fireflies and cottonwood

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the Bridespeople, and the Green World July 15, 2009

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In literature, the Green World is a place/space outside of the everyday world.  In the Green World, anything can happen, especially transformations and metamorphoses.  A classic example is the forest in _A Midsummer Night’s Dream_– it is far removed from the dusty, rule-burdened streets of Athens.  Love is found, shuffled, lost, and re-discovered.  Identities are shifted and created; all is possible.

For me, being in my classes at Webster, in my beloved English department: it was my Green World.  And not only did I find myself, and become more of myself than I had ever been, I was blessed to find some of the best friends of my life.  And because I met my girlfriends from church at around the same time, and my roommates soon after– these relationship feel to me like they’re all of the same energy, giving me the same kinds of strength.

Obviously, the best part of the wedding, of getting married, is considering and planning a ceremony that will join my life and future to Matt’s.  But I think the very next best thing, before flowers and beauty and inspiration, would be the blessing of being able to surround myself with my beloved friends, from all the different parts of my life.

It’s time to introduce my side of the bridal party: the bridespeople.  I love these friends dearly.  I’ll begin with those I’ve known the longest.


jay, dad, steph xmas

Jamie Leigh is my baby sister, the apple of my eye.  I was six when she was born, and wanted to name her “Rainbow.”  (I’m actually surprised my parents didn’t go along with that idea…)  I’ve spent hours of my life braiding her hair, teaching her to read, worrying about her and spoiling her as best I could.  And she is a brilliant, strong, and successful young woman.  You might remember the photos of her own wedding last year, at Burning Man.


janet jay bday

For Jamie’s fifth birthday, my best friend Janet and I dressed up as a clown team– oh, the hours we spent practicing our act, and planning what we would wear.  Here is is a photo of Janet, behind a beaming Jamie.  I first met Janet in fourth grade; she lived up the street from me, and we spent days and months riding our bikes all over town, including down Beer Can Alley.  We swam all summer long, and enjoyed the incredible swing she had in her yard.  She’s my oldest childhood friend, and is lending me her gorgeous cathedral-length wedding veil as my “something borrowed.”


janet steph

In this photograph, we are at her engagement party.


mike amy

I wish I could remember when, the year— maybe 1999 or 2000, but at some point, I was very lucky to meet two wonderful women.  We formed fast friendships, and over the years, I have lost count of the times I have been thankful for their presence in my life.  This is Amy, and her husband Mike.  Amy is the kind of friend everyone should have, and the kind of woman, mother, sister, and friend I aspire to be.  She is funny, brilliant, and caring, and has been with me through some really tough periods in my life.

steph amy

Here we are at a New Year’s Eve party.


Around the same time I met and befriended Amy, we also met and befriended Jennifer.  We were inseparable at church events, and I have so many good memories related to making sandwiches and driving them in my breaking-down car to a shelter in the city.  We’d laugh until we were sick, and gossip, and catch up on our weeks.

jen steph close


jen steph


jen cooking

Clearly, we also went to lots of parties together.  Jennifer also grew up in Southern Illinois, so we understand a common history in each other.  For years, we sang in the church choir together, whispering between songs, sharing our lives, and getting scolded for talking by the choirmaster.  Have you begun to notice that my friends are also all gorgeous?  Wait until you see how lovely they look in their dresses!


In 1998, my little cousin Catherine Jean (Caty) was born, the youngest cousin by far, into a family full of girl cousins.  Our Grammy always remarks how much Caty reminds her of me as a child, and of Jamie as a child.  She is an excellent reader, plays tennis and golf (!), is very smart and good, and has already been a flower girl twice–it’s time to be a junior bridesmaid!

caty 12th night

Here is Caty at one of my parties, with a special festive head-dressing for the occasion.


school pic caty

A recent school picture of Caty.


kim nick steph chi

When I began at college, I was an education major– I didn’t even know, at that time, that one could major in English.  Once I made this discovery, so many things fell into place.  Nick was also a double major, and we had a few semesters with nearly identical schedules– walking from mindless, insensible “teaching of reading” classes into the heady Green World of contemporary short fiction.  In this photo, he and Kim and I are at the Contemporary Art Museum in Chicago; at the time, we three were planning to go to Haiti as part of a group, and were sort of testing out whether we could travel together.  It was an early stage in our friendship– to convince them of my friendliness, I have made each of us individualized pies, and monograms in pastry.  These are wrapped and ribboned, in front of us for this photo.  They became friends with me despite this, I think.


kim steph

Kim and I were also part of a large group in this amazingly difficult historical linguistics class.  Before each class, many of us would meet in the basement to go over our crazy homework assignments, and talk about our instructor, the other classmates, and everything else.  Kim and Nick and I survived Haiti, by the way.  And as I grew stronger and more Stephanie by the semester, they were there.  


tom kim steph

Pictured here with me and Kim is Tom, another who has experienced the Green World, and another member of that historical linguistics class. 


with erin and girls

Erin is also part of the Green World, and was also in that historical linguistics class.  Clearly, deciphering Old English does fast friendships make.  In this photo, Matt and I are with Erin and her two gorgeous girls, Celia and Adele.


whole group before haiti

This photo was taken the night before Kim, Nick, and I went to Haiti.  Along with us and Erin and Tom are Angelo (who once came in disguise to visit Kim and me in Prague) and yet another classmate from that linguistics class.


After Prague, I did a term at Oxford, where I met Macy.  She and I (and French Caroline) were floormates, and we would leave our doors open at all hours, for revelry, gossiping, work, nail-painting, and so forth.  We had a powerful, unstoppable energy between us.  I was strong and brilliant and brave; the days were gilded, lengthy, and monumental.  There’s a river there, hanging with yellow, and we were so beautiful and creative.  

caro mace steph

Macy is in the middle– here we are, with Caroline.  I think we’re in Stratford-upon-Avon here.


steph mace high table


Here we are at a High Table (where the faculty sit in robes on a dais at the top of the room, and the butlers come around and serve us very rich food.)  Macy writes amazing fiction, and gives off radiance where-ever she goes.
I’m realizing–as I look at these photos and describe all my dear friends–how they and their energies have helped make me who I am.


steph jodut

And, in my first year teaching, I moved in with Jodut.  Luckily for me, her Teach for America roommate had freaked out over locker assignments in the first week of school– so she needed a roommate, and it was me.  Cue my introduction to _Sex & the City_, and her introduction to fancy stationery and lots of ribbons and feathers.  We’d shop together, cook together, and survived two burglaries together.  In our second year as roommates, we moved in with another pair of teacher roommates, into a giant sprawling apartment, Essex House (the Sex Ho for short.)


all sex ho

Here is the entire Sex Ho crew; Tom and Eric are groomsmen, on Matt’s side.  This picture was actually taken by Nick– we are sitting in a place where he was bartender.


And there you have them: the bridespeople.  Dear, dear friends who have changed my life, informed who I am, made me braver and stronger, supported me, challenged me, and inspired me.  They are steadfast, they are brilliant, they are amazing.  I couldn’t be luckier to be surrounded by them on my wedding day.


Classic beauty March 10, 2009

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I love this old advertisement from Ivory Soap for so many reasons.  First, we don’t have many advertisements nowadays that use drawings or sketches– ads today use “real” women– but they aren’t very real.  The bride in this illustration doesn’t even look like she has any make-up on; this is appropriate, of course, because the ad is for Ivory Soap.  As in, your skin will be so naturally beautiful that you won’t need any make-up.


I also really like the beautiful lettering, and the illustrated roses around the phrase, “The Bride.”  It’s so simple, and old-fashioned.  It makes me think of book labels, or place cards, or personal stationery. 


The greenery and flowers are also lovely– notice that there are fresh flowers on the bride’s veil, and we can see one of the bridesmaids’ bouquets.  The bridesmaids themselves look so sweet, and serene, and are sending the couple off with rice.   And the bride herself– the very picture of calm.


Finally, I really appreciate that the bride and groom are pictured together. Again, in many ads, and all throughout bridal magazines, it’s only about the bride.  Even in Martha Stewart Weddings, which does a great job of showing off the uniqueness and beauty of each couple, there are few photos with the groom, or with the groom as equally pictured as the bride.


I understand that the finery and choices for the bride can be more exciting than those of the groom…and that the consumers of bridal ads are mostly the women themselves.  But I don’t like the idea that it’s all about _me_ on that day, that I’m a fashion plate existing in a one-day fantasy.  I prefer the reality: that Matt and I are sharing a sacrament, with our families and loved ones around us, and _together_ are beautiful and glowing on that day.  Somehow, this old advertisement captures some of that sentiment, in lovely, muted pastels.  Perfect.


Hair vines, enchanting combs, and other lovelies March 3, 2009

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Given that I already have a cathedral-length veil to wear, I have to be careful about what else I choose to put in my hair– of course, I am all for festooning myself with all manner of lovely things, but a girl can’t wear everything at once.


A quick trip through Etsy made me eager to entwine my hair with fancy things.  Perhaps I’ll need something for the rehearsal dinner, and then for brunch the day after the wedding… for all wedding-weekend long.


From Esty seller Lulu Splendor.




From Etsy seller Miss Ruby Sue.  I’d like this one just for every day.



From Etsy seller Feathers and Frills.  This looks like little more than a simple piece of lace, perhaps with a ribbon at the back to tie it, but I love how beautiful it looks, without being over-done.



Also from Lulu Splendor.


I know more and more brides are going without a veil, or choosing other options: feathers, fascinators, hats, or fresh flowers.  I think definitely if we were still having a summer wedding, I would want to incorporate fresh flowers.  I wonder if the brides-ladies would like to wear something romantic and sparkly in their hair…


Winter weddings December 30, 2008

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We’re officially in the process of moving our Summer 2009 wedding date back into Winter 2009 territory. We’re awaiting word from the church, and from the reception venue.  Hopefully, we can announce a new date soon.  And enjoy looking forward to the summer to settle in (if need be) to a new location, and looking forward to next fall for really focusing on getting ready for the wedding.

Images that caught my eye this morning, as I meandered around looking for inspiring winter whites:


This is a photograph from 1939– it really has nothing to do with winter, per se, but I love the formality.  And how unstoppable the bride looks.

From the wedding blog of Olivier Lalin.


Oh, veil.  How wonderful are the voluminousness and layering here?

From Wedding by Design.


I don’t think my church would let us do this, but I’m a-gog all the same.  What an easy way to create breathtaking-ness!  I’ve actually used this idea before, for lots of parties.  Once I made tiny branches as invitations, from old branches I found in a friend’s backyard.  I glued tiny paper leaves, and the party information was on a scrolled piece of paper that wound along the tree trunk.  Invitees each received a box, with a tiny tree inside.  I love branches– Matt often bemoans the giant one I have propped on top of  one of our bookcases in our entryway.  He claims it bumps into him. I claim it looks fabulous.



And finally, how jaw-droppingly gorgeous is this wedding photograph?!  Just amazing.

From the Wedding Gallery of the View Point Inn.