Wedding Planning: COVID Edition

“…they can eat corn dogs and sit in their cars.” ~ Iliza Shlesinger Unveiled Netflix special

That’s pretty much how I feel right about now when it comes to wedding planning. It’s overpriced, overrated and would not recommend. One star. Before I go any further talking about wedding planning during the second part of a global pandemic, let me go back to August 2019.

The Proposal: August 31, 2019

Eric and I have been together a little over a year and a half. I had moved in with his family the month before, right after my parents had moved to Florida and I had started a contract job hoping it would lead to a full time position (Spoiler alert: it didn’t.)

At some point, one of Eric’s family friends had given us tickets for a cruise on the Belle of Louisville which we had been saving for a fun date night. He finally had a Saturday off, so we seized the day and got ready for a day on the river. We didn’t have the lunch cruise ticket, so we got some snacks on the concessions and ate lunch – we’re pretty low maintenance.

We were sight seeing on the boat and I was talking about angles for photos, when he abruptly told me I might what to put away my phone. I turned around and there he was on one knee, proposing to me with my mom’s ring. I was so happy, I immediately said yes. Then I FaceTimed with my parents a few minutes later and then my little sister when she was on break; I just could not contain my excitement.

When we got back to the house, we drank sparkling juice and went out to lunch to celebrate, our friend Libby (who gave us the tickets for Belle of Louisville) came out with us to celebrate the news. I soon found out the story of how he had asked my parents permission about five months earlier, I was so happy and touched. We then told our remaining family and friends before we made the official announcement on social media later that day.

The Planning

The original wedding date would be our three year dating anniversary, January 2, 2021. That would give us a year and a half to save up. Then March 2020 happened: COVID came to Kentucky.

I was unemployed for almost six months when I started a retail position at the end of March; so I had to train for a new job while being six feet away – which is probably as awkward and effective as it sounds. Through all of the societal changes though, we were still planning the wedding as usual. Hoping things would be better as it got closer.

During the summer, we had our original plan and a back up plan in case COVID was still a thing come 2021 (Spoiler alert: it is.) I was having a Sunday call with Mom, she could tell I was overwhelmed and stressed about essentially planning two weddings. So Eric and I talked and we decided in October we would make the call if we should move the wedding to a new date or not.

October came and we decided on May the Fourth for our wedding day, for obvious reasons – the wedding and reception is Star Wars themed. So having the wedding on May the Fourth (aka Star Wars day) made sense and felt serendipitous. We decided to have the reception that following Saturday. I know this means I would have to do hair, make up, wear my dress and all that jazz twice, but we have to adapt.

We decided to have a small in-person ceremony and live stream it for our other guests. I created a group for the virtual wedding on Facebook and I created an account on a streaming app. Then I just share the link so guests can sign up for notifications on when it starts. (Reach out if you want pointers on how to do this!)

The Nightmares

THE VENUE

We had three venues we liked. The Louisville Planetarium, my church, and the Olin Guest House. The planetarium still isn’t open, due to COVID they may not open until the fall or spring of next year. The church will be in the middle of remodeling during that time. So luckily we still have the guest house.

THE FOOD

I am so tired about hearing about issues with food. Yes, I want people to have good food. I wanted a pasta bar, well there was an issue with people not wanting to get red sauce on their nice clothes. I compromise and say, okay I’m doing a taco bar. No body wants to eat finger foods at a wedding reception. Mexican food and pasta are my favorite foods (not at the same time though.) Here’s my thought… eating food can be messy, accidents happen sometimes people spill food on selves and that’s why it’s called accident. You can be the cleanest person and still have a drop of queso on your shirt, it happens.

THE NEW SOCIAL RULES

I think this speaks for itself, *ahem* CDC guidelines.

What I’ve Learned Throughout This Mess

You can’t make everyone happy. It’s our day, I want to do want makes us happy. And this experience pointed out it’s important to be flexible and I’ve learned to adapt, like really adapt, to challenging situations. In the end it’s about Eric and I getting married and wanting to spend the rest of our lives together, not the venues or food. I just want to be happy and have a good time. That’s all.



My First Car, Mumford

To date, one of the most pinnacle moments in my life is the moment I got my license. When I turned 16, I got my learners permit, and six months later on the dot I walked out of the DMV with my license in hand, ready to hit the road. One could easily say that getting your license is important to everyone, but you don’t understand – my having a license, being in control of my own transportation… this was big.

Being raised by a single mother who works full time, meant that I was often shuffled around relying not on just one or two people to transfer me where I needed, but multiple family members would help, along with numerous family friends throughout the years. It takes a village to raise a child after all, and it takes a village and a half to get one across town to various sporting games, social festivities, and other extra curriculars.

But having to rely on multiple people to get me where I needed never bothered me, why should it? All of these people cared about me so much they willingly hauled my butt around Madison County.

The main reason I was eager to get my own car? Driving myself to school in the mornings.

No, no – I never had to take the bus, but my sister and I fought like cats and dogs every single morning. Not just screaming matches, but nearly every morning there would be a WWE match taking place in the kitchen. Mainly these resulted from a toxic mix of night owls being forced from their dens before 8AM and my incessant need to be on time, or early rather, to school.

I was the kid who would scream throughout the house, “It’s 7:15! WE NEED TO LEAVE!” then the following minute would pass and I’d release an exasperated growl while pacing in the kitchen, “7:16, PEOPLE, I REPEAT IT IS NOW 7:16! WE NEED TO LEAVE!!”

Now what’s hysterical, is anyone who knows me today knows I struggle to be on time. But what can I say, as I age priorities change!

But anyway, the minute I had my license I had all the control I could possible need at the time – I could leave whenever I wanted.

. . .

The story of how I got my first car, is quite standard (maybe?!) I worked a comically dramatic summer for my dad in Kentucky. It was a particularly dry and hot summer with the temperatures hitting over 100 degrees each day, and my daily duties were a mix of helping my step-mom with some admin stuff, cleaning around the houses that were in construction, shuttling my siblings between various sports. As you can imagine, there were also several dramatic instances of me “quitting” because it was too hot to function. I earned a hundred or so dollars here and there, enough for gas and to funnel $25 a week over to my papa. He had offered me his 1997 Chrysler Sebring Convertible for $500 plus the condition that I kept a job while I had the car.

So by the end of the summer of 2012, I had sent my papa the $500, road tripped to his house in Pennsylvania to pick it up, and secured a job at the glorious Waffle House in Anderson, Indiana.

A 16 year old with a convertible and unlimited access to Waffle House hashbrowns? I was livin’ the Hoosier Dream!

I got attached to my Sebring fast. It was an older car, that had a decent amount of miles on it, 100k or so, but it was well maintained and ran great. This might sound crazy, but it always seemed to run the best whenever I played any Mumford and Sons song, so naming it Mumford was a no brainer there.

Good ole’ Mumford got me through my senior year of high school and only a few weeks shy of getting me all through college. I ran him bone dry, his life ending at somewhere between 326-346k miles, but to be fair towards the end he ran me (and my parent’s bank accounts) dry too.

Notable Mumford Moments:

There was a point in time when my driver side door just decided not to open. The lock would jam and that was that. It lasted a few months before it decided to work like a normal door again, but those several months were a freaky mix of me either awkwardly climbing through the window or stealthily sliding in through the passenger side. This also happened in the winter months, so having the top down to easily hop in wasn’t a thing…

Speaking of the weird lock thing, it also somehow triggered the door into never fully shutting all of the way? And during those few months when the door was mysteriously locked forever, my car alarm would randomly decide to go off throughout the night. My neighbors loved me 😉

This may or may not be news to you, but convertibles are the ultimate getaway car. Mumford helped carry out the greatest heist of all time – the stealing of a massive shark from some poor boy’s graduation party. (don’t worry the hostage was returned safe and sound later that evening..)

Soft top convertibles are glitz and glam, until that thing happens. Soft top owners, you know what it is… the rear glass separates from the top *face palm* I found the glass had separated in the worst way possible – after it had snowed A LOT, then the snow melted… and caked the inside of my car in mildew. The rest of my car’s life was a one of a duct taped exterior and a ‘heavy duty febreeze before driving’ interior. This smell only enhanced that summer when my AC didn’t work… LOL

Ironically, this photo is from a few weeks before the car’s passing, just after I found a local place that replaced the glass for around $100, but if you look close you can still see the duct tape battle scars :’)

. . .

This car, Mumford, he held all of the peak memories from my teenage years. Mumford played such a vital part of my friend group, he was the friend you could always count on to provide a good time. When you grow up in the Crossroads of America, all you and your friends can really do when bored is just hop in a car and fly down some back roads screaming the lyrics to your favorite songs – which made a convertible with a brand new stereo (courtesy of a Papa who loves to rock n’ roll) the perfect car for a bunch of teens to feel wild and free.

It doesn’t matter how new your car is, it doesn’t matter how fancy or sleek it is, it doesn’t even really matter if the car is a bit quirky – not when you’re 16. When you’re 16, all you need is a fast car with damn good stereo.

. . .

Share your first car stories in the comments below!

Emily’s car Mumford: 1997 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Whatcha Thinkin’? – Introducing Alex

Hey everyone, my name is Alex and I’m the host of a podcast called Whatcha Thinkin’? I started this podcast on January 31, 2020 with some goals in mind.

I’m from a small town in Kentucky, moved to Louisville in the summer of 2019. I graduated from Western Kentucky University (May 2019) with my bachelors degree in systems management and got engaged a few months later. I am a huge nerd and I say that with pride. And I have Aspergers or high functioning autism.

I love attending comic cons where I’ve met the cast of Powderpuff Girls, Arrow, The Flash, My Hero Academia, Belle and Gaston from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and so many more celebrities. I love watching comedy specials on Netflix and I got to meet my favorite comedian Iliza Shlesinger. (Still can’t believe I met her!)

I enjoy swimming, baking, writing, cooking, spending time with my family and friends – and I have a passion for learning. In 2017 when I finished community college, that’s when I started listening to podcasts. After a few years went by, I found an app that allows me to create my own podcast.

I started “Whatcha Thinkin’?” so I could have an outlet to talk about everything from the history of basketball, lightsabers meanings in Star Wars, to the difference in dorks, nerds, and geeks. But these topics are just the tip of the iceberg to what I plan to share with y’all.

Breeze through Season Oneout now – and prep for a more in depth look at Alex Aikin in Season Two, coming soon!

What is Home?

I’ve never really stayed in one house for a long time. It partially comes with the territory of coming from a divorced family, not only the loads of back and forth between Mom’s and Dad’s, but also when one parent moves, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other parent won’t move in the same time frame. By that I mean, separately parents may not move a lot, but when you combine it for the kids… it stacks up.

Looking to my mom, who coincidentally has moved a lot, with her I grew up in seven different houses, and with my dad I grew up in three different houses. Then when they were married, there is one house in my active memory. So we’re looking at eleven different houses I lived in from the time I was born until I graduated college. Speaking of college, you could even increase the places I’ve lived since I lived in the dorms throughout that time, and then my senior year a friend and I got an apartment off campus. I also did a semester in France which was a whole other type of living situation!

After reflecting on my adolescence, and now looking towards my adulthood – almost the minute I graduated college, I shipped up to NYC for an internship that turned permanent. Upon first moving to the city, I lived in a small sublet in Harlem and my room was literally the size of a twin size mattress. Two months later, my sublet was up and I moved to Chinatown for a little over a year and that was an experience! After that downtown escapade, I booked it back uptown to Spanish Harlem for a little over a year.

All sounds complicated and all over the place, right? Am I done yet? Am I getting to the whole purpose of this overshare yet?

Thanks to Miss Rona, things only get more complicated.

My lease was up in Spanish Harlem July 31st and the friend I planned to live with, Zoe, couldn’t move until October. So we were faced with two options:

  1. We find a place for August 1st and sublet until Zoe can move in.
  2. I go home – I’m working from home anyway, so why not spend some time at home, save some money, and move back to the city in the fall?

Two was the obvious option, but the not so obvious is the thing I had to ask myself – “Where is home?”

My nomadic mom is currently posted up in Pittsburgh, which isn’t too far from my uncle and papa along with many other family members. My dad is where he’s always been, in Kentucky, along with many family members. But then I have my nana and aunt and nearly all of my friends who are tucked away in Indiana.

So, again, where is home? Where do I go?

I essentially did what I always do, and that was split up my time and touch ground everywhere. Which definitely isn’t COVID Kosher, but I was essentially homeless, so sue me.

I did some time with all of my family and some friends – sprinkling my sass and two-cents along the way, lending an ear to those who needed it, and offering support when the situation called for it. It was nice to be “home” for a little while. But honestly, I couldn’t help but be hyper-focused on the term, “home“… what is it? Where is it? Do I have one, do I have many, or do I not have one at all?

My mom always says, “Home is where your mom is.”

But I don’t think home is that simple, or maybe it is.

I think home is a feeling. It’s something that comes natural, but it’s also something that can be manifested. For instance, both my grandparents houses always feel like home, the Catholic church I grew up in feels like home… but everywhere I’ve ever had my own room I’ve seamlessly created a notable “cozy-homey vibe” that gets riddled with compliments on how comfy it is.

It’s as if I’ve always understood that with a few adjustments, you can make anywhere feel like home. I have some things I always do, nearly as a reflex, whenever I settle in somewhere in order to make that place more comfortable – to make it mine.

1. Your bed is a sanctuary, treat it as such.

Make sure you have a bedspread that you like to look at, and honestly – the more pillows the better. Even if you only use one pillow to sleep – during the day have your bed coated in pillows. Those decorative sacks of fluff and feathers are so inviting, there’s no such thing as too much, I promise.

Once you like your bed – make it every single day. There was a time not too long ago where I didn’t make my bed everyday; I found I didn’t have time, what’s it matter, etc… I was full of excuses. But what was funny were the days that I didn’t make my bed in the mornings, I would almost instantly make it the minute I got home – because there’s nothing better than slipping into a freshly made bed.

Just respect yourself enough to make your bed in the mornings – respect the evening version of you who just spent a hard day at work and deserves a freshly made bed.

.

2. You look at each wall more than you think, hang things that bring you joy and peace.

Think of every wall in your space as a mood board.

Fill each wall with pieces of art, photos, or shelves of knickknacks that evoke positive emotions. This is where you can put plants, real or fake, to encourage growth in your space and to feel grounded and connected with the earth. Fill your walls with whatever brings you peace and happiness.

.

3. If it smells great, you’ll feel great.

I adore candles. I love them not only for the smell, but I enjoy even the simple flame. The sense of warmth I feel when I see the lit candle and then the scents that beginning coating the room, it brings so much instant peace. I love fall scents the most, like vanilla and hazelnut, but sometimes these scents don’t translate well in the summer. I found that my safe-ground is finding earthy candles that smell of amber and oud.

Go find your scent – be it floral, fruity, earthy, or fresh… find it and do what you gotta do to maintain that smell in your room. Be it candles, incense, oil diffusers, or wax warmers – just give your room a scent that you associate with comfort.

. . .

I’ll be honest, sometimes doing all of the above isn’t enough. You can go the whole nine yards on your space and still feel like a fish in the wrong bowl. Like you’re a pretty fish in a decked out aquarium, but you kind of miss your old bowl for some reason.

AKA -> homesickness.

All I’ve gotta say to that is to think long and hard on what you’re homesick for, what’s missing. Would you be happier back where you were? Or do you find you’re actually missing specific moments and feelings expressed in the old space?

I find that most of the time, my homesickness is for a time and not a place.

Once I realized this, it clicked that going home won’t fix anything, it won’t fix my homesickness. The only type of “going back” that will erase my homesickness is “going back in time” but that’s not possible, obviously. This type of homesickness can really only be healed by some intense self-reflection, maybe even some therapy, in order to dig up what the real root of the problem is and to truly understand what you’re missing. In realizing this, in understanding what it is exactly that you’re homesick for, you can then move forward and adjust what you must in order to find that mental balance and manifest your “home vibe”.

Ultimately, it’s important to understand that you are deserving of feeling at home wherever you’re living.

New Age Christianity

Growing up, I spent my life bouncing between Pendleton, Indiana and Elizabethtown, Kentucky – distance between the two is about 3 hours driving. The back and forth, as one could guess, is due to my parents divorcing when I was incredibly young.

In all fairness, now I can reflect that my parents were also incredibly young.

They had a blossoming relationship in college – having met at an esteemed Greek mixer party at Western Kentucky University. One thing led to another, and here I came into existence folks.

My parents did the sensible Kentucky thing by dropping out of college, getting hitched, and embracing family life.

A couple years later I had a sister, and a bit after that I had two homes in two different states, two Christmases, two birthdays, more siblings, along with summers and every other weekend in Kentucky with Dad and all schooling went to Mom in Indiana.

The divorce is when my life became severely complex, and even though only being 3 going on 4, it was clear that if I adapted and rolled with the punches, life would be easier.

After the divorce, both my parents took to God.

In Indiana, my mom was able to put my sister and I into a Catholic private school, St. Ambrose, in Anderson. Religion was a firm part of the curriculum and equated importance to that of Math and Science, we went to mass as a school once a week – or more if there was a holiday. In addition, my mom, sister, and I went to mass together over the weekend.

St. Ambrose is where I did most of my growing and where I found the most foundation for being the caring, compassionate person I am today. St. Ambrose didn’t teach the hate or harshness that Catholics have the rep for. No, St. Ambrose full frontal lectured to show unconditional love and kindness to all those who cross your path, and it was made clear if we retained nothing else, this we must retain.

In Kentucky, my dad and step-mom bounced around church shopping for a hot second until settling on where we still attend to this day, United Memorial Methodist Church, in Elizabethtown.

This was so different to being Catholic.

Often, my siblings and I went to Sunday School instead of being forced to sit through an hour long sermon, but as the years went by we were sitting in the sermon instead. I learned through the Methodist Church that there are many different ways to praise God together. There can be a full band playing Christian songs you’ve never heard before, praising God in a church doesn’t have to be mechanical acts that you need to learn and memorize – there’s no earning any rights of passage or “leveling up” if you will.

Overall, I really learned that there is no wrong way to get with God.

I also learned that I don’t need to choose one way or another either. I have the capacity to embrace both just fine.

In fact, I learned I have the capacity for more than that.

In high school, my friends and I began dabbling in tarot cards – which is a hardcore Catholic no go.

Tarot cards are devil’s work.

But I had a really hard time understanding, I mean, if God is such an awesome God, why will he damn me to hell for channeling the very intuition he gave me?

I decided very early on, that the God I was raised with wouldn’t damn me to hell for dabbling in tarot cards and other New Age practices.

Quite frankly the minute I believed that in my heart of hearts, more doors opened.

I’m still very much on a self-discovery spirituous journey, but what I can confirm is I believe in higher powers and I believe in fate.

I believe the higher powers consist of not only a traditional God that is male, but also a higher Feminine power *think Virgin Mary vibes on steroids*, and I believe in the power of the earth and the spirit.

I believe in complexity, I believe in power, and I believe in coexistence.