Challengers

When S and I were planning our wedding, we couldn’t decide on a first dance. We didn’t have a song that represented us, or signified a special moment or memory (well, we did have some, but they weren’t exactly slow songs). So, the music lover he is, S made me a mix CD of songs he thought would work, and I chose from them.

One of the songs was “Challengers” by The New Pornographers. He chose it specifically because of the following line:

“Whatever the mess you are, you’re mine, okay.”

This line was for me. I’m kind of a mess sometimes. Apparently I look really fine on the outside, but believe me, balancing a job and writing and, well, life, has its moments. I get frazzled. I talk to myself. I obsess over the smallest insignificant things. I’m moody. And I daydream constantly.

But here’s the thing – I’ve come to realize that this mess I am is perfect for writing. These things I daydream become scenes. These moments I obsess over become scenarios (loosely). These conversations I have in my head become dialogue. I’ve learned to channel my craziness into something. Granted, I’m still a mess often. I still forget to do the dishes. I still have random mood swings. But most of the idiosyncrasies S has become accustomed to I’ve learned to deal with.

Because in my head there are voices and there are characters just dying to come out. So I put my fingers on the keyboard and write them. I let their stories flow in ways they want. And sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t, and sometimes I Just end up with rubbish. But I guess, at least in the case of TNWSY, sometimes they become characters other people want to read about, too. My mess became something real and tangible. And the coolest, weirdest, most exciting thing is that one day you’ll get to meet these characters, too. They’ll be real to you, too.

We didn’t end up going with “Challengers;” despite the line, it just wasn’t right. We, instead, used R.E.M.’s “At My Most Beautiful” which really is quite beautiful and perfect for us. But it’s not that moment – that first dance – that I think best showcases our marriage. It’s every day. It’s him accepting me for the mess I am. Like the song says, it’s finding ways to make one another smile. Even at our worst. Even at our best.

One Year Anniversary

So, September 24th was my one year anniversary of being married to S. I started writing little posts leading up to the date, and that allowed me to reminisce a bit. (And I LOVE to reminisce.) But, go figure, on the actual day I didn’t write a thing. Not one single post.

I guess I was too busy being happy.

Anyway, we survived a year, and that’s excellent. Here’s to another year, and another anniversary post that’ll be a few days late.

(I’m bad at embedding videos, so if you’re interested, here’s a link to our wedding highlight reel.)

Tales from our Wedding: The Running of the Spanx

Elevator ride, post spanx. The lovely groomsman on the left was my helper. This is also one of my favorite photos from the wedding.

I hate spanx. I do. But apparently they’re great when you’re wearing a tight outfit. Or, in my case, a wedding dress. So I wore them while getting ready. I wore them to the ceremony. I wore them throughout the photos. And I wore them while in the dressing room with the bridal party, feasting on some of the cocktail hour foods.

They were uncomfortable for 99% of the time.

While walking to the main reception room for our entrance, I realized I had enough.

“I can’t wear them anymore. I want to eat. I want to breath.”

S offered to run them back, but there wasn’t enough time and I wanted him with me. So one groomsman, one brave, kind groomsman, piped up:

“I’ll run them back!”

I looked at S and nodded my head. I ran to the bathroom, which was nearby, stripped them off, and gave them to him. He ran – literally ran – back to the dressing room and made it to the reception hall in time for his entrance.

I’m sure when prepping for the wedding, he never thought he’d be running the bride’s under garments around the science center. I’m sure that was never part of his plan. Still, he’ll always be known as my spanx runner. And I’ll always be eternally grateful for that.

Tales from our wedding: The father/daughter dance of doom

Father/Daughter Dance

Our one-year wedding anniversary is coming up in a month. Crazy how fast time goes by. To celebrate, I wanted to share some little-known stories from our wedding. Stories that most of the guests don’t even know. Stories that, to me, are just as memorable as the I dos.

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It’s not surprising to anyone that I was a huge reader growing up. My happy place was at the library. And while I was a regular, cheery, well-adjusted child, I loved sad books. Seriously. I remembering reading A Summer to Die in our kitchen, and silently crying through each page. I loved books that made me feel, even if that feeling was sorrow. 

Being Jewish, I obviously had to go through my Holocaust stage. I wanted to know more about my culture’s past, and see how much we suffered (as I was constantly reminded). Holocaust books were fascinating to me. Depressing, terrifying, I couldn’t believe they were true. So, of course, I had to share them with someone. 

Every time I read a new book, I’d tell my dad all about it. It became a game, really. I’d start talking, and he’d audibly sigh not because he hated hearing me share, but because he hated sad books. He hated being depressed. He hated when I told him if the girl/boy survived, and what became of their families. Unlike me, he didn’t want books that made him feel. He wanted books that were a distraction from everyday horrors, and I understood that, too.

The thing is, my dad is a very emotional man. You wouldn’t know that if you didn’t really know him. I mean, he’s very Italian, and born and raised in Brooklyn. He can fix a roof in an afternoon, and lift hundred-pound boxes up fights of stairs. He watches football and drinks beer, he golfs. But he was also the first to get teary eyed when I moved away to college. He was the first to sob when my mom was okay after her operation. Incidentally, he gets it from his dad.

As the Big Day drew nearer, we placed bets on how long it would be before he cried. While walking out? During the I dos? In all honesty, I don’t know if it happened during the ceremony. To this day he swears he didn’t cry, and I have no proof to justify otherwise.

But then the father/daughter dance came. And we all knew he’d lose it during that. All waited for it. He looked a little misty when we walked out, but as we turned, he murmured…

“Remember those books you used to read? About the girl who was running from the Nazis…”

To which I replied, “Dad. Are  you talking about the Holocaust at my wedding?”

And then we cracked up. Because of course he brought that up. He didn’t want to cry, so he brought up books I read. Depressing books, but still a distraction from the tears that might have come. He knew it would be funny. He knew I’d have a laugh.

And I did.

Some girls might have hated that their dad brought up such a horrible situation during such a memorable moment. But me? I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

M.A.S.H.

The other night while discussing the game M.A.S.H. with a friend (something we talk about regularly, of course), I had a strange realization. You know how in the game you choose different cars, jobs, husbands, honeymoons, etc? I thought: “Oh, my future honeymoon will totally be in Italy.”*

Which is kind weird to think considering…I already had my honeymoon.

You guys…i’m married.

It’s not like this is new information, of course. I’ve been married since September. We had a honeymoon in September. I’ve had quite some time to process this  new development. But sometimes it’s weird to think that this big, huge, momentous occasion I’ve, to some degree, thought of my entire life…has already happened.

Not that I’m in any way sad about it, or wanting to re-do it (believe me, I’m not). I loved our wedding. I loved our honeymoon. (Heck, I even love my husband.) It’s just weird to not have that on the horizon anymore.

I later told S that I forgot we were married, and he gave me his normal response of “well, it was just a practice wedding.” And then I shoved him off the bed because honestly, one wedding is enough.

*We did in fact go to Italy for our honeymoon!

Getting Ready

Jetta knew the occassion called for his bow-tie.

(I realize how ridiculously long this is taking to update. I’ve been married over a month and I’m still writing about it. This is what has become of my blog writing prowess. Sigh.)

I woke up Saturday around 5:30 a.m., because that’s perfectly reasonable and normal. My friends got up a few hours later, and we spent the morning eating bagels and discussing the awesomeness of Neil Patrick Harris and the Kia dancing hamsters. (Seriously – Kia – best advertising move ever.) The rest of the bridesmaids came in around 10:30 a.m. Due to a lack of money, we didn’t hire a hairdresser to come in, instead my friend Jess stopped by. She’s a genius when it comes to hair, so she, along with my matron of honor, helped all the girls. Of course, they looked absolutely lovely.I actually liked how that turned out better because we were already so comfortable with one another, it’s weird adding a stranger into the mix.

Around noon I left to get my hair and makeup done, which was a…process. Megan, my matron of honor, and my mom came with me. You must understand one thing – my mom’s a talker. A complainer. And opinionated person. The girl doing my hair knew to only listen to Megan when taking critiques. It’s not that my mom’s bad, she just cares so much about how things look, that she sometimes forgets feelings. Anu, Samir’s sister, and my cousin met us there, as they were arriving later. Both were impressed with the amount my mom and I could lovingly fight.

Around 3:30 we got back to my parents’ house. The photographer was there. (We hired a friend who’s also a phenomenal photographer. You’ll see.) The girls looked stunning, which calmed me down. (I’d explain more about how I was feeling at this time, but I really wasn’t feeling much. I was like a zombie, going through the motions of the day. I was excited, definitely, but I just wanted to get to the science center. I wanted to get to the moment. So, I mechanically flew through the rest of the day.)

Bridesmaids! (Also pictured: iPhones!)

I put on my dress, and there was the moment of aww and ahh and wow and yay. I’d tried on the dress so many times prior, but it wasn’t until then that I actually felt like a bride. With the shoes and the jewelry and the hair. (Fun fact: The shoes were from the sale section of Macys, the earrings were purchased with a coupon from Macys, and the bracelet was a Lauren Conrad design from Kohls. I know how to shop!) It was an amazing feeling, truly.

My dad didn’t cry, but he got a bit red. We took some pictures with Jetta (of course) and then left. It was – crazy.

When we got to the science center, people were still leaving. (It closes at 5, when we got there; the wedding wasn’t until 6). We got a few glances, of course. A few congratulations. But my favorite was, “oh, what’s going on?” me: “Um, i’m getting married.” “oh, that’s nice.” Thanks?

The first person I saw inside was…Joe, a good high school/college friend, as well as our videographer. I saw moments before his wedding ceremony, so it was only right for him to see me. Good luck, I suppose. He was there early, checking out the venue. We went upstairs to our room and just…relaxed for a few minutes. But we didn’t relax. We were jittery, excited. Our energy was so palpable that a champagne bottle magically opened on it’s own.

I’m  not kidding.

We drank it anyway, out of paper cups, using twisty straws so our makeup wasn’t ruined. It was adorable. My cousin, who was doing a reading, joined us, as well as the photographer. We got some group and individual photos and waited waited waited.

It reminded me of the moments prior to performing, be in circus or theatre. When you’re in the wing, waiting to go on. Hearth thumping. Palms sweating. Inevitably having to use the restroom. Deep breaths. I live for that moment.

Finally, we left. We went through the reception area first, so I could see it. And it was…amazing. I mean, amazing. Everything came together perfectly. I almost cried seeing the table settings. I know, not that important, but after a year of planning and decisions and revisions, seeing everything together, finished and perfect, made me so happy.

The ceremony was on a balcony on the fourth floor. The balcony overlooks the Orlando skyline (which I love). As I watched my bridesmaids leave me one by one, I stood with my parents, knowing that the next few steps would be some of the most memorable of my life.

All photos by Catherine White.

Rehearsal Dinner

Samir and I in our finest.

That Friday morning, I woke up early, eager for the day to start. A friend from London stayed overnight, as his hotel wouldn’t be ready until that day. Since it was his first time in Florida, we made him a big ol’ Southern breakfast, with eggs and bacon and biscuits and gravy. It was delicious, and really, a great way to start a very crazy weekend.

I went to get my nails done with Sarah, another lovely bridesmaid. (I needed to get them done as close to the wedding as possible, to lessen the inevitable chances of me ruining them.) We then grabbed another Florida staple for Tom and Samir – Jimmy Johns. Delicious.

After lunch, we strolled up to my florist’s shop to drop off the final payment. While I should have done it earlier, and was slightly frustrated with myself for forgetting, it was actually a blessing. He was in the process of creating our bouquets and centerpieces, so we all got to see an sneak preview. I’d never been so happy to see flowers. The centerpieces were perfect, and the bouquets gorgeous.

My original directions to him were: “I wanted everything to look Autumny, so oranges, reds, and yellows. Also, make it cheap, but not cheap looking. Also, it better be pretty.” Somehow, our florist translated my ramblings. The central flower was a circus rose (get it?) – a yellow rose that, when in bloom, has red tips. Perfect, no? Then, he mixed in carnations (because, despite their bad reputation, I love them), mini calla lillies, and a few other flowers. I was so happy.

At that moment, I experienced the amazing feeling of knowing everything was done. If a task wasn’t complete, it wasn’t going to be in the end. I didn’t have anything else to do. The wedding was on.

The family

We got ready for the rehearsal dinner (with Samir and Tom both giving me honest opinions on my wardrobe, makeup, and hair), and then stopped by the Science Center for the rehearsal.

It was an amazing feeling seeing everyone together at last. Every bridesmaid, groomsman. The officiant. My parents. Us. It was…so neat. Thankfully, our ceremony, which we wrote with the help of our non-denominational officiant (more on that later), was quite short, so we really only ran through everything twice. Also, it was so hot out.

We broke off after that, some going back to their hotel rooms to get ready, some going to a bar, some staying there. I participated in the latter. A new bug exhibit was opening the following day downstairs, so our contact at the center let us get a sneak peek. We drank bug juice (green lemonade), ate creatures (gummy worms), and took pictures with (cardboard cutout) grasshoppers. Actually, two of the guys actually ate fried critters. It was gross.

The rehearsal dinner was across town, so we left about an hour prior, to ensure we weren’t stuck in traffic. To get every cultural element in, we had it at an Indian restaurant. And it worked. If I was floored earlier when I saw all of our friends mingling, the feeling was only magnified when both of our families and all of the significant others were added to the equation. To see my cousin hanging out with Samir’s childhood best friend; or Samir’s aunt talking to my college roommate…amazing. It was all amazing. It was what we were most looking forward to.

The food was delicious, and the company was even better. We had a brief slideshow (I’ll post it later), which showcased more than enough embarrassing pictures of almost everyone there. Then, Samir’s cousins, sister, and her fiance performed a little musical for us. (In Indian tradition, it’s customary to perform something for the bride and groom.) Using songs from Hairspray and Glee (they know me too well!), they reenacted my and Samir’s first meeting, our courtship, our move to Orlando, and finally, our engagement. The entire performance culminated with our entire bridal party joining them for the final number. We were floored. And crying. And laughing. And totally just…humbled. Truly, we were in love with everyone.

AHHHHH

There were more laughs and more tears (from happiness) as the night went on. As the doors closed, Samir went off with his family, and I with mine. Three of my bridesmaids accompanied me and spent the night. We giggled until it was almost light out, and then fell asleep. But we didn’t sleep long.

Because, you know, the next day I was getting married and all.

Friendship!

All photos by Colure Caulfield