Monday, March 23, 2015

A day about value, not price

From the moment I met Linda, our relationship has been very transparent. One of the things that aligns us so well is our sense of adventure. As you've read, some of our adventures include us driving through 9 states and some are no more than pretending to be tourists in our own NYC backyard. We haven't even scratched the surface on the adventures we plan to take.

513 days ago we embarked on an adventure. It was the day we got engaged. We spent 2 months just enjoying the fact that we'd one day be married. And then the starting gun went off and the marathon began. Every day since, there has been some wedding based discussion. We had no idea the monumental undertaking this project would be. We sure learned how many moving parts go into this as time goes by. We thought the hard parts would be finding all the major parts such as the venue, photographer and entertainment. As it turns out, those were the easy parts. All of the nuts and bolts are where the challenges are.

Early on we adopted a method for choosing things and it has worked out well. Some people like to look at 20 of everything to narrow it down. That works really well for many people and in most part of life, that's how I operate. However, this was different. Each time we had to make a choice, Linda would listen to the presentation and I'd watch Linda. When we met with our pal Travis who runs the show at the Wilshire Grand Hotel, he ran down the list of things and Linda lit up from head to toe. Her eyes got wide, her smile beamed, her whole body tensed so she should nearly bounce in place; and I melted. That was a done deal. The same for the DJ and the photographer.

If these vendors were smart, they would promptly double their prices on the spot because it's obvious, I'd agree to anything that elicits that happiness. It is at that moment when the burden of cost ceases to exist. So her process is finding what makes her happy and my process is obtaining that for her. We've been going with our gut and it's been working out.

It's not all roses (in our case, it's phalaenopsis orchids). There are a million things to think about and pay for. There are rules about timing and invitations and seating. There is so much protocol, etiquette, "just the way it's done." And boy oh boy, have we really missed the mark on some of it. That's ok. We've learned about the process and each other along the way.

In jest I say that we are spending the GDP of a small island nation on 8 hours. That's obviously an exaggeration and part of the role I play as the husband to be being dragged into stationary stores and beaten with fabric swatches. The other side of the coin is that Linda is off melting debit cards and I'm left home to balance the checkbook. Also an obvious exaggeration. The truth lies somewhere in between. I was very much interested in the venue and the photographer. I was partially interested in the DJ. I couldn't possible give less of a shit about flowers. And I was wholly opposed to save the dates. As long as the prices were in reason, Linda was left to her own devices to do whatever made her happiest. And she had help. It wasn't like she was abandoned. Honestly, I'd be more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to flowers (I had to Google the name above). All in all, I've been as present as I know how for all of these, which is arguably more than the average groom (I knew enough about the flowers to even attempt to Google the name).

What I've really learned is about the value of all of this in aggregate. And I've learned it based on the reactions of other people. When you look at the event as each piece, it is easy to be overwhelmed. It is easy to wonder why we need every little piece to be so perfect, when so many seem so silly. It's like looking at an impressionist painting from an inch away. As you back up, it starts to come into focus. You realize that one seemingly stupid piece would create a gaping hole if missing. A mosaic isn't a mosaic if it doesn't have all the tiles.

Too often we are advised by people to take the money and run. Do a destination wedding. Go to the justice of the peace. Fly to vegas. Save the money for a house. Take an amazing vacation. Don't waste the money.

I blew it off for a long time as jaded cynics or sarcasm, but lately I've been taking it to heart. We are north Jersey Italian Catholics - well Linda is a bit diluted with Irish but we love her anyway. A gigantic party and celebration is in our DNA. We are foodies as a hobby so serving delicious food sounds like a blast. We come from very large families that have been shrinking severely with each generation and bringing them all together as our families merge is joyous. As for the money, we both work hard and if you can't put your pennies together for a wedding, then what the hell are you working for? Not to mention that we're both smart adults who know if this is a smart spend.

We aren't wasting money on one day. We are investing in starting the next chapter of our life journey with people we love and care about us that have been with us for a long time. In our eyes, 30 minutes at the justice of the peace doesn't reflect our personalities, culture, hobbies, families or the size of our love. All of that cynical "advice" chipped away at the value until today. I started a blog so the whole world would know how much I love her and I'll be damned if the biggest day of our lives so far is not done in the most grandiose reflection of our happiness.

I won't argue that the wedding is expensive. We know it is. I won't argue that it's hard. We know it is. I won't even argue some of it is a little frivolous. We know it is. But a wedding isn't about cost, is it? I won't bargain hunt. I'm not looking to get off cheap. I'm looking to properly celebrate a momentous step with the single most important person in my life. And that's not something you can put a price on.