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A Litany Of Wedding Tasks

by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

So I was curled up barefoot on a couch in back of a bar in The Mission sipping an Anchor Steam, as you do, when I decided to launch into a list of the weekends wedding related errands to a friend-of-a-friend.

“First, we went to Bevmo because they have their 5 cent sale on,” I said.
The friend looked at me in total confusion, “Bevmo? 5 cent sale?”
“Yeah, you know, buy one wine get the next bottle for 5 cents. For the wedding.”
“Oh…” he said looking puzzled, “I was thinking these errands were going to involve wedding dresses and fittings and stuff like that.”
“Oh, no.” as I waved my hand around, “We’re making the dress.”

At which point the look of confusion gave way to a look of delight, and I remembered how fantastic it feels when someone really gets you. Which is of course why I hang out barefoot drinking Anchor Steam in the back of dingy bars in The Mission in the first place.

Which brings me, more or less, to sharing the litany of rather strange but delightful wedding chores we got up to this weekend:

  1. Bevmo’s 5 cent sale. We didn’t get the best deal on everything wedding related, but we did make absolutely sure that we got a venue where we could bring our own alcohol. Halfway through our wine shopping extravaganza, I suggested to David that maybe we should just grab a whole case of a particular Merlot that we knew we liked. He got a petulant but adorable look on his face and said firmly, “My vision for this wedding is that our wine mix is very eclectic.” He didn’t stamp his foot, but he might as well have. I was, of course delighted. I’m pleased that my groom has ‘a vision’ for this wedding, and I might marrying him *partially* because his visions tend to start with good wine. Of course, my vision involved all local wine to go with our local food, so we bought a eclectic mix of California wine. For half off. Our visions pretty much always involve sales.
  2. The travel book store. All I have to say about this is, if I’d known honeymoon planning was so much more fun than wedding planning, I would have started there. Enormous maps spread all over the living room floor? Check. Pithy guidebooks? Check. Emailing friends and family to see who we can visit during the trip? Checkety-check-check.
  3. And last but not least, the search for the branches. You might remember my two favorite huppahs involved long natural branches for the poles. Well, off we set on Saturday morning to see if we could find branches like that at San Francisco’s Flower Mart. After much digging and rummaging, we’d basically given up hope. Everything we had found started out as a lovely branch and turned into, well, a TREE at the top. A branchy tree that you couldn’t attach anything to. So, we were about to slink off to the car, discussing bamboo and dowel options when David convinced me to look in the way back of one last shop…. where of course, there were beautiful long birch branches, sitting in a pile. Once I’d gotten past leaping around like an elated munchkin, I sent David up to ask if they had these in stock on a regular basis. “Oh, no” the woman said vaguely, “This mysterious man from Oregon shoes up here every once and while with his truck full of these birch branches. Really, we never know when he’s coming.”Mysterious Man? Oregon? Branches? You should have seen the delight dancing in my eyes. Of course we loaded up the car straight away, and are now the proud owners of four long white birch branches propped in the corner of our living room. Because as my dad said when I told him the story, “Everyone knows the branch fairy lives in Oregon.”

So, I wish you a visit from the birch branch fairy in your wedding planning this week, and someone to tell the tale to in a dusty corner of a bar, barefoot. May it be so!

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit

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  • Lisa Bane

    Isn’t it crazy how things work out like that sometimes?

    Branch Fairy, indeed. :)

  • Cate Subrosa

    2 – Squeeeeee! (Note ‘Gastronomic Package’ we were discussing includes glass of local wine. And it’s really very good, believe it or not.)

  • Megan

    “Our visions pretty much always involve sales”


    And I’m so excited for you getting so much done! That’s great!

  • Amanda

    Birch branch fairy! Birch branch fairy!

    (Claps. Giggles. Gets up and twirls twice.)

  • AnnC

    What a great week end and yay for the birch branchs !

    We were well set on wine too… first we wanted local wine. That’s wine from where we live (Burgundy, we’re lucky guys), not from where we’re having the wedding (THAT wine is too peculiar and goes with about nothing…). Then we realised they were twice the price of Bordeaux wine.
    And because that was something we really thought nice (tasting the wine, chatting with the winery owner…), well, we splurged (on the red wine ; but the white one is still a great one).

    That’s French people for you… we won’t splurge on photography but on food, and wine ;-).

  • Chatterberries

    Birch branch fairy!!!

    By the way, it’s my first time to read your blog and I found id very interesting,I’ll check it out more often.

  • Emily

    i live in oregon and i have yet to see the branch fairy. i, too, am on the hunt for branches (preferably the manzanita variety) and if there is a branch fairy somewhere in this beautiful state, i’d like to meet him (or her?). i was convinced i was going to be reduced to ordering my branches from the foreign land of ebay.

  • Krista

    that may just be the best story ever!

  • LPC


  • Meg

    We’re sort of French like that. Food and wine is where all our money is going. In fact we didn’t buy *all* our wine on sale, because I insisted we get some of it from a small local winery where we like to go chat and sip. People keep telling me we don’t have to buy champagne (ok, “champagne,” it’s a sparkling white) that is drinkable, since no one expects drinkable bubbly for a toast. But we’ve put our foot down. We don’t want to start our married life serving bad wine. What sort of a precedent is that?


  • blind irish pirate

    I am giggling about the Branch Fairy, which ensued right after going, “Aw, they are budget minded, too!” And then I thought about my husband and got smitten.

    Look what you’ve done.

  • karri

    so, um…could you share the names of the actual bottles – cause we are so stuck. we're more beer & cocktail drinkers and we've been scouring the web for suggestions – but it's a bit overwhelming.

  • *Michelle

    I’m jealous! We JUST moved to California and found out about this whole Bevmo 5 cent crazinesss… but the wedding is in Florida! oof. Oh well. Where are you thinking for the honeymoon?

  • yvonne

    Would you mind sharing which shop you found these fab birch branches in?

  • Bride in Exile

    I’d also love to know which wines you picked, Meg! I love having excuses to pick up new bottles ;-) I’m so jealous you live in California and can find great local wines. So many of the best small vineyards don’t distribute nationally. I can think of a few bottles from Sonoma that I’d kill to serve at our wedding, if only we could get them in Colorado! (I’ve actually daydreamed about taking a wine-buying road trip to CA and back.)

    Karri, I don’t know what your budget is, but the Wall Street Journal Tastings column ran an article on great wines under $10 a few months ago: . I’ve also been blogging about possible choices for my own wedding wines if you’re interested.

  • caroline

    Ooh, birch branches will be fabulous!! I had no farmer’s market luck and found this site online: They’re based in Brooklyn but much of their big stock ships from CA.
    They also have a blog with beautiful pictures of manzanitas and other branches, and awhile back they had some posts on making chuppahs (sp?) and wedding arches so that they’re stable… might be helpful.

  • Meg

    Anyone who wants wine info drop me an email. I always hate to share those things publically because everyone’s budget is different, and god forbid someone feel sad because they couldn’t afford our choices! I would say, after the half off we spend about $7 per. We also didn’t pick baised on much other then 1) what was on sale 2) our personal taste (we’re serious wine drinkers, we know what we like) and 3) Awards the wine had won, etc.

    But if we were less serious about wine, we would have spent less. So there you have it, our values ;)

  • Ruthie

    It’s true, branch faeries do live here (Oregon) You should see the curly willow :) I also think they live at the Oregon Country Fair.

  • Rachel

    Yay for fun wedding errands that do not involve running around like a madwoman with swatches of satin that must be color matched to everything in sight! And yay for BevMo!

  • Megan

    I adore the story about the Oregon branch fairy. I hope the magic continues.

  • jamie

    Good story.

  • Kristy

    Thank you for that. There is a reason I decided I just had to read your post before leaving the office after a particularly awful day. I needed a chuckle.

    Though now I wish I could get wine on the cheap like that!

  • Anonymous

    you’ll have better luck finding them if you call them saplings. it means “baby tree.”

  • LPC

    Which leaves us of course with one final question. What kind of wine do the branch fairies drink? Dandelion? Or would they like a nice minerally sauvignon blanc do you think?

  • Meg

    Calling them saplings wouldn’t have helped much, unless they had ears (possible). We were in a store looking, not googling, around. And we did have excellent luck. Though I do agree, in general, that precision of language and thought helps you get what you are looking for. That’s why I thought “BIRCH” very loudly.

    I (of course) know exactly what saplings are. But you knew that.

  • Meg

    And I suspect Branch Fairies drink Port. They work hard all day, and like something very dark on color.

  • Amy

    The branch fairy story is delightful.

    And our wedding vision usually involves sales or the goodwill for repurposed vases. Yes, a good wedding starts with a sale.

  • Meg

    WEDDING PINATA? Whats that I hear?
    Heather, you HAVE to send me pictures.

  • Mouse

    I hope the branch fairy from Oregon brings you something spectacular!

    And I hope you found your cottage.

  • One Love Photo

    OH my gosh, you make me so happy! This is the best wedding errand list I have ever heard! If only I would have know how much fun “the to do’s”could be, perhaps I wouldn’t have eloped. Your description of finding the perfect branches reminded me of the moment when we were driving by a Mexican market and I spotted my perfect wedding pinata out the window. It was complete delight! I knew immediately that it would be our substitute “wedding cake” for our reception. I think I spent more money filling it with little treasures than if I would have just had cake.

  • MWK

    As an Oregonian, I can totally confirm that the branch fairy lives there. Where else?

  • Anonymous

    your post inspired my fiance and I to head to the flower mart to pick up some branches – we didn’t find birch, but we found beautiful curly willow branches for VERY cheap.

    As we played around in the garage trying to figure out a way to work with them without pouring HUGE pots of cement and lugging them around, I glanced up and saw the christmas tree holder (yes, we’re not jewish, we just like chuppahs).

    So, most of the DIY chuppahs I’ve seen have included plaster or cement, but we’re borrowing family’s xmas tree holders and covering them with pretty fabric – and voila – instant chuppah!

  • Natures All, Inc.

    I just stumbled across this and had a good chuckle myself. The birch branch fairy can be found at Natures All, Inc. in northern Wisconsin. We offer Chuppah/Arbor Poles in both White Birch and Aspen. We can even customize your order to fit your exact needs. Check our website at

  • Amandover

    Of all the posts I’ve been reading, the birch-branch fairy in Oregon made me tear up. Why? Let’s just say, I’ve ALWAYS wanted a magical, woodsy fairy wedding, and have been trying to be more “realistic” of late. But if there’s a magical birch-branch man who goes to SF from Oregon, then I think there will be one that makes my scattered wedding magical, too.