Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Much Anticipated Wedding Recap!

Ok, I’m long overdue, but I finally have a wedding recap!

The bridesmaid and I flew to Houston and checked into our rooms, which were lovely. I had a gorgeous view from my room of the forest that is part of the acreage and is threaded with trails. I don’t think you can actually see any of the nicely cushioned walking/running trails in the picture, but they’re there.

We immediately headed up to the groom’s room, because he and the bride had so generously brought us barbeque from their dinner out, which was quite yummy. The whole weekend was filled with little nice things like that, which were all so appreciated.

On Friday, I went to the health club at the Houstonian, which was far swankier than any I’ve been to in the past but I won’t complain. I actually got lost trying to find the track and/or treadmills for my run. When I saw an employee and asked him where it was, he actually walked me all the way to the treadmills rather than giving me generic directions.

The run actually went well, which was good as I’d been worried since I’d never run on a treadmill before. The weird thing was getting off the treadmill. I felt like I was going to do a somersault at any point. I thought maybe it was because I was overheated, as I don’t sweat and frequently have problems when it’s warm out. I actually chose to run on the treadmill vs on the lovely paths outside because I was worried about overheating. As I was walking through the café to get back to the hotel, I actually got a huge drink of water from them, and that helped a little.

After I got home, I asked a few people who run frequently their thoughts on why I felt so off. I’ve had a variety of responses, from agreeing that it was probably from overheating to the theory that I was looking at something too close while running for 36 minutes and then walking and seeing things move for real threw me for a loop to the theory that I needed to have the treadmill on an incline (which I didn’t know, and I think it was set at 0%) or it would be as though I were running downhill. Needless to say, I haven’t had the opportunity to try again, but I’ll definitely be experimenting this summer!

Anyway, after I got back, my friend and a friend of her mom’s picked us up to take us to get our mani/pedis. Ahhh, I love the vibrating chair and foot and hand massage. Actually, I could skip the polish and just do that part!

As our nails were drying, my friend presented us with our bridesmaid gifts (ok, the two of us anyway, the third bridesmaid still hadn’t landed from Israel). All I have to say, is: take a look!

They are freshwater pearls that were hand picked by a friend of the bride’s mom and strung specifically for each necklace. Now I feel bad for my friends when I got married. It isn’t like I got them nothing, but I just got them a spa case with a variety of products. Oh well…

We then went to have Pho for lunch, which was yummy and busy. I finally met my friend’s sister for the first time (they get along fine, but she isn’t in the wedding because she wasn’t comfortable with it) and several of her aunts who ate with us. Apparently, this restaurant is in what used to be a K-Mart. I had my hopes up briefly as my friend was telling me about the Icee stand in the middle of the floor, but I soon learned she meant when it was a K-Mart, not now. Still yummy!

And after that, there was more as we headed to get some bubble tea (mmmm!) and chat for awhile before we headed back to the hotel to relax for a little while. The other bridesmaid and I went for a walk on the trails and also to go check out the pools (yes, pools – there were four) when we ran into the groom and one of his brothers, who we also hadn’t met before. It took us awhile to connect though, as they were banging on the inside of mirrored glass and didn’t get that we couldn’t see them.

Finally we converged and went to go check out the pools together. Wow. I really wish I’d taken a picture of them, but I didn’t have my camera with me and never thought to take one after that. They had a slide built into some rocks near a waterfall – which we went down of course! Plus, there was a lap pool, a relaxing pool, a hot tub and more. At this point, we were both regretting not bringing our kids (and respective parents to corral them) so they could have fun there and we could see them.

We then went to the rehearsal, which was entertaining. I got lost trying to find the room but eventually made it and wasn’t even close to the last person there, fortunately! It was an entertaining rehearsal, as the room wasn’t the same room the ceremony would be in, so it was somewhat makeshift. The third bridesmaid was quite obviously not going to pay attention, which showed when we went through the second time and she tried to stop and stand in my spot instead of at the other end of the dais.

The eleven year old ring bearer wore his sunglasses and did his Miami Vice shooting fingers snap gesture all the way up the aisle. Fortunately, he left that for this part and didn’t do it during the ceremony. The flower children (the eleven year old’s half siblings) were obviously very tired after flying in from Israel that day, and they weren’t really interested in participating. It’s always a risk to have very small children in the wedding, and they were obviously a bit overwhelmed with it.

Fortunately, by the end we all seemed to know where we were going and what we were doing, which helped. And the bride was a good sport, as she even carried the bow bouquet I’d made her at the shower. Her dad was so cute walking her down the aisle. I won’t say that same for the bride when she sucker punched the groom as he leaned in to kiss her (after insisting that he had the wrong woman when “checking” under the nonexistent veil).

Pretty quickly, it was time for the rehearsal dinner, which was a hoot. The groom’s parents hired buses to get us from the hotel to Fung’s Kitchen Seafood Restaurant. There we enjoyed nine delicious courses ranging from chicken lettuce wraps to lobster to sesame balls. Lucky me, I took only a few bites of the courses that sounded the most appealing to me versus eating a bunch of everything. Some of the guests were a touch too full by the end of the night to enjoy the sesame balls and melons, but not me!

My friend also had the cutest costumes made up for the wine bottles. They were supposed to be a girl in a kimono and a boy in traditional dress including a cap and ponytail, but the restaurant only put out the girl costumes, not that anyone who didn’t know about it in advance figured it out or would have cared anyway. They were adorable, and both my friend and I were sent home with some of the extras to give to our children to use as doll clothes.

Unlike a traditional rehearsal dinner where the bridal party and families were the ones invited, everyone from out of town plus all the in town relatives were at the rehearsal dinner, which meant there were in the neighborhood of 120 people there. It was a little chaotic, but in a good way. And it also gave the two dads a chance to practice their toasting for the actual wedding night. They literally toasted (and drank) at every single one of the 17 tables, with our table being the last one.

That would also explain the discussion on the bus ride home (which fortunately included only the groom, the groom’s dad, the other bridesmaid, one of the groom’s brothers, and me). When the groom’s dad starts insisting that he’s getting too much information on details of his son’s life he doesn’t care to know about, you know people have had too much to drink. The only good news is that the dad may or may not have remembered it the next day. I didn’t ask.

The next morning, we had until 11am before the hair and makeup artist was coming to do us up right. Obviously, that meant we had to spend some time at the pool. We were both careful not to spend enough time in the sun to get tan lines that would show in our dresses, but we definitely enjoyed the weather.

Given the humidity in Houston, we all vowed not to set foot outside the hotel once we had makeup and hair done... especially since we were having it done eight hours before the ceremony! Only the three of us plus the bride’s MIL were getting our hair and makeup done. The third bridesmaid (who had no interest in talking to us anyway or meeting or getting to know her new SIL) wasn’t going to get anything done and was just doing her own.

The bridesmaid and I decided that we were going to enjoy our time getting hair and makeup done and ordered up champagne, orange juice, munchies, tomato juice, and Tabasco (to go with my friend’s vodka). I think the bride was surprised, but not unhappy, about it. And it definitely helped us pass the time while were hung out.

The hair and makeup artist started with my hair. I explained that it tends to be very curly and won’t work if she tries to straighten it, especially in this humidity. I told her she could do whatever she and the bride wanted with my hair, which turned into a half up, half down ‘do. Once completed, I felt somewhat like a ‘50s housewife and it wasn’t my style, but it was cute and worked.

The MIL was done next, and we watched our words with her in the room. As she was leaving, she told us that she was going to watch her grandkids so the third bridesmaid could come to our room to hang out for awhile and get to know us. Oh, and she insisted on writing a check to cover the third bridesmaid’s share of the snacks we ordered (and yes, I did finally get a check from the MIL for the dress Sunday). We all saw through her statement though in that she was forcing the third bridesmaid to spend some time with us because even she saw how sad it was.

When the third bridesmaid came to chat with us, we could see that she had spent time at the pool, too, and not just because she was still wearing her swimsuit with a coverup. I was hoping that the tan lines wouldn’t be too obvious with her dress, and fortunately I never noticed them that night. I will say that I understand now the MIL’s comment that she insisted on buying not just the dress, shoes and jewelry (she chose large and black, which I thought was an interesting choice given our dresses) for the third bridesmaid, but also her undergarments, as I don’t think I saw her wearing any others the entire weekend, not that I was trying to look, mind you.

Anyway, once the makeup artist left at 3, we were on our own until pictures started before the ceremony. We got the bride checked into her room, ensured the dress had been appropriately delivered and … wait a minute! The dress was delivered, but there was no veil! Fortunately, after calling both the front desk and Saks to find out where the veil was, someone discovered it in the luggage room and brought it to us. Crisis number one averted!

We made our way down to the girls’ changing room where we proceeded to get ready for the wedding. It was quite entertaining to watch the flock of women and come into and run out of the room to talk to the bride as she was getting ready.

The other bridesmaid and I got her into her dress and shoes, and she looked gorgeous. The makeup artist returned and touched us up – especially my hair that was being forced to be far straighter than I likes. Somewhere in there, the flower person arrived, and the bridesmaid and I helped check the flowers.

It was at that point that we realized that the chuppah had no roof! When bringing it to the bride’s attention, she blew it off as not a big deal, but fortunately we know better. Without alarming her (sorry if you’re reading this!), we alerted others who could help us fix it. The florist got it and wasn’t going to leave until we had figured out a way to make a roof for the chuppah. Somewhere, someone found a tablecloth that was large enough to cover it, and the florist pinned it up with materials from his truck. By the time he finished, no one was the wiser, and I certainly hope that he got a huge tip!

Finally, it was time for the ceremony. The groom and his attendants awaited everyone on the dais. One by one, the bridesmaids walked up the center aisle. Then we waited for the flower boy (the girl insisted on being carried by her mom, who was the third bridesmaid). And waited. And finally saw him, sprinkling rose petals behind him, coming up the side aisle. Mental note to specify the route for small children in the future. Fortunately, it broke up some of the tension in the room, as we all awwwed at him.

Then the bride came with her dad, and she was handed off to the groom. She looked gorgeous and as happy as any bride should. The opening line of the ceremony mentioned the importance of the chuppah and what the roof of it stood for (ha! Again, I’m so glad we insisted that was fixed!). There were no hitches, no lost rings, no missed steps. And suddenly, my friends were married!

The reception was just as lovely, with a gorgeous cake that I would never have dreamed up in a million years but that I totally loved and would have had for my wedding cake had I seen it. Plus, there was the surprise poker groom’s cake and the tuxedo flowers (that I only tasted because I stole one off an untouched plate near the end of the ceremony).

The dinner was delicious, with the main course of a center cut filet and crab cake – two of my favorite foods. It went faster than I thought it was going to, but the wait for the cake was worth it. I had the coconut (it was coconut, right?) cake that was supposed to have raspberry filling. Mine lacked the filling, as it was a tiny corner piece, but I snagged some of the filling from my husband’s piece who so generously shared when his attention was diverted. To be fair, I did give him my entire groom’s cake piece, as I’m not a fan of chocolate cake.

Once the dining was over, the band started to play, loudly as you’d expect at any public event. This was all the groom’s doing, and the Lost Boys play 80s music, which I’m totally good with. I think I danced for almost the entire time, with maybe one five or so minute break. The only downside is that there were literally no slow songs to dance to, which was a bit of a bummer. The gamut of songs they played was incredible though, and they did a great job, even though most of the guests left once cake was served. Personally, I don’t get leaving a wedding that early, but I’ve been to enough where people head out once cake is served. I don’t remember that really happening at my wedding so much, but I could have faulty recall there, too.

I will say that everything there was fantastic and well done. If anyone is ever getting married in the Houston area and needs some referrals of wedding vendors, I can definitely speak to the strengths and weaknesses of those that were used by my friend.

Finally, we got to the toasts. The co-best men gave their spiel, and I immediately was grateful that I had a written copy of mine with me as I listened to them. Then a friend of the groom’s parents gave his toast (and three times called the groom by the wrong name, which apparently was not an inside joke), which he does at every function where the families are together. Finally, it was my turn. I gave my toast and went to hug the bride. At which point I found out that I’d made her cry! That’s the mark of a good toast in my book, and it made my night to know that I’d touched her.

The next morning, we had a brunch hosted by the bride’s family at a house on the hotel grounds. Again, everyone from out of town, plus all the relatives were invited, so you can imagine the mass of people. When I had gotten the original invitation to the brunch, I had assumed it would be more formal, with food served, the hosts saying a few words, everyone there at the same time, etc.

The way they actually did it was very different, but it worked. The whole Manor House was rented out, and it was a beautiful spread of a buffet. People came in and left when they chose between 10 and 12, and they simply sat in a room at a table that appealed to them. The only disappointment I had was that I really had to search out the parents and in-laws to thank them again as I was leaving. The bride and groom chose to sit at my table, at least, so that made things easy!

Oh, and that whole outfit I’m wearing in the pictures at brunch… the whole thing is going. I never realized how unflattering that blouse is, but the magic of Kodak will certainly clear that up. I’m not sure I want any more pictures of me in any clothes after that! And the pants… well, as I was packing everything up in the bathroom, my makeup slipped off the counter and shattered on the floor. Oh yeah, and it splattered all over the legs of my pants (yep, before breakfast, yay!). I’ve tried everything I can think of to get the makeup out of the pants (that I’d worn once before that Sunday), but they’re trashed. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them, but I’m not holding my breath.

Ok, and here’s my moment to be petty. The third bridesmaid did not choose a dress that flattered her. The primary issue is that she insisted on ordering a size 8, yet she is larger than I am (and I didn’t order an 8). With an empire neckline and A-line skirt, she didn’t have the most forgiving dress. We found out later that the MIL had to rip out the lining in order for her to be able to zip the dress. And she still (in the words of a friend of mine) looked like an overstuffed sausage in the dress. Another word of caution for those who are getting caught up in numbers instead of what really fits. While my dress turned out to be slightly too large even after taking it in some, I’m still thrilled that it fit well enough to not make me look like an immense cow.

And now, for the toast (and no, I didn’t write it on the plane. I actually wrote it Friday morning while waiting for the bride to pick us up to get our mani/pedis – but I did find the time to write it at least!):

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Michelle. Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. K and Mr. and Mrs. R for such a lovely evening tonight, and to J and A for inviting me to be a part of it.

I’ve known J since she graduated from business school and started working at the same consulting company I did ten years ago. We’ve been through a lot together, and I couldn’t be happier for her tonight.

You couldn’t ask for a better friend than J. She is incredibly generous and always willing to help out. She’s never gone on a trip and not come back with some sort of gift for me, for my children, for my kitchen, or for whoever she thought might enjoy something she saw. She never comes to my house empty-handed, although all I ask of her is some company.

(This was directed at J) Over the years of spending time in each other’s company, we’ve had lots of fun, from someone offering to buy you at a Bears game to more cooking classes than we can count to endless Slurpee’s from the Seven-Eleven across from Wrigley that we’d enjoy at Cubs’ games. We’ve both had our share of dating issues and definitely kissed our share of frogs. In the past, we’ve joked that we are freak magnets, but tonight you’ve proven that this isn’t true.

It’s time to say goodbye to bad blind dates and awkward meetings in bars and to Ivy League dinners. In the past, there have been guys you’ve dated who we knew weren’t the one, but we always supported you. When you started talking about A, there was something different.

It’s far more than that, however. A and J are a great match. Each has quirks, but those quirks complement each other. A is a rock for J when she needs one, and J has an excuse to really cook with A. They both challenge each other intellectually and keep each other on their toes, which should provide years of entertainment for both them and those of us who are around them. But most importantly, J and A make each other happy, and you can’t ask for more than that.

I always knew that there was a man out there for J who would truly understand her and love her the way she deserves, and I’m so glad to see that she waited to find A, and that he is all those things for her. It may have been many years in the making, but A was certainly worth waiting for. It is so great to finally see you so happy.

Best wishes to the happy couple on their wedding day. May your love for each other grow with each passing year and blossom into your own family.


Swishy May 18, 2008 at 1:39 AM  

Ohh, what a good toast! And such great photos! It sounds like a great time.

Mary May 18, 2008 at 10:43 AM  

Awww.... I love weddings!

Michelle May 18, 2008 at 10:38 PM  

Swish -- thanks! And thanks for not saying anything mean about the pictures. After looking at them, I decided I REALLY need a new camera. I'm about to go order the Canon 850IS from Costco....

Mary -- I do, too! Especially when they have cool traditions thrown in that I'm not familiar with (like the toast at every table one I witnessed here!).

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