All Green Everything

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A quick Google search sealed the deal. 2013 was the year of the green.

This past year there were many catchy headlines to remind us that green was indeed the color of 2013. To be precise, the color of the year was Emerald. Pantone, the authority on this, made it perfectly clear last December.

By the time this news was delivered to the masses I already had my gown designer, Kathryn Conover, on a search for the perfect shade of green french lace and silk taffeta for my wedding gown. I didn’t make her job an easy one, and she was often reminded as she searched for the fabric that while it was hard to find at the time, it would soon be available everywhere. So yea, I’m excited that my dream color for my wedding gown turned out to be the color of the year. That’s cool and I’m inclined to give myself much more credit than I deserve. However, had green been voted the worst color of 2013, the absolute ‘don’t you dare wear it’ color of 2013, I still would have walked down in the aisle in my perfect green gown. Ladies, be who you are. This is not a straight or gay thing. I’m just certain that life is too short to do what everybody else says you should do.

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My parents still leave newspaper clippings on my bed in their house. Each time I arrive for a visit there are relevant articles in a pile on my comforter. Last year, any time they came across breaking news about the color of the year they left me the pages. Cuties.

Looks like the color of 2014 is Radiant Orchid … Hmm.

The real point of this post is that I’d like to know – Any of you ladies have a wedding dream that everyone raises their eyebrows at? 

Carnival Cut-outs

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Carnival cut-out by the talented Kate Taney

Don’t know what a carnival cut-out is? Yes you do, just like I did, but I never really knew the name for them.

I googled and googled until I discovered that the classic name for that lifesize thing that ya stick your head through is called a carnival cut-out!

Have talented friends? Me too. My beloved pal Kate started asking us a lot of questions leading up to our wedding. She wanted to know about Sam’s secret dress and the wedding cake, she wanted ceremony location details. Sam and I were alarmed. Then Kate showed up to the wedding toting this carnival cut-out, which was not only a huge hit at the reception, but was so imaginative, beautifully done and thoughtful. If you can’t tell there’s a Milk Bar cake, which our pups Luda and Winston are peeking out from behind. There’s a rainbow flag, of course, and our dresses are pretty spot-on. I was completely blown away. Some of our guests who dared instagram themselves as the two brides are now shown here for your enjoyment …

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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 …

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.

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.

My First REAL Post-Wedding Post

I always knew that I would keep blogging after the wedding … for a while at least. I can keep this thing going for at least a year sharing every bewitching detail of our extraordinary wedding weekend. The problem is this: Where the hell do I start?

Sam and I were married over a week ago and the whole thing still feels like a fever dream.  There were vows. There was music. There were toasts, dancing, tears and laughter, and there was food. But we did not simply “eat.” We feasted. There was delicious everything. There was too much booze! There were instagrams. Let’s start there. If you’re on instagram check out #2brides2be for some stunning, funny, and wild pictures, many of which include the following hashtags:  #bestweddingfoodever #teamsemon #teamgoettlich  #highflying #perfectceremony #signofagreatwedding #eatingmyfaceoff #beautifulbrides #somuchlove #2gorgeous2believe #aephine #theblob #kegsnkickball #campabby  #theroyalwedding #afterparty #theythoughtofeverything #besttoastever #whiteparty #lifeisbutadream #zipline #kegstand … you get the idea, right?

There were also two dresses. Nay, these were not dresses. These were glamorous gowns. Sam not only wore a heart-stopping, whimsical gown in pale nude called the Diedre by Vera Wang, but she had the headpiece that her mom wore to her own wedding in 1981 custom-dyed to match. We took a selfie just before the ceremony. I cropped myself out so you can see a close-up of Sam’s gorgeous headpiece.

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She looked like a fairy princess, and I got to marry her.

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Sam approaching me for our “first look”

My gown was custom made by the insanely talented, incredibly patient and sweetest woman I have ever  had the pleasure to work with. Kathryn Conover worked with me to create my custom, dream, couture gown. I went into wedding planning knowing that I was going to wear green. I shared this with only a few people. I’ve always loved the idea of a dark emerald green gown, and though some friends and family probably thought it was crazy, they knew I’d make it work. My next post will be all about my dreamy one-of-a-kind wedding gown and how it came to be.

In the meantime here we are in a whimsical snapshot, walking away as newlyweds from our ceremony to the acoustic version of “I Kissed a Girl” sung by the talented Christine Tambakis of Tangled Vine. More to come, including every detail about the music, the venue, and the food. It was all too perfect to believe. Thank God I have the photos.

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Wives in the woods!