What every bride should know

If you didn’t know this, I have quite a bit of experience with weddings. I’ve been a bridesmaid five times (seven, if you count upcoming weddings!), and I’ve even gotten married myself. However, since I’ve acquired a ton of knowledge about tying the knot that I don’t ever plan on using again, I thought I would pass it along.

So–here we go!

Photo by Lucky Heart Photography :).

Photo by Lucky Heart Photography 

The Feels:

  • Every bride reacts differently. Don’t be worried if your best friend was all smiles and your morning ends up looking a lot like your bachelorette party night. It doesn’t say anything about the guy you’re marrying–just about your comfortability with large crowds.
  • On that note, be prepared to have lots of feels. I smiled most of the day, but when I met up with my dad to walk down the aisle, I lost it a bit. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be nervous and it’s okay to feel a little overwhelmed. Obviously, it’s also totally okay to be lost in the joy of the moment!

Venues:

  • Obviously, have your wedding in a barn if that’s what you want  to do. But going with more experienced vendors can save you a ton of stress. It might even save you money. Sure, the initial cost of an untraditional venue is sometimes cheaper, but everything else will be more expensive. Chairs, tables, catering fees and more can all add up. Price it out before you make a decision. 

Destination Weddings

  • The No. 1 rule here is “be cool.” I have a lovely cousin who had her wedding out of state during my finals week. She was awesome about the fact I couldn’t attend, which I really appreciate. Sometimes it’s not a matter of how much people want to be there, but if they can swing it at all. I’m sure that every destination wedding has a few people who genuinely want to be there for the couple, but just can’t swing it.

Breaking the Rules

  • Look, you’re a super cool person with super cool ideas. It’s awesome that you’re exploring them. Break any rule you want as long as it doesn’t make the people attending your wedding uncomfortable. For an extreme example, going to a remote mountaintop to exchange vows seems great in theory, but dragging Grandma up a steep climb away from any bathrooms just isn’t a great idea. 
  • There are some rules you should definitely break. One of them is the ceremony. Choose your own. It’s cool if you choose the traditional words, but recognize that you have a choice. There are tons of lovely example ceremonies you can use available online. Start from there and build one that represents you.
  • Make it personal. The weddings that stand out most in my mind are the ones that had the most personality. Whether the theme fit the couple perfectly, the music was just right or the vows were handwritten, these are the weddings that everyone remembers. You don’t have to go crazy untraditional, you just need to be a little open.

Bridesmaids

  • Be prepared to have them either be way more enthusiastic than you thought or way less. That’s because typically people’s reactions to wedding stuff (even your wedding stuff) has a lot to do with how much they like weddings. If they wouldn’t get excited over their own tussy mussy (it’s a thing!), then don’t be offended when they don’t cry over the beauty of your own!
  • Feed them! The worst thing ever as a bridesmaid is to be called in to do makeup at 8, photos from 9-10, then the ceremony and then more photos and then more duties, and then you get fed. Hours, and hours and hours later. It’s not fun.
  • Appreciate that while it’s an honor to be a bridesmaid, it’s also a really big cost burden.

The Groom

  • This one’s hard. It’s his wedding too, but he never seems to have opinions about the things you want him to have opinions on. A lot of times, a guy will make one very difficult request that he feels entitled to, since he hasn’t made any other decisions (despite you asking him to). Don’t let him get away with it if it’s too unreasonable! Zach, for example, only wanted Roscoe’s Tacos to deliver. Lovely thought, but it would’ve changed where we could have had the reception and it would’ve automatically made the wedding less formal, meaning I would have to have gotten a less formal dress. Thus–no go. Accomodate them where possible, but challenge them on things that will dictate the entire wedding. 
  • On the other hand, sometimes they make smaller requests that only feel crazy at the time. Zach wanted eight groomsmen. I only wanted four bridesmaids, and could only even think of about seven people total who I could possibly include on my side. Compromise? Uneven bridal party. It took a bit to get used to the idea, but it turned out fine!

The In-Laws

  • I have really, really lovely in-laws, you guys. Seriously. Just be jealous right now. However, from other people’s weddings, I think the best advice would be to include them! Their child is getting married, too, and it’s just as big a deal to them! Keep them up-to-date on wedding planning and let them know you appreciate them and their family. 

Haters

  • Having a wedding is kind of like having a baby, in that everyone wants to tell you what you should do. Carnations are tacky, the money dance is the root of all evil, you have to have a pastor officiate–everyone has an opinion. Learn to do the polite nod and plan escape strategies. Unless, of course, you really care what the cashier’s second-cousin’s niece did for her wedding.
  • Avoid comparing your engagement ring to anyone else’s. That is legit tacky. I’ve heard everything from fake embarrassment over how large people’s rings are to someone actually saying that my ring was sparklier, but hers was bigger and in a more classic shape. Seriously. Let’s all agree to be adults! I know you’re excited, but chill. It’s just a really pretty rock.

Organization

  • Google Drive! Savior! It’s great for collecting guest lists and addresses, song lists and budget breakdowns. You have complete control over who sees what and who’s able to edit what. You and your significant other can compile documents and then share them with your vendors. It’s glorious.
  • Get a wedding binder, but don’t spend a lot of money on it. Seriously. You’ll feel super cool when you walk into a cake tasting with a binder full of photos.

That’s all for now, folks! If I think of anything else, I’ll update!

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I can’t donate blood, but you totally should

Picture it: Me, Zach and the blood bank. I finally convinced him to donate blood with me because they were giving out $10 Outback Steakhouse giftcards. I had only donated blood once before at work. The process wasn’t terrible, and I loved the thought that I was helping people will relatively little work (so sue me, I like efficiency). However, I’m a chicken, and I wanted him to be there.

We were separated into little tiny rooms with people who took down our information immediately. I checked to make sure that enough time had passed that it was safe to donate again. I checked all the little boxes to verify that I don’t have any blood borne  diseases. I didn’t know it, but in the other room, Zach found out that because he was born in Germany, he has a tiny, minuscule chance that he has some weird rare blood disease that would basically drop dead at 50, but can’t be detected before. It’s highly, highly unlikely that this will happen (we’re talking a decimal point, multiple, multiple zeroes and a one in this percentage), but it meant he couldn’t donate.

So, he sat down in the lobby, and I sat in the oddly dentist-like chair to have my O+ pumped into tiny vials and a medium-sized bag. All was well. The dude who did my interview asked me if I felt dizzy–nope. Not at all. Was feeling pretty perky, actually.

Let this be a lesson to the masses: Don’t underestimate the power of doing something good on your blood pressure. Temporarily, that is.

I sat down with a Diet Coke (gross, I know), and some of those peanut butter crackers (also gross). I took a couple of sips, and then I felt drowsy. Whatever, it had been a long day of work. I slumped my head onto my fist, and decided to make do. Then, that seemed to be too much work. I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

About 20 seconds later, I realized I was in the floor. Zach was standing over me (boy can hustle), looking at his watch. It’s nice having a trained EMT as a husband. He always knows to time any seizures that may happen during the course of your relationship. I tried to get up, but I was basically told to stay down until my blood pressure rose a bit. You know what’s not fun? Lying on the ground of the blood bank with your feet propped up in a chair in your very favorite new dress. While I was in the floor, a peppy older employee chirped that next time, I should drink juice before donating. Which would be fine, except…the floor. I was lying in the floor.

That’s when I decided that I wouldn’t be donating again. However, I can’t shake the feeling that Ms. Juice-Before was right, and that I had probably done something wrong. I’m not sure that’s accurate, since I tried to be incredibly conscious of the rules, but it’s possible.

Every time we have a blood donation at work, I feel super guilty about not going. I mean, you sit there, you lose some blood, and you leave. It’s like being a Spartan, only with less effort and  less blood. How can that be a bad thing? But still, I’ve said no every time because I’m pretty sure Zach wouldn’t be nearly as sympathetic the second time around.

HOWEVER, donating blood is awesome. You should do it. It saves lives! Just don’t expect to run into me at the blood bank, k?

Guys…I’m cleaning our bedroom.

Imagine this, only it's tinier and more adorable.

Imagine this, only it’s tinier and more adorable. 

It’s crazy. In so many ways. Fair warning: This post is pure narcissism. Here’s what I’m learning about Zach and I:

  • Zach should’ve married someone who could sew him a cool marching band t-shirt quilt. The best I’m doing is folding and storing them.
  • I apparently have a towel fetish. Seriously…what are all these towels doing in here?
  • My darling other half hasn’t gone on a good clothes shopping trip since high school.
  • He was a way cooler kid than I was. Space Camp? German Lederhosen? Color me green!
  • I’ve been clothes shopping a million times since high school, but have failed to throw anything out.
  • I get an immediate sentimental attachment to clothes once they get a hole.
  • Zach has a tiny alligator skull in a box. He’s cleaning out that box.
  • We’ve subconsciously been doomsday preppers, but only for clothing, towels and sheets. If pillowcases become the currency of the future, we were totally set for life. Sadly, Goodwill is about to get our bounty.

Carpal tunnel as a gamer

Hands are awesome. Until they get carpal tunnel and hurt all the time.

Hands are awesome. Until they get carpal tunnel and hurt.

About six months ago, I realized that my weekend-long Mass Effect binges were starting to hurt. And it wasn’t just from all the frozen pizza, either.

Carpal tunnel feels a bit like your wrists have just ran a marathon. The muscles feel fatigued, and more than a little tingly. The worse it gets, the more those tingles start to feel like stabs of pain. If you think you have it–go see your doctor. I’ve got a journalism degree, so don’t consider this your medical consultation.

Once I realized I had a problem, I started diving into research. I had a two-pronged problem. I needed my fingers and wrists to be fine for my job (editing) and I also needed them to be good for my gaming sessions. I realized that my hands almost never get a break. When I’m not typing, I’m using a controller. When I’m not doing that, I’m usually scrolling through Pinterest on our tablet.

Ouch.

But–I was able to find a few solutions that have seriously decreased the pain. I’d highly recommend all of these, even if you’re worried about getting carpal tunnel in the future.

We’ll start with the most important:

Gaming: Xtend Play 360

xtend play

This, my friends, is where it all started. Gaming controllers aren’t designed ergonomically. Luckily, smart people made it so that people like me can still enjoy our hobby. The Xtend Play fits snugly around the controller, but slides off easily enough. It’s foam, so it’s not like you have to struggle with an unwieldy heavy cover. The green is a bit…ick…but I’ll take it. When you hold the controller, you’ll be fitting your hands around it instead of under it. Your fourth and fifth fingers will follow your first two up to the trigger. I still have issues wasting away an entire day on certain games, but I was able to do a solid week of playing through RE6 thanks to this baby.

Don’t trust me? Read this.

Trust me? Buy it here.

Typing: Kinesis Advantage

kinesis

This thing is all kinds of space-age crazy awesomeness. It takes a couple weeks to get used to, but once it sinks in that you can remap all the keys, things start falling into place mentally. My keyboard is almost unrecognizable from its original configuration, excluding the QWERTY-style letters, of course. But the backspace being on the backspace button? Forgeddaboutit. Sadly, that makes it hard for me to show off this beautiful contraption, as that makes it even more complicated. But for personal use–amazing. I’m almost always pain-free during the week.

Don’t trust me? Read this.

Trust me? Buy it here.

If you do suspect you might have carpal tunnel, go see your doctor. And wear wrist braces. I don’t know how many people I know with carpal tunnel who claim these are too uncomfortable to sleep in. Sorry, I know it sucks. But they make such a huge difference that I would consider them absolutely a necessity. Go forth and conquer carpal tunnel!

Sometimes a Furby is just a Furby

Demonic eyes, much?

The Furby perched silently on the closet shelf. No longer was it begging me to play that weird game that never actually worked for me, or to pet it, or for God’s sake, just give it all my attention. Some of my attention. Any of my attention.

I could tell you that in staring at it I saw how what was important to a child didn’t matter to an adult. I could tell you that it was the grand metaphor of my life—that what I had once strived to be the best at (Furby care, natch), didn’t even warrant more than an annoyed look now that I was in college. That glance should’ve been poignant; it held all and simultaneously none of the mysteries of growing up. It should have occurred to me that it was a symbol that the old me was now gone, wrapped up in purses and clothes and cello lessons; not taking care of freaky toys that crave attention more than Lindsay Lohan.

But—I’m not that deep.

All I felt at that moment was a stab of annoyance that it was in my way, trying to make me feel guilty for not taking care of the inanimate (yet somewhat possessed) former toy of the year. The Furby sat, glaring at me, unblinking and unforgiving.

Then—it leaned forward. “Furrrrbyyyyyyyy,” it wailed.

Damn, I thought. How long do those batteries last?

 

Halo revolutionizes gaming with sexism ban

Back in the day, Halo revolutionized gaming. It took a landscape dotted with adventure games, platformers and racing games, and added an entirely new genre: first person shooters. Now, FPS games are the among the most popular formats. However, that was 2001. No one really expected Halo 4 (to be released 11 years later) to revolutionize the gaming landscape again.

But–that’s just what it’s set to do. In an interview with Gamespot, two execs stated that Microsoft will be banning anyone who uses sexist language. Permanently. As in–for life. Currently, bannings haven’t really been taken that seriously. Being threatened with not being able to play Halo 4 should be enough to keep folks who shouldn’t be opening their mouths quiet.

Though adolescents aren’t known for being long-sighted, it’s a brilliant start. Bonnie Ross, head of 343 Industries (and thus, head of Halo), said that she’s seen sites like Fat, Ugly or Slutty, and that it’s “offensive and completely unacceptable.” She partially blames the issue on jerks (also known as bullies, misogynists and Napoleon-complex wannabes) an anonymous voice. Interestingly, she also puts a bit of blame on studios, saying that the gaming culture can reflect that of the developers behind them.

In an effort to do their part, Ross’ studio carefully examined the gender of each of the characters in the campaign. If they felt like they had made the choice based on stereotypes, they re-evaluated the choice. It seems small, but when so many developers are working with stereotypes instead of against them, it’s a small miracle.

So–let’s all take a moment to ponder just how awesome Bonnie Ross is. I’d love to see her on Kotaku’s list of the most influential people in the gaming industry (which currently only has one female member), and I’d love to see more interviews with her. In the meantime, I’ll be purchasing Halo 4 to support such an awesome project.

Why you won’t find my gamertag

I play a variety of games on Xbox almost every night, assuming carpal tunnel hasn’t claimed my fingers by the end of the 10 hour work day. I’ve played online a total of four times in my life, all from my husband’s account (and thus his manly-sounding gamertag). Three of those times were so that Commander Shepard could have a better chance at saving the galaxy, the fourth was a round of Call of Duty with Zach’s friends.

For a long time, I thought it was just me, that I was being silly, to put it nicely. After all, I am a quiet sort of person, though I wouldn’t describe myself as reclusive by any means. I enjoy people, and I’ve participated in online forums since I was a youngster on Neopets. But Xbox Live just isn’t for me.

Have you heard of the site Fat, Ugly or Slutty? It chronicles the types of things that men (and boys) say to the women (and girls) who play online. When women do well, they’re most likely rewarded with particularly crass insults about their sex lives and/or bodies. When they’re simply identified as female, they’re often asked to show fellow gamers their umm…assets. Communiques range from the sad “do u want to be my xbox live gf?” to the disturbing, to the downright creepy. Some of them even think they’re being nice and complimenting a player (Here’s a hint: If she’s not your girlfriend or wife in real life, she doesn’t want to know your opinion of her chest).

Beyond the fact that these idiots are more likely to get struck by lighting while shaking hands with Mitt Romney twice than to receive a positive response to these sorts of propositions, these types of insults are ruining gamer culture. They’re completely unnecessary for the gaming experience, and they’re the worst sort of distraction from what games are trying to accomplish.

Men, of course, are the subject of Xbox Live ridicule, too. I’m not trying to downplay any bad experiences they’ve had. I’m guessing some individual men have had horrible, awful things happen to them while playing online. They may have even had to give up a game. But, overall, the pattern of threats, insults and sexual harassment seem to happen much more to female gamers.

And, honestly, my life is fine without any of that. I’ll just keep sneaking around using Zach’s ever-so-manly gamertag with the mic off when I need some extra points for a campaign mode. I’ll stand back and salute the women who choose to play online. They’re braver than I am. Maybe someday the culture will be able to police itself or control its members. Maybe games will even start implementing systems like the ones suggested in this Jezebel article. Send me a raven, though, because I’ll be offline.