Wedding Whites – Nightfall

After the gorgeous toasts and the sinful meal (Are brides supposed to gorge like that the night before their wedding?) we had one more trick up our sleeves for our Friday night rehearsal guests – Movie Night!

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We bought two carts full of blankets from Ikea. We forgot that they don’t have bags, so the blankets were spilling all over our car. My mom helped us wrap each blanket in twine.

Friday evening was planned to every last detail by both me and Sam. I really pushed for those mountaintop toasts, but I have to give Sam credit for the movie. This was her idea. We wanted something fun and lowkey, because after all, Saturday was going to be a big day. After dinner and s’mores we led our guests down to the great lawn where we had a giant blow-up movie screen set up on the edge of the lake. Meg from That Time Events set out the blankets (An Ikea purchase as a gift to our guests) and lanterns to make everything super cozy, while Lisa and Stephanie from Cedar Lakes Estate made sure there was wine and popcorn for all.

We kicked off the festivities by releasing giant paper lanterns into the night sky as a slideshow of photographs lit up the screen in the background. We nearly set a tree ablaze, but otherwise the lanterns went up without a hitch. Then it was movie time. Sam and I had settled on cult favorite Wet Hot American Summer. We weren’t surprised that most of our aunts and uncles had never heard of it, but we were shocked to find that some of our cousins just a few years younger than us had never seen this gem. We curled up and enjoyed movie night until Sam and I were ready to sneak off to bed.

My dad still maintains that Friday night was his favorite part of the weekend. It was a warm, no-frills evening for everyone to enjoy being together and for us to spoil our guests (and ourselves) a little.

Of course, Heather Waraksa was there to capture the magic.

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Wedding Whites – The BBQ

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Naturally once we had everyone wearing white and drinking booze it was time for a BBQ.

The group headed down to the open air Dining Pavilion where a fire roared in the stone pit and where Meg, from That Time Events had arranged mismatched vintage plates among wildflowers and lemon-filled vases full of yellows and creams. We offered our guests custom designed paper bibs by Sand Scripts to keep themselves safe from splatters of sauce.

Lisa from Cedar Lakes Estate cooked up a BBQ that guests are still raving about. I, of course, required pulled pork on the menu, but the fried chicken was also unbelievable, not to mention I ate about two plates of mac & cheese and made a mess of myself with the corn on the cob. I ate so much dinner, in fact, that I was too full to dive into the s’mores bar that was situated around the fire. That’s okay though, I watched everyone else enjoy the homemade marshmallows, which included flavors like vanilla, toasted coconut and pumpkin. The fire crackled and the whole place smelled like summer camp. We played an ipod playlist of folk and bluegrass tunes.

We also used Friday night as an opportunity to showcase some of our favorite wines. The bar for the evening included a Firefly cocktail, beer, and some of our favorites  from vineyards we’ve visited, including Rusack Vineyard Chardonnay, Archery Summit Pinot Noir, Erath Pinot Noir, and a Lieb Vineyards white blend.

Everyone was full of food and wine by the time darkness had fallen and it was time for a surprise …

Wedding Whites – Mountaintop Toasts

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With the right plans and the right people, the night before a wedding can be much more than a mere rehearsal dinner. Inspired by festive rehearsal dinners that I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of, most recently my dear friend Leanne’s, I wanted the night before our wedding to be a celebratory kickoff for a weekend of fun. Joined by those friends and family who were a special part of our wedding ceremony or planning process, we had pretty big plans for Friday night, the first part of which was entirely out of our control; That plan was sunshine and a warm, clear evening.

We decided to make this a white party, of sorts. Because we were not having a traditional wedding party nor were either of us wearing white for the wedding, we thought it would be fun to have everyone in similar dress for Friday night. This way we could get wonderful photos that had a true wedding look about them. Our Friday night invitations read: This is your turn to wear wedding whites! Please wear your favorite white, ivory, or neutral outfits.

The evening began down by “the deck” where we had a quick wedding rehearsal. Then me, Sam, our parents and siblings as well as our ceremony escorts and readers all headed up to the mountaintop for toasts. Cedar Lakes Estate has two locations where couples typically get married; the deck, which we found more intimate and where we had to get married, and the mountaintop, with plenty of space and stunning views. I knew we needed to find a way to include the mountaintop in our wedding, and pre-dinner toasts were the perfect opportunity. When we arrived up there our gorgeous guests, all decked in white, ivory, cream, pink  … and on and on … were mingling and sipping, bubbly in every hand. Our marvelous designer Meg, of That Time Events had arranged all of the chairs in a large circle. After a few minutes Sam and I began the festivities by welcoming our guests and thanking them all for being a part of our wedding weekend. Then we opened up the floor.

Among the speakers were my mother Irene, Sam’s Godmother Shelley (who released two silver star mylar balloons into the sky as a throwback to the day Sam was born, when she arrived at the hospital with a star balloon that read, “A Star is Born”) and many of our friends both old and new. There was laughter and tears, declarations of love and reminders of embarrassing moments past. The toasts were a perfect kickoff to a big, love-filled weekend.

After the toasts it was time for a BBQ …

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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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:

Q&A with Samantha

Though I could go on and on about my wedding gown, let’s hear how Sam’s look came together:

A few questions for my beautiful bride.

Did you ever have a vision for your wedding gown?

Yes. I wanted something that was messy, something a little different, with a haphazard elegance, something that wasn’t the traditional white wedding gown.

Did you always know you wanted to wear a pale nude or blush color?

Yes, I didn’t know which exactly, but I knew my dress wouldn’t be white.

What did you think about me wearing a green dress and did this influence your own choice of wedding gown?

Although I never planned to wear white, when you told me about the green dress at first I was a little like, “uh oh, what if I don’t like her dress, will I be able to pretend?” Then I realized that whatever you wanted I would be happy with … then I tried on a pink and black dress at Vera Wang that I loved, but I knew it wouldn’t look good with you in a green dress …

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Our first look

Yes

But then you got over it?

Yes, I found a dress I liked even more.

And because you’re crazy in love with me?

Yes, I worship the ground you walk on*

Why did you want to go to Vera Wang?

I’m not one of those girls that has the patience for  a Kleinfelds where it’s dress after dress after dress. I knew Vera Wang was the designer that had the type of dress I wanted, so I didn’t waste time anywhere else.

(I actually took Sam’s Kleinfelds appointment and brought my friend Kate with me. We had a great time)

How many dresses did you seriously consider?

Two.

How did you know this dress was the one?

Part of me wanted the black and blush one because it was so different, and I knew my mom would have loved it …  the blush color really got me. Then my aunt went to the bathroom and snooped around a bit, and she found my dress in the back. I agreed to try it on based on the color, but when I put it on we knew, this dress was perfect.

How was your experience with Vera Wang?

Amazing. They were on top of everything and it was a positive experience. The only time it sucked was when I went back for my second appointment, to try on her spring collection. I was sick, it was winter, and I had to wait almost an hour for my appointment. It was frustrating but then I found my dress that day.

 Tell  us about your headpiece.

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Sam and her dad before the ceremony.

My headpiece was my mom’s from her 1981 wedding. It is a satin piece with Swarovski crystals hanging down. My whole life I knew I would wear it. When I was young and my mom would show me her dress we always talked about how I would wear it someday when I got married … I was worried because the headpiece was white and I didn’t think it would work with my dress. Then Talia, a stylist at Vera Wang, told me about a millinery in the east village. She said that the owner, Vashti de Verteuil  could dye it to match exactly. I was so excited and so nervous.

What was the name of the millinery?

Gallery Vercon. She was amazing.

What kind of jewelry did you wear and how did you decide on it?

I wanted my mom to be as much a part of the wedding as possible, so I wore a pair of her double diamond drop earrings. I also wanted the dress to speak for itself, so I didn’t wear a necklace. I wore three hammered rose gold bangles by Gorjana and the rose gold infinity bracelet that you gave me. On my right hand I wore my mom’s sapphire and diamond ring that I had reset a couple of years ago.

What did you think of the end result?

I looked like a fairy princess. I looked gorgeous!  I’m not somebody who necessarily has high expectations of the way I look, so even though I had a perfect picture in my mind, I lowered my expectations a little bit, but then every part from dress to headpiece to make up to hair was incredible. Once the headpiece was on the look was complete. This was my vision from day one. I was stunned.

*This response is a lie I made up. Because it’s my blog.

Wedding Music Continued …

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Being escorted down the aisle by my dad Drew

If you’re not a fan of Patty Griffin then trust me, you are missing out on one of the great artists of our time. She is a genius and her music is folky and hopeful and hauntingly beautiful. I get my taste in music from my dad, and he introduced me to Patty when I was in college. Needless to say, I am a fan, and when I played Heavenly Day from Patty’s 2007 album Children Running Through for Sam, we agreed before the song ended that this was our wedding song. Because we had no plans for a first dance, we decided that we wanted our dads to walk us down the aisle to Heavenly Day.

When we told John Ragusa that we wanted Christine of Tangled Vine to sing the ceremony music accompanied by an acoustic guitar, John told us that he’d actually heard the band perform this song before and that they would nail it.

On September 7th when the ceremony began, my dad and I chatted while we waited to begin our walk down the aisle. Months before, when he’d mentioned using Heavenly Day for our father-daughter dance I said no, but never explained why. I felt guilty but I knew the moment he heard it on my wedding day that he would understand. At the first strum of the guitar he looked at me and said, “Heavenly Day. Patty Griffin.” We walked down the aisle and the first person I spotted was my mom, faced crinkled as she tried not to sob. I laughed and felt at-ease at that moment. Meanwhile, Sam was walking down the other aisle with her dad. She says, “It was the perfect song for that setting. I tried to take in that moment. It sounded so, so good.” When Sam and I met up on the deck and joined hands, we listened to the rest of the song and just smiled at each other. Christine nailed it and it really was such a heavenly day.

Prior to our own walk down the aisle, the rest of the procession walked to an instrumental version of Jimmy Soul – If You Wanna be Happy. Later, after we were announced as wife and wife, we walked away from the ceremony to Christine singing an acoustic version of Katy Perry – I Kissed a Girl. We thought this was a nice moment for a laugh, when we could both sigh with relief, when everyone was ready to party. This song definitely signified party time!

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Two brides holding on for dear life.

Sam and I jumped into a golf cart and our wedding planner zipped us up to the mountaintop where we planned to take a few quick pictures. When we arrived up there Christine and the guitarist were waiting for us. Sam surprised me with a private, mountaintop first dance to one of my all-time favorite songs, Van Morrison’s Crazy Love. The sun was dipping low in the sky and we held each other, dancing and taking in the moment. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect way to begin our married lives together. When we joined cocktail hour a few minutes later the rest of the band was performing reggae music to get the party going.

At the reception the whole wedding danced the Hora, then Sam and I both danced with our dads. First she and her dad Richard danced to Wonderful Tonight, performed by Tangled Vine, then I danced with my dad to September When it Comes by Roseanne and Johnny Cash. His voice cannot be duplicated, so we danced to the recording. Then it was party time. Tangled Vine did a great job of building on the energy of the party. I definitely got nervous early in the night when I heard them playing some current hits. I really wanted to hear classic rock, but they had a great gauge on the crowd and I got to hear all my favorites, like Honky Tonk Woman, American Girl, and Jumpin’ Jack Flash.

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Sam and her dad Richard

I got to hang out with some of the band at the after-party and I think we all agreed that the reception was a blast. DJ ChristaMarie, meanwhile, literally shook the tree-house where we held the after-party. She mixed old and new music and everyone was dancing all over the place having a wild time. We paid her to be there from midnight until two-thirty, but around 4am when I was still spinning around in my wedding gown with the few ragers who were still going, Christa asked me if it was time to shut down. Since many family members were staying in nearby cottages and we were certainly keeping them all awake, we agreed to stop the music and retire to the fire pit. When Christa disappeared in a golf cart then reppeared with my bride in the passenger seat, I decided it was time to join Sam and head back to the Lakeside Cottage.

All of the night’s music, from 6pm-4am was a ferocious success .

Wedding Music: What we would do Differently.

Sam and I both agree that we loved our band and our DJ. We weren’t around to hear much of the cocktail hour reggae, but we trust that they sounded great. I was glad I’d gone over the band’s song list prior to the wedding so I could let them know what I wanted to hear, but I’m also glad that the professionals trusted their instincts and played what the crowd wanted to hear. Still, I wanted to dance around to my favorite classic rock hits and those were my favorite moments of the party.

I danced a lot that night, and one guest, who I’ll never name, even split his pants while getting down on the dance floor. I recommend that every couple goes with what they want to hear. Whether you have a band or a DJ don’t be afraid to be explicit about what you’re looking for. This may be each couple’s one opportunity to choose the music that they want to dance to, and I for one was not going to pass up that chance.

Band, DJ or Both?

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Welcome to another two-part blog post. I’ve been thinking that a lot of these post-wedding posts might be helped by a “What we did” intro and a “What we would have done differently” conclusion. That way I can tell you … Continue reading

My Green Dream – Part 2

So I had the dress. Now I needed to figure out my jewelry. No easy task. I was still unsure about earrings but I knew I needed a necklace. Originally I thought I might wear pearls and add a little classic elegance to an otherwise modern take on a wedding gown, but then I came across this Swarovski showstopper during a daily peruse on Gilt.com, the Swarovski Reload Multi-Shape Tiered Necklace. photo-152

Against the pearls I already owned, this was going to be a splurge. Not only that, but the necklace was final sale. I sought the opinion of others before trusting my instincts and making the purchase. I crossed my fingers that this would work with my dress. When it arrived I tried it on again and again, then brought it with me to that first dress-fitting. I actually gasped when I looked in the mirror. This dress and this necklace are soulmates. Seriously, they should be on their honeymoon right now. How was all of this working out so well? Nothing ever goes quite that smoothly in my life. I was getting my bridal lace and then my party necklace. Two looks. One night. I promised myself right then that I would keep that dress on for no fewer than eight hours the day of my wedding. I actually wore it for over twelve hours. The after-party ended and I was still in it. My bride cannot say the same …

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Their first time together. Yup, I’m pretty impressed with myself. A matchmaker really.

I kept on my usual silver bangles that I wear every day, along with a  silver bracelet that belongs to my sister (something borrowed). On my other wrist I wore a delicate silver bracelet with the infinity symbol, which matched the rose gold bracelet that I gifted to Sam on our wedding day. I never bought earrings, which is a good thing, because Sam’s gift to me included this sparkly pair. 

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I completed my outfit with something old, a family heirloom shield ring that was once a pin that belonged to my great-grandfather.

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I felt like me. But significantly more glamorous. My goal was never to be the classic bride or even to look like someone else. I mean, my nails were my favorite dark shade of purple, and I was wearing comfortable flat sandals and a green gown. My goal was to look like the best possible version of myself on my wedding day. I think I achieved it. (Well, my hair & make-up girls achieved it, but more about them later)

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Casually resting on a tree stump, smiling at the thought of my bride. Obviously.

Anyone hosting a gala or ball? Please invite me. I’ll wear this gown again. And again.

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So if I wear this to your gala I should bring a bouquet, yes?