On this 11/11, I want to talk about The Suppose To’s. Cousin of The Shoulds.
Two years ago today, in 2017, Jeremy and I were supposed to get married.
Our actually wedding, 29 days ago, was Plan D.
Here's how we got there.
We met June 2014 through OKCupid and we knew within months we wanted to get married.
I was 40, he was 37, we knew.
And we knew enough to keep that knowledge to ourselves so we didn’t look crazy.
Our first wedding plans were quite “should-y." We should invite the whole Chicagoland crew. It should be sparkly and fancy.
We found a gorgeous venue/caterers, The Crystal Ballroom in Evanston. Gorgeous space and (at the time, at least) very reasonable pricing. It was the first venue on our search both Jeremy and I loved.
And then I got sucked into the Pinterest Wedding Vortex.
I looooooooooooove art directing, but I don’t have a lot in my life to art direct. But now I had a wedding to pour ALL OF MY TASTES INTO.
I spent stupid amounts of time collecting ideas and pins.
Before you paint me with the bridezilla brush, we both wanted to be involved in the planning process, not the traditional gender norm BS of the lady deciding everything, because it is finally HER DAY.
Together, we decided what was most important to us (good food, hospitality, beautiful venue) and what wasn’t (most of the traditions and anything we found wince-inducing like the chicken dance, garter toss, photo booths).
Jeremy cared more about the food and the hospitality, and he knew I get joy from crafting all the visual details and experience.
When I would update Jeremy on my countless ideas, he would often say, “As long as we get married by Elvis, we can do whatever you want.”
Jeremy believes repetition is the soul of wit.
He said this many times.
I barreled ahead art directing a 1920’s, foxed-mirrored, chartreuse, silver, and charcoal celebration.
That would have cost us $20,000.
For 75 guests.
Some people have that money. Some people's parents have that money. We don't.
One day I was in fantasy-land in our mercury-glass glittering fantasy, when I thought, “What IF we got married by an Elvis?”
One afternoon, I took a sharp turn and started looking up Vegas wedding chapels.
I found one chapel that had a certain extra something, and thought, “THIS IS IT.”
At the time, Jeremy had a hella long commute back home and would often call to chat while he drove.
“Honey, I have a different idea for the wedding,” I went on to describe Patterbeck: Vegas edition.
Jeremy said, “Can you hear me smiling? If you mean it, I think this sounds AWESOME.”
Jeremy had never been to Vegas.
Remember, we wanted our wedding to be “us.”
At that moment, Vegas was not “us.” I had been twice for actual vacation†, a couple times more on graphic facilitation projects. I reveled in the kitschiness and over-the-top design. Once I took the public bus to a costume supply place (RIP Williams Costume) and spent $111 on sequins and rhinestones and I still use them in collages. I just did this morning.
I got a GF project in Vegas February 2017. Jeremy joined me for reconnaissance. Maybe we could make Vegas Wedding “us” and love those memories?
We put down the deposit for 11/11/17 at 11:00 am at the chapel. You got a 30-minute window. Okay, not so personal, but memorable. We were going to pick a suite at the Cosmopolitan as our reception venue.
We didn’t send out invites, but we starting telling intended guests. Many were excited for classic Vegas nuptials. And destination wedding = easier to keep wedding smaller, and wrangle the guest list.
And as time went on, I felt meh about it. Even though Plan B was about the third of the cost of Plan A, it was still more than we had at the time. And it was putting more financial burden on our guests. And…
...I ‘fessed up to Jeremy about my hesitation.
Nope, a Vegas chapel wedding wasn’t going to be personal, I get that. But I noticed a big shift in the city since I had last been there, six years previously. The customer service had drained out the city. I had heard with consolidation pretty much everything was owned by MGM Grand or Caesars Palace. Not much hustle to be had for tourism dollars if it’s all pretty much going into one of two coffers.
We let go of Plan B.
On November 11, 2017 at 11:00 am, we went to brunch at our favorite place, ZED 451.
Jeremy excused himself to the bathroom.
I got a call. Vegas number.
He came back, and all the joy was erased from my face.
“Sooooo… I just got a call from the chapel asking where the limo should pick us up.”
Part of my lousy health at the time was brain fog, and I never cancelled with the chapel. Never occurred to Jeremy either. We hand't heard a peep from them until that call.
Now, yes, I gave myself a good lashing, because I should have cancelled the plan. I was also saddened to be smacked by The Should Have of that imagined version of our wedding. But I was also irked by the complete lack of contact from the venue in the process.
Sure, I knew Plan B was an Elvis-shaped cookie cutter, but I was gobsmacked by zero contact between us putting down a deposit and the limo freaking picking us up.
Our gut was right. Too impersonal to be “us.”
I tried to shake the sadness, we went to see a movie. We climbed into the express bus to head back home.
I posted this:
I shared my bummed-out-ness and friends were supportive and lovely.
I followed up with my appreciation and a pic of us cuddled up on the bus.
I love that Leah Jones commented,
Two minutes later, Jeremy had fallen asleep on me.
Now Jeremy and I are both in it to win it and want to get married. But health stuff, tax stuff, and a mortgage-sized multi-year special condo assessment meant lean times.
As they said, we had each other.
Wedding plans took the back burner for awhile.
I got to thinking about what was “us,” since non-us-ness was a big problem with the Vegas Plan.
Jeremy loves games: board games, video games, RPGs, ones with his “little mans” (read: miniatures).
I love crafting.
We both love fall. That means bonfires and S’MORES.‡
I thought of the overlap between the two….
Which later became this:
We riffed on this idea and really dug it. It wasn’t going to be 1920’s glamor. It wasn’t Vegas kitsch. This could be chilled-out, get-hygge time with friends. It could be the overlap of some of what brings us each joy.
We thought long and hard about venues. I looked to rent a Girl Scout camp in the off season. But we’re in our 40s. Most of our guests are 40+. NO ONE WANTS TO SLEEP IN BUNK BEDS AT THAT AGE.
Plan C became getting married at a friends’ house in the woods in Michiana. They were super stoked to host. Then some real obstacles arose and bless them for letting us know as soon as they knew it wasn’t going to work out.
They could have gotten caught up in The Shoulds and Supposed To’s. Thank goodness they didn’t. It would have heaps more stress onto all of us.
In the end, we found a venue perfectly sized for our 30-person celebration. Park next door with a perfectly-sized gazebo for huddling together in the super brisk October winds during our ceremony.
No doubt I will add more details to this page later. For now, the story of the Shoulds and Suppose To’s, and our four plans to get here.
The ceremony was sunny, cold. Literally encircled by our loved ones.
The reception was Brandy-art-directed to hilt.
Food was delish. Peals of laughter. New friends made.
Delightful, goofy dancing.
At the end of the event, we get all the art-directed, PWV centerpieces and such divided into vehicles. Then we headed back to our AirBnB HQ (which was 100% swank and zero bunkbeds). The plan was bonfire and s’mores. Friend Dave ducked out early to build the fire.
Returning to the AirBnB we were greeting by a gorgeous piece of driftwood sparkling with the venue-safe LED candles. A piece of stone perched against the wood holding words.
From the handwriting and style, it was instantly clear it was the handiwork of Guido Neuland. And such a lovely touch for our post-wedding return.
Entering the AirBnB gave us the perfect clear view that the candles continued in a path to the bonfire.
As we packed up the reception, I was completely unaware that Guido and Verena Neuland had swept up all the candles to make a warm (in ambiance, at least) and lighted our path to the next part of the celebration. Such a gorgeous surprise.
What a marvelous surprise! What a sweet tribute to us and the winding path that got us to this day. And totally tickled by our friends’ love and thoughtfulness.
EVEN BETTER THAN S’MORES.
In the end, we got the phenomenal weekend of Plan D Camp Patterbeck AND we got married by Plan B Elvis. We were joined by Plan C’s friend/hosts still in a beautiful house in the woods. And, you betcha, I had the chartreuse and charcoal Plan A glamour sprinkled all through the reception venue.
At age 45 for me, and 42 for Jeremy, this is a first marriage for both of us. We had different bumps in the long roads in finding each other. Of course, we’re thrilled to have found each other and are totally committed to make this our long-lasting only marriage.
It may have felt like it took forever and a half to get here, but we did. Surrounded by our wonderful loved ones, a weekend that was so-very-us and full of warmth, laughter and joy.
Exactly as it should be.
Huge thanks to Raquel Benmergui for photographing the weekend beautifully.
Chicagoland folks! Verena says Michael St. Angel, this Elvis impersonator, was a pleasure to work with. Find him at Windy City Elvis.
* Patterbeck is our "couple name" or if you prefer our surname portmanteau. He's Patterson, I'm Agerbeck. They blend beautifully. No, I'm not changed my name. Brandy Agerbeck, all the way.
† "Actual vacation" is self-employed person speak for time spent on actual vacation, not business travel where folks assume you're kicking back, instead, you're kicking ass.
‡ I, Brandy Agerbeck, have never met a marshmallow I didn’t like.