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War and centerpiece 

It's the little things — a table-top lemon tree, a Crate & Barrel bridal registry — that can drive a wedding toward the rocks

After sending the sixth batch of emails with the subject line "Centerpieces" to my design-savvy girlfriends, I suddenly realized what I had become. I had promised my fiancé that I wouldn't be the type of girl who gets all consumed by the nitty-gritty details of planning a wedding, but centerpieces don't just walk up onto the tables themselves.

I heard that, in the old days, the groom used to plan the wedding. I'd like to see pictures of those centerpieces — bowls of potato chips and buckets of beer, perhaps? My fiancé informed me that if it were up to him, there would be no centerpieces at all.

But in his defense, this was after I made the rookie mistake of running my gamut of ideas by him. Guys do not like ideas. Especially centerpiece ideas, which ranged from lemon trees at each table to a gorgeous medley of yellow flowers and fruit. Our color was obviously yellow.

My fiancé rolled his eyes at my endless ideas, especially the lemon tree.

"Really?" he asked. "A lemon tree?"

He let out a deep groan. It was the same confused cry I heard him make a few days earlier. I remember running frantically to our home office to find him spun around in his black leather office chair. Behind him, I could see that he was logged in to our Crate & Barrel registry.

"A mango slicer?" he gasped.

I thought he'd be thrilled that I found this innovative kitchen gadget! (Plus he really likes mangos.) But he thought it was ridiculous, and a good example of America's addiction to consumption. I should have known from past experiences with my conservationist fiancé that planning something as wasteful as a wedding would be like trying to sell the guys on Duck Dynasty Norelco clippers.

In an effort to make the wedding process seem simple, my strategy was I'd do the bulk of the legwork and just present my findings. I didn't even bother to inform him when I went to Crate & Barrel to register. Rather, I waited and waited for the perfect time, which was when he was deep in the Nevada desert, feeling the love at the arts-festival-of-all-arts-festivals, otherwise known as Burning Man.

In hindsight, I realize it was sneaky and deceptive to register behind my fiancé's back. But in my mind, he had lost his shopping privileges early on in our relationship when he had failed to savor the Target experience. To me, Target is a half-day event: the highlight of my day or — let's be honest — my weekend. He just wanted to get in and get out. He brought a list. He stuck to it. He hovered. He paced.

I didn't want to be rushed like that when it came to something as monumental as registering for my wedding — I mean, OUR wedding. Plus I knew he'd drag his feet and always find something to be a higher priority than selecting silverware and duvet covers. I, on the other hand, could not imagine a single scenario that could supercede this process.

I know I promised him that I wouldn't become a bewitched bride hyper-focused on the material aspects of a wedding. But that was before I realized this was my big chance to finally own a coffee maker with lots of buttons! When I shared my registry frustrations with my friend, she pointed out that I could simply buy a nice coffee maker for myself. She had a good point; however, I made a mental note to never speak to her again, because she was a registry killjoy.

Instead, I spent days on end perfecting our registry. I even had dreams where I made elaborate holiday meals with visions of serving pieces dancing in my head. I'd never prepared a single holiday meal — but surely once I was married, I would.

I'd wake up and immediately log on and start editing our registry. As I typed away on my laptop, my fiancé would smile at me, thinking I was hard at work first thing in the morning. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I wasn't working on "my book."

It was all worth it, though — because oh, what a thrill it was when those Crate & Barrel boxes arrived! I'd tear them open, wondering, "Which gift is it that I already knew I was getting?" Somehow, knowing what was inside made it no less exciting. After receiving the first few gifts, at just the sight of a UPS truck headed in the direction of my house, I got wet. I guess I'm just a traditionalist after all.

Luckily, our relationship is built on a lot more than a killer set of mint-blue dishware or stainless-steel All-Clad cookware; that's just icing on the cake. Fortunately, our relationship is filled with an undeniably delectable core: 100 percent organic ingredients of humor, acceptance, understanding, and most important, willingness to compromise.

Speaking of which, I didn't have lemon trees as centerpieces, but thankfully we didn't have to have bowls of potato chips, either. Instead, simple yet vivid bouquets of yellow flowers took their place in a very joyous occasion — in the background. The center we kept for ourselves.

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