So far in 2014, it turns out that the second I put something in writing, it doesn’t come true.
First it was gloating about doing a destination wedding in paradise. Only one week after posting the blog, the plans were pulled and now we’re getting married locally. Which, for the record, is completely fine because I’m over the moon with our venue.
Then I wrote about getting The (wedding) Dress at Saks 5th Avenue because a family friend offered me her discount. Turns out, she’s quitting in t-minus 2 weeks and I can’t make it to Manhattan in time.
So then there’s that.
Maybe I just should simply share the opposite of what I want to happen in the hopes that the contrary comes true. Or, maybe I just forgo my musings until post-wedding.
Nah, that’s no fun.
Since The (wedding) Dress shopping excursion is botched, I’m instead focusing on The (engagement photos) Dress.
My gut tells me that The (wedding) Dress will be fairly understated; no Cinderella ball gowns for this girl. So I figured, hey, why not go completely ridiculous, over-the-top, ruffles and a train, and the whole 9 yards for our engagement photos. Really, why not?
There are a lot of images of Big and Carrie’s characters floating around from magazine shoots that make my heart skip a beat. They’re dressed up to the nine’s and I absolutely love it.
The dress I selected was (allegedly) designed after a dress worn at the Emmy’s this year. Ironically, I saw a very similar silhouette worn at last night’s Oscar Awards.
So I went for it and ordered a really big dress, accidentally, from China. I didn’t know that part until I hit “purchase” at the very end. Whoops. Nothing against China, I just wasn’t expecting that Customs would be involved in the transaction.
Five weeks later, my custom-made dress that passed through Customs was delivered. Inside the sad little cardboard box that traveled an ocean or two, was a gorgeous, royal blue frock with fabric that went on for miles.
Holding it up to my body with my hands, I showed Mr. Big and his eyes widened. I’m not sure if it was the sheer beauty that warranted his reaction, or the mounds of fabric that overwhelmed him.
As soon as he left the house, I tried her on. I ordered the size that I currently fit in, assuming it’d work just fine. In fact, I was hopeful that maybe I could even shed a few pounds in the five-week interim and have a little extra space to play with.
Things were looking good, until I attempted to pull her up over my ass. You see, my ass is really, really large. It has been since high school. Even if I’m up or down 20 pounds, which I average every other year, the size of the ass remains large. My figure is the Coke bottle kind, which has its perks. I own my curves and enjoy a small waist. But the damn ass can really get in the way, time and time again, particularly with jeans…and this was no exception. Big trouble came in from little China ~ evidently their sizes don’t convert for large American asses.
I shimmied like a penguin over to the bathroom mirror to take a look. When I turned around, I saw my exposed ass and naked back. The zipper was stuck in place at the very bottom. Let me make this very clear…there wasn’t even an inch or two I could pull up. Nada.
How fitting: The (engagement) Dress doesn’t fit.
So I shimmied back to the bedroom, pulled the very pretty roll of fabric off of my body, and contemplated what to do next.
Well, the photo shoot (which is a plane ride away) is in two short weeks. I hate for this expense to be a complete loss. Maybe, just maybe, a professional seamstress can help a sister out.
Google helped me search for one with awesome reviews. One who can do some dirty work. We’re not talking simple hems here, we’re talking outpatient surgery.
I found my seamstress savior and was pleasantly surprised upon my arrival that her studio was legit. Ya know when you walk into a nail salon and you immediately know if their practice is shady based on the plastic flowers and ancient polish bottles…or, they’re more sophisticated because they have fancy machines and spa-like accents such as a trickling water fountain? This lady had the equivalent of a water fountain for her production room.
My mind was immediately put at ease that this woman could work miracles solely based on the waiting room aesthetics, and, the quantity of customers coming in and out of the door like a Starbucks on a Saturday morning.
She had a thick accent, which I couldn’t place. That is until I picked up her business card and saw her unpronounceable name which appeared to be Russian, or Ukrainian, or Romanian.
The owner instructed me to put on the dress, meanwhile she was fitting a bride in her wedding gown next door. I patiently stood in my dressing room for several minutes and wouldn’t come out, ya know, because everyone would see my large, bare ass. That is, until she noticed my back’s reflection in the mirror.
"Do you need me to help you zip it up?"
Slightly mortified, I responded in front of her other clients, “Well, um, that’s what I need to talk to you about.”
There was a pause.
"It doesn’t zip up, does it?"
I shook my head from side to side.
She smiled with an endearing, sincere expression, and said in her very thick Russian, or Ukrainian, or Romanian voice:
"That’s ok. You’re definitely not de first. We make it work."
One hundred dollars later, I walked out confident that my new favorite person in the world will perform magic and/or an exorcist on The (engagement) Dress before I board a plane next Friday.
"You’ll need to come back two, or three more times in the next 2 weeks. Little by little, we’ll keep testing it out and see how it looks."
God willing friends, God willing. Now I just need to find a suitcase that is big enough for my big dress to cover my big ass.
In the many, many years I’ve been blogging, it just occurred to me that I’ve never written about dating…and now marrying…someone from another culture.
(My) Mr. Big is 2nd generation from a middle eastern country, but on any given day, it never crosses my mind.
Growing up in the “mixing bowl of the United States” right outside Washington D.C., the majority of my friends were 2nd generation children of immigrant parents from other countries. Italian, Hispanic, Asian, Iranian, Iraqi, Armenian, and Greek.
My family jokingly claimed that in a past life, the color of my skin was darker and I spoke with an accent. For some reason, I’ve always gravitated toward other cultures.
The customs, languages and traditions, all of it, I love love love.
So dating Mr. Big, a Persian, fit squarely inside my comfort zone.
Although we are so much alike in many ways, one way we are polar opposites is through our family dynamics. My DNA is large in numbers, but we are not “close” on paper. We could go weeks and weeks without contact; that is my normal. But his family members are in contact daily; that is their normal.
I’ve admired his family’s cohesiveness and connection because I haven’t experienced that, but there are times I am resistant to it since my safe zone is independence.
I digress. So my Persian man is tall, dark and handsome. I don’t think of him as being from another culture though. He is as American as they come, and I simply don’t identify him as being “foreign.”
Watching the Bravo TV show, Shahs of Sunset, albeit over the top in nature since the cast is based in Hollywood, it does bring to light many of the culture’s fundamental truths. They eat phenomenal food with an elaborate spread at practically every meal, families are super close, women don’t shy away from expressing their opinions, they take a lot of pride in their heritage, and they have very nice taste.
Living with his family in recent months, in the interim until we buy a house, has really opened my eyes up to just how much the culture is weaved into their everyday relationships. There are various nuances that play a part in their day to day lives, such as standing up whenever someone new enters the room for the first time as a sign of respect, or giving people a kiss and hug every time you leave the house. Those are traditions I’m simply not accustomed to.
So much so, even my wedding day is turning out to be a bit different than what I envisioned growing up as a Catholic.
My wedding would take place in a holy place, a chapel, equipped with oversized crosses and statues of angels. Amazing Grace would probably be sung at some point during the ceremony. I’d walk down a long aisle as a bride, and walk back down it again an hour later as a wife. We’d scurry off to snap pictures then join our guests for a celebration.
It turns out there’s a caveat to that master plan.
We will have a second Muslim ceremony, performed by the equivalent of a Persian priest, after leaving the Christian chapel. I’m pretty much clueless about the process, logistics, sequence of events, or what to expect. I don’t know much, but I do know it’s evidently fairly casual in nature, and, guests literally give the bride and groom gifts one at a time during the affair which include pieces of gold, jewelry and cash.
The truth is, my initial reaction was a wee bit aggressive. Adding a second ceremony would “mess up” the wedding day agenda. And frankly, I always got the impression it was more of an afterthought, something we’d participate in to appease relatives.
"Can’t we just have it take place the day before or the day after our wedding?"
After realizing just how important this ceremony is, not only to his family but to my future husband, I had a change of heart.
We’re joining our lives together, and although this is only 1 day out of thousands of days we’ll spend together, what I’m coming to grasp is that it’s not just about me anymore — and my own agenda. For almost 35 years, I’ve been making choices for me, myself and I; nobody else.
I’ve also had a hard time accepting that I’m not only going to give up my last name (which I’m very fond of and have an affinity for), but I’m going to inherent one that is nearly impossible for a newcomer to pronounce (13 letters deep). It means a lot to him though, therefore it means a lot to me to take his name as my own.
Something that is easy to overlook is…when you marry one person, you’re actually marrying their entire family. My maiden name begins with a T, for Transition. My new last name will begin with the letter F. Which to me, seems fitting, symbolizing my new Family.
I’ve been laser focused on finding a venue, that The Dress hasn’t been anywhere near top of mind.
But, about every other day, someone asks me the status. In fact, it’s the single most asked question I’ve gotten since the day we got engaged:
WHEN. ARE. YOU. GOING. DRESS. SHOPPING?
"Um, I’ve been engaged for 5 days. I’m not sure."
"I’m trying to find a venue, that’s my priority right now."
"Not til the spring time. I’ve gotta shed some holiday baked goods first."
I get it. I do. It’s exciting. The Dress. THE FREAKING DRESS!! Anyone who knows me in the slightest knows that I’m pretty much obsessed with fashion. And now that the stars are aligning and everything from here on out should theoretically be smooth sailing, I can actually answer the gown probes.
I know someone who calls their employer: Saks Fifth Avenue. And Saks happens to give their employees the ability to buy for friends at their employee discount. And I happen to fancy discounts. Who am I to not leverage this opportunity? That could qualify as the 8th deadly sin: Stupidity.
My only sister by blood is playing Matron of Honor. She wants to come down from New York for the dress shopping soiree — the only caveat is she needs advanced notice. That news really made my heart swell. I never ever expected her to make a 400+ mile trip just to watch me try on taffeta. But who am I to decline the support from my sweet sibling?
In an effort to be proactive, I decided to peruse Sak’s website today and conduct a preliminary stake out session online. But to my surprise, they only have bridal salons in their Beverly Hills and Manhattan locations. Not only do they contain their wedding gowns to these 2 locations, they don’t even have them displayed online.
Damn. Damn. Damn.
I told Big the bad news and explained the limitations,
"Looks like I can’t take advantage of the discount after all."
Ah contraire. He responds,
"Looks like a trip to NYC is in order!"
It never dawned on me to make the trip up north, but come to think of it, I have to be in the city this May for a family affair.
Yes, yes of course. Of course I’m supposed to purchase my dream dress on 5th Freaking Avenue. We are bringing our favorite city to us by saying our vows at a local Trump winery, so it only makes sense to start the dress journey where it all began too.
Eleven years ago, in 2003, we took our very first trip to NYC. There was a blizzard and we got stuck there for days. So obviously we went to the liquor store and stocked up on White Russian ingredients. That was the first of many, many trips, and many, many memories we’d later create.
I’m absolutely over the moon for nostalgia, serendipitous moments, symbolism and meaning. Needless to say, it makes me crazy happy to experience the most important shopping day of my life in my most favorite city in the world. My relationship with Big is synonymous with NYC.
Saying yes to the man I love forever begins with saying yes to The Dress.
Once our destination wedding fell through in the blink of an eye, I skipped over hosting a pity party and instead proceeded to finding a replacement location in our home town.
Before long, I was knee-deep in potential candidates including plantations, wineries and museums. The inclusions and fees were all running together so I made a spreadsheet to compare venues side-by-side. Yes, I’m that girl. As a project manager for a living, that’s how I roll.
One after another were knocked off the list, be it sky-high prices or too many rules and regulations. No candles allowed? Absolutely non-negotiable.
Over the next two weekends, I had 7 appointments set up for Big and I to peruse our future wedding site. The first one was uber rustic in a place where we no longer had cell phone service; a friend referred me. When we drove down the long windy gravel road, almost immediately we knew it was a no-go. It just “wasn’t us.”Although the backdrop has potential to exude “shabby chic” with mason jars and mini chalkboards ~ I’m a diamond and pearls kinda gal who needs to be able to wear high heels. I’ve always said I’m not a barn bride, and this solidified it. I almost broke my ankle walking over a groundhog’s hole disguised by dirt.
We then drove 45 minutes west to Charlottesville, Virginia, wine country USA. During that drive on back roads that made me car sick, Big delivered an unexpected monologue that made me laugh from the depths of my belly.
"Sure these plantations and historic mansions are beautiful. But they all have tents out back and charge you thousands of dollars to use them. I’m not spending that kind of money to rent a G-D tent. If that’s the case, I’d rather just find a friend who has a lot of lawn and throw up our own damn tent."
He made a good point. It got me thinking that our long history of frequenting vineyards really is a better fit for us to say our vows, not to mention we got engaged at a vineyard. This last year in particular we hit over a dozen and have a full inventory of logo-imprinted wine glasses to prove it.
"Most grooms aren’t involved in the wedding planning. I like that you are, it’s cute."
Another girlfriend of mine did some online intel and brought a particular vineyard to our attention. Trump Winery.
As in, The Trump? Donald Trump? Yes. His son Eric purchased it a few years back and the reviews are stellar for both the wine and the venue.
She explained, “I tried to think of places that *feel* like you. You and Big are both originally from New York. You both have a long history and love affair with New York City, so I figured…why not bring NYC to you?”
Trump is synonymous with Manhattan. Brilliant! Absolutely genius.
I don’t know what it was — intuition I guess — but before we arrived, I had a feeling. Deep down I knew in my gut it would be ours. I kept that insight to myself, though.
Before our appointment we stopped over at the tasting room and sipped on 11 Trump wines. Half of them are sparkling wines. And who doesn’t love a little sparkle in their life?
The event manager was fabulous. He popped a bottle of bubbly when we arrived to our meeting and that gesture symbolized the beginning of a long, promising relationship. He then drove us around the property in a black Escalade SUV. Not gonna lie — sorta felt like a celebrity.
There are 3 different buildings on the property that are included with our wedding package. The first, ironically, is a Barn. However…it looks absolutely nothing like a barn on the inside. That’s where our guests will hang out for cocktail hour. There’s also a huge bridal suite to boot.
Next door is a ballroom in the shape of an octagon with windows all around the parameter for the reception. A gigantic mahogany bar and sparkly chandelier had me at hello. The vibe is sophisticated and elegant. Outside are plenty of furniture pieces on a slate patio, overlooking a lake and endless vines and trees.
But the last piece of property is what we really did me in — a teeny tiny chapel that the original owner had built for her family to attend service. My heart and stomach did somersaults in sequence. I may have even jumped up and down, literally.
This is it. This is where I’m going to commit my life to my love.
Truthfully, I was afraid we’d settle on a venue that was good enough. But this isn’t good enough, this is more than enough. I also anticipated this whole experience feeling surreal, but it felt natural. So natural.
As we drove back home and the sun was setting, there was a palpable sense of relief between the both of us. Everything is falling into place. We can have our weekends back and start to focus on buying a home. Our mood was light and happy, our smiles were stretched from ear to ear. Then suddenly, I recognize a familiar sound and looked up.
He begins to play our song. The song we’ll dance to at our wedding.
Right on cue, a tear or two filled my eyes. I felt peace in my heart that we’re exactly where we’re meant to be.
"In this world, nothing can be certain but death and taxes."
I’ve always thought that quote is incredibly depressing. But as it turns out, it’s true. Not much in life is certain, not even plans for your own wedding.
We spent hours and hours with a travel agent, perused a wedding expo, scoped out local venues, put our heads together and ultimately followed our hearts. We thought that our wedding would be overseas, smack dab in the middle of paradise. Turks & Caicos 2015 or bust, I proclaimed to the Internet. This option would take a load off of our wallets, the same wallets which are paying for this event, as well as ease the pain of planning. Did I mention I don’t really fancy planning my wedding?
Destination weddings are quite simple, you basically just show up and bask in the sun. Last but not least, we knew there would be some backlash, but we were wiling to face it in the short run. “There’s plenty of time to plan, to save — people will come around and eventually get excited to travel to such an amazing place and celebrate with us.”
I was happy to give up all of the incremental celebrations leading up to the big day, like engagement parties, bridal showers and bachelorettes parties, in an effort to make things easier on my people to attend.
Not so fast.
From the moment we told friends and family about our plans, 97% of the feedback was negative. And by negative I mean financial hardship woes. And by financial hardship woes, I mean, “I can’t come” conversations. If we didn’t mind that loved ones wouldn’t witness our vows in the flesh, then we’d elope. However, we do in fact want loved ones to surround us on this special day, and Skype doesn’t count.
Therefore we’ve decided to forgo a destination affair and stay stateside, and by stateside, I mean stay in our home town. I simply refuse to get married and not have my best friends there, no way, no how. And on the contrary, I also simply refuse to have friends and family present, but be disgruntled or pinching pennies to get there.
This time is supposed to be “fun and exciting” — so I’m told. But in just one week, it was nothing but dark and depressing. Mr. Big and I knew what had to be done.
So now we’re back to the drawing board. I’m not bitter at all, just a bit sad. But I suspect that will turn around just as soon as we find a replacement location.
Quite honestly, I’m in a bit of a conundrum. I don’t want to recycle a venue that I’ve already been to as a wedding guest. I don’t want to get married in a country barn — it’s just not me. And I don’t want to party in a hotel ballroom either. It’s time to get creative. Wineries, plantations and museums are on my radar.
Despite all of the craziness, there is a light at the end of the temper tantrum tunnel: engagement photos. A dear friend of mine, who is a nationally renowned photographer, offered to take our pictures. This upcoming session has put an imminent fire under my behind to get my act together, and by get my act together, I mean dispose of my holiday weight gain. A wise man once told me that when life feels crazy, remember, “Control what you can control.” And it’s time to control what I put in my pie hole.
It only seems fitting that after dating this man for THIRTEEN YEARS, capturing our engagement — in the form of still shots — should be equally epic. This is the first dress, EVER, that I want to confidently fit into, and it’s not a bridesmaid dress. So obviously I purchased fabric in the form of a bright-colored ball gown for the occasion. Also known as a, “trumpet, mermaid, strapless sweep, brush train, evening dress” inspired by a frock worn at the Emmy’s.
I figure…my actual wedding gown will be understated, so this is my time to go big or go home. Ya know, for Big.