Financially speaking…

Disclaimer: No advice please. I didn’t go into detail about any of our accounts on purpose.

So this is all about the ever-so-sensitive topic of money and how to handle it.

Number one: I am utterly shit with money.

My mother asked me recently if there was anything I thought she could have done a better job on — not just so I could be like “OMG TERRIBLE MOTHER” (because jesus, she was pretty great) but so that she could correct any failings in raising my sister. The only thing I could say (and I’m sure she was a bit irritated by how FAST I leapt to this) was money. God, I suck at money.

I fell for every trick the credit card companies pull. Twice. My credit rating is in the toilet, I racked up so much in credit card debt I literally couldn’t afford to make the minimum payment. Without even using the cards, the incredibly high interest rate was making the balance go UP every month, instead of down. I’ve been working with a credit counsellor for over a year to get things back to sanity, and I’m proud to say that my entire debt is currently sitting at about $7000, and it’ll be paid off (and off my credit report) in about 5 years, at the current rate of payment. (Debt management programs drop off 3 years after they’re fully paid.) I may even pay it back sooner to get my credit report fixed up faster.

I also made a respectable amount for someone who lives … anywhere but Vancouver. I honestly don’t have a lot of comparison, except for living in Victoria for a couple of years which has an odd economy of being both cheaper and more expensive than Vancouver in different ways (everything has to get there by ferry, which ups the price of a lot of things.) Rent was certainly a lot cheaper, but that might have had something to do with being a bunch of 20 yr olds living communally.

But I have always, always, always lived paycheque to paycheque. I’ve never been able to figure out how people DON’T live paycheque to paycheque. How do you ever get ahead, living in Vancouver, without making twice what I do? It’s incredibly frustrating, and a problem I’ve simply never had the tools to figure out.

Number two: Something something married.

So figuring out how to combine finances is a common issue. Dan & I managed to do okay to start. He makes a fair amount more than I do, although my income is finally climbing to Reasonable Even In Vancouver levels.

Our previous method was … to kind of wing it. We mostly split the bills. I’d send my portion of the rent to Dan every month, and he’d write the cheques. Whoever happened to buy groceries is whoever happened to buy groceries. Savings kinda happened, or at least they were planned to, but didn’t always work out. In other words, the same sort of haphazard money management that I’ve had my whole life. Nothing grossly terrible, just nothing really efficient either. We’re both pretty bad at haemorrhaging money like if it sits in our accounts for too long, it goes bad. Money: It’s Just Like Bread. Delicious, but moldy in 4 days.

I’ve always hated living paycheque to paycheque, but never really knew how to get out of it.

So we have a new plan: We finally opened a joint chequing account. Dan’s paycheque will go directly into it (well, as soon as our new set of rent cheques go out — for now, they still come out of his account.) My cheques, after a month of building up a bit of padding, will go directly into our ING account. Our “discretionary funds” (for things like eating out, non-essential purchases, and other silly things) get transferred on the 1st & 15th to our own accounts.

So this has been happening for about two weeks now, and some interesting things have happened: We’re both a LOT more cautious with money. It’s easy to spend MY money, it’s harder to spend OUR money. Even though we were essentially splitting costs before, it was still very My Money/Your Money. We’re also trying to live on several thousand dollars a month less, which is quite do-able … which is kind of sad. Jeez, just how much WERE we haemorrhaging? Ok, we eat out entirely too much.

Having the “eating out” budget come from our discretionary funds helps a lot. We only get so much in those accounts, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Nothing terrible will happen, we won’t starve, groceries come out of the joint account, but we’ll lose a lot of freedom to just… do what we want. The side effect? We do a lot less of “what we kinda want” so we can do more of “what we really want”. I still stopped at A&W yesterday to grab a quick burger on my way into work, but I also brought my dinner with me so I’m not spending $15 on crappy sushi.

I’m not willing to totally sacrifice my lifestyle, though. A lot of people came up with all sorts of helpful suggestions like “cut your cable!” (I haven’t had cable in my entire adult life) or “switch your cell phone plan!” (No. My plan suits my needs perfectly, even if it’s more expensive than yours.) “Buy less tea!” (hahahah no.) Our bills are fine where they are, where I’m cutting costs is by going the extra 2 blocks to No Frills more often, rather than hitting up the more convenient (and much more expensive) IGA. Eating out less. Fewer impulse purchases. A lot of the things that would come out of my discretionary fund, which is … well, considerably less now. I need to save it for what’s important. (Like going to Bret’s Dark Valentine art show. You should come, too!)

And I find that when I AM grocery shopping, I feel a lot more frugal. This isn’t MY money I’m spending, it’s ours. Even though we had essentially combined finances before, now that it’s ACTUALLY combined, it feels different. Apparently Dan feels the same way… I think.

Probably should have done this a year ago, but hey, I’m kinda shitty with money. So yay, I finally feel like maybe I’m getting a grasp on this. So my new goal is to save a little over $30,000/year. And that’s actually do-able. Which is far more respectable than the measly $6000/year that we were attempting (and failing) to save until now.

Next: Once we’ve built up a bit, we’ll actually have a need to talk to a financial advisor about what to DO with all these lovely savings. Fun!

QUICK. HIDE.

I came across an article on reactive dogs and how not to lose your shit when dealing with your own reactive dog.

And man, I tell you, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE hit home. Yup, that’s us all right.

So Justice is a wonderful little dog who I wouldn’t trade for anything, except maybe exactly the same dog but NOT losing her shit every time she even considers that other dogs exist.

Or maybe not. The author of this article is right — without Justice, I wouldn’t be nearly the dog owner I am. And I wouldn’t be nearly as in tune with her as I am. As much as “not barkscreaming at the neighbourhood” would be nice, being able to read her moods better than my own is pretty awesome.

…I just had to stop for a moment because SOMEBODY DARED TO EXIST IN JUSTICE’S WORLD AND THE BARKING HAD TO HAPPEN. Really, Justice? Right when I’m thinking about how awesome you are YOU GO AND RUIN EVERYTHING.

Anyway.

One of the list items on the article was this:

Think of all the funny places you end up in trying to avoid triggers.

And I immediately thought of the time Justice & I leapt INTO a fountain in order to avoid a dog encounter.

Not only do I know Justice’s moods insanely well, I also have INCREDIBLE dog radar. If I can see it before she does, I can manage the situation. I can escape, I can distract, I can flat out run like the dickens as fast as I can in the opposite direction.

Or I can hide.

In my defense, the fountain was in fact empty at the time. But it had a 3 foot rim, and I parkoured over that thing like a goddamned ninja, got Justice to come in with me, and then we ducked down low and talked in that fast excited voice I use that keeps her attention on me instead of Everything Else until the other dog was gone.

I was with a few friends, and I’m reasonably certain we looked completely nuts when we, in mid-sentence, suddenly took off and rolled over a stone wall and hid behind it LIKE A CRAZY PERSON.

This is what having a reactive dog means.

Faking it.

I know I’m a little late to the “fake gamer girl” dialogue, but I was in the shower getting angry about it, so I thought I’d throw my two cents in.

For those who have no idea what I’m angry about, it seems to be the hot new thing to accuse women of being “fake” gamers, because apparently being a gamer is now cool supposedly women are pretending to be interested in video games in order to attract men. Those hussies.

I did a quick google search for fake gamer girl and about half of the results pissed me off so much I had to stop reading them. So you can go ahead and take a look yourself if you’re really curious. (The rest were posts like this, because as I said, I’m late to the game.)

So here’s the thing: I’m a gamer. I tend not to stick “girl” in the front of self labels, because I don’t say that I’m a girl soap maker or a girl photographer or a girl dog owner. We got our first desktop computer in 1988 or 89, and I recall being woken up at 1am by my parents to show them how to get into “the dirty game” and then being sent back to bed because it was way too adult for me at the age of 8. (Leisure Suit Larry 1, for the curious.)

I played a shit ton of Space Quest 3. I couldn’t get past the “adult proving questions” in LSL until I was 12. Sad.

I got my first (original, 8 bit) Nintendo when I was 9. I played the crap out of it. I had a Super Nintendo, a Sega Game Gear, and a PC. I wasn’t much for console gaming after I left home, but I’ve always played PC games. I started with MMOs with Ultima Online in ’98, and I’ve been playing WoW since about 3 months after launch. And a zillion other games in between.

I say this to establish some sort of “gamer cred”. What irritates me is that I actually have to do this. If I were male, it would not be necessary to list my gaming history. It could be used for bragging rights in the right crowd, but there would be no assumption that I only play warcraft because of my significant other. There would be no snide comments about using games (and tits) to get guys.

And what really galls me is that I find that I have to defend myself to people who weren’t alive when I started playing games. (I tend to find it’s the under-25 category who get up in their self righteousness.)

As it turns out, I’m secure enough in my geekhood that I don’t feel the need to defend myself very often. Sure, you think I’m a “fake girl gamer”? Clearly that’s how I landed my geeky husband (who has never had to defend HIS gamertude) — I grabbed a controller and flashed my cleavage to distract him from the fact that I was holding it upside down. Ok then.

So here’s the thing: lately, there’s been a lot of talk about equality in games. Things like the possibility of same-sex encounters in Dragon Age, a less boob-tastic version of Lara Croft. The fact that people (male AND female!) are actually standing up and asking if it’s possible to have maybe a few more AAA titles that aren’t actively anti-woman. You can actually do this and still make money, I promise. Some women even work outside the home these days, and can afford to buy their own games!

Naturally, there’s the backlash. The standard “white male gamer” seems to think that if games are a little bit more open to women, they’re going to be closed to men. I have a very hard time understanding this school of thought, but there’s an excellent article on The Distress of the Privileged that makes some excellent points. The “fake girl gamer” trope seems to be the latest tool of the patriarchy to keep the status quo as it is. Ignoring the fact that women have been playing games for decades and are getting a little tired of being dismissed.

You know what? We can do better than that.

I’m going to leave it at that. A wee bit of advice though: Let people self label. Don’t be so damn cliquey. If someone thinks playing candy crush makes them a gamer, who the fuck cares? Are you somehow better than them because you play Call of Duty? Are you better than ME because I don’t like first person shooters? I’ll let you in on a little secret: You’re not. And I’m not better than you because I’ve been playing video games since you were in diapers, but I’m sure as hell going to be a bit pissy if you tell me that it doesn’t count.

Sossima relaunch

So I do this soap thing, right? Anyway, I recently relaunched my soap website, Sossima. Check it out, tell me what you think, and most importantly if you want to reserve some soap… drop me a line and we’ll talk!

Sage Advice Soap

Tooth Ninja

So I kind of love my dental surgeon.

Here’s a little thing about me that I recognize as a very ridiculous flaw: I HATE asking for help. Can’t stand it. I was raised by two incredibly strong women (my mother & grandmother), both of whom have something of a “suck it up, buttercup” attitude. Actually, I think that’s a text my mother sent me a few days ago…

That’s not really a bad thing in general, but it can be taken a bit too far. Case in point:

When I was about 11 years old, I was woken up in the night by a loud thump. I ran into my grandmothers bedroom and found her lying on the floor (she’d have been about 76 at the time.) She’d tripped over a stool and fallen hard on the ground. Now, I was a little kid, and Nana wasn’t tiny, and there was no way I could get her up, and her arm was hurting her quite a lot. But, she tells me, don’t wake up Mom just yet. She’s got to work in the morning, we’ll wait until 7am and wake her up then.

In retrospect, I should have woken Mom up right away, of course. But I was 11, and 11 yr olds listen to their grandmothers. Even when they’re wrong. (She’d broken her arm, Mom ended up not going to work anyway, we had to call an ambulance to get her to the hospital.)

It’s not the only time Nana’s lesson to me was “don’t inconvenience people”, although I feel like that’s NOT the lesson I should have picked up. There was the time she was crossing the street, tripped and fell, and broke her arm… and didn’t mention that it was quite hurt until about 3 months later. After it had already healed. Badly.

Worst of all was when she had a heart attack on Christmas evening… and it wasn’t until a week later that she mentioned that she “still had that indigestion”. Admittedly, she was 87 at the time, but … she died less than a month later. Would she have lived longer had she MENTIONED IT RIGHT AWAY? Who knows.

So… I have a weird combination flaw: I HATE being an inconvenience, but I’m also afraid of something actually being wrong.

So. I had my one lone wisdom tooth pulled a few weeks ago. If I were 16, this would be an easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy sort of thing. But I’m in my mid-30s, and there are all sorts of downsides to age, including possible complications to wisdom tooth extractions.

The extraction itself went fine. I was high as a kite for the first day, and the wonderful power of percocets kept me happy for the next couple of days. But I had this horribly ugly swelling that didn’t want to go away, and since I was supposed to go back to work in a customer-facing department, I … was a little concerned. Also, trying to work while high on percs is a bad idea.

I was MORE concerned on Thursday night, when I started experiencing godawful pain in my face and the percocets didn’t help. And my temperature was rising. And we’d actually been given the wrong recovery instructions by my surgeons assistant, and according to THAT, all of my symptoms pointed to “you’re probably dying”.

So … Dan had to try to convince me to call the dental surgeon. But it was 11pm! I can’t bother him at that hour! Yes, I know he gave us his cell number, with the instruction to call at ANY TIME if I was concerned, but at 11pm? AT NIGHT? I CAN’T DO THAT. I don’t want to be a bother…

I am an idiot. I know.

Anyway, Dan finally makes the call, and when he gets in touch with my surgeon, he asks us to come in in the morning, before his regular office hours, and he’ll take a look. He also tells me, again, CALL. ANY. TIME.

This guy is awesome.

(This paragraph is a bit TMI, consider yourself warned.)

As it turns out, I had a haematoma, so my concern was ok. A round of antibiotics, more pain meds, and instructions to come back on Monday morning, again before his regular office hours, and he’d drain it manually. Oh, ew. Oh yeah and it would probably start draining (albeit slowly) on its own over the weekend. Which it did. Down my throat. Which is possibly the most disgusting thing in the world. Seriously, you think your sinuses draining down your throat is bad, try plasma & a wee bit of blood.

(Ok, the TMI part is over. Carry on.)

Sure enough, Monday morning, we go back in. As it turns out, we were SUPPOSED to go to Seattle that day, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to the US the SAME DAY I’ve had a medical procedure of any type. So Dan went, and besides, I was still hopped up on percocets. So I had the wonderful Cheryl stop by to look after me for when I was incoherent.

Hi, I’m Donna, and I got a babysitter for myself at 33 years old. Go me.

But as it turns out, my dental surgeon is a TOOTH NINJA and I was totally fine by 2pm. Seriously. Could have done cartwheels down the street, if that was a thing I was normally able to do. Which it isn’t.

So there we go. Adventures in teeth.

And the lesson to be learned?

DONNA. ASK FOR FUCKING HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT.

Confrontational

So here’s a little thing about me: I hate confrontation. In that it gives me anxiety and anxiety makes me stupid and my arguments go all to hell and then I lose until an hour/week/month later when I’m still dwelling on what I SHOULD have said, and damnit, THAT would have made my point and why am I even still thinking about this?

Actually, this whole post is a good example of that.

So instead of this stupid cycle that I hate dealing with, I tend to disengage instead. This is often after I’ve gone a round or two with attempting to stand up for my beliefs, get into the stupid confrontation cycle that makes me feel awful, and then realize that there’s no winning and it’s better if I just back off.

Anxiety is stupid. I don’t get it often — insecurity is my character flaw of choice — but when I do, it’s a massive pain in the ass.

On another, related (give in a minute) tack: I use social media differently than a lot of people, I think. I don’t follow people “for the heck of it”. I don’t follow everybody that I like. I don’t expect everybody I’ve ever encountered to follow me. I had a conversation with one of my favorite coworkers recently who said he couldn’t follow me — I post too much. Yeah, totally fair, I get that. Following someone on Twitter is not a sign of friendship, it’s a sign of wanting to see what that person has to say.

I get that I’m a minority in this. I don’t think that my way of using social media is the “one true way”. But I don’t use (and can’t be bothered to use) lists and such to make sure I read the important stuff. I tend to read just about everything that the people I follow write. So there are lots of people who I like perfectly fine who I don’t follow on twitter because what they write isn’t to my interest. I promise, I have no idea if you follow me or not, and I honestly don’t really care. At most, I might wonder WHY someone follows me. Maybe I’m wittier than I think. Ooh, hey, there’s that insecurity I mentioned! Hi!

And some who I’ve unfollowed because I disagree VERY strongly with some of the things they say, and the confrontation monster hits me and I can’t deal with it.

The problem with being non-confrontational is that I’m also rather opinionated.

So, from time to time, someone will post things that go so far against what I believe that I feel the need to argue it. And then the anxiety monster kicks in and I lose all of my intelligent debate and I get beat back. Which is doubly frustrating because I also believe that you are not entitled to your opinion, you are only entitled to what you can argue.

So… I can’t argue it, but I can’t let it go, and so I disengage.

Eventually, this turns into unfollowing. Or avoiding, not hanging out with… I’ve got family members I haven’t seen in years because I’m terrified of having to choose between confrontation and letting something horribly offensive slide. Biting my tongue makes me feel like part of the problem. Saying something sends me spiralling into anxiety and insecurity. Especially with family members, because now I’m causing family drama AND confrontation anxiety.

I write this because, in the last few weeks, I’ve un-followed a handful of people without saying anything in an attempt to quietly disengage. A few of them even noticed (which, because of how I use social media, caught me off guard — I’d never have noticed. I forgot that some people track that.) And I’m not trying to be passive aggressive — I tried to explain this (somewhat more succinctly) to those people directly. (One of my pet peeves is passive aggressive “vague tweets” so far be it from me to have a “vague blog post”.)

My attempt was not to say “I hate you and everything you stand for”. It was “I’m uncomfortable enough with some of your views that I need to disengage because if I disagree with your opinion and it doesn’t go the way I want it to, I have a week of feeling like crap.” This post is a perfect example. I’m still dwelling on an encounter from a few days ago because I feel awful.

I’ve unfollowed some truly wonderful people recently — one of whom I even had a really excellent private conversation with a few weeks ago. And I’ve tried really hard to convey to them that this is not a slam against them. It’s okay to disagree with people, it’s okay to have opinions that I think are wrong, it doesn’t make anyone a bad person. It’s my hangup that makes me prefer disengagement to confrontation, especially if it’s happening on a regular basis.

tl;dr: It’s not you, it’s me.

On the flipside, this is part of what made me realize that Dan was “the one”. (Ok, I don’t necessarily believe in the “one person” type soulmate thing, but you get the point.) A few months into our relationship, he exhibited some behaviour that I couldn’t handle. Worse, it reminded me of one of my least favourite things about my ex, and good god, no. I was free of that, and I’d be damned if I was going to get back into the same relationship over again. When we got home, it was obvious that I was upset, and I was absolutely convinced that we were going to break up over this. I got over the “oh god, confrontation anxiety” thing (well, more like “pushed through it anyway”), explained my position, and … holy shit. It went well. He explained some of it, agreed with other parts, apologized for the bits that he was wrong on (and I apologized for my part, because I am also kind of a jerk sometimes.) And … whoa. I was expecting a relationship-ending fight, what I got was the most amazing relationship discussion I had ever had. There have been a few times since where we’ve had a large difference of opinion, and every single time I’m expecting a massive stupid fight, and I get… sanity and wonderfulness. Dude. I should marry that … oh, wait, I did.

Happy 1st Kardashian

So Kim Kardashian’s marriage lasted 72 days, and 72 days ago I married that wonderful man that I live with.

I figured rather than measuring my wedding in years, I’d measure it in Kardashians. So hooray! Today is our first Kardashian. Here’s to our first Kardashian, and many more Kardashians in the future.

Happy 1st Kardashian, Dan!

Wedding photos? Wedding photos.

So a few weeks ago, we got our pictures back from the amazing Benjamin Luk. Cannot recommend him enough, he was fantastic, personable, unobtrusive during the ceremony, and most importantly, took some utterly amazing pictures. He honestly went way above and beyond.

So Ben is a friend of Dan’s, and I’m a little wary about the whole “friend photographer” thing because the WHOLE REASON I was having a fancy ceremony at all was that I wanted my pretty white dress and my sparkly tiara and elaborate hair and I wanted amazing photographic evidence of it. If not for that, I’d have done the ceremony in a coffee shop with a couple of witnesses and be done with it. Starbucks isn’t quite as picturesque, though.

Dan mentioned he had a few friends who were photographers, so I agreed to at least consider them. We met with Ben and he showed us some of his work, and … oooh. Yeah, ok, I think we can make this work. Offering us a rather significant friend discount didn’t hurt. It was still the biggest single budget item, save for maybe the rings, but pictures are Important.

But along with friend photographers, friend discounts also worry me a bit. You can get that bit of “well, I’m barely making any money on this, why would I put in my full effort?” sort of attitude. Why is it that we are often willing to shaft our friends when we wouldn’t dream of doing it for a stranger? So, was a teeny bit nervous about that, but trusted in the process. And hey, as long as I got a few good pics, I’m happy.

And man, I had nothing to worry about. Ben was the height of professional (as was his second shooter, Tyler) and the photos came back utterly incredible. We wound up with 261 edited photos (out of over a thousand taken, which is pretty amazing for such a short wedding) and I love almost every one of them. (Ok, there’s that one with my stupid open mouth laugh that makes me look like I’m about to eat a cheeseburger. But that might just be me…) I tried not to go completely nuts and managed to pare it down to a mere 56 to upload to Flickr, but IT WAS HARD.

Onward!

Ben managed to catch a really good representation of us, from the silly, to the sweet, the terrified, and the picturesque. Ok, it didn’t hurt that the ceremony site we chose is just one big amazing photographic setting.

Lest this post come off as an advertisement for Ben’s services, it’s not — it’s actually just an excuse to be all OMG LOOK AT ME I’M SO PRETTY.

Across the pond

But seriously, getting married? Talk to Ben. You won’t regret it.

Also: LOOK AT ME I’M SO PRETTY!

Newlyweds

I get a little while longer to be all goopy romantic, right?

Aww.

Two weeks in. Extraordinarily pleased with married life. Everything awesome.

Mrs

On May 11, 2013, I married the love of my life.

So we had a slightly shaky start. The morning went pretty smoothly at first, Dan left early Saturday morning so that our house could turn into Primp Central. The amazing Kathryn showed up bright and early to keep me on track.

My lovely makeup artist was on track to arrive between 10:30-11. I knew she’d left her phone at work the night before, but a facebook message in the morning let me know that she was incoming.

So 10:30 rolled around… Kathryn & I finished up the last few things. Packed my suitcase, drank some tea. Relaxed! Watered my plants, cleaned up the kitchen a bit. 11 rolled around… no sign of her. Hmm. So I was starting to get a little nervous — she had said she wanted two full hours to get things done, so since we wanted to leave the house at about 2:15, that gave us lots of time. But in an attempt to stay zen and trust that things would work out, I tried to relax. Shannon stopped by, picked up Dan’s suit to bring to him.

Time passed. I promised I wouldn’t start panicking until noon — 2 hours, then we could stuff me into the dress… we’d still be on time, right?

So noon happened, and still no sign of her. Ok, at this point I think stress was fully acceptable. Kathryn & I came up with contingency plans — she does amazing hairstyles, she could do my hair. I could do my makeup. It wouldn’t be half as spectacular, but we could make it work, right? Just as we went upstairs to get things ready with my dress, thank heavens: she arrived!

Hopped into the chair, and we were off and running. Emer arrived with my gorgeous flowers, my parents arrived around 1:30, so that was great. But running nearly 2 hours behind schedule did not help the rest of the day. Once we had my hair up, makeup on, it was already about 2:50. I’d planned on leaving the house at 2:15. Oops. We hauled me into the dress, I skipped the stockings in an effort to just make it go faster. Shoes on, lipstick freshened, out the door and into the truck. Traffic in my neighbourhood is pretty heavy on weekends, but we arrived at the beautiful Dr Sun Yat Sen gardens by about 3:30. Carol Ann, Kathryn & I ducked into the bridal room, while my parents went out to the ceremony site. My biggest concerns were that the officiant had only booked half an hour for us, and the ceremony site was supposed to only be 3:00-3:30 (with the rest of the time just in the garden itself.) It turns out that people are very accepting of brides having minor catastrophes, and from the moment I arrived at Sun Yat Sen, everything went incredibly smoothly.

Also, I looked great, so pfft. Half an hour late? Worth it.

The ceremony itself is a bit of a blur. I remember staring at Dan from the moment I turned the corner to the ceremony site. I remember my palms being so sweaty I thought I’d drop my flowers. I remember being incredibly nervous but as long as I stared at Dan, everything was just fine.

I remember Dan jumping the gun on the “I Do” part, causing the officiant to tease him a little, and then do an impressive auctioneer-style fast reading of the rest of the vows so that Dan could say it for real. I was just happy that he was going first so that I could get the gist of what I’d be saying when it was my turn to repeat them.

I had a hell of a time getting Dan’s ring on. Sweaty hands were had on both of our parts, it seems.

I didn’t notice, but across the pond on the free side of the garden there was a crowd of people snapping pictures. Ooh, I’m part of people’s tourist pictures. Yay!

kiss

Afterward, my amazing, wonderful, completely perfect maid of honor, Kathryn, herded us all into the spot we had previously scouted for group photos (the scholars study, for those familiar with the garden). The light was great, and she quickly had us herded into position. After the group pictures, everyone was free to roam and Dan & I were sent around the garden where we were photographed from every angle. (For those of you who have me on facebook, the first few pictures from our fabulous photographer have started to roll in.)

Then it was off to dinner, which was fabulous. I really do have an amazing family and a fantastic group of friends. I finally met Dan’s mother & step-father, with a wee bit of trepidation, but they are both absolutely lovely. Thank goodness, I have great in-laws!

After dinner, Dan & I made our way over to the Hotel Vancouver. By transit, of course. What? I’m a nerrrd.

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On that note, I wanted to make a few thank yous:

Kathryn was a total rockstar from start to finish. I cannot describe how completely amazing she was. She kept me generally stress free, shepherded the group amazingly well, and basically ran the show leaving me to do nothing but preen and look pretty. So fantastic. Cannot sing her praises enough. Best maid of honor ever. Plus an honorable mention to Chris for being her on-site contact when we were late, making sure that everyone was informed that I WAS coming, and not having cold feet.

Shannon & Mike kept Dan on track — at least HE was on time. I asked Shannon to make sure that Dan didn’t get drunk. Well, that didn’t happen (his barber has a thing for scotch) but at least she kept him vertical and made sure he was legally able to consent during the ceremony.

Benjamin Luk, our photographer. He was great to work with, and from what I see of the pictures he’s shown us so far… I am so stoked. He went way above and beyond, and while I’m always a bit wary of going with friends for something so important, I was never worried — he’s an incredible photographer. His assistant Tyler was also great, and I’m really looking forward to the picture he took of my tattoo in the bridal room…!

Emer, one of my wonderful coworkers (who happens to be a former florist) came up with bouquets for Carol Ann & I — they were absolutely wonderful, unique, and fun.

Cheryl, the artisan who made my lovely, custom crystal necklace. So pretty!

Constance at Dr Sun Yat Sen Gardens, our beautiful ceremony location. Constance was enthusiastic and a great help with the site. Very appreciated!

EXP Bar was a great after-ceremony dinner site. Not exactly the most traditional reception location, they took great care of us, fed us, and (thanks, Brian) got me a little drunk within minutes of arriving. Also, we had a fabulous server (who requested us specifically, after serving us a few nights prior) who, as a bonus, looks like Alyson Hannigan, and who doesn’t love that?

Love Your Cake made an absolutely amazing Legend of Zelda inspired cake. Not only did it look good, but it tasted amazing (even the fondant was pretty good, and who likes eating fondant?)

Erin, without whom god knows how stressed my poor dog would have been. Instead, Justice got to go to sleep-away camp with her aunties and their pack of dogs.

It takes a village to throw a wedding, even a small one. It wouldn’t have been the amazing event it was without a single one of the above people, and I cannot express my appreciation enough.

And now? GUYS. I’M SOMEONE’S WIFE. I HAVE A HUSBAND. SO. WEIRD.