The Venue Search: “Flexible…But with the Possibility of Human Excrement”

Today Pastry and I began the great wedding venue search. Thus, we have added our own new third definitions to the x and y factors of yore.

X-Confusion Abounds.

X Factor

  1. a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome
  2. a noteworthy special talent or quality
  3. Any venue with the possibility of fireworks and a reasonable open bar cost which does not require the sale of a gently used kidney (Irony?)

Y Factor

  1. a widely used technique measuring the gain and noise temperature of an amplifier
  2. Showing you or someone else’s feelings by the amount of Ys at the end of a “hey” in a text message (via
  3. the “WHY WE SHOULD NOT GO WITH THIS VENUE” factor of wedding planning (via The Pastry/Cucumber Consortium for Nuptial Planning Excellence)

We went to two very different locales, a more traditional renovated home venue at which the Pastry’s older brother had been married circa fifteen years prior and an avant-garde, flexible gallery space in the middle of a major metropolitan city. One venue included an outdoor fireplace, overgrown gardens, twinkle lighting in all the pecan trees, and the possibility for fireworks. The other venue included a very large white space, a small art gallery with a total of four seats, and the possibility of seeing a drugged out person literally shitting in the middle of a public art display outside the gates.

Please take a moment to ponder which venue may have made the decision matrix cut.

Hint: It was not the venue featuring a piece of dried poop next to a massive mural of Krishna. It was dried, slightly aged poop, but it was still obviously human poop just hanging out in public, in the middle of an interactive art display, next to a park, in broad daylight, directly next to an expensive venue. While staring at said excrement, we paused to ponder whether Pastry’s nice Midwestern family would enjoy this locale and then decided my hardened, more urban family would probably just step over the leavings, jaunting across the street to get a food truck street taco while Instagraming said poop-display with the hashtag #PublicPoop.

Beyond all that, the whole fireworks thing at the first venue is pretty exciting. But, all you or we are going to really remember from this day is…poop.

Invitation idea should we go with venue option number two?

The Weighted Decision Matrix of Romance

I am a Vulcan of love. Rational, logical, analytical, melding my mind with my Pastry on our mutual adoration of air hockey, pie, and adventures. I am by trade a researcher, educator, and artist. In Pastry’s phone contacts I am still listed as “Cucumber The Singer/Researcher” from our first date (a glorious evening of sushi, people watching at Walmart, and playing Battleship at Ihop over hot chocolate). So, I research stuff, and by stuff, I mean everything. And, I love me a good criteria, rigorous study, and analysis. This process, probably to the chagrin of my more emotionally driven love, is how I have approached my equal part in planning our wedding.

At least 800 thread count, please.

First, reconnaissance.

Reconnaissance is generally defined as a preliminary surveying to gather information or a strategic, military observation to ascertain strategic features. Within my own field, reconnaissance is a preparatory stage, an initial phase in which an exploratory stance is adopted, the understanding of the problem is developed, and plans are made for an interventionary strategy. So, wedding coordinators beware, I AM ON A MISSION. A MISSION OF LOVE AND EVENT COORDINATION, possibly with a signature bourbon cocktail and a small zoo animal encounter during the reception.

I think I have perhaps slightly terrified Pastry in my martial scouting of possible wedding venues. Meanwhile, The Wedding Industry Machine has instilled in me a great fear of not being able to find a venue, afford a venue, book beyond the select caterer, plan the nuptial date, coordinate ALL THE THINGS, incorporate whatever deranged rustic rodeo clown in Paris theme we desire, GET EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT, DO IT NOW, NOW NOW OR YOU WILL LOSE OUT FOREVER ON THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF YOUR LIFE, FEAR FEAR FEAR FEAR. (Pant, pant, pant.)

“Ugh” followed by a “This post doesn’t seem to be very aware of the cost of health care and education these days…”

In actuality, Pastry and I have discussed how though a wedding is a kickass way to celebrate our official union with our nearest and dearest, it is likely not going to be the Most Important Day of Our Lives. And, how our lives together will be composed of important days of various weights, graduating with a terminal degree, getting a promotion, having/adopting children, falling more in love, battling in future air hockey championships, playing Battleship and pie on our anniversary years and years down the road. The wedding is an important day, but it’s just a day. My sincerest hope is that it is just another great day in our lifetimes of many good and great days.

But, back to the assault upon finding a venue as the first wedding-related task. I coordinate very large events (1,000+) quite frequently for my actual job so I do know the importance of a solid timeline. As much fear-mongering all wedding planning guides instill in the average reader, there is some bizarre truth to it all as this shit needs to get done a year in advance. Which is ridiculous, but there you go. So, we’ve been gathering reconnaissance on venues, non-traditional, farms, zoos, gardens, parks, all-inclusive, historic buildings, cultural centers, goat farms, whatever place that might let us gallivant in our best finery and then drink in semi-public with our families. I made an Excel spreadsheet to track it all. I haven’t color coded it yet, but it is really just a matter of time. And, thus, this weekend we are off to start the whole looking at expensive places to hold this shindig.

Excellent showing, madam or sir, excellent showing.

Second, a weighted decision matrix. (Also sometimes referred to as a grid analysis, Pugh Matrix Analysis, or Multi-Attribute Utility Theory.)

My mom taught me some very important things in my life; How to stand up to injustice, how to endeavor to be fair, how being a strong woman is a wonderful thing to be. She also taught me how to put together awesome Powerpoint presentations (circa 4th grade when I made my astounding marking presentation debut with the innovative, “patent-pending” Sponge Coat, a rain jacket made of sponges) as well as the utter glory that is the weighted decision matrix (which I still currently utilize in my everyday practice). Essentially, you use this handy ol’ tool when you need to make one choice based on a multitude of criteria as well as account for the importance of the criteria by reducing everything down to a numerical weight. I am a nerd and I love this shit. #noapologies

Pastry is on board with my analytical framework as he is just as much of a data nerd. In my Vulcan logic-is-king manner, I was listing out possible criteria, location, catering/booze, flexibility, parking, insurance provision, cost, as well as the associated importance. Pastry kindly asked that we include an “x-factor” to my very tangible list of criteria, so that we could account for what just pulled at our heartstrings the most, the place that we just knew in our hearts was the place, what moved us the most. This. This is why he is my partner and makes me a better person. So, I gave our x-factor the highest numerical weight.  Because even sometimes Vulcans can fall in love with humans.

Bonus Spock .GIF as recommended by Pastry:

Traditions: A Passive-Aggressive Community Noise Parade

What goes together like two birds of a feather? LOUD NOISES AND WEDDINGS.

Here comes the very roundabout way to whence we came to tie cans to the back of the wedding car…

cha·ri·va·ri, shivaree or chivaree [French, from Old French, perhaps from Late Latin carībaria, headache, from Greek karēbariā : karē, head; shivaree, American alteration of Mississippi Valley French]

  1. a discordant mock serenade to newlyweds, made with pans, kettles, etc., often played as a joke
  2. a confused noise; din
  3. an elaborate noisy celebration

Approximately 700 years ago or so, some French folk decided that a great evening activity after the wedding of their neighbors would include a cacophony of sound under the couples’ window, forcing them to reappear in their nuptial finery (pre or post tumble) and perhaps invite the revelers in for a drink of celebration. The French also seemed somewhat confused as to their purpose for this grand, noisy event as some accounts discuss how this impromptu literal pan percussion was used to either utilized to encourage couples to marry, dissuade couples to marry, distract from the sexy times, or celebrate said sexy times. Nonetheless, if you got married, you ended up with drunk Phillipe from down the road under your window, banging a kettle, likely yelling helpful tips about consummation, and possibly demanded a midnight snack of cheese (a snack I assume drunk French people have always enjoyed). The crowds in general did not take to being ignored by the couple in question, and some accounts go into detail on how the bride or groom was then abducted from their home in retribution. It’s like a Middle Age Taken with Liam Neesen, but with more wedding stuff and perhaps less killing.

It’s all fun and games until grandma gives someone a concussion with a spoon.

In ye olden Western European days, most people married others in proximity to their hometown by either arranging it or “stealing” the bride. When a groom from outside the town would marry a local girl, another practice of this grand parade was that the local men would bang things loudly under his window to wake him up and then demand a meal as a price for stealing away a local bride.

Here is my description to Pastry as I was trying to explain this practice:

Basically… “Yo, dude, Mary is super hot and you got her! Damn! Bring me pizza, bro, as I wanted Mary but I’ll settle for pepperoni tonight! Also, since you inconvenienced me by landing the local hottie so I have to maybe go look for someone else, I’m going to inconvenience you by waking you up at midnight for my munchie needs.”

So, the baroque equivalent of death metal under your window in the wee hours of the night either means your family wants you to hurry up the hitchin’ or to not hurry it up at all. Then the French made their way to the North American frontier…

Charivari in Europe was not such a pleasant experience and tended toward the punitive. The practice was essentially was hazing for almost/just married people. When it made its way to the western frontier, it eventually became more of a lighthearted teasing/hazing. Think more crooning under the window in It’s A Wonderful Life than fighting off drunk Phillipe with globs of cheese and a sharped fork.

Shivaree (ah, we Americans are so good at bastardizing words) was common practice until the early 20th century. Here’s a lovely drawing of a crowd outside of the White House, happily taunting President Grover Cleveland and his 27-years junior, daughter of his law partner, and FORMER WARD new wife Frances Folsom (youngest first lady at the age of 21). He called her Frank, and I assume there was a lot of “Oh god, Frank” that night for various reasons. (I also may know a lot about Grover Cleveland as I did a 4th grade book report on him. Ahem, like how he was both the 22nd and 24th president, the only president to serve two terms non-consecutively. Or, how the Baby Ruth candy way named after his daughter Ruth. Or, how he had a secret surgery in the middle of a bay to remove a tumor as he did not want anyone to know about it. Good stuff.)

“Oh, Frank!”

Though shivaree slowly lost its onetime prominent tradition in American culture, there is a bit of a remainder seen in how loud noises, banging of metallic objects, and generally taunting the pair marrying in a fun way. And, thus we began attaching tin cans to the getaway wedding car, providing a lazy American solution of cacophony by letting the car bang the cans.

An efficient noise parade.

I’m honestly a bit surprised this tradition has not made its way back in a cute, charming Wedding Industry Machine way yet. Enter breathy wedding planner who speaks in intense, hushed tones and ends every sentence with a question:

So, Bella/Sophie/Suzie/LadyName (’cause let’s be honest, most of this kind of chat goes on with the lady in modern American wedding planning), imagine what a precious experience it would be to have an accordion band of your nearest and dearest wearing matching pearlescent gowns and ties arrive outside your quaint honeymoon suite at the stroke of midnight, holding reclaimed wooden signs with hand drawn calligraphy on your favorite song lyrics, to then play romantic songs dearest to you and your beloved? We could incorporate making artisan percussion instruments into your reception, so each guest would have a handmade spoon mallet and recycled percussion instrument! Obviously, we would also tie it back to your theme of rustic rodeo clown in Paris…”

If someone shows up with a pan and a kettle under my window after my wedding, all they are going to get is beat down and perhaps a kettle to the head. I’ve seen Taken. Liam Neeson taught me well.

Nuptial Adventures

So, marriage.

I was considering opening up this whole shebang with something like to say “I am getting married to a wonderful person likely sometime around this time next year, blah de blah blah,” but this whole wedding business is an intense, relentless process of weird, full of loaded traditions, ideals, values, rituals, decisions, and more. My partner, future official-spouse-on-paper, and eventual sharer-of-health-insurance, Pastry, is a wonderful man, enthusiastically discussing, planning, moderating, and pouring me drinks when I get a bit fired up about the inherent gender roles in important life rituals. Luckily for me, he is way more patient than I and also makes a great Old Fashioned. Equality, respect, fun, and authenticity are immensely important to us both, and one would think that this would be easy to incorporate into what is essentially a one-day fancy party, right? No. Enter The Wedding Industry Machine.

(Should you be interested, this image of a wedding vending machine is what comes up with you search for the above phrase. As a concept, I think it should incorporate snacks and booze, too. Wedding band, regrettable decisions, cheap whiskey, AND Doritos all in one place!)

Matrimony with a side of Snapple. Post script: Diet Snapple for her as nothing is more important than being slender on your wedding day!

Pastry, code name for my love which requires a somewhat long story, and I have been reworking what is important to us in this gloried event. Meanwhile, I have found that I really enjoy researching wedding traditions over the course of civilization, looking as the evolution of an industry, changing values over time, and the just plain oddity of human matrimonial tradition. So, I’m going to ramble about wedding traditions as well as use this as a space to figure out what is important in this pretty significant life event. I’ll get to the whole why of marriage in a bit.

Also, you can get crabs out of vending machines now, too.

The crab-i-nator.

Tradition, Tradition!

Late Middle English from Old French tradicion or Latin traditio, from trader “deliver, betray,” from trans-‘across’ plus dare ‘give.’ The Latin origin means to hand over, to give. Tradition was used first in the sense of religious doctrines and law, to hand down dogma, to deliver doctrine, but became commonly used by communities and families to signify the transmittance of family custom or ritual.

And, then it all gets a bit weird.