Monday, October 25, 2010

Love recognizes no barriers. 
It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls 
to arrive at it destination full of hope. 

Please view the slideshow of Christina and Charlie's amazing wedding photos here:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

We did it!  We managed to weave together an assortment of disconnected people, vendors, ideas and preparations into one glorious day full of laughter, love, emotion and the satisfying sensation of completing a (sometimes grueling/foot blistering/exhausting) marathon in first place.

Every single thing was lovely, the food was delicious, the cake was amazing, and the toasts that were given were heart-felt and sincere, inspiring much laughter and many tears.  Even the ornery, cranky and potentially troublesome relatives with axes to grind behaved themselves which is a good thing because there was an arsenal of helpful friends and family ready to hustle anyone who stepped out of line into the lobby for a little reality check.

 When I was eight years old, and very ill with a high fever, I dreamed that an Angel came to my bedside and told me that I needed to stay on Earth because I had so many wonderful things to look forward to in this life.  It was only later that I realized that this Angel in my dream was the spirit of my beautiful daughter, Christina, asking me to be her mother.

What was not revealed in this dream was the love and laughter that we would share, the bridges that we would help each other cross, the tears, the lessons and all of the many ways she would help me to heal the old wounds in my heart.

I am so pleased that in her 24th year, Christina married the man of her dreams.  I could see on her face as she walked down the aisle and met Charlie’s eyes the trust, the loyalty, the balance and the pure love that both of them share.

This day was truly one of the most profound blessings in my life and I am grateful for each and every moment of it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Some thoughts on the day before Christina’s wedding:

 A year’s worth of planning, ordering, shopping and arranging is about to culminate tomorrow.  Family is arriving from other states and the excitement is building, leaving us all feeling joyful, but exhausted. 

Thank heavens I had the foresight to attend to most of the details by now…..except for one……the seating chart, which I have managed to procrastinate until the absolute last moment.

This has been a worrisome element due to the old feuds percolating between certain family members who would still (after 23 years) consider mixing it up in a cage match if given half a chance. 

I believe that I have figured out an acceptable seating arrangement so that the troublesome factions will be separated by 40 other (reasonably happy) people and a cake table.  Who can possibly be in a bad mood when there’s a delicious dessert to consider?  Cake:  the great equalizer and soother of ragged nerves.

 The rehearsal is tonight, and the folks in question will come together for the first time in many years.  I suspect that most of them will be on good behavior while at the venue practicing tomorrow’s events, but the real test will be the dinner afterwards when the liquor begins to flow and boundaries are tested.

 I have been asked repeatedly if I am drinking more these days to manage stress levels and calm my nerves, and I have to say that it’s never been my way to douse my emotions with alcohol.  I would much rather put on some beloved movie I’ve seen a million times and curl up on the couch with a gigantic bowl of ice cream.  If Karl Marx were living today, he might agree that religion is not the opiate of the people…..but fatty, sugary junk food IS.

 Christina’s bridesmaids took her to San Francisco for her bachelorette party where she was treated to a lap dance by a large, black transvestite in a skimpy maid’s costume.  Christina looked adorable in her bachelorette head gear:  a veil with a multitude of purple plastic penises dangling from it.  I am positive that her children will get great enjoyment from seeing these photographs one day…..

Thursday, September 30, 2010

8 days until the wedding!

Is it getting hot in here???

Emotions are creeping up on me at odd times again….every commercial or scene in a movie featuring a happy bride is triggering tears, it seems.  Christina and Charlie got their marriage license last week and I became misty about that; a dear friend sent the kids a fabulous wedding gift and my eyes welled up unexpectedly.
Woven into the stress and planning and appointments and juggling of funds from one account to another, there is this powerful wave of love that washes over everything and reminds me of what this day is all about…the joy of two people beginning their life together.

I feel really grateful to be a part of all of this, especially when I vividly remember not wanting my own mother to be involved in either of my weddings.  Our relationship was never close….it was more of a polite indifference, actually.  But now here I am, knee-deep in Christina’s happy day, and I couldn’t feel more fortunate that I didn’t repeat the patterns of my biological beginnings.

The lady who is charging more for the alterations than we paid for the wedding dress tried to get into my wallet again (CASH ONLY!) by attempting to sell Christina on an $80 corset at her recent dress fitting.  Immediately upon hearing this, I insisted that we go to Kohl’s to see if we could do better, which we did…$40 for something much more versatile that she can wear under other dresses (which she couldn’t have done with the pricey little confection made especially to be worn under a wedding gown).

I left Kohl’s feeling exceedingly triumphant!

Somewhere along the way, the price for the reception dinner crept up to $65 per plate.  I got this news the same day that two different people (finally) sent back their response cards including extra guests they thought would like to come along to a wedding.  I had to put the hammer down on that nonsense right away.  Once again, I am stunned by the lack of common sense and consideration.  Apparently, understanding the etiquette of an invitation is a lost art, and if you feel like bringing a few neighbors and your gardener, well, why not?  Free dinner and alcohol for everyone!

If you have not seen this movie, do make it a point to rent it sometime:
It was made in 1950 (with an impossibly gorgeous Elizabeth Taylor at the height of her popularity), but (much like my 1950s etiquette book) all of the humorous situations still hold true to this day.  I am apparently playing the Spencer Tracy role, because I have found myself uttering the same sentiments and outrage as the Father of the Bride did 60 years ago!

There is but one major task left, and that is the dreaded seating chart.  I must keep in mind that there are family feuds still actively simmering, ex-wives who despise one another, crabby and unpredictable  grandparents who have no filter between what they think and what they say and are thrilled to express displeasure about anything and everything.  There are half-siblings who are not on good terms with one another and those who have issued strict mandates about who they will and will not sit next to.

 All of this must be taken into account while arranging sixty people for dinner.  I briefly toyed with the notion of dosing the water glasses with hefty hits of Prozac or Xanax to help these folks mellow out, but who needs a lawsuit at this stage of the game? 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

20 days until the wedding!

I’m proud of myself so far (note the ominous caveat, leaving the door open for future emotional mud slides and tight-jawed diatribes).  

I have calmly overlooked shameless markups on assorted items and services, I have breezed over tense moments in the planning process and taken lots of deep, calming breaths when certain family members began making troublesome noises about seating arrangements and hierarchy status.

I serenely consult my 1950s etiquette book remembering that weddings happen every day,  that they involve human beings, and as such, are never perfect.  At particular moments, I envision myself having a marvelous, carefree time; at other moments, I can see how easy it would be for me to slip into General Contractor mode, barking instructions angrily through a bull horn while brandishing a highly-electrified cattle prod, intent on zapping anyone who dares to muddy the waters of Christina’s day.

Beware, potential troublemakers……

 To all the Mothers of the Brides who came before me, I salute you!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

30 days until the wedding!

And high time for a grouchy rant.  
What on earth has taken me this long??

 1.      Original idealistic intentions for strict diet and exercise routine have fallen by the wayside.  

Am now faced with the horrific reality of having to look at myself in wedding photos until the end of time while recalling in vivid, Technicolor detail, my carefree consumption of ice cream, potato chips and hamburgers when I should have been daintily nibbling on lettuce leaves and bran flakes.  

Jenny Craig will probably hunt me down and force me into some kind of dietary concentration camp until I learn my lesson.   This hellacious purgatory will no doubt include plenty of Sweatin’ to the Oldies while a butch drill sergeant named Pat berates me for my indulgent indiscretions and shames me to tears over my pants size as I Jazzercise my way into a hypoglycemic coma.

2.     Alterations on wedding gown actually exceed cost of wedding gown.  A jaw-dropping moment as hilarious and fun-filled dress fitting at the home of the alterations lady suddenly screeches to a halt when she announces with a straight face that the minimal alterations needed will run approximately $400.  

We are forced to sign a contract and promise to pay in cash only.  Words failed me, which was probably a good thing, because the alternative was to schlep Christina and her dress to other alteration places around the county until we found a better deal.  Which may or may not have happened.  Who has the time and/or patience at this point?  Pay the lady and assume that she is padding a secret retirement fund with the spoils of her lucrative racket.  I will no doubt see her on a future episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, sipping cocktails on her yacht which I unwittingly helped pay for.

3.     R.S.V.P. cards slowly trickling in, despite the clearly printed return-by date of September 10th.  Visions of hours spent on the telephone calling people I don’t know dance through my head.  

Terrifying thoughts of hastily assembling a seating chart the night before the wedding makes my blood run cold (taking into consideration the assorted extended family members who refuse to sit next to, look at or acknowledge the existence of one another).  No wonder logical people hire wedding coordinators to manage this nonsense.

4.     After viewing the wine list at the reception venue (in which the least expensive bottle of white wine is priced at $28), we toss around the idea of bringing in a few cases of our own wine, namely the “Two-buck Chuck” made popular by Trader Joe’s grocery stores.  Check with catering manager and learn that the “corkage fee”, “serving fee” and “tax” for us to import our own booze will be……drum roll……$20 per bottle.  It becomes apparent that the venue has figured all of this out long ago, and is not in business to make our lives any easier or less expensive.

5.     Shoes.  Exactly when the hell did my feet spread out, making it necessary to search high and low for footwear selections in the WIDE range?  I flirt momentarily with my original plan to don a tent-like caftan and shower shoes and play the role of the mentally-challenged mother of the bride, briefly on hiatus from the asylum.  Guests will begin sentences with things like, “Poor Christina…..”  and speak in hushed, careful tones around me. 

I think I need a vacation…….

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

39 days until the wedding!

Another hurdle has been successfully jumped!  Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I was able to browse hundreds of dresses before settling on two appropriate choices from Nordstrom.  I tried both of them on for Christina and she chose her favorite….a lovely black dress with a beaded bodice and flowing below-the-knee length skirt….perfect for the mother of the bride who does not wish to make a bold fashion statement or call attention to her figure (such as it is). 
 There are no feathers, ribbons, bows or frothy lace.  
It is not dowdy or matronly.
It’s just right!

Speaking of dresses, here’s another true story from my days as an event coordinator:
 I had been working with a bride and her mother for months, making sure that all of the preparations for the wedding ceremony and reception were in place.  During our many meetings, I noticed that as the wedding day drew closer, the mother of the bride was becoming increasingly emotional and agitated, picking fights with her daughter about flower arrangements, seating charts and what the sunlight would look like in the photographs if the ceremony went too long.  The list of her worries seemed to be growing by the day, and as was typical for my job description, I was more of a peace-keeper/negotiator/calming voice of reason than an event planner.

I kept a careful eye on the bride, who seemed to be doing a lot of eye-rolling and biting back of her comments as her mother went over her checklist of concerns at each meeting.  It was apparent that this bride was in the passenger seat of her own wedding, and mother was steering the bus in frustrating little circles all over the map.

Little did I know the true dynamics behind all of this drama…..but I was about to receive a startling education on some of the stark and unpleasant realities of human nature.

 It was the afternoon of the wedding and the guests began arriving at the Inn for the ceremony which was to take place outdoors in the garden by the river.  Some family members trickled in, the groom and his best man arrived and as the time of the wedding grew closer, I began to wonder where the bride and her mother were.  Just as I was beginning to become truly concerned about staying on schedule, I saw a woman approaching in a very low-cut white lace dress and hat with a short veil.  From a distance, I assumed it was the bride, but as she got closer, I saw with horror that it was her mother, smiling sweetly, greeting guests and pulling the groom by the hand to meet relatives from Kansas.

As I watched, it became apparent that mother had a real thing for the groom.  She was flirting and giggling, clutching tightly onto his arm as she tried to totter around the garden in her too-high heels that were sinking into the soft grass.

 After observing this spectacle for a few minutes, I went to the lobby to see if the bride was there, waiting for the ceremony to begin.  Indeed she was, standing silently in her lovely dress (also white lace) and short veil with a pinched look on her face that confirmed everything I suspected…..she had not known beforehand what her mother was going to wear or that she was going to do her level best to out-shine her daughter on her wedding day.  No wonder those pre-wedding planning sessions had been such an uphill climb….mother was determined to have this event be all about HER….and since she was without a husband at this point in her life, her daughter’s fiancĂ©e would do quite nicely, thank you very much.

The ceremony proceeded as the bride and groom agreed to be wedlocked in holy matrimony, and all the while, mother was dabbing tears from her eyes with her gaze riveted on the handsome groom, nodding as the minister was delivering his words of loving wisdom and silently mouthing the words “I do” along with her daughter as she spoke her vows.  From where I stood on the sideline, I could see this entire disturbing scenario unfolding and grew increasingly uncomfortable at the thought of what was going to happen at the reception as the champagne flowed and decorum was tossed aside like yesterday’s underwear.

 Because it was a small wedding, the seating arrangement for dinner was informal.  Mother had somehow convinced her daughter that she should sit on the other side of the groom during the meal…..and to the casual observer, it would have appeared that this young man just married two women in nearly identical dresses, except for the fact that mother had chosen to show off her ample bosom with an inappropriately plunging neckline.

The liquor flowed freely and mother rapidly switched gears from champagne to wine to shots of tequila, barely touching her meal.  The bride was doing her best to ignore her mother who was tickling the groom’s neck with a long-stemmed rose and making what appeared to be naughty comments into his ear when nobody was looking. 

The problem was that EVERYONE was looking. 

 The relatives from Kansas tried to distract mother by pulling her off of the groom and offering her cups of hot coffee.  The groom’s father (who had been consuming far too many martinis) decided to get into the act by doing his rendition of dirty dancing with the bride’s mother while his own wife took long walks outside “to get some fresh air”. 
It was quite unsettling to observe these goings-on, but I was marginally comforted by the fact that this ugly spectacle would have to move to another venue NOT overseen by me at 10:00 p.m. when the Inn closed for the night.

I lost count of how many times mother mischievously clinked her own glass with a spoon and then kissed the groom….not quite on the lips, but close enough.  The bride wore the disenchanted look of someone who knew she would never win the war but was expected to show up for battle, anyway. 

I was never really sure how the groom felt about all of this attention from his new mother-in-law, but I can tell you that he didn’t seem to be resisting her advances very strongly.  There was much gossip and whispering amongst the guests about this frightening show of affection, but no one ever stepped forward to put a stop to it.

I don’t know what became of these people.  Mother’s credit card went through, and the event was successfully paid for that night, so I had no need to follow up after the wedding.  To this day, I am an adamant supporter of the rule that the ONLY one who is allowed to wear white to a wedding is the bride!