How's "married life"?
This has been, far and away, THE most frequently asked question over the past two weeks, which is awful because I don't have a quick answer, and I get the impression most people are looking for a quick answer. For a variety of reasons Alissa and I did not live together before the wedding, and so for me, part of "married life" has involved growing accustomed to having a permanent roommate living in what has, for the last ten years, been "my" space. While yes, I've had non-romantic roommates off and on before, never before has that involved someone whose "stuff" was co-mingled with mine. (Speaking of "stuffed", I am very happy that Alissa's stuffed animal moose, Thidwick, has come to live with me now, because he's quite cuddly and adorable :) And so embarking on this journey of sharing space and time and possessions and finances, is exactly that: a journey.
Largely, the past two and a half weeks have been consumed by post-wedding "todo"s, such as unwrapping multiple layers of tulle from the light strings we'd hung over the length of the gym, or putting away gifts, or adding Alissa to my credit cards and checking account and insurances, or dealing with change-of-address updates, and so on (by the way, to date, we have made progress on all, but completed none, of the aforementioned tasks). We also have appointments over the next several weeks to deal with updating my will (and creating one for Alissa), as well as meeting with financial advisors, and continuing couples therapy, which we've found immensely helpful in aiding us to communicate effectively and lovingly.
We also continue to stumble through figuring out what "routine" looks like anymore. As one comical example: we have different sleeping habits - she sleeps with the light on, which of course is just WEIRD; whereas I require absolute darkness to sleep. Morning routines are working okay so far, since I leave for work earlier than she does, and so we haven't experienced bathroom timesharing issues. And I was ecstatic that, even in week 1, on Wednesday night (aka Jeremy's "me night"), Alissa went from work to a coffee shop to church small group, giving me the evening to myself. As we'd agreed during budget negotiations, it is SO worth a $5 coffee for me to have that recharge time to myself.
And we're sort of falling into a frequent habit of making dinners together and watching part of a movie while we eat. Since Alissa's vegetarian, our joint cooking adventures are aided by my recent decision to begin minimizing meat in my diet to once per day, which typically has been lunch; this makes it easier for us to cook meals together in the evening. To clarify a common misconception: my decision to minimize meat is health-related and came after watching a documentary titled Forks over Knives; Alissa (while happy about my choice) had not attempted to sway me in either direction. But, because of my choice, she's introduced me to veggie bacon, which, as much as I can't believe I'm saying this, I actually find quite delicious. Om nom nom.
When are you going on your honeymoon?
Following the wedding reception we took a short (two night) vacation to the Outing Lodge in Stillwater, got back in time for church Sunday morning, but then took Monday off work so we could relax a little longer, and finish opening cards and presents. Since Alissa works in a school, taking extended time off during the school year isn't really viable, so we are planning a European odyssey for June. If I get my hopes, we'll spend a couple days at the start going to museums in Washington, D.C., which will have the added advantage of subtracting one hour off our jet lag. My other dream destinations include Scotland and Greece. While we don't have any specific plans yet, the general plan is that we'll take three weeks to do "all the things" in Europe. I'm sure that should be plenty of time.
What happened to all the sandwiches from the reception?
Instead of a dance, our reception guests made over 3200 sandwiches for Catholic Charities to distribute to people experiencing food scarcity, poverty, or homelessness. Aaron, my contact at Catholic Charities, tells me that all 3K sandwiches were distributed that same weekend, half at the Dorothy Day center, and the remainder by various partner organizations around town.
Check out my previous blog post for pictures of the sandwich making!
Did you raise enough money to pay for the sandwiches?
If you recall from my blog post a few days before the wedding, we had a small debacle regarding sandwich supply cost, for which I ended up spending an unexpected $1500 on meats and cheeses. A Thrivent Financial "Action Team" grant cut that cost by $250, and an incredible outpouring of generosity from coworkers and friends paid off another $1,000+!! As of this writing, our out of pocket expense remains only $167.54. I feel so blessed by all the support we've received.
Where can I see pictures of the wedding?
Huge thanks to Randy Baranczyk, our wedding photographer. I've posted the photos on my Facebook page. If you're not my friend yet, send me a friend request or an email!
What's in those MATTERboxes you handed out at the wedding?
We invited all our guests to take a MATTERbox (produced by local NGO MATTER, where my good friend and groomsperson Joe happens to work), which are small boxes filled with non-perishable food. The boxes are meant for handing out to panhandlers you might come across on street corners or freeway exit ramps. No one (not even Joe) is quite sure what's actually in the boxes, though, so I decided to open one up and document the un-boxing:
Disclaimer: this is simply the contents of one single box. Based on the varying weights between boxes, I'm pretty sure each box has a different adventure waiting inside.
I'd like to buy more MATTERboxes for myself or my organization! Who should I contact?
You should contact my buddy Joe at MATTER, who's in charge of the MATTERbox distribution!
Your reception food was amazing! Who was your caterer?
Short answer: Abi's Cafe in Minneapolis.
Longer answer: Months ago when we first started thinking about caterers, I wanted to find one with ties to either a shelter or food shelf, so the leftovers could go to people who really needed a good meal. In that search, I came across these news articles about Abi's Cafe: nydailynews, abcnews, and asked Alissa if we could go check out the restaurant for one of our date nights. We loved the food, and also loved the idea of supporting a local business, owned and operated by a young immigrant woman who was our same age. Abi worked so hard for us, and quite gracefully handled a lot of me asking "oh, can your staff do this, too?" She even closed her restaurant for our wedding day, so she and her staff could focus exclusively on us. We can't say enough good things about her, so if you're ever looking for some Salvadorian food, please drop by Abi's and tell her you heard about her from Alissa and Jeremy's wedding!
If I want to mail you a card, what salutations should I use? (a.k.a., what's Alissa's last name now?)
The answer surprises a lot of people, but it's actually quite simple: nothing has changed :) Alissa is still "Ms. Alissa Carsten", and I am still "Mr. Jeremy Gustafson". If you're addressing a card or package to both of us, we have no preference on whose name is listed first, so you can either address to "Jeremy Gustafson and Alissa Carsten," or, "Alissa Carsten and Jeremy Gustafson."
Now if you're thinking, "oh shoot! I sent you a card/check/package to 'Jeremy and Alissa Gustafson,'" it's okay, you weren't the only one, and I think all newly married couples need to have a lot of grace helping friends and family navigate the salutation issue, especially when doing something non-standard like we have. But now you know!
Do you REALLY have 850 Beanie Babies???!!!
Yep. And probably a few more. I have 828 Beanies (2 were wedding gifts :) and Buddies and Teenies that I've inventoried on my spreadsheet. I also have a box of several dozen unopened Teenie Beanies, still in their original McDonald's packaging (so that they're worth more :p ), bringing the total somewhere between 850 and 900.