Wedding Planning Part 2 — The perfect wedding location search causes anxiety

The tensions rose. Imperceptibly, at first. But time, as it always does, brought a new wave of “issues’. But there was no time for resolutions. Not with my traveling for a funeral. The Ukrainian’s working of two jobs. My search for a new job and the demands of my current one.  The wedding was less than 6 weeks away and I wondered how we could pull it off. Some problems seemed to have no answers, and no amount of time or lack thereof would fix them.

“Sylvia still has not issued our permit to get married in Alamo Square,” the Ukrainian writes over Google Instant Messenger aka GTalk. Sylvia is the women in charge of issuing group gathering permits for the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. Without her approval, we can’t conduct a wedding ceremony in any public city space in the City of San Francisco. Nevermind the fact, that technically and legally, we are already married — the very presence of a priestly-looking dude (whom we found on, no kidding) is asking for a visit from the San Francisco Police Department to our wedding celebration just as the Ukirainian is about to pull me in the official kiss of the youmaykissthebridekss.

“Has she cashed the check yet?” I ask, trying to figure out the delay. Emails and phone calls are pouring…what time is the wedding?…where is it?…what time do we need to be there?…Our wedding is in 6 weeks and I have no answers. Only the priestwhoisnolongerapriestbutrentsouthisservices can commit to a wedding date that has no formal venue. I have a feeling he doesn’t declare his priestly pay for mock religious duties to the IRS, and as such, doesn’t really care much.

“No, she hasn’ cashed it.”

The days keep passing and still our wedding permit does not arrive. I become anxious, wanting to have the locale of our wedding finalized so I can continue on with the rest of the plans. But the anxiety also becomes worse, because with each day that passes, I increasingly realize I do not want to get married at Alamo Square.

“Baby, let’s get married somewhere else,” I tell the Ukrainian.

“Where?” he asks. He’s also anxious, but much of the anxiety stems from his desire to make and keep me happy.

“I don’t know, but not Alamo Square.”

“Why not? It’s a really nice park.”

“I know but I don’t want to get married there. I want to get married at Eagles Point at Lands End. Or somewhere else along the water.”

“We can’t baby. The federal government won’t let us.”

Stupid Department of Homeland Security, I curse. We had applied weeks ago for a permit to marry to marry at Eagle’s Point at Lands End but the U.S. Department of Homeland Security apparently felt our small wedding celebration was too risky of a threat to the National Security on the weekend after the 4th of July. Why? Well, because…Eagle’s Point looks over the Golden Gate Bridge – which is why we wanted to get married there in the first place.

So we chose Alamo Square. Everybody knows Alamo Square. It is the park that is in the opening credits of “Full House”. It has the Painted Ladies Victorian houses and the San Francisco skyline in the backdrop. It’s the sort of wedding venue your mother would love. It is “So San Francisco.”

But I didn’t want to marry in Alamo Square. I imagined the fog and the cold. I imagined freezing in my wedding dress. I imagined miserable wedding guests. I imagined the water that couldn’t be seen from there. And I imagined the first time I went to Alamo Square so many years ago. It was with the Bulgarian and my two dogs. And I didn’t want to get married anyplace that reminded me of anyone but my husband whom I love so much.

And so the tensions rose as I couldn’t plan the wedding I dreaded so much to have. But there were no solutions. We checked the churches. They all required membership, large fees, and 6 months of premarital counseling. We checked the hotel ballrooms but they were too plain and typical. Where, oh where we wondered, could we marry that would be scenic and fabulous and ours and wouldn’t drive us to bankruptcy?


Those Ukrainians! They’re Everywhere!

The Ukrainian has gamely agreed to take a short series of private dance lessons with me so that we can not make a fool out of ourselves impress all our guests at our American family wedding to be held here in San Francisco in less than 3 weeks. On Saturday, I called the Cheryl Burke Dance Center in the Portrero Hill neighborhood to arrange for our lessons. “You will be with Serge,” the receptionist told me. Oooo….Serge, I thought, imagining some Russian ballet star.

Sure enough, today the Ukrainian and I arrived at the dance lesson 15 minutes early to be greeted by Serge. And what were the first word’s out of Serge’s mouth? “You speak Russian?” — to the Ukrainian, of course, not to me.

“Da,” the Ukrainian replied.

I excused myself for a moment to leave them to bond in their mother tongue to use the ladies room. When I returned, the Ukrainian said, “Baby, not only is Serge Russian, but he is from Ukraine!!!”

“See, baby. I really am the best wife!” was all I could reply. Silently, I thanked God for small coincidences.

Finding a place to start the future

Yesterday, the Ukrainian and I rented a ZipCar and drove around looking for the absolute perfect place to exchange our own written vows in front of my family and our American friends. It had to be perfect:  a place we both loved that also showed off the beauty of San Francisco, but also wouldn’t be too cold and windy during a foggy San Francisco July evening.

We started at Eagles Point at Lands End.

Sadly, one overgrown tree makes it impossible to get a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

Then we moved onto European Food Wholesale located at 31st and Clement. It’s a Russian deli that sells a lot of imported E. European Foods as well as a few items from Western Europe. We’re not planning on getting married there, but I needed to use the toilet and my Ukrainian wanted to find some treats from the mother country

Next stop was Baker Beach. From here you can get a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge. But it’s cold and windy (and, to state the obvious:  sandy). Do we really want have our guests in their wedding finery out here?

We then drove on to the Palace of Fine Arts. A beautiful building surround by gorgeous gardens, but currently encased in scaffolding, and thereby not wedding-worthy. Our conversation went something like  this:

Me:  This sucks. It would’ve been the most perfect spot to get married.

Ukrainian:  No, the construction makes it even more beautiful. The construction is symbolic of our relationship. We re constructing a family.

Me:  We are? I look down and rub my belly. I don’t see anything in here. Does this mean we are starting?

Ukrainian:  Ha ha. Ok, maybe not yet. But we will.

From there, we drove to Greens Restaurant to scope out a possibly dinner venue for the rehearsal dinner and to also fill my Ukrainian always-rumbling belly. It has a magnificent view of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge as well as the most delish vegetarian food. Alas, it was closed for a private party. I was beginning to sense a theme here.

Moving on to Golden Gate Park. While we had a list of places to visit, we had no map (Golden Gate Park is bigger than Central Park). My Ukrainian does not believe in printed maps. He is a man of technology. And thus our maps are always on GPS or the hard-drive of a laptop we carry around everywhere (hopefully we get iPhones sooner rather than later and we can ditch the laptop). We pulled out the handy-dandy iMac and found this very romantic spot:  Shakespeare’s Garden.

Beautiful, eh? It’s one of the most popular spots in San Francisco. But what you can’t see in the picture is the contstruction for the new Science museum going up right next to the garden. Clearly, 2008 is not the best year to get married in San Francisco.

We walked on to more scenic sites….

The Chinese Pavillion:

The snack stand by Stowe Lake….(remember the always-rumbling Ukrainian belly):

The Portals of the Past monument at Lloyd’s Lake (definitely not here)!!…

Some lovely gardens….Rose Garden and Fuschia Garden are pictured below.

The gardens are lovely, no? The problem is that none of the gardens are particularly San Francisco. They could be gardens anywhere. So we left Golden Gate Park with San Francisco’s beautiful Sutro Tower in the background.

Hmmm….maybe we should check out Sutro Heights Park.