August 26, 2004

Get me to the church, er, City Hall, on time

Today's the Day! I spent all night dreaming about wedding mishaps and the Olympics (an unlikely combination), so when I woke up at 6 this morning, I decided to stay awake. A few nights ago I had a terrible dream in which several of us (at least me, Gary, and his dad) were wandering around this building, part school, part museum, part City Hall, looking for each other and the stuff we needed for the wedding. We figured it all out at 4, but by then it was too late; we had missed our own wedding. I feel more prepared than that, but marginally.

I've been through all this before, but I feel more anxious now than I did 11 years ago. I don't know if that's a good sign; I hope so. Not much is really going to change between us, as Gary has repeatedly pointed out. I'm not changing my name, we're not merging our finances, and our families seem out-of-this-world happy about us getting married.

For the uninformed, Gary and I are getting married this afternoon at City Hall in San Francisco. With us will be Gary's dad and our best friends John and Eva. And yes, we'll take pictures.

Posted by Jen at 06:37 AM | Comments (1)

August 17, 2004

Trip planning, phase 1 finished!

I made reservations at the last hotel this morning. We now have a place to sleep almost every night! There are 3 nights that are still unaccounted for; I am hoping to be on a train or ferry these nights.

Next step: get transportation reservations for the longer trips (Brussels to Bern, Bern to Rome, Rome to Athens.) Making European train reservations is not as easy as I thought it would be. Luckily Gary has been doing a lot of research and knows what's going on.

Posted by Jen at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2004

Registry Hell

To avoid getting multiple pewter pepper mills, Gary and I are registering for wedding gifts. We're not expecting a lot (after all, we've been living together for nearly 7 years, and I've already been married once) but I know some people like to send a small congratulatory present.

I am not the kind of bride who has been planning her wedding for months. In fact, I've barely been planning it for weeks, and the number of things-to-do seems to be growing quickly, despite my insistance that we keep it small and simple. An online wedding registry seemed to be the easiest way for both of us to make lists of what we want without having to trudge through a store with a laser gun. Unfortunately, wedding registry technology is not yet up to snuff, it seems.

Attempt 1: The Baker's Catalog
This was the easiest registry to set up, although also the easiest one to potentially lose. They gave me an account number online, but they don't have the ability to email it to me, so I had to print the page and save the html file it was on, and hope I don't lose either! I'm not too worried about messing this up, but there is that potential. Another downside is apparently after August 31st we won't be able to add anything to the registry, due to computer upgrades. Granted, we'll be in Europe in September, but it's a bummer to know that if they come out with something cool in the fall, I won't be able to add it to the list.

Attempt 2: Best Buy and Circuit City
Neither of these stores has an online registry. They might have an in-store one, but I will probably never find out. The goal was to find a place where we could find stuff we wanted that has an online and brick-and-mortar store (for those folks with no internet access). Best Buy tricked me into thinking they had one by getting me to sign up for a "Wish List." They wouldn't tell me anything about this until I had signed up for one, which of course I did. It turns out that this is merely an eletronic notebook of sorts where one can keep track of all the stuff one wants. But it's only accessible to the owner of the list, no one else. Maybe useful if you're comparison shopping, but completely useless as a gift registry. Circuit City replied to my email saying that maybe someday in the future they would have such a service, but not in my lifetime. Best Buy has not responded to my email, but I imagine they'll say the same thing.

Attempt 3: Williams-Sonoma
Here was my fallback for a store that meets the online-offline requirements. And more importantly, they have a store in Des Moines, where much of Gary's family lives. I spent well over an hour last night picking out all kinds of fun stuff. I even considered cancelling the Baker's Catalog registry, except they've got Polish Stoneware and W-S doesn't. After picking out stuff that I want, I thought it would be gracious to let Gary in on the fun. He tried logging in to our registry, and it wasn't there! We tried searching for our registry (as a gift-giver) and couldn't find it. Ack! All my hard work, gone. My desire for a no-fuss way to pick gifts was shattered. I decided to try again in the morning, when we were less tired. Again, this morning it wasn't there. I tried creating another registry, only adding in a couple of items. I logged out, and couldn't log back in. It's not time to panic yet, but this was getting annoying. I called customer service and talked to a nice Southern lady who, when I told her my last name, said ,"oh, Griffin, as in the maple syrup makers!" She then proceeded to not find my name in her computer. She was puzzled by this, but then let on that the second registry I created wouldn't be available online until tomorrow morning. "So," I asked her, "does that mean I need to wait until this evening to access the one I created last night?" Apparently so. I am fine with this, but I wish W-S had stated this plainly on their website. I wonder how many panicky brides call customer support because of this. On the other hand, I wonder how many people wait until 2 weeks before their wedding to register.

Attempt 4:
Honestly, I don't cook and bake as often as I would like, or as often as it would seem based on what we've registered for. So it seemed like it would be best to find a place where we could register all the other stuff we need (or want), and fit the bill. Here we could get almost anything, the only downside is that it's all online, which can be kind of a pain for some people. The registry is easy to set up, but my biggest complaint is that the website to add stuff to the list is controlled by one user, in this case me. This means that if Gary wants to add something to the registry, he has to be logged in as me (and I had to give him my password! Horrors!) It's a minor complaint, but it's kind of a pain for him. Maybe we should have had his-and-hers registries. The other problem was similar to that encountered at W-S: it takes about a day for the registry to be seen in their search engine. The good news is that at least I could log back later and add stuff, but I worried when I wasn't able to find it in a search. I will give credit for saying on their website that this might happen, but it's only in one place, when you first create the registry (and I missed it the first time; I only found it because I tried to create a second registry to replace the first "lost" one).

What I have learned
Registering for gifts can be fun, but a little uncomfortable. I'm not opposed to getting presents, but I feel weird telling people what they should get me (in a way that seems to say that I expect something.) On the other hand, it beats getting a pewter pepper mill with the wrong monogram on it. After my experience the past few days with online stores, I have learned it's best to Register Early and Often.

Posted by Jen at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2004

License to Marry

Gary and I got our marriage license this morning. Barely. We plan to get married in San Francisco, but wanted to get the license ahead of time in case there were any problems.

We first went to the courthouse in Fremont, where one can both get a license and get married. I had never been there, but seen it from the street, and had already decided it's not where I wanted to get married. Going inside confirmed that this was a good idea. The first thing you have to do is walk through a metal detector; since I had a small Swiss Army knife on my keychain I had to go back to the car to drop it off. The courthouse is where you go to get married, divorced, and pay your traffic ticket. Most people there were in line for traffic court. There is a criminal court there, too, which is why they have the metal detector I guess. All in all a seedy, dimly-lit place.

When we finally figured out where to go, we were told that the computers were down, and they weren't issuing marriage licenses or certificates. Apparently they'd been down for several days, and weren't expected back up for several more. But, we could go to Oakland if we liked, or call back later in the week. The clerk gave us a form to fill out, but said that we'd have to bring it to Oakland anyway, and it might not be the same form that they use.

Now it was 10, and Gary was supposed to be at a meeting at 11. We decided to try the Redwood City courthouse, which is where I thought we'd get married to begin with. Forty-five minutes later we were walking around a totally different kind of building. In stark contrast to the dark, ugly Fremont courthouse, the buildings in Redwood City (it's a complex of buildings, not just one) were modern and airy. Even if we weren't getting married here, it wasn't a bad place to get the license. And at least I felt safe walking around!

The desk where one gets a marriage license is also, surprisingly, where one can register a fictitious business name. They had us fill out our information ourselves on the computer (which apparently we could have done at home ahead of time.) Then the clerk took our money ($78), asked us to swear that everything we had put on the form was true, and that was that. A couple behind us clapped when we swore. Gary later said he wished he had turned around and asked, "Why are you clapping? We're just getting a fictitious business name."

So now we have a license (which, after it's properly filled out, is also the marriage certificate), a souvenir certificate, and a booklet about having a healthy marriage (don't do drugs, don't drink while you're pregnant, etc.) Now there's just another 30 or so things left to do on the list!

Posted by Jen at 01:48 PM | Comments (1)

August 04, 2004


Gary and I are going to Europe for the entire month of September. The trip is part of our big wedding plans: quietly elope, go on a big trip (aka honeymoon), come home and have a party.

Up until last night all we had were plane tickets to Amsterdam and back from Athens, a rough itinerary, and Eurail passes. After spending several hours looking at what seemed were all the 2-star hotels in Amsterdam, we stumbled on a site that listed the Maes B&B as being the #2 rated place to stay. We did some research: we found 32 good reviews of the place, but it only has 4 rooms. Surely they'll be booked, I thought. Gary thought that it would be worth contacting them to check, though, and we received a reply email half an hour later saying that they have a room for us!

We are leaving in exactly 4 weeks. But we've got a place for our first 3 nights, and I think we got lucky with it. The other hotels I had picked out had mediocre reviews (some of them so bad that we instantly took them off our list despite their good price and location). We still need to find places to stay in Brussels, Bern, Rome, and Athens, I'm hoping we can stay lucky and find similar places.

Posted by Jen at 07:57 AM | Comments (0)