Wedding Wednesday: MARRIED, MARRIED, MARRIED!

Ah! Gracious me, so much to tell, so little time. I'll warn you here, what you're about to encounter is an epic novel of Russian proportions (minus the borscht) so buckle in. Maybe get some tea or a snack or something. The combined efforts of a busy spell at work and a broken computer are making it hard for me to find time to write and I wanted to finish blogging about our wedding before like, our 14th anniversary (8/16/28! Start shoppin'!) so I decided I'd just write out the rest of the story in one long, rambly, wordy, dramatic post. Trigger Warning: Oversharing.

Who's excited! No one? COOL! Let's goooo.

 SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 - 2:45 IN THE PM: We open on the corner of King and Duke Streets in downtown Lancaster, PA. Our heroes are standing on opposite side of an historic bank, just out of view from one another. The photographer counts down three...two...one and they walk towards each other for a moment known to the Wedding Industrial Complex as "The First Look."  I'll shut myself up and let this photo do the talking for that whole scene.

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Brian’s grin! Gah, he’s the best.

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Nice tush, too.

After the first look we walked around the block, stopping now and again to pose for romantic photos and then met our wedding part at Lancaster Central Market which, in case you’ve forgotten, is the World’s Oldest Continually Operated Indoor Farmer’s Market!!

How good-looking are these people?

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I’ll answer that for you: VERY.

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We were posing along the exterior of the market, which faces the windows of a number of shops and restaurants, inside of which were shoppers, diners and drinkers, all of whom became totally engrossed in our photo sesh. This one bar had floor-ceiling windows and all the patrons crowded around the windows and waved at us and clapped and one lady came out the door and said “I’m so sorry to bother you but I love your gown!” and I was like YAAAAAAS and realized I was finally living the day I’d been dreaming about my whole life.

The day I marry my one true love! Psh, no. The day I walk around town looking drop dead gorgeous and commanding the attention of everyone in my wake. This was my Kate Middleton Moment, guys. And I enjoyed EVERY SECOND OF IT.

After wedding party photos we met our immediate families at the Hamilton Club for portraits. By now it was 4 PM and the wedding was set to begin at 5. We were worried that guests would be late, but instead a number had arrived early and were already there when we arrived and I got a little thrown off, both overwhelmed by the realization that all of our loved ones would soon be surrounding us and simultaneously being upset that said loved ones were seeing me in my dress before the ceremony, because I’m the President of Vainslvania and wanted to blow everyone’s MINDS when I walked in the door. On top of that there was some hullabaloo surrounding a missing boutonniere situation and we were all getting a little worn out from posing and the mood went from excitement to anxiety in about 2.2 seconds flat. We snuck inside to where the venue had this really gorgeous private room kind of tucked away under the staircase where we could hide out while guests arrived and once again, we killed time and calmed our nerves by calling on our our new spirit guide, Ellen Degeneres.

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Heads Up forever and always. I remember my hands were shaking so badly I could barely hold the phone straight!

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And then! Bummm bum BUMMMM it was 5 PM. MARRYIN’ TIME.  I’m not going to make a single joke or sarcastic comment about our wedding ceremony. It was, and I mean this, perfect. We spent a lot of time thinking about how our ceremony would look and were so proud, really, of the results. It was very important for us for this ceremony to truly feel like a representation of us as a couple and as two families coming together. Our ceremony was entirely secular which was both freeing and challenging. We were very lucky that our families did not pressure us to do any sort of religious or traditional rituals, instead allowing us to celebrate our commitment in our own way, but the freedom of a nontraditional ceremony means there are almost too many options. Structure can be good!

Thankfully Jayne, our amazing officiate, met with us and talked us through a bunch of options and helped us to form a ceremony that we felt was really personal, intimate and meaningful. The room was set up beautifully, with just enough room that it felt cozy, even with 140 guests.

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Our friend Amy played music for the ceremony using just her iPod and the building’s sound system. I would have been fainting with nerves over such a responsibility but she was as cool as an entire farm of cucumbers the whole time. We have rad friends!

Our families and wedding party entered first, to the Vitamin String Quartet cover of Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic  Zeroes, which you can listen to here! And then, to the swells of All You Need is Love, as played by the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, my future husband and I walked arm in arm, towards our future together.

Walking the aisle together was one of the best decisions we made. Leading up to the wedding I stressed a lot (shock) about the aisle entrance. Tradition has the bride escorted by her father, but for a number of reasons I won’t go into here, as some are too personal and the rest involve phrases I’m trying to tone down on, like “patriarchal ownership,” it just didn’t feel right for me, personally. I thought about walking in with both parents or on my own, even, until someone suggested we walk in together and it just felt like the perfect choice. Brian was the first to jump at the idea, actually, and I quickly followed.

After the wedding I was talking to a friend of mine who was recently engaged and he said that his fiancé, who also has a complex dad story, was very moved to see that we walked together. She said she didn’t even realize you could do that!

Aside from how right it felt for us I’m happy that we were able to share that with other people and that our choice might be helpful for someone else. Planning a wedding when you have a little family baggage can feel really hard and lonely and upsetting. It’s easy to think back on friends “perfect” weddings and compare yourself to them but you have to remember that you never know the whole story, that every family is different. And with that, to remember that your wedding doesn’t have to look like theirs! You can walk the aisle with your dad, your mom, your cat, by yourself, on a scooter, with your partner, with your child, with a highly evolved robot…or you could just not even walk an aisle at all!

I’m getting a little side-tracked and soap-boxy but I just didn’t want to let that go unsaid. On the off chance that this is ever read by someone who’s feeling sad or stressed about wedding planning and family, you’re not alone! Do your best to ignore the stress and stop comparing yourself to other people and try to focus on what feels right for you.

For us that was walking the aisle together. One thing that Brian and I love about marriage is being a team and it felt really special to enter that room as a united front. We were in this together.

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Jayne said a few welcoming words and then my brother brought down the house with the most utterly perfect five minute monologue of all time. Shakespeare was spinning in his grave y’all. In lieu of where a priest might give a homily or personal statement, we asked Michael if he would be willing to tell the story of our relationship and he eagerly agreed. He didn’t practice it during the rehearsal so it would be a surprise for all during the ceremony and hoo boy, he hit it OUT OF THE PARK. He weaved together personal stories from Brian and from me, memories shared by our parents and siblings and turned our ordinary tale into a love story for the ages.  I will cherish this speech forever. He had me in tears within seconds and by the end of his talk, all of our guests had joined me.

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After Michael’s speech, our friends Melissa and Brandon, who are an adorable couple themselves, read selections from the poem I LIKE YOU by Soandol Stoddard Warburg:

I like you and I know why.

I like you because you are a good person to like.

I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s

special

And you remember it a long, long time.

You say, “Remember when you told me something special?”

And both of us remember

When I think something is important

you think it’s important too

We have good ideas

When I say something funny, you laugh

I think I’m funny and you think I’m funny too

You know how to be silly

That’s why I like you

Boy are you ever silly

I never met anybody sillier than me till I met you

I like you because you know when it’s time to stop being silly

Maybe day after tomorrow

Maybe never

If you go away, then I go away too

I like you because if we go away together

And if we are in Grand Central Station

And if I get lost

Then you are the one that is yelling for me

If we had some hats and some flags and some fire engines

We could be a HOLIDAY

We could be a CELEBRATION

We could be a WHOLE PARADE

Even if it was the 999th of July

Even if it was August

Even if it was way down at the bottom of November

Even if it was no place particular in January

I would go on choosing you

And you would go on choosing me

Over and over again

That’s how it would happen every time

They alternated verses and perfectly captured the sweet, silly, sentimental nature of the poem which summed up perfectly what Michael’s speech had revealed about our relationship.  Apparently we just really like each other.

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And then, the reason for the whole party: our wedding vows!  We had worked with Jayne to construct personal vows each of us saying the same half-dozen promises to one another. Brian went first and barely made it through “I Brian, take you Elizabeth” before he was completely choked up and crying.

I'd never seen Brian cry. Emily later told me she can’t remember ever seeing him cry and she’s known him for 22 years!

At this point, everyone was sobbing. Brian, me, Jayne who was supposed to be running this show could barely keep it together and all of our guests were sniffling away. At one point Brian choked out a sweet line and someone out in the seats moaned “Oh god” before just openly bursting into loud weeping and it was just the moment of levity needed to help me keep it slightly together and make it through my own vows without completely losing every sense of cool.

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This photo cracks me up, hankies all around!

PS: I am also crying right now writing this, just FYI.

We exchanged rings and grabbed hands and an uncle later told me that the room could sense our excitement; that we just looked at each other like giddy fools “Pronounce us married already! Let’s kiss!”

Jayne announced that by the powers vested in her by the state of Pennsylvania – not invested, a fact I just learned at the rehearsal! – we were legally married and Brian kissed the bride.

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MARRIED!!!!

When we were first engaged I had a few vague of ideas of how I would want our wedding to look but there was ONE thing I knew for certain I wanted: to recess down the aisle, husband and wife, to Beyonce’s Crazy in Love. And I am happy to say, that dream came true.

Here’s a link to the video in case you want to read the rest of this while jamming out. Come on, you know you do!

After the ceremony, the wedding party returned to our little cove under the staircase to chill out for a few moments while the rest of the group went upstairs for the cocktail hour and I will spoil the suspense by telling you that we did NOT play Heads Up. We partied!

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The staff had set up a whole table with our hot appetizers and cheese plate and most importantly booze. We popped champagne and toasted and were all kind of giddy and goofy.

For my bridal shower, Kathleen had given me a ruffly white apron (“is this a sex apron?!” I asked, enthusiastically) which she told me was “as a joke, but also serious” …not for sex (but it could be!) but to protect my wedding dress from the inevitable spills. We brought it with us to the wedding and broke it out to take a funny picture. Kathleen tied it onto me and for some reason there was a stray piece of fabric in the mix, which she tossed over her shoulder in an afterthought. Who has time for this pointless fabric!

Suddenly there was a commotion! I turned around and find Kathleen holding up the piece of fabric which is now ON FIRE.

Like…Katniss Everdeen ON FIRE.

It turns out that she’d tossed it right over her shoulder onto an open candle! Everyone simultaneously laughed and panicked. Someone suggested she stomp on it…but that would involve throwing it on the 200-year-old carpet, which seemed foolish and someone else tried to open the windows but again, 200 year-old-windows aren’t that easy to open and we all just shouted and laughed and Kathleen just stood there, frozen, holding onto the flaming remnants of my sex apron until finally someone poured a glass of water on it which was a surprisingly simple solution that took us a while to get to.

The whole thing couldn’t have been more than 20 seconds but it felt so much longer and oh my god it was the funniest moment ever. Sadly but probably actually happily, our photographers joined us in panicking instead of photographing the scene which like, as a rational human I obviously recognize as appropriate behavior but man…that would have made for some epic candid photography.

We did get this gem. True love.

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The apron may have been mostly a joke but legit was a lifesaver as I was able to then stand at the appetizer table and shove mini crab cakes and chicken bites into my face with wild abandon and not worry about staining my dress.

After that, Brian and I were able to sneak into the Hamilton Club’s duckpin bowling alley for a few amazing photos…

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Exhibit A!

…and then we all joined our guests for the cocktail hour which was and I don’t mean this as a metaphor, I mean it for real, a complete blur. I think I just blacked out and went onto auto pilot. I was SO HAPPPY to see everyone but SO STRESSED OUT about saying hi to everyone and making sure I accurately conveyed just how honored I was to have them there and I kept worrying about slighting people or spending too much time talking to one person and not enough to another and so if anyone currently reading this was at our wedding and I didn’t already say it: OMG THANK YOU FOR BEING THERE!! I do hope you had fun.

After what felt like 4 seconds but my sources confirm was nearly 40 minutes, it was time to go back downstairs for dinner and dancing. Brian and I followed along behind everyone else and as they sat, we took a moment to peek into the reception room and it looked INSANE. Our florist/cousin/hero/goddess Angie had transformed the space into the bright yet cozy yet classy joint we were envisioning. Instead of big centerpieces, each table had a few stems in mini-vases, stacked atop old books. Each table number was actually a complex math equation as thought out by Brian and designed by our friend Jamie and the whole room was just a magical explosion of nerdiness and beautiful flowers and LOVE.

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We did NOT do those bridal party entrances where everyone gets introduced and then does a “funny” entrance like, the sprinkler or the shopping cart because I think those are cheesy as all get-out and under no uncertain circumstances was anyone to do ANYTHING of the sort at our classy wedding. Normally here I’d say something like “but it’s fine if you like those!” as a risk of offending anyone but I’ll stay right here on my mean girl throne and settle on agree to disagree on this one, that shit’s the worst.

Brian and I entered the room to James Brown’s “I Feel Good” and then quickly segued into the longest 2.5 minutes of our whole entire lives: the first dance. We danced for TWO AND A HALF FULL MINUTES to Norah Jones’ cover of The Nearness of You and you guys, it was hella awkward. Like, painfully awkward. As we were planning the wedding, Brian kept saying we needed to keep our dance short and I must have been drunk because I guaranteed that 2.5 minutes is totally fine and short and doable and I was dead wrong. About three seconds into the song it dawned on me how long we’d be standing there, swaying clumsily in front of our family and friends who would enjoy it long enough to snap a good ‘gram or two and then politely sit there for the rest of the time, picking at their salads and praying for it to end.

At least that’s what was going through my mind. PRO TIP TO THE MAX: keep your dance shorttttt. SO SHORT.  Like, take the length you think is appropriate, cut it in half and then divide by 8. THAT SHORT. Or, don’t even do one! If I could go back in time and take my own “don’t worry about tradition!” advice…I don’t know that we’d even do a first dance. We really only did it for the pictures and the tradition and so we could have “a song.” I mean the photos are pretty…

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…obvi.

And our friend made us a sweet print with the lyrics to “our song” on it, which we shall cherish, but looking back now with the wisdom of TWO WHOLE MONTHS of marriage under my satin belt…meh. We didn’t do parent dances and almost wish we’d been bold enough to just scrap forced slow dances altogether. So staged! Who slow dances??? Why is that even a tradition?! After the 2.5 minutes of torture were over, Brian made a really cute speech thanking everyone for coming and tossing out a few cool math jokes and maybe we should have stuck to joking and talking rather than the foxtrot.

It didn’t ruin the wedding or anything but just keepin' it real.

OH MY GOD THE ONLY THING LONGER THAN OUR FIRST DANCE IS THIS BLOGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG.

We sat down to dinner and realized that the salads, which were supposed to have been plated, were not yet on the tables (sacre bleu!) and also that the bar was closed, due to a minor miscommunication between myself and the waitstaff. I flew into a legit panic that everyone was having a terrible time, thinking we were forcing them to a dry, saladless wedding and they were going to go home and complain about how bad everything was and I kind of hyperventilated a little bit and fluttered around the room and found the coordinator and she opened the bar and the salads came out.0003 seconds later and SURPRISE, when I talked to my friends after the wedding, literally ZERO of them even noticed the salads or the bar and all my worrying was for naught. Que sorpresa!

Also we only served beer, wine and champagne because the full bar package was more than we could/wanted to spend and I was so nervous the whole time that people would think we were cheap …and then I remembered that we are kind of cheap and that beer, wine and champagne is PERFECTLY acceptable and everyone seemed to get tipsy and have a good time but I know there is still a chance that someone out there in the world went home and complained about how lame we are for not having liquor and I am OK with that fact. I really am! So there’s another pro tip (how many tips is this? 457?): Stop worrying about what people are thinking!  Are you enjoying yourself and happy with the choices you've made? GREAT. Otherwise, stuff it. Just do whatever works for you and you won’t make everyone happy and it’s fine and if you don't feel like paying to serve full liquor bar…just don’t! And anyone who gets legit mad and upset about that is probably a butthead and WHO CARES what they think!

Ok obviously I’m still not fully over my anxiety that people think I’m cheap and talked about me behind my back post-wedding but I DO stand by our decision, I really do!!!!

Annddddd I’m running this train right off the rails.

Salads were served. Booze was poured. Speeches were given!  Both Brian’s best man Vapo and my Person of Distinction Maggie - we both decided that “Maid of Honor” is a sexist term that harkens back to a time when women were only valued for their sexual purity and marital status (oh wait! That’s still happening!) and therefore Margie got her own cool, non-gendered title. (we’re so annoying!!)  - gave adorable, sweet, heartfelt, perfect speeches that had everyone laughing and crying and their speeches perfectly embodied us as a couple and the two special people we’d chosen to speak for us.

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Vai’s was rehearsed, structured and quick witted.

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Marge’s was off the cuff, sentimental and charming and ended with her raising an imaginary champagne glass, as she’d walked up empty-handed, and everyone in the room cracked up.

Both were totally rad.

During the dinner hour I remained a neurotic mess – I was so worried about getting around to every table and saying hello to every person and thanking everyone and in the midst of all that worrying I kept stressing that I wasn’t living in the moment enough. Everyone tells you how fast your wedding goes and to just “enjoy the moment!” and they are SO RIGHT but it’s so much easier said than done. I managed to get to every table just as the DJ was firing up his…laptop? Spinner materials? I don’t what DJ’s do. I stood by the dance floor nervously watching people tentatively start to dance – a half-dozen or so came out for the first song, a few more for the second and then suddenly the familiar strains of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” echoed throughout the room and my friend grabbed my hands and yelled “this is our jam!!!” and people just started swarming onto the dancefloor and I looked around me and the floor was PACKED and everyone was boogying and all the worry just whooshed right out of my fingertips and out into the world and finally, I was living in the moment.

I don’t think I left the dance floor for the next three hours. Nor did the majority of our guests! I knew our friends would bring it, they always do, but FAMILY you guys! Aunts, uncles, cousins...tearing the roof of the place. I was impressed. The HoBag & McKeon families know how to get down. I'll hold off from posting any incriminating photos here on the internet (don't worry everyone, I'll still put them on facebook!) but you can trust me that the moves, ohhhh they were smooth.

I bopped around from song to song, dancing with this group or that group and Brian – less of a dance machine than I – popped in from time to time to get his groove on and spent the rest of his time chatting with friends and hanging out at the bar and the DJ played THE BEST JAMS and we crowd surfed! I had forgotten that Brian’s track buddies, who are an amazing group of guys and always just down to have a good time, have a tradition at Goat weddings (their mascot is the goat. Intimidating!!) of lifting the groom up above their heads and throwing him up in the air yelling “Goats! Goats! Goats! Goats!”

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And THEN they grab the unsuspecting bride and lift HER up in the air and if I thought that wandering around town waving at strangers was fun, I could never have dreamed how great it would be to be boosted up in the air by a bunch of cute boys, everyone around me chanting “Liz! Liz! Liz! Liz!”

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God I love attention.

At 10:30 PM our reception came to an end, like all good things to do, so we took the party over to a bar by the hotel called Annie Bailey’s, where Person of Distinction Margepants had reserved a few tables for us. Brian and I came in a little bit after everyone and were immediately fed several shots and several beers and then we settled into a booth in the back and were able to relax and catch up with pals and get our drank on. Eventually our group began to thin and around 1 AM or so we made our way back to the hotel where we did not even remotely consummate our marriage, for all you pervs out there wondering. Big snaps to anyone who manages to have intercourse on their wedding night…and double snaps if anyone climaxes.  All our exhausted bodies managed was to change out of our fancy gear, scroll through the #hottwedding feed and pass out.

ROMANCE!!!!

Sunday morning we woke up to a weather reflective of our moods – grey, misty and cool. The party was over. Whompity whomp! Some of my aunts and uncles had very generously organized a brunch for out of town guests at the hotel, so we were able to spend the morning saying goodbye to everyone, catching up on any gossip from the night before and devouring bacon and coffee like it was our last day on earth. It was the perfect way to end our perfect wedding and I think I only cried like...seventeen times. Ok, thirty, max.

And then we went to my mom's house and took a NAP and opened presents and cried some more and ate sandwiches and drove back to Brooklyn and consummated the HELL out of our marriage (highfive!) and went off on our Big Gay Nude Minimoon and the rest, as they say is history. Now we're just a couple of boring old marrieds who won't stop talking about their wedding and get over it already!

Bring on eternity, world. WE'RE READY!

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PS: As always, all photos are credit Kylene Lynn Photography. And I can't emphasize this enough...Lancaster couples, HIRE HER!

PSS: If you'd like to catch up on the rest of our wedding day because you have literally nothing better to do with your time...maybe you're like, in jail or an Ebola quarantine or something, I don't know...you can find them all HERE!

PSSSSSSS: Thank you all for following along with our nuptial journey. It was SO FUN!!

Wedding Wednesday: TODAY'S THE DAY!

Hell-OH. So there was no Wedding Wednesday last week. Boo hoo, I'm sure. As I mentioned, my laptop has gone to live on a farm upstate where he can run and play with his friends all the time so I've had a leetle trouble with le blogging. I almost panicked and came in early to work last week to blog but then I remembered that no one cares and I can just chill and it was, in all honesty, a great victory in the eternal battle of Rational Liz vs Crazy Liz so hoorah. The world spins on

Hokay, so, where were we? Oh yes! After 10 months,15 days and approximately 7 hours of waiting, planning, freaking, check-writing, blog-reading, manic arm-toning, and lots of love, August 16, 2014 had finally arrived. Ding a ling DING! The morning was dreamy - a cloudless blue sky, a light breeze and a complete lack of humidity betraying the lat summer date.

Wedding. Day. Was. HERE!!!

We're almost to the good parts so I'll do my best to just zip through the highlights of the first half of the day. Buckle up!

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS:20140816_083657

After sleeping all the way until SEVEN AM I roused the gals out of bed and Mo, Kathleen, Marge and I popped across the street to the Lancaster Central Market  for a little brekkie. FUN FACT, Lancaster Central Market is the oldest continually operated indoor farmer's market in America.

Serious claim to fame right there.

It's actually an amazing market and I could spend hours going into further detail but that is not even remotely the point of this story. Maggie had purchased these Bride and Maid of Honor buttons for the bachelorette party and we both managed to a) not lose them and b) haul them all the way to Lanc for the wedding, so we pinned them on our tops for breakfast. (Bernie received that hat as a Christmas gift from her cute siblings and I have a feeling she'll be tha-rilled with me for posting a photo of her in a baseball cap. I think she looks adorable!)

Our pins were just the flair we needed to be the belles of the market.  At every stand we visited, people asked when the wedding day was and we joyfully exclaimed "IT'S TODAY!!" At the coffee stand, two sweet ladies reminded me not to forget to eat and I took them up on their advice by rocking it over to the deli stand (holla S. Clyde Weaver!) where the other 3 gals got breakfast sammies like normal humans and I of course got a gigantor turkey sub...my very last hoagie as a single lady!!!

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(My brother cleverly pointed out that they're no longer "ho"-gies but "Scott-gies." Get it?! #zing.)

The women working the deli counter were hilarious and SO excited when they learned it was my wedding day. They literally whooped it up, clapping and cheering and causing a scene. I loved it!

They didn't give us free breakfast, though. Whomp. But who am I kidding, my 'maids (gross) bought my hoagie for me because it was MY DAY so I can't really complain.

We raced our buns (double meaning for both butts and sandwiches) back across the street to the Marriott just in time to meet the hair and makeup team. Which was just two people but it sounds cool when you say you have a team, you know?

SO FANCY, YOU ALREADY KNOW:

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We gals had our hair and/or makeup done by two local women who came recommended via a girlfriend of mine who'd been married earlier in the year. They both do hair/makeup on the side, specializing in weddings and they were just great. G-R-E-A-T. Professional, friendly, efficient and way more affordable than salons, which (like basically all vendors) jack up their prices the second you say "wedding." After the fiasco of my first trial, I would never find anyone (dramatic much?) but after meeting these two earlier in the summer, just totally hit it off. They are both GEMS.

If you're a Lancaster area bride, holler at me on FB or email and I'll send their info!

While we got our hair did we rocked it to a playlist curated by MOH Marge that consisted primarily of 90's pop one-hit wonders (remember Evan and Jaron, you guys???), boy bands, Beyonce and Katy Perry - AKA all my favorite musicians - and sipped on mimosas dressed up all fanclylike for the occasion.

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Ensembles c/o my cute friend Leah!

Awesome as our team was, Bernie Beans decided to have her hair done at her regular salon, so she slipped out around 9 AM for her appointment. When it was approaching noon and she still hadn't returned, I suspected something may be amiss...

"A LITTLE BIT ON" 

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(This is, unfortch, not the vehicle discussed in this story but IS a pretty solid representation of the driver...)

While we were getting gussied up, Brian went for a long run (of course he did) with his sister Emily, who is an amazing runner, his groomsman Brandon and my brother Michael. Apparently as they're out and about jogging around  town Michael mentions that, after picking up the girls from the train station the night before, he may have left Bernie's car...and I quote..."a little bit on."

"A little bit on"? How does that work exactly, Michael?

Now I'm no motor head but I'm pretttttty sure that car batteries don't run on a spectrum - they're on or they're off. There's not really a middle ground.

We may never know the degree to which the car was left running but it was at the very least "a little bit" because when Bernice went out to drive to the hair salon the batter was a whole lot bit 100% dead.

Go team go!

My mom called my uncle, who drove her to the salon and back. We were sitting in the hotel suite waiting for her to come back when she called my sister's cell phone, trying to get a hold of Michael. No one wanted to tell me what was going on because they didn't want me to worry about it - apparently Kathleen had run into my mom in the lobby earlier and knew the whole time! - but the cat was out of the bag and Bernie was late to get her makeup done because she was with my uncle in the parking garage, trying to jump start her car.

It is a cliche that something will go wrong on your wedding day - but something you never could have expected or planned for. HELLO THAT THING!!!

I wasn't worried, really, I was mostly just kind of mad because it was VERY IMPORTANT TO ME that we stick to the schedule for the day (shocking) and now everything was running late and why did the car have to be jump started this very moment? Was the car walking down the aisle at 5 PM THAT VERY EVENING. I don't think so. It could sit and die in the parking garage for all of eternity for all I cared...it was MY DAY.

Mild exaggeration but barely.  I'm the worst.

Long story long, Michael came back (FINALLY, AMEN!) and helped my uncle jump start the car and Bernie got her makeup done and all was well and we were ready with hours to kill. HA!

SANDWICHES!

We ordered sandwiches! I had a chicken Cesar wrap! No point to this, just thought I'd mention it.

AH, SILKY SILKY NOW

I took a shower before breakfast but for some reason forgot to shave my legs, a fact I didn't realize until after I'd had my makeup done, but before my hair. Yes, my dress was floor length but I figured I owed it to Brian not to roll into our wedding night with cactus thighs. He has the rest of his life to experience that hotness.

And so I found myself in full face, including false eyelashes squatting in the tub because I was afraid to turn on the shower head and ruin my makeup, frantically shaving my legs and, oh yes, bikini zone, on my wedding day.

Pro Tip To Mah Ladies: DON'T DO THIS.

DENIM ON DENIM

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The morning of the wedding, Maureen, Maggie, Kathleen and I all donned button down chambray shirts - totally unplanned! Adorbz, I know. Emily had spent the morning with the boys, crushing them in the 5K I'm sure, and then came to the suite for hair and lunch and girlie time. She didn't have a chambray but luckily I had an extra, so I gave her mine.

"Now we're sisters who share clothes!" she said.

Andddd I cried.

SISTERS!!!

This goofy denimy photo is one of my favorite from the day. Marge has the faux laugh on LOCK.

HEADS UP SEVEN UP 

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As I mentioned, I maybe could have cooled it just a pinch on being such a schedule monster, as we found ourselves fully styled and fed and made-up and defuzzed in our no-no zones with over an hour until the photographer was due to arrive. I was beginning to get a little antsy and, shall we say, snippy (my cousin Terianne knows what I mean...sorrrrrry TA!), so some genius angel suggested we relax by playing a game. And not just any game, but the greatest App creation of our time: Heads Up.

And so we ladies whiled down the last few hours of my single life Heads'ing it up. We didn't keep score but let's just go ahead and say my team won.

Because, and I'm not sure I mentioned this yet but, it was MY DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY.

KYLENE, ON THE SCENE

Poet, don't know it, etc.

Suddenly it was 2:45 PM and the time had ARRIVED! Despite the fact we'd just spent the last hour chillaxin and maxin all cool, when our photographer arrived, everything was a blur. Hang the gown! Artfully lay out the earrings! Did someone pack my lipstick?

Bernie and Marge helped me into my dress.

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I slipped into my accessories.

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And checked myself out.

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The best part of a wedding day is how you can be just totally vain and into staring at yourself all day long. Why can't life be like that all the time?! (Oh right, I don't look that good all the time...)

Meanwhile, upstairs, Kylene's second shooter Kathy was hanging with the boys as they mulled over a complex ironing situation.

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Fixed their ties.

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And pinned their boutonnieres.

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(Hi Angie!!!)

Then, with a champagne toast...

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And a final once-over in the mirror...

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It was GO time!

The gals stayed in the suite to get into their dresses, the boys did...what did they do?...and Brian and I set off into the sun for the big reveal! Our first moment together, on our WEDDING DAY! It was as meaningful and exciting and emotional as I'd imagine it to be but...I guess you'll just have to wait until next week for the rest of that tale.

See you then!

xoxox Liz Scottgie

* PS: all photos c/o Kylene Lynne Photography except the champagne & heads up photos which are c/o Margepantaloons and the picture of Michael which is c/o his facebook page but I'm pretty sure I took it (?) and the shaving cream and sandwich which are obviously stock photos I found on the internet. Oh and the hoagie which is c/o me and the dumb selfie of me getting my hair-did, also c/o me. Basically the first half are c/o us amateurs and then all the gorgeous ones toward the end are profesh. You get it.

OK BYE!!!

Wedding Wednesday: One Day More!

The day before our wedding my eyes popped open maniacally at the stroke of 5 AM. The sense of calm that had hung over the previous days had been replaced by low level buzz of anxious anticipation. A feeling akin, I must imagine, to waking up on Christmas Eve with just one present left to purchase - the excitement of the holiday being so near mixed with the light panic of the important task left unfinished.I passed the hours until my family woke up chugging coffee, pacing around the house and doing planks, in hopes that some light core exercise might calm my nerves and also transform me to Gisele Bundchen in under 24 hours. Spoiler alert: it did neither.

I have now seemingly blacked out the next several hours. I remember we packed gift bags into boxes and made a bunch of piles and knowing me, I probably ate some kind of eggs for breakfast but the next moment I remember, it is coming on noon and my mom is asking me to take a look at the wine she plans to bring to the hotel suite and I'm snapping "I don't care! You just make a call! Pack it all! Or none! I can't look at that wine right now, I don't care!"

It was not my finest moment. But also not my worst!

Unsolicited Expert Tip for Brides: Remember, your mom is probably just trying to be helpful and doesn't mean to get on your nerves, treat her with some grace!

Unsolicited Expert Tip for Moms: Remember, your daughter is probably just a little anxious and does't mean to snap at you, treat her with some grace!

We moved past our drama and the group scattered to all four corners of, um, Lancaster Pennsylvania. Bernie, Michael, Marge and Aunt Katy headed into the city to check into the Lancaster Marriott, where we'd all be camped out for the weekend, and run some last minute errands, while Brian and I snuck off for lunch at a cool restaurant called Aussie and the Fox for our final romantical date as a non-married couple.

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Months before the wedding we settled on the plan to set aside a few hours just for us on Friday and it was one of the best ideas we've ever had. EVER. Another piece of Unsolicited Expert Advice: do this! Try to find a little time in the days leading up to the wedding for just you and your partner to take a quiet minute and recharge - a meal, a walk, a stealthy makeout sesh, whatever. Maybe have some lunchtime wine and a gigantic sandwich, which will surely reverse all positive effects of your morning plankfest but hey, it's your wedding weekend. You deserve it! This was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. We talked about what we were most excited about in marriage, at the wedding and what we were nervous about, too. Brian even let me take that cute picture of him and normally he finds it annoying when I try to papparazo him during meals!

Imagine that.

Extra glad for this brief moment of calm and wine and Australian food because as soon as we finished, suddenly EVERYTHING. WAS. HAPPENING. We met the rest of our family back at the hotel, where none of our rooms were ready for check-in and we were one of SIX wedding parties dropping off welcome bags at the front desk. We had rented a hospitality suite for the weekend (best money we spent, truly!), which blessedly was open and ready for us to get into. No sooner had we dropped our bags in the suite, than people started to arrive.

First on the scene: bridesmaid / facebook wife Maureen, who kindly devoted her whole birthday weekend to #hottwedding festivities. She's a gem. As a bridesmaid/birthday/10 Year Facebook Marriage and Friendship Anniversary gift I'd made her a photo book with memories of our romantic life together. I had it shipped to my office and showed it to my assistant, Margaret, and we both gleefully clapped over how nice it was and how it was "totally going to make Maureen cry.

WHY would this make us happy? Like, yes the hope was for good tears but what is with the goal of "I'm going to make someone I love WEEP in front of me."

HUGE NEWS she totally wept. So did I. I gave her this gift while she was doing her makeup in the suite's beautiful bathroom and I sat on the toilet while she sat on the sink counter and flipped through our shared memories and we both totally heaved and sobbed and sputtered "I love you so much!" and laughed about how ridiculous it all was, us hiding in the bathroom crying like a couple of weirdos. It was another of my favorite moments of the weekend.

So favorite, I'm tearing up right now reminiscing on it. Get it together, Hobag!

While Mo and I were sobbing away in the lavatory, my brother took my mom's car to the train station to pick up my girlfriends who had taken the train down from NYC - bridesmaid Kathleen, stationary designer/wonderperson Jamie and ceremony musician Amy. This is an important, Chekovian note for you to keep in mind for later.

Don't forget: Michael drives Bernie's car on Friday evening.

DUN DUN DUNNNN.

And so! Bridesmaids and groomsmen are arriving. Brian's parents! My dad! Aunts and uncles! Barely anyone's rooms are ready for check-in! We take turns running back and forth from the 6th floor suite to the lobby to see if our rooms are ready. On one trip I run into a former high school classmate in the elevator. It turns out another E-town grad was getting married in Lancaster that very evening and a whole host of kids I hadn't seen in 10 years were also staying in the Marriott. I ran into another the following morning and it gave me a perverse sense of pleasure to have all these random high school people milling around and me be able to announce to them "I'M GETTING MARRIED!!"

Adding to the It's a Small World Disney Ride of it all, our photographer (Kylene! The bestest!) also photographed this kid's wedding! What are the odds? Probably pretty good, honestly, it's not that big a town but still. BUT STILL.

The rehearsal was set to begin at 4 PM and by 3:30 my nerves were at an all time high. Not for the wedding, mind you - I was still fully on board with marrying Brian and being committed fo lyfe, but I was in no way prepared for how I would feel once ALL THE PEOPLE started to arrive. This hosting, I guess you'd call it, was actually, for me, the very most stressful part of the whole wedding. Trying to spend time with everyone there, knowing they'd come just for us. Worrying that people were feeling neglected or not having fun. Did I spend enough time talking to my new in-laws? I haven't seen my dad all summer and he's telling me about his recent vacation and I'm only half listening because all the groomsmen just walked in and my uncle is sitting in the corner by himself and tomorrow is Maureen's birthday and my brother's room still isn't ready for check in.

Anddd this was just our families and wedding party! Tomorrow's Main Event would be like 6 times more people.

Ho. Ly. Crap.

Somehow admid the chaos, which I think was actually mostly just imagined chaos inside my own brain, we rounded up the wedding party and our families and walked the pretty two-block walk over to the wedding venue and rehearsed and it all went fine. It went FINE! I cried the entire rehearsal - good tears! - and though I never quite calmed the whole way down, the act of rehearsing, of seeing how the ceremony would proceed and getting positive feedback on our choice of readings and vows helped bring me back to earth and center me. It was all going to be OK!

LET THE PARTY BEGIN!!

We bopped it back to the hotel and hung around the suite for a while- we popped open bottles of wine and champagne and gave gifts to our family and wedding parties. Instead of going the traditional route of giving the same gift to all members of the party, we gave each of our attendants (ugh, I hate that word) gifts that were unique to them, that we knew (or hoped!) they'd like. I'll do a whole separate post about this because I am VERY SMUG and proud of the gifts we gave and I want everyone to know how thoughtful and great we are.  But here's a sneak peek:

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That's right folks: more free books! (But also other nice things that we paid for. I swear!)

Ok where were we? Oh yes: DINNER TIME! Our rehearsal dinner was very intimate - just our parents, siblings, officiant and the wedding party along with their significant others, a total of 23 people. We did have beer, wine and some snacks in the hospitality suite for any out of town guests but did not open up the dinner to everyone. We did this for a number of reasons - a main one was budget yes, but also we wanted to have a little time to spend with just our parents and the people we'd chosen to stand beside us. OF COURSE I felt guilty not inviting out of town guests to the dinner, because I feel guilty about literally everything, all the time, and these people had travelled all the way to see me and was it rude not to invite them to dinner? Possibly! But buried in here is another lesson I learned/Unsolicited Expert Tip: You don't "owe" your wedding guests anything except a wedding and even that doesn't have to look like what tradition would dictate. These people travelled to Pennsylvania (hypothetically! or wherever!) for YOU and your partner because they love you and want to see you take this big step OR maybe because they feel guilty and obliged to be there but either way, they are there of their own accord and they love you and are happy just to be there and as long as you are gracious and warm, that's all they need. I hope, anyway.

Ok lesson over. But this long ass recap? STILL GOING!!!

We held our rehearsal dinner at a super cute place in Lancaster called Commonwealth on Queen. By day they are a coffee shop / cafe and by night, they provide space and catering for private parties or events. We really wanted the night to feel like an intimate dinner party - but without anyone having to cook or open their home. Well, someone did cook, obviously but we paid them to do it. CoQ is about a five minute walk from the Marriott (best part of our downtown city wedding, everything was within walking distance! No worries about shuttles, cabs or drunk driving. Drunk walking, though...another story.) Apparently the third Friday of every month is Live Music Friday (or something like that...I'm too lazy to look it up) in downtown Lancaster. And they are NOT hurting for participants. Essentially every other sidewalk square housed some sort of performer of increasingly questionable musical skill. As we walked the five short blocks from the hotel to the dinner venue we were serenaded by the sounds of a one man troubadour band, several saxophonists andat least four steel drummers. A disco ball inexplicably flashed in the window of the local noodle shop. In the parking lot of my mom's office, a Fleetwood Mac cover band scratchily warbled "thunder only happens when it's raining..." while across the street, a man with an accordion lingered in the shadows of a parking garage.

Whether he was a sanctioned member of Free Music Friday or just a creep, we may never know for sure.

It was the most magical five minute walk of my lifetime, and I think at least one of our guests believed us when we said we hired the musicians as part of our wedding weekend, to liven up the rehearsal dinner commute.

The restaurant was perfection. They set up a long table at front of house with beer, wine and BOMB appetizers - all sourced from local farms and vendors! -  including antipasta, some kind of cucumbers stuffed with dip situation, mozerrella caprese skewers and these white bean crostini that I still dream about.

Here are some photos taken by our sweet friend Ankita (betrothed of the Best Man!) to illustrate this story:

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Father of the Groom, Father of the Bride, Laurie! 

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Maureen, Jayne (my mom's bestie who also officiated our wedding), Brian's mama, Amy (in a dress I'm not sure I complimented night-of but girl, dat dress!) & Jamie

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Best man Vai & groomsman Adam

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Adam, Sandy, Kathleen & Vai 

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Almost married!! 

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Super cute venue made xxxxxtra cute with the addition of amazing banner hand made by Maureen. She texted me earlier in the week "if one was to have a banner on their wedding day, what would it say? asking for a friend..." haha. We then proceeded to have a conversation about her "friend" and this "banner" and I don't know how that imaginary person felt about their imaginary banner but this real life friend LOVED her banner. 

As you can see from these photos, the restaurant has big glass windows (as opposed to what, Liz, concrete windows?) on all sides looking out onto the intersections of Queen and Walnut Streets - geographical details which surely mean nothing to 99.9 percent of you (hi to the other .1, Bernie & Angie!) but it's a relatively bustling area of downtown. As we sophisticatedly sipped vino and noshed on appetizers, a commotion gathered outside of the window. We're still not entirely sure what went down but from the best of our collective guesses, a (likely inebriated) man in a purple car (stuffed with so much stuff, he may have lived in it) attempted to turn the wrong way down one way Queen Street, blocking traffic including a HISTORICAL TROLLEY. Lancaster, I love ya. Also somehow involved: a well-dressed businessman type driving a black SUV, now pulled over cattycorner from the restaurant and US service member dressed in full camo and driving a big white pickup truck. Cops raced to the scene...on bicycles.

BICYCLES!

Purple car man was out of his vehicle and pacing around. White truck Army dude was talking to bike cops. Businessman just leaned against his SUV.

Somehow the trolley navigated the mess and pulled away, much to the mutual dismay of the 23 members of our wedding party, now gathered around the window, faces pressed to the glass. This was the most exciting thing any of us had seen since the finale of Braking Bad. Soon some cops in motor vehicles arrived and the poor bicyclists - first on the scene! - were sent back to whence they came...probably patrolling Free Music Friday and making sure faux Stevie Nicks didn't get too out of control on her keyboard. Inside, we all huddled together, coming up with theories on what was going down.

Who was driving drunk? Was someone on drugs? Was the US Army somehow involved or was that just a lone soldier, caught up in this hot mess? The world may never know!

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This picture makes me laugh SO HARD. Here we see our friend Melissa (who will play an important role in our ceremony the next day, stay tuned for THAT novella to come) giving her version of the events - "he veered to the left!" she seems to be saying- while behind the gaggle of ladies, Brian's sister's boyfriend Andrew gives his play-by-play, including some very emphatic hand motions. I look stoned. Bernie looks startled (and FOXAY in that dress, might I add) while Kathleen ignores all the drama and makes love to the camera. Werk it girl!

A slightly more frame-worth op of the same crew.

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Kathleen, Maid of Honor Margepants, Melissa, BRIDE OBVI DUH and Bernie, continuing to kill it in that dress 

The excitement died down and we all sat for dinner. The venue had two long tables set up and served dinner family style - steak with pesto, eggplant parm, polenta and grilled summer squash. The centerpieces were made by a local florist, too!

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GORGEOUS! 

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Don't worry, we took them with us when we left.

PS: I love my friends. 

After dinner, dessert was spread out on the front table - mini brownies and cookies, coffee, tea and the MOST AMAZING mascarpone parfaits, layered with fresh berries. I had two. So wild of me, I KNOW. Maureen and I sat and caught up with my dad and his partner Laurie - Mo regaled them with tales of her competitive figure skating career - and the rest of our crew was able to move from their dinner seats and keep mingling.

The restaurant was closed to the public for the evening, but the doors were unlocked and they didn't hang any signage indicating that it was a private event, so throughout the evening people would wander in off the street, hoping to get a table. Instead of stressing me out, this made me feel fancy and exclusive and I am shamed to admit the great pleasure I took in turning people away.

"Ohhhh, I'm so sorry, this is a private party" I'd say, with a condescending smirk. "I don't think you're on the list."

In all earnestness, though, and with no accompanying Mean Girls gifs, the whole dinner was just so fun and again, genuinely relaxing. I was still worrying about getting in enough time with everyone and making sure people were having a good time but for the most part, I felt like I was able to chat with all my peeps and enjoy the food. It really had the dinner party feel we were hoping for and we're so grateful to The Scotts for hosting and Bernie for her help getting it set up and Commonwealth on Queen for the beautiful meal! And to those idiots for crashing their cars and providing endless hilarity to us all!

After dinner we trucked it back to the hotel, heaps of leftover alcohol in hand, and partied it UP in the hospitality suite. Some friends from out of town had arrived while we were at the rehearsal and they met us back at the hotel after having dinner at a place called  Yorgo's which is a restaurant but I always confuse with Yorgey's, which is the dry cleaners. This has zero point zero percent to do with this story, I just think it's a little weird to have both a Yorgo's and a Yorgey's in the same town, you know?

Back at the hotel  the booze was flowing and we kicked off our shoes and Amy put on a party playlist and cousins arrived from all over - New Hampshire! Atlanta! Upstate New York! - and it WAS SO MUCH FUN. I managed to repress most of my "is everyone having a good time" anxiety (thanks to my dear friend champagne, probably) and just soak up the love and good energy and ooof it was the best. At about 11 PM, my sweet Brian tapped out around to retire to his own room - he is much more the introvert in our relationship, so thinking of how tired I was at this point - as a person who thrives on group energy -  I can not imagine how exhausted he must have been. Homeboy was done for the day. I followed suit around 12:30 or so. Bernie and I were shacking up together in a room adjoining the party suite (nontraditional as we sort of are, B and I decided to spend the night before the wedding apart, it felt romantic!), so our group very kindly took the rest of the fest down to the hotel lobby, save my delightful bridesmaids who took the "maid" part literally and cleaned everything up, so when I awoke on my BIG DAYYYYYY the suite was sparkling and clean and calm. It was a gesture that reminded me for the 80 zillionth time why I was so #blessed to have these women alongside me for the weekend.

And That. Was. The. Day! What a long story! I would make a self deprecating remark like "thanks for reading, I'm sure you're bored" but as part of my Love Yourself 30's, I've decided I don't CARE if you're bored, I loved writing this and reliving the day so I'm not even going to end with a joke!

Ok. ONE JOKE: Why didn't the lifeguard save the hippie?

He was too far out, maaan!

hahaha GET IT! It's so funny! My friend Kamran g-chats me every day with some of the world's corniest jokes, so if you liked that comic styling, there's pahlenty more where that came from.

Thank you for tuning in to this edition of One Awkward Wedding Wednesday. Liz Hott, over & out!

One Awkward Mini-Moon

Guten tag, amigos! Summer is over and it's suddenly 9,000 degrees. Perfect time to reminisce about our lil mini-moon.What is a mini-moon, you ask? Well it is when you take a short trip after your wedding (hence "mini") and then take a long trip later and call the second one your honeymoon so you can justify taking multiple weeks off work and also extending the length of time you can drag attention outta your newlywed situation. No shame in this game.

 

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Look at us mini-mooning. We are so white. My sister commented that all I need is a big floppy hat and I'm basically starring in a Nancy Meyers movie. Later that night I wore white on white. I am taking to this waspy Liz Scott life REAL quick.

Anyway! In March over Brian's school spring break and my personal spring break that I'm taking even though I have a major book coming out 2 days later (whoops?) (but it's ok b/c it's our HONEYMOOOON!), we're going to do a big adventcha all around Southeast Asia: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam. I mean, we haven't planned one second of it but in our imaginations it is quite the wild and perfect trip.

Any tips?

We knew we wouldn't have the time or energy right after the wedding for our dream vacation, but did want to get away so we planned a little mid-week getaway the week after the wedding to our favorite local beach Fire Island which is the best place on earth because you don't need a car to get there or to get around there. Everyone walks around pulling wagons or riding bikes, everything is casual and relaxed and low key. Fun Fact: Tina Fey has a vacation home in one of the towns there. We have yet to hang out but it should be any day now.

At any rate, Fire Island kind of has two parts - one which is more family oriented, where we've vacationed before with friends - and one that is known as more of a gay party scene. You may have seen this part portrayed in the opening minutes of that HBO movie The Normal Heart and it is AMAZING. Lots of beautiful, oiled up gay men men drinking and cavorting around the seaside. I stopped watching after 20 minutes because I heard it gets sad and (spoiler alert!) Tim Riggins gets AIDS and dies and I just don't see myself coming back from that sort of trauma.

We found a cute little guest house to rent for a few days that had a private deck, a kitchenette and was just a block back from the beach that happened to be on the gay party side in the town of Cherry Grove. A few weeks before the 'moon, we had drinks with a colleague of Brian's, who frequents this side of the island and participates in the festivities and were telling him all about the cute place we rented - close to the beach, the general store and this beautiful wooded forest area.

"Oh yeah. You mean the meat rack!" he replied.

"The what now?!!!?"

Turns out, the "beautiful wooded forest" area just steps from our newlywed cottage connects Cherry Grove with The Pines, the other hot gay party spot and is known as quite the locale for revelers to go get some strange.

It is at this moment I was almost saddened by how open minded Brian and I are. What a dream comedy film this would be. A sheltered young couple goes off on a romantic honeymoon only to find themselves in the midst of a wild gay party week! She accidentally does ecstasy. He ends up covered in body glitter. Shenanigans ensue and they leave the trip a better, happier couple than arrived.

Instead it was just us, two jaded New Yorkers who thought they'd seen it all.

Bring on the Meat Rack!!!

I'll go right ahead and ruin the anticipation by revealing that we did not see anyone getting bajiggity in the forest. We DID however, see about 800 dongs, 900 butts, 50,000 ladybushes and more boobies than a 12-year-old virgin could ever fathom seeing in his whole life. Turns out, Cherry Grove is a nude beach!

And by nude, oh we mean NUDE. There's another nude spot on the other end of the island where we'd vacationed with friends in the past which is frankly, a little underwhelming. Nude bathers have these funny shield things, almost like a tent with no top (even their tents are topless, ho ho!) which still provides privacy despite their lack of apparel. We imagined we'd encounter the same sort of situation but oh no, friends, this was a whole new ball game. And by "ball," I do mean of the male anatomy sort, of which we saw so many, they haunt our dreams.

Bathers in Cherry Grove don't bother with modesty shades. They walk their dogs, stroll the coastline, swim, eat sandwiches, do pushups, hunt for sea shells, anything you might do on a regular beach vacation but naked as the day they were born.

It was...definitely something.

I don't mean to be unkind, I'm sure these were all lovely people but, as with most situations where nudity is approved, none of the participants were people I'd actually want to see nude. NOW, I think all bodies are beautiful and everyone is special but we did not take the subway to the train to the other train to the ferry allll the way out to this sexy gay party island to see a bunch of normal people walking around in the buff. Enough with these reggos - where were all the toned, oiled up young men and porn star lesbians?!

I will ruin any other anticipation by revealing that we did not sunbathe starkers. We briefly considered it but chickened out. I did go topless, how Euro, for about 12 spicy minutes but just couldn't get into the full monty.

Can ladies go full monty or is that just a man thing?

I don't know, guys. I just don't see the appeal of having a bronzed mons pubis, you know? Not to mention all that sand all up in everywhere. I hate to be so American about it but perhaps some parts should just stay covered.

As for the Meat Rack, we didn't even end up entering. And by entering I mean like...walking into the woods, not anything dirty, pervs.

We actually confused the Meat Rack with another wooded plot of land, The Sunken Forest, which is nearly a mile walk from the heart of town, and even further from The Pines. As we trekked through sandy, mosquito filled dunes and wild sea brush in hopes of spotting the infamous Meat Rack I couldn't hep thinking it just seemed like an awful lot of effort to go to for an anonymous BJ.

But, then again, I'm a straight prude who's seen enough Lifetime movies to know you should never go into the forest with a stranger, no matter what fun activities he's promising, so I might not be the Meat Rack's target audience.

It turns out the Meat Rack and the Sunken Forest were entirely unrelated - the Sunken Forest is part of the National Parks service and is very well maintained and family friendly and you can learn about birds and foliage and stuff so that was slightly more my speed.

Here is us in the Sunken Forest...we're so waspy we wear collared shirts even when hiking through national parks/possible illicit wooded sex dens.

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Basically the Meat Rack had the opposite effect on us that it had on the imaginary Midwestern couple of my comedy film dreams. Instead of opening our minds (and legs!) we just kind of got bored with public nudity and went for a nature hike.

SEXYYY.

Andddd that was our mini moon! It actually was super fun. We just laid around and read and ate junk food and drank bloody marys and I got legit tan and I cried on the ferry home because I didn't want it to end and also I am a drama queen. As for the freakydeaky stuff, there's always next time! I've heard that Thailand has lots of ladyboys and sex tourism so maybe we can re-try the racy lifestyle on that visit. I mean, we'll probably just end up like, touring a historical museum or something but you never know! Anything could happen.

How do you say Meat Rack in Thai?!

Off to Google Translate I go! While I am gone, here are some (clothed!) photos from our lil trip if you should so care to see...and why wouldn't you? It is a proven fact that everyone adores looking at photos of someone else's romantic getaway.

 

 

[gallery ids="2972,2973,2974,2975,2976,2977,2978,2979,2980,2982,2983,2984,2985,2988,2989"]

xoxoxoxoxo Mz Hott

One Awkward Wedding: One Month to Go!

Our wedding is in ONE MONTH! Un mes! Un mois! Xahar! Though that last one sounds like Dothraki, it’s actually Maltese. Which is apparently a real language! Who knew! Mhux lili, that’s for dang sure! Mhux lili! (That means “not me”in Maltese...obvi!) Whatever language you say it in, one month from today I’ll be hitchin’ my star to the Brian wagon. And I can’t wait!

One thing that has sort of surprised me about this whole wedding planning process is how utterly goopy it’s made me. I’ve gone all soft and romantical. It’s hard to put into words, but over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed myself being sort of hyper aware of my, well, love for Brian. Vomtastic, I know, but I can not be stopped. I get giddy just thinking about him and can’t look at his face without wanting to smooch it. I find everything he does utterly endearing. The other weekend we spent basically 48 straight hours together, just the two of us, no pals or distractions and very little entertainment, save HBOGo, and on Sunday night I looked back with glee thinking how much fun we had together and how much fun we always have together and how profoundly happy that makes me.

Which is probably for the best because I think that’s kind of the point of this whole rigmarole, no? Well, that and the presents, of course.

I kid, I kid!

I was emailing this week with a sweet friend of mine who is a newlywed herself. She and her brand new husband were faced with some scary challenges just moments into their marriage. They’d been home from their honeymoon a week when her husband had some scary, unexpected health problems. He’s mended spectacularly and back up to fighting speed now but their scare brought into stark reminder that the wedding party will end, but what comes after is the real deal.

And even after all they’ve already been through, she gushingly told me “being married is awesome.”

AWESOME!

In an entirely uncharacteristic instance of making someone else’s traumas all about me (hah!), I’ve been thinking a lot about their experience as we lead up to our wedding - and thus, our marriage. Sickness, health, richer, poorer, happier, sadder, in times of trouble and anger and family drama and work crisis and children and bad hair days and stomach bugs that produce results you’d never want another person to be privy to - these are the things that you’re signing up for, what remains after the champagne has been drunk dry, the flowers have wilted and the dress is packed away. It’s important not to lose sight of that. To go through all that, and more, and still wake up every day - or at least most of the days - thinking “THIS IS AWESOME,” that is my hope for our marriage.

And I know that might not always be possible. There may be days or even weeks or months where we’re struggling  and having a hard time waking up feeling awesome and that's OK. But I still can't seem to help myself from melting into a complete and total mushball at the very thought of spending my life, the good, the bad and the hideous, with Brian.

He is the best!

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If sitcoms are anything like real life, it’s only a matter of moments until we’re grouchy and cynical, bickering over the TV remote and the trash can, having sex once a year. I want to remember what it felt like to be totally gushy and mushy and gloopy and romantical, so below are a few points on my main man to look back upon if I've ever begun to question why I've decided to lock it down forever with this particular person.

I hope you brought your own barf bag today, folks! It's about to get realllll nauseating up in here.

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First of all, he is dead sexy. Let me just state the obvious right up front: the man is a Grade A dreamboat and I derive great pleasure from gazing upon his face (and butt!) every day. Those baby blues? The grin? Mmm-mmm-mmm!

(That’s me trying to type out onomatopoeia for sexy / delicious. Nailed it?)

And he makes me laugh and laugh and LAUGH. Brian is so funny. Not in a “HEY EVERYBODY LOOK AT ME!” way, which is great because those people are obnoxious (trust me, I’m one of them) but he is sly and quick and clever and always knows just what to say or do to crack me up.

We love to eavesdrop on people on the street when we’re walking around and make snarky comments about what they’re talking about. It’s so mean but so fun.

He loves to gossip. He’s almost (almost!) as bad as me.

He is so good at his job. He loves math. Like loves it. Remember that teacher in high school who was like “algebraic equations are fun! This geometric formula is SO interesting” and you were like “UM no this is the worst”? Well that guy is Mr. Scott. And now he’s marrying a woman who barely eked her way out of pre-calculus with C’s.

I am still firmly in the “math sux” corner but he’s certainly doing his best to convince me otherwise!

He’s frugal and brilliant with budgets. And hilariously into low-cost alternatives for expensive things. Like, instead of buying new weights, he filled up an old duffel bag with text books and lifts that for strength training. Weirdo!  He wanted to fill the bag with sand but some killjoy didn’t want sand in her house.

He is playful and fun and adventurous. Why lay on the beach when you can toss a frisbee! Why paddle gently in the lake when you can instigate a six-hour jumping competition? Why eat at the same restaurant when you can try a new one or hang out in the same neighborhood when there are dozens of new places in our city to explore.

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He encourages everything I do, whether big or small, weird or serious. He listens to me complain about work, has been a shoulder to lean on during some difficult family times and always motivates me to do bigger and better things.  When I wrote my piece for Vogue, he was refreshing the internet hourly to see if it had posted yet. He trained with me for my half marathon, pushed me to go faster and better and woke up at the crack of dawn in the pouring rain to cheer me on from the sidelines.

He has this funny way of kind of flopping onto the couch when he’s getting comfy at home - legs akimbo, arms crossed on his chest, pillows propped just so that kills me every time. I can’t help myself from jumping on top of him to snuggle up.

He loves to snuggle. He might find that embarrassing that I just told the whole world, it seems a common misconception that men don’t like to cuddle but this guy can snoogle with the best of them.

I love it!

He cares for my family and for his family and for our family that we’re starting together. He has deep, enduring friendships from childhood. He knows the value of close friendships for both of us and works to nurture his and encourages me to do the same.

He is deeply, passionately curious. He’s always reading the news, listening to the radio, trying to learn everything he can about everything. Everything! I’m serious. Just say a word and I swear to G, he’ll start googling it within the second.

He gets extra curious after he’s been drinking, which is equal parts hilarious and (sweetly) annoying, Some people drink and get angry. Some get hungry. Some get sleepy. This guy just gets more inquisitive. Which is adorable unless you’re one of the sleepy ones, sitting next to him in a cab home from a long night as he rattles off his latest curiosities: “I wish I knew more about Ralph Waldo Emerson” or “what do you know about Kyrzkystan?” or “here are 17 fun facts about race relations in South America.”

What?! Stop reading Wikipedia and let me sleep!

But then, by the light of day, I always think it’s cute again. My clever guy!

I will always remember the first time we tentatively tiptoed into a serious future together, talking about raising eventual children...our children. We were eating at this Italian hole-in-the-wall on the Upper West Side after ice skating in Central Park and it was already the cutest date night. Brian told me that the number one thing he would want to pass on to his our children was a spirit of curiosity. And my uterus just exploded. Straight up, like a firework. Not only have I landed a man who is curious himself, but he recognizes it as an important value to pass to future generations?! JACKPOT! I had this vision of Brian and a little tow-headed kid playing with a telescope – I don’t know why it was a telescope, that just seemed like a natural toy for an inquisitive child and their nerd dad – and it was all I could do not to just fling myself across the table and beg me to impregnate me right then and there, atop the ravioli.

Just thinking about it right now, you guys! My ovaries are leaping around in my torso.

He'll make cute babies, too, based on this photo of him as a five year old that I carry around in my wallet like a complete psycho creep.

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LOOK AT THAT FACE!

Also we're talking like, many a year here for these hypothetical nerd children so don't get too excited. The world does not need another mom blog!

Brian loves Asian food, NPR, Larry David, Buzzfeed lists, America’s-Home-Video-style clips of people getting knocked over or otherwise accidentally injured, IPAs, sleeping in, running, The New Yorker, burritos and, best of all, ME!

He lets me know he cares for me and appreciates me in infinite ways every day, through touches, words and thoughtful gestures.

Brian often gets home from work earlier than I do and every night I bustle in the front door, yelling one of the million strange pet names I have for him (buddy, buns, beans, honeybunch, honeybuns, hot pants, cutels, cute magoot, etc) and he comes and meets me in the hall as I’m hanging up my coat and keys and gives me a big fat smooch and I can see it in his face that he’s genuinely excited to see me and to have me home.

It is my favorite part of every single day.

I hope I always remember these things about my BriGuy. And I am excited to learn more lovable things about him over the years ahead.

I can't wait for a lifetime of homecomings and adventures. Of burritos and This American Life and strange homemade contraptions and late night rambles and snuggles and bike rides and pinching that hot booty every chance I can get. I know it won't always be easy. I know we'll face some tough times. But I also know, more than I've ever known anything, especially math, of course, because I barely know any math, that we'll get through it together.

And there is not a single person I would want to go through life with than this studmuffin.

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warned you I'd gone soft! I'm just a grinning fool over here, counting down the days until our wedding and our marriage.

ONE MONTH! BIR AY!* IB LUB HLIS!** O LUNA!***

* Turkish

** Hmong, DUH

*** Romanian. Seriously do you guys not know any foreign languages like, at all?! Get with the program!


 

One Awkward Wedding: Liz Finally Loses Her Mind!

Like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of my wedding planning. Did that make sense to you? No? Me either.

There is no time for sensemaking. NO TIME!!

Our wedding is in 39 days and counting and so much is happening. It’s starting to feel really real in a way that is at once exciting and a tad overwhelming.

And by a tad, I clearly mean a ton. A metric ton! Unless that’s less than a regular ton...I’ve never been one for math and science.

Someone recently commended me on my zen attitude towards wedding planning and I do (honestly!) think I have kept things pretty mellow which is kind of surprising, considering what  a stress monster I usually am. But I’m noticing that as the days slip by faster and faster even I, Zen Bride Extraordinaire, am beginning to lose my cool.

Last night I dreamt that we were in a chapel and they were performing back to back to back weddings and then, suddenly, it was our turn! But, wait! We weren’t ready! Some of the bridesmaids had their hair done. I did not. One bridesmaid had to leave to “go to another thing” and Brian’s parents were missing. I had spaghetti sauce on my wedding dress. There was no music.

Our #Hottwedding was a #Hottmess.

Now I know about as much about dream psychology as I do about metric tonnage (aka nothing) but if I were forced to dig deep and try to decode, I’d go right ahead and say it seems I’m just a pinch worried about getting everything done and not being ready.

For the wedding, at least. I’m totally ready to legally lock it down with Brian. I am going to marry the HELL out of that guy and I can’t wait. It’s going to be awesome! But the wedding is another story. Try as I might to avoid the pressure to make my One Special Day be perfect through and through, I’m turning into a little bit of a crazyperson!

Would anyone like to hear a very insane and long-winded example? No?

TOO BAD, BITCHES. KEEP READING.

Woo, forgive me. Got a little carried away there! But seriously sit back and allow me to regale you with a tale of madness, mayhem and paper products!

LIZ HO VS EMILY POST: ENVELOPES OF DOOM: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO

So! Like I said, must to the surprise of all parties involved, I’ve been pretty cool & calm on all fronts including getting along with mi madre which, if Say Yes to the Dress says anything about real life, is basically a miracle. At this point in the game we should have had about 15 knock-down-drag-out fights renouncing one another as family, her threatening not to come, me screaming back “GOOD, YOU’RE DISINVITED!", both of us in hysterics, but so far, we’ve managed to avoid major arguments.

Weeeeellll except that little tiny one over the invitations.

Not the actual invitations, mind you. Those I’m pleased as punch over. My pal Jamie who is a stellar graphic designer (and available for hire!) (SRSLY email me if you’re looking!) designed our “invitation suite,” as I would call it, if I were the sort of person who used fancy terms like that. They are everything I could have wanted: classy, simple, whimsical, gorgeous.

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AMAZING, RIGHT???!!!!

Oh, and, did I mention cheap? They were so cheap!

Everyone has their priorities in weddings, as in life, on what they think is worth a lot of money and for me, paper products was at the bottom of the list. I like looking at pretty paper and I respect your right to blow the bank on whatever the H you feel like but, the way I see it, that embossed, lined, monogrammed envelope stuffed with 12 different letterpressed cards all tied up in a satin bow and hand addressed by a professional calligrapher are going one place and one place only: the garbage can.

Rough stuff but it is true. I barely remember what most of my friends wedding invites looked like (or birthday invites or baby showers or anything) except in the cases where they were really fancy pants and then I only remember how guilty and horrible I felt when I inevitably chucked them because as much as I love my friends (SO MUCH!) and value their right to fancy invitations, ain’t nobody got space for all that fancy paper.

And YES I know every single aspect of wedding planning is a waste of time and money, duh, but we all pick and choose how to waste our time and money and for  me, this was just not it. Friends and countrymen, feel free to toss these in the garbage can guilt free!

That said, I didn't want the invites to look like actual garbage. Luckily for me, two of my best friends, Jamie and the World Wide Web teamed up to create magic and bring us something that is hella fabulous for UNDER BUDGET. Boomshackalacka. In case you are curious, which you are surely not, but I’ve already started telling this story there’s NO STOPPING ME NOW, we used a Gilt Group coupon for the website Wedding Paper Divas to print our invites, hand designed as a generous gift by Jamie. I would probably never have used this website were it not for the coupon - I cringe at the word “diva,” as it is usually used in a derogatory manner towards women considered to be “difficult,” in a way that is very rarely flipped back on men (am I right, Nicki, or am I right?) BUT sometimes my frugality gets in the way of my morality (I know, I'm the worst) so I couldn't say no to this coupon. And I’m super glad I didn’t. Silly name aside, WPD was beyond professional. They send complimentary samples of their stationery, their customer service was quick and helpful and the quality was A+++.

And our designer was A+++, too! Y'all should hire her. The best way to get a good deal  is to become her friend, because then you get free graphic design and you get to hang out with her and she’s the bomb.com, so it’s kind of like you’re getting paid in the end, really, but if you can’t find a way to worm your way into her life/heart, you could certainly email me for an intro and I bet she’d offer you a fair deal. Just sayinnnn’!

Ok so now we have learned that a) I didn't care much for invites to begin with and b) loved the ones we ended up with so why did c) they lead to the d) most intense melt down of Liz Ho’s Wedding Planning Extravaganza Extraordinaire?

‘Twas not what was inside the envelopes (plain white, came free with the order!) that upset me, you see, ‘twas what was written outside of them.

As I’m sure you can surmise, I was not about to pay for someone to calligraphy (caligraph? is there a verb for this word?) these bad boys, I would have been happy printing them out on a laserjet printer like an uncouth monster but we did still want them to look nice, so my dearest Schmoopster offered to hand-write all 101 addresses. She was very cute about it, sending us samples with different pens and practicing a little bit each night and all was right with the world until we experienced what I am now calling a minor communication breakdown. Others might call it a major meltdown. I'll let you be the judge.

My one and only request with these invitations what that none sent to married couples be addressed in the so-called “traditional” manner, to Mr. and Mrs. Hisfirstname Lastname because that makes my skin crawl. Like, what is that even about? It’s not enough for a woman to take a man’s last name? AND change from a Ms. to a Mrs. when he gets to keep Mr. all along? She also don’t even get her own first name anymore?

I know this is the “proper” way and how Emily Post would do it but I think it’s sexist and stupid, Emily. That bitch is like, 700 years old and not even invited to our wedding so who even cares what she thinks.

Apparently a whole lot of people!

Somewhere in this whole process this point was not made clear and it came to my attention after about ⅓ of the invitations were already addressed that they were, in fact, going out in this traditional manner. My mom and I had a huffy, mildly dramatic phone conversation but managed to end on a civil note, with me agreeing that the already written invites could go out as-is, and Schmoops agreeing that any going forward would at least mention the woman’s name on their somewhere, Emily Post be damned, and we hung up, end of story.

J to the K. One of us, I won’t mention any names (women don’t get names, remember?!) (calm down, Liz) could not … ok...would not… let it go. This person was me, obviously. I hung up and stormed around the apartment, fuming, getting more and more upset.I am a feminist! And now I’m sending these misogynistic envelopes all over America! HOW WOULD THAT LOOK?! What would people think?! Just as paper crushes rock, so will these paper envelopes crush my sterling, powerful reputation! This could not go on!

So I took the mature route, called my mom back and oh, the doody hit the fan. I started weeping - and I don’t mean like, gently crying or sniffling, I mean like, tears down my cheeks, hyperventilating, weeping -- about feminism and individuality and last names and choice and envelopes and women and identities and demanded that my mom re-do all of the invitations,even the ones she had already written.  I could NOT have my return address associated with a Mr. and Mrs. HisFirstname situation. At one point I actually shrieked “THIS IS MY BRIDEZILLA MOMENT! I AM THROWING DOWN MY BRIDEZILLA CARD AND YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO ME!”

Oy yoy yoy.

(Spoiler alert: I did start my period the next day so I blame my hysteria on the hormones. But I stand by the subject of my hysteria!)

My mom fired back that it was a silly thing to waste my bridezilla card on, some people like to be addressed in such a manner, that she likes cares about adhering to certain types of tradition, she is helping to fund this wedding so her reputation is on the line too and maaaayyybe, just maybe, I should think about other people’s values as much as I think about my own.

Game, set, match: Bernie.

Loathe as I am to admit it. And oh, I am so loathe. She's totally right, guys.

And lo, we managed to reach a conclusion. All envelopes already written would remain “proper” as well as those to anyone who might like to be addressed in such a manner, because some people do like tradition and that is ok (it is!), but all others would be a little more progressive.

My sweet  mom, trying so hard to prevent another meltdown took it to the furthest level, addressing married women as Ms. instead of Mrs. or in some cases, completely omitting gendered pronouns at all.

I loved it!

Of course, after all this, I will bet you all a haypenny and a half that not one single solitary person even noticed how they were addressed. And if they did and they were offended, oh well. Please trust that we were just two ladies doing the best we could under the pressures of tradition, the patriarchy, the Wedding Industrial Complex and the most stressful situation in all the land: mothers and daughters planning a wedding together.

We tried! We really, really tried.

I still maintain it was a worthy cause for throwing down my Bridezilla Card. Flowers, playlists, party favors - these things are silly details about one day which will eventually fade into memories in a photo album and therefore not worth truly stressing over. But my anxieties re: the traditional manner of addressing couples reflect something actually life-altering. I have gradually come around to the idea of possibly (probably) (ok, more than likely) taking Brian’s last name, a saga I’ll delve into another time, but I still can’t shake the fear that marriage means sacrificing my personal feminine identity. Elizabeth Scott is one thing. Ms. Scott? I’m still on board. Mrs. Scott, less so. Mrs. Brian Scott?

No way, Jose.

And by Jose, I could mean Jose OR his wife because married ladies don’t get their own first names!

Enough, Liz. ENOUGH!

Like my pal Elsa, I’m letting it go. I understand that women have different ideas of what feels right for them and it is important to honor their decisions and that you can still be married and be a badass individual feminist lady, and names are just names and all that other good stuff and perhaps I need not take everything so seriously all the damn time. And maybe stop reading Jezebel. But I still reserve my right to throw occasional temper tantrums on my road to self enlightenment.

I’ll be sure to send you my mailing address when I get there. Just don’t send any correspondence to Mrs. Brian Scott ;).

And that, my friends, is my tale. What a mess, right? I'm a nutjob.

But other than this, and the dreams, and the nail biting, and the various Google rabbit holes I keep falling into, I'm doing pretty a-ok. I might just survive the next 39 days with my sanity (and relationships!) in tact.

Wish me luck! JK wish my mom luck. And Brian. That poor guy is stuck with this nutjob for LIFE.

Sucks to be himmmm!

The end.

Liz

PS: I am very sorry, I realize this whole post this is probably insanely rude and awkward to talk about/show off wedding invitations because not everyone who reads this is invited.  Believe me, I would have liked to invite the whole wide world but that’s just not a possibility...a post for another time. I’m still too busy barfing with guilt over guest list cuts to discuss it.

One Awkward Wedding: Registration Situation

Yesterday marked exactly 4 months until #HottWedding (Hohenadel + Scott…just get on board, I’m making it happen) and I realized it’s been for-ev-errr since I’ve shared any updates on the planning! Mostly because I haven’t really been planning? We’re sort of at a lull in the excitement, between the long-lead and the last-minute. We’ve booked all the big stuff – venue, dress, DJ, etc – and aren’t quite ready to tackle the little deets like place cards and play lists, so most of our planning is just me reading wedding blog after wedding blog and my mom calling me with lists of random details she thought of in the shower and “just wanted to discuss quickly before she forgot” and me being like “Mo-ommmm lay OFF” and getting weepy and Brian wisely just staying out of the way. But it’s all great! Seriously it’s totally great and honestly not even that stressful. Maybe because I’m not actually doing anything? Maybe because we only think weddings need to be stressful because that’s what the Wedding Industrial Complex wants us to believe?

Think on that!

Speaking of the blessed WIC, there is one Knot-approved activity we have thrown ourselves into wholeheartedly: registering. Like most traditional facets of wedding planning, I initially snubbed my nose at the idea of creating a standard registry. We had plenty of STUFF, I thought, and isn't it a little antiquated, to ask for dishes and things in this modern living-in-sin era? We went back and forth on alternative ideas, like a travel registry or creating our own "experience" registry, asking for things like tickets to the NY Opera or the Mets  or forgoing gifts altogether (JK I wish we were that selfless but real talk: nope*) but in the end, none of those ideas really panned out. Travel registries cost money to set up and we have neither the technical skills nor the free time to build our own.

Lo, we threw ourselves headlong into the time honored tradition of Wedding Gift Registering and if there's anything more fun in the world, I've yet to discover it. The power of striding through stores, registry gun in hand**, scanning item after item of silly things you want other people to buy for you? Can I do this all day everyday?!

And so, in a few short weeks, we went from modern minimalists who were going to register for "just a few essentials!" to greedy gift monsters with not one, not two but three traditional registries. Whoops?

Love may be all we need, but it turns out we want everything.

REGISTRY ONE: BED, BATH & BEYOND!

Highlights:

1) I was wearing this outfit, which I only noticed and documented because I realized I wore this outfit the day we were engaged and the day we went looking for venues and now the day we went registering.

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Apparently this is my go-to wedding ensemble. I should just return my gown and walk down the aisle in this ratty yellow cardigan. Save some $$!

2) Realizing that the overzealous registry consultant planned to tag along with us the entirety of our excursion, pointing out every last item in our wake.

Thank the lord Brian politely spoke up, asking him if we could do it on our own. I’m so people-pleasy, I probably would have just silently stewed, registering for every pricey thing he suggested, just so he wouldn’t feel bad.

Crisis averted!

3) The discovery of the As Seen on TV section:

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We need all of this!!!

4) This Frame.

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PLEASE if you own this I do not want to know.

Items I'm most excited about:

This little pitcher shaped like a cow

Onion Goggles (only sort of joking?!)

Cast Iron Skillet - BScott is a big fan of the cast iron!

At BB&B we managed to find most of the things we were looking for, except basics like dishes and silverware. I wanted plain white dishes but Brian said he didn’t like them…he prefers “cream colored dishes.”  Any specific sets you like, champ? No, just “cream colored.” Sure, sure.

And so, we left with a plan to visit some other retailer to finish off our list and then let many a week pass before we were able to make said visit, during which time whenever my mom would casually ask if we’d thought any more about finishing our registry I’d fly off the handle into a dramatic huff “I’M ON IT, MOM, OK?!?!” and that was a special and exciting time for us all.

And so we come to...

REGISTRY TWO: MACY'S!

Highlight:

1) Macy's herself.

 Holy shit, gang. Have you ever been into Macy’s Herald Square? That place is enormous! And they sell EVERYTHING. Literally. You want it, you can probably get it at Macy’s. Beds. Car parts, probably. Grass seed. Rifles. Everything. I’m sure you’re all thinking this is obvious but I really never realized just how vast the Macy’s inventory is, or the massive size of their NYC flagship store.  What an amazing place!

We sat down with a consultant, Norma, and were (no jokes here!) highly impressed by their customer service and the many perks they give to people who register there, as well as the expansive amount of items they offer. I knew they had china and glassware but didn’t realize how many electronics they carry too. And many at cheaper prices than Bed, Bath and Beyond!

WHAT A PLACE!!!!

2) The man who came up behind Brian and creepily whispered in his ear “the trick to marriage, just agree with whatever she says” and then wandered away.

Thanks?

3) Visiting the 9th Floor where they sell furniture, rugs, clocks and luggage and the only way you can get there is via this creepy express elevator that drops you off in an abandoned hallway.

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Brian looks nervous. What do you think is scarier, the hallway or the weird lady following him around taking photos?

Probably the 2nd one.

4) The discovery of Stella 34, the Italian restaurant/bar on the 6th floor of Macy’s. Guys. This place is classy as HELL. A wood-fired oven, fully stocked, modern bar, the works. And it was packed to the gills with attractive people at 7 PM on a Tuesday night! Who are these people? Why would you go eat and drink in Macy’s?!

I’m so confused and also I really want to go there? Happy Hour directly next to the Martha Stewart Everyday Linens Collection? I can get down with that.

5) The horrified look on our consultant’s face when we returned, having registered for only plates, wine glasses and a dish soap dispenser.

“Is this it?” she asked, with a tone of abject horror typically expressed on teenage children when their parents reveal they're getting an unexpected divorce.

We assured her we were planning to go home and add on more items, comparing against what we’d already registered for at Bed, Bath and Beyond and she told us she would “stalk us on email” if we didn’t.

Um, yikes?

I tease, but I can’t complain. We were legit very impressed with the whole operation over there at Macy’s and again, I repeat: who knew?! Probably everyone, but not us, so it was a real treat. If you're planning to register for a wedding anytime soon, this joint gets two thumbs way up from the #Hotts

What I"m most excited about:

Le Creuset Dutch Oven - the same one Taylor Swift recently purchased for a fan. TAYLOR! MY SHOWER IS MAY 24TH!!! PLEASE COME AND BRING A LE CREUSET!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!

These Adorable Champagne Flutes

We made good on our promise to finish the registry from home (please don't stalk us, Norma!!!) but still had a few items we wanted to add, namely luggage and power tools, and so...

REGISTRY THREE: AMAZON.COM

Highlights:

1) Creating an entire wedding registry from the comfort of my own home, without having to put on pants or interact with other humans.

2) Feeling gleefully smug over adding tools to our registry. How modern! Breaking expectations and gender norms! Boom.

Lowlights:

UGH AMAZON. 

What I'm most excited about:

Drill, baby, drill!

And now, I do believe, we're set for life. We did leave off a few "Must Have" items that didn't really feel right for our lifestyle, like formal china and crystal and the now ubiquitous Kitchen Aid Mixer. And we added a few things that felt fun and personal, like wine stoppers shaped like owls (I love owls. AND WINE!) and beach towels and about thirteen different pitchers, which Brian and Schmoops both told me was maybe too many pitchers. Too many pitchers? Impossible!

I'm cheesy excited about all of this STUFF. As much as I like to pretend to be a minimalist who's so over tradition, I'm really looking forward to filling our home with beautiful new things, thinking about how we received them from our loved ones as we started our life together. AWW!

If you happen to be the sort of weirdo who takes pleasure in judging other people's wedding registries (like me, for example), feel free to view ours at our website. Judge away!

And as long as you're still reading this, might I ask for a little advice?

  • Do you have any secret kitchen gadgets or tools you LOVE love love?
  • Married people - did you receive anything unexpected you wish you'd thought of for your registry?
  • What kind of blender do you have? I'm totally torn on brands - we're currently registered for the Ninja and I've heard rave reviews from a bunch of people, but also a few naysayers. I've also heard good things about the Breville. Any opinions from the crowd? And don't say Vitamix. I know it's the Cadillac of blenders or whatever (are Cadillacs still cool?) and of course I totally want one,but it's just a little too aspirational at this point. Like, as much as I want to be the kind of person who makes my own organic cashew milk, let's be real. See also: $700.
  • When you buy wedding gifts, do you always go with the registry or forge your own path? People have such strong opinions about this, I'm genuinely curious to hear your thougts!
  • If you do go off-registry, any unique suggestions you're willing to share? THIS shop  is my go-to for wedding presents (SPOILER ALERT to all friends getting married this year!).
  • Do you know how to remove make-up from cotton shirts? This has nothing to do with wedding registries, I'm just curious...

And, as always, I've turned a short post into a Russian novel. The End! Happy Thursday, my fine friends. Thanks for reading - don't you have work to do?!

xoxo Liz

* Obviously gifts are not actually mandatory, guests! If it's a stretch to afford, we'd rather see your faces than a gift-wapped box. TRULY!

**while googling “gift registry gun” to confirm proper terminology I discovered there is a website devoted to registering for actual guns. SWEET lord have mercy on us all.)

Another Awkward Week [3.28.14]

Hey you guys! What's up? How was everyone's week. Mine was very weddingy which is now a real word, in the OED, look it up, fools. Seriously, though, this week was a veritable nuptial extravaganza. Tuesday I went bridesmaid dress shopping and  Wednesday Brian & I went suit shopping (more on both of those below!) and last night I went to a Wedding Expo which was...definitely something! It was a real thing.

Quick backstory, I'm working on this fantastic book coming out in May called Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest by Jen Dollwhich is amazing. I very rarely actually talk about my books here because I don't want the authors to get like, a google alert and read this and realize what a freak their publicist is BUT I already know that both the author (hi, Jen!) and editor (hi, Ali!) a) read this blog and b) know I'm a total freak so it's all good. Also good? The book, so you should probably just go ahead and pre-order it riiiiiight now.

Jen was invited to attend the New York Magazine Wedding Expo and thought: "who could I invite to join me who is engaged and will do anything for a story and some free wine?" The answer was crystal clear. And thus, Jen & I found ourselves in a chic event space in Chelsea at 4:45 PM on a Thursday sipping white wine and stuffing our tote bags with swag.

 

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The expo was super nice but also suuuuper overwhelming. There were tons of people all about, including one woman whose job it was to walk around in a slinky wedding gown carrying a sign advertising the designer and DJ's playing loud party music and hoardes of women roaming in packs - many of whom brought their baby strollers which, like, I don't judge the carriage before the marriage, you do you, but why did you bring your baby here? I know it's tough to get a sitter but like, is this really the establishment where you want to be carting around a toddler? Possibly no.

Like any trade show there were just booths and booths and booths of vendors and everyone had some kind of treat (macrons! mini cakes! LOBSTER ROLLS!) to lure you to stop and peruse their wares and most also had some kind of opportunity to register for a giveaway, which we did with wild abandon. I can't remember everything I signed up to win but the list included:

  • false eyelashes
  • lingerie
  • cake pops
  • skin treatment
  • a full set of bridesmaid dresses (!)
  • earrings
  • engagement photos
  • dance lessons (!!)

I have yet to receive any calls or emails so I'm assuming I won nothing but I am really holding out hope on those dance lessons.

Just kidding. NIGHTMARE.

Finally we reached that point where we were so overwhelmed with people and stimuli and people that we just sort of crashed and had to run for the door.

I also experience this emotion when visiting art museums or shopping at Forever 21.

I'm really glad we went and do think I saw some valuable stuff, but can't possibly imagine actually going to one of those as an outlet for getting wedding ideas like, right at the beginning. The sheer volume of options and images made my head spin.

Just like Brian and I will spin on the dance floor when we win those tango lessons. Come on, phone, ring, damn it, RING!

Ok, enough. This is already a novel and I've barely even scratched the surface. Let us take a look at what (else!) was keeping it awkward this week:

This Microwave:

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First of all please ignore that pile of cardboard recycling in the corner, I know we need to dispose of that!

Second of all, do take note of the smashed glass on the floor below said microwave. That is the glass tray that came with the microwave, smashed into a zillion little pieces after I knocked it out while removing my microwaveable heating pad because I am 86 years old.

Easy solution: register for a new microwave!

Except: This belongs with the apartment, WHOOPS.

So now I have to track down and purchase a very specific microwave tray lest we lose our security deposit over this.

Luckily I am already pretty skilled in purchasing wholesale kitchen appliance parts thanks to the time I broke a glass shelf in the refrigerator of my first apartment in Brooklyn by dropping a heavy container of leftover Thanksgiving food on it.

Liz Ho: destroying one rental kitchen at a time!

These Dresses:

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Front runners for the bridesmaids! I will give you a WHOLE long and detailed story about the endless search for bridesmaid dresses, made extra endless by my deep passion for over-thinking and making everything 80 billion times more complicated than necessary but for now, a tiny tale.

Kathleen and I went to Bella Bridesmaid in Midtown on Tuesday night to check out some options (it was a really nice boutique with a pretty great selection and good customer service, just FYI if this applies to you) and while we were looking through the racks with our assigned stylist, we suddenly heard the sound of crying coming from one of the dressing rooms.

And by crying I mean like weeping. Like heaving sobs. Like me watching Les Mis hysterics.

I mean...bridesmaid dress shopping is stressful but...? YIKES pull yourself together, man!

It turns out it may have actually been a staff member crying over some kind of personal life drama which makes me feel a little bad for judging but whatever the reason behind the tears, it does not erase how painfully awkward it was for the three of us to resume rifling through brightly colored chiffon, acting like nothing was amiss, to the soundtrack of violent sobbing.

AAAAH.

Also did I make a final decision on bridesmaid dresses yet? Probably! Or not. Just ... don't ask.

This Corner:

20140326_134242

I worked out over lunch the other day and when I came back, managed to spill my entire (full!) water bottle on my office floor, right next to a stack of book boxes. I saw the water encroaching on the box of delicate paper books and panicked, looking around the room for some sort of towel with which I might mop up the spill before it ruined our product.

I got the brilliant idea to use my gym clothes BUT I had my fancy stuff that day and they're all made out of some kind of fancy like, sweat repelling material so they weren't really absorbing the giant lake I created (thanks for nothing, Under Armor) BUT the dirty underwear I had just worn to workout were, in fact, cotton, so I mopped up the spill with a pair of underwear.

It made complete sense at the time, for some reason, but then I though about it later and remembered that in our office we have both a kitchen AND a bathroom, both of which are resplendent with paper towels, products which are designed for the sole purpose of absorbing liquids.

And instead I used my underpants.

WHAT is wrong with me? So very very VERY many things.

I must have been a clutz-o-rama that day because later that evening, I met Brian at ...

This Suit Shop:

20140326_184115

My groom and I went out on an expedition to find a suit for him for our wedding and a co-worker recommended this classy place in SoHo called Suit Supply. She assured us they were known for slim cut suits for slim cut fellows and at a good price point.

And she was right! Despite the semi douche vibe of their website (just...ignore those photos) the place was straight up classy and the customer service was outstanding. They helped Brian find a really REALLY good looking suit  and suggested some matching options for his groomsmen, recommended shoe stores, tie colors, etc.

Meanwhile I just followed Brian around making lascivious comments about his butt. It was weird. I felt like someone's creepy sugardaddy (except let's be real, I'm not paying for this). Like, you always hear stories about rich men taking hot women shopping and then just creepily watching them try on sexy clothes and suddenly I understand the appeal. By the time I half-jokingly but mostly seriously asked Brian to "take off his jacket and sling it over his shoulder like he was in a catalog" I realized I miiiiight be out of control.

But seriously, wedding guests, you're in for a treat with this suit. That booty is A+!

Oh, and also while I was there they offered me a glass of water and OBVIOUSLY I spilled the entire thing on the floor and almost used my scarf to mop it up before anyone saw but luckily someone stopped me before I ruined yet another piece of clothing doing what a paper towel could do so much better.

Then later, I pulled my wallet out of my pocket to put in the stylist's business card and dropped a panty liner on the floor right in front of him. Smooth.

Those were the actual points of this story, but then I got sidetracked being creepy about butts.

You know me!

Shut it down, Liz. Shut it down.

And that's that! What are you guys up to this weekend? I was supposed to go hiking but now it's going to rain all weekend (don't even get me started on you, Mother Nature!) so now we're searching for an indoor urban adventure instead. Any suggestions?

Have the funnest weekend, whatever you do, and if you enter any weird raffles, I sure hope you win!

xoxoxo Liz

Another Awkward Week [2.14.14]

Me again? What! I'm having such a prolific week. I pinky swear I won't so much as say the words "wedding dress" one time. I mean, except there, where I had to say it to tell you I wouldn't say it. But no more. No more, I promise! Hey, Happy Valentines Day, you guys!!! What are you guys doing to celebrate? I'm wearing my red pants (though suspiciously no new Valentines Day socks this year, mom?!?!) and will be hosting my Second Annual  Romantic Valentine's Day Chip & Dip Party this afternoon. This year I'm taking it to the next level, conference room style. I'm even serving champagne! I will make V-Day fun for all, so help me Anna Howard Shaw.

If any of you are feeling grinchy and anti-Valentine this morning, allow me to redirect you to my manifesto on why it's actually not that bad and say to you: cheer up, you grouch! I love you!

Speaking of love, I'd like to sincerely thank you all for your sweet comments & notes of support for my family during this last week. You're a beautiful bunch, you know that?! Seriously. Thank you!

And now, without further ado, why don't we take a look back at what was keeping it awkward this week.

This Snowbank:

20140213_175151

There's literally nothing more boring than talking about the weather all the time, we get it, it's cold out, but sometimes, it can not be helped. For example: this week. ENOUGH with the snow and ice and thundersnow and freezing rain and wintry mixes, Mother Nature. You've had your fun, let's cut right to spring. I'm not joking around...I will hunt you down, Mother Nature, and I will hurt you.

Thanks to the horrors of this winter, the curbs and sidewalks of Brooklyn are now just buried in piles of ice and snow at all times. The other night I had a party after work, so came home pretty late. I'd worn my snow boots there and then changed into heels for the party, I'm such a classy bitch, and didn't bother putting the boots back on to come home. I took a taxi home and was counting on door-to-door service, but forgot that the path to my door is paved in sheer ice. The taxi dropped me at the corner next to my building, I paid, exited, took one step towards my front door and yup...

bit it.

Booty on ice, legs in the air, arms flailing: bit it.

Enough, winter, enough.

I am now done complaining. Possibly.

This Cheese:

20140209_180901

NOM.

This week's adventures in large-scale grocery purchases. I guess I didn't learn my lesson with that oatmeal.

If you'll recall, last weekend I had some hawt plans to gorge myself on veggie lasagna (this recipe! so good!) and gorge myself I did. I hit up the grocery store Sunday AM and had ricotta on my list, but didn't know how much I'd need for the 'zan (attempting to abbreviate "lasagna." NO, Liz, no). To be safe, I decided to just buy the largest tub I could possibly find. Turns out the recipe called for just 1/6 of this puppy.

Which leaves me with a large quantity of ricotta cheese just sitting in the fridge, tempting me, calling me, begging me to just grab a large spoon and stand in front of the fridge with the door wide open, shoveling ricotta right out of the container and into my face.

And OH have I been giving into that temptation. If you guys have never experienced the joy that is ricotta cheese straight up, I urge you to run, not walk, to your neighborhood grocery store and purchase the largest container you can possibly find. You can thank me later.

And on the subject of our hawt weekend...

This Bumping Nightclub:

20140208_192020 (1)

Oh wait, no, that's actually the laundromat, where Brian and I spent our Saturday night. We filled in the rest of the weekend doing our taxes, reorganizing the kitchen drawers and marathoning the epic Ken Burns masterpiece "The West."

Um, yeah, we know how to party. This is how boring we are and we're not even married yet! I'm so nervous (slash EXCITED!) for our future, where we just stay in every weekend and watch television and eat  noodles!!!!

And quickly on the topic of Ken Burns, basically his entire oeuvre is now available on Netflix, so if you, too, are a huge loser with many hours to fill ingesting thoroughly researched historical documentary miniseries...hop to.

This Ensemble:

20140213_210601

Something that I love is the concept of  attractive "lounge wear." Stores like Gap and Victoria Secret have whole lines of clothing dedicated to looking nice even while relaxing and TV and movies always show women somehow managing to look chic and cute while lazing around the home (especially Olivia Pope and her gorgeous cream colored satin wine clothes!)

I adore these outfits and aspire to some day look great even while getting my Ken Burns on but in reality...I am just not that gal.

The outfit above is a classic example of the sorts of get-ups I rock around the home. Plaids on plaids on stripes on stripes on neon and the reason my pants are so short is because I think it's really comfy to hike my PJ bottoms all the way up so they're basically sitting right below my boob line. It is an INSANELY sexy look. (Also what is that face?!)

And in case you're curious what sort of spicy lingerie I'll be changing into the second I get home this Valentines Evening...ding ding. You're looking at it. Brian is a lucky man.

The End! What a week. Here's wishing you a day full of hugs and smooches and candy hearts and photos of red roses captioned "Best boyfriend ever I'm such a lucky girl <3 <3 xoxo luv u hunny happy vday!" cluttering your facebook feed and all the chips and dips your heart could desire.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZocWZYJx6Ic]

luv u hunnies happy vday!

Liz Ho

One Awkward Wedding: Dress Shopping Tipz from an Expert

'ello. Me again! What's that you said? You want me to talk EVEN MORE about wedding dresses? OK!!!

I could talk about wedding dresses all the livelong day so I think I just might. Now that I've shared the oppressively long and detailed story of my own personal dress shopping journey, I wanted to share a few tips & observations I learned while out in the field. Magazines and wedding blogs always tell you the boring obvious stuff like "know what kind of dresses you like" and "make an appointment" and "don't eat spaghetti while trying on wedding dresses" but there's so much more to this magical process and the world needs someone to share the real dirt. I can be that dirt person!

- Be upfront about your budget. 

This might be obvious and covered by other people but I felt it bore repeating. For serious, y'all, just tell these people what you can afford and stick to it. One thing I was consistently impressed with at all of the stores I visited was how respectful they were of my financial limits. I was nervous we'd encounter that seminal Say Yes to the Dress moment where I'd set a strict line for the budget and then someone would haul out a $4,000 gown and I'd fall in love and have some kind of emotional crisis but not one of the consultants so much as attempted to pull that move. They kept ME in check, pulling me away from more expensive gowns and showing me comparable options within my price range.  I was grateful and surprised by this. Other places might not be the same but that's all the more reason to stick to your guns. Financially speaking. I wouldn't advise bringing actual guns into a bridal salon...

ALSO: if this means that Say Yes to the Dress isn't like real life...what else do you think TLC has been lying about?!!

- Wear nude underwear.

Nothing ruins the illusion of a schmancy white gown like hot pink polka dotted undies shining through on your behind. I realized that the only nude underbusiness I own was of the thong variety and didn't know how appropriate that might be in a semi-public dressing room situation, so the weekend before we went shopping, I spent several hours on Friday night sitting on the floor of Target digging through bins of nude colored underwear trying to find just ONE pair of full-booty coverage bottoms in my size. I managed to find two pair (pairs? I don't know grammar anymore!) that fit, so I snagged 'em and never looked back. Turned out that both were lace and fully sheer, negating the modesty I'd tried so hard to preserve. Shoulda just gone for the thong!

Related...

- KEEP IT SILKY SMOOTH

Let's just cut right to the chase: when you're going wedding dress shopping, you might want to make sure your  whole downtown area is in check, if you know what I mean. Now, obviously I believe in a woman's right to style or not style her body hair as she sees fit, society be damned, however due to said society, many women (for example me) might feel insecure, for better or for worse (undecided) being seen in her skivvies with an unkempt bikini area. SO if you are one of these ladies, you might want to spend an extra few minutes with your Venus Spa Breeze (not an endorsement, but would love some free razors if you're offering, Venus) before you hit the shops, because your business will be on display for many and I mean MANY eyes.

Which brings me to this...

-There Is No Time for Modesty.

In the course of my shopping weekend, I think my bresticles (and more!) were seen by no less than 9 pairs of eyes, some belonging to strangers, some to friends, none, PRAISE HIM to my future mother-in-law. I'm all for casual nudity but there are some situations where you might just want to keep a little mystery alive, you know?  

All of the consultants I worked with were polite and offered to look away but honestly, I figured get over it. Again, as I said, I'm not that concerned in general about a little nip-slippage, who cares, (oh you just KNOW I'm going to be such a self-righteous public breastfeeder some day) and especially in front of these women. It's like being insecure when you go to the gyno. These ladies probably see like 30 pairs of knockers per day, minimum, they are completely immune and genuinely uninterested by your hooters. You can try to play it coy but that'll just drag everything out and make the whole day slightly longer and more complicated so I say just get over yourself and let those boobies fly.

Maybe don't accidentally wear see-through underwear, though, this isn't Showgirls. Sorry, sweet lady at Lovely Bride...that can't have been pleasant.

- CREEP ON EVERYONE AROUND YOU.

Y'all. The VERY BEST part of wedding dress shopping is the other shoppers. It is like physically being inside an episode of Say Yes to the Dress. A DREAM COME TRUE! The very first boutique I went to was tiny and was just me (snooze) but all of the others had open dressing areas. Well, open posing areas, I mean. We changed in private rooms (now THAT would be some casual nudity) but then all of the mirrors were in outside of the dressing rooms, so that the bride's peeps could see her...as could everyone else in the room. It was flipping awesome.

It's important to surround yourself with people who share your interests and hobbies, which is why I choose to hang around people who love spying on and judging other people's business so you can trust my entire crew was deeply, deeply invested in the lives of everyone around us.

There was the gal at Lovely Bride who was trying on exclusively 4K + designer gowns...all of which were hideous...and the other gal beside me who kept trying on really pretty dresses but then pairing them with like, bad accessories or mis-matched veils and Schmoops and I had to physically restrain ourlseves not to just take over her whole fitting and yell "you're doing everything wrong!"

She totally was, though.

At David's on Sunday there was this super cute girl trying on all these short, retro looking gowns and we all kept staring at her and at one point I gave her a thumbs up when I really liked what she was wearing (is is never normal/smooth to give a thumbs up, just FYI), she then started trying on traditional gowns and we all got really nervous and worked up about it because she so clearly was working the short look better...what would she choose?! She chose short and we all cheered (outloud) and clapped for her and she was THE cutest and I love her. Beside her were two Asian girls who may or may not have been friends OR they were both alone and became friends there. Hard to tell. I kind of hope they became friends there and remain life long besties forever. Wouldn't that be a great romantic comedy?! They kept swapping gowns and trying on the same looks. In our super humble, totally correct opinion, all the dresses they were trying were snooze worthy.

RK Bride was the best though, obviously. I mean, that place was out of control. At any given moment like 10 women were trying on wedding gowns and everyone was crowded around staring at them. I was sharing a 3 way mirror with the woman in the changing room next to me and according to my crew, she was having like a legit SYTTD experience. One of the members of her party, who turned out to be her Mother in Law, kept harshing on all of her choices and the consultant literally said "This is about you. This is your day. Not theirs."

Aaaaah! I die.

The next day when we went back to pick up my gown we had pah-lenty of time to kill just standing around like morons while the staff looked for my dress. We became BFF with this group of women shopping for a dress for a wedding the week after mine. We were suuuper invested in her search and she picked the dress we all liked the best!!! But then I found out she was having a beach wedding and I found her gown too formal for a beach wedding and was super upset she didn't ask my opinion first because I thought we were pals?! Girllll why don't you listen to my advice??

Thennn we went to Heartland Brewery near Port Authority to get burgers (unsurprisingly, the very worst burger I have ever eaten...here I thought the bus station was known for their haute cuisine) and who was seated at the table next to us but ANOTHER future bride we had been all up on that day! She and her mom were sharing a piece of cake (cuuuute!) and we basically accosted them, yelling "OH MY GOD HI!! You looked so beautiful! Did you pick a gown?!"

Annnnd they just stared at us in shock/horror and we had to introduce ourselves as fellow RK shoppers who had been staring at them the whole time she was trying on gowns and that's not weird at all. So lesson within the lesson: keep your stalking under wraps, you creep.

It was seriously so much fun. I half-jokingly but actually mostly seriously would consider just going and hanging around one of these salons some day just so I can spy on people buying dresses. Seriously I will do it. Would you like to come with me?!!

Ok, enough is enough, I will stop talking about wedding dresses now! I swear. Hopefully these essential, life-saving tips might come in handy for someone, somewhere, someday. Probably not but I just really like giving unsolicited life advice, so there ya go.

XOXO Liz

One Awkward Wedding: Get Down with the Gown

Excitement abounds, you guys. I have officially made the most important decision a woman could ever make in her whole life: I've said yes...to a wedding dress! SQUEE!

I lead with sarcasm because I continue to allow the feminist internet to give me deep guilt and anxiety over all of my wedding-related enthusiasm but there's no need to rehash that here. I'm quitting Jezebel, I swear.

Onward!

A few weekends ago I set out on an epic gown shopping excursion, visiting five stores in the course of three days and, spoiler alert: settling on a winner. The initial plan was to shop in  Lancaster and Elizabethtown, but a colleague suggested I should look here in NYC, as there might be more selection. To this suggestion I said "why thank you, I shall calmly and rationally consider this idea."

Juuuust kidding. I flew into a tailspin of worry and second-guessing and frantic g-chatting but I'll spare you all those details and just cut right to the fun stuff.

Joining me this weekend were my three "bridesmaids" (don't worry I have a whole long story coming about why I don't like the term "bridesmaid"... don't you just love me?), who are my sister Marge and friends Kathleen and Maureen and my Schmoopster, obviously, and I invited Brian's mom, too. I wasn't sure if she would say yes but sure enough, she did, so we were quite the crew. I was having a lot of emotions over bringing such a large group with me...was I putting too much emphasis on an antiquated gendered ritual enforcing the belief that a woman's value is only in her appearance?! Was everyone going to get bored? Were they going to resent me for forcing them to spend a day thinking about ME ME ME?

Possibly, no and NO.

If you're thinking "wait, I thought I was going to read about wedding gowns, why are you still talking about your insane emotional problems?" Um...are you new here?

Fine, fine, I'll get to it! This story is so effing wordy, I'm going to break it up into chapters to give the allusion of a break from the monotony. BUCKLE UP.

CHAPTER ONE: FRIDAY

My mom came up Friday afternoon and I left work early for "an appointment" which was not a lie AT ALL but also possibly misleading them to thinking I was caring for my health when in reality, I was on a shopping spree. (Again, I'm checking the mail daily for my Employee of the Year plaque. Do you think maybe FedEx lost it, or they have the wrong address?) We met downtown and visited two stores, just us. The first store was Saja Boutique on Elizabeth Street in NoLita. It was a super cute boutique carrying just this designer's wedding and bridesmaid dresses. They were all lovely - ethereal and floaty and flattering - but nothing super exciting. They'd be ideal for a beach our outdoor wedding or for anyone who doesn't want to look so traditionally "bridal." Turns out, despite the feminist internet, I definitely want to look bridal. So sue me.

Next up: Lovely Bride in Tribeca. This store was so gorgeous, it was like Anthropologie and Style Me Pretty had a baby - all glitter and chandeliers and vintagey details. I loved it and want to live there. Do you think they'd notice? It was essentially one long room - the front was partitioned by sparkly curtains and mirrors into a series of dressing rooms and in the back, they had racks and racks of gowns. We sat down with a consultant named Lauren who reminded me of a less obnoxious Natasha Leggero and talked about my likes and didn't likes and  most importantly budget and then she took me to the back to pick out some gowns to try on.

I tried on maybe 6 or 8 dresses here and was surprised to discover that many of the dresses look awesome. It helps that they pin and pull them so they fit you perfectly and your boobs are at once securely caged and perky and it's hard not to get swept up in the enthusiasm of the whole "IT'S YOUR BIG DAY!" scene, giving every gown an extra bit of oomph. I thought that trying on wedding gowns would be more  of a traumatic and painful experience...it definitely helps that I'm so vain and love staring at myself in mirrors.

My two faves here were a sparkly strapless number, which looked unlike anything I ever would have picked for myself (I'm more into a slim, sophisticated look) and this super cool slinky textural slip dress that looked like it was covered in little petals which was gorgeous but ultimately maybe not quite "me." At this store we were allowed to take photos and my mom brought her new tablet (a Christmas present from her perfect angel children!) and used that to snap photos...I felt like Michelangelo's David in the middle of a Japanese tour group.

It was awesome.

Here are some unflattering photos from this day. Schmoops is a gold medalist at cutting off heads in photos.

[gallery ids="2629,2630,2631,2632"]

We then went home to my house and drank wine and ordered Thai food and it was delightful! Dee-light-ful.

CHAPTER TWO: SATURDAY

Saturday was the big Ladiez Day on the Town, as it were, with my whole motley crew of attendants. Today's plan was to hit up this gigantic gown emporium in Midtown Manhattan called RK Bridal. It is impossible to accurately describe this place with words, so I will provide visual explanation by way of the hit 90's television program Friends. Perhaps you've heard of it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUMHDW3xG0M

I'm going to just assume you watched that whole thing and not get into summary but basically this place was a war zone hellscape. They do not take appointments, instead keep a sign up list in order of arrival, with groups waiting over an hour for a dressing room. While you wait, you can roam among the room, which is packed to the gills with racks on racks on racks of wedding and bridesmaid gowns. It is insane and stressful and horrifying and not quite the classy champagne-sipping experience you might dream of, but they do have a huge selection of gowns at a variety of price points so if you have a high threshold for insanity and know what you're getting into, I'd recommend it!

I was prepared. I had a bag of nuts, a bottle of water, a list of gowns I wanted to try on and five minions to help me find them. The store opens its doors at 9:30 AM so we arrived at 9. It was freezing cold and mildly drizzling as we huddled together like refugees on the sidewalk outside of the store. Eventually a staffer opened the main doors and allowed the congregated groups to move into the store vestibule. She passed around a list for brides to sign up...I was 6th. By this point other crowds of women were beginning to pour in and I was getting hella anxious. I get extremely stabby and stressed out in social situations where there is no order, like waiting for a dryer at the laundromat or trying to get on the subway in the morning. (Or basically all aspects of living in New York City...why do I live here again?)

At 9:30:01 a staffer pulled open the doors and bellowed: "YOU MAY COME IN!"

It was like the running of the motherflipping bulls, you guys. Everyone just started sprinting into the store in a gigantic herd. Imagine that scene in Titanic when they're all running for the lifeboats. A staffer was standing on a chair directing traffic - women shopping for wedding gowns were to head one direction, those looking for bridesmaids were to head another. We raced to the dedicated bridal zone, where yet another staffer was standing on a chair attempting to control the crowd. "IS YOUR NAME ON THE LIST?" She yelled? Several sad women who had yet to sign up pushed to the front, only to find themselves already on the second page. Once they'd gained control of the room, they began to read down the list name by name, assigning each bride to a dressing room and an attendant. I was in the first wave of rooms (BOOYAH) to be assisted by a woman named Janice.

Janice won't appear much more throughout this story - she talked with me briefly about my likes and dislikes and then set out to find me some gowns...she'd sporadically reappear to help me in or out of some gown or just sort of stand around staring while one of my peeps did her job for her. She was ... fine. I don't want to throw shade, but she could have been marginally more helpful.

Unimportant. Who needs ya, Janice. We had our own crew. This was when I really appreciated having this group with me - my crew and I fanned out throughout the store, in search of specific dresses I'd had in mind or others that seemed up my alley. I assigned Maureen the special task of bringing me stylish stuff I might not usually go for (she's a very snappy dresser!) and we all combed through the racks of gowns, pulling out our faves.

You were not technically supposed to take photos in this store, so I don't have any snaps of me (I know, you're like WHAT! We need more and more photos of you standing awkwardly alone in ill-fitting white gowns with your head cut off. Well sorry, guys, I can't help you here.) but did sneak a few of the scene:

[gallery ids="2642,2641,2643,2644"]

I tried on maybe 7 dresses here - a variety of different styles and cuts and once again I loved it. I meannnnn, standing around on a raised stage wearing a gorgeous gown while a crowd of people tell me how beautiful I look...um, sign me up to do this forever, please. Of these gowns, I was down to two favorites, but there was always one that stood out for me. There was no "oh mommy" (ugh) moment, no one cried, but I will admit, I'LL ADMIT that when I sipped into this particular gown ...I knew. I could see it accessorized, see it in photos, walking down the aisle. This was (probably!) THE ONE...but I wasn't quiiiite ready to commit.

First,we had to get the HELL out of that store and get some brunch. Ladies be brunchin'!

This was actually my favorite part of the weekend (even more favorite than all that spotlight time!). The six of us went to a cute little Italian restaurant near the store and got a great booth in the corner. They had delicious food and bottomless mimosas - something Brian's mom had never seen before. Needless to say, her mind was blown. We sat there for several hours just eating and drinking and laughing and it was just so nice. I felt very honored and special and loved to be spending the day surrounded by the most important women in my life, knowing they were all there to spend time with me.  It was a fantastic day and I loved every second.

Well, until  we split up and went home and I had my first Official Bridal Meltdown over the budget and guest list but that's another novella for another day. You're dying with anticipation, I'm sure.

One day left! Is anyone still reading this? OH WELL, no stoppin' me now.

CHAPTER THREE: SUNDAY

I woke up Sunday 99% set on the dress from HK Bridal the day before, but wanted to make one  more pit stop to that mecca of the WIC: David's Bridal. We had an 11 AM appointment at the David's flagship store where I did try on a few legit possibilities but mostly just took advantage of the opportunity to goof around.

My girls have this bridesmaid thing on lock, already showing up places in matching outfits:

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Well done, ladies.

Meanwhile, I tried on as many non-Liz dresses as I possibly could...like this ballgown:

image (1)

Which was actually gorgeous! But so not me. Too much fabric. How do you pee? And I couldn't go that voluminous...you've seen how slim my groom is. He'd be hidden!

I also tested out this sensual number that had like, chiffon wings flowing from the back. I made a turban. You like?

14 - 1

And finally this severe trumpet number which admittedly did make my bod look pretty smokin...from the knees up.

image

Better women than I have worn and will continue to wear these style gowns but they always make me think of the feather duster from Beauty and the Beast. Which, despite her obvious sex appeal, is not a compliment. Also, eating, dancing and walking are kind of my main priorities for my wedding (and life) so I remain miffed by this whole trend.

(No offense if you like this style!! To each their own! I'm sorry! How do critics live with themselves?!)

And here's my crew for the day. Maureen is on notice for not adhering to Bridesmaid Dress Code. One more stunt like that and she is OUT of the bridal party!

14 - 1 (1)

After about an hour of being weirdos, we decided nothing at David's was speaking to us and hauled booty back up to RK to make things offish with my chosen gown. The designer I chose was actually 10% off all weekend at RK (booyah!) so our gal Janice told us that as long as we came back a half hour before their 3:30 PM close on Sunday, we could just cut right to the front of the line and grab the dress at the sale price. AGAIN not throwing her under the bus here, but she was apparently semi-misunderstood...another attendant told us I had to put my name on the bottom of the full long list which at this point in the day was at about 640,000. Luckily some manager did intervene and said that since I was just trying on one dress I could cut the line. I'm sure that the promise of a swipe swipe of the ol' Visa had nothing to do with this decision. Now all they had do to was actually find my dress which was  nowhere to be found. Our group poured through the racks. The attendants searched every dressing room, accosted every other woman holding an armful of white fabric, looked over and under and everywhere and they could not find my dress anywhere.

Then a full hour later, just as I was on the verge of an epic hanger and stress meltdown, they realized they had another version of the same dress hanging in the back room the whole time and, oh, would I like to just try that one one?

UM YES PLEASE.

I stepped into an empty dressing room and slipped into the beautiful gown and as I caught my reflection in the mirror, I quietly began to sing Shania Twain's masterpiece "You're Still the One" ...to myself...and then the whole store joined in, a cacophony of voices ringing out through the store and many people were brought to dramatic weeping over the beauty of  it all.

Juuust kidding that definitely did not happen. But I did buy the dress! Well, not this actual dress, this was just a sample, mine is being made by tiny child slaves somewhere in Asia as we speak (I do hate myself, don't worry) and will arrive in the store for me to pick up in a few weeks. Yay!

It was a ridiculous weekend but in the end, I was super happy and y'all, I looked AWESOME I'm not even going to pretend to be humble about it, I looked effing stunning. We were allowed to take photos of the final dress selection, which I stare at daily on my computer but won't show here because I need to keep rolling this suspense out for 6 more months. It looks very similar to a gown that a married friend of mine wore in her wedding...but I won't tell you which friend!

And that, my fine friends, is that. WHAT an epic tale of shopping and social anxiety and female bonding time! I have a LOT more to say about wedding dress shopping in general which I shall share with you tomorrow (STAY TUNED!!) but for now, I bid you all adieu.

1 Million Hugs to all who read this whole thing. You must be very bored at work!!!

xoxo Liz Ho

Another Awkward Week [2.7.14]

Hey, snowflakes. How y'all doing doing today? I generally try to avoid getting too personal or serious here in what is essentially my endless internet stand-up comedy routine but I'm hoping I might ask you all for a bit of a favor.  Earlier this week, one of my aunts passed away unexpectedly. She had a beautiful soul and will be missed by all those who knew her. This week my mom also lost a cousin, so both sides of my extended clan are reeling. In sharing these stories with some very sweet, caring friends, I've heard similar tales of loss and heartache over the past few months and realized that this winter's been tough on a lot of people, in different ways. I wonder if I might ask all of you to send a little extra love into the world today, in honor of my Aunt Anne, and all of those who are feeling heavy hearts right now.

Thank you all, sweet friends. It means a lot to me!

Now I shall insert a terrible segue here about how laughter is the best cure for all pains (minus the pain of recovering from stomach surgery...ouch) and do what I always do when I don't know how to express appropriate emotions which is make dumb jokes and talk about myself! You're welcome, world.

The hottest news in Liz Ho Land this week: my cell phone is once again on the fritz which would generally stress me out but honestly, at this point, it's almost funny. Once my new replacement arrives (hopefully this afternoon!), I'll have been through four phones and two batteries in the last 5 months. Impressivo! I swear I'm not doing anything wrong, it just happens! If I could keep a phone functioning long enough to become annoying enough to be the sort of person who "checks in" places, I would be the Mayor of the TMobile store at the corner of Flatbush and 7th.

It's astounding. You know how in gardening they say some people have a green thumb and others have a black thumb and kill everything they try to grow? I think I have a black thumb for technology. All of my phones mysteriously crash and burn. My digital camera? Broken. My laptop is barely 2 years old and overheats so badly I've actually burnt my flesh on it and it sounds like an airplane taking off when you leave it on too long. Every technological device I touch just withers in my hands.

Incidentally, I also have a black thumb for gardening, too...the combo of these gives me deep concerns for the safety of my future children.

Luckily my hot cell piece lived long enough to snap some shots so why don't we take a look at what was keeping it awkward this week:

This Oatmeal:

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Yes, this tub is basically large enough to feed the entire Olympic Village at Sochi for the duration of the 2014 Winter Games and probably a bit much for one young lady who decided she's actually kind of over oatmeal after all, BUT when I saw a stack of these 80 gallon tubs marked as on-sale for just $1.99 EACH at my local grocery emporium this weekend, I couldn't help but grab one.

Probably should have taken a moment or two to consider where in the pile I was grabbing. Middle? You know better than that, Liz.

Pulling out a tub of oats sent three more cascading to the floor, where they rolled down the aisle, one getting stuck under the wheels of another shopper's cart.

Smooth.

Adding insult to injury (this is just a saying, don't worry, no one was injured by falling oatmeal tubs), I looked at my receipt when I got home and realized that the cashier had charged me full price - so this whole grab-n-tumble situation wasn't even worth it! I mean, yes, they still cost only $3.99, I eat nothing but the finest brands, BUT STILL.

This Umbrella:

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My umbro is so sensitive, always popping open at the slightest of touches - especially when dropped on the floor, which I apparently do all the time. Like the other night in the ladies' room at my office.

It made me laugh out loud on a pretty sad day, so yay for funny umbies. I was the only person in the br at the moment so I risked a quick moment to snap a pic for le blog anddddd obviously no sooner have I whipped out my phone for a casual photo shoot then the door swings open and in walk a number of other women, all my professional superiors.

Nothing to see here, ladies. Nothin' to see.

This Paper Sports Betting Game:

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Also known as a "pool" ...something that apparently everyone knew except me.

We had a few people over on Sunday to watch The Super Bowl (will I get sued for calling it that in print?) and Brian put this whole chart contraption up on our wall. Guests arrived and I eagerly pulled them over to gush enthusiastically about this cool fun betting game that Brian had just invented, did everyone want to hear more about it, only to be laughed basically out of my own home.

I guess these "pool" things have been around forever and were NOT invented by Brian just for our party. And everybody but me knew that?

Did you know about this? Are you all having fun and gambling on sports without me?!!

I won zero dollars, in case you're curious. THANKS FOR NOTHING PEYTON MANNING!

These Fingers:

unnamed

That's glitter, not blood.

One of my cousins have been going through some rough stuff the past few weeks (double down on the happy thoughts, please!) so I decided I would make her a little "Thinking of You" craft project since, you know, I'm so great at crafting.

I don't have any photos of the finished product (it's a magic wand!) but rest assured that my office is still covered in red glitter a week later and the gift looked like it was made by a blind one-armed orangutan instead of an adult woman with PERFECT vision (it's true) and two working hands.

I know they say it's the thought that counts but execution should probably count for something too.

In this case it's totally the thought that counts, as FedEx seems to have lost my package in transit, ruining my attempt at kindness, forcing me to take to the interwebz to really just humblebrag it all up and make sure everyone knows that I tried to do something nice but the mailman is totally harshing my vibe.

I'd try to track it down butttt I may have sent this very personal package via my work mail system which isn't necessarily a no-no, but it's definitely not a yes-yes sooooo calling the mail room and causing a scene might only end with me getting in trouble so I'll just have to cross my fingers and hope this miraculously is delivered someday.

If only I had a magic wand to wave. OH WAIT!

(Smooches & hugs to you, Marcy, if you're reading this!)

And that, my friends, is that. What are y'all up to this weekend? We're due for more snow and I'm actually a little excited by that. After this week I just want to hunker down, snuggle up with Brian (who has the flu and better not give it to me or his ass is GRASS), cook veggie lasagna (I'm on a very specific "eat my feelings" diet) and sort of rejuvenate via hibernation. A blustery, gustery weekend lends just the air of coziness to round out the scene I'm building in my head so let's do this thing, weather. Don't let me down.

Here's hoping you all have something sliiiightly more exciting planned or if you, too, are finding yourself or your loved ones in tough times this season, go right on ahead and hop aboard this Love Train I'm starting. There's room for everyone!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lfzl-2iSfbM]

[I was extremely obsessed with this Gap commercial in my youth which is prettty weird but I did own and wear that first striped sweater basically every single day the winter of my senior year of high school, cool story, plus this song is scientifically proven to lighten even the darkest corners of the world. Fact!]

BIG HUG

Liz Ho

One Awkward Wedding: Lemme, Lemme Update You The Sequel: 2 Awkward 2 Updated

Goood  morning, friends. I fear I may have blogged myself right into a corner here with this whole cliffhanger situation. It seems that I implied that I had something interesting to say rather than the truth, which was that I just you know, stopped writing and went to bed. Spoiler alert: this whole story is actually super boring. Oh well, onward!

Previously on Lost:

Lost

Jack was smug, Hurley ate a large jar of ranch dressing, Sawyer called someone by a cute nickname and Liz continued to freak out about her impending wedding.

In early November, Brian and I took a quick jaunt down to Pennsylvania to check out some venues. How did we find these venues, you ask? A little thing called the internet. Look it up! On...the internet.

Before Brian and I were even engaged, I created a secret Google doc titled "Shameful" where I listed wedding venues in New York and PA, with hyperlinks to their websites.

Is this insane? OBVIOUSLY.

But I was primed and ready the moment we got engaged and didn't have to waste any of my precious time so you can just judge on all you want, Judge Reinhold.

A bit of actually helpful advice I can offer to anyone who might someday plan a wedding is to have an idea of your basic framework - how and when and where do you envision your wedding? The ultimate #firstworldproblem is that there are SO VERY MANY options available, so to be able to narrow your choices down without wasting all of your free time is immensely helpful. For us, this meant, of course, REGULAR CLASSY. Any venue that was over our budget or not available in our preferred time frame, we didn't even bother visiting. Why get attached?

This means we passed up on the most amazing barn where my friend is getting married this May - it is part of a Pennsylvania German history museum and you can ride around in an antique carriage and have actual historical re-enactors at your reception! But alas, they were booked for all of 2014. 

It is pointless to dwell on what might have been but...would any of you be interested in dressing in maybe Colonial garb and passing out hors d'oeuvres for a few hours on the evening of August 16? Just, you know, hypothetically.

Another bit of actual advice (I should write a self-help book!) is to seek help of your personal network. In addition to the best wedding planner ever, Bebe Ho, President and CEO of the famed event management firm Schmoopster, Bernie and Beans, Inc, who was all too eager to scout out locations on behalf of her long distance clients, we also sought the wisdom of local friends and family (special shout-out to cousins Angie & Lisa, Aunt Lena & pal Jamie!) who gave us lots and lots of advice and ideas and to those people we are (sincerely!) grateful.

Isn't it amazing how long and long and LONG I can make a story?!

We packed a whole lotta visits into two days in Pennsylvania - we looked at venues spanning the map. Ballrooms, barns, a private room in a restaurant that also had a weird gift shop selling soap and homemade beef jerky, a winery, an art gallery/music space/recording studio/cafe (turned out this place had a bit of an identity problem), a music school, you name it, we probably looked at it.

I put wayyy to much mental energy into agonizing over what to wear while venue hunting. I needed a perfect outfit that conveyed that I was there for business (the love business!) and that I was a serious, sophisticated lady but not SO sophisticated as to appear wealthy and risk them quoting me the fancy person price instead of what I'm more in the market for, which is bargain basement deals. But a sophisticated bargain basement...like Nordstrom Rack!

I went with the shocking and unexpected combo of  jeans, boots and...wait for it...yep, a cardigan. I am nothing if not a creature of habit. Surprise twist, though, they were some on-trend ankle boots so I think I pulled off the Nordstrom Rack look pretty, pretttty well.

My priorities? Oh, they're in order.

Standout moments from our hunt included:

  • The vendor sporting the supple leather vest who spent his entire pitch talking about ways we could make our event "cheaper." Bro, let me give you an unsolicited tip: there are ways to convey that you offer a sound financial value without actually saying "cheap" eleventy five times.
  •  The caterer who nearly sent me onto a long rant about gender stereotypes when he made mention of bringing lager to the groom and pinot grigio to the bride. Bro, let me give YOU and unsolicited tip: don't assume that ladies only drink white wine, OK mon frere? I mean, I DO drink white wine but I don't appreciate being pigenholed.

Good gravy I am annoying.

  • The relatively smug Irish dude (proprietor of said art gallery/music space/recording studio/cafe )who was way too into name-dropping bands he's seen and puffing his "hip" image...and his lithe young assistant who was CAHLEARLY digging his schtick. And possibly getting up on his something that rhymes with schtick ... IF you know what I mean. (What I mean is, I'm pretty sure they were hitting it. Doing it. Knowing one another in a biblical manner. Scandale!)
  •  The chicken ceasar salad I had during our lunch break. This has little to do with the story but I just really, really love ceasar salad.

If loving cesar is wrong...I don't wanna be right.

  •  And ... getting sincere again here...the pleasant and exciting surprise of falling in love with the venue we thought we'd like the least!

Enter: The Hamilton Club!

Does this joint scream REGULAR CLASSY or what?!

The Hamilton Club is a private social club right in downtown Lancaster that, on paper, was everything we said we didn't want. We imagined ourselves somewhere industrial or rustic or otherwise "nontraditional." The phrase "we're so not ballroom people" was thrown around no less than 78 times. The Hamilton Club seemed stuffy and old and boring. But it was surprisingly affordable for the relative formality of the space and Wedding Planner Schmoopaloop totally loved it so we begrudgingly agreed to give it a looksee.

We soon ate our "no ballrooms ever!" hats. Or we ate crow. What do people eat when they say something and then are proven wrong? Their words? Whatever it is, we ate it ALL. The space had everything we didn't know we wanted - it feels like being inside someone's cool old mansion with lots of nooks and crannies to explore. They have more than enough room to accommodate an on-site ceremony, a separate upstairs area for a cocktail hour, an organized and efficient on-site coordinator, private rooms for getting ready, a highly regarded caterer and all (mostly!) within our budget. Plus, it's right downtown so guests can walk from the nearby hotel, saving us from having to sort out any sort of shuttle situation. Cha chingity ching ching!

The coordinator initially struck us as a little too formal and traditional, but the more we told her about the low-key, festive event we envisioned, she instantly got what we were throwing down. She understood that we are working on a shoestring and has been flexible in finding ways to stretch our money a long long way. They had our preferred date available and after a few weeks of back and forth emailing on menus and a few other financial details (see previous entry for emotional state of Liz Ho during this time period) we locked 'er in.

Whoop whoop!

And that is the whole tale. I told you it was a pretty boring story!

Boring or no, there are at least a dozen morals here  including Don't Wear Leather Vests, Be Less Obvious About The Fact That You're Boning Your Boss, Start Wedding Planning Years Before You are Engaged, Turn To Friends and Family for Help, You Can Never Go Wrong With a Cardigan, Listen to Your Mom's Great Ideas, Stop Freaking Out About Everything All The Time Life Always Works Out You Crazy Maniac and, most importantly: Be Open Minded. We ended up doing the total opposite of what we always imagined and we could not be more excited. You may have an idea of what you want (I'll use wedding planning as an example but this moral applies to all of LIFE) in your head, only to see it in person and find it is too small or smells weird or is haunted by the ghost of an old hobo clown.

'Tis possible that what you thought you'd hate, you'd love. And visa versa.

And, in that vein, also think about your priorities. If, for you, the ambiance and feel of the venue is the most important then maybe it's not the place to compromise, to go from industrial to ballroom without looking back. For us, what is most important is bringing our peeps together. There were plenty of funkier, hipper venues out there but they were so beyond our budget, we would have had to cut our guest list more than we already have (a topic which causes me such daily anxiety, I'm almost always on the verge of barfing) and what's the point of having a sexy, trendy, brick-walled, wood-beamed room if you can't fill it with all the people you love?

LIFE! Full of lessons and surprises. What a world, what a world.

So that's the latest on the old wedding sitcheroo. GOOD TIMES!

Thanks, as always, for reading this nonsense. I promise I'll return to our regularly scheduled programming of food spills and uncomfortable social interactions lickety split.

See ya later!

xoxoxo Liz Ho

One Awkward Wedding: Lemme, Lemme Update You

photo

Hot damn we're good looking.

Ok stop reading literally right now if you don't care about wedding nonsense.

Otherwise, buckle up because I have SO MUCH to tell you!

 It is official:  On August 16, 2014 I will become Ms. Has Yet To Decide If She's Changing Her Last Name (more on that later) aka a married lady! Whoop whoop! And we're planning to pull a full Kardashian and sell rights to our photos to the highest bidder so start making your offers now.

Yay! I'm making weird, dumb jokes, because you know I can't handle genuine emotional conversations, so I'll just go ahead and get it out right here at the top: I'm so excited! In 247 days (but who's counting?), I'm getting hitched! To Brian! My favorite guy. He makes me so happy every single day and I honestly can't contain myself from grinning ear to ear like a damn fool at even the slightest thought of calling him my husband. Squee!

Ok, we're done with that.

So. As is customary in all engagements, the moment that Brian popped the question, the world began to pop the other question which was: when? And also the other, other question, which was: where? And thankfully, no one has yet asked the other, other, other question of "why?" so I think pretty much everyone's on board with our impending union.

Phew.

We quickly stepped to planning because we knew a long engagement just wasn't for us. I know it works for some people, but it's just not our style. Because Brian is a teacher,  he has less flexibility in taking time off from work so we pretty immediately zoned in on August 2014 (between his summer teaching gig and the start of the regular school year) or March 2015, during his long Spring break. I was fine with either but ol' Briguy said he didn't want to wait all the way until 2015 to lock this down.

(One more quick interlude to mention how much I like this dude.)

And thus, we had our sights pretty well set on August 2014.

And the rest, they say, is history!

Just kidding, the rest, they say, is many weeks of researching,venue visiting, budgeting, list making and extreme emotional roller coastering.

I know it is gauche to talk about money but it's also gauche to talk about poop and I've never let that stop me, so a quick note on el dinero. I'll go into budgeting in detail another time (who's excited?!) (no one!) but will say here, just in case anyone didn't realize, weddings are motherflipping expensive. Like, SO EXPENSIVE. I always knew they were pretty pricey but now that I'm actually looking into planning one in great detail do I realize the incredible cost that goes into pulling off a wedding.

And I do understand (deeply) that none of these costs are necessary, but we've decided that it is important to us to celebrate our wedding in the so called "traditional" manner and therefore will incur the costs associated with such an event. Just to give you a sense of what we're working with here I've dubbed the term "Regular Classy" which is to say a mid-sized gathering of friends and family for a non denominational ceremony followed by a meal (with adult beverages) and boogieing down in a festively decorated room. She wears white, he wears a suit, toasts are given, tears are shed, badda bing, badda boom: married.

Despite the many hours I've spent reading wedding blogs and attending actual weddings, I honestly didn't have much of a concept of what it cost to pull this sort of spectacle off and let me just tell you, the results are staggering. Hence the emotional rollercoastering. Every time we find something we like we get super excited (UP!!) and then we see the price tag (DOWN!!) and then we become despondent (WAY DOWN!) and decide we're calling the whole thing off and getting married in city hall (SO FAR DOWN!!) and then we have a heart-to-heart and decide no! We love each other! We want to throw a bomb-ass wedding, we'll figure out the money and make it work! And then we're UP UP UP again, repeat, repeat, repeat.

And we're not talking like, releasing humanely raised turtledoves off a yacht in the south of France while Bruno Mars croons live in the background, oh no. Just REGULAR CLASSY in the middle of Pennsylvania and still we're looking at thousands (yes, like 3 zeros) more greenbacks that I ever dreamed of spending.

Blergh!

So gauche as it may be, I can honestly say that money was a very large factor for us when picking where to do this thing. We toyed with the idea of marrying here in our beloved Brooklyn (Go Nets!) but quickly learned that pulling off a wedding in the New York Regional Area is pretty much impossible if you are on our budget range. One venue I reached out to charges $19,000 just to reserve the space. That does not include chairs, tables, decorations, music, food, liquor or doves of ANY kind. The coordinator did say it might include cocktail tables which, for that kind of moolah, better be made out of solid gold or like, human bones.

NINETEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS! For a room! I will never get over that fact for as long as I shall live. And that's probably not even that expensive in the grand scheme of things! What is this world we live in, you guys? What is this world.

(And HERE is where I put the note that if you personally spent that kind of money on your own wedding totally good for you, do your thang. Also: how are you so rich and can I get in on that? Let me make a blanket statement that henceforth, every snarky thing I say about weddings or the WIC is but crazy broke judgmental lady's opinion, don't let me stop you from getting your nuptial onnn in however you see fit.)

And thus, we zeroed our sights on my ancestral homeland of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Armed with a date range and the knowledge that we needed to find a venue that fell somewhere within the tricky Venn Diagram of LOW COST and REGULAR CLASSY, we prepared a list of targets, set up appointments and made the arduous journey back to Good Old Pee-Aye.

And that, my friends, is where I will stop my story today. Return tomorrow to get the skinny on exactly what went diggity down on said wedding venue hunt, because this is already basically an epic novel and I'm just vain enough to think that my wedding planning journeys warrant a cliffhanger.

Until then!

Liz Ho

One Awkward Wedding: It Begins

Ok guys, get out your tulle and glue guns: it has begun.

(image via)

I’ve decided that I’ll write from time to time about wedding planning – to have a record of it, to mock it all, to keep myself sane. This is something I’d really, really like to do: I think it will be a unique and fun challenge for me to honestly and humorously portray the myriad of emotions and decisions that go into planning this special event , to look at “That One Perfect Day” © through the skewered lens of a real life Modern Bride.

Here’s the thing, though, much as I’d love to do this, I haven’t been able to start writing it out because I’m embarrassed. How ridiculous is that? I can’t help myself! Some horrible, mean voice inside me tells me that I’m being cheesy, that nobody cares, that "cool" girls shouldn’t allow themselves to get excited about things as antiquated and commercialized as weddings.

I know what you’re thinking: girrrrl, you cray.

And yet: here we are. I don’t know where it comes from, but I feel like there’s almost a dark flipside to the movements away from the Wedding Industrial Complex: in rebelling against the consumerism and conformity of all things wedding we’re being made cynical. That we’re not supposed to become giddy over flower arrangements and diamonds and card stock (OH the card stock!).  That we should be above it all.

There's a very distinct possibility that I'm just overthinking things (for the first time EVER!) but tell me, do you know what I mean?

I’m worried that everyone will find me insufferable, insipid and boring. (You know, since I'm usually so intellectual and deep!) Here she goes again with the wedding talk! That I’ll become a caricature of some kind of bad Rom Com character or worse, the dreaded BRIDEZILLA. I constantly feel the need to apologize for bringing up our wedding in conversation, even with the closest of friends, because I don’t want to appear to be making too big a deal of it all.

All of this is entirely unfounded.  None of my married friends has ever once gotten on my nerves by talking about their weddings. Like, ever. If anything, it’s usually me bringing up the subject, begging to see photos and talk details. All of my friends have been over the moon excited for us – for our marriage and yes, our wedding – and if anything, blog traffic actually spiked when I talked engagements and diamond rings and yet I let that naggy, judgy voice in my head keep me from being truly enthusiastic.

I need to tell that voice to shut it. Posthaste.

There is nothing cheesy about being excited about your wedding. Are weddings overblown, expensive, outdated rituals? PROBABLY! But so is the Superbowl. And Thanksgiving. And people still get pretty fucking excited about those things. It is entirely possible to recognize that there is a difference between One Special Day and one special day. Wanting a long white dress and centerpieces is not selling out.  It is not anti-feminist. It is not lame.

So I’m going to stop apologizing and start celebrating. And writing! Not always, but now and again, always under the label One Awkward Wedding. And the rest of the time, I’ll focus on more important stuff like poop. And hard boiled eggs. And wine! And if people think I'm being stupid and self absorbed and annoying, well, they can skip those posts. And honestly I probably am being pretty stupid and self absorbed and annoying like, all of the time (incredibly vain, obsessed with Taylor Swift, no personal boundaries...yeah, sounds unappealing) but I think I'm actually OK with that.

Enough navel gazing. Let's do this thing!

One Awkward/Awesome Day: Storm King Style

Hola amigos. First, I have to thank you all for the excitement and warm wishes re: Brian's & my big news. (If you haven't heard, we ended the government shutdown! JK we got engaged. Eleventy billion times more newsworthy.) We're supremo excited round these parts! Secondably, can we all just overlook the fact that I skipped my usual weekly recap last Friday? I have a few lame excuses that I'll bore you with this Friday, so you can just start holding onto your seat righttttttt....now.

Meanwhile, I wanted to share more cool nooz: have checked another item off my 30 Before 30 List, holla! 2 Down, 28 to Go.

Last weekend, Brian and I visited Storm King Art Center, this amazing, gorgeous outdoor sculpture gallery about an hour north of New York City. Oh, we also got engaged there, so full disclaimer: I'll start this as a 30 Before 30 / Travelogue post and then suuuper quickly veer into talking about how we came to be betrothed, so you've been warned. I really don't want to become that girl who's all like OMG I'M GETTING MARRRRRIED but also OMG I'M GETTING MARRRRRIED!  So I figured I could kind of sneak it in a bit? Also I'm aware that I have a short window of time where people still find this interesting before they're like shut the H up, we get it already, SO I'll just make the most of this before everyone gets sick of me.

Too late? No turning back now!

30 BEFORE 30: STORM KING; OR, HE LIKED IT & PUT A RING ON IT: BASED ON THE NOVEL PUSH BY SAPPHIRE: BASED ON THE REAL LIFE OF ELIZABETH HOBAGS

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I'm pretty sure I first learned about Storm King a few years ago while lightly stalking the facebook page of a very distant connection who has a cool life and decided it was a Must Visit Establishment if I'm ever going to embody the kind of cultured, hipster lifestyle I so dream of. If you would like to learn more about Storm King, visit their website and/or look at this sad batch of phone photos I managed to snap during the 11 minutes of our trip when my phone wasn't dead (more on that saga below).

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Basically blah blah it's 1.5 hours north of NYC, you can get a discount if you drive up in a zipcar or you can take a bus. Great scenery. Foliage. Art. Etcetera, etcetera. Highly recommended, the end.

Now let's get to the good stuff: ME!

We begin with a Lost style flashback to earlier this summer, as Brian and I are making the decision to wonen samen. I'm VERY into timelines, plans and attempting to control every aspect of my life - typically everything still totally falls down around me, but you can't stop me from trying, world! We'd both agreed that, for us, moving in was a step on the path towards officially locking it DOWN and didn't want to live together long before taking the next step. Basically, as I explained it to my mom, moving is a horrific nightmare and we wanted to get that whole scene over and done before making any other big decisions. We'd put "post Labor Day" as the basic timeline for when an engagement might occur, so true to form, the moment the clock struck midnight on Labor Day I was on HIGH ALERT.

We'd talked about engagement rings and though I knowwwww that engagement rings are ridiculous and paternalistic and basically just a marketing scheme by big diamond companies, and the path to our fingers is littered with the bodies of diamond miners... well, no DUH I still wanted one. (I seem to be like, equal parts angry modern feminist and deeply romantic traditionalist and have a feeling that the push-pull between these two dualling personas will be a recurring theme throughout this whole wedding planning process. That should be fun for everyone!) I do still maintain that it is absurd to spend a ton of money on an engagement ring (unpopular opinion alert!) but I mean, if Brian wants to buy me some nice jewelry and love me forever, well, I'm not going to say no to that. We didn't want to go shopping together for a ring, that felt anti-climactic to us, but he still wanted my input on style, so I took an exploratory trip to a few jewelers in late August with my friend Kathleen, who then reported the findings to ole BriGuy.

And then...I waited. Ever so patiently, constantly touching up my nail polish, just in case. 

This was sort of a weird time for me, like, emotionally. I like to be the one making plans, taking control and felt like we were on the brink of a Life Event and I just had to sit back and let it happen.  Surprise, surprise, I think the idea of an "engagement" is sort of backwards and old fashioned - I think it is important for couples to discuss their future as a unit, to make plans together but then when it comes time for the official asking, the man is in charge? Oh hell naw! Butttt then when it came down to it: hell yes!

Brian told me early on that it was very important for him to do this, to propose, to buy a ring, to be the man with the plan and I wanted to honor that - gender parity is important and deciding things together are important, yes, but I guessss that occasionally letting go of the need to be in charge and allowing your partner to do what feels right for them is important too. So I sat back.

And I'm glad I did - in the moment when he asked me to marry him, I could see how happy he was - how happy we both were and it was the right choice for us.

But I'm getting ahead of myself!

Ok that Lost style flashback got long and unnecessarily dramatic. Just a small glimpse into the internal life of Liz Ho. A fun place to be!

So, now it is Sunday, October 6, 2013, skies over Brooklyn are misty and grey but we decide to take our trip nonetheless. By this point I am 99.4% certain that IT IS HAPPENING TODAY! Clues include: it is our only free weekend all fall, Brian has been extra specially nice to me all week and, most convincingly, he had rented the zip car for the day (pickup time: 8 AM!) weeks in advance. Love this guy, but planning in advance is not usually his M.O. I was prepared. I put together a semi-decent outfit, despite the weather and had SPRINTED to the nail salon at 5:01 PM on Friday for a preemptive mani so you can trust my nail game was on point.

We bundled up and picked up our car and the whole while I was giving Brian the old up and down, wondering where he might be stashing a ring. There were no box-sized bulges in the pockets of his jeans or coat...he'd brought along his school bag so I'd assumed it was in there, but he was being super casual and blase about the whole thing. I mean, I was mildly suspicious when he packed a bag in the first place, but it all made sense- he threw in an extra sweatshirt and dry socks, just in case, and tossed in some deli sandwiches, too - and he never acted like he was hauling precious cargo - he let me shove in some clothes of my own and at one point even asked me to hold it for him. I began to attempt to regulate my expectations to a normal level in the event that this was just a regular day trip after all, no life moments to be had, but we all know how great I am at operating in a relaxed emotional state so let's just say I was buzzing like a bumble bee with a Zac Efron sized coke problem the entirety of our trip. (Too soon? Love you, Zac!)

Adding to my nervous state, my cell phone was once again breaking down. This was my second phone in two weeks, this time with a brand new battery, but I kept encountering the same issues I'd had in the past. Today was NOT the day for a phone break down. Not only is Storm King basically an Instagrammer's wet dream, there was a chance I'd have to make some SERIOUSLY important phone calls!

So we wandered the park, checking out the sculptures, goofing around but neither of our heads was 100% in the game. Brian was trying to think on his feet of when and where to pop the big Q and, as I just mentioned, I was... let's go ahead and say mildly preoccupied with both my phone and my naked ring finger. At one point we came upon my very favorite sculpture, this long, winding stone wall curving its way through the natural landscape to a gorgeous lake at the bottom of a wooded hill. We lingered and as we walked away, I mentioned to Brian how much I loved it. Also, at that moment, I managed to get my phone to re-start and pulled Brian back to the wall so I could snap some photos.

Brian was overjoyed with this plan, thinking it the perfect way to get me back to my favorite sculpture without arousing my suspicion but WAIT! We are foiled. Back at the wall we encounter a nice woman snapping a few photos. I strike up a convo and ask her to take our picture with my now functioning phone. She obliges:

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And informs us that she's on site for a photography class and will be hanging around that wall alllllll afternoon snapping photos.

Thanks for ruining our perfect engagement, woman. I hope you get a big fat F in photo class.

Justttt kidding.

We ambled onward (do you like how I'm making this into like, the longest novel ever written of all time? Forget Infinite Jest, just read my blog!) and found ourselves in a sort of remote, secluded area towards the back of the park, with a few funky sculptures and tons of trees. Brian knew this was his moment, but just needed to distract me long enough to catch me off guard.

Luckily for him, I made it easy just by being my usual attention hog of a self - I spotted a statue of a gigantic head, like Easter Island, and ran towards it, yelling "Brian! Take my picture with this head!" I handed him my phone and struck a pose. Brian took a few snaps and handed me back the phone, and then it went a little something like this:

Brian: "This picture is awesome."

Me, looking at the phone: "Yeah, it's pretty good."

Brian: "It's really big!"

Me: "Yeah, the Samsung Galaxy has a really large screen (followed by several seconds of idiot chatter about Samsung Galaxy phones)

Brian: "No, I mean it's awesome and big because it's exciting, we'll always remember this as the picture I took right before I asked you to marry me."

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My memories after that are a little hazy - I cried, there was some one knee action, Brian said the nicest things a human has ever said to another human and I, of course, said yes.

The ring is perfect, a vintage Art Deco ring from 1939, gold and gorgeous and delicate. Brian said he'd had it for a month (!) and had been practicing opening the box so he could get it right.  All other fellas on the planet, good try, but ain't nobody cuter than this guy. It's a fact.

We excitedly called our parents, or tried anyway. I couldn't get my mom on the phone - it turns out she was on a bike ride with her pals and out of service. I wanted to tell her before anyone else, so left about 73 frantic messages on her cell and at home and then my phone died, so I sent a few crazed texts from Brian's phone. I finally managed to get mine up and running again on the drive home and sent my sister a series of absolutely bananas texts: "WHERE'S MOM?!" "I NEED TO TALK TO MOM! ALSO SIT BY THE PHONE! YOU KNOW WHY!" until my mom called and we got to share the big news. My phone then proceeded to die on regular intervals for the remainder of our trip and despite a super romantic stop at the TMobile store, met its ultimate demise a few hours after we got home, but allowed me just enough time to chat with my siblings, dad and a few pals.

I started making corny remarks about every single thing we did all night as being the first _________ as an engaged couple - our first sandwiches, first drive over a bridge, first bottle of water, first trip to the TMobile store...first time going to the bathroom. God bless Brian, y'all, he's in for a long life.

And then we spent our first night AS AN ENGAGED COUPLE (!!!) sitting around our house in our underwear, eating Thai takeout and drinking fancy champagne. It was the perfect end to a perfect day - one that felt just right for us. There were no helicopters or flash mobs but just a little bit of adventure, a few mishaps, sandwiches, cheesy jokes, bathroom oversharing and pantslessness. All of my favorite things with my very, very favorite guy. I can't wait for a lifetime of days just like this.

*** The end! Thanks for reading all of this! I know I tend to shy away from the heartfelt stuff but I can't seem to help it thee days. #barf! I hope you might let me share, from time to time, our adventures on the marriage train. I promise this won't become some boring wedding blog, believe me, the world needs another wedding blog like it needs another Mormon mommy blog (zing!) (which is to say millions more, love you, Mormon moms!) but I have a feeling there will be some major shenanigans along the way (aren't there always?) and think it might be kind of fun to write through the process, especially working through those battling ideologies, as the Liz Ho who hates the Wedding Industrial Complex and the Liz Ho who has had Style Me Pretty bookmarked since her single days meet in the ring to duke it out. Let the next great adventure begin! ***

One AWESOME Announcement

Hello World! Please allow me to take a brief moment from our regularly scheduled programming for a small big huge amazing FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC Announcement:

Brian and I are engaged!

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Move over, Seth Cohen, there's a new man in town. And this time, he's real!

We're both pretty excited by the whole situation, in case you can't tell by the mega-watt grins.

Can't wait to have an eternity of adventures with this guy.

Many (many, many) more details to come (please, have we ever known me to be short-winded?) but first, just wanted to share the good news. Everyone knows that nothing's official in this world until you tell the whole internet.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go lie down - I'm practically cross-eyed from staring at my left hand all day.

HOORAY!

Another Awkward Week [10.4.13]

Hello, pumpkins. It's October! It's also 85 degrees in New York City right now.  Ridiculous! Is there anything more exciting than talking about the weather?!  No siree. Except maybe this announcement: I have completed the first of my 30 Before 30 challenges, holla! As of this morning, I am only in debt on one credit card! And also in student loans. And most certainly to my mother. But still: baby steps.

I started my foray into credit card debt  while studying abroad my junior year. I know I'm amazingly irresponsible but I still maintain that travel is a worthy cause of debt. Live a little! See the world! I would, however, recommend putting the card away when you return and not breaking it out at the first pair of riding boots that catch your eye. The "I swear I'll pay it off the second the bill comes" trap is far to easy to fall into, trust me, I'm an expert. I would also recommend not opening a second credit card - especially if it is a specialty store credit card - for me, The Gap - no matter how much of a discount they offer you just for opening. Sure you saved 40% on that chambray tunic but suddenly it's three years later and thanks to copious 'members only sales' and promises of points and bonuses for non-clothing purchases you're a thousand bucks in the hole with little more than some flimsy cardigans to show for it.

I'd also recommend not moving to New York City or working in publishing but far wiser people than I have done it quite successfully with little to no financial hardship so maybe just don't listen to me at all when I'm dishing out money advice and/or life?

Long story extra long: I dipped into my savings account (which up until last January was at a standard balance of like $32, but that's another story for another day) to pay off my Gap credit card. It was scary to write such a huge check, from money I'd worked so hard to save, but it feels like the right move. The interest rates were staggeringly high, and every minimum payment I made felt like a sad drop in the bucket. I still have a long way to go on my other debts but I feel like I'm headed in the right direction. I am pretty flim-flamming proud of myself, I'm not gonna lie about it.

Whoop! One (major!) challenge down, 29 to go...

Is this what responsibility feels like? It's refreshing! And terrifying. Mostly terrifying. Someone give me back my credit card. I see some pants I need...

No! Let me distract myself with story telling! Why don't we take a look at what was keeping it awkward this week:

This Feast:

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Did everyone watch the Breaking Bad finale on Sunday?! OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG! No spoilers but I will tell you this much: my friend Kamran and I pulled out all the stops on our epic finale party. Or wait, the opposite. Across the interwebs we saw blue cocktails with home made rock candy and Heisenburgers...my own brother even made a blue cake decorated with blue "meth" sugar candy (well, it was more green than blue, such a Todd that guy!).

Kam and I managed to put down some blue (meth!) berry ice cream, three dozen "Pollos Hermanos" wings, a few slices of pizza and half a bottle each of scotch and Pinot Grigio.

Classy and festive. Or lazy and gluttonous. Little of both?

And if you don't know what any of these things mean, WELL, it sounds like you've been wasting your time doing dumb stuff instead of catching up on Breaking Bad so, sorry I'm not sorry. Get your life together, man.

These Gifts:

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Let's see...the largest of the bunch is a housewarming gift for my friend and her husband who bought their home in oh, May. The smaller in gold and silver is a wedding gift for my cousin who was married on the 5th of July... the colorful package below that one is another wedding gift for my friend Maureen, who was married on the 6th of July, wrapped in birthday paper because I ran out of the fancy wedding stuff. 4 months late and inappropriately wrapped. Regular old Emily Post right over here.  (Also, both gifts are the same, involving the couple's initials and wedding dates. Both couples are M+M and married within one day of the other so the probability that I mixed them up is about 80 to 1. Just cross your fingers this all worked out.)

The stack of birthday wrapped packages are gifts for my godson and his twin brother on their 3rd birthday, which was just Wednesday so I'm only like 3 days late on that one.

I actually bought all of these on time, but let them linger in my office for months because I'm just the laziest. Or, OR, hear me out guys: it's strategic and thoughtful. I understand that there must be a sense of sadness after a wedding ends or several months post-birthday or house closing - all of your planning and saving and celebrating has come to a close and you go back to your sad, dumb, boring life with no presents, or parties or cake. UNTIL! Six months later, suddenly, you open your mailbox and, what's this?!?! A gift?! For me?! The celebration lives on! Once again your bask in the glow of your newly wedded/habitated/born bliss and feel special and loved again.

THAT is why I'm always late. It's not that I can't get it together...it's alllll  a part of my master plan.

You're welcome, everyone.

Wondering what's in those packages? Not telling...except this one peek.

These Books:

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Best book EVAH! Got one for my godson....annnnd a copy for me. I haven't read it in years! What a classic.

My godson Michael is one of a set of twins - they each have separate godparents. It doesn't feel right to get just Michael a birthday gift, but I felt like I needed to do something special for the guy, since I am his spiritual mentor and all. I realize that I'm not exactly a pillar of Christian morality (whoops) but do think I could teach the kid a thing or two about something that I believe is truly valuable: lit-rah-chaaa. Every year for his birthday I'll help to build his library, supplying him with my favorite books I read as a young person. Last year I got him The Phantom Tollbooth and this year, the Mixed Up Files. He just turned three, so he likely won't be diving into these for a few years, but when he's ready I want him to be prepared with a fully stocked, totally badass library.

I'll make this kid a bookworm if it's the last thing I do!

I guess that's not really awkward, unless you count me reading books for 3rd graders on the subway. I just wanted to show off that, though I send them way late, I DO give solid presents.

Now, time to overshare. You ready for this?

I don't know if you are.

This Toilet:

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Some BOLD color choices up in this apartment.

Last week when I wrote about my multiple public restroom disasters, my friend commented thanking me for keeping the toilet humor classy and I was so honored. I don't want to reach too high for the stars, but that's kind of my goal. To be the classiest inappropriate person on earth. Can it be done? Well, this next story might push the limits but I think it's important to share.

So. Wednesday evening I was going to a friend's house in the neighborhood for a ladies' grilled cheese evening and stopped off at my apartment between work and her place to drop off my things and rinse off, as I'd gone for a run near my office and was smelling like a real peach.

The house I grew up in was pretty old, with a plumbing system to match - flushing a toilet anywhere in the house would set the hot water totally haywire, so you had to be really careful before taking a shower. Any flush action within like, 20 minutes pre-shower could have you shivering in ice water the whole time. Consequently, I never, ever flush if I you knowww before hopping in the shower, even if it's a number twosie, which is totally never is because girls don't poop. Except when they do, which is sometimes before they get in the shower. Or so I've heard.

I just close the toilet lid, scrub up and flush when I get out.

WELL. Wednesday evening I was rushing around to get to Abbe's house, my brain a million places at once. Brian was working late, so I came and went before he made it home. I was halfway to Abbe's house when I got that horrible, sinking anxiety feeling in the pit of my stomach that I'd forgotten something. You know how you can convince yourself that you didn't unplug the iron or turn off the stove? Well I was suddenly just horribly, devastatingly positive that I'd forgotten to flush the toilet, leaving a delightful surprise waiting for poor Brian.

Now, we're pretty open (some might say too open) (some would probably be correct) with discussing our bodily functions, but there are some lines that can't be crossed, you know? Not yet, anyway. We've lived together for TWO MONTHS, we gotta save something for the future! If we start seeing each other's doo-doo two months in, what's left at two years? Twenty-two? I literally can not imagine...nor do I want to.

I contemplated turning back around but it was too far for just a hunch and plus: what if Brian beat me there? So I did what any weirdo would do and texted him:

"Listen. If you get home ant he toilet seat is down...flush it before opening. Don't ask any questions."

Charming.

Guys: this is real life. No one prepares you for this stuff! When you make the decision to move in with a romantic partner, whether it's pre-marital or post, no one clues you in to the actual HARD TRUTHS of cohabitation. Sure you hear all about splitting finances and chores and making sure you get alone time but NO ONE prepares you for the very real and probably inevitable possibility of seeing the other person's poop.

Well, now you've been warned. Tread lightly. Double check that you've flushed.

Luckily it turns out that I had, in fact, remembered, so this whole situation was just an act of unnecessary oversharing, anxiety and weirdness (my three best qualities) but I still think it the creep-o text was better than the alternative. And Brian still seems to be attracted to me (what a freak!) so I think we're in the clear.

FOR NOW.

You can count on me to always report the most vital of information from the front lines of living in sin...whether anyone actually wants to hear it or not.

Annnnnddddd I think that's as good a point as any to shut this mother DOWN. It's Friday y'all. We made it. What's everyone up to this weekend?

I trust you'll keep it an appropriate mix of classy and shameful, whatever you do.

xoxo Liz Ho

Cohabitation Situation Information Updation

My dudes. Happy Friday! R. Kelly's deeply poetic mantra "It's the freakin' weekend, baby" is speaking to me like never before. Now is when I'd generally recap the week but I'm too excited to think about anything but the future because, you guys, tomorrow is moving day!

Que sorpresa, right? I won’t give you the whole long, boring story which mostly just involves a lot of instances of me panicking and creating dramatic worst case scenarios only to have everything work out just how I wanted, but my landlady in my current apartment (she of the epic holiday decor) either really loves us or didn’t want to have to be bothered to find a new tenant (I suspect the latter) agreed to lower the rent to a price point that Brian and I can afford so the two of us will be living in my beautiful THREE BEDROOM mansion of an apartment in Brooklyn. Which means I don’t have to move any further than the big bedroom down the hall, we don’t have to pay an exorbitant broker’s fee and we’ll have room to spare, and then some.

Basically, I’m a really lucky B and I should count my blessings a little more.

We’d had it in our heads that Brian would move in this coming weekend, but we’ve both been crazy busy and still haven’t, technically, signed the lease (it’s a long story, don’t ask) so it sort of popped up on us. We just confirmed with the landlady last night that this date is a go and so in approximately 24 hours we will be shacking right on up.

AAH!

I am ridiculously excited and yet, surprisingly blasé. I guess I assumed that somehow the momentous nature of our big move would be more palpable. The earth would shake or fireworks would explode or there would be a plane with skywriting reading “Liz! In 24 Hours Your Whole Life Will Change And You’ll Never Live On Your Own Again, Holy Shit!” but so far, none of that has happened and I’ve mostly just carried on as normal.  I just realized that last night was probably my last night ever sleeping in my own bed – tonight I’ll likely go over to Brian’s so I can help him move in the morning. (haha “help him move” aka stand around, be bossy and do no heavy lifting.)

I always thought my last night on my own would be momentous, portentous, dramatic. Instead it was relatively normal. I met a girlfriend for drinks in the neighborhood, came home, ate a tomato for dinner, took a cold shower and read a book in bed. The drinks were fantastic but the actual being at home alone part was, quite frankly, lonely and boring. So maybe it was portentous, then, in that way. By giving me a night as dull and pathetic as they come (you guys: I ate a tomato for dinner. A tomato! That’s it! On my bed, in front of a fan, alone.), my solo life was sending me off reassuring me that excitement lay ahead, that I wouldn’t really miss these drab, tomato nights.

I’m sure I’ll freak out tomorrow, or in a few days or even weeks…don’t you EVEN fret about that.  I’ve never navigated a life change without at least one melodramatic breakdown, I certainly don’t see this being an exception.

For now, I’m just curious about one thing. Help me out, fellow cohabitators. What do you do with your stuffed animals? HA! Ridiculous question, I know. You see, I have this friend named Winston. He’s a polar bear I bought at the Coca Cola factory on a trip to Atlanta to visit my cousin when I was in 5th grade. It’s funny, that was my first solo big-girl trip and I came home with toy, ha. Winston used to have a plastic  coke bottle in his hand, but it broke when he was stepped on during a dance party at a friend’s sleepover, making him all the snugglier, and since then he has travelled with me to college, to Belgium, to all of my NYC apartments and on nights when I’m sleeping alone, I sleep with him. I know I’m a grown ass lady but it’s comfortable! Tell me I’m not the only one?!

Brian and Winston totally get along (once we were setting up to watch a movie in bed and I went into the kitchen to get a water and when I came back, Brian had the laptop all set up and was sitting up with Winston sitting right beside him, like he, too was joining us for the movie and I died because Brian is so cute and weird and funny) and the poor bear has seen some things he can’t unsee if you know what I mean, unless he’s into watching, that dirty bear! But still, it’s just not normal to bring a stuffed animal into your wonen samen bed, is it? It’s not!

But I feel bad just abandoning him in the guest room (or the office! Check me out I have multiple rooms!) (ha I am the worst). I know that most people have long since weaned themselves off of their childhood talismans, leaving them catching dust in parents' attics or childhood bedrooms, but Winston has been with me for the long haul and putting him away somewhere seems so…final. Like, this is it, you’re a grown-up now. Get on the big girl bus, next stop: menopause.

And now see… I think I AM freaking out about the big move! I’m just projecting all of my anxieties onto sadness over my teddy bear, which, upon further reflection, is mildly insane. But what can you do? We all panic in our own special and unique ways.

So that's what's up, friends! Thank you for reading this 83 paragraph essay about my teddy bear, this started as something so much more profound and took a pretty weird turn. In addition to the big changes, I'm coming off the nutsoist week and basically haven't slept in 10 days. If I don't shut this down now, who KNOWS where it might go.

The end, for now. This big adventure is actually just beginning! I promise I'll do my best to make it slightly more interesting next time. Hoping you all have the most magical weekends. Don't forget to hydrate!

winston

PS here is a cute picture of Winston tucked into my bed. True Life: I Am 28 And Play With Stuffed Animals.

 

A Cohabitation Proclamation

Summer is upon us, friends. Do you have any big travel plans? I’ve got a few weddings in the works (always) always and the possibility of a late August camping trip of some kind (sure to be ripe for blog material), but the majority of my summer will be consumed - physically, emotionally and especially financially - by moving. My lease on my beloved apartment in Brooklyn is up July 31 and I’m moving out of one of the best NYC apartments I’ve encountered yet. And why? So I can shack up with a handsome new roommate.

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That’s right. We’re taking the plunge. Well, not the big one, but the small modern, sinful step of pre-marital cohabitation. So maybe we're not at the plunge (yet!), but we’re definitely climbing up the diving board ladder.

I’m excited! Neither of us has ever lived in sin with a significant other before, so it’s a serious step, for both of us. And not one I’m taking lightly. I don’t judge anyone’s decisions to live how or where or with whom they please, but I know for a lot of people, cohabitation is a matter of convenience or a test to see if they’ll work it out for the long term but for me, and for the B-Man (I never call him that. Why did I just call him that?) is more just the next step in our big adventure together. It is important to me that the man I move in with ... I can't just move out from. We know that anything can happen but barring any unknowns, starting August 1, we’ll be eternal roomies.

A prospect both terrifying and exhilarating. Mostly exhilarating.

When I studied abroad in Belgium, which, have I even discussed that here? I should. Most of our stories are NSFB (Not Safe For Blogging), let’s just say we were never ever on our best behavior, but there are probably a few tales I could tell. Anyway, while abroad, we had to take a year long Dutch language class, a language which has come in handy exactly zero point zero times since, maybe until now. In Belgium and a lot of European countries, it’s not unusual for couples to live together for years before getting married, if ever getting married, even having children together. The Dutch have a special verb for this “wonen samen”, which translates into a phrase we don’t necessarily have words for in the English language: an unmarried couple living together.

I love that Dutch term and wish we had one similar. This morning while filling out paperwork with a realtor I had to list how many people would be in the apartment, two, and our relationship. “Boyfriend and Girlfriend” sounds trivial. “Partners” makes me think of those very intensely non traditional, liberal, artistic couples who wear a lot of scarves and live together for years but never marry and more power to ‘em, but calling Brian my partner, though he is, just doesn’t sound right for us. Special Roommates? Bed Buddies?

A problem, I know, that would be solved were we doing this the old fashioned “right” way by marrying first, then moving in, which, again, is a totally legitimate decision, if you choose to make it...but not the one that feels right for us. Or for for nearly half of the American population, so I do think we need some new vocab for the situation.

Any suggestions? As seen above, mine are pretty terrible!

Despite this huge number of pre-marital roomateships, many people still frown heavily upon it and we’re lucky that neither of our parents fall into that camp. I think they’d all wish the rings we’re about to share were for fingers, rather than house keys, but are supportive of our decisions, giving the oh-so-parental responses of “wellll, you’re adults and I guess that’s just how things are done these days.”

Indeed!

And so, here we are, gearing up to make this big step together. Before we can actually cohabitate, we'll need, you know, a habitat.  How’s it going, so far? Not great. We rushed out Sunday morning to make it to an open house...only to learn the landlord thought it was for a different day, and wasn’t able to show. We then rearranged the remainder of our day to meet a broker at 3 PM for a few showings...and he blew us off.

So, yeah, things are off to a bang up start over here. But I remain optimistic. My anxiety is on hyperdrive and my fingernails are chewed to nil, already, but I’m optimistic.

And how could I not be? In just over a month, I’m going to get to wake up next to this face every day.

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Barf times one million, but I can’t help myself! I'm pumped. There are practical things that excite me about living together - no more lugging overnight bags to each others’ apartments, no more having to pack multiple lunches for days I won’t be at home to cook or having to split up Saturday mornings to run home and grab that one thing I need before meeting back up again for the day, more cooking for two. So mostly food and fashion related. What else would I care about?

But on the non-practical, overwhelmingly emotional side, I’m just very happy at the thought of sharing and building a home together. Waking up next to each other every morning and then going to sleep together at night. Coming home late nights to each other, cooking together, making decisions as a team.

Barf times one million and two.

Despite a cynical streak a mile wide, it turns out, I’m really kind of a hopeless romantic.

That said, I’m still a little nervous. Er, a lot nervous. I know we’ll have new things to fight about and challenges we never even could have imagined. If anyone out there has any tips on successful cohabitation, I’d LOVE to hear them. Specifically in regards to taking on joint finances when one of you is a responsible, practical math nerd and the other is a fiscal trainwreck with mountains of debt and a penchant for blowing all of their earnings on nail polish and organic nutbutters.

$10 (worth of nail polish) to the first person to correctly guess which one of us is which.

It’s going to be an adventure, without a doubt, but I think it will be a great one.

Now we just need a home to shack up in. Ack!