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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Long Distance Wedding Planning - Do’s, Don’ts, Hows, Whys, and Tips for Staying Stress Free.

I am a planner and a list-maker. When I embark on something, be it buying a car, looking for a new apartment, or planning my wedding, I tend to do copious amounts of research before I start. I read articles about the best ways to do things, read market trends, pricing averages around the country, blogs from people’s personal experiences, and look at individual how-tos and guides. This probably sounds like a lot, but I actually enjoy doing research and spending a couple minutes or hours now and then to get information never feels like a waste of time.

I got engaged on 1/16/15, and we’re getting married on 1/23/16. So I had a pretty standard/average 12-month engagement. I did print out a 12-month wedding planning checklist from online, which helped give me a general idea on timing of things.

A little about us: My fiance and I live in Brooklyn, NY. He was born and raised in NY and will fight to the death that it is the best city ever. I was born and raised in Florida, and always knew I wanted to live in NYC someday. After working for a couple years after college, I moved to New York at 23. About 5 months later, I met Fiance.

We met on Okcupid. I refuse to be embarrassed that we met online. I was new to a huge city in which it’s well-known that it is hard to make new friends. And even if that weren’t the case, why should I be embarrassed that a useful tool assisted me in meeting the love of my life? We messaged for a couple of weeks before having our first date at a bookstore. Five years later, we’re getting married in a few weeks (and still love bookstores).

On to the reason why you’re here: We live in Brooklyn and are getting married in central Florida. To answer a couple of your immediate questions: Yes, we’re excited to leave cold NY to go to warm FL for the wedding, and our guests have also expressed excitement. Yes, it’s a true destination wedding, about 95% of guest list has to travel. No, I am not stressing out. We have visited Florida exactly one time since being engaged.

ProTip: Don’t go into your wedding planning with specific and concrete ideas. Have a general idea of what you want and the vibe, but be flexible with the details. You may find an amazing deal on specific linens or centerpieces, or you may get a suggestion from your videographer that you hadn’t even thought of, but is perfect. In terms of staying stress-free, the best thing you can do for yourself is to be open to ideas and suggestions and not be rigid in what you want. If you’re super rigid in what you want, you risk a bridezilla moment every time something doesn’t work or isn’t feasible (which WILL happen), and needlessly stress yourself out.

As many of you already know, the first 3 things you MUST DO when starting the wedding planning process are:
-Tentative guest list

The guest list is the number one thing. Once you have an idea of total numbers, it will help formulate a budget. According to The Knot, the national average per person at a wedding is $68 for food and about $17 per person for the bar. I believe this to be a bit low, but I live in NYC, where the average price per person hovers around $200! Once you can identify your total number of guests, you will be able to have an idea of budget (there are always ways to save money, that’s not what this article is about! I’m talking about average wedding costs, not a DIY-heavy or backyard wedding, please bear this in mind!). Guest count will also allow you to start looking at venues, which always have a maximum allowed number of people.

Do not start looking at venues until you have a guest list. If you do, you could fall in love with a 100-person-maximum venue and later find out that your guest list is 150 people. Don’t bring on additional stress. Know your numbers before looking at any venues.

The biggest question I usually get is “how did you choose a venue? Did you go see them?”
Nope, I did not. I am incredibly lucky that my parents live near the area where we’re getting married (a couple towns over). I used The Knot and Wedding Wire, to search for venues in the city I’m getting married in.

First, Fiance and I had decided that we specifically wanted an all-in-one hotel venue. For us, as a destination wedding, it made the most sense. Our guests were flying in from around the country and don’t know the area. I’m not making them rent a car and drive around looking for the ceremony or reception venue. Our hotel has a shuttle to and from the airport, and both ceremony and reception is at the same venue, which is located within walking distance of bars and restaurants in the area. For us, the convenience of an all-in-one hotel venue was what we wanted most for our guests.

So, I only looked at hotel venues on TK and WW. After looking through a bunch and checking some reviews, many even have pricing on there, and seeing what they offer, I picked maybe 7-9 and emailed them asking for more information. Venues on TK and WW also state their maximum number of people they can hold on site, so that made it easy to skip over some. I had pre-written a form email with my general idea of dates I was looking for, asking for pricing and menu options, asking about amenities, deposit requirements, and giving the guest count. Most venues responded in 24-48 hours with information on pricing and packages.
**This whole process of looking through venues and pictures online and emailing them took approximately 2-4 hours.**

After receiving responses, it was easy to weed out a couple that were crazy expensive, or didn’t have a honeymoon suite, or didn’t have any dates around the time we wanted. At this point, I brought in my fiance. We looked at pictures and pricing and amenities, and narrowed it to 3 venues we wanted to see.

I called those 3 and spoke to the coordinators. One of them I knew I might not want to work with (personality clash, took a long time to respond to emails), but I wanted to see the venue. My amazing mom and stepdad (my BFF had offered, too!) took a day, drove to the city, and toured all 3 venues. They even took cellphone pictures and notes! After, they called me and gave me their opinions. One was out, it was way more expensive without really offering more or having anything that justified the additional expense.

We took my parents pictures and opinions into consideration, and picked a venue. Sight unseen, we signed contracts online and mailed the deposit. We also booked a room block. We were given a choice of a few dates they had available and BAM! We had a date, a venue, caterers (included with venue), and accommodations. This was the biggest step in the planning process.

Long distance or destination weddings pretty well preclude you from doing a lot of Pinterest-DIY stuff, as everything has to be in the far away location, and you either have to mail it there or bring it with you! Our budget reflected the fact that we intended to have vendors for everything.

Tip: Just like being flexible with details, if possible try to be flexible on dates. The venue we went with was not available on the date we originally thought about. However, they had 3 other Saturdays in the general timeframe. We chose to go with a different date because we liked that specific venue. We would have had to go with a different option if we’d stuck hard on the first date.

Next steps: florist, DJ, videographer, and more!

Tip: Your venue has done a million weddings. Ask for their list of “preferred vendors.” They have vendors they have worked with a trust, and you should check out their availability and pricing first! [Note: I got my DJ company from this list!]

I repeated the exact same process, except without parental visitation for the rest of the vendors. I checked out out TK and WW for vendors, looked through them, narrowed it down to 5-7, had a pre-written email with information on guest count, date, location, colors, and the “vibe” we were going for (fun family dance party, not super formal). Received pricing and information, narrowed it to 2 or 3. Then I called and had in-depth conversations with the vendor themselves, and went with my gut instinct on who I wanted to work with (especially when the prices were similar to one another). Contracts were emailed, deposits sent.

Tip: When speaking with the vendors, ask specifically about their experience working with long distance brides. Many vendors (all of mine!) have worked quite a lot with long distance brides and were able to offer suggestions and advice, and were happy to be in contact primarily by email.

You can do A LOT online these days. Our florist has sent us pictures of bouquets, centerpieces, decor and more, showing us exactly what she is thinking for our event.

Even our DJ company has a tool online for us to do our playlists, mark the processional songs, the Hora dance, everything. It’s so convenient!

There are a few things that I got incredibly lucky on. For one, my parents live in the area, so every time I order stuff online (table names, welcome bags, bridesmaid/groomsmen gift, etc), I mail it to my parents house and they throw it in a room. Not worrying about storing things or having to take things with me was a huge help. My best friend also lives in the area and offered the same.

The other luckiest thing was the photographer. I had a friend in high school who went on to become a wedding photographer, and later switched to maternity and family photography. When she learned I was engaged, she actually OFFERED to come out of wedding-photo-retirement and shoot my wedding! As I know she is amazing and I was planning to quietly ask her, I was elated.

There will be certain things you just don’t know. I’ve never hired a DJ or videographer. Fiance and I asked them a ton of questions, and just went with the ones we felt seemed to understand what we wanted and the vibe we were looking for, and that we felt we could work with. The videographer even sent us a bunch of videos he has done for previous weddings. Again, it came down to personality and gut instinct.

Once your vendors are all booked, you’re most of the way there! By now, you’ve picked colors (or a theme, if you’re doing that), you have a guest list, flowers, centerpieces, the venue, a caterer (if your venue includes one), and more! All of this is happening organically. Every time you find a vendor, they are adding their ideas to what you are doing, and you’re getting a clearer idea of what will happen on the day.

Tip: Ask the vendors for suggestions! They are wedding vendors, they’ve done a ton of weddings. Give them your general ideas and vibe, and ask for their opinions on things that work best/don’t work, suggestions, and more. My florist actually picked my centerpieces. I wanted something short and pretty but not a ton of flowers, and she sent me a couple of pictures of options, and she was exactly right! Listen to your vendors, they are the experts.

Organization Tip:  Some people prefer wedding binders or books, and others have lists and checklists. Personally, I used several spreadsheets. I have 2 that I use most. One is titled "Guest List" and has everyone on the guest list, the next column is their addresses. The next is how many people in each row are invited (because at the top I have a (=SUM B:1-B:200) formula to keep count of how many people were invited. Next is RSVP column. It is also a formula column, with 0 for not coming and numbers for how many RSVP'ed yes. Total also at the top. Next couple columns are the guest's food choices (we're doing a plated meal). Then a column for gifts we've received. I make a short note of what we got and when. Last column is Thank You Note and I put "yes" and the date I sent one. 

My other main spreadsheet is the budget one. I created it using lists of needs/vendors from online (Attire, Venue, Caterers, Photo/Video, Tips, Stationary, etc), and I have columns for who the vendor is, what services we're getting from each, how much we paid for deposits and what date we paid them, and the date and total left due for everything.
I keep my spreadsheets on Google Drive so that I can access them from anywhere and immediately note the thank you notes written and such, like if I mail out a thank you from work. I use these 2 spreadsheets all the time and they are incredibly detailed and organized, and perfect for me!

Now it is details. Some are more important than others, like the dress! I went shopping in NYC, and bought a dress there. I got it at Macy’s, and after alterations, Macy’s is mailing the dress to one of their Florida stores, who will steam and press it, and I can pick it up there. Convenient! One less thing to take with me! Look for convenient details like this, and make sure to ask the stores this question.

Money Saving (for guests!) Tip: If you’re having your groomsmen wear tuxedos, have them rent them at a national chain so that (if one exists there), they can return the tux in the destination instead of paying for additional rental days! Many of our guests are using our wedding as a reason to have a vacation in Florida and hit Disney and such. I don’t want them to have to pay extra for the tux. This is a detail many people don’t think of for destination weddings.

We went to a physical Things Remembered store when they were having a sale and picked out groomsmen gifts, but then went home and bought them online, so they can be mailed to Florida easily. Same with bridesmaid gifts.

Tip: Buy as much as you can online and have it sent to a location near your destination. If you don’t know a single solitary person in that location, try asking the venue for suggestions on where you could store stuff, or keep everything at home with you and suck up the cost of shipping it all to the venue in the days leading up to the wedding.

Something you are probably wondering: Did we fly to Florida a bunch of times during the planning?

Nope. We booked the venue in March, had all of the other vendors booked and contracts signed by June. In September, over Labor Day weekend, we took our one and only trip to Florida. During this four-day trip, we met every single vendor in person, did the catering tasting and a venue tour, two different cake tastings, and made time for family and friends while we were there. It was a busy weekend! But it confirmed our vendor choices, and we got a better idea of all the details, and we got to pick our cake flavor and dinner choices!  

After choosing the menu, it was time to buy invitations! Because we chose a plated option, we needed to put the dinner options on the RSVP. I checked several wedding invitation websites and even with signing up for emails and getting 10% off, it was really expensive.

Money Saving Tip: Check out I got my Save the Dates (necessary for a destination wedding!) on there, I added our pictures and information onto a postcard template, and they came out really really nicely. Vistaprint gave me great quality, and when I needed to call customer service about something, they immediately fixed the problem! And if you wait for sales on their site, you get GREAT deals. 100 postcard save the dates: $24. I got 40% off the whole order plus free shipping. (Extra money saving tip: postcard stamps are only 20 cents. Go buy them at a post office, don’t just buy forever stamps.)

Tip: Make sure all the hotel room block information and details of the location are on your wedding website, and have it all done before you send out your save the dates with the website printed on it. This would also be the place to include any registries. Etiquette states to never put registries on the invitations.

For invitations, I did check other sites, but it was a lot more expensive. I went back to vistaprint and got 100 invitations and 100 matching RSVP cards in a cute template and put in all my custom info, plus 100 plain white envelopes for each. Total cost: $110 including shipping. About one-third to one-quarter the cost of the fancy invitation sites. The envelopes are plain white, and I’m sure I could have gotten some fancy nice envelopes, but it wasn’t something I was going to worry about. Envelopes just get thrown away!

Tip: We sent out our invitations 10-12 weeks ahead of time, instead of 6-8. Since it is a destination wedding, I just wanted to give everyone plenty of planning time. It also gives them longer to get the RSVP’s back.

Money Saving Tip: Stamps come in blocks of 20. We had 88 invitations to send out. Instead of spending extra on stamps, we hand delivered 8 to friends who live in our city!

Generally a wedding where people stay at hotels have welcome bags given to guests at check in. Typical welcome bags have water, soda, candy, snacks, some information about the area, and a wedding schedule.

I purchased bags online and had them sent to my parents house. I got nice canvas tote bags from my favorite bookstore in NYC, and got them on sale.

Money Saving Tip: To fill the bags, I went searching online. and similar stores have things like 6 packs of bottled water for $1, or 5 bags of peanuts for $1. Best of all, I saved $100 on shipping by doing an in-store pickup at the local store in my parents’ town.

Or at least low-stress!

I have a very supportive family and friend group, and people willing to give me advice, answer questions, be a sounding board, or let me that helps!

I am very laid back about this whole planning process. I’m trusting my very experienced vendors to know what they’re doing and only checking in about once every 4-6 weeks by email (it’s more often as the wedding looms closer). I went into this process knowing as much as possible (yay research!) and knowing that no matter how hard I try, something will probably go wrong at some point.

In fact, we recently had our first big snafu! Our hotel/venue ran out of rooms for Friday night in our room block! They can’t add any more at the discounted rate at all. Instead of freaking out, which would have been easy to do, I took a deep breath and solved the problem.

My solution was to pull up google maps, zoom in on the area, and call a couple other hotels in the immediate area. The first two were not able to do anything for me on pricing, but the third was amazing! I spoke with the director of sales, and she listened to my story (I was not upset or crying, I was just very matter of fact that I wanted to be able to offer reasonable rates to my guests). She actually set aside 20 rooms for that Friday, gave me a discounted rate AND did not have me sign another room block contract. PLUS she gave me her direct contact information and told me to have my guests reach out to her directly for the discounted rooms. A perfect solution! I put that information on my website ASAP.

Things will go wrong. It’s a part of life, not everything will be perfect all of the time. Don’t cry and scream. Think about the issue and find a solution. If you’re not sure, ask one of your vendors. Chances are high that they have seen the same or similar problems previously and may be able to offer a solution. As a general rule, no matter how upset or stressed you are, do not yell or scream at people. First of all, you get a lot more accomplished and people are more likely to listen to you and work with you if you’re calm. Secondly, throwing a tantrum doesn’t solve anything.

Sure, things are going to go wrong, and stressful situations might happen. But if you have a positive attitude, it helps a lot. I’ve gone several weeks where I haven’t had anything wedding-related to do. I’ve accepted that something could go wrong on the day of the wedding, and if it does, it does. At that point, it’ll be too late to do anything about it.

But you know what? We’re going to have a fun party with our friends and family, dance the night away, and at the end of that day, we will be married. And that is what really matters.

My biggest tip for staying stress free: Remember that it is just one day. It’s a party, you’re going to have fun. Your friends and family are coming to celebrate with you! Just enjoy it. You’re going to miss out on everything if you freak out over little things. If someone gets the wrong plate of food, they’re adults, they’ll tell the waiter and it’ll get fixed. A bridesmaid is wearing the wrong shoes? So what, the focus is on you anyway! IT’S JUST ONE DAY.

Your focus will be on the marriage, not on the wedding.

Have a happy, fun, amazing, dance-y, family-full destination wedding!

If you can’t afford the wedding you’ve been dreaming of since you were a little kid, you’re almost definitely going to stress out about it. But you should NEVER go into debt for a wedding, and it’s important to remember that you aren’t that little kid anymore. Most of those fairy tale Cinderella ideas might not be what adult-you would really want, if you were starting from scratch. So try to stay open minded in the planning process.

Small ceremonies can be super beautiful and meaningful. Large weddings can be very fun. Find the vibe that fits you as a couple.

One of the most important things that Bridezillas seem to forget is that the day is about BOTH of you. Even when he doesn’t want to be involved in what flowers we’re using, he was interested in the general idea and liked seeing the pictures. I kept my fiance updated about various details and we both read over every contract. It’s his day, too. And he does have opinions! He didn’t know he had opinions on venues until presented with a couple options, but all our final decisions were made together. He was supportive and listened to me, and he was happy to offer his opinions on food, cake, venue, and more. It’s about you both!

Include your partner. Be flexible. Trust your vendors. Ask for advice and suggestions. And remember that your guests are important. When making venue and travel decisions, consider how it will affect your guests. Be considerate of everyone and try to enjoy the process!

The real key to staying stress free is to not take it all too seriously. A wedding is a serious event, sure. But it’s a party, a celebration of love, and a family affair. It’s not the end of the world if the flower girl’s flower petals are the wrong color, and you need to remember that when it all seems to be super important. The little things won’t be a huge deal!! And if you can manage to take it all a little less seriously, then you’ll definitely enjoy the planning process a lot more!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

For the 8 Nights of Hanukkah...

To the tune of "12 Days of Xmas" song.

On the first night of Hanukkah, my true love gave to me...latkes with chives and sour cream!
On the second night of Hanukkah, my true love gave to me, my pick on netflix.
On the third night of Hanukkah, my true love gave to me, lots of Manischewitz.
On the fourth night of Hanukkah, my true love gave to me, mom’s matzo balls.
On the fifth night of Hanukkah, my true love gave to me, FIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE chocolate coins!
On the sixth night of Hanukkah, my true love gave to me, 6 chinese dinners.
On the seventh night of Hanukkah, my true love gave to me, 7 spinning dreidels.
On the eighth night of Hanukkah, my true love gave to me, 8 flames a-dancing.

Don't worry, it totally fits the cadence! My friend Gigi helped me write the lyrics, and specifically she got the "first night" totally right, I love it!

Seriously, this pleases me so much.  

Check it out! Also, I decided to change "4 minutes alone" to "mom's matzo balls," but the change occurred after recording it, ha! 
(link to the recording, it's only 25 seconds long)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fiance's Bedtime Roulette

I generally go to bed before Fiance does. I try as hard as possible to go to sleep, I swear! Anyway, I drew a little comic about the 5 potential scenarios of what Fiance will encounter when he goes to bed.
This seriously entertained me so much!

The struggle is real.

When I sleep on my back, I snore like a train is hitting you in the face.

Not my fault!

Sleeping starfish. A signature move.

Look who's still awake! Let's chat for awhile!

P.S. I generally end up outside the covers. I didn't just draw myself coverless for no reason!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Life Lessons at Almost 30

The older I get, the more I come to understand that when it comes to friends and family, it's quality that matters, not quantity.
And also that just because someone is family, doesn't mean they always have your best interest in mind. Friends are the family we choose. And I happen to be incredibly lucky that my family is also amazing.

The older I get, the more I have learned to enjoy being alone.

The more I've learned what love is, and that love multiplies, and doesn't diminish any amount given when you love more people.

The more I've learned that real friends are true and real no matter the time and distance.

The older I get, the more I learn not to live with regrets. Learn from the mistakes and the disappointments, and move forward a better person. Living in regrets is wasteful to your current life and happiness.

The older I get, the more I appreciate what I have.
I can't count how many times I've turned to Fiance and said "We are so lucky, we have such a great life and we have each other. Look how lucky we are!" And I know it sounds trite, but it's so true. We are both hard workers with great work ethic, we are invested in our careers. We both got a college education (just finished paying off my student loans!!!!!!), and we are (and have long been) fully self-supporting. We have a great life, one we've worked for, and we make sure to take some time and appreciate how far we've come and how lucky and happy we are.

The older I get, the better I understand that bad things happen to good people.
You can be the best person, the most pious, the most giving, the funniest, or the smartest, or the biggest donator of time and money, and inevitably bad things will happen anyway. You cannot control what happens to you, what you CAN control is how you react to it and move forward. You could resent life and be bitter about the sucky things, or you can accept them and figure out how to pick up, move on, and continue to live.

The more I fully understand the phrase "life isn't fair."

The more I appreciate my parents.
I was not spoiled, I earned my allowance in blood, sweat, and chores. I got a job at 16 when the allowance stopped. I was held accountable for everything: my grades, the people I hung out with, my job, my chores, and my attitude. Seeing people my age as parents and seeing sometimes the way they raise their special snowflake, I more fully understand how lucky I was to be taught the value of money, the value of a good education, the goodness that comes with working to EARN the thing and not be given the thing.
My parents were not my friends, they were my parents. Thanks, parents.

The older I get, the more I love staying home on Friday night.

The more I understand that I will never learn patience. At this point, I don't think that's a virtue I've been given.

The older I get, the more I enjoy getting older and going on new adventures.

The older I get, the more I appreciate my personal confidence and recognize what confidence in myself has done for me in so many different aspects of my life.

The more I want to do the things I always wanted. I want to write a book, I want to sing more, I want to learn a new language. And as an adult...I can choose to do any of those things.

The older I get, the more crotchety I get. Ugh, neighbors (in an apartment building). 'Nuff said.

I wonder what I'll learn next?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Like Ash Ketchum to pokemon, I choose you.

Life is a series of choices. Everything I am, everything I do, everywhere I go, it's all the result of choices I'm making now or ones I've made in the past.

I'm 29 years old, and I don't exactly know what I want to be when I grow up. I don't see this as a bad thing at all. It drives me crazy when I see people in their 20s and 30s who claim they are "old" or that their best times are behind them.

How is that possible? You're only (statistically) a third of the way through life, but you're practically giving up! The next 60 years aren't looking superfun...

I love getting older, and I love new experiences. Even the things that scare me a little (skiing), I still want to try. I'm not decrepit and I have insurance, so if worse comes to worse, broken bones heal. I just want to experience life!

I want to travel more, see everything, learn a new language, jump out of a plane again. I want to share those experiences with the person I've chosen to spend my life with. I want to push him out of a plane and out of his comfort zone. I want him to push me off a cliff and down a mountain.

Relationships are more than comfort and ease. I love Fiance, very much. I also love my family and my friends and my life. I believe that good relationships are ones that push you. I want to be pushed, pulled, and contorted into new experiences, trying new foods, and doing stuff that scares me.

If it doesn't scare you a little bit, it's not worth doing. I had never been in love and wasn't really looking for it. I went on that date to have fun and meet a cool new person in my newly adopted home of Brooklyn. 5 years later, I'm marrying that guy.

Since we met, we have pushed each other. I pushed him into new social situations, into traveling the world, and out of the house on the weekends. He's pushed me into new hobbies, into a new and exciting life plan, into love, and into learning to love being alone sometimes.

I learn things from him. We learn from each other. We navigated moving in together, starting a home search, being our own family, and more. We read each others favorite authors, we have deep discussions about Batman vs Superman and what the best superpower would be (it's flying, duh. Invisibility is dumb.). We read the book and then go see the movie and then go over the differences. We've gotten more into politics and investing together. We've spent the last 5 years falling in love, loving life, and growing up together.

Why am I marrying him, when I am a little bit scared of marriage? Because I am a better person after being with him than I was before. Because he pushes me, teaches me, and learns from me. Because I would rather be arguing with him over something stupid than being in a waveless relationship with anyone else. Because at some point over the last 5 years, he has become my family, and I his. We are a team, and it's us against the world.

As trite as that may sound, that's how I know it's real, how I know I am fully in love.

Love is scary and confusing. I had never been in love with someone before, though I had loved many. I love my family and friends, I love my cat, and I feel that I have a deep capacity for love that only grows with each new person added to it.

I didn't know if I loved him. I didn't know how to tell if you're IN LOVE with someone. I learned that it's the little things. I wanted to stay in with him more than go out with other people. I would see or hear something and I'd think "I have got to tell him this!" I would think of a pun and have the need to tell him immediately, and watch him sigh and roll his eyes. He was the person I wanted to say good morning to. The ONLY person I could look at before having coffee.

I'm not afraid of marrying him at all. It's funny how some of the biggest fears in life are the things that are the most exciting. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Year of Weddings!

Some people were born in the year of the dragon or the tiger or the year of rain or the year of “hey, remember that one time?”


Before 2015, I’ve really only had 1 close friend (my very BEST friend in the whole world and I was maid of honor and it was amazing) get married, and that was in 2010.

Other than that, there were family weddings now and then. I was a flower girl a few times as a little kid, and I was a damn princess in my fluffy dresses. I was a bridesmaid when I was 16 in my big brother’s wedding (a story for another time…but I had a fender bender on the way to his wedding. I’d had my license for 3 weeks), and I was a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding 2 years ago. I’ve attended a couple family weddings over the years that I wasn’t in. I love weddings! But really, I’ve only attended a few as an adult.


Last February, the first of my fiancé’s friends got engaged. 6 months later, another one got engaged, and a few months after that, Fiancé and I got engaged. At the same time, there was one couple who had been engaged for 6 years that decided it was time to be officially married!

Then launched the year of weddings. In July 2015, the first pair got married. Fiance was a groomsman, the food was amaaaaaazing, the venue was beautiful, and the bride looked like a beautiful fluffy white princess. In October, I attended my very first gay wedding and it was so fun! The ceremony was so touching, the music was mostly 90s and early 2000s and the crowd was dancing and hyped up.

Next is in November in Boston, a pair of close friends as well. Fiance is a groomsman again, and the couple is getting married in this really rad theater, and I am so excited!

And lastly is us. We’re the last ones in the wedding year, and we’re making everyone we know fly to another state to celebrate. Luckily, we’re asking many northerners to come south during deep winter, and so far the response has been very positive! Lots of family members have said they’re going to make it a vacation and see DisneyWorld and Universal and hang out in the Florida “winter,” which will be in the 60s…..cold for Floridians, practically summer for New Yorkers!


I love weddings. I love food, and dancing and parties and cake and my friends. Seriously, weddings are so much fun. And Fiance is great at weddings. I love to tease him and say that “Wedding Fiance is fun Fiancé!” He just has such a great time dancing with me and our friends to music we haven’t heard in years. He really just seems to love the party vibe.

It’s been really cool sharing this wedding process with these friends. July’s wedding was super traditional and elegant, October’s was more relaxed and casual, November’s is going to be a mix of traditional and casual, and mine will also be a mix but leaning towards a bit more formal. I’ve had a really good time hanging out with the other brides/grooms and talking about planning and our challenges and wins. It feels like we’re supporting each other. I can text the girls and ask about how they chose their photographer or what they’re doing for such-and-such.

My BFF has also been an incredible resource! She planned her own wedding on her own, and she knows a ton of people in the area we’re getting married. We’re using the same photographer she did!

My sister is an Event Planner and has planned a bajillion weddings and has been giving me tons of advice and showing me how to do stuff. She’s even offered to be a day-of coordinator!

It’s just all coming together. This wedding planning hasn’t been super stressful, and I’m just so lucky to have such supportive friends and family who are always happy to talk, hash things out, and give advice. This, the year of weddings, shall be remembered.

…and it will be easy to remember our friend’s anniversaries!

Friday, October 2, 2015

I Live Tweeted a Lady Preacher on the Train This Morning

So of course I just wrote a post about the dynamics of trains in NYC on Wednesday of this week. And this morning, I was auditorily assaulted by the preaching of an incredibly dedicated and oblivious train preacher. She started out at a soft-ish volume. It got increasingly louder. Here is what I tweeted/facebooked (direct copy/paste, edited for spelling/grammar) during my 35 minute morning commute.

7:38 am: 
Lady preacher on the train right now. She's claiming that jesus gave the world language. Maybe she is ignoring the written records prior to the bible....or even the old testament itself?
Know what I don't need at 730 am? More jesus.

7:41 am:
She’s also apparently a genealogist. Telling the masses that John the Baptist and Jesus are first cousins and John is 6 months older. Wonder if they competed like normal cousins? "My following is bigger than your following!" "Yeah well you don’t have a dad!" "I do too! He’s just not here; he’s off doing important god things!"

7:43 am:
Uh oh. We're up to the lecture about only calling on jesus/god when we are sick or need help and not just a regular "hey mom, love you, no I don’t need money but thanks" call.

7:47 am:
....something about jesus having a wall?

7:48 am:
When discussing how jesus created all language, she said, and I quote "we are all his chillens."

Some people on the train are rebelling. Everyone has been quietly ignoring her, and she's steadily getting louder, up on her soapbox. Several train passengers have asked her to shut up. She has not taken that particular hint. She's giving us a common enemy...never a good thing unless you are ok with mutiny.

7:54 am:
Not a fan of called "my dear brothers and sisters" from someone yelling on a train.

8:01 am:
Update: she’s up to 35 minutes. No sign of vocal cords breaking down.

8:03 am :
Oooh a very loud soliloquy about judgement day. Lady, you're late! Yom Kippur was last week! I was judged, I’m good for another year!

8: 04 am:
Started at Newkirk Plaza in Brooklyn, ended at 34th/Herald in the city. Did not get to nap on the train this morning.

8:05 am:
New Yorkers on a train came together and breathed an audible sigh of relief when she got off. One muttered "I hate people!" Oh wait, that might have been me.

8:05 am:
Don't you just love it when people come together against a common enemy?

8:06 am:
It's over. Back to my regularly scheduled programming.

Artist rendering of someone who thinks it's okay in civilized society to get up and start telling a crowd full of groggy people on a Friday that they need to believe in this one specific thing or they are all going to H-E-double hockey sticks.
It was at this point that my journey ended and I got off the train, got a large Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and meandered into work. 
Like this, but bigger and MINE, ALL MINE.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Moment of Zen on the Train in NYC

The trains in NY are the absolute epitome of diversity. Every age, tax bracket, ethnicity, and religion can be found on any of the trains. New York is known for being a melting pot, and it is never more evident than the subway system. In the city, and in Brooklyn, the neighborhoods themselves can be very diverse.

You can take a 15 minute walk and go through 2 or 3 distinctly different and individual neighborhoods. Maybe one is a very Jewish area with signs on stores in Hebrew, or a Russian neighborhood with Russian signs, each with different types of restaurants. Perfect example: In an orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, there is an amazing kosher deli. That isn’t strange. But there is also a Dunkin’ Donuts (national chain) that doesn’t serve bacon or anything mixing milk and meat. They adapted their national menu to suit the needs of the individual neighborhood. That is super rad, DD.

That distinct personality of different areas is what I love about New York. But the trains, there are no differences, no distinctions. It is the ultimate equalizer.

However, they can also be annoying. Although they are necessary and understandable, strollers on the train are very annoying. They take up a ton of space, and worse, they mark that a small child, who could scream at any possible moment, is aboard. Having large strollers or bikes or a large amount of small children is just the worse when it is rush hour. Every train is packed like a sardine can, and having a bike on board makes it more difficult for people to get on and off the trains. Having a bunch of kids just changes the dynamic.

The trains are eerily quiet during the rush hour times. There are 350 people within arms reach of you, but no one is talking. Some have headphones in, some are reading, some are playing Angry Birds, but everyone pretty much is keeping to themselves. They are creating a personal bubble, even though they are bare-arms-to-bare-sweaty-arms smooshed together. It is actually an interesting (to me) phenomenon.

Also annoying: train preachers, train dancers, train mariachi bands, train bums, really ANYONE who comes onto the trains to solicit money or preach about the lack of God in people. It disrupts the flow of the morning commute. First of all, the last thing I want to hear about at 7:15 am is how I need more Jesus in my life. OR A FRICKIN’ MARIACHI BAND.

Seriously, I am almost never in the mood for mariachi music 12 inches from my face. Or being yelled at that I'm a godless heathen.
Every now and then, though, it’s amazing. One day last week, on my afternoon commute home, without any fanfare or announcements, a gorgeous violin melody played throughout my train car. Afterwards, no one walked around with a hat asking for money. Just a few minutes of lovely peaceful violin music, and then it vanished. I didn’t even see the violinist, because the train was so crowded!
Probably the worst are the train “dancers.” The teenagers who get on, play a loud tune, and then race up and down the center aisle, flinging themselves from pole to pole and twisting around them, kicking up to ceilings. They come really close to kicking commuters, it’s super disruptive, and just generally unappealing. And then they walk around with hats and ask each individual for money. No, I am not giving you a dollar for almost kicking me.
But the trains are interesting. Many people, myself included, will nod off and doze to the rocking of the train. Many listen to music, some zone out, a lot of people read. It’s interesting how it is a peaceful train ride and quiet moment, while surrounded by masses of people. It's just very fascinating.