fireflies and cottonwood

our wedding blog

Maps and Such December 6, 2009

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I have been working on a Google Map for the wedding. I put some restaurants down on it, plus where some of the MetroLink stops are, and the locations of the hotel, wedding, and reception. Finally, I have some of the different locations mentioned as “Things To Do in St. Louis.” I’ll likely add some more things to do and restaurants, but I wanted to have this up.

Then, our dear friend and bridesmaid Janet found some information about parking in downtown, so we have a handy map here.


“Don’t call what you’re wearing an outfit” November 16, 2009

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Despite what Jason Isbell sings, I have been most definitely putting together an outfit in my head for the wedding. I find it a bit odd to walk into the shoe department at Macy’s on 34th, which I did yesterday, and have very definite opinions to explain to the saleslady about what I want my shoes to look like. I am not used to having strong opinions about these things. Right now, I can pretty clearly visualize what I will be wearing when I am standing in the front of Emmanuel Episcopal Church on January 2, waiting for my love to come down the aisle to me.

My jacket: I have a charcoal grey tweed Crail jacket and three-button waistcoat on order from Thistle & Clover, the Scottish/Irish store on Main Street in Old St. Charles. They have ordered it from a supplier in Scotland, and hopefully it should arrive in the first week of December. Stephanie got a look at the version they had in the store, and I assume it will look pretty much like this (only in my size):


My shoes: I wanted to buy shoes that looked nice, were appropriate to wear with a kilt, but which I might wear other times when I was dressing up, and not just with my kilt. After poking around online to see what I liked, I went twice down to DSW to see if they would have what I wanted, and ended up yesterday at Macy’s, settling eventually on this pair:

Bostonian Whateley

They feel pretty comfortable for dress shoes, and look good with the kilt stockings.

My belt & sporran: We haven’t chosen these, really, but from Stephanie’s scouting trip to Thistle & Clover, I saw a belt and sporran that I like. For the belt, I favor the one with the embossed thistle design:


For the sporran, I didn’t want anything with fur on it, and I didn’t want anything with tassels that would clatter when I walked. This one, with a Celtic knot design looks good to me:


My kilt: I have a kilt in the Dunbar tartan, custom-tailored, which I wore in Andrew’s wedding.


Flashes and Socks: Finishing it all off, I have cream-colored woolen kilt hose, and the flashes I got when I originally got the kilt from my grandparents, way back in high school:


Tie & shirt: I’ll be wearing my green Burns tie, and I’ll get a new white shirt, but a regular buttoned one, I imagine, not one needing cuff links. We’ll see about that, though.


Things to Do in St. Louis: Wineries! November 15, 2009

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I was thinking this morning about when I went to my friend Carlos’ wedding in Switzerland. The day before the wedding (or maybe two days before), we were casting about for something to do to get ourselves out from underneath all the people planning the logistics of the wedding. Carlos and the whole lot of young non-Swiss guests ended up taking a day trip out to Gruyere. It was fun. I was thinking what would be a similar trip for people hanging around St. Louis before our wedding, who might want to dash out for a day trip, and I thought of the wineries.

Most people don’t think of Missouri and wine together, but the state actually has a long, proud history of winemaking. Most of that history stopped at Prohibition, and it is only just starting up again, but surrounding St. Louis on all sides are some really nice wineries, and Stephanie and I have happily visited several of them. My family has also made a sort of tradition of going out to Hermann (one of the major wine towns), because it is so close to my grandmother’s house.

Hermann – Hermann is a town on the Missouri River, about an hour and a half west of St. Louis. It is a seasonal town, with a lot of stores that open only in the summer, for the traffic that the wineries bring. The wineries themselves, though, are open year-round. There are three good ones, which I have visited. Stone Hill is the most prestigious, and they have their building on top of a hill, surrounded by vineyards. They have an old cellar, a restaurant, and a big tasting room and store. They give regular tours, which are really cool (and quite cheap). Closer in to town is Hermannhof Vineyards, which seems a bit more homely. I have never taken their tour, and their tasting room is much smaller. They also feature sausages and cheese, which they sell. Their port, though, is excellent, and near and dear to my heart. Further out from town, in the countryside, is the Adam Puchta Winery, which may have the best wines, and definitely had the best tasting experience when I went there. Very personable and creative.

Ste-Genevieve – Down the Mississippi River, an hour’s drive south on I-55, is the town of Ste-Genevieve, which has some of the oldest buildings in the Midwest, and tries to maintain some of the old French frontier feel. I was not as impressed by the wineries in town as I was by Hermann (which may be German chauvinism on my part, I know), but outside of town is the Charleville Winery & Microbrewery, which is great. The beer is good, the wine is OK, but the atmosphere is fantastic. They have tables set out on the hillside facing their vineyards, and you can buy wine and beer from their shop, bring your own picnic, and sit out and enjoy the view. In May, 2007, just before moving out to New York City, Stephanie and I went out with some friends (most all of whom are in the wedding party) and had a lovely picnic here. In January, this may not be the best thing (and in inclement weather, I think that the dirt road out to the winery may be impassable anyway), but if we get one of those odd Missouri winter days when the sun is out and you could be tempted to wear short sleeves, it might be cool to go there.

I don’t know much about the Southern Illinois wineries, or the Augusta wineries, but I know they are out there. I think in all likelihood, everyone will stay in St. Louis, and enjoy the sights and company of the city, but I figured I’d throw this out there as a Thing to Do.


Introducing the Groomsmen July 27, 2009

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I will have seven groomsmen, including my best man. I am really excited to have all of them be part of our wedding. I wrote (too brief) introductions to each of them, in order of when they entered my life:



Andrew is my older brother, and some of my earliest memories are of looking up to him. I remember once he told me that “only babies” swing on a tire swing lying on their bellies, and I spent what felt like fruitless hours swinging on my belly, trying to reclaim my lost baby-hood. He also taught me how to read, much to my mother’s astonishment. Growing up, he did all of the usual “cool older brother” jobs, especially making tapes of cool music when he went off to college. He’s a poet and a journalist and a college instructor, and a father to little Aisla Rose, who will be just shy of two years old at the wedding. His wife, Lynette, also a poet and a teacher, joined our family already six years ago now. The three of them live up in Greenfield, MA, with their dog, Sprout.

Pulling Wagon An early photo of Andy pulling me in the wagon.

IMG_0015 I don’t really know how I got this photo, but it makes me think of the “swank” tape he made for me.

fathers-day Andrew and little Aisla.



Jerod, who will be my best man, is my cousin on my Dad’s side. He was between Chris and me in age, but he was always bigger than me, and more athletic. He played baseball in college and now works in something terribly complicated with computers. He helped me to move from Gainesville to Missouri in 2003, and then was my closest friend while I got my bearings. He and his brother Tom accompanied me on a crazed cross-country drive to Andrew and Lynette’s wedding in Massachusetts, including an infamous late-night drive through New York City. He was the first member of my family to meet Stephanie, and I will be proud to have him beside me when we are married.

Me and Jerod Jerod and me next to some old train in St. Charles, around 1980.

IMG_0074 Jerod and our cousin Clayton in Kansas City to watch the Royals play.

DSCN1980 Jerod at the “kiddies’ table” at Easter, with his girlfriend Kelly and her sons.



Chris is my younger brother. We spent our childhoods bickering, as close siblings are wont to do, but Mom was right (as she often is) when she said that we would be the best of friends once we grew up. Chris went off to engineering school in New York, which was the beginning of our family’s dispersion around the country, making our never frequent-enough family gatherings into red-letter days of the year. I drove cross-country with Chris in 2000 to help him move to Austin, TX for graduate school, then made several memorable visits out there, including the 2002 South by Southwest Festival, with a detour to the Guadalupe Mountains (Jerod came along for that one). Chris lives in Houston now, with his fiancee Amanda (they will be married in October), where he is an environmental engineer.

Me and Chris Awwww…

IMG_0013 The two of us, I believe at Jill’s wedding.

IMG_0005 The two of us, as members of “Team Don.”



Carlos was one of my dearest friends at New College. We lived next door to each other our first year, then were room-mates our second year. Through all of the usual undergraduate stuff, we were there for each other. Then, Carlos went on to Medical School in Gainesville, and I ended up there to get my Master’s in Education, so the good times continued. I was there in 2005, when Carlos married Nancy in Switzerland, in the small church where her parents were married. Carlos and Nancy lived in New York City for a few years, and I try not to hold it against them that they moved to Texas the summer I moved to NYC. They have a two-year-old son, Tristan. He now lives near Austin under the alias, “Dr. Victorica.”

IMG_0017 One of an entertaining series of photos of the big graduation party our first year at New College.

IMG_0014 Carlos at the reception of his wedding to Nancy.

04500003 Carlos, with Tristan, at the Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park. Nancy is in the background.



Tom was my coworker for three years at L’Ouverture Middle School in St. Louis. It was part of the dysfunction of that school that it was only sometime in the spring of our first year working together that we knew each other as anything other than “Mr. Peteet” and “Mr. Varnon.” Tom was, of course, the bridge between Stephanie and me, as he introduced us just minutes after confirming his own first name to me, that first evening we hung out together socially. Tom lived with Stephanie, along with Eric and Jodut, at the infamous (Es)Sex Ho(use), and moved to the east coast at the same time I did, in his case going to Medical School in Worcester, MA.

00120007 Tom at Stephanie’s birthday party at Union.

DSCN0780 Tom and Stephanie at the Museum of Modern Art.

DSCN2093 Tom, with his beloved coconut drink, at Crotona Park, Queens.



Eric Shieh is a brilliant polymath: a poet, a violinist, a teacher, and a legend in his own time. He is also the most likely to make off-color observations if he is allowed to make any toasts during the wedding events. He and Tom lived together for three years in St. Louis, two of those at the Sex Ho, though Eric spent an extra year in St. Louis before joining us on the East Coast. Eric then moved practically across the street from Stephanie and me, as he attends graduate school at the Teachers College of Columbia University.

IMG_0007 Eric, after playing violin for Stephanie’s dad’s wedding.

IMG_0010 Eric and Stephanie, still at Bob’s wedding.

DSCN1706 Eric, along with Tom, at our apartment for a Sex Ho Christmas Reunion.



Larry is Stephanie’s cousin. He started dating his (now) wife Crystal at about the same time Stephanie and I started dating, so we had several dinners out together. He does something fiendishly complicated in network security, and lives in South St. Louis with Crystal and their chocolate labrador retriever, Galt. Their house is our most-frequent home-base in our visits to St. Louis since we moved to New York City. Larry has introduced me to some of the Wiggins family legends with his customary dry wit and deadpan delivery, and I shudder a bit to contemplate what would happen if at any point in the wedding festivities he were given a microphone to toast/roast us.

65120002 Larry, with Crystal and Stephanie.

DSCN2596 Larry and Stephanie at his wedding reception.


Cake Topper April 17, 2009

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We made a visit back to the Midwest for Easter.  While we were at my grandmother’s house, we officially asked her about using the cake topper she has in one of her glass cabinets.


At first, we thought it might be really old, a sort of antique, but in fact it was just from my grandparents’ 50th anniversary cake in 1997. It is still cool, and a part of our theme of honoring our connections with our families, through our wedding.




ETA: Stephanie here– I just add to jump into Matt’s post, because I _love_ this cake topper so much.  I spied it the first time I visited Matt’s grandma, and I have to admit– I made a mental note 🙂  It is so romantic and old-fashioned.  And, because it was used as a topper for a 50th Wedding Anniversary cake, it holds special meaning– a sort of good luck blessing.


Things to Do in St. Louis: St. Louis Art Museum March 7, 2009

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Changing the date of our wedding, from July to January, changes a lot of things. Stephanie, of course, is far more competent to articulate the stylistic changes that will happen, now that we have a winter wedding. I think for me, it makes my twill Argyle jacket more of a winner, but that is about the extent of it. But then, if I am looking for what to recommend to the out of town visitors coming in for the wedding, the season makes a bigger difference. Ted Drewe’s is less of a destination in the bleak midwinter. Here’s a place that is dear to Stephanie and I, the St. Louis Art Museum.


SLAM was a place both Stephanie and I loved when we first met, and we went there together many times. Like many St. Louis museums, it is free for the permanent collection, and has a really nice and diverse collection. Both Stephanie and I really like the contemporary sculpture The Breaking of the Vessels,which is in one of the main atria, but my favorite piece was a Japanese screen in the Asian gallery, which I used to go an look at on evenings when I was stressed from work. It rotates in and out with other large Japanese works, and hasn’t been there the last few times I have gone, unfortunately.


One of the things about SLAM in the winter is that Art Hill, which rolls down from the museum to the pond with the fountain, is one of the popular sledding hills in the city. I haven’t been, but it was always one of those things I wish I had done in the city.


At the beginning of a New Year January 31, 2009

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We’ve been thinking for a long while that we would need to move our wedding back from this summer into next winter, for a number of reasons. It became my unofficial task to make the formal announcement, and I have been dithering, since part of the delay has been wanting to make sure we can do this wedding safely, on our own terms, with our own money (for the most part). Well, I just got my first full-salaried paycheck, after dealing with the dreadful bureaucracy of the New York State Education Department for a year-and-a-half. So, I am feeling bold enough to say: our new wedding date is January 2, 2010.


What does this mean? It means that my knees will likely be cold, and I will definitely be wearing a twill jacket, for any outdoor photographs. According to the almanac, the average high temperature on a January 2nd in St. Louis is 38°, and the average low temperature is 22°. It means that we will be spending our Christmas with our families and friends in the St. Louis area, with the holiday drifting into our wedding preparations. Hopefully it will not mean major inconveniences for our guests, scheduling their holidays and travel for our wedding.


I was recently made aware that the tradition with weddings was to have them begin at the half-hour, so that the new married life together would begin with the minute hand of the clock on the upswing. Well, we’re going to have our whole first married year on the upswing of the new year. It is an invigorating prospect. It seems like songs like “This Will Be Our Year” might have increased prominence in our wedding…