The Big Doozy: Changing vs. Not Changing My Name

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One family=one name?
Source: http://www.truewoman.com

The name change issue can be divisive and controversial.  The changers and the non-changers too often pass harsh judgement on each other.  That’s not right!  We should all band together in realization that this issue is TOUGH and puts ALL women in a hard place.  I truly believe that what’s most important is that each woman realize the implications of either decision and truly give it some heartfelt thought and discussion with her partner before deciding.

That being said, my own name change journey involved lots of, well, changes- both changes of my own opinions and others’ expectations of me.  You see, growing up in a conservative family, I never considered NOT changing my name when I got married.  That’s what my grandmothers, mom, and all my aunts had done.  Until quite recently, I honestly never even gave it a second thought.  Like many of us growing up, I often matched my first name with the last name of whoever my current crush and doodled it in curlicued hearts along the margins of my notebooks.

Even early in my relationship with Zach, I first remember thinking to myself, and later actually admitting it to him, “It’s a good thing I like your last name.”  And I do like his last name.  It would sound good with my first name, maybe even better than my family last name.

Yet, as the prospect of marriage grew more real, I started to unearth other options…wedding blogs written by women who chose not to change their name, who hyphenated, or even women whose husbands changed their names (gasp!).  It was like stumbling into a whole new reality I didn’t know existed.  As I started researching and thinking more, I realized how weird/unfair/sexist it was that I had been so cultured into the idea that I HAD to change my name.  In so many other cultures, it is completely normal NOT to change your name.

Ultimately, I went through a lot of soul-searching of my own and a lot of discussion with Zach on the name change issue.  He (being wonderful) agreed with me that the concept is sexist, paternalistic, and unfair.  He didn’t care if we had the same last name or not.  He just wanted me to feel at peace with my decision and my name, whatever it ended up being.  Also, neither of us wanted to hyphenate; it just seems too cumbersome.  In the end, I decided not to change my name.  Woohoo not having to do all that paperwork!

Avoiding this is a definite perk!
Source: site.k2motor.com

Despite our comfort level with my current decision, we are both remembering that “nothing is set in stone.”  If kids come along, for example (a very big, and very far away “if”), and my feelings change, I can always change my name then, or we can choose to hyphenate.  I can change my name at anytime if I so choose; it’s not a decision that can only be made when I get married.

For now though, we’re happy with the idea that “You don’t have to have the same name to be a family.  You just have to be a family to be a family!”  (Quote stolen from a wedding blog I read but can’t find now, sorry!)

This issue has been much discussed but it is so important!  Did you agonize over the decision?

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Forgoing the “Party” to Focus on the “PAR-TAY!”

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In one of our many efforts to keep our wedding simple and laid back, Zach and I decided not to have an official “wedding party.”  It’s not that we don’t have friends who we’d love to honor with this position, as I think both of us could easily pick a few close buddies to stand up with us.  It’s more that we just don’t really see the point.

I mean, dressing alike is cute when you’re toddlers…

Source: allposters.com

And then all of a sudden it’s cute again when you’re a fully-grown adult if you’re in a wedding?  I don’t get it.

Source: hitfix.com

We didn’t want to boss people around and tell them what to wear and what to help with for our wedding.  Honestly, we hope that our friends and family will voluntarily step up and help us out of the goodness of their hearts, not out of obligation because of some “title” we’ve bestowed upon them.  We’re still involving some special people in the ceremony by having them perform readings, and both of our best friends will still be giving toasts at the reception.

Another factor in our decision was that our wedding is only going to have about 60 guests.  The more people you put up front the emptier the seats will look!  I don’t want our ceremony to look like no one is there because there are no butts in seats!

​Anyone else forgoing a traditional wedding party for a more casual approach?

Honeymoon Dreamin’

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As you must have realized by now, Zach and I have a pretty hardcore love affair with travel going on. I started traveling internationally at age 16, when I went to Australia and New Zealand through a student exchange program. That experience was all it took to get me hooked on exploring and wandering the globe.  After that, I went on volunteer trips to the Bahamas and Kenya. If you remember all the way back to our “falling-in-love” story, you’ll remember that I left Zach in Ohio when I went to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania. After I got back and things got more serious between us, Zach caught my wanderlust disease hardcore. For the last few years, we’ve basically worked to travel, working overtime and saving all we could and then taking off on epic road trips and adventures. We’ve done multiple road trips through North America, and our seven-month Latin American Odyssey was the biggest adventure yet.

Our wall map with pins where we’ve been!

Needless to say, one of the wedding traditions we’re most excited about is the HONEYMOON!!!  There are just a few small obstacles to overcome first…

  1. We have no money.
  2. Zach has a real job now.
  3. We can’t decide where to go!

Yep, the sad fact of the matter is that just paying for our broke-ass wedding is going to clean out most of our excess funds. Will it be totally worth it? I’m sure! Do I sometimes think we should just go to the courthouse and then book it to Thailand for a month? Hell yes!

There’s also this whole “growing up and getting a real job” issue.  It’s something we’ve somehow managed to avoid…until now! Actually, I still don’t have a “real job” but rather a seasonal internship AND four shifts a week at a bar/restaurant. Zach however, stumbled his way into an awesome job as a line cook in a 4-star restaurant, complete with salary and benefits and everything! It’s a great new phase for him in a lot of ways, but unfortunately ample vacation days are not part of the deal. In the past, we always just up and left our jobs to travel and found new ones wherever we ended up when we got back. Not something we want to do anymore!

Suffice it to say, we will not be able to go on a big honeymoon anytime soon after the wedding, probably not anytime this year.

While it is kind of sad, we’re going to make up for it in a couple ways.

#1. Vegas Friendy-moon!

Vegas baby!

A lot of our Ohio and east coast friends have never been out west at all. Because they’re a fun-loving bunch, a lot of them are planning to tack on some Las Vegas adventures to their trip when they come out and see us get married. Although Zach and I aren’t really “Vegas types”, we decided to join, realizing we’d never, ever again get a chance to party on “The Strip” with so many of our best friends.  Plus, I’m hoping the hotel will throw some perks our way if I tell them it’s our “honeymoon.”

#2. Real honeymoon in the future.

Despite our more settled, awesome life in San Diego, we can’t go very long without traveling abroad. We’re hoping to go somewhere, anywhere, for at least a few weeks as soon as we can swing it financially and job-wise.  The problem is, we have no idea where to go! Top contenders…

 Spain & Morocco

Gorgeous Spanish beaches…plus we could pop across the straits of Gibraltar to Africa!

Italy

I mean, PIZZA!!!

I mean, PIZZA!!!

Russia

Possibly the most hipster honeymoon destination ever…but Zach REALLY wants to go there for some reason.

Turkey

We’ve heard amazing things about Turkey…

Thailand or Indonesia

Southeast Asia would be a dream, but flights are so expensive!!!

Do you think planning two crazy nights in Vegas on the tail end of our wedding is a terrible idea?  And where should we go for the big trip?

 

The End of the Dress Saga

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Last time I talked about dress shopping, I shared my internal conflict over this flattering but perhaps too-traditional David’s Bridal dress:

David’s Bridal Allover Lace Trumpet Gown

If you recall, I had originally envisioned myself in a short white dress with a little bit of funk.  Then I stumbled into this gown on a “just for fun” shopping trip with my mom and bestie.  I tried it on and, “Bam!” I felt like a bride.  Next I agonized over my simultaneous disdain for David’s Bridal and love for this dress.  I pondered looking for a used dress online and many of you told me to go for it.  In fact, in the days following that post, I came *thisclose* to buying a used version in my size off of Recycled Bride.

What I didn’t tell you last time is that all along, there was another dress…

One day, months ago, before I even took that trip to David’s Bridal, I was wandering through Etsy in search of short wedding dresses.   Somehow, looking through pages of dress pictures that didn’t really strike my fancy, I stumbled upon one dress that made me pause and look closer.

It was short!  And cute!  And a little bit vintage but still a little bit funky!  All of a sudden, I was enamored.  It turned out that the dress was made by a super-talented designer, the lovely Iselle of The Little White Dress.  To torture you, I’m not going to tell you which of these dresses is the one, but here are a few of her pieces.

“Chloe”
“Imani”
“Annabelle”
“Elisa”
“Ivanka”

One of these dresses (sorry, I’m really not going to tell you which one) literally made my heart flutter.  I had to get more info!  And that’s when I discovered THE BEST PART!  Iselle is based in San Diego!  “OMG, it’s meant to be!” I thought.  I was hesitant to buy a dress online without trying it on, but because we now live in San Diego, I contacted Iselle and arranged a visit to her studio to try on a sample of my dream dress!  Of course, I was terrified that the dress wouldn’t wow me in person and I’d be back at square one.  Luckily, despite all my stress about whether it would actually look good on me, I LOVED IT.  Waves of relief washed over me as I realized, “Yesssssssss!  This IS the one!”  Mission accomplished!

Plus, Zach and I totally stole a page out of Dana’s book and negotiated a labor exchange with Iselle, the dress designer.  Although totally worth it for the awesome hand-craftsmanship of her dresses, the $500 price tag was a little high for us!  So, we figured, “It doesn’t hurt to ask!” and inquired if she’d be open to discounting the dress in exchange for us helping her out with something.  It turned out she really needed help building a website, and Zach just so happens to be experienced in that area!

Basically, I am thrilled that my dress-finding journey has reached a successful “end.”  (Nearly the end since the dress isn’t actually made or in my hands yet.)  I am so so SO glad that I held out and ended up getting a dress made by a small, independent designer, and one that fits my initial vision much better!

Has anyone else gotten a discount by offering up your labor or skills?  Anyone buy their dress off of Etsy?  Which one do you think is “mine?”

The Dreaded “D” Word

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It’s easy to get caught up in fantasy land and think about nothing but whimsical details, cake flavors, and reception playlists while planning a wedding.  Zach and I recently got smacked back down to reality, though, when we heard the sad news that two of our old friends are getting a divorce. It was hard not to feel a bit shaken by this event, especially because these two seemed so awesome together that we even held them up as sort of “marriage role models” for ourselves.  This was also the first married couple in our circle of friends to break it off.  We’ve happily celebrated with many different friends on their wedding days, and it is SO WEIRD to think that statistically, half of those marriages won’t make it.

Honestly, I haven’t pondered the topic of divorce too much until recently, when I talked to my now-divorced friend for the first time in awhile and she basically tried to convince me not to get married.  Yeah, that was awkward.  But it did get me thinking hard.  It’s impossible, in this day and age, to take the cavalier “That’ll never happen to us,” mindset.  So why do we get married when the divorce rates are so scary?  Why do I, personally, still believe in marriage?

The answers, to be sure, are complex, emotion-riddled, and different for everyone.  I think it’s important for every couple to take some time and let the sobering divorce statistics sink in, and then really consider WHY they want to get married.  For Zach and I, from a logical standpoint, we want the many rights and benefits that accompany legal marriage (rights which someday soon will hopefully be extended to ALL couples!).  From a more philosophical standpoint, we both still believe in the commitment of marriage.  We find the concept of teaming up with one person for to be noble, desirable, and right.  Love is an action and a choice, and we have decided to continue choosing each other for the rest of our lives.

Despite our persistent believe in marriage, the current divorce stats are still terrifying.  I don’t really know what else there is to do besides support our friends in good times and bad and keep trying to be the best partners possible to each other.  I also think discussing marriage and divorce with those holding differing beliefs is really important.

So let’s discuss!  Do you still believe in marriage despite the sobering divorce rate?  Why or why not?  If you’re in a life-long relationship but have chosen not to get married, how has that decision affected your life?

#WEverb12: HOPE

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17. thank [HOPE]: Write that thank you note that you’ve been meaning to send this year… or would like to send next year…

Dear Latin America,

Thank you for the adventures.  Thank you for the epic hikes.  Thank you for the waves.  Thank you for the cheap beers.  Thank you for the surprises.  Thank you for the llapingachos, pupusas, and tacos.  Thank you for all the colors.  Thank you for the smiles.  Thank you for the souvenirs.  Thank you for the mystery.  Thank you for welcoming us with open arms.  Thank you for showing us another way.  Thank you for the sunsets.

Love,

Carrie

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Taganga, Colombia

 

#WEverb12: CREATE

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22: recharge [CREATE] What did you do to recharge your batteries in 2012?

As I’ve gotten older (argh….) I’ve gotten more and more dependent on two vital recharging mechanisms: exercise and sleep.

Running recharges me mentally those endorphins feel great!

Sleep…well, I am a sucker for a full 8 hours of sleep.  I miss the days of college when I could get only five hours a night for a week and feel fine.  Nowadays if I get less than six in one night I feel lethargic all day.  So, call me a grandma, but I love my sleep.

#WEverb12: LIVE

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21: read [LIVE]
Did you read a book this year that left you craving more when it was over?

Man, this #WEverb stuff asks a lot about books!  Good thing I did read a lot this year.

One of the best books I read was Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.  That was such an enthralling read!  I’ve always been fascinated by hippie culture and Ken Kesey is one of my favorite writers so reading in so much detail about his life and the Merry Pranksters’ “experiments” was just awesome.  The book is so well-written it almost makes you feel like YOU’RE on drugs, I imagine.  Such a crazy group of people doing things on a whole other level.  It’s both inspiring and shocking, some of the stories.

books

“You’re either on the bus or off the bus!”

#WEverb12: Catching up again!

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18. soak [LISTEN]: What have you soaked in this year? (Baths, sun, ideas?) How did it affect your mentality?

This year I soaked in uncertainty.  Traveling, living in Ohio for a few months, and then moving out here.  It was constant motion, lots of changes of plans, and not knowing what to expect.  It was hard for me, as I’m very type-A.  But it was good for me.  Uncertainty and second-guessing and plans changing are all part of life.  You could also call it FREEDOM!

19. exercise [LIVE]: How did you live actively in 2012? What will you change in 2013?

While we were backpacking, I didn’t make any effort to work out or anything.  But most of our days involved lots and lots of walking, sometimes with all of our crap loading us down.  We also went on a lot of epic hikes, went surfing, swimming and ziplining!  Travel is the best because exercise feels like an adventure!

Since getting back, I’ve done something I never, ever expected I would do.  I started running.  Not just lame-o occasional 30 minute jogs either.  Over the summer, I actually followed Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training Plan all the way through, although I never did run a half marathon.  Working my way up to running 10 miles without any breaks and without dying made me really proud.  It was weird how easy it was, too.  Unfortunately towards the end I got a weird muscle strain in my thigh and when we moved I had to stop running for awhile.  As soon as my leg healed, I started the plan all over again, making sure I really stretch and cross train a lot to try to avoid injury.  So far so good!  I’ve gotten faster (which means a 9:35 mile, still really slow!) than I was in Ohio and I love running along the Sunset Cliffs!  I’m about halfway through the plan this time and I’m hoping to run my first half marathon in January!

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The view helps me run fast!

20: reminisce [GROW] What distant memory/time did you find yourself longing for in 2012?

I’ve found myself reminiscing about college a lot this year.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been OUT of college for longer than I was IN it.  I graduated almost exactly four years ago.  College was just so much fun and so easy compared to real life.  It’s funny because when you’re in it you think life is so hard!  It’s pretty awesome that you get to live with your friends, learn about things that interest you, do whatever crazy clubs and activities you want, and you somehow still have enough energy to party it up!  More than anything, I miss my old roomie Erica.  She truly “gets me” and is one of the best friends I will ever have!  It sucks because we’re on opposite coasts and rarely get to see each other, but sometimes we’ll still text each other random, “Remember when…” texts.

Roomies for life!

Roomies for life!

(Hey Erica, remember when we met Mr. Belding?)

Gotta Have Some Pretty Pictures!

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At first we weren’t going to have a photographer.  We were convinced we couldn’t afford one and didn’t need one.  Some of our friends have dSLRs and we were hoping they would help us out.  DIY photography all the way!

But then I got sucked into the world of wedding blogs and Pinterest.  I started feeling jealous of these couples I didn’t even know for their gorgeous photos!  My BFF strongly advised me that I would definitely regret not having a photographer.  I started feeling bad about the idea of asking our friends to don cameras on our big day.  Thus I secretly started looking around the web, “just to see what’s out there.”  “You don’t need a photographer!” the logical, thrifty side of my brain told me.  “But maybe, just maybe, if you could find one that’s not too expensive…” the other side whispered.

And that’s when I stumbled upon Bright Fizz Photo, based in Phoenix, Arizona.  “Wow,” I thought, as I perused the website, “These photos are so fun and quirky!”

copyright Bright Fizz Photo

Although I am normally annoyed when websites start blasting music at me, I actually really liked the songs playing in the background on Bright Fizz’s site.  More points for good taste in music!

copyright Bright Fizz Photo

Plus, Zach and I totally agree with their philosophy!  “Our style of photography is not traditional. We like the candid, silly moments that every couple has to offer. We do not like the standard poses with two people smiling at the camera. We create images that really show the style and connection of two people in love. Our style is happy with a little bit of funk.”

copyright Bright Fizz Photo

“So who is behind these awesome photos?” I wondered, “And how can we possibly afford them?”  So I sent an email to Rachel, the wonder-woman behind Bright Fizz.  It turns out that she and her husband Nick run the business and they both seem super awesome-sauce.  And, amazingly enough, they are AFFORDABLE!  (Basic wedding packages start at only $1500!)

copyright Bright Fizz Photo

I pretty much knew I NEEDED Rachel to photograph our wedding as soon as we talked.  So I turned to my parents and asked them if they’d be willing to gift us our wedding photography and they said yes!  I guess it’s kind of breaking the rule of paying for everything ourselves, but since Zach’s parents are providing our venue, my parents also really wanted to contribute something tangible.  This will make everyone happy!

copyright Bright Fizz Photo

We haven’t met Rachel in person yet, but we will definitely be doing that before the wedding.  For now though, her awesome photos and the personality that shines through her emails are enough to convince me she’s going to do a great job!  Wedding photo win!

Did anyone else decide they had to have a photographer after initially not wanting one?