Miscommunicated Email Tone, Macro Nostril Shots, and Drag Queen Inspiration

Selecting the correct tone for nuptial-related communication, turns out, is kind of tricky.

If it’s full of exclamation marks, it’s because I think you are a dreaded “feeler” and thus have put in the 2/3 exclamation mark rule in order to try to get you to think emotional reasoning is important to me. See previous post on me being a Vulcan of love.

Pastry and I have been working to book the major vendors for the whole shindig, and we met a super awesome photographer a few weeks ago for coffee and portfolio chat. We decided to move forward with him to hopefully not photograph us looking too dumb in our wedding finery, and thus received a quote and contract to review. Enter communication issue number one…

How to work with a vendor you like, but need more information to move forward

Pastry had lots of questions about the contract, copyright, release to print, and selling our unborn children’s images in case of future business sale (not really…hopefully), so he emailed the photographer directly. Now, said photographer is perhaps the peppiest, most positive person we’ve ever met, and he always asks cute personal questions/follow ups to prior conversations in his emails. Pastry is a technical writer and works in a very large tech company, and thus, emailed spritely photographer a very direct, business-like contract suspicion email. And, I about had a heart attack as I kind of want the photographer to like us and thus not take macro photos of our nostrils for our wedding.

Future wedding album: Nothing but pages of nostrils in need of a good Biore strip.

“So, uh, that email is a bit pointed…Try not to scare away the wedding photographer? We kind of want him to like us.”

“Ha, okay, I’ll send a happier follow-up.”

“He’s a HAPPY! FUN! LOTS OF EMOTIONS! AND EXCLAMATION POINTS! AND PERSONAL QUESTIONS! kind of person. You sound like the grouchiest person ever in that email, which is entertaining as I am definitely the grouchier, more hardcore negotiator in our pair.”

Pastry constructed a lovely, emotionally driven follow up email referencing Pixar movies (good call, Pastry, good call), and lo, the photographer answered all the questions. AND, he still likes us. (Hopefully.) No macro nostril pictures in our future! (Hopefully.)

But it did make me think about how most vendors in the wedding business have a double-pronged interest in all of this wildness. It’s a business, yes, but it’s a business of emotion on all sides. I doubt many people who hate weddings or emotions last long in making heart themed caked for bridezillas and their 137 person wedding party. You can definitely tell the authentic wedding enthusiasm in your vendors – Some play great lip service to it, and I’m totally okay with that as long as the customer service is great. Some genuinely are SO EXCITED about our wedding, and this whole crazy party. Which is also okay, if a little odd, as long as the customer service is okay. Some perhaps step a little over the line, and you start to wonder if they live in a basement surrounded by stuffed cats wearing tiny bridal veils as they construct an elaborate shrine to Randy from Say Yes to the Dress, wedding things the only priority in their life.

We are gathered here today in my basement to celebrate the union of Ms. Muffet Fluff and Rear Admiral Randy Meow…

Others, particularly DJs, seem to generally feel like your wedding is beneath them yet easily swayed when they realize the shear amount of money they will make from DJing some top forty dancing music and some “tastefully selected” retro music for cocktail hour. (I do understand this outlook as my own classical singer view aligns nicely with this – I’m not enthused particularly to sing at a stranger’s wedding unless I am directly staring at the multiple digits on that payment check. Singing for friends, entirely different story, as I could not imagine something I enjoy more.)

So, I, in my extensive wisdom, coached Pastry through his positive email chain. And, then I promptly sent a super grouchy email to a caterer who had pissed me off. I have never been one for following my own rules.

How to send a scathing (but ever so slightly nice in tone) email to a vendor you do not like

I try to channel Latrice Royale for my testy emails.

In the great venue search of 2015, we looked at 14 different places across the entire metropolitan area. We narrowed our top contenders down to three places, #1 tech-central all-inclusive romantic venue, #6 old pecan grove that brought about childhood nostalgia, and #13 a wacky combination of traditional garden, modern venue, and insanely bright hotel. The first venue was our top choice for the majority of venue hunting…until we tried the catering at the open house. BLEH. Fish cake of death! Bland potatoes! Overdressed salad! BLEH AGAIN. Decent cheese plate though as Pastry’s dad and I ate most of the brie at the open house. (Pastry thought it was adequate…I, as you can tell, did not share those feelings.)

So, I emailed the caterer as they were the only option in the venue package to see if we could arrange a tasting as well as look at the upgrade options. The coordinator emailed us information. But, then the catering owner emailed me separately, saying that we could arrange a tasting only after we had booked a venue and they could even help us book a venue for a fee if we needed help in our indecisiveness. My response (thus far unsent)? NO MONEY FOR YOU, caterer. Lo, three weeks later after we had booked #13 as our venue (with their internal catering option and very lovely event coordinators), I got a follow up email from the original catering coordinator asking us again if we would like to arrange a time to do a tasting.

Enter TESTY BRIDE IS TESTY email. (Somewhat edited.)

“Rage email” comes with some pretty great stock photo options. Not as weird as “woman with cactus” luckily.

Dear catering coordinator who has thus far been professional and was undercut by her own boss,

I received another email saying that your company would only be willing to help us after we had booked a venue. Thus, we booked another caterer for our wedding. As explained in our original email, we had been hoping to do a tasting (and pay for it) in order to determine the best approach to a venue package or a la carte catering options at your preferred venues. To be honest, the terse response from your company was part of the reason we were swayed to another venue entirely. And, as the preferred venues have followed up with us to inquire as to why we did not book, they have also been informed of our reasons.



So, in the space of two days, we’ve managed to build, annoy, resurrect our relationship with the photographer and I managed to ensure I will likely be poisoned by a certain catering company should I ever attend any of their functions. I’ll just let Latrice say it all about how I feel about this below.

Update: Catering company emailed me back a ever so slightly snotty response. (Obviously edited to portray the subtext I read.) 

Dear Testy Bride Who No Doubt Is Likely Drinking Too Much White Wine to Comprehend the Glory of Our Catering Company,

We are sorry it there was any miscommunication (on your part, oh queen liege). We looked back and our owner DID offer to meet with you AFTER determining the venue AS WELL AS offered to help you decide on a venue if you wanted our input. We know a lot about our venues, and would not doubt steer you in a way that would mean ultimate profit for us.

We hope we can work with you another time! (BECAUSE YOU’LL OBVIOUSLY NOT STAY MARRIED, YOU DEMON BEAST.)

Best, warmest, kindest regards,

Blah de Blah Catering

P.S. We poisoned your fish cake.


Bridal Magazine Carla (BMC)

The hottest look for Bridal in 2020?

This prior weekend, I went wedding gown shopping with my mom and her best friend/my second mom, G. Our first stop was a lovely, vaguely industrial salon downtown. As our first gown experience was hot and torturous, this was heaven in comparison, comfy couches, bottles of water, a lovely individual consultant, lots of beautiful gown options, etc. I tried on several and found one contender. Sending out a picture to select few wedding party of awesome members, bridesmaid Carla shall henceforth be known as BMC, Bridal Magazine Carla.

Bridal Magazine Carla (BMC) text on Dress #1:

“That really complements you! The shape is sweet and sexy. I love the subtle lacy details, the mix of soft and structured. Pagan goddess flower crown is icing on the cake!”

After a pit-stop for fried pickles and pretzels, the next stop was another salon in a suburb, weirdly located next to a pawn shop, gun store, and grocery store. One stop shopping! Now, that set up doesn’t sound promising, but OH MY GOD, THE DRESSES. THE DRESSES! They were glorious.

Upon sending a picture of my favorite gown at this location to BMC, this was her response:

Bridal Magazine Carla (BMC) text on Dress #2:

“The lace applique detailing on this one stands out a little more and is very artfully and organically placed, bringing concentration to the beaming bride’s face and delicately falling away into the gown much like a willow. The neckline is sweet and sexy again, and additionally this unbelted waistline complements your hourglass shape swimmingly, even elongating your shape, am improvement I think.”

If anything from this adventure, besides the whole most likely find THE Wedding Gown, we have all figured out that Carla has a future in writing for Bride Magazine. I look forward to her future gown and decor ruminations.

Is a Flower Crown a Good Idea? Or, Am I Just Mutton Dressed as Lamb?

When considering the nuptial shindig, I am drawn to the ever so slightly pagan. Upon reflecting on how I’d like my sartorial part of this whole thing to go down, I know I want flowers in my hair and the barest feet possible (still with shoes on as I have some walking to do day of the event). Bees are a reality I do not want to encounter with my feet on any day let alone a day with a professional photographer capturing everything. Lest anyone think I am a low-maintenance hippie due to my flower crown interest, yeah no. I am very attached to my black eyeliner and synthetic materials.

So, I bought some silk floflowercrown3wers as close as possible to our general wedding floral plan. And, I made myself a crown while Pastry made dinner (I highly recommend the weird edamame pasta from Costco). I thought it would be dainty, and turns out, it’s HUGE. And, I kind of enjoy having obnoxious ranunculus perched on my head. But, am I mutton dressed as trendy, music festival-going lamb? I am not exactly a dewy, young thing with a violent urge to wear ripped short-shorts while swaying to band whose name likely includes an ampersand. I’m more of an early 30s snark-o-saur with a penchant for the bohemian and comfort.

Pastry laughed when he saw it, and then told me that on a scale from 1-10, he would give it an 8. He also said that if I get fancy head wear, he’s going to have to look into an obnoxious cowboy hat for the wedding in order to feel equally fancy. So, I’m going to pack my gigantic crown for future dress shopping adventures to see how it goes with a crazily expensive pieces of tulle. Meanwhile, I might just wear the crown around the house when I am working on papers for ye olde doctorate. Or, when I have cramps. Or, when I need coffee. Or, when I just need to feel a little pagan, a little fancy, or a little like a fancy pagan.

Side note: Our chiweenie with an attitude problem, Pepe, barked at me when I put it on my head. He is team “Mutton Dressed as Lamb.”

Sweating in Another Woman’s Bustier

Last Saturday, I decided it might be time to start looking at large puffs of white tulle in possible consideration for my wedding attire. There was a sale at David’s Bridal, so I convinced my mom this was an excellent plan, made an appointment, and then spent the morning fighting with billowing white fabric in a tiny, tiny little dressing room.

She’s coming for your soul…in a handcrafted, artisan gown with hand painted roses…

When we arrived, they were already running behind for the day, so they let us loose to wander through the racks of dresses. Sorting through white and cream dresses is easier said than done as, well, they all look the same. We hemmed and hawed, ooh-ed over the fancier options, chatted about the finer points of sparkly appliques. I found I was attached to large ball gowns with lacy things all over, bonus points for three dimensional flowers.

The reality of the “fairytale” of finding The Dress, getting lost in a sea of white things in clear body bags.

Our consultant finally met with us, an itsy-bitsy lady of approximately 19 years of age with a large arm tattoo and badly dyed blonde hair. She then proceeded to quiz me about everything not wedding gown related.

“How many bridesmaids are you going to have?”

“Uh, five plus a brides…dude. Bridesdudes? Bridesmanfriend? Wedding guy? So, six. One guy, five ladies. But, ten total considering each side. This is like a bad word problem.”

Blank stare. “Okay, what are your colors?”

“Well, we are attracted to bright colors and are just going to let them all pick their own outfits, so purple, yellow, orange, pink, red…”

“You can buy swatches here for them.”

“Well, I was thinking more the ol’ low key hand everyone a paint swatch and tell them to go wild in outfitting themselves…”

(Stare.) “Where is the wedding going to be?”

“Oh, in a traditional garden and then a super modern reception. Plus there is a bright boutique hotel next door, so it’s a little bit of everything….”

“Okay, I’ll pull some dresses for you. Let me go get you a bridal slip. What is your bust size?”


“I’ll get you a bustier to put on, too.”

So, I then found myself in a tiny dressing room with no mirror, struggling to latch myself into a used bustier and can-can-esque bridal skirt. Essentially, like this…But, you know, with proportional legs and two feet.

Seriously, why do her legs look so short?

This ensemble as a good look for me, kinda like Ellie the Arizona brothel girl trying to make good on her new marriage life. Waist, boobs on display, flashy shirt, I was excited to try on the expensive white overlays! I was ready to can-can dance!

Now, being as I sang opera, I have spent a good portion of my life trying on fancy ball gowns. I look GOOD in a fancy gown. I know how to walk with a train, gently lift the sides of a full skirt to move gracefully around an obstacle (yelling tenor), and wear a large costume with presence. I expected the same feeling of putting on a gorgeous gown to sing. So, when tiny consultant handed me my first gown and I crawled through the layers to put it on, I was expecting a GREAT FLOOD OF EMOTIONS like Randy from Say Yes to the Dress has promised me through multiple seasons. Instead, I looked like a white- sequin-embroidered tank.

With slightly more sparkle…

My waist was gone, I couldn’t move my arms, and I looked super dowdy. Eh. Glorious. My philosophy in clothing is that it is never the person or their bodies’ fault that something does not look good. The sole issue is with the design. So, take it off and try again. So, on to the next gown…Eh again. Slightly lumpy white panzer tank. A few more dresses in, and I was muttering something about looking like a sparkly, waistless Moby Dick while trying to throw yard of poof over my head in a confined space. Ready the harpoons, Ahab!

Throughout this whole thing, the consultant would just hand me gowns in the tiny dressing room to crawl into them myself. That floaty, full tulle shirt you so adore? It actually weights about 30 pounds. I decided to do some bicep curls with a particularly large and heavy dress. I asked the consultant for something different, and she brought me a Glinda the Good Witch ball gown with metallic embroidery. The mom has now joined me in the claustrophobic room, and with two dresses in there with us, basically cannot move for the cloud of white skirt. The dresses resembled armor, the waists and side rigid with embellishment.

It’s a good look for a wedding, right? Will fit right in with our Rustic Rodeo Clown in Paris theme…

I’m was now sweating profusely and my loaner bustier plastered to my sides with perspiration, slightly reeking of ball gown dreams and disappointed budget realities. Tiny consultant pulls some entirely different dresses, I decide to go rouge and take off my can-can shirt against her wishes, and I actually end up finding quite a pretty champagne colored strapless gown with an A-line skirt and white embroidery around the bust. During this entire time, another bridal party has been lurking outside my room and commenting on every gown. They vastly approve of this final, slenderizing gown. My mom, rightfully, thinks it looks a bit cheap, but presents a good starting place for style at another roomier and higher end locale. We decide we are done, and I return to stuff the can-can slip back into its drawstring bag and peel off the sweatiest bustier in the world.

So, wedding dress shopping, not a magical and fun affair as The Wedding Industry Machine would so like you to believe. I was mostly struck by how unflattering the gowns were in general and how they would not do any woman any favors. And, how the majority of dresses in my size very much wanted to cover me completely with frilly white lace. Meanwhile, my inner Ellie the Brothel Girl very much wants the impressive cleavage to fly free on the wedding day. So, I made a couple more appointments with very different salons, and bought my own bustier. Because, if I am going to have to sweat in tulle in the pursuit of a dress, I might as well do it in my own lingerie.

The Venue Search: Lucky Number…?

So, we have looked at a total of fourteen wedding venues over the last month. What we thought we would like, we really disliked. What looked iffy online, turned out to be beautiful in person. If anything, this entire search has been fascinating look into the importance of flexible business practices, superior venue maintenance, and incredible customer service, all covered with twinkle lights and the possibility of chair bows.

These things are insanely expensive. Seriously, I could think of so many more things on which to spend money…Pie, bourbon, capybara encounters…

Here is a list of every venue we have seen thus far:

  1. All inclusive wedding venue in the middle of tech industry central, vague Italian theme with possibility of fireworks. Truly did not expect to like it, and somewhat fell in love with its eclectic yet entirely neutral décor.
  2. A massive art gallery in the middle of a metropolitan city, in the arts section surrounded by new build luxury apartments and condemned/abandoned lots. Colorful street murals, colorful locals, possibility of finding human poop in public art display.
  3. Small, gorgeous botanical garden with historic buildings and views of desert. Site of our second date. Amazing. Expensive. Still amazing. Still way too expensive as would have to sell unborn children to pay for open bar at reception.
  4. Renovated historical building venue space and artist lofts on other side of metropolitan city, located between the police station, the courthouse, and the county jail. Huge cavernous spaces made of brick open to the sky and slightly terrifying elevators. Would need to import oak tree sized decorations to make place seem kind of homey. Used to be the site of large raves.
  5. At first glance, lovely 1920s home with palatial, classic gardens. At second glace, slightly decaying old home with serious lawn maintenance issues and a featured scum-filled mosquito pond for pictures. Additional feature of feral cats in bamboo forest. Would have liked to learn more, but staff so spastic they essentially locked us out of the ballroom and never offered us any information…OR CANAPES.
  6. Old orchard in the middle of nowhere with a cocktail barn full of chandeliers and a huge back patio. With the serious lack of restrooms, figure many bushes have been peed upon by drunken wedding parties. Reminds Pastry of his Midwestern roots and reminds me of my grandfather’s house in Colorado where I used to listen to the rain hit the tin roof of the barn. Lots of sparkle lights.
  7. Historic landmark of house converted into intimate concert venue with midcentury furnishings, professional lighting design, and the ability to bring in your own alcohol. Unmovable concert seating takes up majority of reception space and, upon seeing the back patio, I realized I had combined two different historical houses in my mind to create the perfect place…which was sadly, not this reality.
  8. Ultra-modern event space near a semi-hip historical downtown, multiple rooms all decked out in white and crystals. They served a mean cucumber martini (I approve), and fed us lots of carbohydrates even though majority of attendee brides looked like they had not had a carb in a year. No green anywhere. Seriously question if we are these kind of people, and simultaneously feel too cool and not cool enough for venue.
  9. Massive old estate way far north near the mountains, nestled in old orange groves. Great Gatsby themed wedding here would trump them all. Astoundingly awesome customer service and attention to detail. Any wedding here would be gorgeous and classy. Unfortunately, we really are not all that classy.
  10. Brand new rustic/ modern venue at base of large mountain, closest landmarks literally a ghost town and an abandoned tire shop. Got nail in tire actually on trip to venue and had a moment in which I had to go buy a bag of flaming hot Cheetos while Pastry tried to fix tire in gas station parking lot. Venue a nice mix of modern and rustic with the best view in the area. Only possible hotel is additional 10 miles away from town. Might lose guests in desert or hills. Venue actually provides security “in case anyone wanders off into the desert” (subtext to likely die).
  11. Massive museum far north of town featuring music related everything. Toured on a family day and got to witness many lost children, crying toddlers, and exhausted looking parents. Even though this is entirely in my wheelhouse, completely overwhelmed by collections. Venue is fancy performance stage which to me just feels like yet another concert. This place would make the wedding seem like a music gig to me, one that we were paying instead of them paying me to perform. 
  12. Hidden garden right next to freeway built by former gardener over 30 years. It’s like TGIF Friday’s, Rain Forrest Café and a Mexican furniture store had a baby with a tropical garden. Completely bizarre and wonderful. As a venue, we worried we might actually lose guests among the giant chairs and random elephant statues. Too many drinks might also equal falling into a fountain or fighting a monkey totem.
  13. Super modern venue with fountains, patios, and two stories of blank spaces overlooking a beautiful, green park. Park is a special place to us both as when we started talking about this whole marriage adventure, we decided to go look at engagement rings. We went to appointment at a custom ring store and were stood up by the jeweler. So, we decided to make the best of the day, went to the local farmer’s market, grabbed iced coffees, and sat in the flower garden talking about all the things we want to do in our lives together. We then saw ducklings in a fountain, and Pastry got a semi-mortifying video of me squeaking in dog hearing range of how much I love baby ducks. Venue is directly across from that bench where we sat, and the city rents out the park for ceremonies.
  14. A large zoo toured on the hottest day of the year thus far. Saw many GIANT jackrabbits rustling in bushes, and literally no zoo animals beyond a couple birds. Possibility of reception in giant African tents (with sparkle lights). Venue tour possibly one of the sweatiest moments in my entire life.

“Whatcha lookin’ at, punk?” says the world’s largest jackrabbit. “I judge your appetizer and color scheme choices.” 

And, today, we picked one. Any bets on the final winner?

Extra picture: Just because they are super cute.


Veni, Vidi, Vici Vendors and Venders

I came. I saw, I conquered…especially the open bar and cheese plates at a venue open house.

Vender Pastry upon seeing the above sign, “The attention to detail certainly inspires confidence…”

Venders? But, shouldn’t it be vendors?

Well, turns out…

Vendor: 1585-1595; from Anglo-French from Latin venditor.

Vender: 1590-1600; vend+er the word “vend” originating from Latin vendere.


1. A person who sells something.

The New Yorker weirdly uses the -er version in their always bizarre house style. “Vender” has been used only 17 times outside of The New Yorker according to the Corpus of Contemporary American English. Meanwhile, “vendor” has been used over 2,000 times. However, though the -or spelling is more common in American English, technically they are both correct.

So, this venue is perhaps full of New Yorker enthusiasts, Italian speakers, or just questionable spellers. Being as I think the family owners ARE from New York AND are Italian, I’m going to bet it’s all three. But, really mostly the latter dubious spellers issue.

Traditions: Duck, Duck, Goose for Life

From mentioning venue duck poop to duck traditions! Something for every duck enthusiast!

In traditional Korean wedding ceremonies, duck or geese carvings are used as a symbol for peace, fidelity and the future blessing of having many ducklings/kidlings. The designs are usually based off the Mandarin Duck, a species of duck commonly found to mate for life. In Chinese culture, mandarin ducks have their very own metaphor to represent a loving couple, e.g. Bob and Susan are like “two mandarin ducks playing in water.”

Side note: I always used Bob and Susan as my example names as a holdover from taking French in college. Our instructor, Pierre from Paris, ALWAYS used Bob and Susan in his examples. When we asked him why, he said in his super thick accent, “Bob et Susan…What could be more American names?” I also spent the entire year writing my essays about snakes in backpacks as “un serpent à sac à dos” was weirdly used as an example in the first chapter of the book. Spoiler alert, the French backpack snakes took many international flights in my French essays. Je suis fatigué de ces serpents motherfucking sur cet avion motherfucking! Doesn’t quite have the same feeling to it…

Ce serpent est venu à une fin malheureuse comme un sac à dos.

 But, back to ducks…

The tradition of presenting wooden ducks stems from the custom of the groom presenting his bride’s family with live ducks or geese as a present prior to marriage. As the modern woman likely does not have numerous Pinterest boards devoted to the live geese/ducks she would like to keep in her fifth-floor-walk-up studio apartment, wooden carvings became all the vogue. Wedding ducks are commonly sold as souvenirs in Korea and China, but should you want a pair of authentic loving ducks for your wedding, you best start looking for a very special wood carver as soon as possible as there are some criteria for wedding duck prototyping.

To be a good wedding duck carver, according to tradition, one must be:

  1. Wealthy.
  2. Healthy.
  3. Married to a good partner.
  4. Not have ever been divorced or have relatives who have been divorced. (This duck pond just got real small.)
  5. Have lots and lots of male children, bonus points for five sons as it aligns with Confucius’s emphasis on family strength through proliferation.

I’m going to write to David Beckham and see if he want to carve Pastry and I some wedding ducks.

Another tradition is to incorporate string on the bills of the ducks. How lovely, you are thinking, decorative wedding ducks in festive outfits! NO. The string on the female duck’s beak symbolizes how the bride should endeavor to always be quiet and support her husband in all things.


At the wedding ceremony (though this is no longer common), the ducks are wrapped in cloth with only their string-tied faces peeking out of their tea towel. Once the bride arrives, the ducks are then placed within the ceremonial table/altar. Once they get hitched, the groom’s mom whips out the string-silenced lady duck and throws it to the bride for her to catch in her skirt. If the brides successfully fields the wooden duck, she will have sons. If she was last picked for softball at recess, all lady children for her.

The couple usually keeps the wooden ducks post-wedding in a prominent place within their home. But, duck placement says a lot about how things are going in their union. Facing toward each other, duck life is great! Frolic in that water together! Facing away, no longer playing in water! Things have gotten a bit rough.

The sign that Bob and Susan are going to end up either in marriage counseling or on Maury.

So, I kind of like the idea of carved wooden ducks. But, NO STRINGS. And, really, finding a duck-carver of note may be a serious issue. Mr. Beckham, if you happen to be reading, best work on your whittling skills for next May.