As I told you all like 100 years ago, we traveled to my homestate of Pennsylvania last weekend for a very special event — my mom’s wedding!
E. and I actually flew up on Wednesday morning to help my mom finish up the final preps for the big day. We dropped our stuff at the house, and my mom, grandmother, E. and I crisscrossed (JUMP! JUMP!) all over Allentown knocking items off the to-do list.
After we finished with everything, we had a quiet night at my mom’s house, well, except for my mom’s one and only major Bridezilla moment of the weekend. It’s OK, we’re all entitled to freaking out over one seemingly huge thing. For her, it was assigned seats for some key people for the wedding day. For me, it was welcome bags at our wedding guests’ hotels. DadJovi and his friends are still traumatized from my head-spinning-around screamfest at them involving the bags. During my mom’s mental meltdown (and it really wasn’t even that bad, I just like to give her a hard time about it), my stepdad-to-be and I kept trying not to laugh by avoiding eye contact with each other and we just kept both saying, “You’re right. Whatever you think,” which is exactly what one should say to a bride less than 48 hours away from the big event.
Since the wedding was on Friday, Thursday was the day to get crap done, including: decorate the reception hall, buy the flowers for our DIY bouquets, pick up the chairs for the ceremony, pick up the cupcake tower from the rental place, buy snacks and drinks for the people who’d be getting ready on the wedding day at my mom’s house, have the rehearsal and then, finally, the rehearsal dinner. To say it was busy would be an understatement.
We all split up with our tasks. Our first stop was the reception hall. On my agenda: clean the mirrors that would go under the candle centerpieces, build the gift cards mailbox, then decorate the box with fall leaves.
I left the crew working on the reception hall (including E. who was in charge of putting out all the crafts for the kids table), and headed to Giant, a grocery store, to pick up all the flowers we’d picked out the day before. They had a GREAT selection of fall flowers, plus some really cool peacock feathers that we decided to use in the bouquets (with some added rooster, yes rooster!, feathers from the craft store).
After we all finished our various tasks, we headed up the mountain to the winery were the wedding was to take place. It was a little chilly but the views were stunning.
After we’d rehearsed (and rehearsed again), it was time to kick off the wedding celebrations at the rehearsal dinner. Sadly, I took no pictures. But trust me, it was a blast. E. bonded with her new step-uncles, including Cool Uncle Matt Who Lets Me Do Whatever I Want (the name he chose). He knew the way to her heart — he plopped down $10 for a roll of quarters and let E. play every video games over and over again. There was a rousing match of foosball featuring E’s beloved uncle Adam (aka BroJovi), CUMWLMDWIW (catch that?) and his girlfriend, Olivia. There was a lot of hooping and hollering and I was just happy to be sitting with a drink and trying to watch the VP debate on the restaurant’s TVs. It was on mute but let me tell you, Joe Biden is even more amazing muted (gotta stick with my fellow Cuse alum).
DadJovi finally showed up for the festivities too. Poor E., who I think I’d been neglecting thanks to being so busy, was SO excited to see him. You know those videos you see of soldiers’ kids seeing them for the first time in months or even years? I swear, she acted just like that. And it’d been just over 24 hours since she’d seen him. Um, drama queen much? It was cute, though. And further proof that the moment he’s been waiting for for 4 years is happening — she’s morphing into a complete Daddy’s girl. It’s only a matter of time before she rejects me completely.
Anyway, back to the story. Before we knew it, it was wedding morning!
The guys took off early to head to the hotel where we’d all be staying after the wedding. After all, even though the groom saw the bride the morning of the wedding, he couldn’t see the big surprise — her dress!
Honestly? The day is a bit of blur. There were mimosas for my mom and me around lunchtime.
And yes, I had flowers everywhere. I kept cutting the stems and putting them in warm water to get the petals to all open up further. It actually worked really well!
At some point, I jumped in to get my hair braided while my mom was getting ready to get hers done.
I should have taken a close-up of the front. I usually don’t love the way the front of my hair looks when it’s braided, but she did a really great job.
But then there was a really big project we had to get done — flowers! It was an all-hands on-deck job, led by the very creative Olivia.
How meta. I have a picture of my grandmother taking a picture of me. I think the finished product turned out really cute, don’t you?
I took the picture before the final step — hot glue gunning silk ribbons around them. Let me tell you, those final 30 minutes were very frantic. Us four bridesmaids were arranging, wrapping and gluing our fingers off. It was a crazy race against the clock!
Now that’s an important piece of the story because it directly affected what happened next. At this point, I started directing people that it was time to go. I’d been the clock-keeper all day, reminding people of deadlines and who needed to do what and when. Um, yeah, it’s not a job I hate, to be honest.
I’d already loaded up the groom’s SUV because we needed it to transport some things from the wedding to the reception. I’d put E’s car seat into it, as well as my mom’s and my overnight bags. The wedding was scheduled to start at 3 p.m. and her house is about 15 minutes away. By this point, it was 2:40 and we needed to get out the door.
I grabbed my two purses (yes, two), the flowers, E’s stuff, etc., and just needed one more thing — the keys. I’d used the keys to put all the stuff in the car about two hours before and I knew where I’d left them. Suddenly, they weren’t there. It became an all-out frantic search for the keys. I’m screaming (yes, screaming) at everyone to search their bags. The phrase, “No one leaves this house until they check their bags” may have passed my lips. Finally, after almost 20 minutes of searching, it was time to switch to Plan B — take my mom’s smaller car because at least we had a spare key for that.
I quickly ran outside, fully dressed in my bridesmaid’s gear, by the way, and started throwing everything, including the car seat into the other car. Despite the 55-degree weather, I was in a full sweat. My poor mom was so frazzled by the whole thing that she insisted on driving because she knew I needed to chill out since I was in a state of panic and near hysteria. Basically I felt like I was ruining the wedding. Oh, if only I knew then that I’d have one more chance for that (foreshadowing, my friends!).
As we headed toward the winery, I kept calling DadJovi and giving him instructions on when they should seat people (since it was unseasonably cool, everyone was huddled inside the winery rather than in their seats until it was absolutely necessary).
Finally, we arrived, about 15 minutes later. We all quickly ran into a back room, dropped our bags and coats, grabbed and flowers and it was time to get the show on the road. I had time for one quick shot of the bride before we headed out.
How great does she look?
After all the guests were seated, we headed out into the main room of the winery, ready for our marches down the aisle.
The flower girl and ring bearer (my first cousin’s son, who is pretty much the cutest, smartest and funniest 2-year-old I’ve ever met, besides my own child, of course), were giddy with excitement.
Funny story. So when I took this photo, the first two bridesmaids had already started walking down the aisle. As we’re looking at the kids being cute, my brother (who was walking my mom down the aisle) says, “Hey, are those the real rings on the pillow? I hope they’re tied on tight.” SHIIIIIIIITTTTT! I was in charge of the real ring, not the ring bearer. And guess who didn’t have it?
Thankfully, it wasn’t far away. I went tearing back to the office where our stuff was stashed and grabbed the groom’s ring out of my purse. THANK GOD my brother said that when he did. And I didn’t even miss my cue to walk down the aisle.
Seriously, people. If you want to have the most amazingly efficient, organized and clear-headed maid of honor by your side on your big day, I’m your girl. Jeez. I swear, bad Jennifer Lopez movies could be written about my antics that day. What would I have done if we’d gotten to the ring exchange and I didn’t have it? Tried to have the groom squeeze my own wedding ring onto his finger? Polled the audience for an extra wedding ring? I swear, I spent half the ceremony imagining all those scenarios and I had PTSD from how close it came to happening.
Finally, it was the big moment! Obviously, I don’t have any pictures. In fact, I have none for the rest of the day. Once the photographer sends them to us, I’ll share a few. Someone in the audience did send this photo to my mom of the ring bearer trying his hardest to kiss E. She was having none of it. Poor kid. He just wanted one little one but she wasn’t playing. She was very serious about her flower girl duties.
Everything about the ceremony was so lovely and special. An old family friend officiated (her son and my brother grew up together). The attendants were us four kids (me and brother and the groom’s two sons) and spouses/significant others. Their dear friend sang and played guitar during the ceremony, including “Landslide” for the bridesmaids’ entrance and “Leather and Lace” for my mom’s (yes, it was a Stevie Nicks inspired day!). And my grandmother did the one reading during the ceremony.
It was beautiful from start to finish.
And look how my mom glowed after the ceremony was over (and everyone ran inside to warm up).
The 90-minute mini-reception at the winery was a blur of pictures, seeing family members and old friends and one big mission — trying to find those damn keys. I still had to run the smaller car home and swap it out for the SUV, using my stepdad’s (yeah! my step-dad!) keys. Before I left, I hit everyone who’d been at the house one more time and begged them to check their bags.
And at long last, they turned up — in my grandmother’s purse! We have no idea how they ended up in there but I was just so relieved that they’d been found.
After the car swap was made, we all headed down to a golf club for the main event — a rocking good party that featured two bands, great food and DRINKS! After that afternoon, I definitely needed them.
It was a really fun night. They wanted to get all the traditional things over with early. So as soon as they introduced the wedding party, the bride and groom had their first dance. Then, each of us four kids gave a short toast. Well, except for my sweet, sentimental brother. He couldn’t make it through his without getting choked up. He’s such a sweetheart. My black heart somehow didn’t shed one tear the whole day. I’m blaming it on the cold — my tear ducts were frozen.
Here are a few shots from the night. First, me and my brother finally got some time to hang out after far too long apart.
Yeah, as soon as the ceremony ended, I put a sweater on and didn’t take it off. This Floridian was FREEZING and in fact, Pa. had its first frost that night. Of course.
E. and her cousin tore up the dance floor.
E. danced her little heart out. She had so much fun. I found something else to make my heart soar. These …
Those my friends are pumpkin spice cupcakes (and their less flashy red velvet cousins). Somehow I stopped myself at one. I’m not sure how but I did. I think I was too tired to eat.
The party lasted late into the night, then moved over to the bar at the hotel. E. had headed back to my mom’s house for a cousin sleepover (and I owe them a night in return; it was such a HUGE help to have them take her home for us). I had a great time catching up with family members and some of my brother’s friends, who’ve I known since they were all babies. Now they’re all big kids, out there taking on the world.
So that was it. It was a beautiful day and I think it all turned out exactly how they wanted it — a great gathering of their family and closest friends who were there to celebrate this next chapter of their lives together. They both glowed the whole day and seemed to enjoy every single second.
And thankfully, most of my mishaps were kept behind the scenes.
Have you ever made a big mistake on a big day? What about your own wedding day — any near- or full disasters? And what was your one big Bridezilla moment?