Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cathy & Casey's Wedding

Yesterday I hung out with Lexie & Kim baking. I decided on boston cream cupcakes and Kim made a mix of different candy bar innards for her cupcakes in lieu of pudding. All in all it was a lot of fun and very indulgent. Even Lexie's mom was saying how she was having flashbacks because the last time all three of us were piled together laughing and being silly was like 8 years ago.

A lot changes, but a lot stays the same. Kim and Lexie still lovingly bug one another, I'm still the kindhearted mediator and there's a lot of laughing. Kim and Lexie talk about boys and I calmly listen on and chirp in my two cents where appropriate. I think that's always a good sign of a significant friendship; you can just pick up right where you left off like no time has passed. We caught up on what I missed while I was away; I talked about my honeymoon; Lex about her new job...etc. I think it's a bit of a longshot considering everyone's current economic status but the next time I do a cruise I think it'd be fun to do as a group. It's nice going with my husband of course but we don't share all of our interests so it'd nice for boys to share in physical things like climbing rock walls and playing basketball and then for the girls to sit around the pool and chit chat and shop. I don't know if this will ever be realized but it's a nice idea.

Lex is thinking about throwing a Halloween party. I'm unsure of what I'd like to dress up as but I better get hopping since it's already September. Trevor vetoed my idea already. (I won't share it yet in case he changes his mind.) The problem is that any of the good male counterparts to girl costumes tend to be kind of effeminate princes that wear stockings.

Today, was Cathy & Casey's wedding day. For all of you who are not in the know, Cathy is my childhood friend. She was my first friend in kindergarden in fact. But since she moved to Montana a few years back we've been out of touch. She got engaged in February (I only remember this because it was during her birthday) and it's been a bit hard getting married in Connecticut and living in Montana. I know this mostly because Cathy chose Kim to be her maid of honor and since Kim was also my maid of honor I've been getting a ton of secondhand information.

To be totally diplomatic I'll say that I was not around for any of it because I was on my honeymoon and I was not actually around to see what happened firsthand, but to make a long story short Kim and Cathy had a falling out and Kim (a week before the wedding) got fired from her duties of maid of honor. Of course, that made things a bit...awkward.

Not like I would have ever skipped Cathy's wedding just because she and Kim have beef with one another; that'd be unbelievably petty and stupid. The fact is that regardless of what's been going on behind the scenes and regardless of what people have said in the heat of the moment that Cathy will only have this one day which she marries Casey and I know that if things were reversed that I would be heartbroken if people I loved didn't come to my wedding day.

Having said that, I wish that Kim was there because it simply wasn't the same without her boundless energy, positive attitude and silly humor. I did get to spend time with high school friends I haven't seen in a while though Jeff wasn't there and I had hoped to see him since I had so little time at my own wedding to play catch up.

Cathy got married at the Salvation Army, which apparently has affiliations to the church (the things you learn everyday). Somehow my mind never put together that there would be a full on church with pews and stained glass in a building labeled Salvation Army. It was a short ceremony though; probably about as long as my own brief civil ceremony. I did take pictures but my camera totally freaked out and over half of them were way way too dark or really fuzzy and unfocused. Eh, I'm sure my own guests had the same complaint since my reception hall is pretty dark and cave-like; you can't control all the lighting in the world. Cathy had a very girlie, very fluffy, very...scrunchy dress. I have difficulty finding the words to describe it with any justice but if you happen to be the kind of person who's in the market for a bridal gown you'll know what I mean by "scrunchy." It's quite a popular trend these past years and every bridal salon has them. In particular I recognized the dress from the David's Bridal catalog. It looked beautiful on her; the white dress was a stunning contrast to her creamy dark skin and jet black hair.

She and Casey wrote their vows. I know mostly because I saw them both bust out index cards and if you know Cathy at all you'll know she had some dramatic hand movements to pantomime that she was calming herself down before saying her little piece. The girl talks with her hands.

Other than that the wedding wasn't packed with many surprises. Even though there were some dramatic things going on before with the bridal party it appeared everything still went off without a hitch once it mattered. The reception was local at LaRenaissance, which I appreciated because I only had to drive 10 minutes to get home. I didn't stay the whole time because Trevor and I are still recovering from being sick after the cruise. I felt bad having Trevor stay and blow his nose on cocktail napkins. Plus, the DJ was very bossy. He made people form a conga line, and he made them twist and he forced everyone on the floor for things...it was a little more aggressive than I like. I saw the mother and son dance but even after staying well past 10pm there wasn't a father daughter dance that I saw. Cathy's dad doesn't strike me as a big dancer.

Appetizers were good. Fried stuff, and stuffed mushrooms are pretty hard to mess up. This was my 2nd buffet style wedding. So far I haven't had much luck enjoying it. Seeing the line and knowing I'm at the end of it is a different kind of frustration; plus there are always little blips in the line that cause little traffic jams. I think instead of 2 round tables and a carving station there should have been a less confusing method like a single straight line.

Cake cutting was cute. No champagne for the toasts. Favors were a donation to (you guessed it) The Salvation Army. They had a wishing well type thing for cards. I didn't see any pieces of paper and pens so I don't think they actually wanted wishes to be put in there. The couple didn't want people to clink their glasses to make them kiss they instead wanted people to sing a song with love in it; but no one knew this because you have to tell people for them to be prepared with song. The only reason I know about this is because Tracey told me. And I inadvertently ripped part of my card to Cathy on my dress shoe. I had to change right at work so I had the card and my change of outfit along with shoes in a tote bag and naturally my heel dug a hole into the envelope. lol Just my luck, huh? Trying to be Superwoman and not miss work fresh from taking so much time off for my own wedding, trying to appear put together in a little dress and a splash of makeup and weaving through traffic to make it on time for the ceremony. I suppose if anything had to go wrong, an ugly envelope isn't the end of the world. The gift inside was still good (shrug). By then it was too late to spaz out and try to buy another envelope.

It's hard shopping for someone who lives out of state who didn't register anywhere. I still wish she registered just so I could have something shipped to her in MT. After all the money is spent I think it'll be sad to not have any good gifts to show for your wedding day or shower. (Cathy didn't have a bridal shower either). Other than a few obligatory ugly picture frames and figurines because people just took stabs in the dark about what your personal style is. It's like a rule, someone always gets you something hideous...perhaps to better make you appreciate the good gifts.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oh, Honey Honey...

And we're back....

The honeymoon was beautiful. I'm glad we chose to do a cruise because this time of year is very tricky with hurricanes and we got the benefit of being able to sail around the inclement weather. So unfortunately we didn't get to dock at Puerto Rico, but St. Thomas and St. Maartin were perfectly sunny and a lot of fun.

I highly recommend it if you're tentative about what the weather will bring your way. I would love to go to Europe (and Singapore and Korea...) but the high costs of travel added in with the US Dollar not getting you very far in Euros added up to it being a bad idea. Plus I didn't want to think on my honeymoon. I just wanted to be fed, walk around, get a little sun, relax with my husband and not worry about converting my money or getting lost or not speaking the native language.

I think having never been on a cruise helped too. I'm pretty sure if I had done it before that I may not have found it so novel that they feed you every 10 minutes, or that they announced every single little thing in 5 different languages. I was prepared for eating a lot but was actually quite surprised at how nice the food was.

Not to be a food snob but generally food made on such a large scale (we shared the boat with 4,000 other guests) tends to be bland, generic and generally undesirable but each sit down meal was very nice. Roasted duck, Prime Rib, NY Strip steak, Osso Bucco, Escargot, Salmon...I was surprisingly impressed. Desserts were top notch too, although some felt a bit over gelatinous. Tiramisu shouldn't feel gelatinous...ever. But otherwise it was a great lazy, fattening, time. Even the buffet was quite good. Generally speaking the international foods were a bit...off, but all the foods I'd consider typical American restaurant fare were tasty. And anything that you could classify as crock-pot or pressure cooker type tender foods were good too.

Clearly I ate a lot. I deserve it. I've been eating a lot of cereal, yogurt, cottage cheese and salad for the past few months.

Poor Trevor got sunburned snorkeling. It was so fun though so I almost don't blame him for wanting to stay out in the ocean for hours. (I got out to get dry and reapply sunblock so I didn't get burned at all.) The coral was so beautiful. And although everyone says so the water is crystal clear and warm like a heated pool I guess it's just something you have to experience for yourself to appreciate because I've heard a million times how blue the water is and could hardly grasp it until I saw it for myself. And the fish swimming all around us was so charming. I know that's their habitat and all but I'm so used to the NorthEast and everything being kind of...dead and full of seaweed. I'm not much of a drinker but it's also nice that you can get bar service right on the beach. In particular the beach we went to in St. Maartin had 75cent beers.

But I'm glad to be home. Even though it's nice to have someone clean your stateroom, feed you, and entertain you with random shows and movies it's always good to be home in your own space with your soft non-scratchy towels and to be able to freely check your email. It's 55 cents a minute on the ship to be connected. And although you can use your cell phone mine was roaming the whole time. But it was nice to be totally un-connected. No phone. No internet. No mail. Somehow it's very liberating to not have to listen to how so-and-so didn't like this about the wedding, or how so-and-so was talking about me behind my back and what was being said. Sadly, there is a lot of negativity out there that people feel the need to spread around. Sometimes it's just frustrating to be told about something that I have no control about changing. I'm not an idiot; I don't pretend to live in a world of lollipops and gumdrops but it's really the last thing I want to think about fresh on the heels from getting married and honeymooning.

I suppose that eventually real life will find a way to catch up with you.

My boss was already fast at work getting me a new nameplate. When I came in I was welcomed with clapping and being referred to by my married name. It was really nice to be so warmly received by my team. I had like, 300 emails to look at but other than the usual work related stresses it was nice to be back.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Little Details

I've been ridiculously tentative about sharing any of my wedding planning all year long because

A.) I didn't want to hear anyone say "well, I wouldn't do it like that. If you did ___ it'd be better."
Even if you're right I didn't/I don't want to hear it. You can say I'm hardheaded but the fact is that for my wedding day I wanted to do what I wanted to do how I wanted to do it and hearing otherwise from people just filled my head with anxiety. Because I do have a bit of wishy washy-ness inside me and the last thing I want is to be tormented with more options. I have a hard enough time trying to pick out an entree at dinner time and that's a pretty inconsequential decision.
B.) I don't like the idea of someone snagging my ideas before I use them. Once I've used them you can feel free to give me credit for inspiring you, but I'd be ridiculous kinds of upset if someone outright stole an idea from me under my feet.

And it's not even that I think of myself as all that possessive, but I guess once it's yours you become very protective and almost like another person all together when it comes to your wedding. It's like your little pet, or your baby and the tiniest things will find a way to set you off that normally wouldn't. I didn't want to knowingly set myself up to become a bridezilla when the simple act of keeping my mouth shut would prevent it.

Flowers:
I did my own bouquets for all the girls. Daisies for the boys. Small hand bouquets for the mothers. Very easy if you pick a sturdy flower. Daisies were super sturdy and could take a bit of abuse... Roses were a bit more finicky but I think if you ordered yours a day before that they'd be fine; less pruning necessary. Just stock up with floral supplies and get your bridesmaids to give you a hand that morning and you'll be good. I have no clue about any other flowers since I am not a professional florist but I'm sure you could look it up. I'm allergic to pollen so I tend to stay away from flora.

I chose a monochromatic floral arrangement because I actually like it like that. Plus I have an usual disgust for baby's breath. I associate them with old ladies and cobwebs...I don't really know why. It's entirely random and weird. I think too much bouquet just ends up taking away from you as the bride anyway and you want your bouquet to enhance your appearance, not steal your thunder. It's nice to have an over the top floral arrangement on a table but not in your hands. Not when you want people to look at you being stunning in your amazing wedding gown. I half considered no bouquet at all but since I had a very simple dress I thought it'd be too plain. There's a thin line between classically elegant and plain and boring.

Favors:
I chose, somewhat in the final hour, to hand dip pretzels. I know...I'm crazy. But I thought it'd be cute and I've been on a baking sabbatical since the wedding has edged closer so I really did enjoy spending some time in the kitchen dipping each of those little guys. Perhaps I would have selected slightly larger pretzels just so I wouldn't have to do like...400 of them. It was a good idea before I realized that I had to individual dip each one, shake off the excess, let it dry and then keep it contained in a cool place to avoid melting. I printed out the little labels. I cut the ribbons to equal sizes to tie up the little bundles to place inside the tiny cordial glasses. The Chinese take out boxes were a more practical decision because I figure they could actually be used as doggie bags for overfull guests but also a nice nod to some Asian roots. I tried to throw in a few Asian inspired things where I could without seeming too cliche. No giant dragons or incomprehendible Chinese symbols.

Centerpieces:
Giant martini glasses full of...fluff. They're like the filler people use in Easter baskets. I'll say it was a really hard project trying to find that stuff during any time of the year other than Easter because it so rarely has any purpose. We had glo sticks in there to make it all glo but with the lighting the the room shape it was hard to see. In any case people seemed to take a shine to them because they were all scooped up by the end of the night...though I'm sure I still have some bumping around my parents' garage because we had SO many.

Drink Menus:
I just thought it'd be nice. It wasn't a ton of hard work, but we just picked 4 drinks to correspond with Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, and Something Blue, I printed them and got some frames to display them in. I am a notoriously bad drink chooser so having a menu is always helpful to me in order to make up my mind.

String Quartet:
We actually stumbled on this idea after watching "The Wedding Singer." During the movie, just before Adam Sandler got stood up at the altar they had a shot of the strings playing "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey. After I mentioned it Trevor seemed to want to run with it. After a few false starts with flakey sting groups we did eventually end up with one willing to do popular music in lieu of the standard classical stuff. Not like it was perfect, but I think that it was yet another personal touch that made our wedding feel more...organic. I had gone back and forth about it though because the cost was higher than say, a CD and I felt bad spending the money. But being able to walk in to a strings version of "Isn't she Lovely" and having the recessional to "Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve were great and they're things that we'll remember many, many years from now.

Reception hall:
I've known of Mill on The River for a long time, but after going to a few other halls further away realized that they were all ridiculously expensive for what they were offering us in services. As a small example, the MoTR included chair covers in the wedding package we picked so we wouldn't have to dish out an additional fee and they included the cake, wine service and a load of appetizers. Sadly, a lot of halls don't include anything other than the meal and you have to dish out more for all the other pieces...which I personally feel are nice. I know you don't need to have all the frills to be married and happy but it's nice to have an extra foody-full event. Blame it on my mother; she always stuffs everyone so full at all our family events that you want to keel over and die. I tend to believe that's normal behavior for any celebratory event in your life. If you aren't stuffed so full your sides hurt then you aren't really celebrating.

I know a lot of modern hip Bridal magazines will say you can cut your budget by doing just h'ors d'oevres and cake but my family would have a riot outside in the street if I attempted doing anything like that. They don't care so much about open bar, but just as a personal preference Trevor & I decided that we wanted one. I think everyone enjoys it a lot more when they don't have to dole out MORE money at a wedding after digging in and buying gifts, buying a new dress, getting their hair done and hotels. It is expensive being a wedding guest (if you're doing it right, that is, ha!).

Invitations:
They were all do-it-yourselves. All the paper and envelopes were purchased at our local craft store and my dear father and I bickered over the style and color inks to use for a few weeks. All in all they came out well even though half of them were pink and half of them were green but I figure I had the girls in green dresses with pink flowers so it all worked out to be consistent. I really like the combination of a light, celery like green with a fresh bright pink.

If you have more than 100 guests then it will probably be best to have a pro do it, but you should still remember that someone's got to put your guests' address on them. So either you do it or you hire a calligrapher. Or if you have a few bridesmaids with good penmanship you get them working on it.

Save the Dates:
We did magnets with our picture on them. You can go through a wedding specific site, but I am very anti-wedding specific vendors. I think they tend to spike up their prices for no other reason than that they know they can and someone will buy them because it's convenient. We used vistaprint.com. (They tend to promote their "free stuff" quite often but of course you pay for shipping and magnets aren't part of their freebie catalog.) It wasn't the greatest save-the-date I've ever seen in my life but it did it's job. I didn't even really want to do save-the-dates because I figure they were just added hassle, postage, address rummaging work to deal with.

I'm sure I'm forgetting tons of stuff, but I think all the personal touches and well thought out ideas really helped to make our wedding very personal and very...us. And although doing things myself was a bit stressful I don't know if I would have changed anything about it because those are the things people notice and those are the things that make it our wedding as opposed to any other couple's wedding. I haven't personally hit that point yet, but I know that a lot of guests at our wedding were guests at half a dozen or more other weddings this summer. And although it's great when it's your wedding I'm sure it's quite grating as a wedding guest to see the same stuff over and over again. The same entrees. The same favors. The same cakes. The same readings during mass...etc.

For the most part I think our guests had fun and it manifested itself in their outpouring of gifts. I'm amazed at the incredible generosity of some people. I'm also surprised at a few stingy folks, but the generosity way outweighed the freeloaders. And it's not even about getting stuff...it's about showing your love. It's about showing how much either I, Trevor or both of us mean to you. It's not as though this was a huge surprise that we got married and you had to rush out at the last minute to grab up whatever was left on the registry. In particular I have a few guests I'd like to hunt down and start trying to secretly shove $100s back into their pockets but suffice it to say that I will return the favor and then some with time. Everything is cyclical. Selfishness creates more selfishness. Generosity creates more generosity. And the weird thing about generosity is that it's exponential.

One single kind act can create a dozen acts of kindness.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Our Wedding

Now that some of the chaos of the past few days has simmered down I guess the best thing to do is give you my brides-eye view of the events.

Wednesday was flowers. Oh, the flowers. lol In case you didn't know or have forgotten I decided to do the flowers for my own wedding. Bouquets and boutineers..nothing crazy fancy like giant topiary displays shaped like cherubs. Just the basics. I was up to my ears in pink roses and pink daisies but they were so beautiful. I'm really happy how they all came out and they looked really stunning against the green bridesmaids dresses.

On Thursday we closed on our home. We also picked up our marriage license and were generally a little crazy. I think Devin was at least 5 times more excited about the whole house thing than we were. It was also my last full day at work and I was insane running around updating people on what's been going on with my plans. I later finished up working on all my place cards.

Friday was all errands. This happens regardless of how well you plan things. You always end up still running errands anyway. I picked up my wedding gown. I steamed out some wrinkles out of my things. I packed up some of our favors and supplies for Mill on The River. I also received a handful of gift cards. (By the way, a big thank you to Samy, my dad, and co-workers for all my gift cards.) So I wanted to run by the mall and buy a few things for the wedding. I also chatted up my hair person since she was in and she's so nice. I think she took my nervous, overly planned out bride thing very well.

Saturday people started rolling in. My uncles and aunts started coming from all parts so I had to come visit and eat. We also had the rehearsal dinner so we again had to welcome people, eat, drink and chat. It was a really long day of that and when we got home I eventually tried to start working on bouquets but only got 2 deep before Trevor said I should go to bed because it was 1 am. Even the busiest bride has to make time for beauty sleep.

Sunday of course was the big day. I was up first and started working on the rest of the flowers. By now many of them had over-bloomed so I was trying to pick the best of the bunch for the bouquets. People were apparently very worried about the flowers; Trevor's mom made Dino drive out just to give me these little water things for them. My whole original thought was they were going to die anyway but they did look very lovely in all the pictures so I suppose in the end things all worked out.

Kim picked up the rental and dropped by my mom's to get some borrowed jewelry. Mom made her bring food, so naturally my plans to get bagels ended up falling by the wayside in favor of mom-made food. (Always pick home made mom-foods over store made bagels.)

Emily came, and then Trevor picked up Suong. I had them help me with the finishing ribbon touchs on the bouquets. We did a little makeup, I painted my nails and then off we ran to the salon. Since we were there and my stylist brought it up she said we should run over to Macy's to get our makeup done. In fact, each of the different makeup counters did our faces...for free but we had to wait it out for Kim to get her final touches since her makeup lady went to town. It was a very good morning apart from the fact that we were running late and in our haste forgot a few things. lol I did however get out of the mall, into my dress and out the door so I suppose everything worked out okay.

Trevor had originally told me earlier that day to aim for coming around 2pm since the ceremony was scheduled to starte at 2:30. I promptly explained that in spite of my best efforts that I would probably be late anyway...and I was. I was rolling in at like 2:45. But everyone was there other than me, on time and we got rolling shortly thereafter. The weather was perfect. You couldn't have asked for a sunnier, prettier day.

It's kind of blur from there on out. I know everyone says that, but it's true. It felt like time went on fast forward. I walked down the aisle to "Isn't she lovely" by Stevie Wonder on the strings. (We had a string quartet if I had forgotten to mention that earlier.) I choked through my vows, Trevor was cool...no tears of any kind; although later he explained he was thinking about other things in an attempt to dissuade his eyes from watering. Emily's dad Jack did a pretty good job with the vows and I left happy things went so well. We receeded to "Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve, also on strings.

Receiving line. Pictures. Reception. The reception went over well too. It seemed the raw bar and passed foods went over very well among all of our guests. All that fuss over entrees was quickly forgotten by the time the entrees actually came because I'm sure everyone was pretty stuffed on shrimp, oysters, sushi, beef wellington, and tempura shrimp...among a long list of things. I said if I were to do it, I'd want to do it with style. The lamb was spectacular, and the duck was also really good. The salmon wasn't bad either, but in comparison the lamb blew all the rest of the entrees out of the water. The cake was unbelievable too. I loved each of the flavors. Unfortunately we accidentally left our cake in the car so when we found it later it had become a melted blob we had to throw away. :( But anyway, apart from my family not seemingly wanting to dance at all I think everyone else had a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, a few tears...so all in all a complete wedding.

And I'm really surprised that all the centerpieces were GONE at the end of the night. I was so nervous I'd have to take home a dozen gigantic novelty martini glasses with me but apparently giant martini glasses fit within the decorating style of a number of my guests because the place was cleared of them all.

The favor seemed to go over well too. I'm happy all my chocolate dipping came to a good end and Trevor could stop being so nervous about the darned things melting. The only thing that didn't seem to work right was that no one signed the guest book. But let's be honest, that's a pretty small detail in the grand scheme of things. The Emery's even brought Chowder for a little bit so he could be there for our wedding day so it really felt like a family affair.

There was a lot of love that day. My pink Vietnamese Ao Dai seemed to go over well, particularly among Trevor's family. They seemed to really dig the Asian inspired touches to our day. I didn't hear too much out of my own family...I think they were probably reeling from all the cocktail shrimp. Overall I think they had fun considering that they felt a bit out of their element.