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Friday, May 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ammi Midstokke: Planning a backwoods wedding during a pandemic

Ammi Midstokke is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review writing about living off the grid. (The Spokesman-Review / SR)
Ammi Midstokke is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review writing about living off the grid. (The Spokesman-Review / SR)
By Ammi Midstokke For The Spokesman-Review

If you’ve never tried to plan a wedding with a man, let me recommend you choose someone else. Don’t forget to invite that man to the wedding, though. Particularly if he’s supposed to be your husband by the end of it.

Planning a wedding with your future husband greatly decreases the likelihood that either of you will want to follow through. Everything is exciting and cute until he suggests something like lavender napkins or an industrial hand-washing sink and you start rethinking your original decision.

You won’t be alone in this. You’ll see his eyes gloss over when you start talking about buying an antique ceramic washing bin for the outdoor sink he’s going to build for you with recycled pallets and please, honey, do all the plumbing with that charming reddish piping. Copper? That’s cheap, right? I hope so, because those old sinks are not.

Despite having practiced with a previous marriage (or two … there was that brief incident as a teenager), I feel relatively inexperienced and uncertain about various matrimonial etiquette. This leads me to panic when people – well, women people – ask me questions like, “Do you have colors or a theme?”

I knew I forgot something! I think as I add it to an ever-expanding list.

I had just about settled on “Frozen 2” when the COVID struck and I had to rethink my entire motif. We’re calling our wedding “Romantic Sanitary,” and yes, we’ll be gifting our guests hand sanitizer and miniature rolls of toilet paper. Some may be attending for the free booze, but my guess is most are coming for the toiletries.

Feeling rather overwhelmed at the prospect of making all these decisions, I asked a married friend how he handled his giant wedding. “Did you hire a planner?”

“We are two gay men, Ammi,” he said. “We were born for this.”

Which only made me feel like I had a deficit in both gay friends and good taste, though supply of such things is arguably sparse here in North Idaho.

Thankfully, Charlie has focused on that which is important to the male in any wedding ceremony: planting grass seed and organizing the shop. To keep him safely isolated in areas of his strength, I complain nonstop about how stressful all this planning is. Then I delve into the minutiae of things like the beautiful gold flaking on this one tea plate I found at the thrift store, and did he even see the needlework on this garage sale napkin?

Mind you, I have over 150 napkins, none matching, each with unique hand stitching. I’m so busy pointing out petals on morning glories, Charlie never has a chance to ask how much I spent on them. And really, that’s the whole point.

Hiring a wedding planner seemed rather a fine idea. They could plan everything and just tell us when to show up with our recycled plates and napkins, repeat what someone says, and then buy everyone dinner. Of all my wedding fantasies, that one is my favorite. And the one where my Brown Dog gives me away.

The draw of the details is unavoidable, though. Our simple backyard wedding somehow grew into being an advertisement for Pinterest. I’m scrubbing labels off blue jars, deconstructing pallets and having fits of hysteria because the lupine in the yard might bloom too soon. As if somehow the precise tone of purple has an impact on the veracity of my wedding vows.

Which I haven’t even written yet because I’ve been too busy planning what flavors of cupcakes to order. (Those mini ones, and should I use classic papers or those trendy tulip kind?)

“Charlie! We still have to write our vows!” I worry as I list off all the other things I need to get done first.

“Mine have been done for a long time,” he says nonchalantly as he returns to the shop to make sure the hammers are hung largest to smallest or something. “It’s really the only thing that matters.”

Ammi Midstokke can be contacted at

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