BHLDN: Ur Dstntn 4 Xpnsv Arts n Crfts 4 Ur Wdng

This post is the first of what I hope will be at least a two-part series focusing on BHLDN, Anthropologie’s fairly new wedding line. “BHLDN?” you may be asking, “OMG WTF is that srsly like 1 of the new abbrevs kidz r usng these dayz?” Actually, BHLDN is short for “beholden” – see how the vowels have been removed? Vry clvr!

To its credit, Anthropologie marketed the gingham-and-twine aesthetic long before magazines, web sites, and other retailers caught on. In my rather reductionist cultural narrative, first came Anthropologie, then came the Great Recession, then came the DIY movement, and now here’s Anthropologie capitalizing on the premaritals who still have money and admire the “vintage country hipster” look (a term coined by Special Someone) but are too lazy to DIY. It’s brilliant. This way, well-to-do modern brides can have the whimsical, countrified, “bloggable” wedding of their dreams without breaking a nail – or burning themselves with a glue gun, as it were.

But for those of us whose paper snowflakes somehow always turned out asymmetrical (I choose to blame being left-handed in a right-hander’s world for my lamentable scissor skills), assigning our arts and crafts projects to BHLDN comes with a hefty price tag.

Take, for example, these Glittered Letters. At first I read “$34” and figured it must include the whole alphabet. These things are made of cardboard, for Pete’s sake. It has to be the “German glass glitter” that drives up the price, because each letter is $34. If Mary Catherine and Maximilian choose to go the Glittered Letter route for their wedding, it will cost $782 just to have their names displayed in sparkly cardboard and $816 if you throw in the ampersand. Queenie and Quentin, meanwhile, are plain SOL – the letter Q is not available.

Clothespins! How quaint! Of course, anyone who actually hangs their laundry on a clothesline (or uses clothespins to clip bags of Tostitos, like I do) knows you can buy 50 of them at the grocery store for two bucks, sometimes even less than that. But if it’s “hand-stained” clothespins you’re after, BHLDN will sell you 25 for a mere $28.

Livia Cetti, the artisan who created this paper bouquet, was probably one of those kindergarteners whose tissue paper flowers the teacher always held up as an example for the rest of the class. Crafty in both senses of the word, Livia has turned her talent into a business, selling “hand-colored crepe paper” arrangements to BHLDN, which in turn peddles them for over $200. (Hand-colored and hand-stained decorations are really in these days, if you couldn’t tell by now.) Why settle for real flowers when you can spend even more on paper ones?

These coasters are probably more remarkable for the catalog description than the price. “Who doesn’t love a mirthful print atop rich Lokta paper?” BHLDN’s copywriter asks. Why, I used to wonder the same thing myself! Then I surveyed all our prospective wedding guests and, sure enough, BHLDN is right: everyone loves a mirthful print atop rich Lokta paper. Our friends and family will be just tickled to rest their gin rickeys on these handmade paper bev naps. And compared to most of the other BHLDN merchandise, they’re practically a steal at $18 for a pack of 50.

You could easily find a makeshift cake topper that looks kind of like this one at Value Village. But it probably wouldn’t have “Swarovski-studded vines” encircling the love birds, so what’s the point? On the other hand, when you blow $598 — more than half of your cake budget — on the topper, you get stuck with the plainest, most boring-looking wedding cake of all time (as shown above). What to do, what to do? Just take comfort in BHLDN’s assurance that this cake topper will “sit beautifully on a shelf or tabletop for years to come,” while the leftover cake itself will have developed a thick crust of freezer burn before you even hit your first anniversary.

Well, I think you get the picture by now. If hand-dyed paper and hand-twisted wire are what you’re into, go wild at BHLDN. For a small fortune, you can tell your wedding guests you made all your own decorations and they will actually believe you.

Coming soon: an analysis of BHLDN’s “Hair Adornments” collection!

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Further Reflections on Gift Registries, or In Which I Once Again Reveal Myself to be a Terrible Person

Another day, another opportunity to talk about gift registries. And you thought I was getting married to enjoy the benefits of lifelong companionship and health insurance with someone I love. No siree, I do it all for the All-Clad.

This is my third post about gift registries, but I’ve only written 18 posts total, which means my materialism can be quantified. Oddly enough, I have experienced a complete turnaround in my views on wedding registries. A couple years ago, when I figured any future wedding of mine would consist of a backyard commitment ceremony between me and my cats, I thought all unattached young adults should throw themselves huge parties and register for gifts in protest of the maritals. Seriously, just because you’re one of a pair, are you any more deserving of nice pots and pans or serving ware? Single people like to entertain, too, you know! (I sure did, back in the day. Now I just watch Antiques Roadshow.)

I still think unbetrotheds deserve to be able to register for gifts (and not face disdain), but I am no longer joining them in protest. Although at first I found registering for our wedding gifts an extremely awkward and bizarre prospect — in what other context can you say “I would really appreciate it if you bought those $200 candlesticks for me even though we see each other about once every five years”? — I have learned to relish it. I stalk our registries (Macy’s, Crate & Barrel, and Pottery Barn, FYI!!!) almost daily to see what has been purchased so far. Please don’t hate me, Wedding Guests. Just know that your presents, I mean presence at our wedding, will mean so much to us.

As long as this post has degraded into an unflattering confessional, I will reveal one of my most embarrassing secrets. Not only do I stalk my registries, I stalk yours too! Not daily, mind you. But if I know your first and last name, and you have gotten married in the past five years or will be getting married in the near future, you can bet I have spied on your gift registry once or twice. And I have judged it.

The Knot is good for one thing and one thing only, and that is looking up gift registries. On their home page is a little box on the right side where you can type a premarital’s first and last name and Voila! Links to all their registries (assuming they are registered at large chains) will magically appear. You can then while away a slow afternoon at work, amusing yourself with supercilious little thoughts such as, “$250 for a vase?? Who does that?!” or “Girl, no one is buying you that mango pitter. Because everyone knows it’s STUPID” or “Not even Le Creuset can save your sorry cooking.” I know it’s wrong, but we all have our vices and mine is judging your choice in place settings. (Enough with the plain white bone china, already!)

Just as fascinating to me as the registries themselves is observing what people actually buy. The items that always seem to go quickest are the entertaining pieces, such as serving platters and fancy stemware. I believe this has to do not only with price point, but also the fact that this type of gift tells the recipient, “I expect you to return the favor by inviting me over.” For this reason, I too like to give couples gifts they will only use when throwing parties. That way it’s a gift that keeps on giving [back to me]!

The registry items that the last minute gift-buyers usually get stuck with, or that never get bought at all, are the mundane kitchen gadgets. Really, as useful as a whisk may be, no one wants to buy it for you. That’s a gift that says, “You’re 33 years old. You really should have bought one of these for yourself ten years ago, but you didn’t so now I have to.” (Don’t even try the “weddings are an opportunity to upgrade your stuff” rationale – everyone knows you can buy a perfectly good whisk for under five bucks.) No one who gives you the whisk is going to say, “I can’t wait for you to open my gift!” Instead, they will probably say, or hopefully just think to themselves, “The whisk was the only thing left on your registry. Seeing as how it cost $9.95 and I didn’t want to come off as a cheapskate, I bought you six of them. You’re welcome.” Of course, the possibility of this happening didn’t stop me from registering for these same mundane kitchen gadgets. I am counting on getting those Oxo Good Grips ergonomically correct measuring cups. I mean, what if I have arthritis some day and find it painful to lift half a cup of sugar? Whatever would I do? Buy them for myself? You must be joking.

Above image of the All-Clad collection stolen from this link, which I assume stole it from All-Clad.


An Unpaid, Unsolicited Advertisement for The Future Mrs. Darcy

I have a few regrets in life, and one of them is my wedding invitations. Although I once touted the personality-less, mail-order, template-based online invitation megastore as a way to save time and costs, I have quickly come to regret it. My MagnetStreet invitations are painfully boring. More importantly, my invitations were not designed by Kristen Cox of The Future Mrs. Darcy; as such, they will always remind me of my mistakes.

Kristen Cox has not asked me to write her an endorsement. For all I know, Kristen Cox has a vague idea that I exist, but that’s about it. As far as she knows, I am just some girl who’s getting married and whose mutual friend, Sarah, is throwing the bridal shower and asked Kristen to design the invitations. Actually, according to Kristen’s blog, Sarah didn’t even ask her to design the invitations – she told her she was having trouble finding some other invitations had admired on Etsy. Brilliant use of the passive-aggressive, Sarah. Of course you knew Kristen would come through with some gorgeous new designs on short notice.

When I first started thinking about wedding invitations, I stalked Kristen’s web site, which did I already mention is called The Future Mrs. Darcy? With the Jane Austen reference that immediately conjures images of Colin Firth in his ruffled collar and muttonchops, how could you go wrong? All her different designs are inspired by famous literary and film couples, and all designs are unique and beautiful. Seriously: she has a new one called “Anne and Gilbert” based on Anne of Green Gables. It’s as if I found my graphic design kindred spirit! A new bosom friend, if you will! As Gilbert Blythe might say, I am so soory I didn’t choose Kristen Cox as the designer of all my printed wedding materials. Might as well go drown my sorrows in cherry cordial with Diana Barry, for I have reached the depths of despair.  Alright, that’s enough with the AoGG allusions – see what not hiring The Future Mrs. Darcy will do to one’s soul?

In terms of cost-savings, MagnetStreet was the better deal, but in retrospect I would happily pay a little more to have invitations that I enjoy looking at. As for the MagnetStreet invitations, I just want to put them back in the box. I’ve actually had a dream about Kristen’s “Fred & Ginger” design – that’s how badly I wish we had ordered it. Although I think I was correct in saying once that most people don’t spend too much time staring at invitations — they glance at them and think “F%#k yeah, wedding!!” or “F%#k, I have to buy those a$$holes a gift?” — at the time I wasn’t thinking about how I would feel about our invitations. If we had ordered them from Kristen, I know I would not be able to wait one day to send them out — yours would be in your mailbox by now. But these MagnetStreet ones are so blah that I don’t even have the motivation to address them and am using all kinds of stall tactics to avoid sending them out in a timely fashion.

Well, what’s done is done. All I can hope for at this point is to get pregnant right away – not because I am particularly ready for motherhood, but because I desperately want an excuse to order Kristen’s irreverent baby shower invitations (if one of my good friends volunteered to get knocked up for the cause, that would also work). Are you, too, sick of baby shower invitations featuring ducks and cradles and teddy bears? Because this woman has designed a baby shower set called “Doin’ It.” No further endorsement necessary.


Self Improvement

One of the best things about planning a wedding is that it forces one to think more seriously about self-improvement. One of the worst things about planning a wedding is that it forces one to think more seriously about self improvement.

I’ve always found the term “self improvement” a bit too synonymous with “self indulgence” and “self absorption.” (As a blogger I am really one to talk – ha!) It doesn’t help that I dated a guy, briefly, who told me with a straight face that self improvement was the number one most important thing in life. That may have been a more admirable statement if his methods for improving himself extended beyond weightlifting and social climbing. And for all his talk about personal betterment, he did not even keep soap anywhere in his apartment. I know this because when I tried to wash my hands, the only soap substitute available was his roommate’s Noxzema face wash. That guy was also disgusting, but at least he made no claims to be a self-improver – that I know of, anyway.

Even though I tend to call B.S. on most attempts at self improvement, this upcoming wedding has indeed forced me to think about changes I should make to some of my habits. The reason for these changes is rooted in superficiality — I just want to look good at my wedding! — but hopefully they will have an impact lasting beyond July 30th. (We’ll see if they even last beyond these particularly self improvement-heavy last few weeks.) One of those changes, which I talked about in the last post, is wearing make-up. I feel better when I wear it and I look more professional, but I usually just don’t take the time to put it on. Hopefully I will start (though that’s a very optimistic “hopefully” when the alarm goes off on any given weekday morning).

I am also doing my best to eat a little less and move a little more. The “eating less” part doesn’t come too easily to me, for just as self-improvement was that hygiene-deficient toolbag’s foremost concern, food is my foremost concern. I basically plan my whole life around my next meal. Conveniently enough, I love to cook and have a pretty good understanding of what you should and shouldn’t eat (and tend to be somewhat evangelical about it – just ask Special Someone, who permanently gave up fish sticks, an old weeknight staple of his, shortly after he met me). So, since this post will otherwise be way too long, I’m taking the opportunity to revive my old food blog, The Economical Epicurean, for a discussion of the pre-wedding diet*. If you’re curious about it, click here. If not, I don’t really blame you – self-improvement is a load of crap.

*Said diet is like all diets in that it claims to not be a diet: just “small lifestyle changes,” with recipes included.

**If I may toot my own horn a bit, The Economical Epicurean, by some fluke, is now ranked 5th on this list of the top 50 cheap food blogs. There are a lot of great blogs on that list, so color me flattered! (And also mystified, as I hardly ever update any more.)

Stupid question: does anyone know how to make the font smaller on WordPress? I’m sure it’s quite obvious, but of course I can’t figure it out. These asterisked items should appear in a smaller font.