Real Wedding: Laura and Michael
Michael and I were dating for almost 9 years when he proposed. The year before he proposed I “ruined Christmas” because I thought he was proposing that year and he didn’t. Needless to say, it made for a very awkward holiday that year. He knows I’m a huge Disney fan and I LOVE Mickey Mouse and Pluto, so he found this as a “decoy” Christmas gift for Christmas 2008. I had thought that he might propose that year, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up as I was disappointed the year before and Michael had recently gotten laid off from his job. So, during an intense game of Rock Band, Michael asked when we were exchanging Christmas gifts and told me mine was under the tree. It was a beautiful hand-crafted Disney centerpiece with Mickey Mouse and Pluto riding a sleigh. I opened it and wasn’t thinking for a second that there would be a ring coming soon after. Now a little back story. We had recently moved into our new house, and we were using a spare bedroom for storage. A friend of ours had spent the night the day before, so while I was at work, Michael cleared out the bedroom so we could accommodate our friend. Little did he know, his Christmas gift was in a box in that bedroom's closet. When I went to get Michael's gift out of the closet, I noticed he had piled all of boxes that were being stored in the bedroom on top of the box with his gift in the closet! I asked him to help me move the boxes, and as he put one of the boxes down, it had a ring box on it. I stopped in my tracks, saw the box, and said 'What's that???' Michael told me it was nothing. I responded with 'No seriously, what is it.' He told me to open it myself and find out.
I opened it and immediately said 'Are you serious???' Michael said no and took it back. He took the ring out of the box, and began to put it on my finger, but I noticed he was putting it on my right hand! I quickly corrected him, and after he put the ring on the correct finger, I started hugging and kissing him. It was then that he suddenly said 'So you haven't answered me.' My response was 'You haven't asked me anything.' He looked me dead in the eye and said....'So, you wanna?'
We knew we wanted to do something relatively casual for our engagement party, and since Michael loves brunch, we figured it would be a perfect choice. We had it at The Rockville Links Country Club, where my father has been a member for over 30 years. My father was pushing for us to get married there, but since we’ve had several family functions there (including my high school graduation, my grandparent’s 50th anniversary party, and Easter dinner every year) I knew I wanted someplace different. So we compromised and decided to have our engagement party there. They have a private room in the back for smaller parties, which was perfect for our 50 people. Then they opened the doors to the next room over and served brunch buffet there. It was a perfect setup. The food was great and the service was outstanding. We couldn’t have wanted anything more. They even catered to Michael’s special request of having tator tots at brunch. Of course, we also wanted to acknowledge our guests and thank them for their generosity. We didn’t want to spend too much on favors, and I had recently met Jeanne from A Fresh Approach (formerly known as Morgan’s Bay Confections) at a bridal expo. My mother and I tasted her truffles and were in heaven. We brought their information home and when it was time to start thinking of engagement party favors, I knew exactly where to go. My mother and I met with Jeanne at their store in Bay Shore, and she sat us down with a platter full of truffles. Again, for two chocolate fanatics, we were in heaven. Jeanne worked with us on creating the perfect favor – three chocolate truffles and three solid chocolate hearts all in a plastic jar with a red ribbon and a label with my and Michael’s names and wedding date. It was well within our budget and Jeanne even sent us home with two pounds of chocolates at the end of our meeting! Since that day Jeanne and I have maintained contact, and I refer anyone who is looking for chocolates to A Fresh Approach.
Other special features and highlights leading to my 'Big Day' included:
My Bridal Shower My mom and MIL apparently looked at numerous places for my shower and finally decided on Palmer’s. It’s literally two minutes from my house and we had only been there once ever for dinner. So for them to throw the shower there was a complete surprise. They did a brunch buffet and everything was phenomenal. It was actually the weekend of the HUGE thunderstorms we had out here where people lost power for a few days. But they made it work and were extremely helpful when it came to loading up the car.
My Bachelorette Party My bachelorette party had potential to be a complete disaster. There was a TON of drama surrounding it and it had gotten to the point where I almost wanted the girls to call the whole thing off and just stay at home with a couple of bottles of wine. But I have to say, the day of, my girls came through big time. We started with pizza, sandwiches, and drinks at my house. Next we went to the Awesome 80’s Prom which was absolutely hilarious. I’m an 80’s prodigy and LOVE everything 80’s, so this was perfect for me. Then when that was over, we went into Webster Hall for a bit and then ended the night singing karaoke at some small karaoke bar. The funniest part though was my mom snuck in the back of the limo as we were leaving. She scared the ever living crap out of us but it was hysterical. We drove around the block and then dropped her off before heading on our way. The girls used Camelot for our limo and our driver Richie, was so awesome that I requested for him to drive for our wedding too.
I knew as one of my wedding gifts to Michael, I wanted to get him a specialty groom’s cake for our rehearsal dinner. There is a running joke in his family about a dinosaur cake that his mother used to make for him as a child. Recently, the “dino-cake” has resurfaced, and every year now he asks for it for his birthday again. I was torn on his groom’s cake however, because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a “dino-cake” to go along with the running joke, or something Dallas Cowboys themed (his favorite football team), or X-Box related (he’s a major gamer). Well I found Brian at Sweet Karma bakery in East Meadow and he took all three ideas and combined them into one amazing cake: A T-Rex, wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey and hat, playing X-Box. Michael and all of our guests at our rehearsal dinner got such a kick out of it. It was worth every penny just to see the look on his face when we brought it out!
Another special gift I wanted to give Michael was something special, just for him...and that's when I decided on boudoir photos. Boudoir pictures were something I learned about on LIW. I found out about girls doing them and had been very hesitant to do them myself. I am very self-conscious and usually don’t even like to wear a bathing suit in front of people. However, I began thinking more and more about it, and realized that if I’m ever going to do them, now was the time. I lost a lot of weight (around 50 pounds) three years ago, and have been much more (though not completely) confident in myself. I also realized this was something that Michael would NEVER expect from me, as he knows the self-image issues that I have. I finally became set on doing them, when a friend of mine that I made here on LIW contacted me about doing them together in a group. I thought it was perfect. There was no way I’d get through it alone, so doing it with a group of girls I’m comfortable around would be best. There are three girls that I’ve met on LIW that I’ve become extremely close with, and we decided we would drive to Kamila Harris’ Philadelphia studio and all get boudoir pics taken. I told Michael I was going to an LIW Bridal Expo in the city and was going to be gone all day. Well it was SO much fun. We all made a day trip out of it, drove to Philly, and had such a good time. We cheered each other on and were so supportive of one another. A few glasses of wine and champagne didn’t hurt either. When I finally got my proofs back, I was blown away. I couldn’t believe how great they had all come out. In some of the pictures, I couldn’t even believe it was me. I’m so glad I did them, and they made for such a wonderful wedding gift.
While our wedding was certainly special and unique to us, I don’t think I ever really had a “theme.” I just knew it had to be dramatic, romantic, sparkly, and have that “WOW” factor. I also wanted people to be able to look back and remember it apart from other weddings they’ve been to. Every detail of the wedding was meant for people to look at and say “wow.”
It began with the color. My favorite color is dark red. I love it. To me, red says dramatic, passionate, romantic, and yet classy and timeless. That is exactly the look I was going for. It started with my flowers. I wanted nothing but red roses everywhere. My bouquet was to be a solid ball of red roses with crystal stems and a crystal wrap. I wanted it to stand out against my white gown, not blend in. The same with my centerpieces. My florist laughed at me when I told him all I wanted were big balls of red roses. He said he could do things so much more complicated. I told him absolutely not – just red roses. I don’t like any other flowers. Originally, we toyed with the idea of having half high and half low centerpieces. My florist told me it was in my budget to do all high if I wanted to. I asked his suggestion, and he asked what I wanted people to say when they walked in. I gave him the one word – WOW – and he told me in that case we had to go with all high centerpieces.
I paired the red with black and hints of silver throughout. I opted for ivory table linens with black napkins and a stemless red rose against each black napkin for that extra “little touch.” My bridesmaids wore red dresses with a rhinestone brooch and silver shoes and Michael’s groomsmen wore standard black and white tuxes.
As for my invitations, I had initially thought that fancy invitations were out of my budget. I was so hesitant however, to go with a standard white wedding invitation because they are so common. I wanted to be different. I was lucky enough to find a vendor who was wonderful to work with, and made me custom invitations in my budget. Again, I wanted my guests to open the invitation and realize that this was going to be a dramatic event. We agreed a silver pocket-fold with a black ribbon, a rhinestone slide, and hints of red would do the trick.
When I was 9 years old, my older sister got married and had the “big Italian wedding.” From that day on, I knew I wanted the same. It began of course, with the dress. I wanted to be a princess. All of my life I wanted to be a princess on my wedding day. From the second I started looking at wedding gowns, I knew it had to be a ball gown with a cathedral train, and LOTS of detailing. My mother kept encouraging me to look at more simple gowns, which is exactly what I tried on at first. They were mostly A-line, with some detailing. But none of them hit me. Until I found my Eve of Milady gown and fell in love. The second I saw it on the hanger, I told the saleswoman “Now THAT’S what I’m talking about!” I stepped out of the dressing room, and it had it – my WOW factor. Actually I believe that’s exactly what my mother said when I walked out in it. It was unbelievable, and I knew it was the one.
With a June wedding, I wanted my girls to feel as comfortable as possible. I opted for floor length chiffon gowns in hopes they wouldn’t be too hot. When we started looking, I took my two sisters (MOH’s), and my SIL only. I knew if I brought all seven girls we wouldn’t get anywhere. They tried on upwards of around 50 dresses between the three of them and narrowed it down to two. I emailed pictures of both dresses to the rest of the girls and had them vote. The winner was Jasmine Belsoie’s L1009 and the color was Berry. The dress, while beautiful, was very plain with absolutely no detailing. I knew with the amount of detailing on my gown, the girls needed some to compliment. I bought them each a rhinestone brooch from Tri-County to wear on the right side of their dress, just where the dress’ sash began. It looked perfect.
We found my mom's dress at Totally You and it was gorgeous. She tried it on in black, but when we saw another sample in the Mushroom color, we knew that was it. It looked beautiful on my mother’s skin tone and complimented the red bridesmaid dresses perfectly.
Besides wanting to look like a princess, I wouldn’t really say I had a “look” I was going for. I wanted to look like myself, only slightly more dramatic. I wear makeup every day, so it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for me.
I’ve been going to Lisa at Fox & Company Salon and Spa for over 10 years now, so it was a no-brainer that she’d be the one doing my hair the day of. I don’t trust anyone else with my hair. I went for a trial about a month before the wedding, and we tried out three different styles. On the third one, she nailed it. Lisa knows me, my personality, and exactly how I like my hair done, so it was easy. On the day of, I was extremely happy with my hair and couldn’t believe the curls held in all night.
Again, since I’ve been going to Fox & Company for years, it was assumed I’d be getting my makeup done there as well. Wendy was awesome. I went for a trial with her the same day as my hair trial, and she nailed it immediately. The only change was that she was going to put a darker lipstick on than she did for the trial. It came out perfect and stayed the entire night. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
When Michael and I were both little we used to go to the old Nunley’s amusement park in Baldwin all of the time. It was part of our childhoods. My sisters used to take me, and his parents used to take him. It was closed about 20 years ago and the carousel was broken down and all of the horses were auctioned off. About a year before we got engaged, an elementary school girl began petitioning to have the carousel restored and she won! When I found out they had restored the carousel and put it over on Museum Row, I knew right away that’s where I wanted us to take pictures. I called up and apparently I was the first to ever call about wedding pictures, because they didn’t even know what to tell me. We finally agreed on a price and did all of the paperwork via mail. They were friendly and very accommodating.
The day of, we had so much fun over there. Unfortunately, it was a hot and humid day, and since they didn’t have air conditioning, we didn’t stay for too long. But we all got to ride the carousel for a bit and it made for some absolutely amazing pictures.
Michael and I knew from the second we walked in, that The North Ritz Club was where we were going to have our wedding. We had gone to a few other places, but came home with a ton of “what ifs.” We didn’t have that with NRC. The gorgeous ballroom with the inset mahogany bar, the alcove for the band, the separate cocktail hour room, the outdoor patio, and the HUGE bridal suite all had us sold immediately. We met with Maryann and she was a complete sweetheart. She gave us a tour of the place, sat with us, and went over pricing. She even threw in the Viennese Hour (an extra $10pp) for free! We asked for the available dates, and went on our way, but I knew as we left that we’d be booking there. We wanted to book the church first however, so I made an appointment with my priest that weekend. Maryann said she’d hold the date for us until the end of the weekend when we could get the ok from the church. We went to the church, booked the date, and immediately called NRC back to book it. We went in the following weekend with my dad and my in-laws to show them and book it. Everyone fell in love when they walked in.
In February, while looking at my invitations, I realized NRC had changed their address (big long story). I called up complaining that I had already gotten my invitations made with the old address and now needed to get new inserts. I was then working with Nadine and she offered to reimburse me for the new inserts, and I was satisfied.
We went for a tasting in March and were thrilled with our choice at NRC. The food was absolutely wonderful. In May we went for our meeting with George to discuss the details of the wedding and pick our menu. He was awesome. He threw in an upgraded station at the cocktail hour and added a Martini Luge! In addition, DH was set on having our ice sculpture be the Incredible Hulk. So we brought George a poster and he told us he’d have it done.
The day of……they were ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. George had everything taken care of, and the Hulk ice sculpture was AMAZING. They had a ton of CH (cocktail hour) food waiting in the bridal suite for us, so we all went up to eat a bit before going out to take pictures. While we were taking pictures, our guests began arriving early, so they opened CH a half hour early. Monica, the bridal attendant was phenomenal. She was always a stone’s throw away throughout the entire night. As soon as we arrived, she sat me down with a napkin and prepared two plates of CH food for me. Then she prepared one for DH when he finally decided to come up. She carried my train around while we were taking pictures, and then helped my MOH bustle my dress. She even held my dress up while I went to the bathroom!!!!!!
The days following the wedding, we received a ton of phone calls about how great everything was, including the food. Specifically, people couldn’t get over the VH.
The worst part of this whole thing for me was picking out favors. It took me about 6 months to find something I was happy with. I wanted something practical, unique, functional, yet still affordable. I didn’t want to waste money on something I thought people would just throw out or chuck in a drawer. I had originally seen an adorable cheeseboard and knife set, but it happened to be discontinued. Fast forward, I found two more, and they were both also discontinued. Finally I found yet another one, but it they were $10 each and really tiny. I was on the verge of giving up when my mother and I went to the Christmas Tree Shoppe in the Deer Park Outlets one day. We were browsing around when suddenly my mother came across a display rack with 12” glass pizza server and cutter sets. They were absolutely adorable and came in two different designs. One design I really didn’t like, but the other caught my eye. The catch - I needed 130 of them! So I brought one to the front desk to ask if they had boxes of them in the back. Unfortunately they didn’t. So I asked if I could order them. I couldn’t. I was told that whatever was on the floor was it. So I grabbed two shopping carts, and my mother and I literally got down on our hands and knees in the middle of the store, and managed to find 133 of these pizza sets all in the design I liked! People were stopping us like crazy asking why we were buying so many. We must’ve looked like lunatics! We finally pushed our ridiculously heavy carts up to the checkout and went to the customer service desk. We explained to the cashier that we had 130 of them in the carts, and she could either believe us or count them all. She immediately said “I’ll take your word for it.” They even had the shipping/receiving guys bring us some empty boxes to help load into my truck. The best part……..they were only $4 each!!!
Because my objective was having a WOW factor, I went ahead and invested in every possible extra. We had the monogrammed napkins and matchbooks. I made bathroom baskets, slipper baskets, out-of-town bags, and boxes for guests to bring pastries home from the VH. We even had shuttle service to/from the hotel, an after party at the hotel and the brunch the next morning. But I would have to say (though I hate to admit it) the most special feature we had was the Incredible Hulk ice sculpture at the cocktail hour. It started as a joke because Michael didn’t want two doves or a heart as an ice sculpture. I could’ve sworn the people at NRC were going to laugh in his face when he told them, but they made it happen. And it was green!
There is so much about our day that I remember. I remember tensing up as I was about to walk down the aisle. I remember Michael’s first words to me at the altar (“very subtle dear”). I remember telling him “Stop It!” while I was saying my vows because he was making faces at me. I remember how my husband almost fell in the mud while taking pictures. But most of all, I remember our first dance. Michael hates to dance and hates being the center of attention, so this was HUGE. He even took dance lessons with me (though we screwed up the choreography). But it’s incredible how even though you’re surrounded by 200 people, it’s like it’s just you and your new husband up there.
I got the best piece of advice from another LIW bride via text the morning of my wedding: Once you’ve had your first kiss and you’re pronounced husband and wife, before walking down the aisle just stop for a second and look. All of those people are there for you and your husband, to celebrate your love for one another. I’m so happy she sent me that text. I made Michael stop for a second before we walked back down and it was the best thing we could’ve done.
Also, make sure to have fun and enjoy your night! It goes by so quickly. Michael spent so much of the night trying to talk with everyone that he barely remembers anything. I on the other hand decided to let him finish talking while I got up on the dance floor and danced the night away. I had SO much fun and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.