Thursday, August 25, 2016

Wedding Planning on St. Croix

Who knew that this blog would go from losing the Olympic Games to moving to an island to Wedding Planning! If you're still reading this, I'm very lucky to have such loyal readers.

So if you've ever met me, you'd think I'd have binders and Pinterest boards full of planned ideas for any event, especially for a future wedding. But somehow I never really thought of any plans involving my own wedding. I've seen my friends get married, and I've been in their bridal parties, but I was so focused on them that I never really thought of anything that I would do for when the time came. I never knew how much really goes into planning your own wedding and how expensive it gets. It makes you want to elope... a lot of times during the course of any given day post-engagement and pre-wedding.

But we're making it work and we're doing traditional/island/modern and our guests are going to have an amazing time. When you live on a island, you start wanting to waste less paper, use less plastic bags and go as organic as possible. When that dream fades and reality sets in, you try to get at least a balance of these things in your life, moreso than when you lived stateside.

So when it comes to wedding planning, the island lacks in a lot of the things you would need for the "details" of the wedding. There aren't really many bridal stores (just one) or party favor stores (maybe two). So two weeks ago I went dress shopping in the only store that has wedding dresses here. And I found my dress! It's absolutely not the kind of dress I thought I would wear at my wedding (I did think about it a little bit before and I always envisioned this huge dress that doesn't really exist and is probably extremely impractical for a beach wedding). And I already have plans to shorten it after the wedding because I really want to be able to use everything I have here, including the dress that I am only supposed to wear once. My mother is horrified at this idea because after all, it's a wedding dress, but in my mind it's a really pretty dress that I will wear at my wedding that would look amazing when shortened so I can wear it again and again because I love this dress (especially the back).

This brings me to what I love about living here. There is a way that things are "supposed to be" when you live in the states or probably in most places. But here, it feels like I can make my own rules for how things are supposed to be, especially with something like this which back in the states we make such a big deal about but in reality, is just one big party with our family and friends. Would we still get married without this "party" that for some reason has to be perfect and white and without one hair out of place?" Of course we would, so instead of trying to please absolutely every tradition that has ever existed, we are going to plan our party our way and we're going to be happy regardless of whether it works out exactly as we planned or not or whether there are an equal number of bridesmaids and groomsman or whether it rains during the ceremony which is going to be very much outside on the beach in the sand with no real Plan B because we're on an island and it rains sometimes and that's okay (back in Chicago, there would be a tent ready and a plan C location in case of Apocalypse, and I would make sure that all the guests knew about both the tent and plan C

So since we decided we can do whatever we want, we did want to add some tradition into this experience and that's a good thing, because being on an island and trying to gather your wedding necessities means you have to be creative. For the veil, when I didn't find exactly the one I wanted from the four I had available as my options here, I asked if anyone on the island had a veil that they loved. Someone answered and now I have my something borrowed and I love it! I would never have thought to do that stateside, but here, it feels wrong not to do this and it's all working out when I do.

Another necessity of weddings... trinkets!!! It's really easy to go online and find all these trinket things that every wedding should have. And I am not against wedding trinkets (although I am somewhat against trinkets in general since I moved here). I think trinkets that make other people feel good are great and I've ordered some for our guests because I think they'll feel really special when I give it to them when they're here. But then there are things from the island that we really want to incorporate into this big party that we're throwing. We're having friends make our card box and signs from wood they find here on the beach and we're keeping those to pass on in the future, and I love the idea of that. I love finding the balance of blending the island with modern ideals and some stateside values. This lets us retain all the good that comes from stateside living and incorporate them into what makes us love living here as well.

More party planning posts to come! It's funny because I used to have so many lovely island pictures on my phone that have now been replaced by engagement rings, wedding dresses, homemade pizzas and veils. I can't show these here (except for the homemade pizza my fiance made) because I do want my dress to be a surprise on the actual day of our big party to a certain person who always reads my blogs and is my biggest fan, but I will be sure to take some cool landscape pics for the next post!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

My fairy tale and an island

I'm still on St. Croix but I haven't written in a while. A lot has been going on and the blog took a back seat. In the last three months, my then boyfriend broke his arm, we both went to see one of my best friend's get married in Chicago, and he asked me to marry him (thus the "then" boyfriend and now fiance)! That's a lot to digest, even here, and I honestly couldn't be happier.

Watching an adult break his arm and watching him go through everything that comes after was not fun at all. The good news is that St. Croix has all the facilities needed to treat broken bones and all the physical therapy facilities needed to slowly get those bones working again. It was honestly no different to go through that here than anywhere else stateside. The main difference was that we were able to go to the hospital, get medications, see a specialist and take the dog to the vet all before noon because everything is so close to everything else here. Did I mention that Bill Clinton was giving a speech and my aunt and uncle were coming to visit the day after this all happened? Well, all worked out and my aunt and uncle seemed to have a really nice time visiting.

And then after everything calmed down a bit, my fiance and I took a trip to my hometown of Chicago and we watched two really nice people get married. It was so sweet and nice, and Chicago was actually pretty nice from a visitors point of view. Then we came back to St. Croix and we went for a walk on the beach with our dog. And then my life changed forever.

It was really like a fairy tale. A lot of what I've seen and experienced on this island has been pretty magical (apart from seeing actual fairy dust in the bioilluminescence bay) but this was pretty much what every woman dreams of when thinking of someone asking to marry her. When I first came to St. Croix, I was so relieved to have less stress and to just be happy that I didn't really think about getting married any time soon. It was such a stressful thought back in Chicago that I was just happy to be happy and I accepted the fact that it may not really be in the cards for me. Then I met my boyfriend and it has been exactly like I dreamed it could be someday ever since. It was like once I didn't need it, I got exactly what I always wanted.

We went for a walk on the beach. The tide was high and there was a voyeur sea turtle nearby. Everyone loves sea turtles so it was a great day already. Then my boyfriend pointed out a piece of sea glass in the water and I went around it as I was almost certain tetanus would be imminent if I touched it. He told me to not to touch it so I obviously haaaaad to pick it up then. I saw that it said "Mar..." through the sand and I picked it up and it said "Marry me." I thought it was so sweet that someone had asked someone else to marry them in that same spot so I turned around to show my boyfriend and he was on his knee in the water with the ring and the sun setting behind us. I'm pretty sure that turtle was nearby watching everything as all voyeur sea turtles do. I was shocked and my hands were shaking and it was the best feeling I have ever had. It just felt right just like everything since I met him has felt right. You really do know when it's the right person because it feels so different with anyone else.

So now we're in the midst of planning a wedding. They don't tell you this if you're not engaged yet, but after the engagement comes this not so fun part of actually planning every minute detail of your upcoming wedding. This is especially tricky on an island because while we have every facility necessary for a broken bone, we do not have ever store necessary for everything that goes into a wedding. Thus, we are now going to become very creative in order to make this work because like everything else since I've come here, it's definitely going to work and it's going to be amazing.

I gave up everything and I moved to an island, and I found the perfect person to spend the rest of eternity with. The best part of this is that this isn't just a story, it's my life and it's real and I couldn't be happier.