A Pre-Wedding Ode

I learned a lot about the people in my life following my stroke and open heart surgery. You tend to quickly recognize who your true friends are and who are those people who are not so sure if they have the moral fiber to truly be there as you go throw a pretty life-changing experience.  Not to make light of it, but I think that the same is true of weddings.

I have heard  that weddings can bring out the worst in people.  True.  I have witnessed this first hand, but more often than not, it is at other people's wedding.  I am lucky enough to say that for the most part I have not witnessed this behavior, unless you want to include irrational rants and raves from the bride-to-be about scheduling, planning, and those tiny little details that one feels the desire to go over time and time and time again.  So, aside from that I have been - for the most part - lucky.  Lucky to the point that I have realized more and more every day how incredible the people are in my life.  We have an amazing group of friends and family, people with whom we have laughed and cried; people who we have yelled at, and they have yelled right back.  People who are wise enough to tell us when we are being foolish, and people who are innocent enough to think that aside from all of our faults we are super heros.

Between now and the day, we are allowed to behave like fools and feel like we have superhero powers. Because in my heart, we do have those powers.  We can, and will, do anything.


It is in the bag...

There are those moments, and they seem to occur at the most inopportune times.  The middle of the night, the middle of a meeting, or when I am teaching a fitness class.  I start to think about the guest list.  Do we have everyone counted?  Did everyone really receive an invitation?  What about the people who never RSVPd?  Did they actually even receive their invitation?  And those gift bags... the ones that we are going to leave in the hotel rooms.  What about those?  They have to be just right, and that is why the UPS truck has been making daily stops at our apartment.  No, not with wedding gifts but with box upon box of items that will go into the bags for the guests.  I probably wrote down the items to be placed in the gift bags at least 15 times, with little (if any) variation each time.  And truth be told, I am sure that I will do it again!

So after a ton of feedback from friends and family I compiled the list for the gift bags and the candy bar...

What, you ask, what do I plan on actually putting into those gift bags???  Well, I want something that I would want in a gift bag.  What would I want to see if I opened up a bag after a flight across the country to a wedding???

I would probably want to have some kind of energy bar in case I did not have time to eat...


Since I love to run, I would want to have a map of the Charles River so that I knew how far I was going...

(Image from Marathon Sports)

I would probably want something to munch on after that run...

(Image from gotribe.com)

and would of course need to be hydrated!

(Image from from Nestle Waters) 

And because I would be in town for a wedding, I would need to make sure I was staying awake at all times!

And of course... there are those simple little extras...


But these are just some ideas that have been written down dozens of times on endless pieces of paper.  I still have 3 wks to deepen my relationship with Mr. UPS!   

The Runaway Guests

I carried the box with a slight sense of trepidation.  I knew that something might go wrong.  The invitations have been carefully resting in the Cranes box for several days now - stamped, stuffed, and ready to go, and all the while I have been waiting for the perfect moment to send them out to our guests.  They were going to fly off to exotic locations like Pasadena, London, Granada, and the Canary Islands.  Lucky little invites...

I questioned whether I should put them in the blue post box at the end of the street or be a bit more official about it and walk into an actual post office and mail them there.  I double checked each an every invitation for the proper postage, I had already placed a hidden number on the response card that would correspond to a huge spreadsheet that I created on the off chance someone decided to RSVP without indicating their name.  The labels were measured - yes MEASURED to the 3/8 of an inch- on each and every envelope.  All of the details that needed to be taken care off were checked off of that grand wedding list that people everywhere use.  And with all of that behind us, I felt confident, although a bit nervous, that all 69 of the invitations could finally go into the mail and make their trip.  And that is when it happened.

I walked down my street, the invitations safely tucked away in a box, the box neatly placed in a bag, and there were 3 buses slowly making their way down Washington Street.  I could have taken any one of the three buses, and I decided to pick up my pace and reach the bus.  Not more than 6 steps into my attempt to make the bus there was an explosion, a bang, and cream colored Cranes envelopes scattered all over the ground. No...no, no no.  This could not be happening.  Everything just stopped.  I heard some laughing from across the street, and 3 or 4 people just walked right by me as if I did not even exist.  My wedding invitations were strewn around the sidewalk, and no one cared except for me.  Why should they?  The event really mean nothing to them.  I ran back and forth trying to pick up the pieces and pull myself together. Luckily not ALL of the invitations hit the ground, and as I frantically picked these treasures up, and young man cam over and helped me.  I wanted to start sobbing and say "Do you know what these are?  These are my wedding invitations.  You are helping me with my wedding!" But I doubted that it would really matter that much to him at all.  I thanked him profusely for his good deed, and he offered me a smile.  It was a smile that I needed more than anything at that moment, because at that moment it was really the last thing that I could manage to do.  

It was very much a moment from some kind of film that might star Reese Witherspoon or Jennifer Lopez or perhaps Sandra Bullock as the leading lady. Except if it was a movie and if it did happen to them, it would be very different.  You see if it was a movie they would have sat and cried, they would probably NOT be marrying the man they really and truly loved (which is what is happening in my instance) and they would end up falling in love with the man who helped them pick up the invitations.

At the end of it all, I collected myself (and the invitations) and brought the invitations to the post office.  I counted them all one by one.  68.  There were 68 out of 69.  One was missing.  I will make another, I have already requested a new label from our designer, I already know to whom I need to send the missing invitation.  Perhaps they will receive 2 invitations, perhaps only 1.  I hope the runaway guest ends up finding its way to a proper post box and home...


The Heart of the Matter

I suppose we are not really following what "most" people consider tradition.  You see originally we had an idea of renting a house in Spain and inviting about 20 people and getting married there.  However that idea was quickly dismissed and we are now onto an entirely different adventure.  Not better, not worse, just different.  That being said, we are doing our best to incorporate as many elements as we can from our original idea.  We still have a small concept.  Yes, the guest list has grown from 20 to about 120, and the location is national versus international.  But we hope to still capture the intimacy of the original intent.

All of this aside, I find it fascinating that as intimate as a wedding is, everyone has an opinion about how and what should occur in June (and I mean everyone!).  

I was recently asked by an almost stranger about my wedding plans.  When she found out that I was not going to be married in a church, a slight gasp escaped from her lips.  When she heard that there was no wedding party, she seemed utterly confused.  And at the mention of no sit down dinner or wedding favors she simply said, "Well...that is unique."  Yes, thank you, it is unique and rather fabulous.

Everyone has an opinion, and while some are really better left unsaid (although they make for great stories) there are some that I have taken to heart.  These are the opinions from my dearest friends.  Many of them have told me time and again how important it is to do what we want to do.  To not have the wedding that other people want us to have but to have the wedding that we want to have.  I do not want to look around on that day or think about that day in the weeks, months, or years to come with any regrets, and at the rate that we are going I do not think that will be the case.  At the end of the day it is about celebration, love, and our friends and family. (Oh, and it is kind of about the cake too...)  But most importantly, whether the guest list is 2, 20, or 120, it is about the two of us.

Consulting Emily

I promised myself I would not be like one of them... you know those brides that they make TV shows out of?  Those shows that showcase the crazy brides, the ones who chew their gum in public, yell at their mothers, pull hair, trash talk, and well, I am cringing just thinking about the rest of it.  I really and truly promised myself, and other, that would not sink that low.  I went to school in the South, I pledged Kappa Kappa Gamma, I know better than to behave like that.  But sometimes there are instances when there is nothing else to do but scream, yell, and vent.  You might do it alone, by yourself, so that no one know that it actually happened, but you know.  You know what happened.

It all started with the list - the wedding guest list.  This is like the Magna Carta of any wedding.  And as far as I am concerned, this list is the key to the wedding - any wedding in fact.  Everything else will fall into place.  We spent hours getting the perfect list knowing full well that someone somewhere would not be happy.  In life, there is always someone somewhere who is not happy, and there is very little that can be done about those people.  I have spent too much time worrying about and trying to fix those people and for these next months, and years in fact, I am not doing it anymore!

I have been told countless times by friends, colleagues, and strangers to do what I want on my wedding - it is my day.  Perhaps I am taking the advice a little too literally, but I am going for it, and this list is no exception.  We agreed to a simple idea when compiling the list.  Under no circumstances would we say "It is so nice to meet you" on this important day.  We want to make sure that we are surrounded by the most important people in our lives.  It is probably the only time that we are both alive that we will be able to experience this - and so there is no reason that we should not be able to have it our way.  Dramatic?  Perhaps.  But why not?  I have waited a long time for this day, and feel fully entitled to have who I want there on that day. 

So imagine my surprise when I received a call..."Hi. Can M bring her boyfriend to your wedding?"  I am sorry... what?  Did M's save the date card list anyone else's name besides their own? NO.  If M has a question, why would M not ask me?  And further more, ummm...NO.  I quickly opened up my computer and did a search for "Emily Post Wedding Etiquette".  "Do not ask your host or hostess if you can bring a date or your children. " I needed to be thoroughly reassured on my decision making.  Emily backed me up 100%.  Now - for full disclosure... I did ask 1 time if I could bring a guest to a wedding, so I stand guilty as charged.  I broke proper etiquette.  However, before and after that momentary lapse of insanity I accepted all invitations as they came to me: as they were addressed.  Some came with my name and the words & guest... and others just had my name.  In recent years the invitations have come to both me and my current fiance.  I find things much easier if I consult Emily in advance... Now let's see who actually RSVPs!Tallow response
(Image courtesy of Tallow Design Studio)

Flying on Fear Part One

 You know, it really did seem like a good idea at the time.  A great idea in fact.  I like adventures– I mean I did spend a few years working at Club Med, and still day dream about being back there doing the Crazy Signs in front of hundreds of guests every single night.  I SCUBA, I really REALLY want to go cage diving in Cape Town with Great White Sharks, and I even drank the tap water on a regular basis when I lived in Mexico.  So when my good friend Steevy asked me if I would take a Trapeze Class at the Boston Trapeze School with her, I jumped at the idea.  It sounded like a great time, a lot of fun, and a way to burn a few extra calories on a Saturday morning.  When I told her that I would do it, she seemed genuinely surprised.  “Seriously, you will really do it?  Are you just humoring me?”  I reassured her that I was not humoring fun of her, that I would in fact do it, and that we would sign up for February 13, 2010.  Done.

The weeks passed, and I told a few people what I would be up to mid- February.  If Carrie Bradshaw flew on the trapeze with the same group in a “Sex and the City” episode, I could do it too…  When I told my nephews, they thought it sounded pretty cool, and remarked that perhaps I could climb a tree as fast as they could follow my lesson.  My mother was less enthusiastic and told me that defying gravity was one of the stupidest things that I could be doing especially following a stroke and open-heart surgery.

Well, stupid or not, we made our reservation, and really there was no turning back.  The location was a bit odd.  The Boston Trapeze School is not located underneath a big top, but instead inside a furniture store - Jordan's Furniture Store.  Now I am not sure if you have ever been to Jordan's Furniture, but it is not your typical furniture store.  This is not Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn.  No.  This particular place was like Wally World meets Willy Wonka on a few hits of LSD.  That was what Steevy and I walked into on February 13. 

When we walked into the furniture store we were greeted by the blaring sounds of music, the smell of sugar and waffle cones from the ice cream and Jelly Belly stores that were nestled right near the trapeze school, and blinding multi-colored psychedelic lights of a waterfall lightshow that was located behind the giant trapeze net.  I thought that this was a furniture store?  Yeah, and an IMAX movie theater, and a restaurant, and a Jelly Belly store, and a trapeze school. Oh, and it kind of looked like the first scene of the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy landed in Oz on top of the Wicked Witch.  It was that scary too…

After checking in with our waiver forms, lining up, and getting harness belts cinched so tightly around our waists that Steevy almost had a panic attack (she said it reminded her of her wedding dress) we were given a brief overview of what to expect.  One of our instructors (let's call him John) pointed to the platform that towered 4 stories above us and explained where to stand and where to not stand.  He pointed out that when we climbed up the stairs to the top, we were to move towards the edge of the platform, hang our toes over the edge, lean forward, stick our bellies and chest out and stand up straight. Once we had both hands on the bar (and one of the instructors was holding on to our “corset”), we were supposed to jump 6 inches off of the platform at which point another instructor  (we will call her Cindy) would let go of the corset and away we would fly.  As we were flying through the air, at another instructor’s cue (Amy), we were supposed to bring our legs up (and hook them around the bar), take our hands off (and suspend upside down while swinging), then bring our hands back off, kick forwards and backwards and forwards, and dismount with a back flip.  Yes, this was all on the very first try.  Very fitting for day 1 of the 2010 Winter Olympics.  That was it - the whole deal explained in 15 minutes to 10 people.

We were sent over to a row of chairs, and 3 people climbed up to the top at a time.  Each time 1 person came down off of the net, another person would go up.  Since I was 7th on the list, I had some time to think about what I was about to do, and I had time to watch what everyone else did.

As we sat and waited and watched the others fly, it looked so easy:  a grab of the bar, a bend in the knees, and after a little jump there was take off – the flying commenced.  After flying from one side of the net to the other instructions were given: "Bring the knees up."  "Take hands off." "Put your hands on." "Legs down." "Swing your legs forward, backward, forward, and back flip."   Seemed pretty easy, all the while flying through the air suspended by sheer muscle and will (and the safety harness just in case...)  More people flew and the line kept moving up.  And then came my turn.

Dancing, Celebrating, and the Big Day

OK - so it really is not a secret that I am getting married.  And to my closest friends and family it is not a secret that I love to plan.  I have in fact always loved to plan and never been afraid of events or parties.  In fact, when I was quite young, I planned a surprise 20th Wedding Anniversary for my parents.  They, of course, had to pay for the event, but I managed to find the caterer, pick out the perfect guest list and people actually came to the house, my parents where indeed surprised (in a good way) and it worked!

So now I am planning one of the most important events ever, and it is less than 6 months away.  Last fall, when I bought my first 2 Bridal Magazines, I did so with trepidation.  You see, I am rather superstitious.  I have never purchased a bridal magazine before last fall.  I chalked it up to bad luck.  When I placed the magazines down in front of the cashier it was almost as if I was buying pornography or the like.  Don't get me wrong - I have danced my fingers over the pages of such magazines thousands of times before, but never, ever had I actually laid down cold hard cash for the stuff!

So with the magazines - and yes, I only bought 2 because I quickly realized that once you buy 1, there is very little content that differs from one to the next - I started off of my planning adventures.  There is the layout of the event, the colors, and the atmosphere...


(image from www.theknot.com)

A decision to find a color that will coordinate with the theme, the room and the invitations that will pull the whole event together...

(Design by Katharine MacIntyre Navins, Tallow Studio)

The flowers, the music, and the cake... and then there is the decision of the first dance, if dancing is something that you choose to do...

(image from http://www.fortnet.org/tfc/Pictures/tangoOutline.gif)

However, it is all too easy to become caught up in the planning and loose track of how and why you started on this journey in the first place.  In the end, the flowers will not last, the rentals are returned to their rightful owner, and the crumbs of the cake are swept up from the ballroom floor.  These items are all secondary to the celebration.  The celebration of being with the most amazing man in the world, the man who came into my life and quite literally saved it.  The man with whom I will spend the rest of my life dancing and celebrating.


Let them eat cake

It is all about the cake, really it is.  I do not care whether the flowers match the table clothes, and I am relatively indifferent to spring rolls versus coconut shrimp. What really matters to me is the cake.  I can honestly say that I remember just about every cake from every wedding that I have been to.  I know what I like and I know what I don't like... I do not like whipped cream frosting, I do not like fruit fillings, fondant can make or break a cake, and as for buttercreams, well there are so many different kinds out there that you really have to taste them, to let them melt in your mouth and slip down your throat to know if they are the right kind for you.

Boston has no shortage of cake stores, and everyone and anyone is more than willing to offer up their opinion on what you should get and where you should get it.  Whether it is Italian buttercream, Swiss buttercream, or a meringue frosting, people like to tell you what to do.  I quickly learned to give a gentle nod and small smile and say "OK", and then carry on.  People love to give opinions.  Whether they want you to work with Party Favors, The Icing on the Cake, Jenny's Cakes, Montillios, or  Cakes to Remember, you should be able to find something that you like. However, if you are anything like I am, finding the perfect cake is not that easy.  I have become so good at knowing exactly what kind of frosting that I like, that upon seeing the frosting I can tell whether or not it is worth the extra calories, or minutes on the stair master.

Sweet, I like the slightly sweet sugary frosting that does not remind me too much of butter.  It has a simple, uncomplicated flavor, and your fork keeps going back for more, even if you try to resist.  You are unable.  The cake can come in different shapes and sizes.









(all images are from The Knot www.theknot.com)

But in the end it really comes down to taste.  I need the wedding cake to stand out and have that WOW factor for me.  I have had people tell me what I should do for the wedding and people have told me what my guests would probably like regarding the wedding cake flavors.  But this is my cake, not theirs, and in fact, I plan on giving the caterers STRICT orders to wrap up every single last slice, tier, and crumb so that I can carry them all home with me.  I want the flavor of that night and all of its sweetness to last forever.  After all, this is coming from the Queen of Tarts.


Lune de Miel

I love adventure, and I love to plan.  I am in full planning mode as I write down notes of colors, fonts, and frostings for our upcoming weddings.  Aside from the marriage (which is so very much more important than the wedding) I am head over heals excited about the trip.  Honeymoon.  Lune de miel.  Whatever you want to call it.  It will starts in a place called Selous, named after Frederick Courtenay Selous (1851-1917), and yes, he was British and a big game hunter.  Selous Game reserve is in fact the world's largest game reserve and filled with birds, elephants, hippos, lions, wild dogs, and, well, you get the picture?  Right?  No you say?  OK, maybe this will help...

from (http://www.adventurecamps.co.tz/selousinfo.htm)

Yes, there.  Now you know what it is that I am talking about.  Greatness and nothing less.  While on safari, I found out that we will be staying in tents above a hippo pond, which made me wonder if we will see anything like this...


Following the frenzy of the open terrain in Selous, we are heading to the open seas and the Spice Island also know as Zanzibar.  I do not expect that we will have much of an agenda, except maybe a run down the beach,

Ed Vulliamy, The Guardian

a tour of the spices,


and an introduction to some new friends,
Tanzania - Zanzibar - Prison island - Schildpad

Yes, I think that we can rest assured that adventure will come in all shapes and sizes.  And I cannot wait until I can fill pages with my own photos!


Invitations… who knew that there were so many different kinds.  I mean I know about fonts.  I like to play with fonts at work, and one important person where I work even decided that we all had to switch to “hoefler” text as soon as she started her in her position (I now use this font all the time...).  I suppose it was her way of putting her mark on the place.  But as we sat there browsing through one invite after the next my eyes started to glaze over.  I clearly knew what I did not want, but how could I even begin to decide what I wanted?  I started thinking that there was no way in hell that I was going to spend money when it came to invitations.  I could just draw something up, maybe use a little photoshop, throw it in “iPhoto” and be done with the whole thing.  And then I spoke to Christi, and she said that was not going to happen.  She started to talk about the different kinds of paper and embossing and the tissue paper that overlays the invites and the reception cards and the lining of the envelope, etc. etc…  I started to feel a bit ill.  I saw the dollar signs increasing monumentally in my head as she spoke, and as far as tissue went, the only tissue that would be involved in my wedding would be there for people to wipe their eyes – I mean it does look nice on the invites, but I am just not that formal, and Hector is not either.  It was then, at that exact moment that I started to freak out, just a little bit.  I am a planner, I love to plan, but planning an event like this, the ultimate party for myself could be nothing less than extraordinary and I had to be mindful of everyone and everything.

Is it time for the honeymoon yet?