A Pastry Post: Sartorial Suit Adventures

Pastry’s Quest for the Perfect Suit: A Guest Blog by Pastry

When Cucumber and I started our process of planning a wedding, we decided that, rather than a tuxedo, I would wear a suit. I own one already, and (because I am pretty cheap) had hoped that I might be able to skip the expense of one, and wear what I had. So with this in mind, I took it into my tailor, hoping that some minor modifications would make the suit fit me like a glove and look god-like. This was my first reality-check when it came to me and suits. Because in his (very brusque, VERY funny) way, my tailor informed me that my suit was off-the-rack and off-the-rack suits are not for me. Why?

  1. Off-the-rack suits simply look AWFUL on me. I have a very short rise in my pants (queue rimshot). Because of the way that pants sit on my waist, off-the-rack suit pants tend to sit very low and make it look like I have an obsession with an early ‘90s Hip-Hop legend.

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“A sartorial god amongst men? A role-model for today’s fashion-challenged youth? Or a victim of bad tailoring?”

Often times, an off-the-rack jacket will look fine on me, but the pants will need so much work, I might as well go custom. Additionally, in the case of suit-separates, they CAN work really well, in-theory. Calvin Klein pants in their slimmer fits (paradoxically) tend to look pretty damn good on me. Their jackets, however, are a problem, because…

  1.   If anyone were to describe me, “small” is not an adjective that would be chosen. I’m convinced that in a parallel world, I made a pretty solid defensive football player. I played for a bit as a kid, but a unfortunate formation of my ankles that made running extremely difficult and football practice miserable (I was strong as a bear, so I worked well on the line, but during practice I was consistently at the very end of the distance running game).

Plus, who wants to play football outside in the Arizona heat when there’s Nintendo games to be played?

But ultimately, while this shape may have really benefited me on the grid-iron, when it comes to fashion choices…not so much.

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“Do you have anything in a lightweight wool, preferably in a dark-gray sharkskin weave? And the pants should be flattering to the trailer.”

Adulthood left me with a suit-jacket size of 50R but pants in the 36” waist range. Finding a suit that accommodated these factors was NOT going to be easy.

So knowing that I wouldn’t just be able to use my currently owned-suit meant that I would need to purchase a new one. And I now knew that I couldn’t just run down to the local Saks Off-Fifth and pick up a nifty two-piece. Something custom was in order.

Now, most tailors will do custom clothing (or know someone who will), and my tailor was no exception. When I started to inquire about his custom suitmaking practice, however, he shut me down pretty quickly. “I’m not the guy to make your suit,” he told me, in his densely Italian manner. A flash of irritation crossed my mind for a brief second (thinking he was somehow judging me unworthy of his talents), before he followed-up by saying, “my suits start at around $8000.”

Remember that I’m cheap. So imagine what my reaction must have been to that lovely piece of news – that my wedding attire would be many times the price of Cucumber’s wedding dress. We do tend to challenge gender roles, but this wasn’t a statement I was desperate to make.

Fortunately, Phil (my tailor) is nothing if not helpful. He told me to look into online made-to-measure clothing. I had looked into this a while ago, but had found (through reviews) that when they arrived, they were usually non-customized separates that were picked off-the-shelf as close to the measurements as possible and just shipped.

Man wearing oversized suit

Man wearing oversized suit — Image by © CJ Burton/Corbis

Oh yeah. It’s fully custom. Isn’t it obvious this was made just for me?

Phil, however, informed me that online made-to-measure had improved dramatically over the past few years. Apparently suits can arrive on one’s doorstep, with a nearly perfect fit. And if any tailoring is required, the suit-makers will often include a tailoring budget to allow for some small alterations.

With this all in mind, I ordered a suit from www.blacklapel.com. With my obsessive nature at researching all options before ordering, they fit my desire to provide as many customized options as possible, while maintaining the price point that I wanted to hit.

After ordering, they informed me that because of the Chinese New Year, they were running behind schedule and wouldn’t ship for 8-10 weeks. However, when I happened to check it this morning, their website informed me that my suit had already shipped. By coincidence, Cucumber informed me that I had a package waiting for me at home, and that it appeared my suit had been compressed to the rough density of a black hole prior to shipping.

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“Sure, it distorts time and space. But the fabric of reality drapes off the shoulders extremely well.”

I don’t know if I should be delighted or scared about my suit arriving 6 weeks earlier than expected. We’ll see soon I suppose…

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Wedding Video Fails: Gravity, Cakes & Penguin Poop

Two years of middle school gymnastics has led to a bridesmaid concussion and a pending Aenta claim at the local Urgent Care.

A lifetime of paying for therapy after being constantly reminded, “Yeah, well, you THREW ME ON THE GROUND trying to catch Second Cousin Lydia’s bouquet.”

It is indeed a Bittersweet Symphony when your wedding is remembered for the intrusive videography AND your dress trying to abandon ship pre-ceremony.

Generally can be summed up as – Walking is hard (especially when real drunk or wearing a gown). And, belts are fairly important.

Also, if you are going to spend hundreds of dollars on a wedding cake, it might also be a good idea to invest in a sturdy table.

A compilation of falling, running, knocking over cake, breaking things, penguin poop, lost security deposits, and impending divorces. And, a random naked dude at 1:25. Also, the epic dancing at 2:28 is also amazing.

Traditions: Fingering the Garter, Symbols of Virginity, and Public Mortification

Picture a lovely wedding in a floral bedecked reception hall, guests more than a few free drinks into the evening milling about post-cake looking for a bit of wedding revelry.

“Ah, look, it’s time for the garter and bouquet toss!”

“I know! Such an exciting tradition! I never catch it though…One time my aunt Suzy literally knocked over four bridesmaids to catch the bouquet though.”

“Yeah. Besides, it’s so awkward when the groom dives under the bride’s skirt for the garter, especially when they do things like put on goggles and gloves, or drunkenly reenact Magic Mike in front of Oma. No one wants to see that…”

This isn’t awkward at all.

Enter nosey third guest, likely clutching an Old Fashioned and wearing sensible shoes (a sure sign this is not her first wedding adventure).

“Well, did you know that the garter toss originates from an early 14th century French tradition called ‘Fingering the Garter’ and has evolved as a way to protect the bride from literally being felt up on her undercarriage by drunken wedding guests trying to confirm she was no longer a virgin post-nuptial shindig?” (Hiccup.)

“Way to ruin a fun party, Cucumber.”

This video is only 2 minutes long and so excruciating to watch I had to stop it several times. It’s also been viewed over 125,000 times. Ugh, why is this a thing?! Should you want to spend a dreadful afternoon watching terrible male strip-dancing in front of huge families, elaborate prop usage, and a mortified women wearing expensive gowns trying to look amused, Youtube is a wealth of awful garter videos.

So, the garter toss. When starting the whole wedding planning shenanigans a few months ago, we made a general list of traditions worth doing and others that we both found questionable. And, then when looking at the history of the garter toss, the tradition I have always hated the most or at least unhappily cringed through at every wedding, I felt oh so vindicated as the origins of the tradition are, well, really appalling. If you are a garter toss enthusiast/wedding sadist, you might want to skip the rest of this all.

Weddings in most cultures have been considered a special moment to transfer luck or fortune, be it money, land, inheritance, good fortune, the possibility of future weddings, etc. In ye olden European wedding traditions, obtaining a trinket from the bride was always thought to be a harbinger of luck or at least future nuptials. After the couple exchanged vows, the attendees would sometimes rush up to the bride, ripping sections of her wedding finery off of her in order to obtain some of her wedding providence. The bride, in order to protect herself and her fashion choices, would then sometimes throw favors to the crowd, scarves, tokens, ribbons, garters, in order to make it to her own reception. If not quick enough though, her clothing and her garter would be forcibly removed, attendees flipping over the bride to remove her garters with her skirts over her head.

Nothing like a few vows followed by a public ripping of your hand-sewn skirt to start out a life together! Ah, the romance of marriage!

Meanwhile, the whole virginity and consummation of the marriage was pretty important, too (understatement of the 9th through 20th century). Post-wedding ceremony, couples would retire to the wedding chamber to consummate their marriage in order to make it all legally binding and ascertain the bride was an untouched virgin (and thus all offspring where genetically linked to the groom and his inheritance). Guests were then invited up to the room to see the groom’s deflowering handiwork, usually in the form of showing off the bed linens with their telltale post-virgin blood stain OR claiming the bride’s garter as a symbol of said consummation (likely a leftover from the tradition of the wedding girdle removal). In French the term for this was “fingering the garter,” guests checking to see if the bride was no longer a virgin by feeling near her garter.

Let’s just pause here for a moment and try to envision that happening. Ah, the romance!

As pieces of the bride’s clothing were considered good fortune, likely inebriated guests (as humans are at least generally consistent in their revelry) would then sometimes snatch at the (most likely terrified as I cannot imagine this being pleasant) bride’s remaining clothing in order to grab hold of said good luck plus some souvenir lingerie. In English traditions, guests would sneak into the marriage chamber to then attempt to throw discarded lingerie and stockings on the couple, whoever hit the noses of the couple with a stocking being the next to marry. (Do NOT get any ideas, dear friends.)

In order to protect the bride from this groping crowd, grooms began throwing the garter to the mobs in order to keep them at a distance from their new bride. Lo, the garter toss was born.

The garter toss has also evolved over time, some grooms throwing to a sedately assembled crowd, some to a competing forces, and some taking the garter on a whirlwind ride by horseback or foot race. (Thinking about this aspect and the percentage of friends I have who run marathons, this could be a long and tiring race for a scrap of lace.)

In modern times, the garter toss has been paired with the bridal bouquet toss as a parting symbol of departing marital luck. The modern garter toss also seem have made its way to a new intersection of awkward and kitsch, grooms grinding on their new wives to the amusement/horror of their watching families and incorporating props such as magnifying glasses, car jacks, flashlights, goggles, and forceps. (So classy! Ah, romance!)

Another thing that has become recently popular (Thanks, the Wedding Industry Machine) is the FOOTBALL GARTER TOSS. The menfolk can now forcefully toss a football into their male cohort with the attached garter, symbolizing their innate manliness whilst handling the lady’s lacy elastic band with a bit of manly oomph. Okay, so I get it’s a chance to toss a football (which is fun!), but the very genderedness of this whole thing just drives me slightly crazy. Also, way more likely to result in black eyes.

Ugh.

Personally, I cannot imagine inviting Pastry to rustle around under my skirt in view of our combined communities in order to divest me of a symbol of my (spoiler alert – long past) virginity. Departing good will, luck, and hope of love to our guests is fairly important, but I’m pretty sure we can figure out a way to do so without a bit of my lingerie attempting to learn how to fly.

On the gender flipside, why not rip Pastry’s decorative, superhero-themed jock strap off him and slingshot it into the crowd of waiting ladies instead? I could dance around him to Guns N’ Roses “Welcome to the Jungle,” doing my best Demi Moore Striptease impression, to them pull out a tiny pair of bandage scissors to pantomime cutting his underwear/jock strap off of him, eventually reaching for a giant prop chainsaw to mime the difficultly of the task. The DJ would then switch to R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” as I slingshot Pastry’s underoos into the crowd of elated single women, yelling, “Enjoy that ever so slightly sweaty intimate apparel, ladies, you might get married next!”

(This has great potential, really.)

For the actual wedding, if Pastry doesn’t go for my glorious plan featured above, I think we should get a stuffed toy dinosaur, attach a few scratcher tickets to it, and lob it into the crowd as we depart. How’s that for some transfer of wedding good will without the bad dancing, public lingerie sightings, icky symbolism, and family mortification?

Ready for future love? Catch a T-Rex and Win a Million Dollars!

Naked Mole Rats of Love

As the glorious naked mole rat sadly did not seem to have a wedding cake topper option, I made a quick mock-up for Heterocephalus glaber enthusiasts.

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Those teeth, those whiskers, that thermoconforming skin, that resistance to cancer, and lack of pain…Glorious, are they not?

Imagining these on top of a cake is vaguely nauseating and wonderful at the same time. It would be like  two, uh, wrinkled, pinkish skin sacks laying limp on buttercream while dressed in their wedding finery.

Note: A true naked mole rat cake topper would actually feature one bride and numerous grooms as they function in eusocial colonies very similarly to bees with one queen, three male consorts, and a whole bunch of workers doing the digging. foraging for food, grooming, and rearing of mole rat pups. It takes a village, okay.

Frosting Is Hard…Or, How I Learned That Bing Is the Best Porn Search Engine Out There

While perusing a wedding venue website last night, Pastry and I got distracted by the terrible photography featured in their front page gallery. Vampire groom tries to suck the life out of wane bride, blurry wedding party barely discernable through the ficus tree leaves, the inception picture of another framed wedding picture, the always popular waiting-to-be-hit-by-an-oncoming-train romantic railroad image, and a bunch of cakes that looked like I made them (this is definitely not a good thing). From looking at a these cake pictures, we then determined that “frosting is hard.” And, that the artisan, hand-made look of dubiously applied icing is a ploy by high-end bakers to just slap some of that stuff on a cake willy-nilly, feature it on Pinterest with some soft lighting and a few random figs, and then charge extra for the selected “romantic rustic” look. I say without any doubt that I too could make some of these cakes with a Betty Crocker mix, loose-handed spatula use, and just throwing some mixed berries at the thing from approximately seventeen feet away.

It’s all fun and games until Uncle Lambert tries to eat the decorative ivy.

One of the newest trends in bridal cake is the “nude” or “naked” wedding cake, made famous by a little French wedding of one Jolie-Pitt family. Nude cakes are often tagged as “Whimsical! Rustic! Charming!” with an ode to the glories of whipped mascarpone (one of the world’s most glorious foods in my opinion) or fresh cream. However, the reality of cakes is often far removed from stylized food shoots, as the before mentioned frosting layers will either a) compress under the weight of the tiered cake as they are not sturdy enough to hold up the layers, b) create a glorious landslide effect with your top layers making a literal slide for it across the table, c) offer the opportunity to see if your guests have figured out that you stuck actual flowers in the cake as they try to choke down an entire real rose.

This conundrum of cakery reminds me of perhaps one of my favorite bizarre wedding things ever. A good friend of mine was invited to a wedding of an acquaintance a few years ago. Upon reviewing the wedding information, the friend stumbled upon the bride’s wedding blog. It detailed the bride’s struggle to coordinate everything, her inner musings on the overall attractiveness of her bridal party, her militant march upon having HER day be the perfect fairytale day, and how getting liposuction on her arms would lead to the best wedding pictures imaginable. And, how everything was to be sea themed, down to the starfish cupcakes.

Patrick? Patrick?! Can you hear me?! Noooooo…

However, instead of gracing her wedding cupcakes with delicate fondant starfish, the bride decided to put real starfish on the cupcakes. Nothing like a bit of crunchy, salty dried echinoderm to round out the buttercream and vanilla. And, because ingesting starfish is not perhaps high on the list of most wedding goers, the bride then have to post signs all around the cupcake display warning guests to not eat the cupcake decorations. My question for this ill-advised décor choice is that happened to all the starfish afterward? Were there just frosting-bedecked starfish in little piles all over the venue? Did people take them home as a pleasant reminder of the dangers of considering aesthetic over functionality? Did the kids at the wedding have tiny starfish dance-offs at their tables? Did Uncle Lambert crunch through three before he figured out what he was eating? So many questions…

But, back to the before mentioned undressed confections of note…

As I was explaining this whole nude cake trend to Pastry, I put the search term “nude cake” into Bing without thinking through that life choice very much. AND, HOLY GOD, SAFE SEARCH WAS NOT ON. La la la, pretty cakes, wedding cakes, flowers on cakes, search “nude cake,” click, BOOM, CAKE PORN. Upon retrieving a page of pixelated, uh, goings-on usually involving interesting uses of frosting, Pastry and I dissolved into a fit of laughter on the couch to the utter judgement of our previously napping canines. “Well, Bing is the premier search engine for dirty things,” Pastry knowingly informed me.

We then decided to try a couple different search engines to see the differing results for our inadvertent pornographic cake search. Google brought about articles on cake trends and pictures of cake with a few questionable items. Yahoo brought mostly appropriate cakes yet again. Bing brought all the cake porn, ALL THE CAKE PORN, one could possibly find.

So, morals of this post are as follows:

  • Finding a good photographer is important lest your best wedding photos be framed through a house plant.
  • Nude cakes are a pretty, fleeting trend which your geologist friends will enjoy as it reenacts a landslide area on your dessert table.
  • Don’t trust Uncle Lambert to stay away from eating odd things. Or, just accept that it will just happen and hand him a canapé along with the directions to the local Urgent Care.
  • Try not to put actual creatures, dead or alive, on your food as a non-edible decorations as this does not tend to go very well.
  • Should you be looking for cake porn or really porn of any matter, Bing should be your search engine of choice.

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.