Thursday, July 30, 2015

Here Comes The Bride

**Fair Warning:  Long, Photo Heavy Post! Though I've tried to make collages and limit words, it's a big one!**

While Mr. Helen and I are generally quite conservative when we travel, for this special occasion we decided we'd indulge a bit, including some room service and valet parking for the weekend.  The valet parking was especially helpful as we were in a large hotel with a large parking garage.  It was so nice to just walk to the valet stand and ask for the car!

I am going to do my best to share the day with you, but as you can imagine, there are so many things I wish I had photos of but don't, simply because I was mother of the bride.  There were many times when I was helping her or otherwise occupied and I'm sure other people took photos but I just don't have them yet.  Maybe one day I can do a Wedding Day Redux post.  In the meantime...

Wedding Day started quite early for me, at 6:00 a.m.  I got up, jumped in the shower, and just as I was putting on the complimentary robe, my hot fresh pot of coffee was delivered to the room.  Just what I needed to get myself awake and drive to my hair appointment, which was at 7:30 am.  I wasn't sure what to expect since it wasn't my regular salon, but I'd had the salon recommended and I'd had text and email contact with the stylist.  It turned out to be a magnificent experience - not only was my hair gorgeous, it lasted from 8:15 that morning, until I took the pins out at 11:00 that night!  Bonus: it cost me less than I would have paid at my home salon.  I think you'll agree she did a wonderful job.  (Note: if my hair looks lighter, it is.  I had highlights put in a week before the wedding.)

As soon as I got back to the hotel, I began to do my makeup and get dressed because Little Helen had asked us to come to her suite for 9:45.  Just as I got to our room to find it empty, I got a text from Mr. Helen telling me he was in the restaurant having breakfast with my mother and aunt.  Seriously?!  I decided in my next life I want to be a man...

Eventually he came back to the room, quickly got dressed (no hair or makeup for him lol!) Honestly, I was so happy with all the choices I made, and I felt really beautiful and thought Mr. Helen quite handsome in his suit. (Sorry, the lighting in the hotel room was tough.)  I said it yesterday about the shoes but truly my entire ensemble was everything I hoped it would be: comfortable, light, airy, pretty, and easy to wear for 8 hours.

Finally, we made our way to the suite.  When we walked in, there she was, already made up and just finishing up the buttons on her dress.  She was literally glowing from the inside out and to say that she was the most beautiful she's ever been would be an understatement.  These are all photos from the suite, where she had a fruit platter and pink champagne.
Gorgeous Fruit Platter

One of my very favorite shots of my girl, taken by my sister-in-law.  The pearls on her wrist were her something old- E.'s nana's pearls that she made a bracelet.

Another favorite shot taken by her sister

Her bouquet and shoes

The Bride and her Best Woman

Her toenails were painted purple.  Love this shot of our Gracie holding up the dress so the photographer laying on the floor could get a picture

I don't even remember this photo, but here it is.  Kind of fun, right?

I caught the photographer's assistant holding her bouquet while something was adjusted for a photo

And of course, a shot of us three

At the rehearsal dinner she had presented us with special toasting glasses that we used in the suite, then took on to the reception with us.

It seemed like a blink of an eye then it was time to go.  Her ceremony site and reception venue were within walking distance but Mr. Helen arranged a limousine to take us and her 3 attendants (Best Woman and two people carrying her dress) to the ceremony.  That was one of the better decisions of the weekend.  When we booked the limo, we did not say "wedding" because whenever those words are used, outrageous prices are quoted.  We were thrilled to see a huge stretch white limousine with a tuxedoed driver and the driver was thrilled when he realized his pickup/drop off was a bride.  Big ups to Lindsey Limousine, who provided spectacular service and quoted a fair price.  Use them if you're ever in CT. No photos of the limo but I have these of the bride waiting to get in.  Love the one with Mr. Helen in the background directing traffic.

Off we go!

It was a short 10 minute ride to the Elizabeth Park Rose Gardens.  When the limo arrived we could see the photographer hustling around telling everyone to get ready.  These gardens do not allow seating except for the elderly so most of the guests were standing.  Sort of felt like paparazzi as we walked down the aisle.  We could not have asked for better weather - bright blue skies and sunshine, with only a touch of humidity. It was a gorgeous ceremony and they did several unique things besides stomping the glass and jumping a broom, one of which was that they cited their vows (except the ring exchange part) in unison.  Enjoy the ceremony!

First the groom's parents.  The groom was already waiting.

Here we come...

The Best Woman and Best Man had us all make a community vow to support them in their marriage.  That "We Will!" was as loud as it gets lol!

E.'s sister on the left and Mr. Helen's on the right were readers.
The poem "Looking for your Face" by Rumi, brought us all to tears.

I just love this shot, so you get to see it.

Finally, the vows were taken, rings exchanged, a kiss, a stomp, a broom jump (sorry no photo of this yet) and the new Mr. & Mrs. were introduced!

Immediately following the ceremony, everyone but wedding party and parents/grandparents hung out for formal photos.  I can't wait to see those but in the meantime here are some others taken while we hung out.

Little Helen's attendants: her sister and cousin to carry her gown, and her Best Woman

Grandparents:  Mr. Helen's dad and my mom

Us with our new son-in-law!

Once we were done, we were also excused to go to the reception as well and by then it was 12:30 and I was starving.  Believe it or not, in all the excitement, I forgot to eat.  Miracles do happen, dreams do come true LOL!

Next post:  more photos, the reception and the after party.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Going with the Flow to Get to the Rehearsal

Hello friends!  The wedding hoopla is over and I'm going to share the best I can without boring you to death.  I feel like those of you who read this blog are my friends too and it's fun to share the excitement.

Thursday, which was two days before the wedding, became the day when everything could have gone wrong, yet somehow we survived and even thrived in the end.

I decided right at the last minute that I could not abide the shoes I've had for two months.  I'd been wearing them for 1-hour periods around the house and they would hurt my feet every single time. So, on Monday before the wedding, I went online and found what I hoped would be a perfect pair.  They were scheduled to arrive on Thursday before the wedding and all I could hope was that I wouldn't have a choice of two pairs of shoes that hurt.  In the end, they were spectacular and I wore them from 9 am to 5 pm on wedding day!  They are Nine West Icant in Gold Metallic.  I loved the stamped pattern of the gold leather, it matched the gold stamping on my dress so well!

Little Helen gave those of us who were were participating in the ceremony, the clear plastic diffuser you see on the heel here.  It stops you from sinking down into the grass and dirt!  They worked perfectly.

On Thursday I also went and got a manicure and pedicure.  I chose a simple pink color for my toes but for my nails, I wanted something different and had a photo of nude nails with a chevron pattern painted on them. I've had it for months and expected to get it. I really wanted the lighter manicure because I had three different outfits I was trying to have them match. The manicurist I used was different because my usual person doesn't do nail art.  I had been assured that this other person could pull off what I wanted.  Well, the best laid plans don't always work out.  Thankfully, I was still thrilled with the end result.  The issue was two-fold: actually getting the chevron pattern on the nails; and having to use regular nail polish mixed with gel polish. Those two generally don't mix because the gel polish is cured under an LED lamp and regular nail polish simply dries with air.  Though she couldn't execute the chevron, she did what she called marbling and I was every bit as happy!  I actually would go back to her to have this effect done with other colors, that's how happy I was. The gold sparkled in the light and made me happy every time it flashed.

The next thing wasn't an issue of ours, but rather Little Helen.  She and E. had decided to incorporate a couple of traditional things in what was really a civil ceremony.  At the end of the ceremony, after being pronounced husband and wife, E. would stomp and break a glass which is a Jewish custom, then together they would jump a broom, which originated in England but was incorporated into Black history as slaves did it to signal marriage since they were not legally allowed to marry.  Well, E. had his glass and a commemorative bag that keeps the flying shards of glass from wounding your guests, but Little Helen's broom did not arrive.  When she left Thursday morning to go to Hartford to finalize her venue arrangements and finish all the little errands, she was doing some deep breathing and hoping she would have time to go to a craft store and make her own broom. We all had given up hope that it would arrive as it was the very first thing she had ordered from Etsy, way back in May. Tracking data as of Thursday morning showed it was stuck in Fresno, CA. Nothing more to be done at this point. Don't you know, Thursday afternoon around 3 p.m. Mr. Helen was out in the yard and started yelling, "The broom is here!  The broom is here!"  Yes, indeed, it was - even though the tracking information still showed it in Fresno!

I quickly called her and interrupted her nail appointment to let her know it had arrived and we would bring it when we came on Friday.  She asked me to open it to make sure it wasn't damaged.  Once I did, I realized why she wanted it so badly - it was beautiful!

Full length shot of broom, along with Mr. Helen's bicep lol!

Back side detail.  Those small flowers are sparkly rhinestones.

Front side detail.  The flowers were more lilac than pink. I love the tiny pearls in the broom itself.

Thank heaven for all these small favors!

Friday morning, we got up and loaded up the car with all the items we were bringing:  the broom, some favors, our own outfits, and most importantly her dress and shoes.  By the time we got done, the car was literally packed.  Mr. Helen said it was like taking her to college all over again.

We were able to check in to the hotel early so had a bit of time to breathe and get ready for the rehearsal and dinner.  Here's my first photo fail:  no pics of my outfit at the rehearsal (unless someone has one and hasn't gotten it to me).  But I depend on Mr. Helen for these things and we were a bit distracted.  Suffice it to say, I wore a pretty lace dress, taupe color and had appropriate shoes and accessories.

The rehearsal was at 5:00 and neither of us thought about rush hour traffic. All we had done was map it out and saw it was 4 miles and approximately 10 minutes.  Ooops!  Suffice it to say, my entire side arrived 20 minutes late (it took us 35 minutes to get there, ugh.) and arrived to Little Helen, E. and his family there already as they all live in the area and planned better.  Oh well, again, it all turned out fine.  The officiant at their wedding was Denise Merrill, Secretary of the State of Connecticut. She and E. have known each other since the early 1990's and though her office is in charge of all Justice of the Peace, this is the very first wedding she has officiated.  She did it for her friend!

Now to photos...

Best Woman and Best Man practicing their lines.

I just love the looks on Little Helen's & E.'s faces in this shot

Other participants watching.

Mr. Helen & Outlaw G. watching

The wedding party & officiant

Now, on to the rehearsal dinner.  The dinner was held at a private club that E.'s mother belongs to.  It was a club started by women, for women years ago (they do now have a very few male members). The invitation said "Men: Jacket Required."  When I asked about this, she told me that when the club was formed, they decided they really never would have to worry about how a woman would dress, but men could be known to show up in any old thing... a t-shirt, torn pants, shorts, sandals, etc.  They felt a jacket would spruce them up even if their attire was terrible.  I thought that was magnificent!

Instead of serving a Groom's cake at the wedding, Little Helen decided to have it at the rehearsal dinner.  She surprised him with this skateboard cake.  He skateboarded for years, until he broke his leg twice.  But he loves it still.  Everything you see, except the board the cake is on, is edible!  This was a dark chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream filling.

There was also Gluten Free cake.  

Both cakes were served with homemade peppermint stick ice cream and chocolate sauce.  Even Mr. Helen, who normally won't eat peppermint anything at that ice cream it was so good.

Our table at the dinner.  E.'s parents went all out.  It was so beautiful

You can see a bit of my dress here and I'm wearing my MOB pin again.  Mr. Helen's jacket was on the back of his chair at this point.

Best woman and her date.

Little Helen is half Zambian.  It just so happens that her half sister (her father's child) is in the USA right now and was able to attend.  We were delighted for them both!

My mom and her sister, her only remaining living sibling.

The happy couple.  Yes, she has a sweater on over her gorgeous dress.  She's always cold.  It's the African part lol!

 The groom's mother saying a few words. 

The groom's aunt, who was the very first in the family to meet Little Helen, saying a few worlds and cracking us all up talking about how when meeting her at Passover, she knew Little Helen was "the one." She also served as one of their coordinators the day of the ceremony.

The groom thanking all of us for sharing their weekend.

I got to take a centerpiece with me - so beautiful and it made our hotel room fragrant.

By the time we left the dinner, and got back to the hotel it was nearly 10:00,  Even though I had an early start on Saturday Wedding Day Morning, I could hardly sleep.  I think I knew the best was yet to come.