By Sarah Day
Hi bridal babes! The big day is six months out and I finally got the shipping notification for my gown! Some of you were around for the big dress shopping
disaster extravaganza last fall, so I’m sure you’re as happy as I am that shipping, at least, seems to have gone without a hitch. Get it? A hitch? Sorry, I’m getting so excited. We’re getting hitched! Soon we’ll be one flesh!
Anyway, I thought for this week’s post I’d do a little timeline of the thirteen months until the big day! Feel free to use this guide as flenspo for yourself! Pin and repost this list till your heart’s content, and make sure to give me a shout in the comments and let me know how you’re doing.
13 months out: Dream big!
If you’re freshly engaged, you’re probably just starting to plan your big day! I remember this being a really meaningful time for me and my family; my mother and aunts all got together and shared their favorite memories of their flensings. My dad and uncles were there too, because #oneflesh, but they didn’t have much to contribute (surprise surprise). Maybe get together over a charming brunch or little tea and ask your near-and-dears to share lessons from their own feasts.
Some of my girlfriends went on sleep voyages to ask their foremothers for flenspo of their own. That wasn’t a good choice for me because our estate has haints, but my girlfriends all loved it! If you can get your hands on the herbs and you don’t have any naughty spirits on your family property, maybe give it a shot!
12 months out: Clean up your diet
It’s never too soon to start making plans to taste and feel your best! You should be light as a feather when your FH hoists you onto the altar and look absolutely delectable. No one wants to look back at their flensing pictures and see that back fat blobbing out over the top of the gown, right?
Think about where you can cut out extra salt, sugar, and carbs—they all contribute to water retention, and if you’re a traditional bride like me, you’ll want your skin to be as sleek and firm as possible when you and your beloved make your first cuts. I’m told a more limited diet improves your savoriness too. More on that below!
11 months out: Find the perfect venue
Some folks will tell you 11 months before is too soon to start shopping for venues, but I disagree! Remember when the Ichor Strife forced so many people to cancel their feasts in 26,350 and the 26,351 flensing season was just ridiculous? Best to start planning now! You don’t want to set your heart on the perfect mountaintop pine grove or cute little basement hideaway only to find it’s been booked out for the next two years.
We ended up choosing this precious little altar in my FH’s family chapel. His parents were flensed there and I can tell it means so much to him that we’ll be continuing a family tradition on the day we become one flesh. Bonus: the whole place is done in this very showy dark granite, so it’ll photograph beautifully and we won’t have to worry about any cleaning fees from uncontrolled spatter. Nothing kills the honeymoon mood like an unexpected bill from when you splashed on the venue’s cream-colored velvet curtains, amirite?
So what’s your ideal location for your own feast? I guess this would be one of those things you could consult your intended on as well, but if your FH is anything like mine, they won’t have much to say. They just want to get right to the slicing!
10 months out: Choose your Night Guides
This is the perfect time to sit down with your intended and discuss one of the more fun aspects of your feast of one flesh: the Night Guides you want to invite to partake in the flensing. Lord of the Eternal Storm Eret’thor was all the rage last season, and to be honest, I totally get it—those glittery little frogs are so cute.
But there are lots of other things to consider when you choose Night Guides: how easy the chants are, what kind of spirit helpers they come with (hi lil frogs!), and if they go with the overall look and feel of your special day. I remember one of my girlfriends invoked the presence of Yantienna the Tiger Queen and well… I don’t want to criticize anyone else’s flensing, but I don’t think anyone had quite thought through the amount of viscera that would be involved. Red and violet were not their colors, and the smell really distracted from the ritual.
And of course, if either of you has a family Guide, you simply must invite them. It would be terminally tacky not to.
9 months out: Time to go gown shopping!
Every bride’s favorite part! I’ve dreamed of my feast gown ever since I was a little girl, and I know many of you feel the same. Gown shopping is a wonderful reason to get together with your besties, have a couple glasses of sangfroid, and play dress-up!
Think carefully about matching your gown to the occasion; if your altar is outdoors, you may want a full skirt and sleeves, but if so, make sure there are ample slits for the bladework. If you’re planning an indoor rite, you can experiment with more daring hemlines. This is the direction I went, and I’m so glad I did. I love a minimalist flensing gown; there’s nothing more inelegant than a groom shoving through yards of taffeta trying to find the hamstrings—but that’s just my opinion. I’m a traditional girl!
(If you’ve been a longtime reader, you know that obviously this part of the preparation didn’t go exactly as I wanted it to, but I was the exception. Don’t let my challenges scare you—odds are, you won’t have to go through three different gownmakers like I did. I’m still amazed we got all the stains out!)
8 months out: Start scheming decor and playlists
This is another fun one: it’s time to start thinking about the #aesthetic you want to cultivate for your big day. For me, this was divided into two big categories: decorations and music. The most memorable part of a flensing for me (other than the ritual itself, of course) is always how the day looked and felt. Whether you’re a traditional girl or more cutting-edge, the way you deck out your space can say so much about you and your beloved.
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to keep the decor for the venue as simple and chic as possible. All the grandeur and history of the family chapel doesn’t need a lot of improvement. And thank goodness, because have you seen the price of flowers lately? The hellebore blight has just been murderous.
There was one thing I absolutely wouldn’t budge on, however: bunting! Ever since I was a little girl I’ve just loved the festive glisten of homemade bunting. I plan to make mine the day before the ceremony to make sure it’s as fresh as possible. I know some folks are more into the matte dried look now, but what can I say—I love the shine of wet gut.
Speaking of gut, make sure you save some for the instruments! Music is so important to me and my intended. We went back and forth for weeks about what we wanted playing when we mounted the altar, and just couldn’t make up our minds. Fortunately my sister had the brilliant idea of asking her husband’s mother’s handmaid to do a tonal invocation as we walk down the aisle together, and we knew right away that that would be just perfect. Just the idea of her yips and barks echoing up the stone walls gives me goosebumps!
7 months out: Tend to your pearly whites
Dental hygiene gets so much attention in the flensing industry, it’s practically a punchline. I won’t rehash everything you’ve already read on the internet, because odds are you know what to do!
I’ll only suggest that you start your enhanced filing routine a few months before the three month timeline most flensing blogs recommend… and why? Because it can take some time to get used to the new notches and points in your teeth, and the occasional self-inflicted wound is unfortunately part of the process. You don’t want your lips all puffy and scabbed in your flensing photos, so get filed and start practicing early.
(And remember: when you’re caring for your mouth, use plenty of lye!)
6 months out: Start your flensing fitness routine
This is where I am! I just started my 180-day bridal bootcamp and babes, I am beat. But it’s worth it! I want to be in the best physical condition of my life for my feast of one flesh. The more muscle fiber in every bite, the happier my FH will be.
And so will I! Everyone knows that a buff bride is a bride ready to deal with any little unexpected moments that might arise during the ceremony. Can you imagine if my FH slipped in the wet and I wasn’t able to help him up? I remember hearing about a flensing that was disrupted entirely by anti-flesh heathens, and it would just be such a shame if my big day arrived and I wasn’t able to defend our traditions with the strength of my own body.
Now I just need to do (checks notes) 250 workouts in the next 179 days. Well, it’s good for stress relief, or so I keep telling myself.
4 months out: Accessories!
This one is pure fun! While your gown is out for alterations is the perfect time to start looking for accessories. These little personal touches can really help you blend the timelessness of tradition with your own personality.
I’ll be wearing an ash caul that my grandmother wore for her own flensing. This is such a meaningful item for me, as we lost my grandmother last year in the Great Suppuration. My mom and I both shed a tear over this one!
That’s a nod to tradition, and to my own family roots, but I decided to have some fun with the shoes: I’ll be wearing my sister’s militia boots under my gown! The boots are comfortable, they’re flats so I won’t sink into the grass when I’m outside, and they’ve got great treads for when the floor gets wet and slippery. Cute idea, right?
I imagine my grandmother’s love settling over me in her caul, and my sister’s support as a sturdy foundation on my big day, and my heart just swells with pride. This is what I’m talking about when I say your flensing can be fun and personal while still respecting our people’s rich cultural heritage.
3 months out: Consecrate the gown
This is a controversial one! I know lots of dressmakers will just do it for you nowadays, but this is one of those traditions I just couldn’t skip. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of my mother and sisters standing together around me, red to the elbow and singing our family song as they rub their blessings into the cloak and hem. I love making my family smile; they have such beautiful teeth. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it!
Make sure your alterations are all done before the consecration! No one wants to have to find eighteen more black corvids if you end up needing to let the gown out, am I right?
2 months out: Cut out nasty treats
We’re getting down to the wire now! We’re less than two full moons out from the feast of one flesh, and it’s time to start really cleansing your body of impurities so you go to the altar with as much clarity of muscle and spirit as you can. If you’ve been having the celebratory glass of wine or sangfroid, it’s time to cut that out. Goodbye, desserts and coffee! Simplify now and you’ll really earn the flensing of your dreams.
As much as possible, try to tailor your diet to flavors and ingredients you know will thrill your intended on your big day. Personally, I’ll be gearing toward lots of fresh plants, because my FH is a vegetarian (mostly…). I want a really low-collagen, high-umami mouthfeel, so I’ll be downing acorns, mushrooms, roughage, and smut. Gotta get those omega-3s!
This part of preparation can be a challenge for a lot of us, but remember your goals! I don’t know about you, but when I imagine the look of transcendent happiness on my intended’s face as he takes the first bite, it makes all these little sacrifices worth it.
1 month out: Savor every morsel
The lunation cycle of your flensing is going to be a magical time! From putting the last-minute touches on decor to locking in your feast playlist to getting those guideline tattoos so you and your intended know just where to cut, it’ll all go by in a haze.
That’s why it’s so important to really stop and appreciate the moments when you can. Practice whatever calming rituals help you focus. For me, it’s box breathing, getting plenty of sleep, and ululating, but for you it might be guided meditation, livestock harvests, and yoga.
When the feast of one flesh arrives, I guarantee all these months of preparation will feel so worth it. You’ll be light as a cloud, strong as a mountain, and hungry for matrimony. Whatever little speedbumps you hit on the way here will simply be distant memories. Not much else seems important when you remember that you’re participating in a tradition that has kept our culture united for thousands of years.
Like the song says: the greatest thing we’ll ever learn is just to feed, and be fed in return.
I wish you a stress-free and delicious flensing.
Sarah Day lives in the SF Bay Area with her cat and far too many LED lights. Her work has appeared in PseudoPod, Underland Arcana, The Future Fire, and other fine places. Her debut dark fantasy novella GREYHOWLER is available digitally and for print pre-order and will be released January 2024 from Underland Press! Get in touch at sarahday.org.