Everyone's Wedding But Mine

Tales of a (formerly) unmarried wedding hopper

Reflections. August 26, 2014

I’ve been asked plenty of times why I haven’t written a blog entry about my wedding. The answer’s simple: a girl needs time. A wedding is only the most epic event of your life other than the birth of a child or finding the perfect parking spot in NYC. I couldn’t just write about it the day after I said “I do”, I needed to process. So now, more than 100 days later, I’m ready, or at least as ready as I can possibly be…

There’s something I can admit now, that I couldn’t admit to anyone the week leading into my wedding: I highly doubted all the prep, all the expenses, all the stress, could possibly be worth it. How could one weekend even things out? How could one weekend be so symbolic of my relationship? Up until that week I’d put my wedding weekend on a pedestal… and days before the big day, I was ready to tear it down.

The morning of April 18th, I laid back in the spa chair at my local salon while my toenails were painted the perfect royal blue, with these troubling fears of unnecessary planning and spending raging through my brain. In the end, I took a deep breath and prepared myself for having a mediocre weekend. Just get through it, Lauren. 

Hours later, Matt and I began the drive into New Jersey, our car packed full to the brim with all my DIY projects and my dress. My dress, that’s a whole other story. The short version goes… at my 2nd fitting it was perfect, not a cinch to be made. But I returned for my 3rd fitting just to be safe, and when I did I quickly learned I’d lost about 5 pounds (all from my waist and hip area -hello stress!) and because of that, the dress had to be taken in TWO more inches all around, just about a week before the wedding. This rarity, me losing weight without trying, sent me into a psychotic dance with my diet for the following week – should I eat more? Should I eat less? Will I gain? Will I lose?  I’m pretty obsessed with watching the scale to begin with, imagine what this did to me… Anyway! When I picked up the dress and took it home, it fit perfectly and I exhaled…but not too much because it was perfectly snug.

So back in the car, on the way to the venue, it wasn’t until we hit route 80 that suddenly things became very real. “This is it, we’re getting married,” Matt said to me. And though it was the most obvious statement anyone could have made in that moment, the weight of it was surprising. This really was happening… And that was when the tide of my internal conflict began to change.

We pulled up to the entrance of the Olde Mill Inn, right behind a car filled with my relatives from Virginia. Within moments of exiting our car we were embraced, kissed and fawned over. I felt my skin tingle, my smile broadening and noticed something was happening, and then I realized that something was me getting excited.

We continued our way into the hotel and I quickly retreated to my suite. It was the same suite we’d toured almost a year before, but this time it was mine and that made it so very different. As I primped and gathered myself for the rehearsal dinner, Matt came to check in on me from his own room. “There are so many people here tonight. I didn’t realize how many we’re coming in a day early,” he said. I peaked out the window that overlooked the courtyard which would host our ceremony, and saw various members of both of our families wandering about. I looked back at him and we were both smiling.

Forty of us headed to The Grain House for dinner that evening, and all forty of us were enamored with its charm. The historic building set the tone for the unique weekend that would follow. Our guests table-hopped to mingle as our nieces and little cousins found a little corner to call their own.

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Plates were filled, glasses clinked and a couple of hours into the gathering, Matt and I  took the spotlight at the front of the room. We thanked our guests for joining us and  then I introduced a video I’d produced specifically for the event. Yes, a photo collage set to some sentimental song would not have taken me months of  coordinating, filming and editing, but I do this for a living, I couldn’t help it.

The video was a collage of interviews with our parents, friends and family. It was our  story told through their eyes. And though I’d spent hours upon hours producing this  video, when I played it for them it’s as if I had never been involved, as if I were  seeing it for the first time. I realized a few minutes into the viewing that I was crying.  “It’s a great story. We’re a great story,” I whispered to Matt.

A delicious dinner behind us, we all returned to the Inn where room parties began popping up around every corner.

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I had made a strict rule for myself to catch a solid eight hours of sleep, and by midnight Matt walked me to my room and gave me a final kiss.
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No matter what sleep aids you take (my go to is melatonin) brides won’t sleep well the night before their wedding. I doubled my dose and at 2am was still wide awake. I kept myself awake further by worrying about the under eye bags I’d have in the morning thanks to my insomnia. But at some point I blinked and sunlight was peaking through the bedroom window. My wedding day had arrived.

As my hair and makeup team arrived, and my bridesmaids filled my suite, I began to feel more excited than any other moment I could possibly remember. I smiled as my hair was pulled and pinned because the videographers and photographers were catching every minute, but also because I was happy.

(All photos from this point on were done by AL OJEDA PHOTOGRAPHY – fantastic duo!)

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My mother-in-law stopped in for a hug and wishes of good luck. Her eyes teared up as she expressed her own happiness that her son and I had found each other. I hugged her tight because I knew how lucky I’d been to not find just him, but his family as well.

Hours later, my mother helped me step into my dress and I had surreal deja vu of when she’d helped me do the same on the day of my sweet sixteen. Half my life had passed since that day and so much had happened between us. Though she was hysterical with happy tears and I had to coach her into calmness for photo-taking, I was so happy to have her there.
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My bridesmaids returned fully dressed and absolutely stunning, and I looked around at them with such admiration. I hadn’t asked these women to be a part of my wedding just to fill a quota. I’d asked them because they’d loved me since birth (my cousins), they’d supported me through years of friendship (my besties), and they’d welcomed me into their lives with open arms (my sister-in-laws.)
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Somehow hours had flown by though I’d felt like I’d only just awakened, and it was time to meet my groom for our first look. My bridesmaids blocked the hallways and I escaped through the back door of the Inn and into a getaway car driven by one of my MOHs.

Leading up to that weekend, the weather had been completely unpredictable. I think it even snowed earlier in the same month. And up until the day before, I’d been refreshing my Weather Channel app religiously, fearful I’d have to bring every aspect of the wedding indoors. But the moment I stepped out of that car, I was engulfed by the  sunshine and soft breeze that awaited me. It was the perfect day, I couldn’t have asked for anything more beautiful. I was so distracted by the weather that it took me a moment to realize my photographer had appeared, waving me out of the car – it was time. My heart desperately wanted to beat its way out of my chest.

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As I rounded the corner and saw Matt turned away from me, I took my first deep breath of the day, and moved forward. I paused a few steps from him and said his name. As he turned around and his eyes fell upon me, the look on his face is one I’ll never forget and it reminded me of the first time we met. His smile was full, his eyes a bit teary and he told me “You look beautiful.” And the world felt more right than it had ever been.

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We posed, we walked and then we called in the troops.

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Photo by Al Ojeda Photography

Photo by Al Ojeda Photography

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And before we knew it, it was time to split up once more. The next time we’d see each other we’d be saying our vows.

After the guests had been seated in the Inn’s beautiful courtyard, I joined the wedding party in our waiting area as the entrances began. The string musicians began playing “Falling Slowly” and with it, the bridal party began their walks down the aisle. When my flower girl left to make her way outside, I felt my stomach doing flips. I wasn’t nervous about getting married, I was nervous about being the focal point for 150 people all at once. Then “Canon D” started, my dad kissed my cheek, and I took a deep breath. Game time.

The moment I cleared the corner that rounded into the aisle, I looked straight up at Matt and everything else sort of melted away. His smile made me smile and those smiles got me to the altar without shedding a tear. I wish I could say I got through the ceremony without smearing my makeup, but that would be a blatant lie. We’d chosen to steer clear of religious traditions and had my cousin, who is a lovely and spiritual woman, marry us. She spoke of us and our relationship as she’d come to know it firsthand. Her words were original and true. We couldn’t have asked for a sweeter, more unique ceremony.

From that point on, my words won’t do justice in remembering the rest of our day. Every precious moment of that experience was beautifully captured by my videographer Jose and his team at DeliaStudios. Hiring them was one of the best decisions we could have made. So here it is, a 23 minute long short film that will show you exactly how my wedding day looked and felt.

As you may have gathered from watching the video, our wedding was full of a magnificent energy from start to finish, which is why the party didn’t end when the ballroom lights came on. My family and their instruments, along with some of our bridal party and numerous onlookers, took the party further into the evening and even into the lobby where one of our groomsmen made use of a grand piano, tickling the ivories to some classic tunes. There were more room parties and gatherings at the bar across the lot. It was as if no one wanted this night to end.

The next morning, a mess of hair and makeup, I made my way into the shower while Matt left the room to gauge the overall feel of our overnight guests. Wedding hair should come with a warning label: WILL TAKE HOURS TO DETANGLE WITH POUNDS OF CONDITIONER. It was the longest shower I’d ever taken and when it was done I emerged a wife.

We joined remaining family and friends for coffee as they spoke passionately about the fun they’d had. And that’s what made Matt and I feel the best, knowing we weren’t the only ones who had had the best day ever. That feeling grew deeper as I packed up our treasures in the suite, accompanied by my friend Jonathan. While he reminisced about the previous night, real joy lighting up his eyes, I saw his visit to my room as deeply symbolic. Jonathan, like many friends and family who attended the wedding, aren’t people I get to see very often. Life usually gets in the way, but the love is always there. To have him there, reliving such a precious time with me made me almost as emotional as saying my vows did. It wasn’t just the venue, or the food, or the DJ that made the weekend so perfect (though they were all fantastic!) it was the energy and love of those around us.

Hours later, when the last box was packed, the last kisses and hugs given and a final goodbye was said, Matt and I headed home. In the car we couldn’t stop talking. Various memories from the weekend rolled off our tongues and in the end we both agreed on one thing – it had all been worth it.

 

So I’ll Never Date Again April 11, 2014

Filed under: Love Lessons,The Weddings — everyonesweddingbutmine @ 2:06 pm
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Recently I was speaking with a male friend of mine who is on a Tinder rampage, meeting a new girl at least every other day. I try to keep up with his stories, but it’s exhausting. I don’t know how he keeps his eyes open or his mouth moving after an intense week of dating.

Over chopped salads he asked me, How does it feel to know you’ll never date again? I dropped my fork, piled high with bits of vegetables that will keep me at close to perfect wedding weight, and just stared at him. It wasn’t something I’d considered or even thought about until right then.

You don’t reach a point of knowing you’ll never date again until you are at the point where you’ll never date again. There’s no warning. There’s no time period where you get to say goodbye. It’s just a part of your life that slips away quietly in the night, never to be seen again and you didn’t get get a chance to thank it for all it taught you.

I wouldn’t say I’m saddened by it. But I think I need a little time to let that sink in. – was my response.

Then my week of bridal activities appeared on the calendar and was quickly met with all of my non-single girlfriends hooting and hollering about letting loose without their significant others. I can’t say I shared the excitement in the same way. Maybe I haven’t been in my relationship long enough to celebrate having a break from it. I’m also not a mom who busts her ass every day caring for her kids and could use a well deserved break, so there’s that side of it as well. But I love these ladies, and spending a night (or several) with them is what I looked forward to the most.

It started in New York City.

Being that none of us had hit the “club scene” (is it still called that?) since maybe 2007, I defaulted to the area of NYC most easy to jump around without the burden of cover charges: the LES. Upon entering the first spot of the evening, I was quickly aware of how NOT young I am. I think some of the guys were still going through puberty. When a dude offered to buy this bride-to-be a shot, I questioned if he was even old enough. He looked at me like I was wearing mom jeans and changed his mind.

Second to the crowd and its pubescent nature was the weakness of my stamina. By 2AM I was leaning my head against the hard pillow of a lounge chair and begging my cousin to JUST STOP DANCING ALREADY! I mean, seriously I couldn’t believe how well this mom of two young children could dance to Drunk in Love four times in one night. She finally gave in to me, and my tired crew giggled our way back to Brooklyn. It had been a wonderful night, with amazing ladies whom I cherish greatly, but it didn’t provide me an answer to my friend’s question about saying farewell to singledom. I’d have to keep thinking about it.

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Later that week I hit Florida, and more importantly, Key West. In a car packed to the brim with lovely women, suitcases, liquor and an ample amount of bottled water, we drove the four hours from Fort Lauderdale to what had been my second home the summer of 2012. For those not familiar with this beautiful low-key vacation spot, all you need to know is it’s one of the greatest places on Earth to visit when all you want to do is ignore your worries and enjoy a laid-back version of life.

During our two day stay, my lovelies and I soaked in some sun (and booze), laughed with locals and ate the best pork tacos ever (Amigos is AMAZING.) They made me wear a sash, carry around an inappropriate blow-up doll and dance with drag queens. To say it was all just “fun” would be an understatement. I laughed so hard at times that it’s a miracle my bladder still functions. And I danced so much I ended up losing weight on that mini-vacation (which led to another funny story that I’ll write about at a later time.)  And as we drove back north on my last day in the sunny state, I thoughtfully watched the landscape of the Keys pass by my window in a blur. This was the last place I had enjoyed life as a single girl before becoming serious with Matt, and it was the last time I’d visit it as a unmarried woman. I smiled at the beautiful full circle my life had made.

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When I finally reached my New York apartment (after several hours of delays at the airport), I’d never been happier to fall into the arms of my future husband. “I missed you,” he said, having just returned from his bachelor weekend as well. “Missed you more,” was my response. And before I fell completely asleep, in a drowsy state of being semi-awake, I imagined the single version of myself standing before me, and I told her “Thank you for the amazing years we had together.” She gave me a wink and a smile, then she turned away and was gone. And I fell into a deep and wonderful sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

Pressure Points March 5, 2014

Filed under: Love Lessons,The Weddings — everyonesweddingbutmine @ 12:49 pm
Text from my bestie a few days ago: T minus 47 days!!!
Me: Is that how many days are left until my wedding?
Her: You don’t have a countdown clock?!
Me: LOL No.

And that’s pretty much the point where the zen I’d been feeling about wedding planning took a sharp turn.  It’s when I realized there was a lot left to do. Like, more than I’d had to do over the last 10 months, or at least that’s how it seems.

How many RSVPs haven’t come back? Should we really sit x and y together? Who is going to stalk so and so for a response? How do we structure the procession? When is this snow going to STOP?! Matrons or Maids? Full flowers or petals? Penne or tortellini? Details…details…details. There was a night where I was pretty sure my head was going to implode or explode. I just couldn’t figure out which direction the pressure was coming from.

Matt asked me why I was suddenly freaking out when I’d been so calm for so long. And it dawned on me that it had nothing to do with our marriage, it was about the event. I was completely overwhelmed with the feeling that if I didn’t make this the party of the year, my marriage would fail. As if Matt would wake up the morning after our nuptials and say “Last night was sub-par. I want an annulment.”

And then I laughed at myself… because that was ridiculous. (And because there’s no way it’ll be sub-par, so help me God!) But the laugh helped me relax and come to terms with the fact that this day is coming, it’s going to happen and I just have to let it. I have faith it will be memorable. I have faith our family and friends will enjoy reuniting under happy circumstances. I have faith Matt will smile at me more than once. And I have even more faith that it’s the beginning of the best years of my life 🙂

 

“Holycrapitsalmosthere!” says my brain January 15, 2014

Filed under: Love Lessons — everyonesweddingbutmine @ 8:14 pm
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I’m almost three months away from my wedding. Like hours away from three months, which is just days away from the day, which is going to fly by because suddenly vendors want to talk to me again, and because little rsvp cards are arriving in my mailbox, and because my fittings are around the corner (so I juiced again) and, and, and….. Welcome to my train of thought.

The irony is that I was warned about this. “You think a year is a long time? Not when you’re engaged. Fastest year of your life.” I assumed this was true, but it’s never as real as when you are actually living through it. And I wish I had these crazy stories about what this process has been like, but the truth is, it’s been pretty easy, it’s just happened so fast! Probably has something to do with the fact that I’m a producer and weddings seem to imitate field shoots. Instead of cameramen, makeup artists and talent to juggle, I have DJs, videographers and musicians. I got this.

So instead, what has stopped me in my tracks is a realization of something I took for granted on April 19, 2013. I assumed, as I squealed “Yes!” and let my fiance adorn my finger with a gorgeous ring, that I was 100% ready to get married. And now, I’m suddenly very aware that I wasn’t. What I knew in that moment was that my answer was most definitely not “no” which doesn’t necessarily mean it was 100% “yes”…if that makes any sense. And if it doesn’t, let me explain…

There’s something about wedding planning that can bring out the best and worst in people. There are people I just can’t seem to agree with on anything. And then there’s my fiance. We’ve debated over one thing: engraved favors vs. hand painted. That’s it. There are about five hundred and sixty two things we could have argued about. But the arguments never came. We talked everything out, we planned accordingly, we voiced concerns and found solutions. Oh, and in the midst of all this planning, we moved in together. We share one bathroom and it takes us both at least ten minutes to do our hair, yet we’ve figured out a system and it’s only faltered once. We’ve been a team.

And now, nine months from the day I said “yes” and three months from the day I’ll say “I do”, it’s very clear to me that I want to marry a man who I can talk to about almost anything, who won’t judge me for my decisions but will help me through them, who will calm me down when I can’t choose between royal blue or electric blue, or casual script font and fancy font. Who adjusts his morning routine to not interfere with mine. Who cleans the dishes because I dread it. Who has accepted me for who I am, both my adorable side and my moody… And I have that man. Now, I know I do.

How could I have known last April what I know now? Back then, it was just an assumption, a leap of faith that we were as good together as I believed we were. But now that we’ve been tested, I know. Now that I’m almost getting married, I’m fully aware of how right I was in saying yes to a question that reflects more than one day, than one moment, it’s an answer I’ll hold confidently for a lifetime.

(Cake tasting might be one of the best aspects of planning a wedding. Just saying.)

 

Taylor Swift: Little Miss Love Prodigy January 5, 2013

Filed under: Love Lessons — everyonesweddingbutmine @ 11:33 am
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I forget what it was that brought me to Taylor Swift’s song Red sometime this past October, though I have vague memories of a Target commercial. Once it found its way onto my iPod I had a hard time keeping it off my daily rotation of musical selection. At first I just assumed it was catchy, but then I listened more carefully…

Loving him is like driving a new Maserati down a dead end street

faster than the wind, passionate as sin, ending so suddenly…

But loving him was red…burning red

Why couldn’t I stop listening to this? Why was I clinging to these phrases like a preteen hangs on HarryWhatsHisBoyBandFace’s every word? Duh, Lauren! Because you know exactly what she’s talking about and you are fascinated by how she was able to express your feelings better than you ever could yourself. 

Somehow, someway, little Miss Swift had cracked the code to my diary and studied the last 15 years of my life, zoning in on the relationships that had turned my existence upside down, leaving me dazed, confused and wondering what the hell had just happened… (i.e. almost all of my previous love life run-ins.) She took that info, stirred it in her magical word pot and released an album that made me sit back, take a deep breath and utter the words, Holy shit. 

When I expressed my interest in this song to my friend Jonathan, he immediately asked me, Have you read her liner notes? When I said no, he cyber-gasped at the ridiculousness of my ways and immediately forwarded me the following (Taylor’s prologue to the album Red):  

There’s an old poem by neruda that I’ve always been captivated by, and one of the lines in it has stuck with me ever since the first time I read it. It says “love is so short, forgetting is so long.” It’s a line I’ve related to in my saddest moments, when I needed to know someone else had felt that exact same way. And when we’re trying to move on, the moments we always go back to aren’t the mundane ones. They are the moments you saw sparks that weren’t really there, felt stars aligning without having any proof, saw your future before it happened, and then saw it slip away without any warning. These are moments of newfound hope, extreme joy, intense passion, wishful thinking, and in some cases, the unthinkable letdown. And in my mind, every one of these memories looks the same to me. I see all of these moments in bright, burning, red.

My experiences in love have taught me difficult lessons, especially my experiences with crazy love. The red relationships. The ones that went from zero to a hundred miles per hour and then hit a wall and exploded. And it was awful. And ridiculous. And desperate. And thrilling. And when the dust settled, it was something I’d never take back. because there is something to be said for being young and needing someone so badly, you jump in head first without looking. And there’s something to be learned from waiting all day for a train that’s never coming. And there’s something to be proud of about moving on and realizing that real love shines golden like starlight, and doesn’t fade or spontaneously combust. Maybe I’ll write a whole album about that kind of love if I ever find it. but this album is about the other kinds of love that I’ve recently fallen in and out of. Love that was treacherous, sad, beautiful, and tragic. but most of all, this record is about love that was red.

My first reaction was to Google Taylor’s age. My second was to quickly text Jonathan: HOW IS SHE ONLY 22?? (at the time, she’s 23 now – still a child for all intents and purposes.) And at the time of this discovery, I was still 30; a 30-year-old woman who was just now coming to understand the kind of love I had experienced up until that point. The red kind she described, but could never categorize so perfectly myself. Suddenly, having this category to place my former heart trials into gave me the power to understand just how different I felt about my current relationship. And that brought me back to the final lines of the prologue above..

And there’s something to be proud of about moving on and realizing that real love shines golden like starlight, and doesn’t fade or spontaneously combust.

I don’t see red. I see gold like starlight.

And it’s the most humbling feeling I’ve ever felt, like a graduation of sorts. Like, Lauren you’ve seen so much red that it’s time I let you see gold now, like the color of a first place medal… or else you’re going to burn out your retinas. 

So there are two things I would like to say to this little prodigy, Ms. Swift, in thanks for helping me verbalize these differences in my life…

1) You are my Neruda.

2) I do hope you’ll be able to write an album about gold love one day, because if you thought red love was mind-blowing, wait until you meet gold love. It will leave you breathless, but not alone. It will give you confidence, but not as consequence of a break-up. It will give you everything you thought you wanted from those relationships, but with the sudden realization that all those things were never meant for any relationships but this one. And it won’t burn out. Consequently, you should be ready for it to possibly continue for the rest of your life 😉