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.


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.


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.

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!)





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.

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.)

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.


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.



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



Photo by Al Ojeda Photography

Photo by Al Ojeda Photography


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.

bachwknd copy


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.


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.






“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.)


Floridian Bliss- aka Marjorie’s Wedding October 18, 2010

It always amazes me how time can be so easily manipulated. It feels as if Marjorie and Erick were engaged only months ago, as if we helped Marjorie pick out her dress only weeks ago, as if we drank ourselves silly only days ago at her bachelorette  party. But alas! This is not true. The year long process ended the weekend of October 1st, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, during the final leg of an intense journey.

What would have been a week long trip for Melissa and I, turned out to be a strict Friday-Sunday stay because of our job obligations. All was running smoothly until I received an email from Continental on Thursday saying mine and Melissa’s flight for Friday had been cancelled.  We’d been rebooked on an evening flight which would mean we’d miss the rehearsal and the dinner, and possibly THE ENTIRE WEDDING!

I was about to freak out, open a window of my 43rd floor office and scream to the heavens, but my coworkers calmed me down. I sat on hold with the airline for 45 minutes before finally having the chance to speak to an agent. Poor Lily, she never saw my maniac monologue coming. In one breath I said “MynameisLaurenRivera.Iwassupposedtobeonthe930amflighttoFortLauderdaleanditgotcancelledandI’mmaidofhonorandI
After suggesting I pop some Xanax, Lily went to work and 15 minutes later, Melissa and I were re-booked onto a 650am flight. We might not be sleeping much, but at least we would make it.

Zombified, Melissa and I made our way to Newark adorned with our carryon bags and our bridesmaid dresses. Suddenly, flying with the dresses seemed incredibly stupid. There was nowhere to hang them and so up into the overhead they went. I didn’t have the brainpower to worry about what they’d look like when we landed.

Hurricane Nicole had just blown through Florida and her reminants were dispersing, making way for the bright and beautiful sun. The rays beckoned me poolside even though I should have been catching a short snooze. A few hours later, slightly tanned and flanked on each side by my mom and Melissa, I entered the church. We were greeted by Marjorie, our fearless, gorgeous leader and ran through the motions of the ceremony. Afterward, I was entirely paranoid that it would be me who would somehow manage to screw this whole thing up.

We quickly made our way to Bimini Boatyard where we were joined by a large group of the bride and groom’s families. My mother, Melissa and I made use of the marina setting by pretending we owned each yacht as part of our Billionaire Girls Club.

Glasses of wine were poured, childhood stories were told and laughs were had. All the “kids” (everyone under 40) planned to head out to the Fort Lauderdale club area afterward. Melissa and I made the wise choice of banking our party hours for the following day and called it a night. To hell with being young and fun, we had beauty sleep to catch!

The next morning I awoke first at 745am to commence the preparation process. Showered and packed, my trio left Pembroke Pines feeling as if we’d hardly set foot there and headed back to Fort Lauderdale. Arriving at the Hyatt by 930am, Melissa and I rushed down to the hair and makeup room while my mom checked in. The scene appeared less like wedding prep and more like behind the scenes of Next Top Model. Beauty stations filled the small ballroom and hair and makeup artists were diligently working on their customers. I asked for a natural looking face and pretty ponytail then let those with masterful hands take the reigns. When all was said and beautified, I felt runway ready.

Knowing we would soon be swept up in wedding day madness, Melissa and I took a seat at the hotel’s bar and grabbed a quick lunch. Erick swung by to say hello before finding a room to park his belongings. He was the total opposite of Marjorie; stressed. Whereas she had an air of complete calm, he walked around with a sense of urgency. If I ever get married, I hope to handle the ordeal like Marjorie…but I’ll probably be like Erick.

At 1230pm we reported to Marjorie’s hotel room where she was posing for photographers. Lorie, her drill sergeant of a wedding planner, ran about with a quickness, pulling pins and blotting tissues out of thin air. I stepped aside for fear of derailing her and causing World War 3. When Marjorie slipped into her dress, I spent a few moments frozen in time. It wasn’t just that she looked gorgeous, but also a confirmation that this was all really happening. My best friend was getting married.

Grouped together like a small procession, we all made our way to the hotel’s lobby where the limo awaited us along with Majorie’s parents and Liliana, Erick’s niece who was acting as flower girl. Incredibly calm and sweet, Lilana, in her little white dress, was lost among the cloud of purple. I grabbed her hand and guided her into the limo. Crammed together, all eight of us slid with the turns and popped out of our seats with the bumps as we made our way to the church.

Once inside, all the bridesmaids created a line of defense to insure no one saw Marjorie in her dress before coming down the aisle. The church might in fact crumble if one glance was stolen. With our mission accomplished, Marjorie safely hidden in a cubby corner, we lined up for the procession down the aisle. Amazingly, I didn’t walk too quickly or fall as I made my way to the altar. Melissa, Oscar and Fernando joined me before we turned to watch Marjorie make her grand entrance. And grand it was! She had somehow managed to look even more stunning than she did 5 minutes before. I felt my eyes tear up just a bit, but she didn’t look the least bit phased. Marjorie and her sense of calm, always present.

Erick, the handsome and happy groom, accepted his wife to be and so began the ceremony. During said ceremony I: 1) Nearly laughed out loud several times not because anything was actually funny, but because I knew I absolutely should not laugh and so, of course, I couldn’t think of anything but laughing. 2) When the priest stood to deliver Communion, Melissa and I slapped our hands against our hearts (a sign that we are not practicing Catholics and were skipping Communion) so quickly and in perfect unison, that Fernando and Oscar had to hold back their own laughter from across the altar. 3) Ran after Marjorie every time she moved away from her post so I could fix her train.

It was an intense 60 minutes.

And then it was over and they were officially husband and wife.

Whereas everyone else got to cut out, head back to the hotel and lounge, the wedding party had to go on a photo taking adventure. In the hot Floridian sun, we made our way through courtyards, parks and the middle of traffic heavy streets. All the while, I held tight to Liliana’s hand. Although her father, Oscar, was with us I had taken a very special liking to her and deemed myself her babysitter. Her soft-spoken mannerisms and angelic smile had me fall in love instantaneously and when several people mistook me for her mother, I was honored. Children like Liliana are rare. But, while I’m usually the person who says time and time again that I may never feel the urge to have my own kids, it’s children like her that make me feel something entirely different. Some deeply buried maternal instinct roars its way through me and I have to get my bearings before I go off the deep end and starting planning for a child I’m nowhere near having.

Several hundred beautiful photos later, we returned to the hotel and joined everyone for the cocktail hour. I bum-rushed the bar and downed 3 Grey Goose with a splash of cranberry cocktails within 20 minutes. I wasn’t trying to set a record, I was just thirsty. Soon enough I was intoxicated, as was Melissa and we made our way to the bathroom, but not before stopping to play a grand piano in the foyer of the hall. I have no business playing a piano…but I did it anyway.

Buzzed, jolly and excited, we made our entrances into the ballroom and the evening activities officially began. We danced, everyone but myself ate, and soon enough it was time for the Best Man and Maid of Honor speeches. My intoxicated fuzz had me believing it was possible my heart might literally jump out of my chest and run for the hills. Nervous was an understatement. I’d spent a week preparing this speech; had my coworkers give me notes and my “life coach” give me his most honest opinion. Overall, it passed everyone’s judgement with good grace… but I was still scared.

I followed Oscar up to Marjorie and Erick’s table, folded paper with scribbled notes dug deep in my palm. Oscar winged it, and at the end, challenged me to give a better toast. I was less concerned with having a better speech and more concerned with simply surviving this. That’s the thing about being a writer: everyone expects you to write, preferably, something amazing. With that burden on my shoulders, I grabbed the mic, made a joke about actually needing a piece of paper because I had a lot more to say than Oscar, and when that got laughs, I began to relax. Below is the video of both mine and Oscar’s speeches, mine starts  at 1:49 although you should totally watch Oscar’s as well 🙂

Dance videos!

After the speech, I was approached by several people who made it a point of telling me how great the speech was. Yet another mission accomplished. I was now free to fully enjoy myself, but not before trooping back over to our hotel room to grab flip flops for my mom, Melissa and I. I offered to go alone because I felt one of my moments coming on. By the time I made it to the room, I desperately needed fresh air. I opened the balcony sliding door and plopped down on the concrete floor. The ocean was smooth underneath the bright moon before me. I was suddenly reminded of my break down at Pablo’s wedding just months before. The difference between the two evenings? I was now even farther away from the possibility of my own nuptials considering I was no longer in a relationship. I remember staring down at my hands and my unadorned left ring finger. Marjorie and Erick’s story, how they’ve known each other since childhood, but came together as adults, is the kind of story I’d probably end up writing a script for one day. And there are a ton of other romantic plot lines I’ll piece together as well. But when I’ll actually start believing in them? That is still yet to be determined…If ever.

I shook my drunken head back to reality, wiped away the small tears that had formed at the corner of my eyes and remembered that I was supposed to be doing something… HAVING FUN! And like a switch, fun Lauren was back. She returned to the reception and to the dance floor. She met a group of wedding attenders and headed to the beach at midnight. She swam, yet again, in darkened waters and then had a slice of pizza to toast her survival. She returned to the hotel and joined everyone for a 2am dip in the pool and hot tub. She laughed. And for what it’s worth, she gave not another thought to her own bullshit and instead enjoyed the happiness emitted from those around her.


La Isla del Encanto – aka Pablo’s Wedding July 14, 2010

It boggles me to think I began this blog at a time when the first event seemed so incredibly far off. Back in 2009 Pablo (FMD) alerted me his wedding would be of the destination type and would take place on July 10. The chosen destination was Puerto Rico; my homeland of sorts considering both my parents’ families derived from the island and each have a slew of relatives that still reside there. Needless to say I spent many vacations with this family who often refused to acknowledge that I didn’t speak their language and ran their tongue in ways I still can’t always comprehend. Why I never learned Spanish is still a mystery to me and a point that brings my parents to a full on war of denial, but that’s another story…wasn’t I talking about a wedding here??

My friends (a small group of people I met in college and have stayed very close to) and I arrived several days before the wedding and stayed on the north east coast of the island, but what occurred outside of the wedding is irrelevant here and so I will blog about that on my personal blog. What’s important now is the amazingness my crew and I experienced on the day of Pablo and Amanda’s nuptials.

Fans for the guests

We arrived to El Conquistador Resort after swerving and climbing through several miles of mountainous terrain. At the top of said mountains, we were met by a stretch of golf course that was something out of a golfer’s wet dream. It was lush, green and ran for miles. Although I’d been to this resort 15 years before, the size of it still amazed me. And that was only the first of many moments of awe that I was to experience during the evening.

Flanked by my two dates (Antonio and Adonis, my brothers from another mother who also came to the wedding solo), we approached the main building of the resort that was truly a wonderful replica of something you might see in Barcelona. I have a thing for terracotta and tile. If it were normal to build a house made of those materials in NY, I’d do it in a heartbeat. But, unfortunately, the only place where such a house would blend in would be Florida. Eh. Moving on…

Everything about the place was elaborate and gorgeous. There were pools, slides, beautiful foliage and an amazing view of the ocean and islands off the coast of Fajardo. While we would have loved to roam around, we only had 15 minutes to find the ceremony and in a normal event hall that would have been easy; on a resort housing what feels like thousands of acres, not so much. I’ve never been more thankful that, unlike me, my friends aren’t plagued with the absence of a Spanish tongue. With just a few quick chats they were directed to the correct area and we arrived just in time.

Upon the crest of a hill stood an altar, sheer white fabric wound about and floating in the soft breeze. Beyond the altar lie the bluest of oceans and the thinnest of clouds. I momentarily lost my breath and then was snapped out of it when I was nearly yanked into a chair by Adonis. Pablo had arrived and was making his way down the aisle. Now I know weddings are about the bride, but I have to say the man looked sharp! A beautiful burnt orange tie accented his light gray suit perfectly, and his robust smile was the final touch.

The groom awaits his bride.

When Amanda arrived my jaw nearly hit the ground. Firstly, let me say that Amanda is an absolutely adorable young woman, but in my eyes she’s always felt like a kid sister, shorter than me and full of innocence. However, when I saw her come down that aisle, I saw the most beautiful bride, a woman who stood tall and ready to take on the world with her new husband. I started tearing up. “Already?” Antonio asked me, “It hasn’t even really started. Get it together!” I sucked it up and watched the couple take their positions by the altar.

The bride approaches

A pastor with a smooth voice brought us all to attention and began the ceremony which included vows, a symbolic mixing of white sand and of course, a set of I Dos. When they kissed, we cheered and when they came down the aisle together as Mr. and Mrs. Diaz, we cheered even more. Then they ran away for photo taking and we hit the bar set up on the grassy knoll. We drank Cuba Libres and Margaritas while we planned timed attacks on the waiters who brought out appetizers like piononos and empanadas. I’d have a wedding in PR just for options like those.

They kiss as a married couple

Inside one of the main buildings, we were guided to the reception hall; a quaint room decorated in the orange of Pablo’s tie and Amanda’s flowers. Unlike some halls I’ve been to, the decorations around the room were neither tacky nor old-fashioned. They were modern and majestic looking. We took our seats at the Rio Grande table (each table was very cutely named after a city in Puerto Rico) and awaited the arrival of our hosts. When they joined us, entering the room to some party music and finding their way to the dance floor, it dawned on me that my dear friend was now a husband. Wow.

Watching them dance with their parents brought me to tears once more, at which point I was shoulder checked by Antonio. Low and behold, when Pablo gave his thank you speech, Antonio was right there with me, reaching for a napkin to wipe the tears from his face. At least he held it somewhat together. Me? I was on the verge of sobbing. It had everything to do with the context of Pablo’s speech…

It revolved around Amanda’s fight with Lupus over the last two years. Although I may never fully understand what this couple has gone through since their meeting, I was easily reminded of what Pablo had shared with me about the experience and from what I viewed with my own eyes during Amanda’s bouts of sickness. But the most amazing part of it all? Remembering how Amanda never looked defeated. How she fought through her illness with a sureness and strength that I’ve never seen in anyone. And how, through it all, Pablo was by her side. Damn. That, my friends, is love.

Pablo giving his thank you speech

I forgot what brought us all out of the most touching and emotional speech I’ve ever heard, it was probably one of Pablo’s random and hilarious one liners. Whichever the case, we were soon laughing, then eating, and quickly on our way to partying. The DJ’s mix of salsa, merengue and dance jams left me without a choice but to dance the entire evening. Adonis battled it out with Pablo in a dance match, and a plenero band (a traditional Latin improv percussion group) called me out to the dance floor to follow a set of dance rules… in Spanish. I understood that the leader was asking me to shake my hips to the beat, I just couldn’t remember the translation of each numeral he was throwing at me as a guide. “Siete!” he called out, and I shook my hips 6 times, one beat short. Everyone laughed. I told them I meant to do that.

The Dance Off

After many rounds on the dance floor and just as many rounds at the bar, a group of us headed to the balcony to smoke cigars. Big mistake. Not because I was smoking, but because the lack of music and distraction brought me front and center to the obvious issue at hand. I was at a wedding. Of a friend my age. Slowly but surely, each of my close friends would be married by 2011. I stood off to the side, and peered out at what was now a very dark ocean. Antonio noticed I had wandered off and came to join me while everyone else turned back to the reception. He’s been a close friend for 10 years, I didn’t need to speak for him to know what I was thinking about, but I did so anyway. While continuing my gaze at the ocean I said, “I just realized my beef with weddings.” He asked, “And what would that be?” “It’s not that I don’t believe in marriage, it’s quite the opposite. I hold them in such high regard that I can’t imagine ever being a part of one.” Antonio has his own relationship scars, some deeper than mine. “I know exactly what you mean.” We said nothing else, but stared at the ocean for several more minutes like two wing-clipped angels staring off at a heaven they can’t be a part of. OK, that was a dramatic statement…but I kind of like it.

Once back at the reception we were immediately thrown in the mix of the ongoing party that lasted well through the evening. When the last song played at midnight, I wanted to pout. I was having too much fun with friends I realized I just don’t see enough. Friends I spent countless hours with in a dorm room or a study hall. Friends that sometimes knew me better than I knew myself.

After long and tight hugs with both the bride and groom, my crew made their way back to the car. Throughout the ride home, Adonis, Dexter and I reminisced (as we often do) about our times together in college while Antonio and Stephanie caught the first train to dream world. We laughed to the point of stomach cramps and by the time we arrived at our hotel I wanted nothing more than to surrender my experience to memory so my brain could get some rest.

But before I closed my eyes, I thanked the higher powers that be for blessing Pablo and Amanda with a love I will forever admire and for blessing me with a group of friends I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Adonis, Me, Antonio

All the buds

The Lovely Newlyweds


Marriage: Is it just a word? April 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — everyonesweddingbutmine @ 10:22 am
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A wise man once said to me, “Marriage is what you make of it. Maybe you’re in love, maybe you’re just undergoing a business transaction. You and I could get married for health and tax benefits. Simple as that.”

No, this wasn’t Mr. Wise Man’s way of proposing to me. He’s a gay man. In fact, Mr. Wise Man wasn’t even aware of the light he’d just shone in my eyes. (Evident from how he easily returned to his salmon platter.) I blinked. And then returned to my own Greek salad to mull it over.

The idea and purpose of marriages has changed drastically over the last 60 years. Just ask my 85 year old grandmother who (after I turned 21) wondered if every guy I dated would turn out to be my husband. After seven years of perking her ears like a happy puppy only to be told there were no marriage treats in my shopping bag, she finally let up. I hate to let her down but I just don’t feel the pressure. I don’t have the need to settle down for a life long commitment simply because so many around me seem to be. Which lead me to my next question: Why did they chose to get married?

I’ve heard several answers over the years. They were not all rosy and cushy as one might hope.

“Because we’ve been together for ten years and…it’s just time.”
“Because they give me what I need.”
“Because I want to plan the rest of my life with someone.”

With each of these I scrunched my nose like I’d just smelled something terrible. These answers were so…functional. Like a simple means to an end. The irony? The more answers I heard that left a bad taste in my mouth, the more I began to realize what it would take for me to ever consider marriage: the complete opposite.

IF I ever get married it will be because I want to share something with this person that I don’t plan to share with anyone else for the rest of my life. I want to know, without a doubt, that I could never love anyone the way I love them. I want to be sure that they can have my back as well as I can have theirs (emotionally, financially, etc.) I want to know that if I ever decide to have kids, they are capable of helping to raise the children every step of the way. And most of all I want to know that I WANT it, more than I’ve ever wanted anything.

But hey…that’s just my opinion. I leave you with a clip from the movie “Shall We Dance” where Susan Sarandon explains why she thinks people get married (thanks for this Sandra!)