Matrimony Monday: Coordinator Query

Recently, one of my best friends got engaged and asked me to be a bridesmaid.
I am so thrilled for her and SO honored to be included, but most of all I'm excited to support her adventures in wedding planning. 

Since she's very kindly letting me chill as *just* a bridesmaid (rather than a professional one, but let's be honest...will I still have a clipboard in my tote bag? Maybe.) I'm going to get to enjoy her wedding week a little bit more than I might otherwise.

But the other night she posed a very good question about wedding management:

"The ceremony location has a venue coordinator and the reception venue has an AMAZINGLY detail oriented coordinator. Do I still need a Day-Of Wedding Coordinator?"

I get this ALL the time and it's a completely legitimate question. 
Weddings are expensive, so why spend more money on YET ANOTHER vendor who seems to be redundant? 

Here's why: you need someone to be your brain on your wedding day so that you can experience it with your heart. 

A wedding manager is your wedding day advocate and proxy. 
("Wedding manager" is so much more accurate than "wedding coordinator", which we still often use so that people might know what we're talking about.)

She/he will make sure that everything you've worked on for months or years is executed as perfectly as possible, so that you can focus on marrying the love of your life rather than on worrying about flower deliveries or making sure that table numbers are on the correct tables. 

Venue coordinators work for the venue. 
Of course they want to keep you happy, but ultimately their top priority is advocating for the interests of their employer: the venue. 
Trust me, my mom has two wedding venues. Working a wedding FOR her is very different than working a wedding with her. 

So yes, Virginia, you do need a wedding manager who will advocate for you and for your vision on the day of your wedding. That way you can relax and actually ENJOY one of the most important days of your life, just as you should. 

Buddy Bidding: Flight Attendant Friends

There are a couple of misconceptions I encounter a lot when people ask me about working as a Flight Attendant. People seem to think that we have a "regular route" and that we work with the same crew members all the time. 
(Are we still saying fake news?)

We do NOT have a "regular route". 

Some Flight Attendants have particular layovers that they prefer for any number of reasons. Maybe they have family they want to visit in Omaha. Maybe they live in Detroit but commute to Philly so they want to be able to go home on their overnights. Maybe they need a special type of buteer/handcream/face cream/medication that can only be purchased in Europe. 

If they have the seniority to get the layovers they bid for, they might fly to a particular destination more than others. Alternatively, if they have no seniority and Crew Scheduling falls in love with sending them to Las Vegas for every single major holiday....they might also end up at the same destination again and again. 
(Las Vegas was my second home in 2016. Thanks Scheduling.)

We don't fly with the same crew all the time.
(Kind of.)

Very rarely do I walk onto a plane and find I'm working with people I already know. After four years of flying, hundreds of flights, and literally MILLIONS of miles, it's pretty rare that I encounter co-workers I already know when we all sign in for a trip. It happens more now than it did two or three years ago, but it's still not common. 
Now, that said, on months when I'm not on call and instead have a set schedule (LINEHOLDER LIIIIIFE), I have the option of "buddy bidding" with up to three friends. That means we ask the scheduling gods to only assign us trips that we can work together. 
Even the worst trips can be fun when you're working with a friend you know and enjoy. 
In my case, it means having a friend I can count on to drink wine and eat loaded tater tots with at airport hotel bars in Kansas City..... among other things. 

I buddy bid with my friend Kim pretty regularly- we're bidding together for December because the odds are extremely high that, given our seniority, we're going to be working on Christmas and New Year's. If we can't be with our families in Vermont and Kentucky, at least we can be somewhere together and we can make the best of it. 
(Please scheduling gods, not the short LGA.)

Kim and I have had some awesome adventures together over the last couple of years, some planned, and some by accident- like last year when we got assigned to the same London trip, or earlier this week when Scheduling sent us to Zurich together! 

In the last couple of years, Kim and I have hung out together in a whole bunch of states and quite a few countries (including two that neither of us had every been to before! Cuba and Switzerland.) and we've had so much fun. 
Kim is an awesome person to work with, but she's even more of an inspiration in the real life she lives on the ground- hectic doesn't even BEGIN to describe it (SHE HAS SIX KIDS) but she pulls it all off with grace and an amazing amount of love. I hope that someday I can be even partly as amazing as she is. 

They say that when you marry someone your joys are doubled and your worries are halved, and I've found that's absolutely true when I fly with my pal Kim. 
Buddy Bidding is kind of like being married for a month at a time- and in the same way that I'm very lucky to have found an excellent fiance, I'm also extremely lucky to have found a fabulous Buddy Bidding friend. 

With Kim on the simulator in New Hire training when we were just bitty baby Flight Attendants. 
In Phoenix when the other members of our crew were also junior and very tolerant of my shenanigans. 

We've had a whole bunch of Island one day trips together. One highlight was a whirlwind trip to Cuba!
I forced Kim to take the "Caroline Bright Tour" of London and she got to see all of my favorite childhood spots!

We discovered Slap's BBQ in Kansas City together, and now we have to go there every single time we have a long enough layover in the Show Me State. 
We can't help that we're adorable and charming. It's a gift.

Earlier this week in Zurich, Switzerland. Absolutely our most insane trip together to date, but just another adventure in the chronicles of Kim&Caroline: Buddy Bidders.

Matrimony Monday: Feminism and Marriage

Recently, I was hanging out with one of my favorite people and she asked me how I felt about the intersection of Feminism and Marriage. 
That got me thinking seriously about the topic in a way I haven't in a while. I made my peace with marriage as an institution (mostly) years ago, even in spite of getting divorced, and I hadn't spent much time considering this issue since. 

There's SO much here and no way that I can cover it all in a single blog post, particularly because I am not a social scientist or an actual historian. 

First of all, let's define Feminism, mmmkay?

  1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
  1. (sometimes initial capital letter) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.

In theory, we have gender equality in the United States. In practice, not so much. 
In marriage, it's even more complicated. 

1. Marriage has long been used as a tool to promote the subjugation of women. 

There was a time, not so very long ago, when a woman ceased to exist as a legal entity the moment she got married. 

"By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband; under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing."
(Blackstone's Commentaries)

Married women didn't have the right to own property in their own names, to keep wages they earned, or the right to have custody of their children in the event of a divorce- for any reason. 

"Oh, 1848? That was 170 years ago! Forever! And they changed that stuff anyway."
In my family, that was only four generations ago. 
Oh, and many of the marital laws Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were opposed to didn't get changed until well into the 20th century
(I believe that Iron Jawed Angels should be mandatory viewing.)

I haven't even gotten started on marriage laws in other countries or really historical examples of gender subjugation via marriage. 
Yes, today in the United States things are legally different, but there's no avoiding the legacy of gender inequality that marriage has. That legacy sends shockwaves through history that we still feel today and created expectations that we have to contend with constantly. 

2. Marriage today is both more complicated and more simple than ever. 

Thanks to marriage equality a lot of the gendered baggage of marriage has been getting unpacked. Taking the gender requirements out of the question of marriage has made roles are more flexible than they've ever been, which has led to some people pushing back harder in favor of "traditional" marriage. Duh. I don't have to give y'all examples here. 

3. Lots of conversations about this topic are happening today:

etc. etc. etc. 

So here's my take: 

There's no way of distancing ourselves from the history of marriage. We have to live with, and be aware of, that baggage. 
("Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.")

But generally today, the equality in an individual marriage comes down to the individuals in it.
Like with so many other things in life, you have to decide what you can live with. 

Personally, I know that I absolutely could not EVER marry someone who didn't understand that women and men are still not treated equally and fairly. 
It's just too much work to spend my time and energy convincing the person I love that a basic reality of my existence is just that- a reality. 

I've found that many men don't necessarily spend much time thinking about these issues (because they haven't been forced to by just living life) but that when the topics are discussed and considered they can learn.

You have to be on the same page about basic things when it comes to literally living with someone- not just in theory but in practice. 
Things as basic as household chores and household organization.

Many people I've known believe (in theory) that they should divide household chores equally, but in practice say things like "But I don't know how to do XYZ task." or "Oh, I forgot." or "I'm just better at this than he is, if I don't do it it won't get done." 
Those are copouts when it comes to sharing the burdens of a household equally. They just are. 

We also have to think seriously about WHY some realities exist. 
When people have kids, it can make financial sense for one of us to stay home with them rather than paying for daycare- if that's the case it makes sense to have the parter who makes less money stay home... and in heterosexual couples that's very often the woman. 
Why do women often make less money than men? Well, that's a whole other feminist can of worms that I am SO not going to dive into right now, but I would enthusiastically encourage you to look into.

At the end of the day, an individual marriage can be feminist, but we are far far far from a time when marriage itself is a fundamentally feminist institution.
We just have to keep helping each other up until we get there- in every avenue of life.