deciding

Dun, dun, dun, DUN! A short-haired bride’s hair trial.

Posted on May 6, 2009. Filed under: deciding |

I get a lot of traffic from people searching for short bridal hairstyles (and short and sassy hairstyles and sassy hair and short sassy hair and Mariska Hargitay) and I know why.  It’s freaking hard to find inspiration photos for those of us who lack long luscious locks (you like that alliteration, you know you do).

Now, my hair’s not super short anymore, but it is just past chin length in an inverse bob, which is code for IT’S NOT VERY LONG IN THE BACK and MY PONYTAILS LOOK VERY TWO-YEAR-OLD-ISH.  As a funny aside, the mister, when asked for his opinion on my wedding day ‘do, suggested that I wear it just like I normally do – uncombed, wet, in little pigtails generally secured with the rubber bands I got off the celery.  Now that’s love.

But it ain’t gonna happen.

Not knowing how to find a hairstylist who could meet my enormously nitpicky expectations, I did what any procrastinator would: I put it off.  Then, one day, with the 30-days-until milestone looming, I walked into a salon, pointed to the woman with hair most like mine, and asked if she did bridals.  One week later, I had a hair trial.

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Photos by me.  Fabulous fascinator and veil by the lovely Kasia Fink

I couldn’t really see what she was doing, but it involved twisting individual sections of my hair and then pinning them to my head.  She also did some kind of magic that made my cheeks look less chipmunk-y and my eyes look bigger, which I assume has to do with the twisted sections at my temples.  Or the fact that styling implements and hair brushes were used (they don’t make an appearance very often ’round these parts).

I loved it.  Loved. It.  Finally, an appointment went well and made me happy.  Upon looking at pictures, though, I see a couple of changes I’ll suggest, and I’m providing my own bobby pins because hers got loose and slipped, but other than that I’m good.  Hair, check.

Someday I hope to have the time to hunt down the sources for my inspiration photos.  I seriously showed up to my appointment with my laptop and slide show of 20 images and no ability to tell her what I liked about them, only that I did.  And then she did her magic, and I can’t tell you how she figured out that this way would be best or that I’d like it, but I did.  I love magic.

How’d your hair trial go?  Are you doing one?

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All by my very own self

Posted on April 28, 2009. Filed under: deciding |

Miss Crab Cake’s post got me thinking (as it did many of you) about how I want to deal with being escorted down the aisle (or in our case, “the trail”).  This is where sentimentality meets reality and I’m conflicted.

I very much wanted to walk alone, a la Mrs. Lovebug (on whom I will admit I have a huge crush).  The symbolism of my presenting myself to my beloved is clearest to me and I know he’d like to see me for the first time “on the aisle.”

But reality rears its messy, woody and unevenly graded self: the trail leading to our ceremony site plus my somewhat snug dress plus heels (stability meets fashion) make this a slightly risky plan.  I could trip, I could fall, or I could spend the whole time watching my feet instead of my loveys.  And if I have to lean on someone, I’d like to lean on my guy.  So, I thought we could do a “first look.”

Then we started “Wedding Wednesdays” (love them) and one of the items on the agenda was for him to give me his opinion on “first looks.”  Of course, Mr. Traditionalist (except, evidently, for living in sin) wanted to see me for the first time on the aisle.  Who am I to keep a guy from his romantic wedding wish?

So crap.  Back to the beginning.  I could ask my dad to escort me and it would be sweet.  We have a much better relationship now that I have a much greater appreciation for him and the gifts I’ve inherited from him.  Or I could ask both of my parents as I did for my first wedding.  It took both of them to create my fabulous self, right? (*snicker*)  Either option would be fine and I’d have someone to lean on.

But is it bad that I really, really, really want to escort myself?  Traditions and potential hurt feelings aside — not to mention possible face-plants — I feel like a grown-up for the very first time in my almost 30 years and I’m making a fully-aware decision to join someone in a life I see clearly and honestly.  I see what a marriage really is and I’m choosing it anyway.  While I mean no disrespect to my fabulous parents or their awesome impact on my life, it’s been a lot of darned hard work to be able to stand proud and pledge myself to a man… and I really want to do it all by my very own self!  {No, I didn’t stomp my foot when I said that, though I thought about it.  Ha.}

Will I regret it?  I don’t know.  I’ve scoffed at traditions in the past only to realize too late why they matter.  But my gut’s telling me that the way for me is by myself.  Evidently it doesn’t care about gravel trails and steep declines.

What about you?  How will you make it down the aisle?  Is anyone choosing their escort out of some inexplicable gut feeling?

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Progress is made

Posted on February 17, 2009. Filed under: deciding |

I promised to tell you more about the tent in the street, didn’t I?  After the Bridal Fair, I finally got around to dealing with the “where shall we seat people” quandary.  See, while we have almost two acres of land around and behind our house, much of it is wooded, and none of it is level.  Okay, some of it is level, but it’s only 10 feet wide… and 60 feet long.  No, thanks.

In a not-so-mature moment, I lost my sh*t and cried all over my loving fiance, who flexed his problem-solving muscles (you know, the ones that get bigger when girls cry) and suggested that we put a tent in the street.  Um, what?  Hey, that just might work!  Because of the odd configuration of our street, the fact that we live just at the apex of the hilly street, and the fabulousness of our neighbors,  it actually seemed like a viable option.

After a quick call to the city’s Special Events department — a quick laugh at our plan and some delighted voices made me feel better about it — we were just about set.

The fabulous Jeff at All Occasions Party Rentals was kind enough to come out to our house to take a look, and after gamely holding back his shock at our plan, helped me figure out how to put an 80 ft by 20 ft tent in the street.

And thus it was settled.img_0584

If there was a tent set up, where I’m standing to take this picture would be right smack in the middle.  Oh, and in the spring, not fall.  Whateva.  You get the picture (wocka, wocka!).

I dropped by their showroom the other day to confirm that our plates and flowers worked well with the linens he recommended (in this wacky color called poppy that is surprisingly versatile).  See for yourself:

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Check, check, and check (tent, tables and chairs, linens).

For those keeping score, we’ll be renting one 80×20 ft tent, 3 four light globe chandeliers, 12  six foot tables for seating, 3 six foot tables for food and “other,” one round table for cakes, and 72 chairs.  Give or take.  We’ll use our own furniture for the bar and gift table, and provide our own twinkly lights and luminarias.  Ballpark rentals estimate: $1800.  Add in $200 for tableware, $200 for my dress on eBay, plus an extra $100 for random things I bought and probably won’t use, and we’re somewhere around $2300 so far.  I’m not counting the extra wedding dress because I’m hoping to sell it.

Not bad.  Not bad at all. In fact, I’m feeling pretty good!  Next up: a food plan is created (yup, still planning to do it ourselves), and invites are purchased (at a great deal).

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The making of a color scheme

Posted on February 16, 2009. Filed under: deciding |

I fought against having a color scheme.  Oh, boy, did I fight it.  I’m not sure why, but to me, the choosing of a color palette for our wedding was like giving into the pressure to make it an event rather than a celebration.  We don’t really color coordinate Thanksgiving, right?  But we do tend to stick to certain colors for Christmas and Fourth of July, and I’ll begrudgingly admit that it’s rather festive.  So I gave in.

Ta, da!

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For months, I’ve been winging it when I’m asked about colors, most often saying, “Green like the grass, blue like the sky, yellow like sunlight, and any flowery colors.”  While I love a nice, calm, restrained palette (like my original invites), in personality I’m more of an explosion of color.  So is the mister.

I walked in our front door the other day and was struck by the realization that these colors live in our home.  Look!

20081Do you see them all?  So, while I bid a sad adieu to the hundreds of ideas I have, I’m comfortable that we’re well represented.  Also, they look like a party, don’t they?  Evidence:

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I will try to steer us away from the tie-dye and more toward the field of flowers, but hey, we are putting a tent in the street, after all!  Oh, have I not told you about that yet?  Bad Cheese.  More on that later.

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My name is…

Posted on February 2, 2009. Filed under: deciding |

I did it.  I made a name decision, AND got an email account in my new name.  Scary and super exciting!  Then I told Mr. Cheese about it all… in reverse order. *cue the confused man look*

A friend recently changed her email address due to a divorce-induced name change and was unable to get one with her more common maiden name.  Uh, oh.  I’m going from less common to more common.  Way more common.  Off to Gmail I went to see what name combos were still available, and firstname+maidennameinitial+newlastname was still available.  I hit the Submit button on that puppy and pumped my fist in triumph!

Oh.  I think I just committed to changing my name.  Hmmm.  *the thoughtful cheese look comes out*  Neat!

Here’s how I decided:
1 – I am obviously not too attached to my maiden name given that I changed it the first time I got married.

2 – The only reason I wouldn’t change it this time is because of the emotional mess I experienced when I got divorced – and I’m not getting divorced again.

3 – I don’t want to be defined for the next decades of my life by my first marriage, and if I don’t change my name as a result of the mess that came out of my first marriage, I will be.

4 – Setting issues from my first marriage aside, my kids will have his last name and I want to have the same last name as my kids.

5 – My first name is “ethnic” enough that I don’t feel like I’m losing the hispanic quality to my name.

6 – I like symmetry, and my last initial will be the same as my first initial. Cheesy.

One of Dave Ramsey‘s (do you read/ listen to him?) tricks for helping people make financial decisions is to ask them what they would do if they were starting from scratch today.  Not sure if you should sell a rental property to pay off your home mortgage?  Well, would you mortgage your home to buy a rental property?

So I asked myself, if this was my first marriage, would I keep my maiden name, hyphenate, or change my name?  After some quiet reflection, my excitement at being a family of Cheeses was greater than my concern and annoyance at having to change my name.  It also helped that Mr. Cheese has stopped saying things like, “What’s the big deal?” and “Of course you need to change your name!” and started saying things like, “I really can’t relate to the idea of changing my name, it seems so absurd and strange to me, so this needs to be your decision.”  Smart Mr. Cheese.

I practiced writing my new name last night, and while I conjured up crazy images of what FirstName + LastName woman would look like (long dark curly hair with glasses, and too-dark lipstick), I felt better after a few tries.  What?  Don’t tell me you haven’t written your new name at least once.  It’s okay!  This isn’t like secretly writing “Kate + Michael = Forever” in your Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper binder.  It’s a rite of passage, an important step in your engagement journey, a necessity… this book says so.

Have you “saved” an email address in your new name yet?  ‘Fess up – have you practiced saying, writing, doodling your new name?

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Ssssh. I have a secret…

Posted on November 29, 2008. Filed under: deciding | Tags: |

We bought my wedding ring today… and I may or may not be wearing mine while I type this (ssssh, the mister’s in the other room)!

I mean, I HAVE TO in order to blog about it, right?  How else will I describe it to you with the accuracy and detail that you expect of me?  I’M DOING IT FOR YOU.  {That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.}

We took a break from renovating our bathroom (more on that later) to play hooky.  We took a dance lesson (more on that later, too), stuffed ourselves with food, hit Best Buy and Sears… and while we wandering the mall to avoid coming home to more work, we stumbled into a jewelry store that was going out of business.

Take a moment to understand the significance here.  Jewelry. Store. Clearance. 80%. Discount. Y’all know I’m thrifty (fine, fine, cheap) from the fact that I didn’t even want to pay David’s Bridal prices for a dress, so you have an inkling of the joy that filled my heart.

We looked at a plain gold band, a simple diamond band, an eternity band and a pave band with diamonds on all three sides (did I mention the 80% discount?) and we decided that the sparkly simple band looked best with my engagement ring.

While I wanted an eternity band, my desire for an engraved message (more on that later) won out.  Also, I like the sparkliness of the band when I wear it alone, which I expect to do for the first little while after we have kids.  And did I mention that it was on sale?  Warms this cheese’s heart.

{Mr. Cheese just walked in and had a whole conversation with me — all while my hands were practically in his face resting on my laptop — and didn’t notice.  Score.  Um, except that now I’m tempted to see how long I can wear it before he notices.  A little nutty?  Maybe!}

It looks sort of like this (I can’t take a picture of it without totally blowing my secret, so I’ll have to do it when the mister isn’t here):

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We also started a registry at Williams-Sonoma, decided on our wedding party, and I made my first DIY project this weekend (more on all of that later).

{I thought I got caught with the ring when he looked over my shoulder at my screen and smiled, but he was making fun of me for being a blogging addict instead.}

Yippee!  Anyone wanna bet on how long I can wear this thing before he notices?  And c’mon, tell the truth: did you secretly wear your wedding ring before the big day?  You did, didn’t you?  C’mon, you can tell Miss Cheese.

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Choosing a date

Posted on November 14, 2008. Filed under: deciding |

As I mentioned before, my favorite man and I will be getting married on the property surrounding our house with a fabulous (is there any other way?) outdoor party to follow. We live in Knoxville, TN, as does his family, but my family lives 1500 miles away in and around Las Cruces, NM. Both of my siblings are in college and my mom works at a high school.

We therefore need to choose a date that is convenient for my family in terms of travel, so school holidays are good. In choosing between Spring Break and Memorial Day, the latter made the most sense and also ensures that our property is at it’s prettiest.

Thus began the second productivity-black-hole of my week: the Wedding Planner on Weather.com.  I popped in my zip code and got two graphs, one for temperature and one for precipitation. Let the obsessing over the weather begin!  (Seriously, have you tried it?  You can click on the month and get a day-by-day version.)

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Which brings me to my two concerns: that it’ll be rainy and gray, and that our friends will be upset that we’re taking over their holiday weeekend (well, assuming that they want to attend our wedding).

As far as the rain goes, that’s a whole post all by itself (coming soon!). In terms of the holiday weekend, I can’t help but wonder if our friends will be put out at having to attend a wedding over a holiday?

In the end, the needs of my family win out. They’re making the longest (and only) distance trip to be here, and we need to grant them the ability to travel AND have a good time. Our close friends will be involved, helping us out (if only by putting drinks in our hands to calm the stress) throughout the weekend.

As for our acquaintances? We’re not inviting most of them. Our goal is to keep our gathering as small as possible and only invite the people we couldn’t imagine being without. {Note that while this is our current goal, having not set a guest list or conferred with the parental units makes me suspect that this is a pipe dream.} Since it IS a holiday weekend, we think we’ll host a wedding weekend with a variety of activities… and perhaps even a trip to the lake!

Since our planning hiatus is almost over, we’re about to clue our families in so that they can weigh in, and I’ll admit it, I’m nervous.  How did you let your families know, and in what order?  I suppose we’ll start with our immediate families to make sure there aren’t any scheduling issues.  Should we then ask extended families before making it final, or do we just assume that some people won’t be able to make it?

And, are any of you getting married on a holiday? Have you gotten any complaints about the scheduling? Are you making it a longer shindig to make up for it?

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Why marry? Why marry him? Why marry him now?

Posted on November 3, 2008. Filed under: deciding, emotional |

It took me a while to become accustomed to the idea of getting married again.  I wasn’t sure that I knew what it meant, or why it mattered, and I’d already failed once.  Lots of people don’t get married, and I wonder if that’s because, like me, they’re afraid of getting divorced.

Not long after the first time that The Cheesiest Mister mentioned getting married, I brought it up at lunch with my girlfriend.  “If we’re already committed, why don’t we just get married now?  What’s the difference?”  Much discussion ensued.

Later, after we were engaged, we went through a very rough patch.  At lunch with the same girlfriend, she asked, “Why marry him?   There are lots of guys out there, and many of them would be right for you.  You don’t have to answer me, but be sure that you know the answer yourself.  Why him and not someone else?”

A few days ago, in the discussion we had in the comments section of this post, I was asked by the lovely and thoughtful Erin (paraphrased), “Why marry him now?  What’s your rush?  You have communication problems, and I wonder why you’re in such a hurry.”

Thank goodness for girlfriends, because those three questions — and my answers — are the reason that I feel settled and happy.  Those answers explain why I’m not worried that we struggle to communicate or that we had different ideas about how our lives would play out.

Why marry?  Because I want to be a family with him in a publicly recognizable way.  I want to pledge, in front of our friends and families, that I am no longer only myself but him as well, and that together we are complete.  I want to have one moment in time when our hearts are filled with hope and happiness that we get to live our lives together.  I want to have something to grasp when I feel like I’m failing or falling or lost — a ring, a name, the words that form our vows.  I want there to be something to hold us together when we have lost the ability to do it ourselves, to have a reason to ride out the rough patches (even if the only reason is that divorce lawyers suck).  And, pragmatic girl that I am, I’d like the tax break and the shared health insurance.  I love him and I want him to have the same benefits that I do. {Yes, I think that gay couples should have that right, too.}

Why marry him?  Because he’s kind and thoughtful.  Because I’m finally mature enough to see him exactly as he is and still love him so much I can’t imagine a future without him.  Because in the middle of a fight, he stops to ask if I’m okay, if I need anything.  Because (as I’ve said many times before) I want my kids to be just like him, because I want to be a parent with him, because I want to tie my future to his.  Because he sets a high standard that I aspire to in terms of relationships and love.

Why marry him now?  Well, not now.  Not today.  I need an engagement, a transition period from my singledom to this new life specifically to ponder questions like these.  But in the spring, I’ll be ready.  I want to marry him then because I can’t see any reason not to, because I can’t wait for us to belong to each other, because soon we’ll get to start a family and I’m terribly excited about that.  We want to be married, and our wedding is a step down that path, not an end in and of itself.  Important, but not most important.  I’d marry him tomorrow if I had to, but I’d rather take the time to get through the emotional journey beforehand that so that the day we say our vows is joyous and free.

Put another way, there are no good reasons not to.  We’re both settled financially with relatively solid (*knock on wood*) careers.  We’re both at peace with our previous relationships.  We agree on a financial path, have shared all of our secrets, and have gained the negotiation skills that we lacked at first.  Neither of us is in school, our parents are all supportive, and we feel like we’re old enough and mature enough to be making such a momentous decision.  We want the same things out of life (mostly), have discussed religion and child-raising ideas, and not too far away from wanting children.  It’s time to get married!

Your turn.  You don’t have to share your answers, but I would love to hear if you’ve thought about and answered these questions.  Had you thought about them before?  Do you have answers that you’re comfortable with?

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Giving it up to get it back

Posted on November 3, 2008. Filed under: deciding, reality, the goal |

I come from family of strong, independent, self-sufficient women.  Mostly educators — and all well-educated — my people believed in smarts, creativity, and the value of a solid job to protect against the uncertainty of life, losses, and relationships.  I learned their lesson well, choosing a career with transferable skills (IT project management) in a growing industry (healthcare) and graduating from a state school without debt (thanks in large part to scholarships and the aforementioned career’s tuition reimbursement).

Relationships, though, require different skills and lessons.  I’m guessing this is obvious to many of you, but it wasn’t to me.  {This will be a brief interlude into my first marriage, but I promise I’ll come back around to what it means for me now.}  So, without actively trying, I insulated myself and my career in my first marriage.  Essentially, he could do anything he wanted and I would support it as long as it didn’t detract from the “trajectory” of my life.  Move to New York?  Sure!  I can work from there and my company will actually benefit.  Take some time off because you can’t find a job you like?  Absolutely, in fact, I’m pretty sure I suggested it.  Doesn’t affect my career, and I count on my own salary to handle the bills anyway.  When we divorced, all of this worked out very well for me because except for the emotional trauma, my life didn’t change much.  Same job, same opportunities, same apartment, same public life.  I was safe.

Except, of course, that — leaving aside the details and nuances — I think that’s why we didn’t last.  I wasn’t willing to give any of “me” up in exchange for “us.”

Here’s my theory: you have to be willing to give up some of “you” (actually, the thing about you that you most tightly grasp) in order for a relationship to work.  In practice, you might not ever have to go through with it, but you have to be willing… and the other person has to be willing, too.  See, if he has my best interests at heart, and I have his, then balance is restored and all is right with the world.

It first occurred to me not long after we bought the house in which we live together.  We’d been debating (okay, okay, arguing) about which home improvement project should come first, upgrading the kitchen or adding a bathroom.  I was all about the kitchen, and he wanted another bathroom.  No big surprise there, given that I’m the one who cooks.  That discussion did not end well.  Not long after, we had the same debate, but this time I really wanted him to have the extra bathroom and he really wanted me to have a better kitchen, and it was a great discussion.  Same outcome (we put it off because we are SO not at the point where we are ready to take on projects that big), different experiences.

On a much bigger scale, we’ve been talking about our future and a potential move.  As someone who’s lived in four cities in five years and twice as many apartments, I don’t mind moving, and my career is the one that will eventually require it.  I long ago accepted that my children won’t be within shouting distance of my family, and that executives at my company move to where the opportunities are.  The mister, though, loves this city.  He’s lived around Knoxville his whole life and planned to raise his kids here, near his parents.  It’s a scary dilemma and one that was almost a deal breaker when we were dating.  I can’t guarantee that I’ll live in one city for the rest of my life, not without making some difficult career choices*, and he’s uncomfortable with the idea of moving every two years.  We agreed that we would deal with it when the time came, when I was offered a job that was too good to pass up, even though it would mean moving.  Neither of us was particularly happy, but it was enough.

I’m on my way home from my second business trip in two weeks and I’ve had an epiphany.  For this man, for the kids we’ll have together and the life we’ll share, I will make career changes.  To be able to raise our kids near their grandparents, live on our street in our neighborhood with our friends, build memories in our house and on the property where we married… I’ll adapt my career if I have to.

But I’m betting that if that fabulous work opportunity comes up, I won’t have to pass, because he loves me and believes in me and he’d move across the country with me.  I would give it up if it wasn’t right for my family, though, and be happy with the choice.

And all is right with the world.

Your turn.  Did you have to be open to giving something up to make your relationship great?  Do you agree with me that it has to be reciprocal?

* To put this in perspective, I work from home and can probably continue to do that in the foreseeable future as long as I choose my jobs carefully.  I’m lucky in that I have the option to find roles that allow this kind of flexibility, even though it’s not the greatest thing for my productivity or happiness — I get lonely, and the big jobs that help you stay ahead are rarely remote ones.  Staying in Knoxville could mean missing out on some great opportunities for big executive-level jobs.

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I must admit…

Posted on October 31, 2008. Filed under: deciding | Tags: |

I have a little nagging worry and I need your help dealing with it, pretty please.  Remember all of that stuff about the dress?  I liked the David’s Bridal dress all along, I’ll admit.  But (*sssshhhh*, this is the secret part) I bought the second dress for my guy.

Um, what?  Yea, hold on, I’ll explain.

My best girls and I went to try on wedding dresses together about a month before Mr. Cheese and I were officially engaged.  Yes, it was jumping the gun, but I justified it because one of my girls was about to move across the country and I wouldn’t see her again until our wedding and I didn’t want to miss out on such a fun experience.  During that “session,” I tried on a very traditional dress — beads and a big skirt and the whole nine yards — and we took a picture.  Gotta love the cheesy smile.

Late one night the mister and I were looking at pics from a party on my laptop and I backed up one picture too far.  There I was, in all of my silly-face and fake smile glory, in a wedding dress.

His reaction?  In a hushed voice, “You look like a princess!”

I love the sassy dress, but I gotta be honest, I want my guy to think, “Oh, my, gosh….!” in that same hushed voice when he sees me on our wedding day.  And while I look sassy and fun and very much like myself in the DB dress, I’m not sure I look like a princess. 🙂

Now, I know he’ll think I look fabulous no matter what I wear, and maybe all I need is to remind myself that I’m supposed to go with what feels best for me… but I love him, and this is his day too.  Who wouldn’t want that kind of hushed-in-awe reaction from their man on their wedding day?

Thoughts?

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    I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt (and divorce papers) to prove it. Here I am again, pledging my life to my (new) love with eyes wide open (and heart racing) knowing full well how emotionally traumatic this can end… and doing it anyway.

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