Ok, so it took me a minute. But I’m finally prepared to share some of our wedding pictures. Because they are AWESOME.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Before I share the link to the rest of the pics, let me tell you why these were so important and why it took me so long to even look at them. Something I learned, that I will now share with you is this: it is virtually impossible to THROW a major event and ATTEND a major event at the same time. So while everyone told me our wedding was one of the best they’d ever been to, I had to see the pictures to understand their experience. Because my memories of that night are more along the logistical/operational end of the neurotic disaster spectrum.
Richie wanted to pour through the photos immediately but I just couldn’t. I needed a way to make it more special, somehow, before I could bring myself to even take a peek. So he planned date for us- fondue & wine- we brought the laptop & with a bottle of champagne in hand, we looked through them.
And I bawled. And I completely fell in love with every single one. And all at once, I knew the crazy was worth it.
A HUGE thank you to Don Hwang, our amazing photographer for the rest of these pictures: http://richierachelwedding.shutterfly.com/
There was one part of my wedding that was so unique & special that I recommend every bride incorporate it. A vintage brooch bouquet. I first became aware of Amanda Heer (www.fantasyfloraldesigns.com ) shortly after my engagement when a friend sent me a link to 10 unique wedding ideas. It included her brooch bouquets. And I was smitten.
It’s basically this: instead of carrying flowers down the aisle, you carry a bouquet created out of family heirlooms. I was struck by the beauty of the antique brooch bouquets I saw on Amanda’s website, but I was a little protective of my family treasures & couldn’t imagine unearthing them all from the depths of my dresser. Because that’s where they go. But ultimately it occurred to me that I might enjoy them more by actually using them instead of burying them all in a drawer.
I spent about a year collecting meaningful pieces. And it wasn’t hard. I asked family & a few close friends to give me something special to include & I was stuck by how important some of the pieces were. Here are a few that were so profound to me:
Putting these things in the mail was pretty much the scariest part. But Amanda comes with some serious endorsements; she’s been featured on ABC, NBC, WeTV, Bravo, she was voted Trendsetter of the Year in 2010 & Wedding Wire in 2011, she’s been Best of The Knot- the list goes on & on. So I insured the eff out of that package & sent it off. And then I chewed off my nails every single day that ticked by while I awaited the return of my most priceless possessions.
When the box arrived from Amanda & I took my bouquet out, I actually cried. It was beyond just beautiful, it was a collection of my life, my family, our history. And walking down the aisle with it was all the more meaningful- relatives no longer with me felt a part of my big day. It was beyond just a “Something Old” fulfillment- I was carrying my family with me.
After the ceremony, I displayed the bouquet next to a corkboard I’d made that highlighted each individual piece so our guests could appreciate the significance.
Today, I’ve put the bouquet in a shadow box in my living room. And I admire it every day. It’s a much more noble life for those heirlooms than the back of my dresser drawer.
If there was one component of my wedding that I would recommend to every single bride, it’s Amanda’s brooch bouquet. It still chokes me up to think about it.
On facebook: https://www.facebook.com/broochbouquets
The real unsung hero (/potential villain) of any wedding day is the makeup artist. And I should admit this right off the bat: I’m a control freak about makeup & I pretty much hate anyone who attempts to do mine. It’s no fault of the artist, it’s just that I’ve had my somewhat clunky features for 31 years now & I know the tricks to play up the good stuff & try to hide the things I hate. And there’s no way, cute little makeup lady with delicate features, that you’re going to pull out some eye shadow and know better what to do. So I’m inherently a skeptic. Which I explained at length to makeup guru Kristen Therese (http://www.kristentherese.com) before our makeup trial, such that her feelings would be spared when she was inevitably insulted.
But then guess what? I actually loved it. In fact, Richie STILL says to this day that when Kristen did my makeup, it was the prettiest I’d ever looked (which I’m choosing not to take as an insult but more as a reflection of why she’s won The Knot’s Best of Weddings for 2012 & 2013). So when the trial went well, I knew she was my girl. With caveats, of course. I’d be doing 90% of my own makeup (told you about that control freak part), but she could do the remaining facial components that I wasn’t hung up on (you’re just never going to see me without a liquid liner cat eye and it’s time you accept that).
On the big day, Kristen showed up at the hotel bright & early and dove right in, making my bridesmaids and my mom look absolutely beautiful. I was pretty much on the verge of a nervous breakdown all day, so my plans to perfectly put on my own face went just about out the window (I managed the eyeliner, obvi). Kristen calmed my nerves (with the help of champagne) and made me look and feel beautiful.
Not only did I leave the hotel looking great, Kristen worked her cute booty off all night touching me up, fixing my lipstick and making sure the makeup held. And you might take that for granted, but let me tell you- without her, I would have had my face in a compact all night making sure I was camera ready. There was a level of comfort and relaxation knowing someone had my back. Or my face, actually.
Don’t just plan on doing your own makeup on the big day. Because you can’t. 100 crazy things are going to be happening & knowing you can hand off how you look to a professional is going to keep you sane.
I have a hair god. A god of hair. His name is Scott Wasserman, he’s the owner of NYC salon “Hair & The City” (http://www.hairandthecitynyc.com) and he is a GAME CHANGER.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with what a “hair god” does, but it’s essentially this: he makes your hair look effing awesome.
Scotty has been my personal hair god for years. Fans of Howard TV’s “The Bonus Show” may remember my ever changing locks from episode to episode, all courtesy of Scott.
A little about him: Scott Wasserman has been a professional stylist for over ten years. He studied at the L’Oreal Academy in Soho, New York City, with the top technicians in the business and performs expertly all haircutting techniques for men and women, hair extensions, lace front wigs, and is a specialist in all types of color applications. Along with his beloved clientelle at Hair & the City, Scott works with top commercial photographers on editorial and fine art photography as well as hair for television, film, special events and fashion shows.
So, as I made my wedding day plans, there was no one I wanted by my neurotic side more than Scott. Who graciously dropped everything to make me & my peeps look amazing.
Consult the evidence:
So, the next time you need a hair cut, you know where to go. I am willing to share my hair god with you, my friends. But if I can’t get an appointment cause you’re all swarming him I’m going to get cranky.
On facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hairandcity
Wifey note: I’m passing the baton to my “husband” (!!!!) here as he actually volunteered to write a blog. Because his love of Sanfords is overflowing & he felt compelled to put pen to paper. Or finger to keyboard, actually.
Less than 10 minutes after I asked Rachel to marry me, the first thing we did was celebrate over dinner and glass of champagne. When it came to picking the spot, we didn’t even think about it. We hopped in the car and drove straight to our favorite place: Sanfords.
Let me give you a little history on the one restaurant that Rachel and I consistently go to for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and late night munchies. In 1922 Sanfords opened as a 24 hours a day / 7 days a week coffee shop in Astoria, Queens.
Jump ahead to 1975 when John Karalekas purchased it and operated it successfully for over 15 years until his 2 sons Gus and Chris took over and ran it as a local diner and an area late night favorite. A few years ago Sanfords was renovated and reborn as a neighborhood hot spot that continued the tradition of serving amazing upscale food at affordable prices.
One of the most noticeable and fantastic changes was the addition of a killer wine / beer list that can satisfy the even the biggest snob.
Now that I have given you a brief history on the business itself, let me tell you why Rachel and I have a massive love affair with Sanfords and why when it came to picking our caterer for the wedding, it was a no brainer for us. After a first few casual dates, I wanted to take Rachel to dinner at a place I frequented often and knew would be impressive. We had an amazing meal followed by the dessert that I had been talking to her about all night long… the XANGOS!!! A banana, caramel cheesecake-esque dessert that will make everyone who tries it involuntarily re-create the famous When Harry Met Sally restaurant scene. Needless to say, Rachel was impressed.
The night was perfect & I knew Rachel and I had found “our place” for dinner. For those of you who don’t know, Rachel prefers to eat at the more “sceney” types of places (whereas I prefer eating at a greasy truck stop) and she easily puts Sanfords up there with the best spots NYC has to offer. Let me run down the list of some of the amazing (and I mean A-M-A-Z-I-N-G) things on the menu at Sanfords:
First and foremost in my opinion are the pancakes. You have not had pancakes until you have tried these! Light, fluffy, with a secret ingredient that I can’t still figure out after all these years (and hundreds of pancakes) later. Recently they added a peanut butter banana pancake to the menu and although I am a purist at heart, I have to say that these are killer!!!! Try them with sausage. I know you are thinking “what’s the big deal? It’s friggin’ sausage”…but trust me when I say it’s the best you will ever have.
Rachel’s favorite dish and her first pick for the wedding menu was the Butternut Squash Ravioli. If there was a hall of fame for food then this would be up there. Whenever we bring someone new with us to dinner, the ravioli is the one thing we beg them to try – and every time they come back (with or without us) we hear that they ordered it again.
Next we need to discuss the award-winning and oh so kick ass pulled pork sandwich. It’s consistently a tri-state award-winning dish. Many people I know consider it one of the best they’ve ever had. In fact, it’s so good that a family member of mine was in the hospital for over a month and the first thing she asked for after being discharged was “that pulled pork sandwich from Sanfords”.
As far as other menu items go, let me plant these thoughts in your head… hangar steak with asparagus and mashed sweet potato.
Did that make your mouth water? Then how about a peasant salad with the perfect amount of feta & a light greek dressing. Or the duck burger stuffed with gouda. And of course you have to end your fantastic meal with some xangos or Sanfords take on every kid’s favorite meal… cookies and milk. This time the cookie is an oversized warm, thick chocolate chip served with a tall, cold glass of milk.
When our circle of friends want to go out for a nice dinner, this is almost always the spot we pick for a guaranteed great night.
As I said before, there was no way that we weren’t going to have Sanfords cater our wedding. Hell, we picked the caterer BEFORE we even decided on the venue! That’s how much we love this place. Over the years nearly all of my co-workers have come to eat there with Rachel and I and now they come and bring their family and friends. Whenever Rachel’s family is in town, it’s a given that there will be at least one breakfast and one dinner at Sanfords. We even had a follower on Twitter write us and say they came to NY from Canada on vacation and had to try the food at Sanfords because we rave about it so much. They tweeted “Went to @SanfordsAstoria and it was the greatest quesadilla ever”.
Owners Gus and Chris Karalekas have made Sanfords into a “must visit” place for everyone in Astoria as well as throughout the Tri-state area. I know people who travel from NJ, CT and Long Island just to dine there. Trust me when I say this place has everything to please the palate. Award-winning food, award-winning selection of wines and a beer list that has bloggers and beer fanatics flocking to Queens.
Heck, if you STILL don’t believe me then check out the news reports!
Then go follow them on twitter: https://twitter.com/SanfordsAstoria
And like ’em on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SANFORDS.RESTAURANT
On that note, I am off to have some pancakes and try to figure out that recipe…
On twitter: @richiewilsonnyc
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I never had the little girl wedding dreams. In fact, I’d never given it much thought at all. But I can tell you that within about 4 minutes of engagement I knew one thing for certain: our wedding needed a chocolate fountain.
Chocolate is at the apex of my food pyramid (followed closely by cheese, wine & coffee). And the idea of a beautiful fountain spouting chocolate is pretty much my nirvana. It was my One Wedding Necessity (much as the glamorous mini hot dog was Richie’s…god love him).
After “painstakingly” researching a number of chocolate fountain companies, I found the one that stood head and shoulders above the pack: Chocolate Fountain Fantasies ( http://chocolatefountainfantasies.com ).
Their chocolate is insane. Unlike the other guys, they don’t water it down with oil. You’re getting the REAL DEAL. Pure Sephra Premium Fondue Chocolate by Callebaut. If chocolate were Meth, you’re essentially getting Breaking Bad quality stuff. (equally addictive, no?)
Here’s the other thing I liked about Chocolate Fountain Fantasies: they ONLY do chocolate. Most of the companies I talked to do all kinds of party rentals, lighting, flowers…they’d probably sell you new tires, I don’t know. The point is, with my expert chocolate taste buds, I require a chocolate SPECIALIST.
And the dipping items? Stop. You can pick from like 12 million amazing things. Although I’m way more into carb dipping awesomeness of the cookie/pound cake/graham cracker variety versus the fruits (particularly the absurd pineapple/melon/grape variety), I am ALL about choices. And when I had the pleasure of sitting down with the lovely owner, Laura, to discuss selections, she pretty much blew my mind. I’ll save our picks for the post-wedding pics, but needless to say, there will be a vertible cadre of sweet chocolate goodness.
And let me also just go here: as someone who comes from a bi-chocolate family (I’m hardcore milk, my sisters are hardcore dark), we will have NOT ONE, BUT TWO glorious chocolate geysers! So the weirdo dark chocolate people can experience the same bliss that I’ll be feeling over at Milk Landing.
Thank you, Chocolate Fountain Fantasies, for being pretty much the second best part of my wedding (after marrying Richie, of course).
Mentally prepare yourself by following them on twitter: http://twitter.com/chocolatefountn & liking (LOVING!) them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChocolateFountainFantasies
Oh dear lord. The relief. The sweet, sweet relief. The precious exhale of relief. GIGANTIC HAPPY SIGH OF RELIEF.
I HAVE A DRESS.
And I need to stop and give thanks to my new favorite people on the planet, the bridal dress wizards at Demetrios.
Let me back up so we can play a little game called “horrendous dresses”. Or as I call it, pretty much everything I’ve tried on before now. And I should clarify- they were not at all horrendous, they were beautiful, stunning gowns. But with every dress I tried on that was not “MY” dress, I felt a smidge more hopeless and despondent. I was always told one great truth about love that I assumed would be transferable to the wedding dress hunt: when you know, you know. And when it came to wedding dresses, I JUST. DIDN’T. KNOW.
Until I walked into Demetrios (http://demetriosbride.com ).
The genius who made me not want to have a complete panic attack (even sans alcohol! Oh the horror!) was an unbelievably fun guy named Paul. Paul made me laugh, Paul made me try on everything I even showed a slight hesitation of interest in, Paul made compelling but unobtrusive pro/con points for me. Paul was a godsend.
And while Paul rocked my world, he couldn’t have done squat with horrendous dresses.
The story of Demetrios goes like this:
Greek-born Demetrios is a leading, world-renowned designer and a fashion icon in the bridal industry with over thirty years’ experience. In 1980, Demetrios’ dream of owning his own company became a reality. He purchased Ilissa Bridals of New York. Virtually overnight, he turned this small unknown business into a thriving international company. Bridal boutiques throughout the world , including his own Brides by Demetrios salons and the Macy’s Bridal Salons By Demetrios proudly sell Demetrios gowns. He is one of the most versatile designers in the bridal market, covering the entire range of styles from traditional and romantic to sleek and sensuous and is on the cutting edge of the fashion world. They have been showcased in all leading bridal magazines.
And they’ve won a bajillion awards. I like thinking about these awards because it’s highly likely the statuette is wearing a big ‘ol wedding gown.
Dallas Fashion Rose Award – Best Designer
Southwest Bridal Association Award – Manufacturer of the Year
Atlanta Fashion Award – Designer of the Year
Chicago DEBI Award – Outstanding Designer
Chicago DEBI Achievement Award – Distinctive Excellence in the Bridal Industry
Las Vegas Katelyn Jo Humanitarian Award – In recognition of Special Achievements in the Bridal Industry
Now, obviously I can’t show you the dress. But I will tell you a couple of fun facts about it.
1) It’s not white, it’s a darker champagne, which is AWESOME with the vintage feel of the space (and my white-hating skin color. Which accidentally sounds racist.)
2) It has volume without being an obnoxious plastic cake-topper/Disney princess spectacle. Somehow Demetrios has managed to marry something romantic & even simplistic but give it a show-stopping element, all while avoiding the cheese factor.
3) It gives me one hell of a J Lo booty.
That’s all you’re getting.
Everything about the experience, the staff, the quality & selection of dresses was just ridiculously awesome. I actually had fun (imagine!), instead of breaking into my typical cold sweat of panic in which dresses starts to melt together and become as indistinguishable as every scent at an over-enthusiastic perfume girl’s counter.
If you’re in NYC, here’s where you’re going to go for your wedding dress. Save yourself a meltdown &/or the subsequent hangover from dealing with the new term I’d like to coin: “dresstress”. Start on fcebook, since you’re probably sitting at your computer & procrastinating finding a dress at this exact moment. http://www.facebook.com/demetriosbride
We had our flower trial!
Let me start over- I didn’t even know there was some kind of trial that a florist does, but apparently, there is. And it’s completely awesome. Allow me to explain.
Even though the flowers in season now aren’t exactly the same as the flowers in season in September, the pros at B Floral (http://bfloral.com/) put together a close estimation of what your flowers are going to look like. And as someone who’s “florally-challenged”, it was a great way to see concretely that they TOTALLY get my aesthetic!
We’re doing a very “apothecary-eque” vibe for the wedding. Have I talked about this yet? It all started when Richie & I saw a set of coasters on vacation. Which is an odd inspiration, I know. But something about it struck us as so cool.
And before we could walk out of the coaster-selling store, we were locked in to a thematic feel for the wedding. Which fit perfectly into the old vintage space we’re getting married in.
So over the past year, Richie & I have been collecting actual antique apothecary bottles on our travels:
Back to flowers: while I had no idea what sorts of plants we’d be using, the one thing I did know when I first spoke with the superheros at B Floral is that I wanted these bottles to hold peach/shrimp/coral colored flowers, scattered around the space.
So when we walked in for our trial & I saw that not only did B Floral understand what I could barely articulate, but that they had done it more beautifully than I could have imagined, I was downright giddy. Check it out:
And then you kind of have to instagram it, because it’s a requirement for old-timey stuff:
So after I stopped gushing with excitement, we went through a few tweaks (toning down the pinks & greenery a smidge, focusing more in the peach & coral shades) and talked details on the wedding officiants, etc. Next step is B Floral coming out to the venue space to get more specific in their planning. Because they are crazy pro.
So the trial is done! Court is adjourned! And we are GUILTY of loving the hell out of B Floral.
In fact, it’s almost more important than writing this blog. But this blog is so easy. I get to sit in a comfortable chair and pour my heart out to thousands of strangers. I get to sip coffee in my pajamas & think about the horrendous dresses I’ve tried on to date, rather than stand naked in front of a woman tugging crinoline over my head.
So I’ll just write a blog about it.
I don’t have a dress. And it’s now 3 months until the wedding. And while I knew this was a pressing priority, crisis mode didn’t smack me in the face until I saw an article in The Knot recommending you order your dress at the 9 month out mark.
I have run the gamut in my dress explorations. I’ve met with private designers. I’ve been to bridal salons. I’ve 90% committed…only to second guess myself within minutes & walk out of the store flustered.
Here’s the conundrum in which I live: I want a big dress. But I don’t want a big dress. Let me clarify- I don’t want to look like a Disney princess slash cake topper:
But I have the opportunity to wear beautiful dresses quite often & I want my wedding dress to be special- something I couldn’t get away with wearing on a red carpet. I want some volume, but I want a little less traditional. A little edgy, but appropriate to the venue. A needle in a haystack.
And time is so not on my side. At this point, I’m going to be expediting the order or sneaking out with a floor sample under my sweater.
I’ve got an appointment at Demetrios (http://www.demetriosbride.com/) this week. I need you to send me “FIND THE DRESS” vibes. I have a good gut feeling- they came highly recommended & from the little poking around I’ve done on the website, I actually have hope.
To be continued…hopefully in a celebratory “I FOUND A DRESS” blog.