Mrs. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wedding Industry

Let’s start here: Just because you’re good at something, that doesn’t mean you should do it. Coming into this whole wedding planning business I had (SCOFF) convinced myself that because my day job entails combining creative vision with logistical management that I would be a natural at planning my own wedding. It’s just like planning a video with a 15k budget! Right? Well maybe, although typically I’m not casting 100+ extras and staring in the production. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

After roughly 16 months of planning I am convinced that the Wedding industry is set up to break the bride. How is it that throwing an elaborate celebration to announce to your friends and family that you’re having intercourse is enough to unravel even the most leveled headed individual? Let me go ahead and lay it out for you.

FAMILY – Ok, first off I’d like to say that I am very fortunate in this regard. Ben and I are both children of long enduring parental marriages. I’m sure that arbitrating the relationships of 50+ year-olds with emotional grudges is it’s own unique and horrifying challenge. However, no family is perfect and managing expectations, sensitivities, and schedules is hard enough with total strangers.

MONEY – It is 2019 and for a millennial I am doing quite well. I don’t live with my parents. I don’t have to work more than one job. I have enough financial stability to leave my expired student ID at home and pay for a full price movie ticket. But planning a $15,000 wedding has required me to completely disengage from all common sense money management principles. For example, in the past few months I have spent over $600 on flowers and leaves. Flowers. And. Leaves. If you’re not familiar with wedding flowers, I am, believe it or not, being quite frugal.

WOMANHOOD – I have the luxury of not thinking about my gender very much. Despite not regularly shaving my legs I feel comfortable with presenting feminine and I embrace my womanhood. But being a BRIDE is a whole other thing. Strangers expectations for how your life will change, ie: taking your husband’s name, having children, taking care of the household, get expanded to 1950s levels of gender role regression. I respect that it is the intention for many women, but calling someone their fiance’s name over the phone is akin to touching a pregnant woman’s belly. If you don’t know them, and they didn’t ask you to, don’t do it.

FAVORS – I don’t like asking people for things. Before I ask a favor of even my closest friends it is important that I feel that said favor is well earned by my own giving. Wedding planning is a non-stop favor train. It is asking your closest friends to spend hundreds of dollars of their own money to buy a dress, pay for travel, gifts, etc. Part of planning an event that is “personal” is asking friends and family to give their time and talent. I wish I could pay all of my friendors (combination of friend and vendor, not my invention) $10,000. It is really the only money that I have no anxiety about giving up, because asking a friend to work at my wedding causes my stomach to churn a dozen times over.

ATTENTION – Here is a paradox for you: I love being the center of attention, but if anyone acknowledges it I become very uncomfortable. Here are my instructions for how to deal with this at my wedding: Look at me, but don’t tell me you’re looking at me. Please wait until we’ve made one second of eye contact and then look away. Please tell me about how you were just talking about me to someone else but never compliment me directly. If you do compliment me to my face I will enter a humility spiral that will leave me feeling afraid that I am drawing too much attention to myself. Please deliver all your compliments for me to Ben so that he can evenly spread them out over the next year.

Weddings are a disaster. Mine will be modern, elegant, and likely very well planned, but in their own way, every wedding is some kind of a disaster. A few months ago I had a lot of funny opinions on the numerous tacky wedding tropes I’ve encountered (burlap, mason jars, signs that say “pick a seat, not a side, we’re all family here”), but now, at 27 days before my own jubilant celebration I have nothing but empathy for anyone attempting this madness.

So, why do it? I truely, actually, fully, and deeply love the guy that is going to be standing up at that alter with me. But we probably should have pocketed the cash and flew to Hawaii 16 months ago.

PS: If we’re going to keep putting women through this whole wedding thing, can we all agree to retire the word “Bridezilla”?

Dear Orlando Bloom,


It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you that we will never be married. I know this is coming as a shock to you, considering all the time we spent together, me a 13 year-old emo child, and you, a cardboard cutout in the form of your Lord of the Rings character Legolas.

What we had was so special, all those hours spent printing, and pasting together photos of your face onto a homemade poster. I thought that I could “have it all”,  to be an A- middle school student and become the full time wife to you, Orlando Bloom, a 27-year-old British actor. Which I proved when I used my allowance to buy our “promise ring”, a makeup bag at Claire’s with the embroidery “Mrs. Bloom” written across it.

I tried my best to keep up with your career, making sure to download an “Orlando Bloom Facts” screensaver onto my parents computer. I told everybody I knew how you worked through a broken back after falling off of a horse while shooting Lord of the Rings. I also made sacrifices for my passions, like the time I broke my toe so I wouldn’t have to march in a pro-life rally, fulfilling my passion of staying home and watching Pirates of the Caribbean again.

Many couples struggle with infidelity and we were no different. I won’t deny that I also carried a torch for another celebrity, The O.C.’s Adam Brody. I mean, we had so much in common! He played a nerdy high schooler on TV, and was spending my time reading Manga at the local library and buying faux-leather studded wrist bands at Hot Topic.

But even as your career stalled, I stayed devoted. From Troy, to Kingdom of Heaven, to Elizabethtown. Through middling performances Hollywood discovered that you were not the bankable celebrity that you once were, but I held onto our connection, taking your cardboard cutout with me all the way through my first two years of college.

However, in recent years our relationship has strained. Without the carefully manicured depiction of you on fan sites I started to see that perhaps our romance was slightly flawed. I will admit that I was more than a little disappointed to find how boring you are on twitter. At first when I heard you punched Justin Bieber I was excited, until I realized that the reason you punched him is because you ran in the same circles, were interested in the same women, and had the same general outlook on life.

So I have found someone else to marry. I will always treasure the time we spent taking myspace selfies and arguing about which of your characters were sexier, Legolas or Will Turner. You were there for me, from those awkward middle school years, to the equally awkward early college years. But now is time for us both to face the facts, you’re not a very good actor, and I might be a little out of your league.

With Love,

Janel Naumann

10 REAL (OR FAKE) THINGS I WILL DO IN 2019

Welcome to 2019. I am another year older, and doing the most natural thing in the last year of the 2010s, hopping onto a trend from the 00s, starting a blog. It is only appropriate, considering that trend forecasts predict that the 2020s will see the return of low rise jeans. So get ready to see a lot more butt crack and Janel’s thoughts in the future (specifically butt crack thoughts).

Personally I look forward to a resurgence of the early 00s (make sure to hold out the AUG sound in AUGHTS when reading this aloud to yourself. Also, side tangent, why didn’t any of us call them the AUGHTS while we were in them? I promise to call attention to the “roaring” 20s every second of 2020 – 2029). I have spent at least 30 hours re-watching Josh Schwartz’s teen drama masterpiece “The O.C.” and I’m excited to see what Paris Hilton was been doing for the past 15 years. Did her tiny dog ever outgrow her tiny purse? Can she compete in a post-Kardashian world? The mental picture of Paris Hilton with butt pads is more than a little horrifying, like a mini-marshmallow on toothpick.

It is 2019 and this is my first public blog post on the listicle, clickbait internet. Let’s get started.

10 REAL (OR FAKE) THINGS I WILL DO IN 2019


1. Get Married

Yes, 2019 is my last year as a ~single lady~, however being in a committed relationship with the same person for 6 years makes acting like I haven’t been “off the market” for a while a bit absurd. My partner and I started dating exclusively before Tindr was a thing. That basically makes us bygone lovers of a forgotten era.

2. Learn How to Use a Knife

In a few months I am throwing the biggest party of my life for ~120 of my friends and family. This guest list was hand selected to satisfy the requirement of “most likely to buy me fancy kitchen supplies.” After living in several different apartments with a smattering of women I have amassed quite the collection of dull off-brand knives and mismatched silverware. I use both as an excuse to microwave pre-cut frozen vegetables rather than make myself, and my betrothed, a proper meal like the 27-year-old fancy lady that I am.

3. Write a Blog Post

Oh yes. This is a copout. I am not ashamed. I didn’t even wait until #7 to list the thing I’m already doing.

4. Travel Around the World in 80 Days

In August of 2018 I traveled to Mumbai, India and back in the span of 4 days. After a full work day, at midnight I took a 16 hour flight from Mumbai to Toronto, and then a flight from Toronto to Chicago, then another flight from Chicago to Grand Rapids and then finally a drive from Grand Rapids to Kalamazoo. It was the worst. Next time I travel around the world it better take 80 days, with plenty of time for fully extended body naps, no 40 minute long lines for the bathroom, and no one will dare offer me a piping hot and spicy samosa at 7 AM after my body has sat in an upright plank for 7 hours with over 9 hours left in the air.

5. Carry My Husband Across The Threshold

In 2018 I made fair progress on my health and wellness goals. Essentially I managed to not undo any of the progress made in 2017. I spend a lot of time looking in the mirror trying to suss out how much of my musculature is actual and how much is imagined. I have an active imagination and am prone to exaggerate my own achievements so the only way for me to know that I’ve accomplished my strength goals is if I can hoist my adult-man sized partner through a doorway. That way I will know for certain that I am very strong.

6. Read More Books

I read very few books. And of the books I do read they usually have pictures or are written by a famous person, which of course I read with the intention that they will end up in my dreams and my subconscious will imagine that we are great friends. I’m pretty certain I haven’t read a novel cover-to-cover since the Harry Potter series. If I ever hope to actually become great friends with famous people who write books, I need to start reading actual books.

7. Financially Plan For The Future

I want to get really good with money. I want a matched 401K. I want money in the stock market. I want money in the foreign markets. I want money under the dresser, in the mattress. I want to wear money like a dress like Lady Gaga. I want a rainy day fund, and a sunny day fund, and a partly cloudy day fun. I want a little AI machine like Alexa to tell me the weather and then spit wads of cash in my face and I’ll dance like Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain”

8. Declutter

When we moved into our apartment in May of 2018 several boxes went straight from our old apartment into the attic of our new apartment. Despite the imminent threat posed by the gang of bats that have taken refuge in our stuff, it’s about time I got up there and Marie Kondo’d the heck out of it. Some of it is junk I like very much, like my limited edition Simpsons Kidrobot vinyl figurines. But listen, I have yet to find a pinterest board full of ways to display vinyl figures like a classy adult.

9. Sip a Margarita in a Hot Tub While Watching The Sunset

This will most likely occur when Ben and I take our honeymoon at some undetermined Caribbean island resort. However if my honeymoon plans do not occur as imagined, I am welcome to breaking and entering any number of backyard hot tubs until I find one with an uninterrupted western view and a wide rimmed cup holder.

10. Inspire a Generation

I mean this sort of goes without saying. I am obviously already doing this with just my general vibe and casual approach to providing life-changing wisdom to all within earshot. Specifically this year I will focus on capturing the hearts and minds of my friend’s children. It is a good year for me to cultivate a tiny army of people who have a passing resemblance to my friends. At the very least I can stop them from making TikTok the snapchat of 2019.


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