October 10, 2004

Joe and Jen's Wedding

We drove through the night on Saturday and slept for a few hours in Westport before meeting Stacey and Nick in Stamford for a drive tto be with friends in Long Island for Joe and Jen's wedding. It was yet another reunion for us, this time with Karen's high school friends, some who we hadn't seen in years. A great way to end the weekend.

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Posted by Karen at 11:06 PM | Comments (1)

October 09, 2004

Melissa & Brian's Wedding

On Saturday, we drove from Danbury up to the White Mountains of New Hampshire to see Melissa and Brian get married at the Mountain View Grand. It was a gorgeous event and wonderful to see Karen's college friends all dressed up again :)

Melissa' mom with Harrison
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The Mountain View Grand
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Melissa with her dad and Bob
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Posted by Karen at 10:49 PM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2004

John and Amanda's Wedding

To start off our weekend of weddings, we went to Danbury to John and Amanda's wedding. Karen grew up next door to John and it was a reunion of family and friends. It was a wonderful way to start the weekend.

The bride and groom
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Craig dancing with his mom, Linda
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Table shot with the McKee clan
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Jessica and fiance, Marc
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Cheryl and John
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Dad and Mom join the fun
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Linda and Grandma Crooks
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Cheryl and John Sr.
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Tough Guys
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The McKees
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Linda and Charlie
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Posted by Karen at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2004

Betsy's Wedding

This weekend we went to the wedding of Karen's lifelong friend. Betsy, a Danbury native, married her fellow Bucknell alum Bryan Parmley in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. We had a blast and spent quality time with Tami and Teri and Teri's husband, Jason. Betsy and Bryan are off on a Mediterranean cruise for their honeymoon and will make their home in upstate New York upon their return. Congratulations and thanks to the whole Hueser family for a fabulous party!

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Posted by Karen at 09:26 PM | Comments (1)

April 11, 2004

The last hurrah!

So we think this is the LAST piece of press coverage we will be receiving in relation to our nuptials, just a few days from our 6 month anniversary.

Since you all know the story, I won't post it here, but if you'd like to see the pic and write up you can find it on the Weddings page of the Danbury News Times (you'll have to scroll down quite a bit).

I think Grace summed up our feelings best yesterday when she and I were looking through the fabulous scrap book/photo album my mother made: "I wish we could do that again."

Posted by Karen at 08:24 PM | Comments (124)

November 03, 2003

Pictures of the Big Day!

Rehearsal
http://www.chocolatespoon.com/musings/000087.html

Wedding
http://www.chocolatespoon.com/musings/000088.html

Reception
http://www.chocolatespoon.com/musings/000089.html

Posted by Karen at 11:26 AM | Comments (2)

October 19, 2003

Weddings & Celebrations

Karen Dahl, Brian Reich
October 19, 2003
New York Times

Karen Lynne Dahl, a daughter of Evelyn and James Dahl of Danbury, Conn., is to be married today to Brian Alexander Reich, the son of Ann Sheffer of Westport, Conn., and Jay Reich of Seattle.

Barbara M. Kahn, a Massachusetts justice of the peace, will officiate at the Ballroom Veronique in Brookline, Mass.
The bride, 26, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Connecticut and in June received a master's degree in education from Harvard. In 1999 and 2000, she was an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer in New York, where she worked at Jumpstart for Young Children, a program that prepares disadvantaged children for school. Her father is a designer in Danbury of prototypes for the toy industry. Her mother is the human resources manager in the Ridgefield, Conn., offices of Boehringer Ingelheim, a German maker of pharmaceuticals and health-care products.

The bridegroom, 25, is the director of the Boston office for Mindshare Internet Campaigns, a Washington-based creator of online campaigns for nonprofit and political groups. He graduated from Columbia. His mother is the secretary and treasurer of the Betty R. Sheffer Foundation in Westport, a philanthropy focusing on the arts, health and education. The bridegroom is the stepson of Jane Reich and of Bill Scheffler.

Posted by Brian at 01:29 AM | Comments (3)

September 09, 2003

Men Marry, With and Without a Church Blessing

An interesting article about gay marriage in Russia. And you thought the New York Times listing commitment ceremonies was a big deal.

Men Marry, With and Without a Church Blessing
By SETH MYDANS

IZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia, Sept. 5 — Standing at solemn attention with embroidered bridal crowns on their heads, two young men were married here this week by a Russian Orthodox priest, defying both religious and state law in this conservative country.

Nothing like this had happened in the church's 1,000-year history, said a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, Viktor Malukhin, and it was blasphemy.

Newspapers and television reported the event with bemusement. Homosexuality is legal in Russia, but it is mostly hidden, little understood and generally condemned.


Russian civil law does not recognize same-sex marriage, and the two men were turned away when they tried later to register their union at a government office. The issue is not a subject of debate here as it is in the United States and Canada.

Church officials immediately suspended the priest and issued a statement condemning homosexuality as a mortal sin.

"Under no circumstances can this be considered a church marriage," said Mr. Malukhin, who is deputy director of communications for the patriarchate, in a telephone interview. "The church still views a marriage blessed by God to be a union between a man and a woman."

Before going into seclusion, the priest who performed the ceremony, the Rev. Vladimir of Rozhdenstvensky church, spoke to a local reporter. The priest denied that he had performed a wedding ceremony when he went to a small, empty church with Denis Gogolev, 26, and Mikhail Morozov, 24.

However, photographs taken by a friend who went with them show the priest blessing the couple, placing the crowns on their heads, slipping a ring onto one of their hands and leading them in a ritual procession in what appears to be an Orthodox wedding ceremony.

Mr. Gogolev, a former military officer with a degree in economics, said he had bribed the priest to perform the clandestine ceremony. The priest muttered, "How shameful" just before he performed the ceremony, Mr. Gogolev said.

"This isn't a joke," he said, pacing his apartment in agitation as he spoke. "This wasn't a registry office, this was the house of God. Open any Bible and there's nothing in there about gender in marriage, only love. I spit on the church when it says our marriage is not valid."

With homosexuality rarely spoken of except in jokes, news of the wedding seemed to cause astonishment and nervousness among some people.

"Well, I'll be darned," said a chauffeur named Slava. "That one's hard to get your mind around. You never know what's coming next."

Another chauffeur, named Oleg, exclaimed: "My goodness, a man kissing a man. What if they've both been smoking? What's that like?"

Most Russian homosexuals hide their sexual identity, and the men's announcement of their wedding on Monday in this ancient city 250 miles east of Moscow was an unusual public assertion of gay rights.

They had already been in the news, though, after Mr. Morozov was accepted as a contestant in the Miss Nizhny Novgorod beauty pageant in June.

Government officials were aghast, and Mr. Morozov was quickly removed from the list of contestants. In a television interview, though, the contest organizer, Dana Borisova, said, "If he changes his sex he can compete next year, because he's a truly beautiful boy."

Since then the two men have appeared on Russian MTV and two talk shows that are pitched to a more tolerant urban youth culture that has been emerging in recent years. This is also the audience for a pop duo called Tatu that has drawn attention with affectations of lesbianism.

But there is even less public understanding of lesbianism than of male homosexuality in Russia, and researchers say many lesbians in this country suffer in ignorance and loneliness.

When Yevgeniya E. Debryanskaya, manager of the gay club 12 Volt in Moscow, was asked whether she was agitating for gay rights, she answered: "No. Russia is not ready for that yet."

When Mr. Gogolev was asked if he met with abuse for his open homosexuality, he said: "Of course. This is Russia."

He did not disclose his homosexuality to his family until he was 20, he said.

"My mother cried and said, `I love you,' " he said. "My father, after cursing at me, said, `Don't let anybody know about this.' "

Feeling angry and rejected, he left home to make his own way in the world. "I wanted to prove to my parents that I am a real person," he said.

Nevertheless, the status of homosexuals has improved in Russia after decades of enforced silence and criminal prosecution.

Among other things, the glasnost — or openness — of the last Soviet leader, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, opened the way for public discussion of homosexuality by scientists and journalists at the end of the 1980's.

With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, a gay rights movement gained momentum and lobbying groups and gay publications appeared. There is now a small gay subculture in major cities.

In 1993, during a period of nationwide liberalization, homosexuality was decriminalized. But there is a movement in Parliament to restore the criminal penalties, with its supporters fueling their effort with long-held stereotypes.

Gennady Raikov, an author of the proposed law, said it was easy to identify gay men because they speak in high voices. Anti-gay leaflets distributed in Nizhny Novgorod say homosexuals stand out because of their long hair, earrings and behavior.

"Dirt, perversion, stockings and lipstick" is the way Mr. Gogolev characterized the public portrayal of gay men.

"On television," he said, "you won't find your good homosexuals, your attractive homosexuals, your pure homosexuals, your articulate homosexuals. And I would like to add, we are happy homosexuals."

Posted by Brian at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2003

Twenty-three couples wed on track

Its a few weeks old, but still an interesting story about wedding traditions... this time from the world of NASCAR.

Twenty-three couples wed on track
By Justin Hagey
ESPN.com
Saturday, August 23, 2003

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The bride wasn't blushing, that was just a little sunburn, and her jean shorts and orange Tony Stewart tank top went nicely with the groom's jean shorts and red Dale Earnhardt Jr. shirt.

Anything goes at the start-finish line at Bristol Motor Speedway, where 23 couples tied the knot Saturday morning in what some might consider a sideshow to the night's Sharpie 500.

The speedway's sign touts the track as the 'World's Fastest Half-Mile,' and these may well have been the world's fastest weddings, too. A Winston Cup crew would have to be on top of its game to have a pit stop as quickly as each ceremony.

Tana Garrett slips a lugnut-wedding band on Thomas Garrett's finger as the Kansas City, Mo., couple tie the knot at Bristol Motor Speedway.

"The most important thing in the world is supposed to be your wedding," marveled Wayne Estes, vice president of communications and events for BMS. "It's kind of weird if you ask me."

It's true you won't see any of this in Bride magazine. But considering that Matt Goff, 32, proposed to his 29-year-old bride, Julie, last year in front of the No. 3 car at Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s headquarters in Mooresville, N.C., a racetrack wedding seems fitting.

"We took the plunge," said Goff, who didn't have much trouble convincing his bride-to-be that Bristol Motor Speedway was a better venue than a church or courthouse.

"Last year I saw the wedding highlights on TV, and told Julie about it. She didn't believe me at first until she saw it. For both of us this is our second time around, we've each got two kids, so we just decided to do something different."

Some carried the race theme to extremes. One bride worked hard to slide a lugnut onto her groom's ring finger while cameras snapped. Hey, everyone needs wedding photos.

But not everyone wore NASCAR gear. Terry Sims wore a white suit and his bride, Brenda, was in a black dress. The couple, who live in Scottsdale, Ky., had been planning their wedding attire for a long time.

"We dated for 20 years," Brenda said. "We'd always talked about wearing these outfits. I always said I'd wear black, and Terry would say, 'Then I'm wearing white.' "

NASCAR fan Danny Strope seals the deal with wife Sherry following their wedding at BMS.

The Sims may never have gotten hitched if not for BMS, which began offering weddings free of charge last year after a NASCAR schedule change left the track available Saturday mornings.

Eleven couples wed here last August, and that's when Brenda decided maybe it was time. She and Terry had been engaged for four years.

"We just never got around to it, I guess," Terry mused.

"I didn't want to plan a wedding," Brenda said. "All we had to do here is show up."

Show up, and let Sullivan County court clerk Sue Jones make things legal. Jones doesn't charge a dime for her services, and neither does the track. All it requires is that everyone buys a race ticket.

Cost considerations were a big selling point for Brad Martin and Amber Pennington, who traveled from Lebanon, Ind., to experience their first Sharpie 500. Amber's parents are NASCAR season-ticket holders.

"We couldn't afford to have a wedding," said Amber, her white dress sporting a Sharpie's pin where a corsage would normally go.

Amber ran into J.C. Penny's on Friday and bought Brad a pair of black pants and white shirt. "I just said to him, 'You're going to wear this,' " she said. "And I got him some shoes that are hard to run in, so there was no way he could run."

The young couple kissed. Trucks began infringing on the post-wedding festivities, and the 23 couples from 12 states were shooed away. There's a race to prepare for tonight. The newlyweds will have to get off the track.

Posted by Brian at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2003

Book Review: The Marriage Trap

(From Slate.com)

The Marriage Trap
A new book wrestles with monogamy and its modern discontents.
By Meghan O'Rourke
Wednesday, September 3, 2003

The classic 1960s feminist critique of marriage was that it suffocated women by tying them to the home and stifling their identity. The hope was that in a non-sexist society marriage could be a harmonious, genuine connection of minds. But 40 years after Betty Friedan, Laura Kipnis has arrived with a new jeremiad, Against Love: A Polemic, to tell us that this hope was forlorn: Marriage, she suggests, belongs on the junk heap of human folly. It is an equal-opportunity oppressor, trapping men and women in a life of drudgery, emotional anesthesia, and a tug-of-war struggle to balance vastly different needs.

The numbers seem to back up her thesis: Modern marriage doesn't work for the majority of people. The rate of divorce has roughly doubled since the 1960s. Half of all marriages end in divorce. And as sketchy as poll data can be, a recent Rutgers University poll found that only 38 percent of married couples describe themselves as happy.

What's curious, though, is that even though marriage doesn't seem to make Americans very happy, they keep getting married (and remarried). Kipnis' essential question is: Why? Why, in what seems like an age of great social freedom, would anyone willingly consent to a life of constricting monogamy? Why has marriage (which she defines broadly as any long-term monogamous relationship) remained a polestar even as ingrained ideas about race, gender, and sexuality have been overturned?

Kipnis' answer is that marriage is an insidious social construct, harnessed by capitalism to get us to have kids and work harder to support them. Her quasi-Marxist argument sees desire as inevitably subordinated to economics. And the price of this subordination is immense: Domestic cohabitation is a "gulag"; marriage is the rough equivalent of a credit card with zero percent APR that, upon first misstep, zooms to a punishing 30 percent and compounds daily. You feel you owe something, or you're afraid of being alone, and so you "work" at your relationship, like a prisoner in Siberia ice-picking away at the erotic permafrost.

Kipnis' ideological tack might easily have been as heavy as Frederick Engels' in The Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State, but she possesses the gleeful, viperish wit of a Dorothy Parker and the energetic charisma of a cheerleader. She is dead-on about the everyday exhaustion a relationship can produce. And she's diagnosed something interesting about the public discourse of marriage. People are more than happy to talk about how unhappy their individual marriages are, but public discussion assumes that in each case there is something wrong with the marriage—not marriage itself.

Take the way infidelity became a prime-time political issue in the '90s: Even as we wondered whether a politician who was not faithful to his or her spouse could be "faithful" to the country, no one was interested in asking whether marital fidelity was realistic or desirable.

Kipnis' answer to that question is a resounding no. The connection between sex and love, she argues, doesn't last as long as the need for each. And we probably shouldn't invest so much of our own happiness in the idea that someone else can help us sustain it—or spend so much time trying to make unhappy relationships "work." We should just look out for ourselves, perhaps mutually—more like two people gazing in the same general direction than two people expecting they want to look in each other's eyes for the rest of their (now much longer) lives. For this model to work, she argues, our social decisions need to start reflecting the reality of declining marriage rates—not the fairy-tale "happily ever after all" version.

Kipnis' vision of a good relationship may sound pretty vague. In fact, she doesn't really offer an alternative so much as diagnose the problems, hammering us into submission: Do we need a new way of thinking about love and domesticity? Marriage could be a form of renewable contract, as she idly wonders (and as Goethe proposed almost 200 years ago in Elective Affinities, his biting portrait of a marriage blighted by monogamy). Might it be possible to envision committed nonmonogamous heterosexual relationships?

Kipnis' book derives its frisson from the fact that she's asking questions no one seems that interested in entertaining. As she notes, even in a post-feminist age of loose social mores we are still encouraged, from the time we are children, to think of marriage as the proper goal of a well-lived life. I was first taught to play at the marriage fantasy in a Manhattan commune that had been formed explicitly to reject traditional notions of marriage; faced with a gaggle of 8-year-old girls, one of the women gave us a white wedding gown and invited us to imagine the heartthrob whom we wanted to devote ourselves to. Even radicals have a hard time banishing the dream of an enduring true love.

Let's accept that the resolute public emphasis on fixing ourselves, not marriage, can seem grim, and even sentimentally blinkered in its emphasis on ending divorce. Yet Kipnis' framing of the problem is grim, too. While she usefully challenges our assumptions about commitment, it's not evident that we'd be better off in the lust-happy world she envisions, or that men and women really want the exact same sexual freedoms. In its ideal form, marriage seems to reify all that's best about human exchange. Most people don't want to be alone at home with a cat, and everyone but Kipnis worries about the effects of divorce on children. "Work," in her lexicon, is always the drudgery of self-denial, not the challenge of extending yourself beyond what you knew you could do. But we usually mean two things when we say "work": The slog we endure purely to put food on the table, and the kind we do because we like it—are drawn to it, even.

While it's certainly true that people stay in an unhappy relationship longer than they should, it's not yet clear that monogamy is more "unnatural" than sleeping around but finding that the hum of your refrigerator is your most constant companion. And Kipnis spends scant time thinking about the fact that marriage is a hardy social institution several thousand years old, spanning many cultures—which calls into question, to say the least, whether its presence in our lives today has mostly to do with the insidious chokehold capitalism has on us.

While Kipnis' exaggerated polemic romp is wittily invigorating, it may not actually be as radical as it promises to be: These days, even sitcoms reflect her way of thinking. There's an old episode of Seinfeld in which Jerry and Kramer anticipate most of Kipnis' critique of domesticity; Kramer asks Jerry if he and his girlfriend are thinking about marriage and family, and then cuts him off: "They're prisons! Man-made prisons! You're doin' time! You get up in the morning—she's there. You go to sleep at night—she's there. It's like you gotta ask permission to, to use the bathroom: Is it all right if I use the bathroom now?" Still, love might indeed get a better name if we were as attentive to the intellectual dishonesties of the public debate over its failings as we are to the emotional dishonesties of adulterers.

Posted by Brian at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)

September 01, 2003

Brian's Right....

I tried to prove him wrong and find some parts of the wedding planning process that are completely about the guy or at least welcoming to the groom being a major part of the planning process. I thought I had found the ticket when I saw an advertisement in a wedding magazine for a website that said it was just for the groom-to-be: www.marryingman.com. What a LIE?!?!? The site doesn't even exist, but instead takes you right to www.modernbride.com - which in name and actuality is targeted toward the BRIDE! I am holding out for the future and even thinking of some career possibilities in which we could open the world of wedding planning to men (or at least those who want it opened to them). A little while ago, Oprah did a show on men who were "taking over" the wedding planning process and went so far as to call them "groomzillas." Most of the brides seemed kind of pleased that their men had taken on stronger roles and helped with making some of if not all of the decisions and also saw it as a practice run for all of the decisions that will need to be discussed and made during the marriage. I think they're on the right track.

Posted by Karen at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2003

A First at Bride's Magazine

The New York Times on Monday (July 28, 2003) featured an intersting article about one evolution in the Bride magazine industry.

July 28, 2003
A First at Bride's Magazine: A Report on Same-Sex Unions
By BILL WERDE

After 70 years of helping brides walk down the aisle, Condé Nast's Bride's magazine has crossed a threshold of its own. Its September-October issue, on newsstands now, contains a full-page article on same-sex weddings. This is the first time that any of the five top-selling bridal magazines has published such a feature.

The article, titled "Outward Bound" and written by David Toussaint, a freelance journalist, discusses recent developments in same-sex ceremonies. Gay and lesbian couples are interviewed about why they want their friends and community to recognize their unions publicly. The article also offers advice on how to be a good guest. It urges readers "not to panic" if they are invited to a gay wedding.


Bride's, established in 1934, is the oldest and largest of the national wedding magazines, with a circulation of 402,897, according to the most recent data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The story was discussed at an editorial meeting in December and was assigned after some discussion of whether the topic was appropriate for Bride's readers.

"We looked at what was happening in the wedding industry," says Millie Martini Bratten, the magazine's editor in chief and the editorial director of Condé Nast's Bridal Group.

"We were hearing from various retailers that same-sex couples had become an important part of their gift registries," Ms. Bratten said. "And we were answering more readers' questions: `If two women were getting married, what's the appropriate attire?' " She also noted that The New York Times and other newspapers had begun publishing notices of same-sex ceremonies.

Cathy Renna, news media director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said every such article is an important step. "Maybe a cynical person would say they just want our business," Ms. Renna said. "But if you want to have a wedding, these are the publications you'll read. A story like this really energizes the gay and lesbian community."

Same-sex ceremonies have been covered for some time on Internet wedding sites. "Wow, they finally caught up," said Carley Roney, editor in chief and a co-founder of one such site, TheKnot.com, which claims more than two million visitors a month. The Knot has covered same-sex weddings since it began operating in 1997.

In 1999, TheKnot.com ran a contest called "Millennial Couple," which attracted almost 5,000 entries. The winning couple — determined by votes from visitors to the site — was Kimberly Acquaviva and Kimberly McGannon, who came to be called "The two Kimmies." "We experienced a little bit of a backlash at the time," Ms. Roney said. "We have 15- or 20,000 local vendor relationships around the country, and this wasn't looked upon terribly kindly in the Bible Belt."

Editors at more than one national bridal magazine said that they also were considering articles on same-sex weddings, but added that business concerns remained a factor. So far, Condé Nast reports no adverse advertising reaction. Nina Lawrence, vice president and publisher of the Condé Nast Bridal Group, said she had not heard any complaints from her advertisers.

Ms. Lawrence noted that Bride's was trying to address generational changes in weddings and marriage ceremonies. The generation that is getting married now "is the most inclusive generation ever," she said. "If we were creating a product for people who were getting married 20 years ago, we'd be out of business."

Mr. Toussaint has written several articles for Bride's before but was overwhelmed by the responses he received while he was working on his same-sex marriage report.

"Anyone involved, they all called me back immediately and were thrilled," Mr. Toussaint said. "One gay couple, two men I interviewed, said they would buy every issue of Bride's on the newsstand. I think that's hysterical. It's every bride's dream to be in Bride's."

Posted by Brian at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2003

Wedding Magazines

Question: Why aren't there any wedding magazines for grooms?

There's Bridal Guide, Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Cape Cod Bride, Manhattan Bride, Chicago Bride, Southern Bride, Today's Bride, Bride Again and just plain old Brides Magazine. There are general wedding magazines as well -- Martha Stewart Weddings and In Style Weddings among them -- but they don't offer much more to us either.

I realize that the bride is in many ways a larger part of the wedding day festivities -- she is the one dressed all in white, she is the one who is escorted down the aisle, and similar. But the wedding can't happen without the groom, so you'd think there would be some kind of magazine that addresses our role. As it stands, there are articles about what tuxedo style we look best in, and maybe something that discusses where to go on our honeymoon (even though that should really be a joint decision, not just the grooms, and in our case Karen did pretty much all the research and planning).

I challenge you to find a substantive discussion of the groom's role in the wedding -- something beyond the chapter in Weddings for Dummies, or your standard two pager in one of the aforementioned publications. Maybe I'll just have to write it myself.

Posted by Brian at 06:54 PM | Comments (0)

Initial Thoughts

Depending on who you ask about the wedding planning process, a wedding is the bride's day and the groom's role in wedding planning is to show up... I like to think I am a different kind of groom -- I took an active role in helping Karen choose her bridesmaid fashions; I have read more than enough wedding magazine articles about the etiquette of invitations, etc. Don't worry, Karen and I are sticking to some of the traditional planning rules: I won't see Karen's dress until the big day, and there is a high likelyhood I will never understand china patterns. You get the idea.

Anyway, my plan is to use this area of our wedding website to share with you some of my experiences on the road to marital bliss. Stay tuned, and see how things unfold.

Posted by Brian at 06:48 PM | Comments (0)