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Stress

The planning was time-consuming, particularly in learning about the details of what each vendor offers and charges (catering, flowers, runners, photos). The only time when there were hard feelings were between me and my parents on their guest list. I held them to the number Iíd alloted for them, because of the expense. They didnít want to invite relatives at a certain level in the family tree and not others at the same level.

 

Stay on the thank you cards

We sent out more invitations as we received "no"s. We wrote thank you cards for gifts as we received them, and put them in a box for mailing after the wedding. Diane wrote the ones for her relatives, and I wrote the ones for mine. A thank you card should say what the gift was, and what you are going to use it for. You are also supposed to mention your spouse in the note. Sign it from yourself, as you're the one who is writing it. (This is all from an etiquette book Iíd bought at Chaucers.)

If you like the gift, this is pretty easy. But what if the gift is something that's on its way to a friend's or the thrift store? My method was to sort of thank them for making an effort in the category that the gift is in, by mentioning the activity related to it. But without any mention of the gift, i.e. commitment of what will be done with it. And also say something that I did like about the gift, if there is anything. I may also fill space with small talk related to the wedding or them. You might say something nice about them, if there is anything. Here are some examples.

Dear Ed & Alice,

Thank you for the decorator sponge set. I do like the colors. Diane likes to decorate, and I'm looking forward to see what she'll do with the bathroom and kitchen.

The honeymoon in the Yucatan was great. We went to an ocean park there, and tried some snorkeling.

John

Dear Phil,

Thank you for the Grateful Dead ashtray and matching towels. I do like rock music. My college roommate used to rave about what a great band the Dead were. As we're just moving into our place, the gifts are helping Diane and I get the place furnished.

Phil, you've always been a loyal friend of my father's, and I want to thank you for that. Hope to touch base with you on our next visit up there.

John

About half of the gifts arrived during the last week and a half, when we were busy. We opened half of those the day after the wedding at Dianeís parents, and wrote thank you cards on the plane to Mexico. I did the rest (for my side) when we got back.

 

Recommendations

The only vendor that was really good was our DJ, Todd Gillespie of Shoreline Sound, 805-685-6010.

Catholic Engaged Encounter, a weekend retreat, if you can handle hanging out with Catholics (Diane could barely stand it). Was $160. (The only Catholic part of it was mass Sunday morning (optional) and a rhythm method video that they played.)

The majority of content is 30 minute lectures, followed by a question or questions, to which you and your fiance write responses separately, and then share your answers with each other. You learn a great deal about each other, in areas you will deal with everyday, such as conflict resolution, parents. The speakers describe their own marital experiences, which serves as advice. (Something that pre-marital counselors usually won't give, and aren't good at.)

 

Location

You might think you are just choosing the church. Think again, the church is also choosing you, and are concerned about their reputation and that they bless only commitments that are blessed by God. If you are not a member or have family that are, you may find that it is impossible to rent the church. Even if you have a connection, there may be requirements that you attend the church's premarital classes and that the officiant is the church's pastor.

We found Baptist churches to be the most liberal, needing only a profession of faith in Christ. We were able to bring in our own premarital counselor (who was also a non-practicing pastor).

Officiant

In most counties (Santa Barbara was when we were married in 2000), anyone can marry you, if they have some time to get deputized by the county clerk. We considered asking our brother-in-law to marry us at one point. But they need to go to a training class during the day and religious wording is not permitted during the time they are marrying you.

License

You obtain it from the county clerk (records); both of you need to be present with birth certificates from the records office. A license is good for 90 days in California. All that it needs to become an actual marriage is the signatures of the officiant and two witnesses, then mailing to the records office within four days of signing.

Note that the local newspaper will make the mistake of printing that you are married as soon as they see you've gotten your license to marry. I got a tearful call from my mother, asking why I would elope and hurt the family.

Overall expenses

Approximated. This is to give you an idea of what you may be paying, so I left out honeymoon and rings, which have more varying prices. A live band is about $1000 more than a DJ.

  Reception: hall, catering  3500
  Photographer               2500
  Flowers                    1500
  DJ                         1500
  Dress                     ?1000
  Videotape                  1000
  Church                      500
  Invitations                 350
  Pastor, singers, pianist    500
  Coordinator                 500
  Cake                       ?500
  Tux & attendant gifts      ?300
  Marriage license             80
  Total                13800

 

Reception expenses

  Chicken Corden Blu 150 @$15    2250
  Bartender & Servers             300
  Security guards (2)             200
  Sparkling Cider (for toast)
    25 bottles @ $5               125
  Centerpieces (candle, mirror,
    hurricane lamp) 25 @$2.50      63
  Punch bowl                       50
                                -----
                                 2815
  Table linens                      ?
Of course, the minimum payment is just the marriage license and (from what I've read) another $40 for a judge to sign as the officiant.

 

Vows

These are the vows we used. We wrote the first section. The ring vow "lawful wife...proudly" we took from a book. I remember having to use a reserve to get it from another library, maybe Santa Maria. To access the library on-line, telnet://bgacs.blackgold.org:3000

I promise you Diane

To seek God's will for our lives
To hold you accountable in our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ
To love you with all of my heart, mind and strength
And to be faithful to you in thought, word and act.

I promise you Diane

To consider your welfare and happiness before I make any decisions
And to offer you comfort, encouragement and companionship

I, John, take you, Diane, for my lawful wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.

With this ring I thee wed. I seal the commitment I have made to you today. May you wear it proudly as my wife.

------------

I promise you John

To seek God's will for our lives
To hold you accountable in our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ
To love you with all of my heart, mind and strength
And to be faithful to you in thought, word and act.

I promise you John

To consider your welfare and happiness before I make any decisions
And to offer you comfort, encouragement and companionship

I, Diane, take you, John, for my lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.

With this ring I thee wed. I seal the commitment I have made to you today. May you wear it proudly as my husband.