Monthly Archives: July 2011

Wedding: Rehearsal Dinner

Throughout all my months of diligent wedding planning, one of my main goals was to keep everything in perspective. I figured that things would go wrong, mistakes would happen and chaos would possibly ensue. Yet, as long as Dan and I made it up to the altar and said “I do,” all would be well.

The funny thing is that the day of the wedding was absolutely perfect — and that isn’t even my bridal bliss talking. It was seriously the most incredible, seamless day I could have imagined.

On the other hand, the day of the rehearsal was a big ball of baloney.

First, a bit of back story. When my sister arrived in Lawrence the day before, she mentioned one of her eyes was irritating her. We couldn’t figure it out and an eye doctor advised waiting to see if it got worse…

By Friday, it was worse. When my parents called the doctor back, the only time he could see her before the office closed for the weekend was 4 o’clock — when the rehearsal was scheduled to begin.

I knew it was important for my sister to see the doctor, but I knew it was also important to stay on schedule with the rehearsal and subsequent dinner. So, while my mom and sister stayed back in Lawrence to see the doctor, the rest of the bridal party congregated in Baldwin City, which is 30 minutes away.

By that time, I was feeling slightly stressed, but I was also prepared to keep my cool — even in the 102 degree weather.

Then the next problem arose: The wedding coordinator had the time of the rehearsal wrong and was still in Lawrence. That meant that the whole bridal party was left to swelter outside of the church.

Fortunately, Dan’s mom was able to get a hold of another church member who had a key. She quickly came over and let us in the slightly-cooler building.

By the time we got in the church, the wedding coordinator arrived and we ran through some of the ceremony logistics, my mom and sister arrived.

Although it all threw a little kink in the plan, it really was a good thing that my sister was able to see the doctor when she did: She actually had pink eye! There was no real medicine to take, but she was able to tend to it a little bit better — and, by the next day, she looked absolutely wonderful.

With that, everything was back on track and the rest of the rehearsal ran smoothly.

After running through the program one time slowly and one time more quickly, we were all feeling confident for the real deal — and hungry for dinner!

The party made the quick drive across Baldwin City to the Rogue Wave for our dinner.

The final group consisted of the bridal party, their significant others, our parents, my grandparents, a few of my aunts and uncles and our pastor and his wife.

As dinner was served, we said a few toasts, chatted with friends and soaked in some words of advice.

Dan and I also spent some more time with our ring bearer, Jace.

He is Dan’s second cousin (see the resemblance?) and his dad was the ring bearer in Dan’s parents’ wedding.

To me, one of the highlights of the evening was when Dan’s dad made a toast. His message was simple, but eloquent: “Show up every day.” Coming for a man who has been married for 30 years, it was definitely a tried and true philosophy.

It was also nice to decompress and spend time with Dan’s family and my family.

Finally, it was incredible to share the night with my grandparents, who are two of the most inspirational people I know.

My grandma is a stunning 87 and my grandpa is 90-years-old. Yet, with the help of my aunt and uncle, they traveled all the way up from Dallas for the wedding weekend. Simply amazing.

After the official dinner was over, the party moved back to Lawrence, at which point Dan and I went our separate ways. Although I wasn’t overly traditional about the wedding, I was adamant about not seeing Dan on the wedding day until the ceremony. He was a good sport about it and sacrificed sleeping in his own home the night before the wedding to sleep on his best man’s couch.

Meanwhile, my bridesmaids and I went over to the hotel my family was staying at for a little socialization. Strangely, once we got there, my ‘maids disappeared into a room for a while…

When I tracked them down later, they were in the middle of a sweatshop-esque operation.

The covert product were personalized shirts for us to wear while getting ready the next day.

Adorable!

It was getting late by that point and this bride-to-be needed all the beauty sleep she could get.

Fortunately — and surprisingly — my mind was pretty at rest and I was able to fall asleep pretty quickly. When I woke up the next morning, I was calm, happy and ready to get married.

Questions: What wedding traditions do you think are important? Which traditions could you do without?

As mentioned, I didn’t want to see Dan on the day-of before the ceremony. It was also important to me that he never saw my gown before the ceremony. However, we didn’t do a unity candle — I figured I’d be too shaky!


Wedding: Final Preparations

After months of anticipation, my family finally descended upon Lawrence two days before the wedding.

My mom and sister were the first to town. I could barely contain my excitement when my sister got to the apartment and ended up promptly shoving a “bridal survival” kit in her hand.

Inside the bag was a folding comb/mirror, a packet of tissues, mouthwash and hand lotion. It was super simple to put together, but all the bridesmaids got a big kick out of it. Better yet, I saw many of the items come into use throughout the weekend — especially the Kleenex, but more on that later.

After saying our initial greetings, my mom, sister and I got down to business. Even though I felt a sense of calm with having them in town, there were still a lot of very important items on our to-do lists… Such as getting manicures and pedicures.

Even though we looked happy in this picture, the nail salon’s air conditioning was out and we were slightly uncomfortable in the 105 degree heat. Still, we kept focused on the task at hand and followed through with the mani-pedis.

Considering that my wedding was themed around sunflowers, I found it joyfully coincidental that I choose the “Sunflower Package” for my pedicure. I also went with a simple French manicure for my nails.

I swear, my nail technician didn’t say anything the whole time except for one time when she commented on how short my nails are. (I know, thankyouverymuch.)

After sweltering for the sake of beauty, we headed down to Mass Street to cool down with frozen yogurt. Seriously, is that or is that not the cure for everything?

Then, it was over to the hotel where my extended family was beginning to congregate. Amazingly, all of my aunts, uncles and cousins made the journey to Kansas for the wedding weekend — and that’s saying something, considering my mom’s the youngest of eight.

Although I loved catching up with family in the hotel lobby, I was pretty motivated to get them on-board for dinner. Before that point, my diet for the day had basically consisted of spoonfuls of peanut butter. I also wanted to introduce the Lawrence tourists to the culinary wonder that is Esquina.

Note: Dan made himself scarce when my mom, sister and I were talking about nail styles. Then, he headed over to his family’s home to have dinner with some of his extended family. He met back up with us later in the night.

After dinner, Marian and I continued showing off Lawrence to our cousins.

Fun fact: The one and only time most of my extended family had been to Lawrence was for my parents’ wedding back in 1989. Suffice it to say, most of my cousins didn’t remember the experience.

The night ended over at an Irish pub. After losing one bitterly competitive game of pool, Dan and I decided to turn in the towel and head back home for one last night before the real chaos ensued…

Notes: Check back the rest of this week for wedding recap posts!


Cruising cuisine

I think the thesaurus got it wrong. I am thoroughly convinced that “cruise” is another word for “buffet.” Seriously, you might as well keep a fork in your hand at all time!

That doesn’t mean, however, that there is no room to be healthy. Although I gave myself room for a few splurges, I also took extra time to enjoy the new foods and carefully crafted dishes. Here’s the official review…

Don’t spend extra money on food on the ship.

On our first night aboard the ship, we cruising newbies decided to spend $10 each at the featured Italian restaurant. Although we were impressed, I actually preferred some of the ships other free options.

On the other end of the spectrum, I felt really sorry for the people I saw eating in the buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There were some great four-course restaurants that were entirely included. Even when late-night munchies hit and the primary restaurants are closed down, there were some fun, pub-style places that were willing to cater to requests.

Enjoy drinks, but keep a budget in mind.

Based on how many buckets of beer (“Buy five, get the sixth free!”) I saw people carrying around the ship, there was a lot of money being spent on alcohol. Add to that the daily drink specials ($8 each) and people were definitely spending big bucks on their drink tickets.

Throughout our four days on the ship, Dan and I set aside a few occasions to splurge on drink orders. For me, this would be a fancy Mojito and for him, a nice, foreign beer. On the other occasions, we would stick to beer and wine with designated cut-off points.

Take time to savor the food.

The days on-board were busy, but not totally jam-packed. Rather than lazing by the pool for an extra two hours, Dan and I made the to get ready and enjoy dinner every night.

As I mentioned, these were four-course meals, so it really gave us the chance to slow down and enjoy.

Try out new foods.

I have to admit that my first night, I developed a bit of a food hangover. There were so many options, I just didn’t know where to start! From there, I developed a plan to try bites of different things, rather than plates.

I think Dan latched onto the same plan… He even tried out escargot!

I also branched out and tried a few dishes that I wouldn’t have otherwise ordered. Because it was “all you can eat,” it was nice to know that there was no real risk: If I didn’t like it, I could just order another option!

Take for instance the pumpkin and butternut squash gnocchi with Portobello mushrooms I ordered… Even though I probably wouldn’t have ordered it from a regular restaurant, I really enjoyed it!

Choose snacks carefully when off the boat.

Because our days off the boat were so busy, it was necessary for Dan and me to spend our own money on a few snacks. With this, we tried to go with options that we wouldn’t normally get at home. For example, after snorkeling one day, I talked Dan into trying gelato for the first time.

However, we managed to pass on a few of the more questionable options…

At the end of the cruise, we left feeling satisfied from all the foods we were able to try — but also not too embarrassed to fit back into our swimsuits for a few more days on the beach.

Question: Do you have any advice for eating on cruises?

Notes:

  • Part I, Part II and Part III of “Honeymoon” series.
  • An additional post will be devoted to staying fit on vacation.
  • Stay tuned for wedding recap posts, which are coming soon!

Honeymoon, Part III

When Dan and I got off the cruise ship, the trip was still two sweaty days from over. That’s because we decided to extend the honeymoon by staying in Miami!

Now, neither Dan nor I knew much of anything about Miami. So, we basically went with the travel guides and booked Cadet Hotel, which is a “boutique hotel,” in South Beach.

Just two blocks from the beach and two blocks from shopping, the location was great. What I enjoyed even more, however, was the charm.

There was a open-air patio…

A vintage-inspired, outdoors breakfast area…

And — get this — not just free internet, but access to a laptop!

Even better, while hanging out on the hotel grounds, it was easy to forget that downtown Miami was just on the other side of the road.

Dan and I were also welcomed to our room with a complimentary plate of fresh fruit.

The only concern I have is about whether the housekeepers are dyslexic or not…

Here’s the truth of the whole, whole matter: I am so glad that our hotel was nice because I disliked the rest of Miami.

A few observations from out and about town…

  1. I wore my high-heeled wedges more while I was in Miami than in the past year. Something about being in a crowd of low-cut tops and high-cut bikinis makes 4-inch heels seem “casual.”
  2. Everything is based on gratuity, so servers had no incentive to be nice. Therefore, they simply weren’t.
  3. If it wasn’t loud and dirty… You weren’t in Miami.
  4. I just don’t understand how or why standard guacamole should cost $10.

As mentioned, the good news is that the hotel room was clean, moderately quiet and cool. Other than the beach, that’s where we spent most of our time.

By the day we were supposed to go home, I was really pretty ready and excited to be back in Kansas with Dan… and our mounting pile of wedding gifts!

Questions: Have you ever been to a city that you simply didn’t like? What is your favorite city to visit?

Notes:

  • Part I and Part II of Honeymoon series.
  • Separate posts will be dedicated to eating and exercising on vacation.
  • Thanks to the best photographer ever, my wedding pictures are in so stay tuned for recap posts. In the meantime, here’s a glimpse.


Honeymoon, Part II

It’s only a little depressing to think that this time last week, Dan and I were floating somewhere in the Atlantic on an awesome cruise ship. Now, we are melting in 100+ degree Kansas weather.

At least we’re together, right?

Now, backing up to some more honeymoon details…

On our first full day on the ship, we got off the ship to explore the Grand Bahama’s island town of Freeport. At the port, we were met with a guide and a bus to shuttle Dan and me to our pre-booked excursion of snorkeling.

At the new location, we got on a smaller boat, which took us out to a coral reef.

After some instruction, we stripped down to our swimsuits and jumped in. I had never gone snorkeling before, so it was all a new experience for me. Fortunately, I was able to catch on pretty fast and Dan was helpful.

It was as if we were in a whole different world! There were fish of every color and the clear water was a far cry from that murky lakes that I’m used to. When our half-hour was up, I didn’t want to get out… Until the guides said that we could try out the on-boat water slide.

Thoroughly exhausted and exhilarated, we made it back to the island and then back to the ship. Then we passed out until our grumbling stomachs’ woke us up for another night of dinner and fun.

The next day, I woke up to see water still on all sides of the boat. Rather than docking at a port, we had to take a smaller boat to ferry us to the small island, which is privately owned by Norwegian Cruise Line.

For the day, we didn’t have any excursions planned. Instead, we decided to go with the flow and see what was offered.

We ended up relaxing on the beaches, soaking up some rays and hiding our eyes from some nude sun bathers. The normal stuff.

After getting back on the boat and cleaning up, Dan and I headed out for another night. The incredible thing about the cruise ship wasn’t just the shows, the food and the fun… To me, it was really the scenery that was so captivating. I don’t think I saw a single lackluster sunset.

To soak it in, Dan and I made a point each night of finding a special spot to watch the sun sink into the ocean.

For the final full day on the boat, we got up bright and early for another excursion in the city of Nassau.

Nassau is the biggest city the island of New Providence. However, most people probably recognize the island by the Atlantis resort.

For our excursion, Dan and I went snorkeling again. But, this time we also got to try out some clear-bottomed kayaks.

Once again, I was blown away by the world under the sea. This time, the fish came up so close I could almost touch them (and, trust me, I tried).

I was honestly sad to get out of the water. However, I was hungry and lunch sounded pretty good, so Dan and I went back to the boat for a free meal before heading back out to explore Nassau.

We could really tell how much the island depends on tourists: There were souvenirs shops on every corner. At least it gave us the chance to pick up some goods!

I got a sun hat I’d been wanting…

While Dan splurged on a nice watch.

Then it was back on the boat for one last, incredible evening and sunset.

The next day, although I was sad to leave the ship, it was exciting to know we still had two more days in Miami…

Notes:

  • Part I of the “Honeymoon” series. 
  • Part III will be up tomorrow.
  • Additional posts will be devoted to food and exercise.

Questions: Have you ever been on a cruise before? Where did you sail? What did you think?


Honeymoon, Part I

It’s funny how quickly you can grow used to new surroundings.

I remember thinking that last summer when I awoke to red-roofed houses and distant view of the Alps.

The same became true last week as I grew accustomed to the gentle sway of a cruise ship and the crash of ocean waves. But, of course, those were just the mornings… And there was much, much more to our honeymoon than “just the mornings.”

The trip started off the way that any good one honeymoon should: in a bedroom.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized the view outside of the window was actually pretty nice.

That would be the University of Kansas campus. I know… It’s not like I see it enough.

It was a treat, however, because Dan and I got to stay in the Oread, which is a new, beautiful hotel right off of campus territory.

We didn’t get much time to enjoy it all, before Dan and I headed off to Kansas City. (Crazy honeymoon, right?) There, we caught a flight to Ft. Lauderdale and took the easy ride over to Miami.

After settling into our sky-scraping hotel…

Dan and I went back out to discover what Will Smith was raving about.

While we were out, we had an underwhelming dinner at Hard Rock Cafe. The most exciting culinary experience of the night came later, when we went back to the hotel to find some chocolate-dipped strawberries.

And you know what they say about dark chocolate, right? (cough, aphrodisiac, cough)

So… Fast-forwarding to the next day. After an easy breakfast in the hotel lobby, Dan and I took a cab ride across town to board our temporary home.

Because the past few months of wedding planning have been kind of hectic, we just wanted a simple, easy honeymoon — with a lot of activity built-in! For that reason, a cruise seemed like a natural choice. After some searching, we decided upon a four-day cruise through the Bahamas on the Norwegian Sky.

The staterooms were still being prepared when we boarded the ship, so it gave us the chance to explore the ship.

Before too long, however, the doors opened and we got into our own room.

Complete with a balcony…

And, within a few hours, a really, really great view.

Be back tomorrow with more!

Note: Posts will be designated for “staying active on vacation” and “tastes of the Bahamas.”


Since we’ve been gone

Hi, friends! Sorry for dropping off the face of the earth for a while.

I was pretty busy, you know…

First of all, I got married.

Rather, we got married.

(It was — without exaggeration — the most incredible day ever. But, I can’t begin to do it justice now and am waiting on better pictures from the photographer.)

Then we took off for Miami and boarded a cruise for the Bahamas.

There, we had fun in the sun.

And ate a healthy feast of good food.

Finally, we spent two more days in Miami soaking up the rays.

Now, we are back home in Kansas with mountains of gifts and piles of cards that are sure to provide us with happiness.

In total honesty, though, the best gift in the world is being able to sit amidst it all with the man I can now call “my husband.”