A Few Tips from our Wedding

Julie and I are married! We had our wedding a few weeks ago here in the Bay Area, and we had a fantastic time. It’s hard to imagine what could go wrong surrounded by friends and family to celebrate, but regardless, we were glad that all of our plans came together so well.

On our honeymoon, we spent a lot of time talking about the experience and musing about what we would do differently for that 2nd time that presumably will never come to pass. Amongst the tons of internet advice available on how to plan a wedding, we came up with a list of a few things that we thought went particularly well or poorly.

As such, this particularly post has been written in long discussion with Julie who deserves credit for the good ideas here.

1. Use Asana and Google Drive.

We dumped proposals, contracts, guests lists, and plenty more into Google Drive to share with our parents. Having a single place to use as reference and share the schedule avoided a lot of back-and-forth and confusion.

Longtime blog readers know my obsession with task management systems, and I definitely wanted it for wedding planning, too. We started with an empty Asana project, brain dumped tasks, never *cough* forget to do something.

2. Check in on your hotel blocks.

When we booked our hotel blocks, the hotel staff had standard block sizes for us with the understanding that it would be adjusted as necessary. Around the wedding, I found out from guests that the hotel where we were holding most peripheral events was apparently booked up, and we had no idea. In retrospect, we should have either checked in directly with the staff or tried booking ourselves.

3. Test out your wedding dress for dancing.

Julie and I hadn’t danced together in the full get-up until about a half-hour before our first dance. This wasn’t a big deal for me, but it was a big deal for Julie. I would recommend increasing that lead time by several orders of magnitude to avoid embarrassing accidents. Specifically, Julie would have tried walking backwards in her wedding dress during shopping and tailoring.

4. Put your guests in touch ahead of time.

For cliques of friends or family, it’s helpful to plan logistics around transportation and lodging if they know who else will be attending. It can be somewhat awkward for potential guests to ask directly (and accidentally inquire a non-invitee), so I just made a big email list and included everyone on it. I thought all of the social events surrounding the wedding went well and was glad to support that in any way possible.

5. Get lots of sleep before the wedding.

The wedding day itself is long, but even before that, we had plenty of guests coming through with whom we wanted to spend as much time as possible. The casualty of all of the excitement, of course, was sleep. The final 2 weeks before the wedding kept us up late with planning, and that time should have literally been work, plan, and sleep with everything else cut out to make more time for those.

6. Plan the cake cutting.

Through almost the entire wedding, we knew what would happen, but even more importantly, we had someone else specifically cueing or directing us on what we needed to do. The one gap was cake cutting: we went over to cut the cake, and suddenly, everyone was looking at us, and we were just supposed to do it. It was not hard, but it was a surprise after following instructions all day. It’s hard to practice, and we should have had a plan there.

7. Direct the DJ.

We are very fortunate to have very enthusiastic dancers amongst our friends and family, but not everything is going to work for the crowd. When the dancing was dying down, Julie told the DJ to “play stuff that people know”, and that re-invigorated the crowd.

8. Step back for a moment and take in the wedding.

One of Julie’s cousins gave us this advice during the wedding, and I wish I had followed it. Once I started getting dressed for the wedding, things never really stopped until Julie and I got in the car and drove away. Having everyone gathered together for us was a awe-inspiring thought, but we were so caught up in the action that I don’t think I ever really took it in. That would have been worth the 30 seconds to hang onto that feeling forever.

A photo posted by Nicole Cross (@43rdavephoto) on

Making a Wedding Registry

I have been telling people that making a wedding registry is a lot of fun: you get the joy of shopping without the pain of actually paying for anything. However, it hasn’t been a senseless shopping spree for Julie and me, and it has required far more deliberation than I had initially thought.

We started assembling our registry a few weeks ago when Julie created a shared Reminders list on our phones. Despite already owning plenty of single-function kitchen equipment, I always have my eye on something else. For example, I needed to fill an Amazon order a few weeks ago and ended up getting a shrimp deveiner. You might think that a pairing knife would suffice, but I have spent many afternoons deveining piles of shrimp to make won ton. As such, this icicle-shaped piece of plastic could change my life as much as a banana slicer or cherry pitter has.71PfUYplvrL._SY355_

The first pass on the registry was easy: I had wanted an ice cream maker for a long time. And a cookie dough scoop. And a cake carrier. And plenty of much more obscure equipment. Although I could only marginally justify purchasing these things myself, it was easy to ask for them knowing we were filling out a registry.

We drove out to the mall and walked through Williams-Sonoma and Crate and Barrel to work on our registry. I feel like a child in a toy store when I’m in Williams-Sonoma: I see lots of things that I want but can’t reasonably get. It’s really easy to see measuring cups and want new measuring cups but hard to get rid of old measuring cups. Knowing there was no cost to it, however, our registry quickly filled up to a few dozen items.

After that, the registry sat unattended on our phones for several weeks. I think we knew that the tough work was ahead and liked the idea of the registry more than actually composing it. It’s easy to want a cookie dough scoop: it’s harder to figure out exactly which of the 3 models of cookie dough scoops is best and will ultimately be the best choice for us.

Two or three weeks ago, Julie actually created the registries online, and we started working through it. I had my “America’s Test Kitchen” cookbook out to the equipment guide section and The Sweethome open on another tab. Thankfully, other, more talented and patient people have tested and rated the quality of many items to find the very best anything. With them at hand, I know which one is the sharpest or which one is the easiest to clean. Some items were easy to pick: there is apparently 1 Bundt pan to buy, and the stores carry it. Some required some effort, such as the Peugeot pepper mill, which is available but comes in a variety of sizes and colors. Others, like the electric kettle, came with suggestions unavailable where we were registering. In those cases, was it even worth registering if we could get the best one?

There has been a surprising amount of soul-searching in creating the registry as well, especially compared to other wedding decisions. Luckily, Julie and I have either been on the same page or disproportionately invested in other wedding decisions. We have split the work on researching different vendors and then picked the best one in a reasonable process.

On top of registry items for new kitchen gadgets, registries often contain replacements for existing items, and those existing items may have emotional attachments for some people. I can comfortably say that accusingly because I have been the problem in our registry. As we ticked down the list of items to register for, Julie innocently mentioned everyday china. At the thought of not using the Corelle plates and bowls that I had grown up using and then selfishly taken from my parents, I immediately became defensive and began rationalizing with Julie why we should keep them.

Julie was taken aback by my emotional response to some lightweight, microwavable plates and bowls, but she did relent after a series of baffling (to her) conversations. That, however, only eliminated one decision, and we next looked deeper into the wide world of fine china and silverware. Unlike functional kitchen tools where you can determine the best model measuring a series of objective measures, china is quite subjective, with which I am of only limited use. Best of luck to Julie with that.

We’re almost done with the registry, and I’m looking forward to having that figured out. I thought it was just going to be a big shopping spree, but we have had to think much harder than that. Although most wedding decisions are one-time choices for a single day, registry gifts may follow us for the rest of our lives. If we don’t make the right choice now, I might die a little every time I try to grate parmesan over the next 60 years.

That’s a big decision that, in some ways, probably matches the significance of marriage much more strongly than most wedding decisions. Not only am I committing to Julie for the rest of my life, I’m also committing to this microplane zester for the rest of my life, though that’s more because I’m too cheap to replace it. At least with the registry, we can make independent choices on specific items to optimize the whole registry in a tractable manner. In picking each other, we’re each kind of a package deal: if Julie wants my vegetable chopping ability, she will also have to accept the subpar dish cleaning job.

I can’t speak for her, but I’m more than happy with that.