Bevin's Blog I'm blogging the relentless pursuit of my joy

2018-09-27

My Big Fat Non Traditional Way of Dealing with Wedding Invites

About 10 months ago Dara asked me to marry her. I said YES of course! We knew we wanted a solid year and change to plan our dream destination wedding weekend/week and set out to find the best venue for our size wedding in the Smoky Mountains near Dollywood. It’s one of our favorite places in the world and saying “I Do” on a mountaintop felt totally right.

We found the venue and worked a solid month on our Save the Date document. It’s epic because we’re planning a long weekend of shenanigans with an optional week long stay for folks who want to help us get set up and do a little hiking (with the local chapter of Fat Girls Hiking!) and exploring.

 

I figured since almost everyone was going to have to travel for our wedding we would just settle into a destination wedding. It’s also kind of great because I really want to have quality time with everyone at my wedding and not just swirl past my loved ones at a party.

Dara and I are planning on a hundred people to start with, which is both a lot of people and hardly enough. Instead of compromising on an invite list we split the guest count in half. She went through her Facebook friends list in one cross country flight, decided who to invite and sent out the save the dates.

I have been working on my invite list for two months and have no idea how to decide between my friends. I think some of this is because I’m going to be a forty year old bride and I’ve lived a lot of life. I have a ton of people I love enough to want to join us on that mountaintop on my special day.

 

We’re planning on a week long stay in a cabin village that surrounds our venue, so it will be a lot like being in a tiny village with folks I love. This is a total dream! 

To go to Dollywood with and take as many pictures as we can at all my favorite Dollywood landmarks wearing vintage fashions. (Seriously this is the one time I can get everyone I love to go to Dollywood with me!) To go to the Smoky Mountain Adventure Dinner Theater, to celebrate our big Steel Magnolias BBQ themed rehearsal dinner, to be part of our epic shenanigans. To take our commemorative drone photo, Dara is inspired by a big beer commercial she’s obsessed with.

We’re getting a couple of llamas to come to the spiritual wedding for pics and emotional support!

My heart is kind of broken about choosing between people I love!

Dara is starting to doubt that I want to marry her because it has been taking me so long to send out invites! This is not my intention! I would marry her in our backyard right now if that was our option (but we both want the epic party)! My mom keeps asking me when I’m going to send them out and one of my Bride Squad just said to me, “Yo, B, you gotta send out that save the date!”

Processing about my wedding is helping me figure out what’s important to me and I thought I’d share with you about how I’m moving through this. And the unconventional way I’m choosing to resolve it!

  1. I’m Asking for a Hell YES!

This is my Year of Ask and Receive and frankly, asking people to show up for me is an area of growth! I have SO MUCH to celebrate this year and it feels overwhelming to ask folks to be part of it!

I’m turning 40!

My blog turns 10 in November!

I’m launching my Fat Kid Dance Party Workout Videos and I want a hella great launch party!

I’m having an epic Bachelez Party in Vegas on Dolly Parton’s birthday—January 19th weekend!

I’m launching my first Self Care Camp festival next summer outside Seattle, something that’s been on my heart for a long time. (That link is a video from my first planning meeting with Leo about Self Care Camp.)

I’m starting up Fat Kid Dance Party retreats in 2019. One is a Fat Mermaid Content Creator Retreat, another will be a FKDP Healing Retreat.

I have a lot of gratitude for the amount of people I love who have really shown up for me in my life and I think some folks are going to be drawn to certain events over others.

I feel like some are likely more into a big camping festival like Self Care Camp vs a Vegas weekend or luxury cabins in Tennessee. Some are more about the closeness we can get at a retreat of only a few people. And some don’t have a lot of money, time or attention to offer and could pop into a 40th birthday party in my backyard a little easier.

What it comes down to: I am asking people for a Hell Yes. I know it’s a lot financially to ask to go to a mountaintop long weekend/week long thing and I want folks to really want to be there and be high vibe.

Otherwise there are so many other ways we can celebrate and I need help making those things happen, too! One of Dara’s besties, someone she had asked to be in her Broom Squad (what we’re calling our bridal parties—Bride Squad and Broom Squad), actually told us he would rather not come to the mountaintop because it was just too many people and interacting for his introvert heart. We received that and understood!

2. Money Stuff

Because talking openly about money helps bust up capitalist shame!

If I had unlimited income, we would just have a 400 person wedding and I wouldn’t even think about it. I have always seen myself as a bit of a Fozzywig character (if you’re familiar with the Muppet Christmas Carol you’d know the generous holiday party throwing Fozzie the Bear I’m talking about).

I have some friends who got married at the same stage of life we are at, invited 300 people to their wedding, 200 said yes and with their plus ones suddenly they had a 400 person wedding. I have some friends who expected 250 yeses to their wedding and ended up with 350 but turned no one away. (It wasn’t a seated dinner so that helped the flexibility.)

We are limited to 225 by our venue but we are starting with 100 because that’s what we can realistically afford. I’m still working without an income and building up Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics so we remain a one income family.

To be honest, the only reason we can afford to throw a wedding at all right now is that our moms both pledged to front our baseline budget and we are supplementing what we can. Praying that FKDP blows up once the workout videos are released so we can include more folks. Having a venue with flexibility that will allow us to increase our invite count as we have more resources was actually a great choice for us.

But it leaves me still pretty restricted about who can come to our wedding. 

And I also have so many different ways to connect this year and next, in different geographic spaces that I don’t want folks to feel like they need to trek to the Smokies and rent a luxury cabin in order to connect. Come camp with me at Self Care Camp next August instead!

3. Family

All of those “should” invites got dropped from my list pretty early on. I processed with my mom about it and she agreed, which really helped validate my thoughts. Which were basically, if a member of my birth family isn’t in my life, I’m not really interested in bringing them to the mountaintop. If they want to celebrate my wedding I have a ton of flexibility about who I can invite to my bridal shower. Which will be in California, and a lot more accessible to them! They are also completely invited to throw one for me! I figure the more the merrier in terms of occasions to celebrate this marriage!

There’s a swath of my family that can’t attend my wedding because it conflicts with my eldest cousin’s daughter’s graduation from high school (I cannot believe she’s already graduating) which sucks and I actually have a lot of grief around them not being part of my wedding. But the siren song of the Dogwood blossoms in the Smokies call me to be a Spring bride and our venue only had the availability for that particular weekend.

4. My Unconventional Solutions

Ticketing and Wait List

I am pretty comfortable doing things unconventionally and here’s what I’m doing. Instead of ranking people into an A list, B list and C list of invites, I’m just inviting whoever I want to invite. If they can RSVP with a Hell Yes, hopefully book a cabin with a 25% down payment (we can help facilitate shared cabins, we know who you’ll jive with) they’re on the list. Once I hit the cap of my 50 invites I’ll put folks on a wait list and slot them in as we have more resources to invite more people. This includes plus ones!

I’m pretty positive there will be more room as time goes on, I’m pretty positive that people whose income is wildly uncertain as mine has been the last few years will still be able to make those last minute calls. (I’ve missed a lot of weddings I would have wanted to attend because of funds; I’ve also attended a few as last minute guest because I could make it work and they had a slot open up.)

There’s definitely part of me who believes it’s kinda rude to invite people to an event but not hold space for them no matter what (since that’s what I want to do in my heart). I polled my facebook friends about it a couple months ago and it illuminated me about who felt it was rude.

One of the people who went to the mat to say that choice was rude ended up doing a hella rude thing to me shortly thereafter so I am taking those rude sayers with a gran of salt. My favorite thing I learned in therapy about criticism—“Consider the source.”

It feels like the easiest thing for my heart to do it this way and then I can stop stressing about who to include and who I might alienate. I’ve been told “The people that matter won’t mind and the people who mind won’t matter.”

Splitting up invites

Another unconventional thing I’m doing is inviting people to my Bridal Shower and Bachelez Party who are not on the invite list for the wedding. I feel like those things are the more the merrier. Plus there are plenty of weddings where I would have preferred to attend the Bachie and NOT the ceremony, and I’m super open to people making that choice with my festivities!

I’m undecided what is going to happen for my 40th birthday and unwilling to let my wedding festivities outshine the celebration that I have lived a full 40 years and became this fabulous! First of all, my value isn’t in my partnership or the legal recognition of same. And second of all I defied a lot of odds to make it this far and this fabulous at 40 so there you go.

More wedding processing to come, including whether and how to have my wedding gown custom made!

2018-05-11

Three Methods I Use to Have an Easier Experience with Life

One of the best things I have ever done for my mental health is to adopt the world view of Pronoia. This is the assumption that everything in the Universe is aligning to my benefit. It’s described as the opposite of paranoia. (The term was coined by Rob Brezny, spelled out in this great and giant book.)

Last weekend when Dara and I were looking at wedding venues near Dollywood in the Smoky Mountains, we realized we have different ways of dealing with potential homophobia. We were originally going to talk on the phone to potential venues about whether they were friendly to host a Queer Wedding. I decided instead to utilize my gut instincts. I find, in general, if I assume people are going to be loving and kind to me, most folks rise to that occasion.

Dara, however, was definitely steeling herself for some potential discrimination.

This is a great example of the dichotomy between paranoia (Dara being afraid we would experience homophobia) and Pronoia (me assuming that people will be kind and loving).

I’m not giving you a blanket idea of how to deal with oppression in general, I’m just offering what works for me as a Queer Fat Femme in a heterosexually centered fatphobic society. I still loudly remark at the end of a movie when heterosexuality is reinforced, I still notice overt oppression against me as a queer fat woman with an exaggerated gender presentation. I see and experience all the ways in which this world is not built for human size diversity.

However, in general, I find when I assume strangers are intending to be loving and kind it makes my experience of living in an oppressive world a lot easier for me.

I acknowledge my White privilege in this. I grew up poor but I learned how to class pass early on and that does affect how I experience the world and overt or covert oppression. People of Color, Black folks, trans and gender non conforming folks, disabled folks, poor folks, older folks and other oppressed people have different experiences than I do.

Pronoia helps me keep my brain decluttered from other people’s judgments. I could spend a lot of time micro analyzing how strangers look at me or if I hear an audible sigh from someone seated next to me on a plane. Most of the time I assume their looks and sounds don’t have anything to do with me or my size. Maybe that’s not true, but probably it is true the majority of the time.

What I’ve noticed is that most people are so concerned with themselves they aren’t thinking about me. And when they are thinking about me or overtly judging or oppressing me, what I think about is how hard it must be in their own head. Because most folks who are pointing a finger have three pointed back at them, and generally those folks have a really nasty, self hating and judgmental internal dialogue.

It doesn’t mean that I’m bulletproof. I still have that coding in my brain that makes me feel conspicuous when I’m standing up in the aisle of an airplane waiting for the flight attendant to move because I can’t really squish around her. I’m reminded sometimes that I’m fat in public when I’m eating, but I’ve long lost the shame around being fat. I don’t think a lot of thin people have the same coding. Some do and if they feel shame around eating in public or standing in the aisle of an airplane worrying about their perceived size—that shame is from Fatphobia. Fatphobia affects everyone, no matter their size, but the oppression lands on the fat people not the thin ones.

We are really excited to have a destination wedding in the Smoky Mountains! We get to share a favorite place of ours with all of our friends and family!

I find it helpful to think of oppression as systemic and not something everyone is intending to promote in their unconscious actions. The wedding coordinators at the venues we were looking at, if they had any hesitation about us as a queer couple or didn’t know how to be “cool” around us about our Gay Wedding, that was a result of systemic oppression. Systemic oppression doesn’t excuse bad behavior or overt oppression but it does help me assume best intentions from people on the ground doing the best they can with what they have.

Engaging in Pronoia helps my mental health. When I assume the world is ultimately a kind place, when I don’t assume people are judging me (or thinking of me at all), when I don’t get caught up in shame and defensiveness, I’m just happier.

This is the type of thinking I hope to impart on all of the small children in my life through my example because they really learn mostly by example. We could use a generation that is exposed to kinder methods of self talk and compassion for self and others.

Here are some things I do that help support my Pronoia:

1. I treat it like a practice.
I lived in NYC for a long time and it taught me how to walk through the world and pay very little attention to how people are reacting to me. I also generally work to stay in a self loving and compassionate place which helps me feel more loving and compassionate towards others and assume they are reflecting that back to me. Pronoia in action.

2. I assume best intentions.
Impact is more important than intent. But in general, the impact of oppression on me is lessened when I can get to the compassion place. It also helps me not notice oppression against me and sometimes that’s just easier for me to exist within. Pronoia is about me living my best and most peaceful life and not about what someone’s intentions actually are.

3. I pray for it.
A very successful real estate agent I met at a conference a couple months ago taught me a practice she does every morning. She visualizes everyone on her path that day working in her favor, even folks she doesn’t know. She then holds gratitude for that. I haven’t started doing it every day but I do it every time I go to the airport because flying while fat is difficult and I can always use people (and spirit guides) working behind the scenes on my behalf.

Oppression leaves a lot of scars, especially when you’ve experienced repeated oppression, hurt and judgment. It can be really hard to move into Pronoia! If it appeals to you, I suggest taking one tiny baby step towards it by using only one of my tips above at a time and slowly incorporating it into your life. Like a couple minutes a day of intentional practice to start, It took me many years to get to where I am now!

The wedding coordinators we met with were a mixed bag. The first one was great, enthusiastic about our wedding but at one point late in the visit, when we asked about having the restrooms be gender neutral, made the effort to reassure us that she believes all people in love who want to make a life commitment should get to. The second place we visited was immediately off my list because it was sold to us differently over the phone than what they deliver for services. But I still didn’t get a real friendly vibe off the proprietor. But maybe he was having indigestion and not about us being homos, I don’t know.

The wedding venue we ultimately selected had both the coordinator and her assistant at our site visit. They never blinked about our queerness, the gender neutral restrooms were an easy yes for them and they are already thinking about beautiful signage. And they were both overtly excited about our wedding plans—we’re really excited to work with them.

This is where we’re going to get hitched!

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