Hawaiian Hyatt Honeymoon of my Hdreams.
There is one singular mantra getting me through the dredges of stress at this, the 2 month out point of wedding planning. It goes like this:
SWIM UP BAR SWIM UP BAR SWIM UP BAR SWIM UP BAR SWIM UP BAR SWIM UP BAR
I don’t want to emotionally “miss” the wedding by focusing completely on the honeymoon, but I find myself fantasizing about the sweet, sweet feeling of relief that will accompany the completion of something that has taken a good year to plan. And I’m just saying, it’s a particularly sweet to picture that relief from within the safe & loving confines of a swim up bar.
Richie & I were torn about where to honeymoon. And I should clarify- I LOVE to travel. My favorite place on the planet is Queenstown, New Zealand. Followed by Prague I think. And then Costa Rica maybe. So when I thought honeymoon, places like Bali & The Maldives came to mind. Richie, on the other hand, considers an unpleasant drive to New Jersey “traveling”.
So I got thinking. Hawaii is pretty much the perfect compromise. It warms him up to a zillion hour flight but he can still speak English & get ahold of a cheeseburger. Baby steps. And ultimately, all I care about is RELAXING. I don’t care if I ever leave the pool (which is why the swim up bar is a necessity).
Once we’d decided on the islands (Kauai & Maui!), it was time to research the resort of our dreams. On my global travels, I’ve become a hardcore Trip Advisor advocate, so I started my digging there. But I’m a big ‘ol cross-reference with The Knot type of chick who then Yelp’s the heck out of something. What I’m saying is, I do my research. Before long, I found one name that popped up over & over again. Being the altruistic woman I am, I’m going to save you a million hours of research & just tell you exactly where to stay on your future Hawaiian vacation.
Our first stop will be Kauai. And I pretty much died when I found the Grand Hyatt Kauai ( http://www.grandhyattkauai.com/). When I read they made the Conde Nast Gold List for 2012 & were ranked as the #1 hotel on Kauai, I was done. Please look at this ridiculousness:
Yeah, I know. I’m not promising to ever come home.
After Kauai, we’re popping over to Maui. And lo & behold, Hyatt won me over again. The Hyatt Regency Maui (http://www.hyattregencymaui.com/) is equally ridiculous. Because when Travel + Leisure Magazine gives you the World’s Best Award (August 2012), that’s pretty much enough for me. And if that’s not enough for you (you are being TERRIBLY difficult right now!), then I’m happy to bring up the Grotto bar, aka the bar…inside a cave…that you swim into.
You had me at hello, Hyatt.
Statistically, if you haven’t already been to Hawaii, you’ll be going there soon. Ok, I made that math up, but here’s the point- it took me some digging to find the dream spots for our honeymoon & hopefully my expert blogging skills will make your future trip to Hawaii that much easier to plan. I’ll let you know what I think of these resorts post-vacay but I can assure you of one thing: with all of my world travels, I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to stay at any resort.
Side note, because I’m planning to make sure Richie is REALLLLLY glad we’re getting hitched (& also because I love a good shopportunity), I’ve gone on a quest to find a brand new super hot bikini for every day of the honeymoon. You’re welcome, Mr. Wilson.
Some cliché with the word “Lei’d” in it,
And the chocolate shall pour down from the heavens…
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
Trial by flower.
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.
So I should probably have a dress by now.
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.
Promise me: No. Chicken. Dance.
We need a DJ for the wedding. Which inexplicably is now less than 7 months away. I just noticed that on the nagging countdown timer on the upper right corner of this page & now I’m completely distracted & panicked.
What was I talking about?
Oh, DJ. So, I’ve realized throughout this wedding planning process that I’m a smidge of a control freak. Maybe not control freak so much, it’s just this: when I do things, I know they’re done. And most likely perfect. When anyone else does things, I have a sneaking suspicion that they are completely opposite of what I would ever want.
Having learned this about myself, and having come to terms with the fact that I do not have the 47 hours in a day required to do all this stuff myself, I made a list of things I could live without controlling. Things that, should I put them in the (legitimately) capable hands of my fiance & should they (inexplicably) go horribly awry, I could live with the aftermath.
So he got the DJ pick. We have utterly opposite taste in music so finding someone who could make us both happy was going to be a job within itself.
I had one rule. And I wanted it in writing. If the DJ plays “The Chicken Dance”, he is not getting paid. Period. We are not traditional people, we are not having a traditional wedding & I do not want any hint of traditional cheeseball DJ antics. Despite our painfully opposite music taste, this we completely agreed on.
After hours of research & reviews, Richie found a clear front runner & we set up a meeting with Scratch Weddings (http://scratchweddings.com). Here’s what I dug about them:
1) Scratch has over 700 skilled, trained, marquee-level DJs nationwide who have done over 15,000 events for over six million guests.
2) They’ve collaborated with Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, Snoop Dogg & Michael Jackson. (Seriously- good enough for Snoop, good enough for me.)
3) Scratch Weddings offers the option to select from a number of DJs paired to each couple based on their personal style, taste and musical interests with online access to DJ bios, photos, videos and music mixes.
4) Couples are assigned a professional wedding music manager to work with them, their wedding planner, venue and their DJ to handle all musical details of their wedding. There’s guaranteed DJ replacement in the event of an emergency and liability insurance.
5) Scratch Weddings earned the 2011 “Bride’s Choice Award” on WeddingWire, the 2011 “Best of Weddings” award on The Knot and consistently receives five out of five stars on sites like Yelp.
Personally, I like that there are hundreds of DJs. So god forbid a freak chainsaw accident happened and our DJ was unable to spin a record, they’ve got backups on deck. And Richie is geeking out over the fact that they have a DJ school founded by Jam Master Jay of Run DMC. In fact, he kind of wants to enroll.
So we’re going with Scratch!
Here’s what’s cool- based on their first impressions of our (impossible) musical tastes, they emailed us links with bios & pics* for their top 6 recommended DJs:
DJ Trife: http://bit.ly/kE9S6U
DJ Vida Ventura: http://bit.ly/zB5EZb
DJ Dan Chaves: http://bit.ly/ks5wTA
DJ Stef Nava: http://bit.ly/zy36zG
DJ Jon Blak: http://bit.ly/ApHuJA
DJ Alias: http://bit.ly/mcoSjA
*Um, I’m sorry but pics are IMPORTANT! Call me some hybrid of insecure &/or shallow, but I am SO not having the stereotypical NYC supermodel DJ spinning our wedding. Because I’m a chick. And I’m allowed to be occasionally irrational about these things.
The next step is to narrow down those DJs based on their mixing styles (check it out- they really do have different vibes!). Then we’ll go in and meet with our fave who will spin live for us. How cool is that?! I’ll take some video of it & share with you guys on here.
Best of all, they’re completely on board with our “no chicken dance” policy.
The Engagement Party
We FINALLY had our engagement party (and I FINALLY have a minute to write & tell you about it!)
I knew I wanted to have a party while my dad was in town. And I knew he was going to be in town a good three months before he was here. Yet somehow, we were less than two weeks out and I still had an unsent evite sitting open on my computer, missing such crucial details as “location”.
Richie & I knew we wanted to do something nice for our engagement party. We could agree on three things: we wanted good food, I’m all about atmosphere & an open bar was a requirement. It doesn’t sound that challenging, but six venues later, we weren’t any closer to finding a spot that wasn’t either lacking one of those components or wanted the equivalent of our future kids college fund for three afternoon hours on a Saturday. Ok, slight exaggeration, but SERIOUSLY, one place quoted us $6500. (in state tuition-ish, no?!)
Thank the good lord that my friend Sandy (aka “Cruise Director”, so named for her extensive knowledge of all things awesome in NYC) suggested one of our old haunts, Cibar in Union Square. Over the past 5 years, I can remember (fuzzily) many late nights that ended in that pink velvety lounge sipping dirty martinis with my girls. The vibe is awesome, the drinks are amazing & the snacks rule. And what I came to learn, working with Lisa & Gina, is that the staff could not have been more accommodating. Next time you’re in NYC and looking for a hotspot, let me Cruise Direct you straight to Cibar: http://cibarlounge.com
Look how cute this place is!
So after working out the (completely reasonable!) details with Gina, I went in to meet with Lisa & plan the menu. I’ll share what we did food & drink-wise, in case you’re planning a party yourself.
Beer: Amstel & Stella
Wine: Bordeaux & Pinot Grigio
Signature Cocktails: Green Apple Vodka Martini with a sprinkle of cinnamon & a http://bulldoggin.com Blood Orange Martini
Food: hummus & crudite, cheese plates, apple & brie quesadillas, chicken skewers, edamame, mini pigs in a blanket, mini kobe burgers, pizza & mini cupcakes. SO DELISH!
(Side note, my favorite part of the menu planning was tasting all the signature cocktail options. It’s a serious job. And must be taken seriously. At least until you stumble out.)
The evening was a blast. And I remember that primarily in hindsight by looking at the pictures photographic genius Bennet Cobliner (http://bennetcobliner.com) took. Because I may have had one too many to remember 100% of the details. But what I can piece together via the photographic evidence was just fantastic 😉
Here are a few of my favorite pics-
Hot Up Boot Camp.
I want to be HOT on my wedding day. Not every day hot, exceptional hot. I want to look back at those pictures when I’m old & wrinkly and be all “DAMMMMNNNN!”. I don’t even use phrases like “I’ll be all ‘DAMMMNNNN!'”, but that’s seriously the level of hot I’m looking for. I intend to put a Kardashian to shame, that’s all I’m saying.
So I’m trying to figure out what goes into that hotting up process.
Let’s start with the obvious. My dream weight is a buck 17 (perhaps you’ve noticed my obsession with sevens…and yup, it’s pretty much that arbitrary). I can’t break 122 to save my life. And frankly, that’s working hard for it- I rest comfortably at 124. I know there are people who would roll their eyes at my quest to drop 5 lbs, but let me tell you, I’ve come a long way to get to the point where 5 lbs matters. I look at working out as my job (and a caloric penance of sorts for eating total and complete sh*t all day). 117 is the lowest healthy BMI for my height and I think being a healthy weight is more important than being Kate Moss. Besides, I’m built too naturally Jessica Rabbit-esque to risk looking emaciated (I’ve gotta have at least 10 lbs in knockers alone?!). My goal may sound crazy, but I have yet to meet a girl who is 100% satisfied with her weight as it stands. And while I think I look fine in person- I’m a size 2 and I don’t have “problem areas” to defensively dress- I recognize (and am thankful) that my world is often on camera & that cameras completely suck balls, as far as the whole adding 5 lbs thing goes. Point being, I want to be 117.
So there’s that.
Also on the hot up list- I’m doing laser hair removal. Ok, that wont necessarily show up on wedding pictures, but come on! Who doesn’t want baby smooth legs all the time?? Plus, there was a groupon. So a couple months before the wedding, I’ll be relatively hairless.
Annnnd while I’m at it- I’m getting a tattoo removed. Don’t you worry- I’d never touch my “7”. This one’s a smidge south- the ‘ol “tramp stamp” was such an awesome idea in college but much like Crystal Pepsi, it just doesn’t pass the test of time. There should be a law that you have to take some emotional maturity exam before they can start inking you. Or maybe move the age limit to 25. I’m just saying you need to know what it is you truly stand for before you permanently declare it on your skin. I kick around ideas for new tattoos all the time- I don’t think I’m done with the ink. But I feel more settled into who I am at this point in my life & I don’t think any new work would be the result of a drunken stumble into a shady parlor. Side note on removal: I’m fairly certain having a limb amputated is less painful. You’ve been warned.
I’m willing to say that I know all of this is a little screwy. I get that the Utopian version of me would look lovingly in a mirror and find peace & self-acceptance & unicorns & rainbows & valium. I was inspired and slightly horrified by http://www.ayearwithoutmirrors.com , Kjerstin Gruys self-imposed mirror ban for the year leading up to her wedding- have you heard about this? How the eff she’s avoiding mirrors for a year is beyond me (although in fairness, she doesn’t get picked apart on “fan” sites, so you gotta give me a little room for neurosis). I give the girl props. And would offer the girl xanax.
But I digress.
Here’s my favorite part of the story- Richie’s jumped in my hot up for the wedding boat! We have a dentist (periodontist, actually) that we adore here in NYC, Nicholas Toscano, DDS ( http://www.manhattanperiodontist.com ). He does all our dental work- we both did deep cleanings over the summer & I have a whitening hobby (slash mild obsession) that Dr. Toscano assists with. He’s just a good dude, does a great job, really cares about his patients & pretty much treats our teeth like they were gold capped gangsta gems 🙂
Although Richie had braces twice as a kid, they never really “took”. So he sat down with Dr. Toscano (follow http://twitter.com/DrToscanoDDS !) to see if there was anything he could do to permanently fix his teeth. And while you’d never know it to look at OR talk to Richie…he now has braces! Dr. Toscano did Richie’s Invisalign. So in about 6 months, Richie’s teeth will look amazing. I didn’t know anything about Invisalign, but I’m completely blown away. You don’t see them! You can take them out! I’m not sure why anyone would get the old school metal train tracks with this technology readily available.
Oh- and here’s the coolest part. Richie trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu almost every night. And Dr. Toscano didn’t want Richie to have all that time training with a mouthguard in his mouth instead of his Invisalign. So he’s creating CUSTOM INVISALIGN MOUTHGUARDS for Richie!! How cool is that?!
So that’s the plan. Don’t get me wrong, I would marry Richie with imperfect teeth as quickly as he’d marry me with stubbly legs and an outdated tattoo. But the wedding is kind of a natural hot up deadline. It’s nice to set some life goals that we can accomplish over the next twelve months, three weeks and one day.
Wedding Weekend: Richard & Kristin Christy
I’ve attended a good number of weddings. But now, in the midst of planning my own, I’m seeing the entire event through a whole new set of eyes. Case in point- last weekend’s wedding of two of amazing people, Richard Christy & Kristin Jenco (aka Kristy Christy).
Richard & Kristin are two of my favorite people. They are kind, genuine & an absolute blast to hang out with. I was honored to share their wedding with them.
I was also excited to see how a few things I’ve thought about doing in theory ended up working in actuality. For instance- no formal sit down dinner. The Christy’s had great passed appetizers and then buffet stations. It was really nice not to have the flow of the evening dictated to us- we never had to stop the party & sit, waiting to be served. When we were hungry, we ate. Easy!
Another thing I was happy to see was the reception held at the same location as the wedding, immediately following it. We’re planning to do the same thing- we’re going to get married & start the party there ASAP. Why kill hours in between and make people travel? Especially if you’re not getting married in a religious location where it might be inappropriate to have a reception. It was great to enjoy a quick, fun ceremony and then immediately celebrate the hell out of it.
Another was the flip flop basket. I’m a HUGE fan of the flip flop basket, ever since I first heard about it a few years ago. The basic idea is that most women hit a point where your ridiculously stylish shoes start to strike you as just ridiculous & your forced with the option of sitting immediately or risking amputation. So why not change into a brand new pair of flip flops, available in assorted sizes & provided by the bride & groom? Easy solution & we all keep dancing. In fact, I’m SUCH a fan of the flip flops, that I decided to make Kristin a special bridal pair as part of her gift. Check em out:
(I included 12,000 pictures of them because they took me a solid week to make)
Speaking of creative gift components, I also made them chalices of sorts, based on what I guessed liquor consumption levels might be 😉
Overall, the wedding was an absolute blast. What I most admired was the sense of Richard & Kristin that I got from the evening. It was a true reflection of who they are. There was no formality or pomp & circumstance about the night- it was just their kind of party. And I think that’s my biggest take away. I want my wedding to be a true reflection of us. One hell of a party that shows our spirit, our sense of style, our idea of a perfect night.
Richard & Kristin, I wish you a lifetime of happiness & I love you so, so much.
Before I sign off, I thought I’d share a few more of my favorite pics from the wedding. Enjoy!
And my favorite of the professional pics-
So, I’m extremely excited. And here’s why: today is CAKE TASTING SATURDAY!!!!!
You guys sent me a ton of recommendations (which I could not possibly appreciate more!) and one name kept popping up here in NYC:
Adam Beckworth is originally from Texas (I feel like that begs for some sort of snappy joke about bigger cakes- I’ll let you know when I smooth that one out. Bear with me, I’m a smidge hungover). He grew up baking & decorating cakes but moved to NY to act almost 15 years ago. He went on to work in the graphic design world for several years, until he decided to pursue his baking passion full time. He describes his cake style as bold, graphic, clean and modern, and he’s drawn to unique flavor profiles made from scratch with fresh ingredients.
Here’s the other cool thing: he’s one of those amazing cake artists who can make cakes that look nothing like cakes. He needs to be on one of those TLC shows, his skill blows my mind. I first learned about Adam’s talent when my best friend (and marriage officiant! I’ll write about that another day), Ellie, showed me a picture of this cake from our mutual friend Melanie’s bachelorette party. Mel loves a good cheese plate…so he created this for her:
I checked out Adam’s website & saw these ridiculously amazing pieces of delicious art:
Also, please look at these cupcakes. CUPCAKES!!!!!
Lest you fear I’m doing a giant Doritos bag wedding cake, Adam does traditional cakes as well & they are all obscenely beautiful.
Are you looking at your computer screen in complete disbelief? Cause seriously, I’ve shown my friends these pictures a hundred times already & I’m still in awe.
So Richie & I are off this am to meet the great wizard behind the curtain at A Little Somethin Sweet. I hope to be in a borderline blood sugar emergency by the time I leave.
Will post all about it asap!