Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Catching up

We are nearing the 3 month mark...wowza! There has been lots going on, mostly little things. One of the newer things that we decided to do is get a block of hotel rooms. We don't have a lot of people coming in from out of town so at originally we assumed we would not fulfill the 10 rooms needed to get that block. However, with more research, we found you only need to guarantee 50% of that, or just 5 rooms. Definitely doable! A few friends had mentioned they would stay overnight, to allow themselves to enjoy the party and not worry about driving home. That was the extra kick we needed to look into this. We had a tour this past Saturday with one of the sales managers for the Holiday Inn that right next door to Chateau Briand. And I mean literally right next door. Super convenient!

I gotta say, it is really nice inside there. I was surprised to see a lot of people in the lobby. Westbury isn't exactly Manhattan but Kelliann, the really nice sales rep who showed us around, said the area does generate a lot of traffic. The courtyard with a pool threw me for a loop. Felt like I stepped foot in Florida for a minute there. Sold!

The next appointment we have is next Saturday in the early afternoon with Francesco's, in Hicksville. This is the bakery we are using for our cake, since it's included in our contract. I had heard mixed reviews which got me worried at first but a fellow bride that used them not too long ago told me I had nothing to worry about. Whew! We don't have a set idea of what we want it to look like but we were tossing around a few ideas. My sister will be joining us for the tasting, since she made it real clear she would be pissed if she missed out, haha. Can ya tell she's got a real sweet tooth? Her company is always more than welcomed though. I like the feeling of having the planning be a family affair since let's face it, the reception IS a family (and friends) affair!

One of the smaller things we started to tackle was the wedding favors. We finally decided on something and placed the order a few days ago. However, I got an e-mail this evening saying they were discontinued. What a huge bummer, since it took me forever to find it. I requested a full refund instead of using the credit on something else on the website. I didn't want to just settle, obviously. 

But going back to a family affair, for the 4th of July weekend, I spent it out of the city for the first time in forever. Jonathan, myself, Robyn and my brother Chris went down to Charlotte, North Carolina to visit family. My grandparents have officially been down there for one year, and my dad's two brothers, my uncles Mark and Scott, and their families are down there. Even my aunt in San Diego (their sister) is considering moving down there in the future. Funny how it works out! They are all life long New Yorkers who made big moves. Jonathan and I are debating joining that club too. We have contemplated heading down to Orlando, Florida many times. Never say never. 

Going into Friday, the 4th, there were all these reports about a Hurricane Arthur hitting the east coast, specifically NC. We were worried, but those fears proved to be unnecessary, since Friday morning there wasn't a drop of rain to be seen. We flew with United Airlines instead of our usual JetBlue and I have to say, I was surprised there wasn't a delay at all. We boarded at the exact time we were scheduled. The last few trips with JetBlue have all been filled with delays.

It was a real relaxing weekend and very nice to catch up with everyone. This was the first time Jonathan was meeting my Uncle Scott, Aunt Cyndi and my two young cousins Christopher & Sierra. He loved everyone and everyone loved him, lol. The highlights were hitting up a Waffle House after we left the airport and spending time around the firepit on our last night, at Scott and Cyndi's house. We even did an impromptu trip to South Carolina since Charlotte is so close to the border and there was a huge Walmart there that Jonathan wanted to visit. We even snuck in a visit to a real Krispy Kreme store. I think the nearest one for us here at home is that little booth in Penn Station, lol. Here are a few pictures from the trip.

At Waffle House

Mirror selfie with Jonathan, Robyn, Chris, Mark, Baby Brandon and Lyn

This was an unexpected surprise. My grandmother passed down her gorgeous crystal Rosary beads that my grandfather gave her for their 50th anniversary. I was touched and will cherish them.

The hats were a must-do accessory at Krispy Kreme.

Fireworks seen from the back patio, captured by Jonathan

Thursday, June 5, 2014

1 Year Engaged!

Whoever first said the time between the proposal and the wedding would fly by was not kidding in the least. It really does feel like yesterday this happened:

We were dressed so casually because it was just another ordinary Wednesday evening. Or so I thought! He had had the day off and I had been in class. When I got out, I had to run to downtown Manhattan for some school related errands. While all this was going on, my sister was with him, helping him pick up the ring that had just gotten in that day! After he asked, I texted a few people right away and some were surprised, but only because they had thought the plan was to propose a few days later, on the 11th. (The day my grandparents were moving out of NY.) Turns out the ring came in a few days earlier than planned and he just couldn't wait. He's a pretty patient guy so that gets a good chuckle out of me! Everyone's reactions were so great. It was a memorable night. And I really appreciated he did it around a time where my grandparents were around to be a part of it too.

I am sure everyone knows the proposal story but for the blog's sake, I will repeat it again, lol. Last June 5th, I get back to Jonathan's in the late afternoon/early evening and my sister is there, waiting for me. Either Jonathan or Robyn brings up wanting to get frozen yogurt. I think it was Robyn since I remember not finding that a strange out-of-the-blue idea at all since she has a sweet tooth (so does he for that matter). We go outside and Robyn makes as if to get in the car. (Later I find out that wasn't part of the plan and my next move saves it, lol.) As soon as I get in, I realize I forgot my camera. I was working on a photo project and wanted to take some shots while we were out. When I get back outside, they're both out of the car and Robyn says she wants to walk. I remember thinking that was odd; we were just sitting in the car! I want some exercise, she says. Now that wasn't unusual of her to say at all, so I agreed to walk. 

The frozen yogurt shop on Metropolitan Avenue we were going to is maybe a ten minute walk from his house and along the way is his former grade school, Our Lady of Mercy. Next to it, is the church. In front of the church are two beautiful statues of the Blessed Mother. When we pass it, Jonathan tells me he wants to see if the name on the school has changed, since it was going from a school to an academy. I didn't think that was strange and thought nothing of it. As he's doing that, I show Robyn the statues and start telling her the story of the meaning behind this place for us. (He used to take me there when we were in that weird phase of 'should we or shouldn't we date'....me being the undecided goof I was). All of a sudden, Jonathan appears in front of me and says my name very seriously. I remember in that split second being SO confused but realizing something off was happening. Then he bends down, opens the ring box and says a bunch of stuff I can't recall. See now here is what nobody tells you could happen when you're being proposed to. Your brain shuts down and is unable to comprehend what is being said! I don't even think I processed the ring I was seeing, lol. I just kept saying "Are you serious? Now? Are you serious?" Haha...I was in serious shock! I look around after I realize Robyn has disappeared. She was behind a tree filming the whole thing!

The best way to explain my shock is that, at that point, we had been dating over 4 years. I knew he wanted to get married and all that lovely stuff, but when you know someone that well, you think you have it all figured out! I had a feeling he would ask officially that year but I thought if at all, it would be around Christmastime, his favorite time of the year. Good job by him on the surprise factor! And even today, I still catch myself looking at the ring. It is perfect for me. I had never pictured what it would look like but he had remembered once before I had mentioned I liked the look of a cushion cut. Later I found out I helped him out without knowing. He started looking seriously that May but had forgotten which cut I said I liked. Then when we were watching a TV show, I think it was How I Met Your Mother, there was a ring being shown and I blurted out "Oh that's the kind I like!" Then he made a mental note, lol. 

We are not doing anything really to celebrate today but tomorrow we've got an engagement party for our friends Mike & Lucie that I'm really looking forward to! Their wedding is exactly nine months after ours. Exciting times for all. 

Monday, May 5, 2014


It was nice to take a break from planning the reception and focus on the actual wedding part for a change. Our pre-Cana weekend came and went. I had a small idea of what to expect from friends that had done it before us but I was still feeling kind of nervous walking in, to tell you the truth. But there was no reason to be. It ended up being a nice experience.

Session 1 was Friday night from 7:30 to 9:30pm, at Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Ridgewood. It was like a Mass without the Eucharist. An elderly couple did the readings and Fr. Anthony spoke. He was very engaging and warm and I enjoyed his words of wisdom. The night ended earlier than planned. They had us writing out love letters, which we wouldn't show one another until the next day.

Session 2 was the following morning, at 9AM with a 5PM end time. Luckily, it really wasn't that long. I think by 2:45 we were finished. I say luckily because 8 hours is a long time to sit and listen to talks, however engaging they are. The day was led by the elderly couple from the night before, Ernie and Gabby. I believe they said they have been married 63 years! So they spoke from their own experience and whatnot. Every so often between topics, the couples would split up. Boys on one side and girls on the other. We would fill out these activities from this workbook:

I don't know if there was anything from the activities that we learned about each other that we didn't already know. In fact, based on some of his answers, he knows me a little too well, lol. But some of them really did make me laugh. One activity had us checking off how we think about ourselves (are we  practical or a dreamer) and how we think of the other person (are they organized or disorganized....we both agreed I am somewhere in the middle while he is "somewhat" organized.) What I liked about these activities is that it had us talking about things that don't get talked about on a daily basis.

By the end of all the talks, they had us all stand up and say a prayer holding our partners hand. Of course with Jonathan, he came across the words "step by step" in the prayer and broke out in song (somewhat quietly) singing the "Step by Step" theme song. That was pretty entertaining :-P

The final thing was to receive our certificate that we completed the weekend, as well as a small religious medal to go with it.

Whoo hoo! One step closer to being married.

Both Jonathan and I agreed that Gabby reminded us of our paternal grandmothers in the way they spoke. What made the timing funny was that May 3rd marked five years since Jonathan's Grandma Esther passed. It is nice to feel her presence during this time. Even though I only got to know her for almost 10 months, she really embraced me as her own. I was cleaning out things in the last week or so and found a Christmas card from 2008, where she signed it "I love you! Grandma Esther" That's just the kind of woman she was: loving and kind and always looking at the bright side.

April was a quiet month overall, which was why there were no posts. We hit the 6 month mark, which was nice, since that means it's officially halfway to go! Looking forward to crossing more things off the list. Until next time!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

7 months to go!

Holy moly! How is it 7 months to the big day already? I woke up to a text from Jonathan reminding me of it. No coffee needed to wake up today!

March was a pretty eventful month. Our last big vendor to tackle was the flowers. Even though we had already found a place, we still had no idea what we wanted, what was needed, and all that lovely stuff. I learned that it doesn't have to be planned that far in advance, which is nice. With the help of the guy we are working with, we settled on fall colored roses, blue statice and red berries for the centerpieces (the bridesmaids will carry the same flowers as well.) That was one of the silly things I "stressed" over, what colors the flowers should be. Back in the beginning, someone had told me (or I read it) that they really make or break the room. That it sets the tone for it. Talk about pressure! I didn't want a boring looking room. Then again, a week later I am sure no one will remember what colors the flowers were! So needless to say, I can sleep in peace over this.

Another thing that got 'checked off' the big ol' to-do list was ordering the bridesmaid dresses. A few of them got a head start this month on getting them. They are going to be stunners the day of if they look great just trying it on! Check Kim and Tiffany out.

We had our food tasting done pretty early, because well, why not? Two weeks ago, my mom joined Jonathan and I on a Monday evening to taste test Chateau Briand's food. We were not disapppointed. Everything we tried was so good.

 A few appetizers...

 A few main courses...

 And some dessert!

Couldn't pass up playing around at our table in the main ballroom!

Another thing we've been working on this month, that I am very excited for, are the invitations! I have been working with Jessica at Whimsy B Paperie. If you click the name, it's a link to check out their work. They also have an Etsy shop you can order from. Since the office is based in Long Island, I figured I would go have an in-person consultation. I wanted Jonathan to come with me because he makes quicker decisions than I do, haha, plus I trust his opinions. I don't want to spoil what they will look like but I absolutely love it!! It does take awhile, the whole process. It looks something like this: you have the consultation, pick the design you want, leave a deposit. Once the deposit is left, you fill out the order form with the wording and the details like color, design, etc. It's more tedious than it sounds because it's a detail oriented order form. Even though there were times I was driving myself nuts figuring out the wording, I still enjoyed it. Once you submit the order form (which I just did last night after a week of having it!) she will get to work on it. Once we approve the design, the remaining balance is due in full and she gets to work at making it, which takes about 4 weeks. Since we are not sending these out until August (right around Jonathan's birthday!), there is plenty of time. But I like to get it done early to avoid the stress of rushing and of course rush-fees. 

Speaking of details, this lovely unity candle that I had mentioned two posts ago, came in last month.

Up close

Just above the navy, you can see the crack in the candle stick. Thankfully the main one was perfect, which I would have felt bad needing to be replaced. The seller on Etsy, JaxDesigns27, was understanding and explained sometimes that can happen in shipment. She sent me another one immediately. Couldn't recommend her work more!

In non-wedding March related news, Ayla turned 3! 

She was adorable on her birthday. In the months prior to her birthday, I taught her to say "March 6" in response to "When is your birthday?" She shocked her dad when her mommy had her say it to him. Smart cookie :-) She also had us laughing when she was opening up all her gifts. "Too much Minnie!" she exclaimed. Priceless!

This month was also filled with different events like

Bottomless sangria...

 ...and brunch after getting the bridesmaids dresses!

 A 'cousin dinner' at Frost in Brooklyn. One of my favorites!

 Family dinners

And a very cool event just this past weekend. It was a reenactment of the "Enchantment Under the Sea" dance from the movie Back To The Future.

We went with our friends Anthony & Gina and the actors dressed as characters from the movie joined in our group photo!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

5 wonderful years

One week ago tonight, I flew out to Disney World for one heck of a weekend doing a 10k race! I have tons of pictures and stories for another post but let's just say, my abs finally stopped hurting from laughter and I can finally walk up and down the stairs again post race. It's good to be back but boy, do I miss Disney World/Florida badly!

Top: Our first Disney World trip. June 2009.
Bottom: Right after he proposed: June 5, 2013

Today also marks 5 years since Jonathan and I officially started dating. We have a lot of little anniversaries we celebrate, like the first day we met (February 9, 2008) or our first date (March 7, 2008). So if we met and had our first date within a month's span, 6 years ago, how is our anniversary 5 years ago? Well, the answer to that is somewhat simple and can be explained in mathematical terms. You take 1 confused 22 year old + 1 determined 24 year old and you get 1 interesting year. There was a lot of ups and downs in 2008 but what I remember the most is how Jonathan was always there, even when he had to reluctantly step down and be "just a friend", though he likes to say he was never just a friend, and that is true! When I briefly dated someone else that summer, he never faded out of the picture. We hung out all the time regardless. In fact, my mom used to tell me she felt like I had two boyfriends. Huge, huge wake up call. Of course, the other thing didn't work out and God worked his mysterious ways and things just fell into place. It did take a year for things to happen but I now see that was a blessing in disguise. Since we went through every early relationship obstacle there was to have in that first year when we were not exclusive, we never really had a reason to have any big arguments when we got together. We had already seen the good, the bad and the ugly! 

That is why we really like to celebrate today. It had felt like we won a marathon by the time we got together! His grandmother, who would have been 91 this week, told him once that she had prayed we would get together. That is just the selfless kind of woman she was.

The event of making it official was so low-key, you would think there would have been some big hoopla when it happened, but nope! I had been talking to two dear friends of ours, Anthony and Gina (who are now married) all week but most especially the night before. Little did I know, they were talking to him and giving him encouragement too! I remember specifically Anthony asking me why wasn't I giving my best friend a chance. Another huge wake up call. I made up my mind that night that the following day I would ask him to be official. So, that's just what I did. :-)

I thought it would be appropriate to use the flashback picture from our 1st Disney World trip. To say we really love that place is an understatement! It's a good way to get to really know someone. You can see how they handle the heat and long lines, haha. I remember coming home from that trip and thinking, wow we just spent 4 nights and 5 days straight together, and I'm not sick of him yet. I thought that was a great sign. It's still true to this day :-D

Okay, that's enough mush for one post, lol. This has been a busy wedding planning week so plenty of updates in the next post :)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Getting things done!

Some miscellaneous wedding news:

- Two days ago, Jonathan spoke to Fr. Kevin over the phone, who became the new pastor of St. Sebastian's just last week and he was more than happy to marry us! Sweet! What's really ironic about all that is he was the priest I first had in mind to marry us anyway, but I figured it would be easier to use a current priest. Then Mnsgr. Hardiman surprised us by ending his run at our parish. When I heard Fr. Kevin was coming back as the new pastor, I was like no waaaay. Funny how it all played out! It was always important to me that one of us would be familiar with the priest and we both are, so that just worked really well.

- My wedding dress came in! And the veil as well! My mom and I were going to go this past Monday but if you're in New York, you know we're getting hit with snow day after snow days so there was no way we were venturing out in it. We rescheduled for this coming Monday, yippee!

- I settled on a bridesmaid dress but the hard part is finding a store that carries it for a decent price. Macy's has it for $265 and that's before alterations! I had to a double take. I am finding out quickly what's the norm nowadays for the cost of certain wedding things. It's crazy! There are a few stores  that carry it for a better price so this month's big "to-do" is finding a store that can tailor to all the girls' budget and location. I know I posted the picture in the last post but here is a visual reminder:

- I have my hair trial this month with Angela of Angela's Hair Design. I drool over her work that I see on her Instagram page. I'm not 100% sure what I want (can't decide if I want it all up or half up) but I trust she'll do a great job either way. Her website is here: Angela's Hair Design 

- Speaking of hair, my headpiece came in right on time. Thanks to my amazing mom for this beauty!

- We have another invitation appointment on March 1st with a company I'm really excited about, out in LI. Check out their website: Whimsy B. Designs (Isn't that crazy we have to start thinking about invitations already?!)

- On March 10th, we have the food tasting at our venue. Few things get us as excited as food does, lol.  

- I ordered our unity candle from a vendor named JaxDesigns27. Click the name to see her work! I know unity candles seem like a waste of a purchase when you're only going to use them once but I have a hard time saying "no" to anything personalized! She sent me the proof and I love love love it. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

- At the end of January, we attended a Sip & Scan event at the Macy's in Herald Square. I came prepared with a list of what we'd need but they also provided us with one when we arrived. The drinks were not cocktails but they were still very good (I guess they don't want you to be stumbling around their store drunk!), and small finger sandwiches and snacks. I did not plan to register 9 months out, but when I heard about the event, I said why not. I'd say it was exciting for about the first hour then we lost steam, lol. Luckily it's easy to manage online so going into the store every time you want to add or delete something is not necessary.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A weekend in the south

Last Saturday, I flew out with my dad and my brother Chris to visit my grandparents at their new home in Charlotte, North Carolina. As an added bonus, I got to see my uncles (my dad's brothers), aunts and the kids!

The plane had two seats per row hence Chris sitting behind us. Originally it was only going to be my dad & I but at the last minute, Chris decided to join us. My grandma was thrilled. Also, thanks to flying a whole lot in 2012, I was able to redeem my True Blue points and fly free! ....with the exception of a $5 tax fee, lol.

That morning, it was raining and visibility was practically 0%. I think it took 45 minutes to actually take off because the runway was backed up. Then, when we were trying to land, we had to circle around the sky a few times because the runway at CLT was also backed up! We landed shortly after noon. Getting home only took an hour and a half!! It was like night and day. (Ironically enough, flying home was at night.) But getting back to the flight to Charlotte....I am sad to report I actually had to use the barf bag for the first time ever on a flight. The turbulence just sent my stomach into a bad state. My lovely dad did a favor and covered me with his sweater, haha. I should note I had been out drinking for a friend's 30th the night before and had only 3 hours of sleep, hence the stomach problems. Never again do I recommend doing that a night before a flight! I ended up going to bed at 9:30 our first night, which is extremely rare for me, lol.

The visit itself was nothing short of wonderful. I am so happy for my grandparents. They went from a tiny apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens to this gorgeous house in NC.

This was the adorable guest room I slept in.

The first day, we went to dinner at Texas Roadhouse which did not disappoint. Afterwards, we went back to the house to relax and called it an early night. The second day, Sunday, I got to visit both my uncle Mark's house (he had just moved there a few months ago) as well as my uncle Scott's house, who has lived there for many years now. My little cousin Sierra gave me the grand tour of the house. She and Christopher, her older brother (who will be 10 this year! Time flies!) are such great kids. I managed to get a quick picture of Sierra in her room.

Mark and I share a love of Starbucks so of course we made a trip to the nearest one with baby Brandon as well as MB's mama, my aunt Lyn.

It was an extremely sunny day, haha. Isn't he the cutest?

I mean...seriously!!

In this last one, he saw his own reflection and made this face! I could eat him up!

Later that evening, I was able to spend more time with the kids at our grandparents house, just hanging out. Sierra & I had a blast with the bubbles in the yard.

The backyard space is huge!

We flew back to NYC Monday evening so that we could have the majority of the day with them. I am so happy to see my grandparents are doing well. They have a beautiful home in a beautiful city, their family nearby and the bonus is their other grandchildren around them so it's just a good thing. There is a big age gap between me and my siblings with Christopher, Sierra and Brandon but it just means the kids can enjoy Grandma & Grandpa now the way I got to enjoy them growing up. :-)

This is definitely my favorite picture of the trip: my grandparents & their boys. All that's missing is my aunt, Chrissy!
L-R: Grandma, Uncle Scott, Grandpa, my dad and my uncle Mark

Hard to believe it's already mid January...so much stuff to do before the month is over and on the 25th, we hit 9 more months to go...wow!