orthodox Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner. (The implication, of course, being that if she had remained Catholic, there would have been no reason at all to be covered during a wedding ceremony.)

I love that this dress doesn't just happen to have sleeves; it was intentionally designed with modesty in mind, and what was the result? Classic - and classy - beauty.

I love designer Vera Wang's take on it: "She was actually very much about being covered and I seized on the chance to do a dress that wasn't naked and very Hollywood."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Where dreams propel us

I just got off the phone with the rectory of the parish where I grew up. I'd been inspired by last week's dreams to actually, you know, do something about this wedding. Something beyond just thinking about it.

The monsignor wasn't in - actually, I believe he was presiding at the funeral of a family friend - so I left my name and number with the receptionist, and gave them my parents' names, as it's my parents who are registered parishioners. Now I wait for him to return my phone call.

This just got real.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Day of my Dreams

Two nights in a row, I've had dreams that it was suddenly my wedding day, and I hadn't planned or prepared for anything.

Do you think my subconscious might be trying to tell me something?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wedding Dress Wednesday - Couture D'amour

What do you think of this dress? I'm not a fan of the huge train (which isn't quite so evident here as it is on the website). Hmm, I suppose I should be learning about train lengths . . . is that cathedral length? Semi-cathedral? Anyway, it's too long for me, I think. I really like the body, especially the neckline (I think that's a sweetheart neckline?) The sleeves are pretty from this angle, but they are actually kind of bell-shaped at the bottom, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I do love the intricate beading and lace all over, though.


Monday, April 12, 2010


I have the best friends ever. Last week, on Tuesday night, they threw Ben and I surprise engagement party! My friends Lauren and Andy had been insisting that they wanted to get together with the two of us "for a little toast." When I showed up on the roof of Andy's apartment building after class, I hadn't been expecting anyone except Lauren and Andy to be meeting us. (Or I wouldn't have been, had I not run into another friend on my way in.) Instead, a dozen of our friends were there to surprise us and celebrate with us! Amanda even came up from Richmond just for the night!

Given the very busy fortnight I'd been having when Ben proposed, Spring Break, taking classes after work on most weeknights, and a few weekend-long events like Easter, it had been over a month since we'd gotten engaged, and yet we hadn't seen most of my friends in the interim.

I showed off the ring, they proposed a toast, there was delicious homemade cake (thanks, Lauren!). It was a wonderful evening, and we were thrilled that our friends put it together for us!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wedding Dress Wednesday - Mia Solano M1054Z

When I started looking for pictures of dresses with sleeves, I was mostly looking for dresses with long, sheer, lacy sleeves, because I think they're pretty. Besides, most of the other besleeved options came from places like, which, though it has some quite pretty dresses, has many dresses that look like someone put a T-shirt on over her wedding gown. Almost uniformly, the short-sleeved dresses I saw were like most of those at LatterDayBride, and had T-shirt style necklines and sleeves. I was thus pretty sure that short sleeves were not for me.

Until I came across this dress by Mia Solano.

I can't even tell you why I love it, but I do. Unfortunately, you can't zoom on the Mia Solano website, so it's hard to see the lace pattern in detail, but I think it may be the texture of the dress that I find particularly attractive. I'm also fond of what the website calls the "rouched Satin band at the waist." (Note: I'm not sure rouching is what I though it was?)

What do you think of this short-sleeved dress?

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Engagement Ring

Photograph by Jamie Vitale

My engagement ring isn't just mine. It was Ben's grandmother's before it was mine, and it was his great-grandmother's before it was hers. I'd been waiting to post a picture until I had something better than the grainy cell-phone shot I first sent to my family in the immediate aftermath of the proposal, and luckily, my cousin Jamie the photographer took a picture at the St. Patrick's Day parade a couple weeks ago that features THE RING prominently.

The ring is perfect. It's a diamond surrounded by two smaller stones on either side, with a gold band. It's the perfect size, both in terms of the stone being exactly right (any bigger and I'd probably be uncomfortable wearing it), and, astonishingly, in terms of fitting my finger perfectly without having been sized. I'd given Ben my ring size, but he didn't need to use it. On top of that, it's a family heirloom, and I'm honored that he and his mother both wanted me to have this piece of their family's history. In case you hadn't noticed, everything from my hobbies to my college major (History) to my chosen career path (museums) reflects the fact that I love old stuff. Ben had told me before he proposed that his mom had offered us an heirloom ring from their family, and everyone I told this to had the exact same reaction: "Oh, you'll love that!" And I do.

In case you can't click the picture above to see a bigger version, you can find it on Jamie's blog, Mirror with a Memory.

(P.S. The chivalrous gentleman handing me a flower in that picture is not Ben, but my 4-year-old cousin James.)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wedding Dress Wednesday - A Little Splash of Color

I know I just said I don't want a strapless dress. But I keep coming back to the David's Bridal website to look at this dress:

I'm generally fairly traditional, so it had never occurred to me to get married in anything but all white. But there's just something about this dress and the way the accented details pop that I can't help but love.

What do you think? Is getting married in a dress with color too far out there?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Uncle Gerard's Wedding

In case you weren't aware of just how cool I am, it's necessary to point you to my other blog, You Are Where You Came From, my genealogy/family history blog. As much as I could just tell you how cool genealogy is and leave it at that (as I often do), instead, I'm going to draw wedding planning inspiration from my family history!

I've occasionally posted about my grandmother's Uncle Gerard's wedding, and here I'll share a picture of the wedding between Gerard Mulcahy and Ann Danaher, in 1937, at the St. George Hotel, Brooklyn, NY.

The bride and groom are to the right; My great-grandfather is seated at the "head" of the table, with my great-grandmother to his right.

But if you want to hear more about them, you'll have to visit my nerdier blog.

I'm hear to talk about the table. Ever since I first saw this picture, long before I was thinking about weddings, I was enamored of the ferns on the table. Simple, yet elegant, don't you think? I don't think a similar design would work on a round table - not enough room room to show them off - but maybe, if we were married during fern season (when are ferns in season, exactly?), and used ferns in our flower arrangements, ferns like this would be a nice accent on a head table.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Who ever said boys don't get excited about wedding planning?

Talking about reception venues:

3:12 PM Ben: do you want me to send e-mails to some of these places asking about prices?
I feel like otherwise we can't narrow it down
3:13 PM me: I feel like we're not even in the narrowing it down stage yet
we're in the expanding our options stage
3:14 PM Ben: right
me: we can spend a week or two seeing what kind of places we like
then get some actual information on them
Ben: ok
that's probably a good idea
me: at which point, I think we'll need a spreadsheet
want to be the spreadsheet guy?
Ben: yes!
I love spreadsheets!
me: I know!

Nothing like a spreadsheet to get Ben excited!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wedding Dress Wednesday - Dalmacia by Pronovias

For the first several weeks of our engagement, I was so busy that the closest I got to planning or even thinking about weddings was furtively sneaking peeks at wedding dresses online while I was supposed to be studying. As a result, I've already developed something of a collection of links to and pictures of wedding dresses online, which I'll share with you in a feature I'm calling "Wedding Dress Wednesday." (I worry the attempt at alliteration is going to backfire if I ever want to start another weekly feature, considering that "Wedding anything" is going to require the use of a Wednesday for alliteration . . . but so be it.)

I adore this dress. I love it, I love it, I love it. I haven't been able to find the original image source, but it seems it from the 2008 Pronovias St. Patrick line. It's being discontinued almost immediately, I've heard, and while we're not far enough along to have set ourselves a budget for things like dresses, the $1,700 price I saw is really just far more than I think I'd be comfortable paying for *1* piece of clothing that I will wear *1* time on *1* day. It would seem unconscionable. There are starving children in Africa, after all.

But that doesn't mean we can't at least talk about the dress, right? I love the lace. I love the sleeves. I love the lace sleeves. I'd love to get married in a dress with sleeves - I've always been partial to lace sleeves - and they're a bit hard to find. I was worried that if I insisted on sleeves, I'd end up looking frumpy or old-fashioned. I may want sleeves, but I don't want to compromise. This was the first dress I found that really proved that "sleeved" and "frumpy" can be downright antithetical at times. So though it's out of reach, I keep coming back to it and drooling a bit.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

First Steps

I never really wrapped my mind around the concept of a wedding. Kathleen and I had been planning on getting engaged for quite a while before it actually happened, but in my mind, the process would be "we get engaged, then we get married"...for some reason I guess I forgot that there was a wedding that had to take place.

So, I guess I was a little surprised when we got to New York and I found out that the O'Haras had already looked at a few reception locations. Wait a sec, hadn't I proposed like 2 weeks ago? And weren't we getting married in 2011?

I tried to at least do something concrete this week. I basically asked our house from senior year at Georgetown to be my groomsmen. Frank agreed to be my best man, and Pete and Chris agreed to be my groomsmen. Ali, a friend from high school will also be a groomsman. Woo hoo! I did something!

Throughout the week, I think we must have been asked if we had set a date at least a dozen times. Once or twice I joked, "yep, 2011". I'm also finding that I'm not exactly cut out for wedding planning. What kind of flowers? What kind of centerpieces? What should the invitations look like? And this is just for the wedding. Little did I know that there are tons of other things that come in between. Engagement parties, bridal parties, bachelor/bahelorette parties, meetings with the priest, pre cana, etc. etc. etc. This is starting to sound very overwhelming. I guess "getting married" is actually quite complicated. Good thing I've got a great girl to go through it with.

Monday, March 22, 2010


After looking at the grounds of a possible venue, Ben, my cousin Jamie, and I went to Long Pond Ironworks State Park to continue our outdoorsy day, where Jamie, a talented photographer, took what I believe are the first pictures of us together since we got engaged.

Photograph by Jamie Vitale.
Ben and I at the NJ Botanical Gardens.

Photograph by Jamie Vitale.
Ben and I at Long Pond Ironworks State Park.

After that, they asked what I want in a dress. That's another post entirely.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Welcome to our Wedding Blog

Okay, here's where we stand: We don't know when we're getting married. We don't know where we're getting married. We just know we're getting married. We know we want to document the process. We hope you'll follow us on our journey.