Kegs & Kickball

A wedding day is often an emotion-fueled enterprise idling around one word: Preparation.

Hair. Make-up. Last minute details. So you have all of these special people in your life in this one place to celebrate with you, but you can’t spend any time with them because you’re busy getting ready all day. I rejected that.

As I’ve already mentioned, Sam and I were adamant about enjoying our wedding day – the entire thing! We had family and friends gathered in one place, so we thought it would be fun to get everyone involved in some friendly competition and go Goettlich v. Semon one final time before we became The Abbys.

Unfortunately it turns out that we have some seriously competitive friends … and a few on either side who like to bend the rules. We discovered some new heroes among us and most importantly, we had a ton of fun. View this slideshow to check out some fun kickball pics. It hurts to admit that in the end Team Goettlich won, but Team Semon put up a good fight … even if most of our team spent more time at the keg than in the field.

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Unsolicited Advice

Hi All. As you may have noticed my blog posts have been few and far between lately. This post-wedding life of mine is busy with some serious stuff but mostly fun stuff, and I am patiently waiting for wedding photos and a wedding video as I prepare for my first holiday season as a wife. I have a wife and I am a wife! I will continue to divulge all of the glorious details from our wedding, so don’t you worry.

Something special I’ve gained from blogging is learning how remarkably easy it is to relate to each other. I’m in a same-sex relationship and I live in New York City, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t relate to every other girl out there who is maybe in her twenties, married or single, trying to answer this question: Just where did I think I would be as I approach thirty?

I learned so much while planning my wedding, and with a whole slew of friends planning 2014 nuptials I am trying to give only solicited advice. It’s not always easy, but I never want to be the girl who asks a friend about her  wedding planning only to interrupt two seconds into her squealing to talk about my own. So I’m trying. I don’t know if I’m succeeding. I just have so much advice to give on dress shopping, music, and what I learned about writing vows. But I enjoyed learning all of this as I went, and I’m thrilled to watch as some of my closest friends get to do the same. Of course I love sending them endless wedding jewelry ideas and it’s true, I’ve taken a few girls wedding dress shopping in the past few months (My fav!).

So since I have no self-control, today here are my top five little tiny pearls of wedding planning wisdom:

  1. Create a new e-mail address for your wedding. You’ll be SO glad you did this. I thought I was being cute and clever when I came up with 2brides2be, which began as an e-mail address before I had the idea for a blog. Keeping our wedding e-mails out of our individual inboxes kept us organized without getting us overwhelmed.
  2. Don’t hire a single vendor that you don’t connect with. I know the word “connect” can be so ridiculous. I’m not one to sit down for coffee with plans to become besties with my potential photographer, but I’m glad that my wife and I went with our instincts on who to work with. Planning our wedding was a blast, in part because we genuinely enjoyed everyone who helped make it happen.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ya know when you read a wedding blog and the bride gushes about her sister-in-law who baked the wedding cake and six pies for the dessert table, or the great-aunt who sewed burlap table runners and you’re thinking, Seriously? I have no one in my life that can build a chuppah or bake dessert for 175 people, but they did help in other ways. Sam and I did not have a traditional wedding party, so we found various elements with which to include our loved ones. We had friends helping us make beds in the cabins where many of our guests were staying, and we employed my mom to help us make gift bags. We actually didn’t ask for enough outside help, and I wish we had. Everyone wants to be involved and is willing to lend a hand. (And anyone who doesn’t want to help will probably let you know!)
  4. Take your ceremony seriously! Don’t laugh or roll your eyes because this seems SO obvious. When planning our ceremony I was terrified at the thought of making everyone sit there and pay attention to this momentous moment for us. I am so glad that we hired a professional and I am glad that we asked our friends and family to gather with us. Who cares if it’s a little long? We gave them all cocktails and we knew they could manage to sit still for a little while!  I know how popular it is for couples right now to ask a friend to officiate their wedding, some of my own friends are doing that and I think their weddings are going to be excellent. I think this is an especially excellent idea if you have a friend or relative who has previously performed a ceremony, and even better if you love your Priest or Rabbi, if your mom’s best friend is a minister, or if you find yourself in some other similar situation. This is your wedding day, and it’s okay to gather your guests to witness a beautiful, well-planned ceremony. I am so excited to blog about the Celebrant who performed my wedding ceremony. She is a seasoned pro who knew how to handle such an important occasion. Take the ceremony seriously and allow it to be special.
  5. Sit down and discuss the wedding of your dreams with your fiancé(e). You cannot plan a wedding trying to make everyone else happy. If you attempt to do that, you will just end up making yourselves unhappy.  Sam and I didn’t want to spend our entire wedding day having our hair & make-up done, so we had a big brunch followed by Kegs & Kickball. We got to enjoy the entire day with our family and friends. Plan the wedding you really want and your loved ones will be honored to celebrate with you, even if they think kickball on your wedding is nuts.

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    Sam on the left, me on the right

If you’re not planning a wedding and you’re going to like, a thousand this year, here are only two tiny things to remember:

  • Don’t complain to the bride. If you have a concern or a complaint, find someone else—anyone else—to share it with.
  • Bring a card. If you’re not giving a gift for any reason, at least write a nice card. We had friends who went out of their way to find cards on Etsy that were meant for two brides, and those are special keepsakes. I won’t forget that they did that, and I’ve promised myself that I will start giving more personal and unique cards in the future.

Those are my few cents.

Don’t forget to leave your two cents in my comments!

(More about this rousing kickball game to come)

In Remembrance

As I’ve written before, it was important to Sam and I to include her mother Penny in our wedding. One way we did this was in our ceremony. Towards the beginning of the ceremony we paid tribute to Penny. Our Celebrant, Elizabeth, said this:

“We include in our memories Samantha’s Mom, Penny Gero, who is with us in Spirit. Laura Leigh is grateful to have gotten to know and love Penny, who was a funny and wonderfully wild woman, and who loved Laura Leigh equally in return.”

She then quoted Sam: She was an amazing mother, and loved her kids fiercely. She was put on this planet to be a mom and there was never a second that she didn’t make sure her kids had what they needed and were happy.  I feel blessed that I was loved so much because it makes me realize that the love I’m able to share is because of her. One of the things that makes me happy is knowing that Laura Leigh got to spend a few years with my mom, getting to know her, and being a part of the family, it makes me happy to know that my Mom loved Laura Leigh and would give me her blessing knowing that I’m spending my life with her.

“Penny is deeply missed, and her love and blessings are felt amongst us today. Samantha will now light a candle in honor of her Mom, to symbolize the eternal light of their family bond.”

Sam then lit a candle that would stay burning throughout the ceremony.

This is only one way to remember a lost loved one in a wedding, but it felt vital to us to find a way to include Penny in our celebration. She was there in so many other ways as well, but this was our most distinctive tribute.

Ceremony Readings

Whenever I dare to compliment myself I instantly think of Regina George and Mean Girls. “But you’re, like, really pretty… So you agree? You think you’re really pretty?” It’s such a classic line because as women we are programmed to deflect compliments … (another conversation for another time. This is not a feminist blog and I believe every pretty girl should embrace her  beauty) Anyway, I think it’s okay to pat yourself on your back sometimes, to say, “Damn, these pants do something fabulous to my ass,” or “Yes I agree, I do have incredible nail beds.” So yes, I think my wedding ceremony was wonderful. It was exactly what Sam and I wanted it to be, and for that I am so pleased. Planning a wedding and choosing the decor and the music and the food is fantastic fun, but designing a unique ceremony for you and your fiancé(e) is undeniably special, and it was one of our favorite parts of our wedding.

First, we found our Celebrant, Elizabeth Phaire, from The Celebrant Foundation & Institute. I have written about her before, only because it was a true pleasure to work with someone so capable and compassionate. She offered us a few ceremony options, and we chose the option that allowed for a completely unique ceremony. Elizabeth created a couple of drafts, which included the story of us, a tribute to Sam’s mom Penny, readings of our choice, and remarks from some of our family and friends.

Today I’d like to tell you about our choices for readings during our ceremony. Sam and I enjoyed choosing them almost as much as we enjoyed listening to them at our wedding. They were certainly atypical, but that’s us!

  • The first reading, given by Sam’s Aunt Lisa was “A Lovely Love Story” by Edward Monkton. This story is about two unlikely companions. (We made both dinosaurs girls in our version)
  • Next, my dear friend Kate read an entry from my journal, which I wrote on January 19th 2005, when I was nineteen years old. This was maybe the strangest choice, but it outlined both my fear of falling in love with Sam, as well as my fear of not being with her. If I was going to showcase my vulnerability and have a wedding ceremony witnessed by family and friends, then I was going all the way.
  • Next, our sister-in-law Jaine read the lyrics to “Hum Along” by Ludo, a favorite song of ours from early in our relationship.
  • Our final reading was read by Sam’s friend Chris, who read an Irish blessing, “May the Road Rise Up to Meet You,” which paid homage to my heritage.

Our readers were excellent and our readings really meant something to us, which made them both a special and indispensable element of our wedding ceremony.

Check back soon for more ceremony details and let me know what you think of our choices, or what you may have in mind for your own wedding.

A Useful Guest Book

Some couples have a guest book, but when I read about a wedding where the bride and groom had a signed adirondack chair, I knew we had to have one.  I’m not sure where I found this idea, but considering the amount of time I spent on wedding blogs in the past year, I’m not surprised that it’s slipping my mind. Nevertheless, I thought it was adorable. Who cares that we don’t yet have a yard or anywhere to actually sit together in our adirondack chair …

We had a lot of space to work with, so we had a double adirondack chair shipped to our wedding venue and we left it out over the whole weekend so that our guests could leave their remarks. Our designer Meg is going to finish (maybe the word is “seal?” I’m clueless) the chair and someday when we have a house and a yard, we will read our guests notes and laugh at how drunk they were when they signed our chair. Maybe while drinking in the chair. Yeah!

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It is also worth noting that I have no idea where the chair is … and that while I have not yet read the notes that were left, one of our gorgeous guests did reveal her witty inscription at Sunday’s brunch: You sit well together. Applause.

Insert Lesbian Wedding Joke Here

I’ve always viewed lesbian weddings in black and white. You either have two girly lesbians (what’s the lingo these days? Lipstick is out, femme is in?) or you have a big butch wedding with one bride in a suit waiting at the end of the aisle. This is totally unfair, and I know it. Every single relationship is different, therefore I should acknowledge that every lesbian relationship is different. Just because this is glaringly obvious doesn’t mean that it had ever occurred to me before. I think my fear was that if we planned this as a lesbian wedding then we would be overlooking that this was, really, a wedding.

I was careful how I approached the ‘lesbian’ factor. I was conscious to toe the line between lesbian wedding and wedding. For some guests, the same-sex element was half of the appeal. I didn’t want to ignore that, but I didn’t want to make the wedding a gay pride party. This was a wedding to celebrate a marriage, and that’s what I wanted it to be. Still, what’s the use of ignoring the elephant in the room?

At our rehearsal celebration on Friday night, some of our friends and family gave speeches and made toasts. For both me and Sam, it was one of the highlights of the whole weekend, and I am absolutely going to tell you more about it in posts to come. On Saturday, at the actual wedding, both of our fathers said a few words, and then Sam’s brother Jonathan (the best man) and my sister Katy, (the matron of honor) both gave speeches. Every one of them had heartfelt and wonderful things to say, and listening to their words are moments I will hold dear in my memory of the weekend.

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(Did I mention she looked gorgeous while doing it?)

I am going to share the ending of my sister Katy’s speech with you. She didn’t just give an incredible MoH speech, which was poignant and funny and candid, but she also took the opportunity to acknowledge what we were all here to celebrate. This was a same-sex wedding and here we were, in a candlelit barn filled with our nearest and dearest. There were many different kinds of people in that room, from my 88-year-old conservative Grandfather (who ends every phone call with, “Love you both”) to Sam’s Jewish aunts, colleagues, childhood friends and glam gay best friends , and many of our college sorority sisters, and every single one of them was there with love and support for us. We never once, over the course of planning this wedding, had to worry that someone might disapprove, or that a family member wouldn’t show up. Everything about planning this wedding felt normal. It felt right to plan a wedding so that I could marry the person I love, and it felt right to include all of these beautiful people, and this was worth acknowledging. My sister ended her speech with these lines:

This is a real life modern family. The rest of the world is very slowly learning what we here have already known for years, that love is love.  A family can be comprised of so many parts but in the end it’s love and friendship that holds it all together. Laura and Sam, congratulations, I wish you all the happiness in the world and love you both dearly.

She had to pause for a moment when she said “love is love,” as the entire wedding had erupted in big, boisterous applause. It was worth saying, and worth noticing, that in this room we didn’t see ourselves as different. We saw ourselves as family.

The Blob

Remember when I first started this blog and I told you about our venue? What I was really telling you about, was the blob. All year long we planned for the perfect wedding and we hoped for the perfect weather. “Please don’t rain,” I begged toward the sky. “Please stay calm,” I asked of the wind. “Please shine strong,” I urged the sun.” It was all too much. How could I ask for sunny skies, calm winds and warm (but not hot) weather? My expectations were too high. The evanescent weather I so desired, well that exists only a few days a year in the northeast. Who was I to ask for three of these coveted days in a row?

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My cousin Amanda flying high.

My karma bank must have been full, because I got my dream. We got blob weather.

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Here’s our friend Anna getting a lot of air.

On Saturday, after a rousing game of kickball, we retreated to the lake to watch our friends and family take their turn on the ziplines and the blob. Most of them made it look easy. Some of them somersaulted into the water, others made graceful arcs as they flew into the air. Everyone screamed and laughed and I waited for my turn. I knew better than to blob hours before my wedding ceremony. I knew I had to wait until Sunday. So on Sunday morning, when almost everyone else was hungover or sleeping or heading home, I rallied not one but two friends to launch me. They jumped and I flew, slapping gracelessly into the water and landing flat on my back. I emerged from the lake with a smile on my face, though my body was quite shocked.

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Two views of me going up, up, up.

The next day my lower back and the backs of my legs were black and blue. I looked like my wife had beat me, but I’d do it again. And again. One of the brides had to step up to the blob, and I’m mighty glad I did.

Enjoy this video of Sam’s brother Jonathan being launched by his dad and his uncle: