For a full recap of our wedding, from start to finish, in photos, with music, because I’m so savvy with iMovie, check out this slideshow. But be warned: It’s like, fifteen minutes long. So if you have to pee, do it now.
We didn’t know where to look for an officiant. Because we were having a secular, interfaith wedding, a minister and / or a rabbi was really out of the question. So, per Sherry’s recommendation, we met with Jim Plamondon.
Sherry described Jim as “Father Earth” when recommending him, which made me nervous at first. I didn’t want some long-haired hippy dude in Birkenstocks stinking up my wedding with his patchouli. But Dan and I were pleasantly surprised to find that Jim was no hippy at all, but rather a Native American shaman.
Because of his station as a leader in the Native American community, Jim is covered in religious tattoos. He covered them with his robes and scarves during our ceremony, but you can still see one of the tattoos on his neck peeking out above his neckline. Considering how much my family hates tattoos, I viewed this is as a fantastic opportunity to be subversive. (Dan and I also take a great deal of pleasure in telling anyone who asks that we were, indeed, married by an Indian shaman.)
Working with Jim was probably the easiest part of planning this wedding. He gave us a sample ceremony, and told us we could go with that or use our own. He gave us just two instructions, the first being that were that there were specific vows that needed to be included for the marriage to be considered legal in California. (The second was not to show up drunk to the ceremony, because this isn’t Vegas and he doesn’t condone Marrying Under the Influence.) So Dan and I wrote our own ceremony based on the original one given to us by Jim, I emailed it off, and he performed it on our wedding day. No muss, no fuss, and no hassle.
Rob O’Connell is the venue-recommended DJ, and ultimately who Dan and I decided to go with. We met with Rob a handful of times before the wedding as our vision for the day kept changing. We originally wanted old, classic music – Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, etc. Then I decided I wanted my wedding to be a party, and changed the playlist entirely to include primarily Beyonce and Nicki Minaj. Dan judged me for it, but Rob never flinched.
On the day of, Rob was the person who really kept the evening flowing. I was excited and drunk and had no sense of time, but he was constantly around to say, “Hey, we should probably start your first dance in a few minutes,” or “Are you ready to cut the cake? Because I can let Sherry know.”
He also did a great job taking requests (even from Dan’s younger cousins, who were requesting shit like Katy Perry and the chicken dance), and was wonderful to work with during the planning process in terms of helping us select songs for our special dances / moments.
Sherry knew we were on a budget, and had another, cheaper photographer waiting in the wings. But we went with Vince at Indigo Sky Photography because really, all you have in the end are your wedding photos (and each other, I guess), and I wanted them to be fantastic.
Vince was awesome from the day we first met with him. He scratched the album credit out of our contract and instead included the photo booth we wanted; he agreed to drive the hundred and fifty miles to do our engagement shoot in Golden Gate Park (even though the contract said the location had to be within seventy-five miles of Ione) because he knew I wanted San Francisco involved, in some way, in the wedding; he followed my posts on Facebook to get a feel for the style in which I wanted our wedding photos shot; and even though it took longer than expected for us to receive our photos, he did a fantastic job shooting and editing them.
All of our vendors from the wedding were fantastic, and I could not have asked for a more perfect day.
Tomorrow, I have a wedding-related surprise for y’all – so stay tuned!
Dan and I had discussed marriage before he bought my rings (my engagement ring and wedding band came as a set), but I was not involved in the selection. In fact, the ring just magically appeared in front of me one day while I was making tea. With that said, I think he did a pretty good job, considering what could have happened (I was envisioning something along the lines of the Sex and the City episode where Carrie finds her engagement-ring-to-be and barfs over how ugly it is).
Since Dan picked my ring, I negotiated what I felt to be a fair trade – I wanted to pick his. He wanted a plain, white gold band. I vetoed that idea immediately. I wanted something with a little bit more flare, and a little bit more texture. So we went with a Tungsten steel band with a bushed metal center and beveled edges. Not to get totally disgustingly cheesy on you, but my heart still skips a beat every time I grab his hand and feel it on his ring ringer.
Dan and I did our fair share of research and venue hunting before settling on The Heirloom Inn in Ione, California. I had never been someone who dreamed about their wedding, but I knew growing up that I wanted to get married in San Francisco. Unfortunately, with a limited budget, San Francisco proved to be an unattainable option. Venues wanted ten thousand dollars just to rent the space – never mind the decor, catering, DJs, and everything else that goes into turning that venue into a wedding.
So we turned our attention instead to the Central Valley, where we met and fell in love. We didn’t want to go farther south than Merced for the sake of convenience (for us and for our families), but there aren’t a lot of venues in the Merced area, so we ended up looking mostly in Sacramento … and beyond.
When we found the Heirloom, it was like stumbling upon a goldmine. Tucked away in the foothills, the venue was a garden paradise with a touch of history. (The inn itself was built in the 1860s.) And working with Sherry, the Heirloom’s owner and event coordinator, was like having our own personal wedding planner. I told her what I wanted, and she told me what she could get, or where to go for the rest. (As it stands, she referred us to a majority of our vendors.) We would have been lost without her.
And while our family and friends had lots of questions about “Where the hell is Ione?” and “How did you even find this place?”, not one of them told me anything but “It’s so beautiful!” once they saw it.
THE GUEST BOOK
The standard in weddings nowadays is that you have your engagement photos taken, compile them into a book, and then use that as the guest book at your wedding. But I wanted to get a little bit more creative, primarily because I knew if we made our guest book an actual book, it would end up on a shelf or in a box somewhere in the Siberian wilderness that is our garage, and we’d never see it again.
When my friend Lauren got married a few years ago, she had a framed photo of her and her now-husband at the wedding for guests to sign. The photo – surrounded by the signatures and well-wishes of family and friends – is still hanging in their living room, and I admire it every time I visit her. That was the kind of experience I wanted our guestbook to be.
So instead of a book, I opted for the framed photo. We selected our favorite from our engagement session (the one where I’m pushing Dan into the pond), and I ordered the frame from Amazon. What we ended up with was a charming collection of signatures, doodles, and congratulations – about two dozen of which belong to Dan’s cousin, Karissa, as she took it upon herself to fill in the blank spaces by signing her name … everywhere.
It now hangs in our living room, where I can stop daily to look at it and read the messages from our friends and family. We also eventually plan to replace the engagement photo in the center with one of our favorite wedding photos.
Since I didn’t post yesterday due to the SOPA blackout, I’ll be back this afternoon with details on some of our vendors!
THE COLOR SCHEME
Once we decided to have a wedding, I needed to pick a color scheme so I could start planning. But I couldn’t fathom having some wedding that was filled with pinks and purples and blues and other crazy, feminine colors. As much as I loved Ruffled, the weddings that are yellow and blue and lace and daisies are just NOT ME. Or Dan. So we went with what we knew: Sports.
Originally, our color scheme was going to be just orange and black, in honor of my beloved San Francisco Giants (who, at the time, were just coming off a World Series win). But I wanted to incorporate Dan’s love of the 49ers into our color scheme, too, and the colors happened to mesh really well, leaving us with a fall foliage-esque color scheme – perfect for a September wedding.
The only problem with having an orange, black, red and gold color scheme was that it was nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find invitations in those colors. Many of the ones we looked at were far too modern, or far too cutesy, or far too … something, and just didn’t work for us. We had eventually settled on these, from VistaPrint, because the price was right and the colors worked, but I eventually decided that the design was too simple and it just wasn’t how I wanted to present our wedding to family and friends.
So instead, I ordered the invitations below, from Storkie. While they were a little more than what I originally wanted to spend (because in spite of how crazy things got with our budget as we got closer to the wedding, I was very money-conscious in the early stages of planning), they were still very moderately priced for the quality of the product and service we got (which was excellent, by the way). The customer service representatives worked with me on what seemed like an around-the-clock basis to make sure the ink colors on the envelopes matched those on the invitations, that the return addresses on our envelopes were correct, and that things looked exactly the way we wanted them to. I couldn’t have asked for a better shopping experience.
THE “THANK YOU” GIFTS
Rather than earrings or cufflinks or something else traditional, we opted to get our bridal party vessels for their booze. The great irony of this is that neither of Dan’s groomsmen drink (both are devoutly religious), but at least their beer mugs will work just as well for a Pepsi as they will for a Budweiser. The bridesmaids, on the other hands, are HUGE drinkers. Raeann practically lives off gin, and when Dan and I first started dating – back when his sister and I were still in the getting-to-know-you phase and she was sans baby – Jenn and I used to get together for martini nights at her house. So I knew that flasks would be in good hands with these ladies.
We ordered these from Things Remembered, and originally toyed with the idea of monogramming them with our bridal party members’ initials for a more personal touch. But Dan’s argument was that they can get their own stuff monogrammed whenever they want; the point of these gifts was for them to remember our wedding. And if they’re specifically for that reason, why shouldn’t they have our names on them?
You’ll notice that the boys’ mugs say “Dan & Tori,” while the girls’ flasks say “Tori & Dan.” This was done on purpose, because Dan and I could never agree on whose name should come first. I was able to finagle my name coming first on most of our wedding stuff, since as far as I can tell, it’s traditional for the bride to be listed first. But in this case, Dan had a choice. And he wanted to come first. So I let him. (Best wife ever, obviously.)
Because our venue didn’t have an ABC License, they were able to provide a bartender, but not a bar. This left the alcohol in our hands. And when you’ve got a crowd like we had at our wedding, that’s a pretty daunting task.
But I can always count on my parents to come to the rescue. They found Scott Harvey Winery, based in Sutter Creek, and enlisted them to provide the wine for our wedding from their One Last Kiss line. One Last Kiss came in a white blend and a red blend, and had a special wedding package which made ordering incredibly easy.
For the champagne, we opted for a sweet Moscato Spumante by Barefoot. While I normally find champagne dry and overly carbonated, this bubbly was sweet and refreshing – a perfect compliment to the warm summer evening.
For our non-wine drinkers, we also had blended margaritas (courtesy of a slushy machine we rented from the venue), Coors Light and Shock Top on tap (thanks to the mini-kegs we ordered from the local market), and Pepsi and Diet Coke (because the under-twenty-one crowd and my Aunt Kathy would have died without soda).
Coming up tomorrow: The venue, our rings, and our “unconventional” guest book.
I spent months mulling over favors – whether to have them, what to have, what to spend. They’re something that you can literally spend thousands of dollars on if you’re not careful. (A recent episode of Four Weddings that I watched actually featured a wedding with silver serving ware. SILVER. Who has that kind of money?!)
At first, we weren’t going to do favors. It seemed like a waste of money, and half the time, people leave them sitting on the table. Then we thought about doing personalized shot glasses, because [almost] everyone coming to our wedding liked to drink, and what better way for them to remember a wedding at which they were [likely] sloshed?
But shot glasses are pricey, and I’m fussy about fonts and graphics, and I couldn’t find anything that said “us” to me. Everything said “someone else’s wedding,” or worse, “someone else’s super tacky wedding.”
So instead, we opted for bright orange fans. They were simple, but perfect – they fit our color scheme, they were reasonably priced, and with the weather on our wedding day expected to be in the high nineties, they were a favor that people would actually use.
My mom ordered them from somewhere on the internet (seriously, there are about a MILLION websites that sell them), and spent the week before the wedding adding the personal touch they needed. With the help of Bubby and my Aunt Rochelle, she printed paper wraps with our name and wedding date, and added a heart sticker and an orange ribbon. They were set next to our guest “book” (photo frame) near the front entrance of the venue where guests could pick them as they arrived.
Dan and I went through several bakeries before finally settling on Sweet Cakes by Rebecca, based in Citrus Heights, California. All of the other bakeries we tried had the right price tag, but the wrong flavors. Or the right flavors, but the wrong design competency. Sweet Cakes combined all three elements, and Rebecca and her staff were a pleasure to work with.
But we were having trouble deciding what flavor we wanted. I was in love with poppy seed cake, which Dan didn’t want. And he really liked the raspberry filling, which I thought tasted weird. So, at our tasting, when I heard him say, “Oh my God, try this,” and he handed me a forkful of chocolate cake with almond creme and chocolate ganache. I was sold.
I scoured TheKnot.com looking for cake designs that both Dan and I loved. (And if you’ve been keeping up on these wedding posts, you should know by now how hard it is to find anything that Dan and I agree on.) We ended up with a simple ivory cake with dark chocolate curls around each tier (almost black in color), and orange ribbon at the base of each tier. Rather than opting for a traditional wedding cake topper, we simply had our florist work her magic on the top tier for a natural but elegant look.
For our flowers, we used Stefanie Smith of Galeazi’s Floral Designs, based in Carmichael, California. She was recommended by the venue, and was wonderful to work with. Because our venue basically came pre-decorated with all of its flowers and brick work and sunshine, we were really counting on the flowers to carry off our color scheme. And Stefanie definitely did not disappoint.
My bouquet was beautiful – a mix of roses, dahlias, calla lilies in varying shades of red, gold, and orange – and the bridesmaids had similar but smaller variations on that theme. The guys all had boutonnieres – red for the men on Dan’s side, orange for my dad, and Dan’s was a gold rose with red ribbon at the base.
Our centerpieces were less tightly controlled than our bouquets, with branches of seasonal plants tucked in between the flowers. I had originally wanted rust-colored vases, but Stefanie persuaded me instead to go with ivory, as she thought the rust against the black table cloths would be too dark and would take away from the color scheme. And I’m so glad she did, because I thought they looked fantastic. (Plus, we got to take home all the vases, and Imma use them to decorate the shit out of our new house.)
Coming up tomorrow: Boozey scenes and color schemes!
It occurred to me today that our wedding had wayyyyyy too many details to run through in one post. So I’ll be back in the next few days with Round Two … and maybe Round Three … and possibly Round Four. But for today, you’ll get a basic breakdown of wedding day prep.
The wedding dress is like, THE thing, am I right? They have Say Yes To The Dress, Say Yes To The Dress: Big Bliss, Say Yes To The Dress: Atlanta, and Brides of Beverly Hills, which is basically Say Yes To The Dress: Boob Job, USA. All of these shows are about women buying wedding dresses. And it makes sense. The bride is the center of attention on her wedding day (which is weird, frankly, because isn’t there another person involved in this whole getting married thing?), and you need to look fierce.
But for a lot of people, that’s easier said than done. You have women who fight with their mom / sister / grandma / whoever about what kind of dress they should get, how much they should pay for it, even what color it should be (assuming the style you choose provides that option).
And then there’s the joy of being plus-size. If you think those girls on Big Bliss have it rough, consider the plight of the bride who’s shopping at David’s Bridal because she doesn’t have three thousand dollars to spend on a giant ball of taffeta. (Yeah, that would be.)
This is not to say that I didn’t love my dress. Because I did. I felt like a sexy-ass bitch in it, which was the whole goal. I didn’t get married to feel like a princess, and I sure as hell didn’t want to look like one. I wanted a dress that made me feel as gorgeous as Dan thinks I am. And I succeeded. But it definitely took some effort, including some serious drama that made me wonder if I was even going to have a dress on my wedding day.
But I digress.
My dress was from David’s Bridal. If you have the choice, don’t ever shop there. I got it on sale for just under five hundred dollars, and then had it perfectly tailored (by my DJ’s wife, because fuck David’s Bridal) to fit my curves. It was a fit-and-flare style (different than a mermaid or trumpet gown, which usually flares out closer to the knees), and had just enough bling without being too intense.
I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want a traditional veil. This was something I actually had to talk my mom into. NEVERMIND THE DRESS; LET’S FUSS ABOUT THE VEIL. She didn’t understand why I didn’t want something long, something that would keep my face covered. BECAUSE IT’S CREEPY, THAT’S WHY. The idea of Dan pulling my veil up at the end of the aisle, as if he was unwrapping a present, just felt so weirdly paternalistic. We’re two adults entering into this partnership together, by choice. There is no dowry, and there will certainly be no veil.
I opted instead for a blusher, which I ended up wearing backwards so that it covered my hair, not my face. The focal piece of the blusher were the ivory and rhinestone flowers on the comb. And the best part was that the comb and blusher were attached by velcro. So when the ceremony ended and the pictures were done with, I pulled that sucker off and had just the flowers in my hair.
And now I’m sort of wondering if maybe I should have just done that from the beginning.
The blusher was from David’s Bridal, as were the shoes. (I hate them, but they’re fucking cheap, and they had stuff I wanted. So sue me.) My bridesmaids and I wore the same shoes – what were essentially glorified, bedazzled flip flops. I had mine dyed ivory to match my dress, and theirs were dyed orange to match the color scheme.
I went easy on the jewelry. I thought about ordering some huge, elaborate earrings from Etsy, but opted instead for some basic studs and a crystal choker. It made me feel understated, but still elegant – which was exactly the vibe I was going for.
THE HAIR AND MAKEUP
I had a nervous breakdown a few months before the wedding, because the hair and makeup “artist” my mom’s friend had recommended to me was just not working out. After two trials with her, my hair still felt thin, my makeup messy, and I just generally felt that I wasn’t pretty enough to get married.
Then my friend Lauren came to the rescue, recommending a hair stylist and makeup artist that a friend of hers had used for her wedding that spring. So I called them both, and thankfully, found them both free on the day of my wedding. I booked them immediately, set up trials, and fell in love with them both instantly.
Kathee Buck (based in Turlock, California) did my hair, as well as my bridesmaids’ hair, and she was phenomenal. I bought clip-in extensions for the occasion (since my hair is thin), and she twisted those and my real hair up into this ‘do that I never thought possible.
Do you guys know what it’s like to have an abundance of hair after going through your life as a basically bald woman? There are no words to describe its awesomeness.
Rikki DeGough (based in Modesto, California) did our makeup. She also did my makeup for my bachelorette party, which you may remember looked bad ass and caused me to get hit on by some random dude at the Dublin BART station.
Rikki uses nothing but Bare Minerals / Bare Escentuals products, so even though I spent the entire day sweating balls because it was almost one hundred degrees outside, when I got to the hotel at midnight, I still looked like I had just been made-up. (But it’s not like I’m going to show you a photo to prove it.)
THE BRIDAL PARTY
The traditional mantra for bridesmaids dresses is that “you can just shorten it and wear it again.” On what planet do you think I’m going to wear tangerine satin to anything but a wedding in which I’m a bridesmaid? I’m not. NO ONE IS. So I got the girls involved in the dress selection process. We ended up going with an eighty dollar little black dress from Nordstrom, which is something they can and probably will wear again. And I made sure it had straps, per Raeann’s request. Though sadly, the dresses did not come with pockets.
Dan and the boys wore [basically] matching tuxedos from Men’s Wearhouse. We chose them partially because they’re a sibling company to David’s Bridal and have matching color palettes, and partially because Scottie and Josh live in Pennsylvania and Florida, respectively, and you try finding another menswear company that will serve three out of four corners of the United States. I had them all in black shirts, which looked incredibly snazzy, if a little uncomfortable for a hot summer day. Dan wore an ivory vest and tie to match my dress, while Scottie and Josh wore red (again, to match the color scheme).
This concludes the “Getting Ready” portion of our Details Programming. Tune in Monday for favors and cake!
One of my favorite parts of the wedding was our photo booth. We opted not to do a traditional photo booth with strips (mostly because I looked into it and that shit is EXPENSIVE), but rather a simple black backdrop with props where our guests could dress up, get their freak on, and get caught on camera in the process.
It was also a great opportunity for some of the family units to get formal (and fun) photos together that they might otherwise not have the chance to take. Like this picture, of Dan and I and [almost] all of his cousin’s on his dad’s side (we were missing Jessie, who was fighting fires somewhere in the Pacific Northwest). But you’ll notice the group is still SO BIG we exceed the photo booth’s size limit. Oops.
These photos of Raeann made me laugh out loud the first time I saw them – especially the one with the top hat and Michael Jackson glove. It’s just so Showgirls and gaudy and wonderful. I think I probably need more glittery clothing items in my life.
Bubby did an entire photo shoot with her boa / crown / fan combination. We only ended up getting this one picture, but we got a sneak peak of the rest of them at the wedding. She is one sassy lady.
Dan’s relatives kept asking me, “Who are those girls in the high heels and short skirts and tattoos?” Those would be my sisters-from-other-misters, Jordana and Rachel. They looked fucking HOT. You can count on them to show you up on your wedding day, too, assuming you invite them.
A lot of people do non-mechanical photo booths like this, but they’re usually accompanied by a white board or chalk board on which people can write messages to the bride and groom. I thought about doing that, but how many guest books do we need? We had a guest book / photo frame thing (which I’ll talk about in tomorrow’s post), and I really wanted the photo booth to be fun for people. Throw on a boa and a hat and strike a pose. Have fun with your friends and family. Don’t be stressed out about what to say to Dan and I.
This post is the last in the rundown of our big day, but I’ll be back tomorrow with a post on the little details that helped make our wedding a major success.
We opted for an all-in-one venue for our wedding, so we didn’t have to have the ceremony in one place and the reception in another. Not only does that get expensive, but I know guests get frustrated when they’re traipsing all over town in high heels. I watch Four Weddings. I know what’s up.
After we were introduced by our DJ as “Mr. and Mrs. Dan and Tori” (which still sounds totally weird to me, even four months in), we took a beautiful group shot of [almost] everyone who attended the wedding. (Dan’s grandpa, who has mobility issues, sat this one out, as did Dan’s dad, who was keeping Grandpa company.)
And then – true to Jewish form – it was time to eat.
Again wanting to incorporate both Jewish and Christian traditions into our wedding day, we asked Dan’s dad to say a Christian grace (which turned into more of a toast / speech about marriage that was incredibly poignant and beautiful), and my parents to say the traditional Jewish blessings over the food (ha’motzi) and wine (kiddush).
Our food (which we selected at last year’s tasting) was served buffet style, with tri-tip and chicken piccata as the main entrees, but also lots of veggie options (including cous cous, roasted potatoes, and asparagus) for the vegetarians (because Dan and I are related to a lot of them). During dinner, Raeann declared that the chicken piccata was “the best wedding chicken” she’d ever had. And that’s a big compliment, because that lady has been to a LOT of weddings.
Once Dan and I had finished eating, we made the rounds to say hi to everyone. You guys, can I just tell you that there has to be a better way to do this? I felt awful. We spent too much time with some tables, not enough with others, and by the end of it, we were frantically trying to finish our greetings so that we could move on with the evening. I think this would have been easier if our wedding had been seventy-five to ninety people, but with almost a hundred and thirty guests, the greetings turned into to too great of a time commitment. So, serious note to anyone planning to get married any time soon: Find an alternative method.
Once we were done saying hi to everyone (which probably took at least a half hour, if not longer), it was time for toasts. Dan’s best man, Josh, gave a fantastically sweet toast about Dan being the most loyal person he’s ever met. Not bad for a guy who, as of that morning, was not aware that he would be speaking publicly. (Dan failed to inform him that a major responsibility of the best man is to make a speech.)
Raeann’s toast, prepared weeks and weeks in advance, had me laughing from start to finish. I’m posting it in full here, because I know you guys love to laugh, and because I think it so perfectly embodies both my relationship with her and Dan.
Hello, everyone! For those who don’t know me, I’m Raeann. Tori and I have been friends since our freshman year in college. I am so honored to be here today to celebrate such a perfect union.
Tori is so intelligent, charming, beautiful, compassionate, and dedicated. Tori is very special. So special, in fact, that it took a team of engineers and web designers, a word-wide database, and a series of complex algorithms to find her perfect match.
I know I speak for all of Tori’s friends and family when I say we are so happy Dan is in her life. Tori and Dan are so different from one another, and that’s exactly what makes them perfect. Dan is so patient, calm, and pragmatic. Just the thing balance Tori’s sometimes indulgent nature. And Tori is just the right puzzle to keep a gamer like Dan challenged and interested.
Many times throughout our friendship, I have said to Tori, “When the right man comes along, it’s so easy, and it happens so fast.” And how right I was! Honestly, I have never known a couple more in love from day one.
Please join me as I raise my glass to toast the happy couple. Congratulations on your new life together! May your love be modern enough to survive the times and old-fashioned enough to last forever!
Following the toasts, Dan and I warmed up the dance floor with our first dance as a married couple. We danced to “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele, which took us MONTHS to pick after I gave Dan a slew of other choices and he vetoed all of them (including this song, which he eventually decided he disliked the least of all). Another word of wisdom to brides-to-be: Don’t let your fiance in on the planning. They’ll veto and / or make fun of all the options you present, and then tell you to do whatever you want in the end. Seriously, dudes. Be more annoying. YOU CAN’T.
Dan and his mom danced to a traditional waltz, while I surprised my Dad by setting our father / daughter dance to the main theme from The Godfather. My dad is such a fan of everything mafia (which is no surprise, given his childhood in New York and our family’s historical connections), the music literally brought him – and all of our wedding guests who know him – to hysterical, laughing tears. It was the best reaction I could have hoped for.
After a little bit of dancing, it was time for cake. We opted not to smoosh cake in each other’s faces (per Dan’s explicit request), but we did do a little bit of a Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene with one of the fondant curls.
I know. We’re gross.
Dan and I didn’t even get cake (aside from the two bites we each took during the cutting), because we were so busy tearing it up on the dance floor. Dan had hetero life partners to make out with, and I had Nicki Minaj songs to rap to. And then there was the chicken dance, specifically requested by one of Dan’s adult (!!) cousins.
I’ve never had so much fun at a wedding in my life. And maybe I’m biased, because it was my wedding, planned to my specifications, but HOLY SHIT, it was awesome.
Plus, we got free vehicle decor out of it, also courtesy of Dan’s cousins. What more could a girl ask for?
I think one of the best decisions we made regarding our wedding day was opting to do the “first look.” While a groom might not traditionally see the bride until she walks down the aisle, the first look gives you both a chance to see each other, to shake some of the nerves off, and to take some sweet pictures that you likely wouldn’t have time for if you waited until after the ceremony.
Also, Dan’s face when I walked out the front door of the inn was priceless. And I would have missed that if the first time he saw me in my dress was at the other end of the aisle. Because as I’ve mentioned previously, I’m blind.
Because Dan is Christian and I’m Jewish, we opted to have a secular ceremony, while still incorporating our religious traditions. For example, we had a traditional Christian processional, where Dan escorted his mom, the groomsmen (Scottie and Josh) escorted a very excited Bubby, and the bridesmaids (Raeann and Jenn) preceded me down the aisle solo.
But in keeping with Jewish tradition, I had both of my parents escort me down the aisle. Especially as an only child, I felt it was very important to involve both my mom and my dad in this momentous occasion.
Also, I don’t really have the pictures to show this, but at the end of the aisle, Dan was supposed to come get me from my parents. But he was nervous and I’m impatient and forgetful, so I straight up charged the gazebo. YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME, WEDDING TRADITIONS.
Rather than writing our own vows, Dan and I worked together to compose the entire ceremony. We based it on the sample ceremony given to us by our officiant, Jim (that would be the tattooed, bearded dude in the bear robes), and re-worded it to better match our personalities and the partnership we have. What we ended up with was a quick but sweet ceremony in which we promised to love each other unconditionally, to support each other in our goals, and to honor and respect each other.
It was important to me to also include the breaking of the glass, which is the traditional end to a Jewish wedding ceremony. At a traditional Jewish wedding, the glass is broken by the groom only, and represents the destruction of the holy temple. For the purposes of our ceremony, we opted to both break a glass, and explained it to our guests as a representation of the fragility of human relationships – a simple, irrevocable action (like the breaking of the glass) can’t be undone, and as such, it’s important for us to show each other the love and respect our marriage will need to survive.
The only awkward thing is that there’s really no good place for the breaking of the glass to go in a secular ceremony. I couldn’t find any examples online, and I couldn’t remember how Raeann and Stephen had incorporated it at their wedding in 2009 (and of course, I wasn’t smart enough to ask them). So we fudged it. We had Jim explain the glass, pronounce us husband and wife, and then we planned to break the glass and kiss. But our guests got a little overly excited and starting clapping and cheering the second he pronounced us. Hence the “HOLD ON A MINUTE” finger, pictured below.
But it all worked out. Our guests finally figured out what was going on, we broke the glass, we made out for a good fifteen seconds in front of our entire family and all our friends, and then we marched back down the aisle all like, “Holy shit, we’re married.”
Because we were getting married over Labor Day weekend, and because so much of our family was coming from out of town (we had guests from as far away as New York, Maryland, and Florida), we decided to essentially make a weekend extravaganza out of our wedding.
It began on Friday afternoon with our rehearsal, which was brief and left me totally confused. (Thank god I had Raeann and Sherry to keep me in line during the actual event on Sunday.)
The rehearsal dinner was that evening, and turned out to be a blast. I had my doubts, considering that I had booked the restaurant literally two weeks before after a desperate hunt for something more Dan-and-I-appropriate (ie. any kind of ethnic food AT ALL) turned out to be a bust.
(For the record, don’t bother venturing to Amador County if you’re interested in anything besides steak, potatoes, and wine. They just can’t handle it.)
We ended up going with J & D’s Steakhouse in Sutter Creek, which has a beautiful wine cellar beneath the restaurant. They created a fixed menu for us which offered a choice of steak, chicken, or fish, and a delicious chocolate mousse for dessert. Oh, and did I mention that there was endless booze because this place has a full bar and a wine selection for the ages? Because, yeah. There was endless booze. I even got Dan’s mom (who gets drunk off the smell of wine) to order a whiskey sour. Epic.
Also, there was a lot of kissing involved. I’m not really sure what that was about. We were pretty drunk by that point.
Dan and I spent that night and Saturday night at the Sutter Creek Inn, where almost my entire family was also staying. The inn is an adorable historic bed and breakfast with huge, beautiful rooms and gorgeous outdoor gardens. Dan and I stayed in the Carriage House, which featured a living area and a giant soaking tub.
We spent most of the weekend outside in the garden, hanging out with my family, some of whom I haven’t seen in years. It was wonderful to have everyone in the same place, and it made me wish that Dan’s family had opted to stay in Sutter Creek, as well, because I actually like my in-laws. SHOCKER.
We did get to spend some quality time with Dan’s side of the family on Saturday night, when both of our families hosted dinners (mine in Sutter Creek, Dan’s in Galt, about fifty minutes away).
Because we had two dinners to attend, we opted to do dinner with Dan’s family, and dessert with mine. I thought this was an especially excellent decision, as Dan’s family’s dinner was held at a Chinese restaurant that had the most delicious spare ribs I’ve ever eaten.
Once dinner was over, we drove the almost-an-hour back to Sutter Creek to have dessert and coffee with my family at the Twisted Fork, an Italian restaurant on Sutter Creek’s Main Street. Dan and I shared a slice of cheesecake while I (apparently) gestured wildly to articulate a point.
I think having this time with our families was what made the wedding weekend so special. I don’t think I would have appreciated our wedding nearly as much if I felt desperate to catch up with each and every guest at the actual event. Because we had that time with out-of-towners on Friday, Saturday, and even Sunday morning, it felt like a much more intimate affair.
And that’s what it’s all about, right?