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Elisabeth: It’s All Really Happening

Today you guys are in for a rare treat. It’s Intern Tuesday, times two. This morning we have Elisabeth, she of the conversion to Islam and super super long distance wedding planning, giving us her once a month long form update on her wedding. (She has a date! Congratulations to Elisabeth! Clang the bells of glee!) Then this afternoon we have Madeline here with a post so lovely it will make your eyes and heart fill. I’m in love with today. Let’s begin our mediation on distance.

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Amin and I sat down to take the first step in planning a wedding: creating a guest list. This was the first wedding planning thing we ever did. We did it before we were even engaged. It was exciting. Look at all the people we love! Think what a great party this is going to be! That first day, we put down over 300 people, but over the intervening months we have, without too much bloodshed (yet), narrowed it down to something closer to 220, and we know that many of those will probably not be able to make it. So, from a mammoth list, we have entered the realm of sanity. (Don’t get me wrong. I know this is still a huge list. But Amin has more than a hundred family members, so there are limits to what we can chop off.)

We knew the next key task would be to find a venue, so once the engagement was official, that was where we started. And quickly discovered that there’s not so many places in London that accommodate more than two hundred people. Who knew. So while all through the Christmas holidays I trolled through wedding websites for venue options in London, we also cast the net a bit further afield and began to look at Dubai and Pakistan, where we hoped we could find something closer to our perfect imaginary wedding.

Unfortunately, Pakistan is too far, and politically tricky, for my American friends and family to be willing to brave it, plus we knew we were going to have a walimah there anyway (a sort of post-wedding-reception reception), in order to accommodate the Pakistani family who won’t be able to make it to the wedding proper (and to make sure we get to fully enjoy as many different cultural traditions as possible). Dubai turned out a) tough to arrange when nobody lived anywhere near it and b) almost as expensive as London if we went with the easy options. So after months and months of looking at options all over the world (we even checked out possible destination events in Greece) we ended up coming back around to London, which at least had the virtue of being geographically intermediate and a place where one of us at least had a home base.

Of course, the above paragraph simplifies what was actually a grueling months-long process where we seemed to come up with ideas again and again, only to find reasons they were impossible. Increasingly we talked about just inviting twenty people and doing something small, because it seemed like we wouldn’t be able to have the wedding that we wanted and also invite everyone that we wanted. But one of the very very first things I ever said was that I wanted to be able to have everybody there, so cutting the list more than we already had seemed like too much of a compromise, and I resisted vigorously. There must be some place in the world that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and can hold enough people for a rockin’ party.

And time dragged on and on, and I wrote a frustrated post for APW about how bloody hard it is to arrange anything through long distance, and three days after that post went up Amin left London for a twelve-day ten-country whirlwind business trip, and lost both his phones, and suddenly we weren’t communicating at ALL except through business-like email exchanges with vendors and venues in the UK.

But! Last week, by the grace of God, we finally managed to cross the invisible line between nebulous “planning” with nothing to show for it, despite the hours and hours and hours of angsty discussion, and “Holy crap, we’re actually going to throw a wedding!”

Yes, folks. We have a venue. Which means we also have a date! Which means that the wedding, such as it is, will happen!! Suddenly everything seems a lot more real. And by real, I mean exciting. Haha! Now I just have to hold on until the ninth of September, and, knock on wood, the wedding will happen, even if it features me, in jeans, serving peanut butter and jelly to a room full of irate guests with no chairs to sit on.

Ninth of September, ninth of September. Remember, remember, the ninth of September.

Of course, this decision also means that the wedding is happening in less than six months, and we have the following things to arrange:

  • Invitations
  • The ceremony!
  • Photography
  • Music
  • Clothing
  • Decorations
  • FOOD
  • Hotels for guests
  • All other relevant things I am currently forgetting about

Now my excitement takes on an edge of hysteria. But at least I have something concrete to hold on to. You have no idea what a relief it is (or maybe you do) to have found a date. At the very least, I can hold out the hope that, on the tenth of September, I will wake up and the wedding will be over and I can laugh and say, “Haha, wasn’t that fun? Just kidding, we are NEVER THROWING A PARTY AGAIN.”

It also makes it so much easier to make decisions. I’m not living in fantasy perfect-wedding-land, where I get married in a forest under the weeping willows on a carpet of four-leaf clovers. Nor are we getting married in a Tudor Palace. Nor (and this is a real tragedy) have I managed to convince Amin to throw a traditional Punjabi wedding and ride in on a horse, wielding a sword, to whisk me away from my family.

But, and here’s the (happy happy) kicker: it’s actually happening. Which somehow means I am free of the gluttony of choice that paralyzed me over the past months. This thing is real. And gosh darn it, even if I can’t have silk-wrapped hand-designed invitations personally delivered by pirates, at least the invitations will say the right thing: COME TO OUR PARTY. IT’S ACTUALLY HAPPENING.

Photo by: Studio Mathewes Photography

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