I love my Knight in Shining Armor for a lot of reasons. This is one of them…
Wedding planning and the marriage
I’ve always known I don’t handle stress well. Planning a wedding reinforces that. I missed the last week of my senior year of high school because I stressed myself out so much I got sick with a head cold and the flu at the same time. When I was in college I stopped sleeping because I was so stressed with working full time and going to school full time. I eventually had to become temporarily medicated to make it through graduation. At my last job I used to do the sales onboard trainings and management trainings that would involve all aspects of accommodating and entertaining the staff. I would get stressed in the weeks leading up to it, it would peak the week of, and then it would take almost a week after the training to unwind and get back to my normal, still anxious lifestyle. In addition to that, my job required me to travel 2-3 weeks a month. The lack of routine, changing time zones, eating out for every meal, sleeping in different beds every night, etc. stressed me so much I’d get tension headaches for months and would have to take a break from traveling. Once the headaches went away I’d go back to my reckless schedule.
When my KISA and I started talking about getting married I told him I didn’t want a wedding. Of course I liked the idea of it, but I’d had enough experience with myself to know I’d be miserable. He conceded and after he proposed he announced he’d like a wedding, but we’d be getting a day-of wedding planner to ensure that I was stress free. I challenged him on not wanting a wedding and he was fearful I’d regret not having one and therefore we’d have one. (Plus, let’s be honest, he loves a good party.) I proceeded to not sleep for the next three weeks in a panic of trying to figure out what I wanted for a wedding and scouring Pinterest for inspiration. Having a wedding had never been more than a fleeting thought, so I felt ill-prepared as people started asking me what our wedding colors would be, where we’d be getting married, etc. I didn’t have answers and my KISA had no strong opinions on any of it. I inevitably spent Memorial Day, four days after getting engaged, with the flu.
After the first push of booking the big vendors and determining we’d do the wedding back in Madison the stress of wedding planning alleviated and we moved to blissful planning. It started being fun. That is until my trip back to Wisconsin in June for my brother’s wedding and my bridal shower. I again stopped sleeping, spent a bunch of time crying alone in the bedroom, and could feel my stress level rising. By the end of the trip I didn’t feel like I’d gotten everything done that I needed to feel prepared for my return trip in September. Thankfully my brother was having a wedding reception in August so I could have some more Wisconsin time to plan.
Unfortunately flight prices never dropped for the weekend of my brother’s reception, so we accepted the fact that we wouldn’t make it back to Wisconsin again before the wedding. This also meant I couldn’t do more wedding planning in Wisconsin. On July 20th, two months before the wedding IT happened. I was talking to my mom on the phone about all the wedding planning that still needed to be done. By the time I got off the phone with her I could feel the sharp pains in my chest and back. I couldn’t breathe and I knew I was having a panic attack. I couldn’t stop shaking and when I stood up I fainted. Thankfully my KISA was home to come to my rescue. After making out a list of all the things I felt I needed to do before the wedding he forced me to lay down on the couch with him and watch a comedy. The pain subsided during those two hours and it was less painful to breath. As the day wore on the pain came back and I didn’t get much sleep for the next couple of days. The wedding to do list made things seem manageable and realistic, but I’ve still had stress headaches every day since.
In my sessions with my therapist she has helped me come to terms with the fact that panic attacks are like a disease that you don’t choose to have. And, as much as you can try to prevent it, it’s sometimes inevitable. It took me a while to wrap my head around that because I’m a control freak and like to think I’m in control of my body and how it reacts to things. Plus, millions of people plan weddings every year without having panic attacks. Some even enjoy it. Unfortunately I’d have to accept this wasn’t something I could control.
Another interesting thing has happened in the wedding planning – my self-perception has changed. I have always been accepting of how I look, even when I knew I wasn’t a top quality version of myself. I had self-compassion and have never been too hard on myself. However, this has changed as the wedding is getting closer. I find myself scrutinizing the size of my arms, the whiteness of my teeth, how long my eyelashes are, my skin quality, etc. I had a dress fitting last week with all my accessories, my hair and makeup done, and looking as closely to how I hoped to look on my wedding day. My KISA saw me before I left and was commenting on how good I looked. For some reason I couldn’t see the person he saw and I came home crying about how I didn’t look like a beautiful bride in my dress like I’d hoped to. He reinforced that he’d seen me before I left and that he’d thought I looked good even in street clothes. My response: “Maybe I look good in street clothes, but I don’t want to look just mediocre on my wedding day.” It’s obvious I have unrealistic expectations of how I should look as I’ve always believed my wedding day would be the day I looked the most beautiful I had ever in my life. I cringe even as I write this. And, it saddens me to know I’m that hard on myself right now.
However, I will say one very positive thing: my friends and family have been incredible. I’m serious. They’ve been absolutely amazing. Anything I even mention my mother executes on. She’s been a workhorse getting everything ready and scouting for items at thrift stores. My aunt Amy has been my sounding board for all of my ideas and gives me her honest feedback. Her husband made chalkboards for the wedding so that we didn’t have to rent them, which their daughters then wrote on and designed (in addition to making coloring books and a beautiful display of origami cranes). My aunt Karen has comforted me through my anxiety and is reminding me of why I’m marrying my KISA through the questions she’s been asking to prepare for her speech (she’s our officiant). My sister has checked in regularly with me, even just to hear my latest ideas, and planned my bridal shower. My bridesmaids and close girlfriends have been quick to reply on requests, advice, plan a memorable bachelorette party, and also to check in. My sister-in-laws are planting flowers for the bouquets. My nieces and nephews have had an excitement for the wedding that is almost tangible and makes it seem more important than Christmas or Kindergarten (which is a big deal when you’re little). My brothers and brother-in-law haven’t complained once about having to buy a suit to be in the wedding and have asked about details of the wedding and taken an interest in it. My Godfather, who’s our wedding photographer, makes it seem like we’re the only wedding they have scheduled this year. All of our friends who are paying loads of money to come to our wedding and are so excited about it. And, most of all, my KISA has been my rock throughout all of the craziness.
I have to say, even with the stress and toll it has taken on me to plan this wedding, if the love I’ve felt by everyone leading up to it is an indication of what our wedding day will be like, it will be all worthwhile. Seriously.
My late grandma, Marilyn, (my dad’s mom) taught me how to sew when I was six years old. The first project she had me work on was a set of place mats for my mom. All I had to do was follow a straight line she’d drawn in pencil on each one and sew along it. When I turned eight I was old enough to join 4-H. Since my grandmother was the sewing leader for our club it was decided that I would take up sewing. It seems daunting in hindsight to think about an eight year old making outfits, but my grandmother knew no different, took me under her wing, and taught me how to read patterns, design outfits, sew, etc.
Every year they had a special competition at the Blake’s Prairie Fair for a first year sewer to win a really nice pair of scissors if they had the best overall outfit. I still remember the pride my grandmother had when I won those scissors, as each of her daughters had as well. It felt good to please my grandmother and I wanted to keep doing it.
Throughout the years we made many outfits together. We’d laugh and joke as I pinned, cut out patterns, and ironed. Grandma was especially careful with details, so she didn’t distract me while I was sewing to make sure I did a good job. If the job didn’t meet her standards you could bet she’d take a seam ripper and make me start over. There was a high level of expectation my grandmother lived by. However, even in the times I made mistakes, like when I accidentally cut a hole in a romper when I meant to cut a thread, she always had a solution on how to salvage it and make it look even better. The year that I cut a hole in my romper my grandmother had me add a belt; the hole was never seen and the judges picked that outfit to go to the State Fair.
When I was in high school the local doll and toy museum reached out to the 4-H clubs in the area and asked us to dress some dolls that could be donated to less fortunate families. My grandma and I decided to take on the challenge and I made a Badgers cheer-leading outfit (complete with yarn pom-poms), a wedding dress, and a sweatsuit for my doll. We had a great time designing patterns and being creative with it. Unbeknownst to us they had a competition associated with it and I won some money and was featured in our local newspaper. I again made my grandmother proud.
My Junior year of high school I decided I wanted to make my own prom dress. My grandmother and I found a pattern we could start with (we liked to create our own things) and material we liked. I had a blast spending time with Grandma as I made the dress and we were both very happy with the outcome. Since we had so much extra material I decided to also make my date’s matching vest and bow tie. I invited my grandma to come to prom for the grand march and to see us dressed up. Unfortunately some of my aunts and uncles (her kids) were coming home that weekend, so my mom prepared me to not be upset if she didn’t come since it wasn’t likely. When I got to prom there was my mom, her mom, and my grandma Marilyn sitting on the bleachers smiling at us. When I told Grandma I was surprised she made it she told me she wouldn’t miss it for the world.
When we received our prom pictures I ordered an extra one and got a frame for my grandma to display since she’d put in the work of overseeing my creation. When I gave it to her, one of her friends, Charlotte, was with her. Later Charlotte told me how sweet it was for me to give that to my grandma and she told me I was the apple of her eye. I loved making my grandma proud.
My senior year of high school I got engaged to my high school sweetheart (and prom date) and my grandma and I started talking about our plans for my wedding dress. My grandmother had made her own wedding dress and she really wanted to help me make my dress. About a year later I broke up with my high school sweetheart and called off the wedding. It was also the year my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer.
I’d like to say that I was there for my grandma during her fight, but I was no where to be found. I was busy with my own life and had run as far away from my hometown as I could. Plus, something about it scared the crap out of me. My grandma had a brutal fight and went into remission. Unfortunately my grandmother’s health never got back to normal.
When I was living in Madison I got the call that Grandma had pneumonia and had been hospitalized. Her health had been deteriorating for a while and my grandfather had stepped up to the plate to learn all of Grandma’s recipes and how to look after the house. I think they somehow both knew the time would come that Grandpa would lose his housewife and soul mate. At the request of my mother I went to the hospital to see her and still remember how queasy that hospital made me. I thought it had something to do with the smell and everyone could tell how uncomfortable I was. It was really because I was living in denial as I’d never dealt with anyone close to me dying. My grandfather kept telling me that Grandma could hear me and that I should go over and talk to her. I kept looking at this lady that looked like a fish gasping for air that was staring at me and wondered where my grandma was. This wasn’t the same lady that gave me my only nickname of “Matilda Jane” or that spent hours laughing and joking with me while I told stories and made outfits. I wasn’t there long before I left. I’d made plans with my new boyfriend to go to Detroit for the weekend and my mom gave me her blessing to leave. My grandma battled the pneumonia for a while and we were driving back from Detroit, through Chicago, when I got the call that she’d died.
I’m still mad at myself for leaving her when I turned 18 and then again when she was on her death bed. It pains me to think about how I probably made her feel after we’d created such a strong relationship and I then abandoned her in her time of need. Her funeral was the day before I was supposed to be married and made my wedding dress with her, had I not declared myself better than my high school sweetheart and better than the hometown I’d fled.
Life sometimes gives you second chances and I’ve been blessed with a second chance. A few months after I got engaged I decided to call my grandfather to see if there were even a slim change he still had Grandma’s handmade wedding dress. I remembered seeing it as a child in their attic, but it had been years. My grandfather confirmed that a few years ago he found it when he was cleaning out the attic and put it downstairs in his cedar chest since it seemed the mice were getting to it. Ecstatic, I asked if I could have Grandma’s wedding dress to somehow either incorporate into my wedding dress or to use to make something else. My grandpa said Grandma would have been honored.
During Christmas break I got to see the dress again and brought it home with me. I’ve been airing it out as I look at it and try to determine how I want to refashion it. I’d give anything for my grandma to still be here to help me make my wedding dress and attend my wedding. Since she’s not I’m going to instead have a piece of her at my wedding. I’m still working on what I’m going to do with it, but I’ll keep you posted as I come up with ideas. Feel free to let me know any thoughts you may have as well.
The Story of Us – Date #2
I knew that if there was any hope of my KISA falling madly in love with me I’d have to step it up a notch for our second date. So I did.
The day of our date I went to the Aveda student salon, where I frequented to have inexpensive beauty treatments done. That day I didn’t need a haircut, but I liked to get my hair deep conditioned every month by this super sweet girl that worked there and did a fantastic job on my hair. She deep conditioned my hair and then also curled it, knowing of my second and final chance to salvage this love affair with my KISA, who didn’t realize he was going to become my KISA. Any girl that has had her hair deep conditioned knows that it’s difficult for curls to stay in your hair when it’s super soft like that, but it was still somewhat wavy when I picked my KISA up. I’d also worn this adorable fuchsia summer dress and a pair of my gladiator sandals for the occasion. He’d given me his address, so I went to his house and rang the doorbell. He didn’t respond. I rang it again. No response. I called him on my phone and he came to the door, but swooped out so fast I didn’t even have a chance to peak in to see his living arrangement.
He seemed surprised that I would ring the doorbell and made a comment about how chivalrous it was of me. He was already a sucker for my Wisconsin charm. He complimented me on how good I looked, so I immediately knew this date was going to be much better than the last. I hadn’t told him where we were going or what we were doing as I wanted it to be a surprise, not realizing yet how much he loves surprises. As we pulled up to Vitense Golf he realized we were ready to play a round of mini golf. One of my guy friends had once told me that a strong girl needs to make herself vulnerable. I’m not good at doing that, but I knew it was time to throw out all the stops.
We started playing 18-hole mini golf and I was killing him. Absolutely killing him. I was 9 strokes ahead of him halfway through. We started talking about dinner and we made an agreement that whoever lost in golf would have to buy dinner. And, we were going from that point forward, keeping our scores. I figured I had it in the bag until he started doing really well. He was catching me and by the last hole, where you have to put it in the clown’s mouth, I was only two strokes ahead of him. From all our commotion of taunting the other person or cheering for our own victories we’d somehow gathered a small crowd that was now watching how our game ended. My KISA got his in on the first stroke, so his only chance of winning was for me to miss it. I took the first swing and the ball rolled up…and then came back down. The taunting and the crowd got louder. I laughed it off, but then realized I was getting nervous. I can’t lose. I don’t lose. I took the second swing…and missed again. I realized then that as long as I made it on the next stroke we’d only be tied and I was ok with paying for my own meal, as it beat having to pay for both of them. On the third attempt…I missed again!! I couldn’t believe it. Who misses getting it into the clown’s mouth on the last hole? No one! Except me, apparently. This was my KISA’s first experience in learning that I was not grace under fire.
He gloated as I drove us to our dinner location and I acted like I didn’t care, but I don’t hide it very well. We got to The Great Dane downtown and I requested to be seated outside. I learned my KISA actually frequented The Great Dane as he worked close to another of their locations. However, he had never been outside at the one downtown. I have to admit, it’s pretty spectacular. They have patio tables set up and the backdrop is trees and brick walls with green vines covering them. It’s pretty glorious. We chatted all during dinner, shared stories, and laughed. We finally seemed comfortable with each other, unlike our first date, and were really clicking. I had a couple girlfriends that had invited me out for drinks with them that night, but I wasn’t ready for the date to end quite yet, so I invited my KISA along.
We drove to Sun Prairie and met up with my friends T-Lo, Emily, and Cass. They already knew about my KISA and how I really liked him, so they were eager to meet him. When my KISA would leave to get drinks or go to the bathroom we’d gush about how cute he was or something he’d said. At one point in the night my friend T-Lo, who had been drinking with the girls since golfing earlier in the day, invited him to be my date for her wedding the next weekend. He joked about how I’d have to ask him, but you could tell that he was interested in coming. She also made a reference about maybe having to break my vow early and I immediately shut her up as you could see my KISA wanted to know what she was talking about. She realized he had no idea and didn’t say any more, while my KISA was prying to get it out of me.
We all left shortly after that comment and my KISA immediately started quizzing me on what she meant by it. I finally admitted to him that I had a yearlong vow of celibacy. His follow-up question was asking how far into that vow I was. I told him I was 9 months into it, but he still seemed perplexed. He told me it was probably something I should have included on my Match.com profile, but I told him that then he probably never would have agreed to a first date. He said that was possibly correct. However, he still seemed intrigued by it. I dropped him off at 1 am and as before we got there he asked if I was going to kiss him goodnight. I told him that since he’d asked I wasn’t going to. He sat in my car, almost a little uncomfortable as I pulled up to his place as he realized I really wasn’t going to kiss him goodnight. I did hug him, though. I hadn’t left his place for more than 5 minutes before he called me and we proceeded to talk on the phone for the next two hours.
During the next two hours he somehow convinced me that we should be exclusive and that we should both take down our Match.com profiles. So I did. That night.
Mind you, before our first date there was a lot of chemistry between my KISA and me. He was flirty and quick witted, which I liked. He was a few months new at living in Madison, so he asked that I pick the location for our first date. I suggested we met at a place called The Brass Ring.
Our first date was on Tuesday, May 31, 2011, which was also the day after Memorial Day. What I didn’t know going into the date was how terrible of a day he’d already had. He had been in Denver for the holiday weekend, doing the BolderBoulder race and visiting his friends that he’d just left almost 4 months prior. He stayed at a friend’s place during the trip and was flying back the day of our first date. So, you know how when you go on a trip to see friends you want to look your best and typically pack all your favorite things? It was no different for my KISA. Unfortunately for him he left his bag in his rental car his last night and woke up that morning to a smashed window with all his favorite things stolen. Not a good start to the first day of the rest of his life.
Somehow I felt like I already knew him, and before our date reminded him to not be late. Ironically, I ended up being the one that was late, having gotten out of work later than planned. He seemed less than amused when I walked up and saw him sitting on the patio outside The Brass Ring waiting for me. One of the things he’d asked me before our date was what I did for a job. I told him it was probably best I told him in person, because how do you really explain to someone that you work for a bull semen company, especially a city slicker? I decided to break the ice with the story about where I worked, how the bull semen collection takes place, how the insemination works, everything. He didn’t even crack a smile. Tough crowd. He then shared a story about how one of his coworker’s father thought my KISA was gay. I asked my KISA if he was gay. He said no. I asked if he’d ever been with a man before. He said no. So, I asked how he was so sure if he hadn’t tried it. Apparently I need lessons on what to say and not say on a first date.
During the rest of the dinner I tried to get him to relax and open up, but he wasn’t interested. If you ask him for his opinion on the date, he’d tell you he felt like he came unprepared for an interview. After dinner, again trying to get him to relax, I challenged him to a game of shuffleboard. I’m normally pretty good at it, but he somehow beat me in two out of the three games. We then moved on to pool, which I’m terrible at, and I somehow beat him in two out of the three games. Unfortunately since I beat him there was never an opportunity for him to lean in behind me to teach me how to play better while whispering sweet nothings into my ear. Things seemed a little more light-hearted by the end of our first date, but I knew I still needed a second date for him to realize that I was the woman he was going to marry.
As we were walking out of The Brass Ring to head to our cars we kept a safe distance between us. I turned and went in for the close, asking if he’d like to go on a second date. He paused, but said yes. I asked him when, and listed off a couple days later that week I was free. (If you ask my KISA, my response was, “WHEN?” in as deep of a voice as you can muster, while staring him dead in the eyes.) He said Saturday, and we went our separate ways as I plotted what I’d need to do on our second date to win him over…
I love my Knight in Shining Armor for a lot of reasons. This is one of them…
On May 31, 2011 I met my Knight in Shining Armor through online dating. It was love at first site…when I read his profile on Match.com. I wanted to be with a man that was interesting, cosmopolitan, funny, worldly traveled, and not to mention tall dark and handsome. He fit the bill and I hadn’t even met him yet. I still remember his tagline at the top of his profile: “Is this thing on?” I laughed when I read it and found him to be very clever. He had pictures of himself snowboarding and dancing and mentioned in his profile that he’d lived in Peru and Italy and was new to the city. My knees buckled as I imagined our life together and our adorable, not-yet conceived children.
He was the first person to contact me, through the Daily 5. The Daily 5 sent him a list of the top 5 girls that matched his interests. (I’m still convinced he just stalked the website for new women to prey upon, although he denies this.) My profile must have made a bit of an impression on him because he clicked on the link saying he was interested, which sent me an email…my first one, mind you, saying he was interested.
Since I was already in love with him, I immediately sent him an email in my normal style – lengthy, chatting, and informative. After a series of emails, instant messages, and texts, I could tell I was going to like him and his wit. However, when we went on our first date…it was less than perfect.
To be continued…
Last Thursday my Knight in Shining Armor told me that he had a work meeting Thursday night and that he and his coworkers would probably be going out for drinks afterwards. Being the saint he is, he invited me along and told me his boss, whom I’ve been dying to meet, would probably be there was well. He also promised me dinner, knowing it would be later in the evening that we were meeting up. On Thursday afternoon I checked in with him to see if happy hour was still a go and he confirmed and sent me the name of the bar. I had to run some errands before our trip back to Wisconsin, so I ran around and then quickly grabbed my things at 7:30 to go meet him, starving.
As I was leaving I was talking on the phone to my friend Dubs about our potential house share in Tahoe for ski season. I hopped on the bus to downtown and texted him to let him know I was en route. After I hung up with her I looked up the address and only found one by Golden Gate Park, waaaay on the other side of San Francisco. I texted my KISA to tell him I couldn’t find the proper address, only one by the park. He confirmed it was correct. I immediately called him. Mind you, this entire time I’m on a bus heading in the wrong direction. I hopped off the bus at the next stop, while reminding my KISA of how hungry I was, although I’m sure he could hear it in my voice. Frustrated, I told him I was just going to grab something to eat and head home. He calmly tried talking me off the ledge, and told me to hail a cab. I refused, saying that I’ve spent way too much money on cabs. He offered to pay for it, to which I told him that it was merely the principle of it. (Yes, I can be very stubborn.) Now, I’m not sure if it was the concerned tone in his voice or quite simply the fact that he wanted so badly for me to be there that I finally agreed to eat the string cheese in my purse and grab a cab, to the promise of real food when I arrived. (And yes, he makes me carry snacks in my purse at all times for these moments of hanger. Not a typo.)
So, I’m in the cab, on the way to Trad’r Sam’s when he calls me again. This time, he’s calling to tell me that they actually decided to go to Baker Beach for a few drinks before heading to the bar. Since I was in a moving vehicle and had no other choice, I agreed. He asked me to let him know as I was getting close and he’d meet me in the parking lot so that we could meet up with the crew. As we were pulling up in the cab I noticed the full moon on one side of the road and the incredible, hazy sunset on the other.
As promised, my KISA was waiting for me in the parking lot. I paid the taxi driver and started walking down the beach with him. We went through the usual after work chat, talking about my day, telling him about how I was going to murder our mailman, etc. We came upon a photographer taking pictures of a woman, to which my KISA almost walked in their picture. Lucky for him, I saved him from almost doing that. As we walked around the upper side of them, my KISA pulled me in front of the picture and proceeded to get down on his knee.
Now, when you daydream about the moment your knight in shining armor proposes to you, you assume you’d cry, right? Most people cry when they’re overwhelmed with emotion. So, he asked me if I’d marry him and maybe said something else, I’m not sure. I looked at the ring in this black box and stood there in shock, as the photographer was paparazzing it up. Time seemed to have frozen for a second as I was processing everything. I realized the ring was real. And, that the photographer was really there to take our picture. And, his friends probably weren’t there. I was duped.
Evidently time didn’t actually stand still like I’d thought. Instead, I was standing there laughing hysterically and wasn’t giving an answer. My KISA just continued kneeling there, waiting for an answer from me. I’m not sure how he prompted me back to reality – if he asked me again or what was said, but I finally said yes. Most ladies would then wait for the man to put the ring on her finger. Not me. Apparently I lunged forward, grabbed the ring, and looked at it. (I say “apparently” because I recall none of this.) He helped me put the ring on because by this point in time I was shaking uncontrollably, while still laughing hysterically.
The photographer continued snapping pictures as I awkwardly stood there, forcing my KISA to hold me up in fear I’d fall if having to use my own legs for support. We had a mini-photo session as we watched the gorgeous sunset that was going on behind us.
We finished up with the pictures when my KISA told me he was starving and hadn’t actually made any plans for us for dinner yet. Lucky for him I was in such a state of bliss I could no longer feel my presumably growling stomach.