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Despite not having a trained professional on site, the dance floor was hopping the night of July 23rd – and I did it all myself! I had decided early on that I did not want a lame wedding DJ, but it took me until about a month before to find “instructions” on how to orchestrate the correct flow with an iTunes playlist. Since it was so difficult for me to figure out, I wanted to share the playlist I created so future DIY brides can confidently create a party scene where everyone, from the little kids to the old timers, can get footloose.

(The entire reception was about 3 1/2 hours long. Keep in mind that our reception was a casual buffet, so the first 50 minutes or so were receiving line, buffet line and eating. Then there was a break in the music – created by physically separating the 1 playlist into 2 – for speeches…after that it was party time!)

When You’re Smiling – Blue Vipers of Brooklyn
Ain’t Too Proud to Beg – The Temptations
I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) – The Four Tops
Little Duece Coop – The Beach Boys
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
Hey Love – Stevie Wonder
Blueberry Hill –  Fats Domino
Mambo Italiano – Rosemary Clooney
Angelina/Zooma Zooma – Louis Prima
Tough Mary – Etta James
Let’s Do the Twist – Detriot Cobras
Solsbury Hill – Peter Gabriel
Fool in the Rain – Led Zeppelin
Only the Good Die Young – Billy Joel
Sugar, Sugar – Ike & Tina Turner
You Never Can Tell – Chuck Berry

[Break for speeches]

Twist and Shout – The Beatles
Start Me Up – Rolling Stones
Pink Cadillac – Bruce Springsteen
Play that Funky Music – Wild Cherry
Love Rollercoaster – Ohio Players
Lay Down Sally – Eric Clapton
Your Song – Elton John
You Send Me – Sam Cooke
Wished on the Moon – Billie Holliday
Brown Eyed Handsome Man – Chuck Berry
Cecilia – Simon & Garfunkel
Do You Love Me? – The Contours
Footloose – Kenny Loggins
White Wedding – Billy Idol
Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield
The Way You Make Me Feel – Michael Jackson
Sledgehammer – Peter Gabriel
Jump In Line (Shake Shake Senora) – The Hit Crew
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking – Rolling Stones
Stars Fell On Alabama – Ella Fitzgerald & Louie Armstrong
All of Me – Frank Sinatra
Rock Me Baby – BB King & Eric Clapton
Come Around- M.I.A. feat. Timberland
Here Comes the Hotstepper – Ini Kamoze
Whatta Man – Salt-n-Pepa feat. En Vogue
Weak – SWV
Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes
Love Shack – The B-52’s
Musicology – Prince
Oh Sheila – Ready for the World
All Night Long – Lionel Richie
Let it Bump – Miss Elliott
Single Ladies – Beyonce
California Love – Dr. Dre & Tupac
Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-A-Lot
Yeah – Usher
Do I Move You? – Nina Simone
Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ – Journey
Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye
You Can Leave Your Hat On – Randy Newman
Just Say No To DJ’s graphic from Zazzle.com

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Anyone who’s read the “About Me” section on this blog knows that the part of the whole wedding that I was least crazy about was the ceremony. I don’t particularly enjoy public speaking, and was afraid the whole seriousness of the moment would come across as awkward at best. The whole thing felt unstructured and overlooked, which it was. As a great sage once said: “I felt impotent and out of control. Which I really, really hate.” My natural need for order was battling with my complete lack of knowing (or caring?) what to do.

Meeting with the judge helped – we figured out a procession of family members that added structure, and she had a sampling of non-denominational readings that added some length to the service. I also decided to hire a couple extremely talented local musicians (violin and guitar) to play as people are getting seated and during the procession. Their only instructions being to play Simon & Garfunkel’s “Only Living Boy in New York” for the procession and “Kathy’s Song” when I appear, and maybe some Journey after we kiss – other than that, rock hits of their own choosing.

But what about our vows? For some reason this was just completely stumping me, and at the time, Google was failing me for inspiration.* I happened upon a perfect poem for my sister to read after the vows, but what about when the spotlight was on us? I wrote and rewrote heartfelt words to recite to Butch, while he seemed to be happy waiting until the night before to throw something together. After some helpful nagging, he did just that: He threw something together – and it was PERFECT! So out the window went my complicated paragraph and instead I wrote something that matched Butchy’s simple words. I guess he might know a thing or two about weddings after all…

*Now, naturally after the fact, I found a couple great lists (here and here) of readings from Offbeat Bride.

Photo from The Knotty Bride

This is what the forecast currently is for my wedding day: 60% chance of scattered t-storms and extremely muggy. While I am a bit worried  that my notoriously difficult hair may end up looking like Phil Spector on a good day, my main concern is for photos and that the ceremony is supposed to be on the Winery lawn – with no tent.

Now both the photos and ceremony can be moved inside, for better or worse, but how do I keep all the guests comfortable? And how do I still look cute with frizzed hair and rain boots? Easy, apparently:

From Stephanie Williams Photography

From The Process of Remembering

From HM Photography

From diyweddingsmag

From The Uptown Bride

From Meg Perotti

From Wedding Dresses

Even though I knew there was a risk of rain when I booked a venue near the River, I’m hoping that the North Country manages to maintain its July track-record of beautiful weekends. I’ll throw whatever is needed out to the universe to turn the tides (jetstream?) in my favor (even hanging a rosary outside my window)…but if not I’ll pick up some cute galoshes and a bunch of brightly colored umbrellas!

And, apparently, rain on your wedding day is good luck…some even believe rain on your wedding day means that your marriage will be blessed with fertility and good fortune. And on a more practical note, if the wedding manages to go smoothly despite heavenly turbulance, then at least we’ll know we can weather (ha) any obstacle!

Scattered t-storms icon from hnl.ca

In the interest of including a dose of reality on my wedding blog, below is an article I read recently on divorce. The author, a divorcee herself, was inspired by the recent drop in divorces among college-educated couples (always a good sign). In short, while marriage was considered your “duty” 50+ years ago, the more modern view of equality and independent lives results in a happier marriage, especially for women.

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Despite dealing with finger-related complications from a recent surgery, my mom has been steadily working on sourcing and designing the paper flowers for the tin-can centerpieces. Originally we were thinking crepe paper flowers, but the color selection of crepe up in Maine left much to be desired, so she switched to tissue paper. Here’s what she’s come up with so far:

So cute! And those heart stamens are made out of a garland that she found. I love the colors and the different patterns mixed in add a nice touch. And she will wisely be traveling with them flat-packed, so assembling them together the week of will be a nice crafty activity.

This week has been a challenge of trying to get ahold of vendors to finalize details. Sure,  it was a holiday weekend, plus my home internet is oh-so-conveniently down until further notice, but it’s amazing to me how uneager these people are to get paid. And there was also the realization that if my proposed seating configuration is approved by the Winery, that there will be less tables…which means that I made a lot of extra centerpieces, both embroidery hoops and cans – YAY for wasted effort!

But anyway, things are moving along and I’m steadily making lists and checking them twice…just trying to keep the big picture in mind – I will have fun and any major disasters can be avoided by spreading lamb’s blood on the door.

Recently, I was compelled to take out Elizabeth Gilbert’s newest book Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage. Not a very encouraging title, but one that I felt was very timely. My sister had given me a copy of Eat, Pray, Love right around the time my ex and I broke up, and I truthfully enjoyed reading it, despite an aversion to being seen with it on the subway along with every other woman in NYC. I found that Eat… was the perfect book for where I was at in my life at that time, and with there only being a month to go until my own wedding, I assumed that with Committed, Ms. Gilbert would be able to shed some light on the meaning of it all.

The inspiration for the book was, essentially, that Gilbert and her significant other were “sentenced” by the U.S. Government to marry, since at the time, he was a Brazilian-Australian who had been deported from the United States until further notice, aka until they get married and made it “official.” The problem? Having both been divorced they had already both made a pledge not to ever get married again, even to each other. So being a writer, Gilbert naturally used their shared time of exile – as they traveled aimlessly through Southeast Asia while attempting to secure clearance for their return to the U.S. – to tirelessly research marriage.

Gilbert attacks this subject with her unique brand of journalism, snooping, naivety, skepticism and curiosity and comes out in the end with an “answer” that justifies her particular needs. Along the way she shares marital customs throughout history and throughout the world as well as her own deeply ingrained prejudices. While our personal situations and histories may differ, I found that, as a freethinking and independent woman in the modern West, that I shared many of her reservations. I’m not saying that I am opposed to getting married (I am beyond excited to share that special day with family and friends – and most of all, with Butchy!), but I can say that I’ve always been a little fuzzy on the reasons for it all. Reading Committed showed me that the why, when and how of marriage can be for whatever reason a particular couple sees fit, and not what may be dictated to them by governments, either of the local, federal or familial varieties.

After finishing the book in only a few days (no small feat considering how short my attention span is lately), I would, without a doubt, recommend Committed to any woman about to get married, or already married, or wanting to get married, or not wanting to or even divorced. Having managed to write a lighthearted read on a serious subject, Gilbert has again charmed me with her literary skills at a time when the last thing I can think about is sitting down to read!

Book cover from Writing Through the Fog