This girl is exhausted since she had to wake up very early and drive to the city for her graduate school orientation (and she likes to talk in the third person), but she still wants to show you some photos that were taken in between the time that she went to California and got married. She hadn't seen her fiance since January, so it was pretty exciting to see him again in San Francisco!
Our first night (I'm so over third person), we met up with Al's best man Duncan and his girlfriend Claire for dinner. We then went to the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins after for a drink since they were staying there and we were staying next door to them. It was pretty neat seeing them in America, because the only other place I've seen them in is Australia!
They went up to Sonoma Valley a day early, and we hung around in San Francisco. We met up with all of the other Aussies on Tuesday night (July 31) and had a blast at an Irish pub off of Union Square.
I'm sure that we were all reluctant to get out of bed the next morning, but we still did and took a shuttle bus to Sonoma Valley. Al and I greeted our friends and family at the hotel, met briefly with our rabbi who officiated our ceremony, and then we went to Chateau St Jean for the rehearsal.
It was quick and painless. We were done in less than an hour, and we had plenty of time to go back to the hotel and change for the rehearsal dinner.
Our rehearsal dinner was at Johnny Garlic's in Santa Rosa. I got the volcano chicken, and I loved it. I think it was the most popular menu item for our group.
The Aussies discovered that they could order drinks that were three times the size of a normal portion. If you look in the back, you can see Anna and Fel drinking a mojito from a giant fish bowl! Other tables soon caught on and ordered similar massive drinks.
You can't really tell in the photo below, but I'm wearing 5-inch platforms. I wasn't able to wear them to the actual rehearsal since I would have been tripping all over the grass, but I figured it was safe to wear to dinner. I liked being a normal height for the night!
By the way, it's now Sunday and I started this post on Thursday. I start my grad school program tomorrow, and I can't WAIT! I'm looking forward to telling you all about it and being able to share useful info on nutrition. I can't promise that I'm going to be a consistent blogger, but I'm still here. Stay tuned for some post-wedding and honeymoon photos!
Photos from Suzanne Karp
We did it! We are married and honeymooned. I will no longer check "single" on my doctor's forms.
Our wedding was the most beautiful day of my life. The weather was sunny, the mood was perfect, and the scenery was out of a fairy tale.
I have a stud of a new husband.
Never could I ever have imagined a more ideal setting to get married.
We sipped on wine and beer while taking photos in the Chateau St Jean gardens.
Even now, I am still reluctant to throw away my flower bouquet.
Our guests had views of the lovely Chateau.
They could also see the grapevines and mountains.
Lots of dancing followed dinner.
And we all lived happily ever after!
This wedding post is from Chantal and Jon's wedding on June 2nd. I met Chantal in college from visiting my longtime friend Meredith at Kansas University in Lawrence. I drove from Urbana-Champaign in Illinois to Lawrence, which is a 7-hour drive, multiple times because I loved the campus and Mere's college friends so much. Chantal met her husband Jon in Kansas, and then they miraculously moved to Chicago last year! I wish you could have seen how happy I was when Meredith told me that they were coming here.
The wedding ceremony, as expected, was beautiful! In between the service and the ceremony, Goda and I went to Mickey's in Lincoln Park for a drink on their patio and an excuse to enjoy the perfect weather. I then went over to Jon's to take Libby outside, and then Goda and I walked to the Sun Times Building (which is down the street from Jon's apartment). Talk about convenience.
Their wedding reception was in the hotel inside of the Sun Times Building. There was apparently a gorgeous view of the city from the bar on the floor above us, but we never made it up there. We had enough things at the party to keep us distracted!
Goda and I were placed at the Chicago table. It was funny that there was a designated Chicago table, because it made us realize that everybody else was from out of town. Jon's family is from Nebraska, and Chantal's is from Kansas and North Carolina.
Soon after we took our seats, we got our food. I got the halibut with mashed potatoes and grilled veggies, and Goda got the pasta with feta cheese and veggies. We shared and enjoyed.
The table decorations were beautiful. We were wondering if there was actually wine inside of those bottles. There was.
Chantal and Jon told us all to look underneath our seats to see who had a wine opener taped there. Sure enough, Goda had one beneath her. Whoever had the opener could keep the bottle, but Goda was kind enough to share her winnings with the table.
Soon after, everybody got wedding cake and ice cream! I'm not eating much dairy at the moment (I can tell you about that later), so I just moved the ice cream aside and dug into the cake. Yum!
After we ate, the beautiful bride and groom danced their first dance as a married couple. The picture looks like it's from an old black and white movie, doesn't it?
Then, it was our turn to dance! Wow, did we have fun. I definitely rocked out to "Cotton Eyed Joe", along with everybody else in my age group.
We also met the most adorable little boy on the dance floor. Goda danced with him for a while. He had moves!
The newlyweds are on their honeymoon right now and are constantly posting pictures of their perfect little getaway in Hawaii. JEALOUS! I guess I do have my honeymoon in less than two months, so I can't complain.
Congratulations Chantal and Jon!
Warning: If you don't like images that include phallic-shaped cookies and other things created in that shape exclusively for bachelorette parties, then I suggest that you skip this post!
My bachelorette bash was better than I could have imagined. First, it was different from my typical Saturday night. Second, my girls deserve an award for all of their hard work. The decorations were unbelievable, down to the posters with potentially humiliating material from my crazy years in college, the Disney balloons, the streamers, and the 9-hour playlist of almost pure musical theater. I was in Heaven.
Andi went through all of my recent pictures from the blog and Facebook and printed off the majority of them. Do you see the picture that says, "Am I the only one who talks to their pets and pretend they answer back?"
We started the night at Andi's apartment in Lincoln Park. We thought about going out to dinner or renting a hotel suite originally, but I wanted them to do everything they could do to keep the costs down. As you probably know, everybody is putting out the big bucks to fly to San Francisco for the wedding. I don't want to keep tacking on money to their "Jenny" bill. My friends are a very fun group of people, so we all knew that we'd be able to plan something cost-effective and have a blast-tastic time.
For dinner, the girls ordered food from Lou Malnati's. If you're not a Chicago native or have never been here, then put it on your list of things to do when you visit (because you must!). Even if you don't like Chicago-style deep dish pizza, it's one of the best pizza places in the city. You can pizza with thinner crust, too.
They ordered one gigantic salad that apparently wasn't supposed to come with cheese and bacon, but it did.
We had plenty of pizza. I made sure to have a few pieces to "line my belly" for the amount of drinking that was about to take place.
There were meatballs and baked ziti.
My amazing baker bridesmaid Jessie made phallic cookies. They tasted so good! Kate also made vegan rice krispie treats that were shaped like Jessie's cookies. Everything was great.
I made sure that my mom was there for some of the night. She had no intention of coming to the bar later in the night, but she was there until we all went out. My maid of honor Jess's mom Karen was also there (and spent the whole night out with us since she is a trooper!).
Once we were all settled in and fed, Jess cranked up the volume for our sing-along. I originally wanted to go to a karaoke bar, but I eventually realized that we could have just as much fun (or more fun) singing at Andi's.
I took a break to open some presents, and I got right back into the singing.
The rest of the photos are from Karen's iPhone. Thank you, Karen!
Around 10:30, we piled into cabs and went to Public House where our table and bottle service awaited us. I took my pink fluffy goblet, my pink bell, and my inflatable genitalia friend who I started calling "Drogobob".
We all had a wonderful time!
My bridesmaids also made a funny checklist for me that included "getting proposed to by a stranger". The stranger gave me a very good proposal, didn't he?
Irene's dad drove me back on Sunday morning, and I slept about four hours until I had to get up to receive my family for Mother's Day. My uncle was in town from New Jersey, and my brothers and Aunt Harriet came over too. I was surprisingly able to be normal and enjoy the company while eating food. I was very tired, though!
I also don't have any pictures up there with my bridesmaids Irene and Goda, but they were certainly there and just as awesome as everybody else.
My parents and I had the best time in Sonoma Valley over the weekend. I wish I could pack another suitcase and go back there for a week or more, but I'll have to wait for the wedding in August to see it again.
We left Chicago on Friday morning and returned 48 hours later. Although it wasn't a lot of time, we fit in three tastings (one with the caterer and two cake tastings), a tour of our hotel where our guests will be staying, picking out all of the flowers with our florist, a hair and makeup trial, tasting wines for the wedding at our venue, looking for tuxes, a meeting with the rabbi, two delicious dinners, and a terrific lunch on the bay in Oakland. We didn't waste any time!
I'm not sharing pictures from all of my visits for obvious reasons: I have to keep some secrets about the wedding! I will show you a lot of pictures of food, though! Is that different from any other post?
Park Avenue Catering
On Friday, we met with our wedding planner at Park Avenue Catering. They will be doing all of the food for our wedding, with the exception of the wedding cake. My dad really wanted to take the reins on the food throughout the planning process, so he chose this caterer and picked the menu. We tried some very creative dishes that I can't wait to display on my wedding day. I know that our guests will love them! The one dish that we're definitely going to change is the mahi mahi. We wanted a more flavorful fish, so we're going with something else. Doesn't it look gorgeous, though?
They gave us chocolates at the end of our tasting. Although we got full portions of everything, I made sure not to stuff my face. I still had room for them. I can't remember exactly what they were, but I tasted superb chocolate and raspberry and ate two of them. I would have had more, but there was nothing left on the plate. How sad.
We heard great reviews about Park Avenue Catering, and our visit with them confirmed those reviews even more. The staff was incredibly friendly, and our tasting was spectacular. I'm thrilled that we're going to have good food at our wedding!
Hilton Sonoma Valley
After our meeting with the florist, we drove to our hotel, checked in, and met with one of the events coordinators for a tour of the hotel. We liked the pictures that we saw of the property online, but we were even happier when we saw the Nectar Lounge where the after-party will be on the night of the wedding. We'll have our own space in a stunning outdoor area (with heating lamps) that's elevated above the city of Santa Rosa. It's gorgeous at night with all of the lights. We can also go inside in case it rains. That wouldn't be a problem, because the lounge and restaurant is also very nice.
My parents and I stayed in adjoining rooms; theirs had one king bed and mine had two queens. Both of the rooms were very spacious. For my friends who want to fit four in a room, you will have no problems!
I loved the way that they folded our towels.
I also used toilet paper instead of kleenex, because I didn't want to dissemble this flower:
While we were meeting in the main lobby and talking about brunch options for the day after the wedding, I saw that they were setting up a complimentary wine and cheese tasting. It was a bliss reminder that we were staying in Wine Country.
Of course, I hit the cheese-and-crackers table a few times before dinner. I also had a glass of red wine.
For those who are coming in August, don't forget to book your room! The link is on the wedding page.
If you watch a lot of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives or love Guy Fieri as much as my parents and I do, then you might know about Guy's first restaurant: Johnny Garlic's. The original location is about five minutes away from our hotel, so we really wanted to try it.
I loved it the second that I walked in the door, because it was anything but a "snooty" restaurant. The bar was in my face, T-shirts hung all over the walls, and a friendly hostess smiled and asked how she could help us. It reminded me of a family-friendly restaurant, but it also wasn't tacky. I could see Guy's personality in everything.
Our sever took a while to greet us, but everything went smoothly once we put in our drink orders. Wine in wine country? Yes please! The servers brought out our wine in that little jug below (one jug per glass), and then they poured it into our glass. How cute.
We got some of Guy's focaccia bread to share, which was outstanding. It was light and fluffy in the middle and had grilled onions on the outside. We dipped it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
My dad and I both got the veggie burgers for our main meal. As you see, Guy does not want us to go hungry. We chose garlic fries for our side. They tasted wonderful, but I have to warn you that I had garlic breath for 12 hours. I brushed my teeth twice, scrubbed my tongue with the toothbrush, chewed gum and ate mints. It wasn't until I had two cups of coffee the next morning that it went away. Johnny Garlic's does not take their garlic lightly!
There's a chance that people who come to the wedding will get to experience Johnny Garlic's if they are there the night before it. We don't know for sure, but it's looking better than worse. We loved the restaurant and the staff, so we'll see. If there's one thing that I do promise, it's that we not will serve the garlic fries!
Here is my final recap from Chicago. I tried on wedding dresses!
Obviously, I'm not showing you my favorite, because it's probably the one I'm going to wear at my wedding. I went to Volle's Bridal in Lake Zurich, Illinois. I found out about the shop from a lady named Theresa who was working as a tailor at Jessie's wedding. I got my bridesmaid dress altered before her wedding, but it was still too long on the day. I don't know what I would have done without Theresa there. I probably would have tripped while walking down the aisle. Anyway, we got to talking while she was hemming away at my feet, and I found out that she worked at this bridal shop right by my house! I made an appointment to try on dresses a few days later.
Volle's Bridal looks like an adorable old house from the outside. As soon as we got inside, we met with my sales consultant Deena. She took us upstairs (I brought my mom and both of my grandmas) to my huge private dressing room. There were chairs for everybody to sit, and there was great lighting.
I told her at first that I wanted an A-line gown until I tried one on that made me look like a decoration on top of a cupcake. We figured out that I actually wanted a "dropped-waist" design, where it's tighter on the torso and starts to go out at the hips or lower.
Black belt on a white dress, anybody?
Deena had to "clip" me into all of the dresses. They were way too big.
The most expensive one was the dress I tried on below. It had so much detail on it.
This one below was my second favorite. I liked it a lot, but I still knew it wasn't "the one".
Everybody cried when I put "the one" on. But how much do you like all of the fabric on this frock?
Also, our wedding date and location are almost secured! I'm so excited to share that information.
That's all for the recaps, folks!
After the whole getting ready process, the Ladies in Green waited for the bride to come back downstairs to take the pictures. She was outside for a while taking photos with the groom, and she needed a hair touch-up. While waiting in the lobby, the flower girls were the key entertainment (we waited for a while).
After pictures, which included WALKING ACROSS Michigan Avenue in our gowns (I'm telling you, the photographer is a genius), we had very little time to kill before the ceremony. The wedding planner insisted that Jessie eat something, so she ordered her a turkey sandwich. She's usually a messy eater (I call her Messy Jessie), so we put napkins on her lap so that she wouldn't get food on her dress.
Before the big ceremony began, we witnessed another intimate ceremony in a separate room with the rabbi, the bride and groom and two witnesses (Jessie's brother Jeremy and David's grandfather). They signed the Ketubah, which is a Jewish marriage contract. It felt very special to be able to witness this, because it was the first time that David and Jess became husband and wife.
The Grand Ballroom was beautiful.
In Jewish weddings, there is always a chuppah. The bride and groom stand under it during the ceremony. It's a symbol for the home in the couple's future.
Since it was Shabbat (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday), the ceremony had to be scheduled for after sundown. This meant that it couldn't start until 7 (and we only started 20 minutes late).
During the ceremony, the maid of honor Danielle, the best man Daniel (David's brother) and both sets of parents stood under the chuppah with them. The Ladies in Green (and the Men in Black) stood by the side.
After the ceremony, I met my parents for the cocktail hour in the room that we watched the Ketubah signing. By now, there was food everywhere. It was after 8 pm, and I was starving!
Around 9 pm, we went back into the Grand Ballroom. The room had transformed into a party room with tables galore and a huge dance floor in the middle.
The palate cleanser.
I picked the chicken dish.
Jessie and David met on a Birthright trip in Israel, so Jessie surprised him with a camel on the cake.
First dance as a married couple. They took dancing lessons, and they were great!
We had so much fun on the dance floor.
The drinking and dancing continued until 1 am (my parents went home way before that), and then we headed up to the bridal suite for the after party. Unfortunately, many of us were so tired that we were not able to stay very long. I had been awake for almost 24 hours by that point. I think I went back to my friend (and fellow bridesmaid) Alex's apartment around 2/2:30. I also think that Jessie and David kicked everybody out around that time. I slept very soundly that night.
I woke up the next morning feeling tired but not completely defeated. I was so happy that I didn't consume nearly enough alcohol to get a hangover. I was also excited for brunch.
Alex and I took a cab back to the hotel and went up to the Tower Room. It had unbelievable views of the city, much like Jessie's bridal suite.
The Shamrock Shuffle went past the hotel.
Brunch was fantastic. I filled my plate with fresh fruit, chicken sausage, scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes with peppers (capsicum in Australia) and a really good muffin. It's too bad I can't remember what it was. It had oats and raisins in it. I also had two glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice.
On the way out, I took my last photo with Jessie. She looked amazing; I looked like I had just rolled out of bed and thrown on a dress (which is exactly what I did). The lucky gal is now honeymooning in the South Pacific.
I got a ride back to the suburbs, and I proceeded to nap for about two hours. What a weekend!
GOOD MORNING Chicago, it's a beautiful day! The sun is shining- oh wait.
But sunshine or no sunshine, nothing could ruin this day.
No matter what the sky looks like, nothing could taint a view like this.
On our way up to the bridal suite for beautification, we brought bottles of champagne from our hotel room that some of the girls were nice enough to purchase.
When I arrived in the room, I had zero makeup on and sported an afro. Jessie told me at about 9:30 that morning that I need to wash and dry my hair before it got styled. When I dry my hair and don't use a straightener, it looks very funny. I didn't take any photos, but the photographers were kind enough to take a bunch of them.
For Jessie, the beautification process started at 9:30 am (for a 7 pm service). She actually had to be ready by about 1 for pictures, so she needed the time.
I got started on my makeup at 10:30. I have to find her business card that she gave to me, because she is outstanding. I'll give her a shout out. She's also friends with one of my bestie's moms.
My friend and fellow bridesmaid Alex got started on her hair at the same time as I started my makeup.
Jessie's makeup took a good hour. Her meema (grandma) came up to the suite to get her hair "fluffed up".
Bridal hair (plus a few extensions to thicken)
The photography team
Me and Alex, with our hair and makeup complete. I was obsessed with my makeup, considering the fact that I haven't gotten it done since I was about 16. Also, Jessie gave her bridesmaids velcro towels to get ready in. I will use it again and again! They are so practical.
The mother of the bride, Rene, was crying all day. Her eyes were swollen, so she held cucumbers from our lunch platter on them.
Jess looked absolutely stunning.
Jenny (the bride's brother's girlfriend) getting her hair done
One of the two flower girls, Emma, stood by her mommy while she got her makeup done.
She got her hair done in the suburbs, and they put gold tinsel in her hair. She was so excited to put on her dress.
Jessie's unbelievable gown
First look of the bride in her dress, coming down from her bedroom upstairs
This is one of my favorite photos from the weekend (below).
Bridesmaids! Sara, me, Kate
That concludes Part I! I'll finish with Part II tomorrow.
On Friday afternoon, I hitched a ride to the city with Jessie's cousin and maid of honor Danielle. We promptly checked into the Intercontinental and got ready for the rehearsal.
I had a Hollywood slow motion reunion when I ran into Jessie's parents and then Jess in the lobby. I was so happy to see them.
We got ready for the evening, and then we met in the room where they were going to have the wedding the next day. We ran through the rehearsal very easily (with the help of the wedding planner), and then we walked to dinner at Joe's Stone Crab.
*It's an American culture to hold a dinner after the rehearsal for the bride and groom's immediate families, wedding parties, close friends and out of town guests. I'm only saying this because Aussies give me a blank look when I talk about rehearsal dinners.*
For the dinner, we were in a party room in the back. Joe's must be a very popular place, because we had a lot of trouble getting to the back of the restaurant. There were so many people in there!
It was a pretty formal dinner. There were passed appetizers and drinks, and we were all assigned to tables. There was also a menu for the event, which I always love.
The salad was to die for. It was so tasty and simple. It was also lightly tossed in a vinaigrette, which is the only way I like my dressing.
After we gave our orders for our main course and dessert, most of the bridesmaids and groomsmen gave speeches. I wrote a long-ish speech for Jessie and David. It was about two minutes in total, but I wish I had made it shorter. People were talking the whole time, and I don't think a lot of people would have understood the jokes. It was hysterical for me and Jess and anybody who went to college with us, so I guess that was the important part. It's hard to get people to listen to speeches during events like this, anyway.
Creamed spinach and potatoes came out with our meals. I only had the potatoes, but they were superb.
I ordered the filet mignon, and I actually cleared my plate. That never happens with me and red meat. They went so well with the potatoes.
Dessert came out as the speeches came to a close (Jessie's brother made her cry, because his speech was so sweet). This peanut butter pie was one of the best desserts I have ever had in my life. It was a chocolate crust with a light and fluffy peanut butter filling and chocolate sauce on the side. Oh my goodness, it was good.
I'm glad that the camera could at least do me the courtesy of capturing the texture of the pie.
After dinner, a few of the girls went back to the bridal suite (or bridal HOUSE) in the hotel with Jessie. We hung out until she wanted to go to bed. I shared a separate room with some other girls in another tower of the hotel in a completely different elevator bank (it got annoying at times), but I slept very well. It was also good to have some bonding time with the bridesmaids I didn't know as well.
The wedding day recap is coming up next!
Since I'm about to talk about weddings, I think now is a perfect opportunity to tell you all that I'm coming home to Chicago in two weeks to stand by my girl Jessie while she ties the knot with her fiance David. This will be my first time blogging in my motherland!
Also, I am going to buy a new camera while I'm home. Many of my photos are cringe-worthy (from the camera, NOT me) , so I'm very excited to get something new and better. I'm looking into getting a Canon, although I'm not sure which model yet. Al and I are doing research. I'm hoping that I'll take some stellar photos at Jessie and David's wedding.
Nikki and Carlo's Wedding
I knew that Nikki's (my coworker) wedding would be beautiful as soon as I saw the invitation. It came in a black box with a pink ribbon tied around and a tag with their names on it.
I really didn't want to open it. It's like when you get a cupcake with a very detailed decoration of a golden retriever puppy. Why would you want to eat it? But I needed to get the information for the wedding, so I opened it. I untied the next ribbon...
...and found this! It was worth opening in the end. I later put it all back together for Al to see, but he didn't understand what I meant when I said that I didn't want to open it or why I put it back together for him. Well, boys will be boys.
By the way, Carlo is a graphic designer and did these invitations himself.
Saturday afternoon rolled around, and the weather could not have been more perfect. The temperature was 26 degrees Celsius/78.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and there was not a cloud in the sky.
At the church, some of my coworkers brought their kids.
They wouldn't pose for the camera, but I took photos of them playing (I got parental consent!).
The program had the same pattern as the invitation. I later learned that the theme was everywhere.
Unfortunately, I couldn't get any good photos from where I was sitting. We were all the way in the back and far to the right, so I couldn't even see much unless I was standing. It was a big church, and there were a lot of people there. This was the clearest photo I could get. It was a beautiful ceremony, though.
We were luckily able to walk to and from the church, because it was in our neighborhood. We had a couple of hours in between the ceremony and reception. The reception was at Sferas in Modburry. There were lots of parties going on at the same time, but it was so big that you would never know. My boss actually walked into the wrong wedding reception and started drinking before he realized that he didn't know anybody there. Ooops!
The room was stunning, but my camera struggled to capture much with the low lighting.
I was all over the pink theme. It fits, because Nikki loves pink more than anybody I ever met in my life. She is a pink princess.
Our tables were loaded up by the time we sat down. There were passed appetizers in the foyer, and then there was bread, personal antipasto plates and a giant shared seafood platter for the table. There were also bottles of red and white wine, scotch and a glass of pink champagne for everybody.
The last time I went to a wedding (my cousin's wedding in New Jersey), I vomited in the puke bag the next morning before the plane to Chicago even took off while sitting in between my parents. That's not even the worst of it. I drank so much that I fell asleep in the hallway outside my hotel door. This time, I knew I was going to be well behaved. I really wanted to leave Modbury with my dignity intact. Sorry scotch, but I didn't want you near me!
Here are some of the foods:
The anitpasto plate
The shared seafood plate
The pink champagne toast
There was another appetizer dish after this, which was an amazing rolled pasta and bacon dish. I couldn't get a good photo, though.
I ordered barramundi for my main dish. I was so busy chatting away that I only ate about a quarter of it. I was also filled up from the several courses of appetizers.
There was also a dessert dish, but I didn't get a picture of that either.
There is the beautiful bride and groom!
I also put up this photo (with Michael and Michelle) so that you can kind of see Nikki's dress. I was in love with it!
While I didn't feel great on Sunday, I am glad to announce that I was well-behaved on Saturday night. No mixing my wine with scotch or falling asleep on the floor. As for the hangovers, they come very easily now at this old age of 24!
Thank you, Carlo and Nikki! It was a beautiful wedding!