27 October 2014

Thoughts on Bridesmaids

I have thought for a long time about this subject. 

This was probably even one of my first thoughts after Ben and I started discussing marriage a couple years ago. 
Sometimes, I felt a total rush and assurance that yes I did want my best girlfriends by my side when I got hitched. But most of the time, I just felt total dread. I felt pressured and anxious. I didn't want to deal with it. I'd fall asleep at night thinking about my wedding day, the people off to my side in a blurry haze of indecision. Bridesmaids. 

Don't get me wrong; I love my girlfriends dearly and I appreciate them deeply. And I understand the concept of bridesmaids and I like the tradition behind it. But every time I thought about who would actually be my bridesmaid, I'd panic. 

The thing is, I have lots of close friends, but they are all from different parts of my life. I have my sunshine blonde best friend from childhood who I spent my young years ridding bikes to Blockbuster and emptying their shelves of 80's horror films and Milk Duds. I have my high school best friend with her sun-kissed dreads and raspy voice, who, whenever we skype makes me feel like I just left her five minutes ago. I have my heavily tattooed college best friend who makes me laugh harder than anyone and I have my dearest girlfriend here in Moscow who makes my expat life feel more normal. And I have Ben's sister who is going to be my family and who I greatly look forward getting to know. And while I love them all, the idea of them all in matching dresses, or standing around me, or taking pictures together, it stresses me out. 

And not really for any reason, but it does. Maybe because though they are all close to me, they are all strangers to each other. Maybe because I feel like I will have to spend my time trying to get them to see what I see in all of them. But really, it just isn't me to be hanging out in a group of girls. 

I'll explain. 

For as long as I can remember, I have hated being in groups of girls (insert traumatic birthday sleepover story here). It just isn't me. I've always been a best friends kinda gal or a big group of party friends, but nothing really in between. 

And what are bridesmaids really for? They're who you get ready with, right? All pomp and circumstance aside, they're supposed to help you out on your big day. Well, I don't want to get ready with a group of girls. It's not me. And while I want all these ladies to know how special they are to me, I don't want to show that with dorky dresses and forced pictures. 

So here's what I'm thinking:

I think I'm going to skip the bridesmaid thing.

I'd like to incorporate my close friends into the ceremony, maybe with readings from a poem or toasts later on in the evening, but I'd really just like it to be me and Ben up there. 

This is a hard thing to back away from and I feel a bit wary about doing so. I know my friends won't mind because they know me and they'll understand, but I also feel anxious about how it will look or something. But that shouldn't be what weddings are about. The wedding should be a reflection of the couple and the beginning of your joined life together. And I don't want to spend that time feeling uncomfortable because I'm an introverted loon. 

I read stone fox bride's blog every now and then (and you should too--and follow their instagram, it's absolute gold) and the brides featured always have the most badass advice. Someone--I can't remember who--finally said the words I'd been waiting to here:

It's your day. Do what you want. If you want a gluten free cake, have it. If you want to walk down the aisle to the Grateful Dead, do it. If you don't want bridesmaids, don't do it.

These pretty gals are rockin' those blush dresses, that's for sure.
Image found here.

What do you guys think? Did you have bridesmaids? Will you? Was it less stress than you thought it would be? Am I going to regret it in the long run? Is it OK to just throw tradition to the wind and do whatever you want?

I'd love to here your thoughts on the matter or read about what you did. I still might change my mind, but I wanted to bring it up in this space.


22 October 2014

Brussels, Belgium pt. 2

Another trip, another faded blue stamp in my passport. Our days in Brussels were filled with beer, sandwiches (the Belgians love sandwiches I guess?), more beer, croissants, friendly people, a way too much to drink night at the Delirium brewery, beautiful new clothes (from an Urban Outfitters which I haven't stepped foot in literally years at this point), and a new place to say we loved. 

I don't know if it's because I live in a country where even the simplest pleasantries are rare, or if it's because the people in Brussels were just fantastically nice, but I felt like I was spreading out my Midwestern-girl wings and soaking in the joys of pleases and thank-yous and smiles to strangers and cashiers and waiters and waitresses. It's addicting and both Ben and I felt a weight come over us when we re-entered Moscow. No more smiles.

Brussels was a bit like Amsterdam, a bit like all of Europe, but mostly it's own. It had a beautiful, old part of the city that we stumbled on from an amazing view from above and a really hip, new part of the city that we were lucky enough to find an inexpensive place to stay in (get ready for an upcoming Airbnb tips and tricks post). 

Things that were done:

-A quick stop at Delirium Tremens brewery turned into hours long conversations with everyone nearby. Great fun.
-I ate oysters and lobster. Ben always found it fascinating that I'd never had seafood (Midwest born for me, East Coast for him), but I hadn't. I honestly can't think of one thing besides tilapia. I always think of seafood being for rich people, but even when we went up to Maine, our campground's canteen had sea-plucked lobsters for sale for twenty bucks, but that was our beer money so we passed. I liked the oysters better, weirdly.
-The greatest sandwich of all time was consumed (picture above). Ben found a highly reviewed cafe near our place that was only open for three hours everyday. We wandered through the bizarrely quiet streets (seriously, Belgian people--why yo city so quiet in the day?!) until we stumbled on this half Parisian Tibetan restaurant and ordered small glasses of wine and a parmesan and tomato sandwich. OMFG.
-Wandered the streets talking about Russia, about ourselves. Less daydreaming these days and more of plotting. We want out and we have a deep determination in our stomachs to do so. We want to save money, we're debating traveling anymore, we want to go to Boston, to Boston, we just keep coming back to Boston. We take a lot of stabs at what our life will be like there and who we will be once we arrive.
-We discovered the joys of morning-sandwich. Definitely a thing now. 

I wish I had more insight into the museums and the galleries of the city, but we didn't go in any so I have no tips. I like walking around. I like seeing people walking around. I like finding good restaurants and bad ones. I like haggling over street art and buying small sacks of artisan chocolate. I like meeting strangers and begging them to bar hop with us. I like feeling like I really saw somewhere.

I don't know, go to Belgium and see for yourself. And don't buy any chocolate... the ones they give you with your coffee are the best in town ;).

21 October 2014

Brussels, Belgium pt. 1

As soon as we get to the airport, Ben and I always begin drinking. Our flight left at 9 a.m. so we started promptly at 7. Vacation!

Right before we left for Russia, we ordered Guinness beers with Ben's dad in the airport lounge. I was sick to my stomach and so anxious I probably only had three or four sips. However, since then, Ben and I have found ourselves ordering Guinness beers during all our airport waits. Like this time, they just seem to happen.

That milkshake is a stout one. It was awesome. 

So french.

Part two and my thoughts on our trip to Belgium will appear tomorrow...

13 October 2014

Wedding Inspo//Flowers

For my second installment of my wedding inspiration series, we will be discussing flowers.

I feel like flowers play a big part in setting the tone for the wedding.

You pick sunflowers, you have a big-yellow-sunshine-slapstick wedding. You listen to Woody Nelson and eat vegan cupcakes and everyone takes whiskey shots.
You pick red roses, you have a serious, Valentine's Day wedding. You eat steak tips and your first dance is to Moonlight by Glenn Miller. Maybe an old lover comes and sulks in the corner in a dark raincoat, but leaves as soon as you spot him.
You grab some dandelions and take them to the courthouse with you, because you're too cool to care or you're so cool that you've made up some weed-to-love metaphor. You ask the bartender to play "Have Love, Will Travel" by the Sonics and a flash mob comes in and dances the polka.

I spend a lot of time on pinterest looking for floral designs that are both muted and elegant at the same time. I don't want a color scheme, per say, but I have "off-limits" colors I guess. I want everything to blend into each other and be simple and sophisticated in the same sentence. Ya know? And by the way, I totally recognize that every bride has their own taste, this is just mine. 

While I like and appreciate the arrangement, the fern-ish leaves are just a bit too "Big Sur" for me. You could only pull this off in-between Redwoods. 
But I love the gray-pinks and those little white ball flowers (anyone know what they are?).
Found here.

How insane is that baby's breath bouquet? 
Aren't they just the sweetest flowers of them all? Couldn't you just fall asleep in a field of them?
They also just have such a versatility about them; you can dress them up and have a completely romantic, woodsy wedding, where you walk down the aisle to an Explosions in the Sky song or you can throw them in mason jars and set them around an all-white banquet hall up in New England and dance to Marvin Gaye all night long.
Found here.

Ah, the peonies. I actually don't know if I've come across any peony-centered weddings (I think they might be a pricey flower), but they're so perfect and elegant and feminine. 
I love how they look like they could bloom on and on forever. Just endless openings.
I think having a small bouquet of them and then some on each table (maybe in paper-thin-necked blue anthropologie glass vase I'm going to make my mom buy me) 
would look so chic and nice.
Found here.

So what do you guys think? Know of any good flower weddings? I really loved reading your comments about my dresses post, so feel free to throw your 60 cents in on this one too.


09 October 2014

Wedding Inspo//Dresses Edition

So, I'm engaged and all and now comes the beautiful part of planning for the wedding.

That sounded a bit sarcastic, I didn't mean it to be. I'm actually really excited and I can't wait to crack my knuckles and turn this wedding into a beautiful, fabulous, unique-to-me and-Ben-only, party. Since we got engaged, Ben and I have spent hours pouring over wedding blogs, looking at different flower arrangements and lighting fixtures, venues and catering options, listening to DJ's and calling photographers, all to curate some that really speaks to us and our tastes. I'm actually pleasantly surprised by how much interest Ben has shown. I knew he would care about the location, food, bar, general feel, but he's been so helpful and has added so many of his own ideas--it's been a really nice thing to do together!

I thought it would be fun to document a little bit of that process on this blog, so I'm going to start a little series here and share with you guys some of the things I've been kicking around in my head.

First up, dresses.

I'm actually not very concerned about the dress because I feel pretty confident about my own style and I'm not too hung up on the idea of finding "the one". I want to surround myself with a lot of options and I'll pick one one of these days when the mood strikes me. But I do have a general idea of what I want to look like which is helpful (think Carolyn Bessett Kennedy drinking dandelion tea at a Grateful Dead concert).

Here's some stuff floating around my top secret pinterest board (all my wedding pinterest boards are secret and have been for awhile because I couldn't bear for anyone to see how tragically uncool I am pinning wedding ideas and what not):

Don't you just want to kill yourself over the back of that dress?
Found here.

This is that Carolyn Bessette hippie-love child dress I was telling you guys about. 

Like cool, whatever-ballerina betch?
Skirt found here.

And this girl was like, too cool to even have a wedding. 
I dig everything about this. It's like she just woke up one morning, threw her hair into a pony and was like yeah, let's go do this.
Photo found here.

So that's sort of what's knocking around in my head right now. Give me your brutally honest opinions if you'd like:)

08 October 2014

Moscow Blogger Meet-Up

You guys. I'm so official now.

When I first began reading blogs, everything I read was about fashion (specifically Zooey Deschanel-esque fashion). I would spend hours listening to Joanna Newsom and pouring over sun-spotted pictures of girls in black tights paired with brown loafers. Green 50's housewife dresses with scalloped collars. Tiny cardigans embellished with funky vintage buttons. This url actually had a fashion blog at one point, but it only lasted one post (my good-natured boyfriend at the time and I went out to a cornfield where I stared lovingly at the crops while wearing my own 50's sundress and embellished vintage-button flats while he snapped my picture).

Then one day I was cruising my Facebook newsfeed and saw a post of an article by the most extreme feminist at my college: "Why I Can't Stop Reading Hipster Mormon Mommy Blogs". She was cool, I wanted to be cool.

So that began my addiction to mommy blogs. Listening to Bon Iver and drooling over perfect babies in perfect baby slings and laughing perfect families on totally perfect vacations. The babies knew sign language and listened to Mozart! They wore tiny Anthropologie dresses! Their husbands didn't need alcohol to watch shitty shows with them!
And the best part is when they all got together for *drumroll* THE BLOGGER MEET-UP.

It was like blog porn. There they were! All together! With their babies and their cool clothes! They were taking pictures of each other! They were eating tiny cupcakes and drinking strawberry lemonade from pink and white striped straws! They were laughing and scrap booking and baby talking all over the place!

Anyway, so when Polly of A Girl and Her Travels contacted me and asked me to attend a Moscow blogger meet-up I was like, "Um, duh. I've been waiting for this since I first sashayed into tumblr in the late 2000's."

All and all, it was a really nice time. Polly is a doll (and small world moment for ya--she went to my tiny college and hung out with Ben in Moscow when he was studying abroad but found my blog through my favorite blog friend Sam's blog) and all the other bloggers were really interesting. We all chatted about Moscow life, the work we were doing here, and the stuff we missed most from home.

We have a few tentative plans for future excursions which I'm looking forward to and I'm really happy that I was included at such a lovely get together.

Make sure to check out their blogs listed below the pictures!

This was all held at one of those anti-cafes. Where you pay for time and everything else (tea, coffee, small snacks) are free. It was filled with young teens and seemed like such a cool hangout space for kids that age. 

Polly just published a magazine with her husband! How cool is that? Check it out here!

(stolen from Polly)

Prague cake?



Can I also just say that this was my first time using the term "fiance"? And it was kiiiiinda weird. Like every time I needed to mention Ben I hovered over the word. 
"My, uh... boyfriend, well fiance and I moved here two years ago..." 
"My... Ben...well, he's my fiance, we are teachers..."
"My boyfriend--fiance, sorry, we just got engaged like five seconds ago."

I don't know if I'll ever get used to it? Does it sound kinda pretentious to anyone else? I don't know, maybe I'm just a weirdo. 
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