Saturday, March 24, 2007

Do I Really Need A Salad On My Suit?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Oregonian

"Oh! We have a florist."


My fiancee and I are walking through Forest Park.

"It's the place my mom goes for all her floral needs."


This happens all the time now. Spontaneous bursts of wedding chatter.

"What are your thoughts on boutonnieres?"

I think the word is impossibly difficult to spell and conjures images of the French Foreign Legion. Excuse me, Gen. Boutonniere? Monsieur Van Damme is here.

"Do I have to wear a boutonniere?"

"No. But they're doing good things with greenery these days, if you don't want a flower."

"I'm not sure I need a salad on my suit. Can't I just wear a wrist corsage?"

The planning of August's wedding is moving forward. That my fiancee hasn't gouged my eyes out with her engagement ring is a testament to her overall wonderfulness.

Getting married doesn't just mean getting married. It means being prepared to talk about any wedding detail at any time. It's like a pop quiz.

One day it's wardrobe, the next it's hors d'oeuvres. (Why, by the way, can't those be taken care of by me, the groomsmen, a case of beer, a few boxes of Ritz and some cans of Easy Cheese?)

One day, on a leisurely walk up to Pittock Mansion, where -- surprise! -- three wedding parties are engaged in portrait-making, the flower situation charges to the front of the pack.

Flowers. Unlike many other things in this process, flowers mean something to guys. They mean we're sorry. Sorry we left the door open and the cat ran away. Sorry we're two hours late and smell of beer and have peanut shells in our socks and what do you mean who won the game? What game?

Flowers are an apology.

Our initial floral estimate is $950. Figuring's current price of about $50 per dozen roses, that's 19 apologies. And a rose by any other name is still a rose. Easy to say. Easy to spell.

Our florist's Web site lists such boutonnieres as the Rolled Gypsophila, the Purple Dendrobium, the Pink Alstroemeria and the Green Hydrangea. The last looks suspiciously like garnish. Then again, what's the difference?

Is the boutonniere really necessary?

"Those flower things you stick on your lapel despite the fact that suits, tuxes and T-shirts were never meant to have flowers pinned on them?" my friend Mike asked.

Yeah, those things. Sort of. "Boutonniere" actually derives from the French word for buttonhole, presumably the one on the left lapel, where the flower's supposed to go. As a fashion statement, it recalls a more elegant time -- the medieval one.

Knights, allegedly, would wear their lady's colors. Knights also wore suits of armor and dragons were slain.

It'll be August in Ohio and have you priced a suit of armor recently? Not that it's a bad idea.

"Every time I wear one of those things," Mike said, "I just think, 'This is it: the nipple piercing I have always dreaded.' The only thing that would make it worse is if somebody decided they should be pinned around my pants zipper."

Old Hollywood probably had daily boutonniere budgets. Today, Brad Pitt just flares his collar and helps Angelina Jolie adopt another kid. No one's slaying dragons anymore, not even as a euphemism.

The boutonniere is a thing of the past. Totally unnecessary.

We'll probably go with the Miniature Calla.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

A Wedding's Just a Cakewalk, Right?

A 93-step checklist from a supermodel guides the groom as he helps plan the big day

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Oregonian

Regrettably, none of the books in Borders' wedding-planning section feature football players, motorcycles or Eddie Van Halen on their covers.

Instead, there are rows of pastels -- blue and pink and yellow. It's like looking at Don Johnson's "Miami Vice" wardrobe, minus the shoulder holster.

Since getting engaged in August, I've gotten one piece of advice over and over again: Stay out of the way. Which is hard. Clearly, I needed a book, and if a guy's going to buy one book about wedding planning, it might as well be the one with the testimonial from a supermodel.

"This is the perfect gift for any bride to be," Heidi Klum says in purple type atop "Wedding Kit for Dummies."

Let's skip the introduction -- because "introduction" pretty much means instructions, and who uses those? -- and head right to Chapter 1: Big Picture Stuff, featuring The Every-Last-Thing Checklist.

Step 1: Announce your engagement. (Check.)

Step 2: Hire a professional wedding consultant. (No, and you can't make us.)

Step . . Wow. There are 91 more steps. So this is the Wedding-Industrial Complex. Halliburton profits, right?

In 1943, my grandparents got married in Michigan for roughly $85. I might spend that much on ATM fees this year.

Because of rationing, my grandmother had to supply the sugar for the cake. They had punch and cake and coffee for 75. Gas cards were pooled so my grandmother's parents and sister could make the drive from Detroit to Ann Arbor.

"We were just as married afterward as anyone else," my grandfather said.

Then he went to New York for military training, and my grandmother went and tossed two pennies into Niagara Falls.

"I guess maybe it worked," she said.

They're adorable.

The other night, my fiancee and I sat in the living room with a notebook and our day planners. The First Big Planning Session.

We've got a date: Aug. 4. We've got a location: Ohio. We nixed the museum, despite its willingness to let us look around for free. An old refurbished church my fiancee knew about sounded great -- until we pulled in and realized it was in the middle of a cemetery.

"Too creepy?" she said.

"Too creepy."

Plus, very little parking.

We joked about the Jack Nicklaus Museum, because argyle and plaid are probably underutilized as weddings go -- and we could get golf carts.

Finally, we decided on Columbus' old Engine House No. 12, built in 1897, since converted into a music hall. It's $130 an hour with what appears to be a 300-drink minimum and a contract so romantic it might have been written by Barry White's attorney.

"Columbus Music Hall does NOT permit the use of nails, staples or tape, or the affixing of anything to walls, ceilings, windows or floors. Fog machines and the like are not permitted."

At least we'll save on the fog machine.

It was locked the day we stopped by, so I haven't seen the inside, and nowhere in the contract is there any mention of a fire pole, because that would be a really cool entrance if they still had one, though it might be best to keep that idea to myself.

Back to the checklist. No. 10: Choose a ceremony site. (Check.)

Only 83 more steps. Piece of cake.

©2007 The Oregonian

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fiance Finds Himself Flat-Footed

Perhaps, in a slightly less confusing moment, thought would have been given to the recent information from the Census Bureau that more and more couples are living together, and that for the first time in the history of the United States, the percentage of households headed by married couples has dipped below 50 percent.

Perhaps some time would have been spent considering the recent report from financial advisory firm The Mercanti Group. It informed that the average cost of a wedding in this country has doubled since 1990 --to $27,000. And maybe that would have been weighed against the Census Bureau's numbers for average household median income for 2004-05: $46,071.

However, standing barefoot and clueless on the good side of security at Portland International Airport, having just endured a hand check, and with a crush of hurried business travelers, harried parents and screaming kids streaming past, I have but one question: Where is my fiancee?

Because if I find my fiancee, I'll find my flip-flops.

I call her cell phone. No answer. OK. There's no way she took off to the gate without me. At least not without me and with my flip-flops. She wouldn't, would she?

I proposed in August. In one ninja-like move she accepted and had the ring on her finger with such lightning-fast speed I think there was a sonic boom. We went back to her place, invited friends over, grilled food, celebrated. So far, so good.

But at some point you have to actually start planning the wedding.

Over my 32 years I've given serious thought to "The Simpsons"; where Guns N' Roses' "Appetite for Destruction" ranks on the list of all-time great debut records; and the entirety of Las Vegas. Occasionally, I try to remember how it is I came to own my DVD of "Jackass: The Movie." I own a country record by Rick Moranis.

I have never given thought to my own wedding. Just assumed there'd be one, and isn't that enough?


Suddenly, my mother was asking me about dress lengths and colors for her. If that's English, it's no English I've ever heard. My fiancee asked me what kind of band I thought I wanted. I love music, but the best answer I could come up with was, "A good one."

Our home has gone from having no wedding magazines to having three wedding magazines, and I don't know where they came from.

Inside said magazines is page after page of advertisements featuring women in wedding dresses. These women wear one of four facial expressions: bored, angry, suspicious or sizing up the best man for one last romp.

I don't believe for a second that LeAnn Rimes was really registered at J.C. Penney. She's a big country star. Had to be Wal-Mart.

I've seen a photo of Regis Philbin's daughter Jennifer dancing at her own wedding. I'm now saddled with the knowledge that Regis Philbin has a daughter --and I know about her wedding.

There's a book in our living room that claims to be a comprehensive guide to getting married in Oregon and Southwest Washington. We're getting married in Ohio.

I've learned that if you tell the people at a museum you're thinking of getting married there, they'll let you in for free. I can also tell you the Columbus Museum of Art has in its possession a watercolor of a little girl who looks exactly like Jon Bon Jovi.

So far, still so good, but there's a lot to learn --even if I'm not sure I'm supposed to learn it. "What kind of bride is best suited to plan a destination wedding?" So asked some issue of InStyle Weddings that's on a shelf in my house. Note the word "bride." Not couple. Bride.

Apparently we grooms are to do what's asked of us. Be seen, not too heard and definitely not too drunk. Can do!

Anyway, back to the airport. On the fourth try, my fiancee, April, finally answers her phone.

"I'm at the gate," she says.

"Do you have my shoes?"

"Do you need them?"

The flight is leaving in 20 minutes out of C19. We're heading to Ohio to see her parents. I jog barefoot the length of the concourse, arriving to see a very sheepish look on her face.

"Are you sure you want to marry me?" she says.


I'm beginning to wonder about this wedding planning, though.