But where will they pee? The highs and lows of the wedding home stretch

I have Biggie Smalls in my head right now, except when he says “notorious” the word in my head is “victorious.” In fact, if the lyrics to this track weren’t so heavy on f-bombs and “gettin’ head on the beach,” I might dance down the aisle to it this Saturday, when I finally get to marry the bearded man I’ve been in love with for the past 8 years.

Today has been a good day. Last week, not so much. It started on Wednesday when I crossed the wedding liquor order off my to-do list, then decided to take my BevMo wine-tasting buzz to Ross Dress for Less for a little accessory shopping. There I was, browsing cheap cardigans, when the port-a-potty vendor I’d booked three months earlier called to cancel just 10 days before our 120 guests would potentially be peeing in the woods of Berkeley, California. I stammered something into the phone then hung up feeling dazed. The sweater aisle at Ross is no place to receive bad news.

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Home sweet saga: Apartment hunting in the Bay Area—Part 3(!)

Note: This is definitely not the view from our new apartment.

Note: This is definitely not the view from our new apartment.

It is a rite of passage, a hazing ritual, a bonding experience. Welcome to the Bay Area. Good luck finding somewhere to live.

For months, Tovin and I have been hunting for an apartment and sharing our struggles with friends, acquaintances and total strangers. Almost invariably our jaunty, “Still looking for a place to live,” has been met with sympathetic murmurs if not outright commiseration. Some people share their own tales of woe, like the college friend whose wife saw 21 apartments before finding a place in the Dogpatch. Some pepper us with questions, marveling at the insanity of studio rents from the comfort of a rent-controlled spot they leased 18 years ago. Our housing saga became my go-to icebreaker for meeting new people. After a while I felt like I’d unlocked some sort of secret San Francisco handshake.

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Home sweet saga: Apartment hunting in the Bay Area — Part 1

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I knew we shouldn’t have let it get that far, but I suppose it was inevitable.

When you finally see an apartment that just feels right, how can you keep from picturing yourself there, cooking breakfast in the bright, airy kitchen, having a beer in the small back courtyard with petite koi pond(!), searching for an outfit in the absurdly large closet? When you find the place you start imagining the life you’d lead there. And maybe in the Bay Area—when you’ve been touring “cozy” basement apartments and studios so small you actually laugh upon entry—you fall in love with that life just a little too easily.

That’s what happened this week to Tovin and me: We got lucky, we got close and then we got nothing.

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So this is wedding planning

My perfect wedding venue: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. They don't do weddings.

My perfect wedding venue: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. They don’t do weddings.

I have made a spreadsheet. In fact, by now the spreadsheet is color-coded, with 14 fields, and 21 venues, and all kinds of lingo I didn’t even know a couple of months ago.

Among the preferred vendors and BYOs, hopefully there is my future wedding. I swear it’s there, but it’s sorta tough to see that sketch right now. Maybe it’s the dozens of “real wedding” photo galleries I’ve clicked through or all the delightfully vague venue descriptors—”rustic chic,” “industrial glam,” “contemporary country.” I’m sure there’s a meaningful difference, but they all seem to include string lights and wood. When wedding vendor contact forms leave a text box for “your event vision,” I’ve taken to just leaving it blank. Who can form a complete, original vision among all those Mason jars and burlap table runners?

Next month, Tovin and I are heading to the Bay Area to scout wedding venues. The planner we recently interviewed (the lovely Stacy Hillstead of Wink! Weddings) promised me that once the when and the where are settled everything will come into focus. Let’s hope she’s right. Until then, I’ll be watching 27 Dresses and working on my spreadsheet.