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Not the horror movie that you die if you watch (or whatever, I never actually saw it or its Japanese original). My engagement ring.

When last we spoke–or rather, I typed and you read–I had bought myself a giant fake ring that was turning my finger green. That was fun, and I really enjoyed that ring, but Mr. Cake was stressing about getting the “real” ring. I had sent him lots of ideas…too many ideas, it turns out. I confused him mightily. And all those rings I sent him were super cheap. Maybe not as cheap as the cheesy fake ring, but not heirloom quality, either. I just didn’t want him to stress out about the money. Which he was anyway. Because that’s what he does.

Then at Thanksgiving, my mom pulled him aside and gave him a family heirloom ring that had belonged to my great aunt. Apparently, it was my great aunt’s engagement ring from her first marriage (my parents think; everyone is pretty hazy on the story), and she gave it to me when I was a little girl. My parents took it away from me, believing (and rightly so, I realize now) that a seven-year-old doesn’t need a diamond ring and would probably lose it. I had forgotten all about this, but when my mom mentioned it, I vaguely recalled being pissed that my parents had taken something away from me.

Anyhow, they gave it to Mr. Cake to give to me, although they gave him the choice of whether to use it as our engagement ring or not. I was thrilled by it. I am incredibly sentimental, and I love antique jewelry, so it was perfect.

The ring is probably from the 1930’s, definitely pre-World War II. The band is filigreed rose and yellow gold, and it has a square, white diamond. I’m not sure how many carats, but probably a half or less. I don’t mind that it’s small, because my fingers are small, and huge, honking rings tend to look especially gaudy on me. It even fit perfectly without being sized.

I told Mr. Cake that I don’t need a wedding band. Just this simple little gold ring that holds all the love of my aunt’s marriage and all the hope she held for me.

Meanwhile, we got Mr. Cake a tungsten ring with red and black carbon fiber inlay. It couldn’t be more perfect for him, and more opposite of my ring. What a nice little metaphor.

And he’s so funny; he keeps asking if he can wear it. Here’s a typical conversation:

Mr. C: Can I wear my wedding ring?

Me: Nope. Not til we get married.

Mr. C: But…it’s mine!

Me: I bought it. It’s not yours until I give it to you.

Mr. C: Can I just wear it for a little while?

Me: No.

It’s fun. 😀

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Mr. Cake and I ended up getting our way on the wedding venue, but only after some major discussions, compromises, and a few tears.

Turns out that Mom Cake was not the major objector, but that Dad Cake felt strongly that we should get married in a church. This made absolutely no sense to us. Not only do Mr. Cake and I not attend church, but also my dad has never been a religious person. He will accompany my mom and me to church on Christmas Eve, but that’s only to make Mom happy, and we haven’t even gone the past few years.

Mom thought that he just had the idea that that’s how weddings were done. I pointed out that they hadn’t gotten married in a church.

Mom said she thought he was afraid, since our venue is a cabin on a lake, that the atmosphere was going to be “all-night lake-side rager” rather than “wedding celebration.” I assured her that that was not what we had in mind, and we compromised by setting an end-time for the reception.

Finally, I think what won them over was my rational explanation that since neither Mr. Cake nor I is religious, we don’t attend a church together, and we don’t have a personal relationship with any pastors, pretending that we do on our wedding day would feel fake. It is important to Mr. Cake and me that our wedding be an authentic representation of ourselves as individuals and as a couple, and we didn’t want to start our marriage by pretending to be something we’re not.

Once my parents realized that we were making conscious choices that were honest reflections of our values, not just acting like bratty teenagers rebelling for rebellion’s sake, they suddenly were a lot more ok with doing things our way.

We still have a few disagreements on aesthetics. For example, my mother hates, hates, HATES our plastic cups from the taco place that’s catering the wedding that we were planning to give out as favors. If you pictured her stamping her foot as she said it, you wouldn’t be far wrong. But stuff like that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

Tuesday night, Mr. Cake, Mom Cake, and I looked at two more venues.

The first place cost an arm and a leg and had a huge, stuffed dead elk on the wall above where we’d be getting married. Ruled out.

Then we went to see a lake cabin in Mr. Cake’s hometown. It’s pretty plain, but we could have the ceremony outside with the lake in the background, which would be gorgeous. The inside has plenty of room for tables and a dance floor, a full kitchen, and a bar. And the best part is they don’t give a crap what vendors you use, how you decorate, or anything else, as long as you clean the place up afterward. Actually, if you don’t care about forfeiting your $200 cleaning deposit, you don’t even have to do that! It’s within budget, too, which pretty much makes it perfect. We’re all trooping back out there tomorrow to put the deposit down and fill out the paperwork. Woo-hoo!

Best of all, Mom was on her very best behavior the entire time (I was picturing some nightmare scenario where she tries to argue with Mr. Cake about his family tartan kilt clashing with the carpets or something equally frightful), and she even said some very nice “Welcome to the family, son” type things to Mr. Cake at dinner afterward. Could it be that she’s finally getting with the program? We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

I’m so excited to have a venue! Mr. Cake and I are meeting with a caterer tomorrow, too. Things are progressing quite nicely.

Last week on http://apracticalwedding.com/ (one of my favorite wedding blogs, btw), Lauren wrote this:

“So far wedding planning is just not what the magazines make it out to be. Ok, that was an obvious statement, but here’s the thing, maybe weddings are kind of like giving birth. Everyone tells you it sucks and you chuckle with them as they retell their horror stories and you nod your head like “oh, yeah, for sure,” but you kind of have this hope on the inside that “but for me it will be different, I bet she was just a p*ssy (no vaginal birth pun intended), or didn’t do it right, or maybe she is just too uptight, has a low pain tolerance, whatever.” And YOU (of course) won’t be uptight, you’ll be able to grit your teeth and muscle through it, you’ll only care about the important things the whole time, duh, so you’re sure that, for you, it will be so way better.

“Except it’s really, really not.”

That really struck a chord with me. I guess since I’ve been mentally planning various imaginary weddings for years now, I just assumed that the transition from imagination to reality would be a relatively painless one. “I’ve totally got this,” I thought smugly. “I won’t be one of those women who allows her bride-self to be a tulle-wrapped, Jordon-almond-obsessed, seating-chart-making nutcase version of herself. I’ll make the choices I want to make. I’ll allow my fiance an equal say in the planning process, because it’s his day, too. I won’t allow anyone to talk me into anything I don’t want, but that won’t even be a big deal, because all my friends and relatives are totally cool and supportive.”

So far, it turns out that I’ve kind of got this. The first three and a half sentences of that bride-to-be manifesto are totally true, right up until the “that won’t even be a big deal, because all my friends and relatives are totally cool and supportive” part.

Which is not meant to slander my entire tribe, but just to say that we’ve hit a few more speed bumps than I imagined. The biggest one: My mother.

I had somehow forgotten the biggest issue between the two of us when I was a teenager, the source of every fight from age twelve to eighteen, my mother’s two most staunch beliefs: 1.) That she will be judged based on how I look or what I do, and 2.) that this somehow matters.

Sigh.

My mom hates my entire wedding. She hates that we’re not getting married in my childhood church (even though we’ve attended services there maaaaaaybe a dozen times in the last ten years) by a minister, that I want to incorporate color into my wedding dress and shoes, my colors in general, that my fiance and his groomsmen will be wearing kilts, that the family tartan of said kilts cannot be changed to color-coordinate with whatever venue we choose, that we’re writing our own vows, our centerpieces, and I’m sure any number of other elements that I haven’t told her about yet.

My mom wants me to have the cookie-cutter, Martha Stewart, “classy” wedding that she’s always dreamed of. Nevermind the fact that she’s never had a cookie-cutter daughter. And certainly nevermind the fact that it’s my wedding, not hers. When I bring up these points, she says that “it’s a family event,” and she wants to make sure that it’s an event she feels comfortable inviting our relatives to.

Basically, don’t embarrass me in front of the rest of the family.

I’ve pointed out to her that my fiance and I certainly aren’t planning to do anything offensive at the wedding, and she says she realizes this. So all of her objections are aesthetic. Does she really think that a color scheme of red and aqua will make our guests uncomfortable? That my sweet Great Aunt Madge will judge any of us, least of all her, harshly because my husband’s family tartan does not match some aspect of the venue over which I had no control?

In short, are these issues really worth fighting with your daughter over, making her wedding planning a miserable process, and possibly alienating her?

I just don’t understand her mentality. And I suppose, she doesn’t understand mine. But I want my wedding to be true to myself, my fiance, and our relationship. I don’t want to start our marriage together pretending to be something we are not. There are probably people in this world who would make judgments about us based on the fact that we are tattooed, pierced, music and food fanatics who aren’t particularly religious. But you know what? THOSE PEOPLE AREN’T INVITED TO MY WEDDING!

I am so frustrated, because I want my mom involved in my wedding planning, and I want it to be a joyful experience, and it just doesn’t seem that those two things are both possible.

So, back to what Lauren wrote on APW, weddings are very much like giving birth. You are giving birth to a new baby family. It’s hard because it’s important. I understand that. It’s an emotionally fraught process for everyone involved.

But I don’t understand why it has to be hard in this particular way, and I’m really frustrated that the person making it hard is one of the few people whom I can’t write off for being unsupportive. I’m stuck with my stubborn, conservative mom, and she’s stuck with her stubborn, non-conformist daughter, and we will probably continue to duke it out right up until the wedding day.

Prepare yourselves, dear (and probably imaginary) readers, for more angsty posts about this in future.

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