Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Bridesmaids & My MOH

I chose Jeff's twin sister Lindsey to be one of my bridesmaids because we always giggle when we get a chance to hang out and I know she will help keep things lighthearted, and help me to keep my eye on the prize--her amazing brother! She will have his best interests in mind when helping with decision making, and it will be easier to make decisions when he's not around when I have her input. I am happy she agreed to be part of my wedding because I think it will be an amazing bonding experience and I know she will make a wonderful sister-in-law! :o)
My sisters Elise and Aly are the obvious choices for my bridesmaids. They are by default my best friends, and those people you can get mad at or can get mad at you, but you know in the end you will always be sisters and we will be there for each other always. It makes me super bummed that they don't live nearby anymore, and with a fifteen hour drive separating us, with me in NY and them in NC...its going to be hard to not have them as readily available to share in the process as much as I'd like. I'm so psyched to be able to visit them next week for Christmas, and maybe we can fit in a day with my mom and my Grandma Haymore to do a little dress shopping. I'm not ready for a dress yet, but my friend Ginger made a good point--that its an experience I'd cherish to be able to share with them, and I should take the opportunity if I have it.
Speaking of Ginger....
Last night I officially appointed her my Maid of Honor. She's been my friend for 6+ years and I can think of no better person to help me with this creative journey. As a fellow CTMH consultant and partner in crime, we've got this uncanny knack of being able to sit down and work on a project together and make magic happen. Oh, I could make something gorgeous on my own, and she can make something gorgeous on her own, but when we get together and can feed off of each others' ideas--then it becomes gorgeous times ten! I trust her taste in color and design, and I know she will be the voice of reason to talk me down and put things into perspective when I get stressed. I'm glad she so excitedly accepted the responsibility--because it's going to be a long bumpy ride! :o) But tons of fun too, of course!

The Next Steps

So I'm engaged--but now what? I've heard about brides that get all stressed over wedding planning, but I hope I can keep perspective and make this a fun process of discovery and creativity. However, I really don't have a clue where to start! It seems like most women, I'd dreamed of the day since I was a little girl, but I never allowed myself to get swept up in the details and have a set plan, because why set my heart on something I can't have or afford? Now I can get swept up in the details--the ones I can make happen--but it would seem that it is not the details that you start with-- it's the big things, like, uh, you know--the date, venue, guest list/number of people attending and of course the budget!
So far, I've enjoyed spreading the news to family and friends via facebook, phone calls, and inpromptu visits. One of my favorite reactions so far was my Grandma Lewis. I called her before work on Monday to see if she needed me to bring her anything so that I had an excuse to stop by and surprise her. It turned out she asked for something it took me 3 stores to find and I was late for work, but the look on her face when I stuck out my hand and pointed to the ring was priceless. She was as giddy as a school girl and she smiled bigger in the brief time I was able to visit with her than I think I've ever seen! I know she loves Jeff because he has been helping us take care of our camp house up north for years now with lawn mowing etc, and whenever she comes over he cooks something fabulous (and obviously she loves him because she knows he takes good care of me and makes me happy too!) At any rate, that reaction was the best, and meant a lot to me.

So aside from spreading the news, I've chatted briefly with coworkers that have recently gotten engaged and been planning their weddings within the last year or so. They are going to hand down a haul of wedding magazines and connect me with some of their resources. I also have my best friend freaking out and already looking online for websites and blogs that will help us with ideas and planning steps etc. She found which looks like a great place to start, except there is just sooo much on there I did get overwhelmed for the first time last night looking at it. I created a new email address to sign up on the website and to start having all wedding related info go to the same place.
I also talked to my mom for quite awhile yesterday afternoon and sort of brainstormed as we chatted. In my efforts to stay budget friendly and have lots of personal handmade touches that reflect my personality and how much Jeff and I love our family--I want to think of small ways to get a lot of people involved. I will reveal those in future blog entries, but I'm excited about thinking of what the people that are special in our lives can contribute to our day--so as a few examples--I'd like to ask Jeff's Aunt Amy to make our cake, my Grandma Lewis if I can use her and my grandfather's cake topper, my Aunt Claudia to embroider a ring bearer pillow, my Uncle Norman to ordain the ceremony, Jeff's Uncle George to maybe end up using his lake front property, etc. Still so much to plan and consider, but I think it would make our day that much more special to utilize the strengths, interests, and traditions shared by the people we love most!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Engagement Day, December 18th, 2011

Jeff and I woke up by 5:30am to drive to the train station to take our first train ride together to head down to NYC for the day. We didn't really have a plan, all Jeff kept saying was that he wanted to see the tree lit up after dark in Rockefeller Center and see if we could ice skate. We decided on the train that the first thing we'd do was check out tickets for The Christmas Spectacular and go to see the Rockettes in Radio City Music Hall. We walked from Penn Station through Times Square and up to Rockefeller Center and got through the line fairly quickly to discover that the tickets remaining for sale were 8 rows back from the front in the middle for $125 a piece. He asked me if I wanted to see the show, and I worried that was too much to spend. Without hesitation he handed the ticket master his credit card and we were in for the show set to start 10 minutes later. Spare no expense for the day you will remember for the rest of your life right?
I couldn't believe that for all the times I'd been to the city I was finally in Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes, and that I was that close! We sat there with our 3-d glasses and watched the digital Santa and reindeer fly over the city skyline as presents flew out of the back of the sleigh and into our faces. The Statue of Liberty gave a wink as Santa flew around her to swoop down and drop the star on top of the tree in Rockefeller Center and before long the Rockettes graced the stage for the most incredible display of choreographed artistry I'd ever could have imagined!
After lunch at TGIFriday's we wandered Fifth Avenue and ducked into Macy's to get out of the wind and the cold for a bit. I was tickled to be in Macy's because my favorite movie is Miracle on 34th Street...but that quickly grew overwhelming because of the sheer size of the place and the number of people we were dodging while trying to stay together. Back out onto the street we went to head towards Greenwich Village and the Ink Pad stamp store that I'd been hoping to find. It was neat to see how the further we got from Rockefeller Center and Times Square the less congested it became and you could observe people going through their Sunday afternoon routines holding paper bags of groceries and coming from the Whole Foods Market. The stamp store was small but jam packed with goodies. Jeff was patient enough to let me look for a few things to purchase to bring home as momentos from the trip, but as soon as dusk gave way to dark, he was anxious to head back up to the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center to see it all lit up.
We hailed a taxi to take us back to the tree because we had walked dozens of blocks in the cold to get to the stamp store. Horns honked, and lights streaked past the windows as we were jostled around in the erratic stop-go rhythm of city driving but in moments we were back into the heart of the action and jumping out onto the sidewalks again. A couple took our picture for us with the tree in the background and we attempted to make our way closer to the ice skating rink. Realizing quickly that the thick mob of people surrounding it couldn't be penetrated and the line for the wait would far extend past when we need to be back at the train station we searched for a place to settle and relax for a minute. We took an elevator down into the eateries and shops of Rockefeller Plaza, but we didn't get the view from there that we'd hoped. My heart ached with anticipation--could we find the right conditions for Jeff to be able to make his move? Would he just not ask tonight if he couldn't find the right time and place? Was he even going to ask me or was I connecting dots that weren't there because I wanted it so badly?
I decided to take matters into my own hands, and I led us across the street from the tree to an empty spot on a long bench. We sat side by side with his arm around my shoulder looking up at the glittering lights of the tree and watching as masses of people passed us and milled about. I told him thank you for everything and it was nice to just be able to stop and sit a moment and pretend we were the only one's here. Then I asked if he was happy to finally see this tree all lit up since he'd been fixated on it all day. He told me the tree was beautiful, but said that wasn't really the reason we were here. Oh, it's not? I asked, as my heart caught in my throat and he slid off the bench and down on one knee in front of me.
It's so funny that I could connect all the dots, and even help set the scene to know it was coming, but in that moment, still feel shock, surprise, and disbelief along with the overwhelming sense of joy and excitement. It was like a movie where the rest of the world freeze framed around us and no one else mattered. It was just him and I in this frozen colored blur of motion. I know he asked me to marry him. I remember that part. I remember saying yes, breathlessly, as I took his face in my hands and pulled him in for a kiss before he could even slide the ring on my finger. I remember that my vision was so blurred with tears that I could barely see the ring at first.
And then the world unfroze, and the color and life and hub-bub resumed around us when a lady with her teenage daughter on the bench nearby called out, "Girl, did you say yes, cause I couldn't hear you!" And her daughter said, "Oh my god, did he just ask you to marry him?!" I laughed and nodded and cried out "yes, Yes, YES!" as tears streamed down my face in this emotional mess of a moment. They congratulated us and went on their way, but I teased Jeff that he probably made their night as much as it made mine. My hands trembled and Jeff wiped the tears from my face as I watched the diamond sparkle with the city lights and we reveled in our moment together.
Realizing that we needed enough time to get back to Penn Station to figure out how to get the train home, we headed out to hail a taxi. When it seemed all were full and none would stop for us, a bicycle rickshaw pulled up to the curb. Jeff looked at me, I looked at him, we looked at the cart behind the bicycle, shrugged and said, why not? It was a perfect way to end the night. Riding in the cart down the street, looking up at the lights and the window displays, and down at my sparkling ring while Jeff squeezed my other hand and held me close, I couldn't be happier.
On the train ride home Jeff pulled out his phone, and I thought it would be to check the scores of the Dolphins game, but he put one earbud in my ear and one in his and played "Marry Me" by Train. I cried all over again as we looked into each others eyes. I could barely squeak out, "Thank you for the best Christmas I will ever have."
Forever can never be long enough for me
Feel like I've had long enough with you
Forget the world now we won't let them see
But there's one thing left to do

Now that the weight has lifted
Love has surely shifted my way
Marry Me
Today and every day
Marry Me
If I ever get the nerve to say
Hello in this cafe
Say you will
Say you will

Together can never be close enough for me
Feel like I am close enough to you
You wear white and I'll wear out the words I love
And you're beautiful
Now that the wait is over
And love and has finally shown her my way
Marry me
Today and every day
Marry me
If I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe
Say you will
Say you will

Promise me
You'll always be
Happy by my side
I promise to
Sing to you
When all the music dies

And marry me
Today and everyday
Marry me
If I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe
Say you will
Say you will
Marry me

Leading up to the Engagment

It's funny, because after over five years of being with Jeff, I know him so well, I knew it was coming--but after years of teasing, hints, and some blatant pressuring for an engagement ring--did I dare hope? There were many clues leading up to our special engagement day...
  1. Whenever I asked him when he wanted to get married, his answer was always "someday" and more recently this changed to "Soon, be patient--I want us to finish grad school first."
  2. He finished his MBA program last month, I finished my Masters in Literacy on the 14th.
  3. On Black Friday when I was at work I called him on my break to say hi. When I asked what he was up to, he said he was just watching TV at home when it clearly sounded like he was in a car driving somewhere and I tripped him up in a lie (only to find out later, he was in fact ring shopping).
  4. The following week I caught him lying again when he told me he was stuck in traffic on the thruway for 2 hours coming home from his last class in Albany (he was really picking up the ring).
  5. That night, he came downstairs panicked about whether or not he had remembered to lock the car and was anxious to switch places with me in the driveway so that I wouldn't have to drive his the next morning (the ring was hidden in there under the back seat I guess).
  6. He texted me out of the blue while I was at class saying he wanted to go to NYC to see the tree in Rockefeller Center when a) he hates the city and I had to twist his arm to go with me on a bus trip last year b) had begged to go the previous month in Nov. to see the Rockettes and he'd had no interest.
  7. He was adamant about getting train tickets to go down together on our own instead of going with my friend Ginger and her family the first weekend of the month.
  8. During one of our first few dates I told him that I'd never been ice skating and every boyfriend I'd had told me they'd take me and I still hadn't been, so whoever took me would be the man I was meant to marry. When he got out of the shower one morning and I asked what he wanted to do in the city other than look at the tree in Rockefeller center, he said he'd like to go ice skating (It was all I could do not to jump up and down and squeal, but outwardly I played it cool and just said, "oh boy you want to see me fall on my butt in front of hundreds of people huh?!")
  9. When we got to the city it was his turn to play it cool, and he did a great job, but boy once it got dark he was on a race to get back to see that Christmas tree all lit up.
  10. Once we found a place to sit on a bench and look up at the tree, he had this adorable look of anticipation on his face that mirrored the hope in my heart that all these clues would lead up to the moment I'd hoped for--for so long--and thankfully they did!

How It All Started

Jeff & I, October 2006

Five years and three months ago, Jeff found me online at Yahoo Personals. By all my earlier qualifications his message to me would have been deleted--he was too short, and he lived an hour away. But his message to me was down to earth and candid, and I decided we'd meet for a date. On September 25th in Borders in Saratoga, NY we chatted over Starbucks coffee. Then he wanted to take me to dinner at Gaffney's Restaurant. Afterwards we played pool at Backstreet Billiards, went back to Gaffney's for a drink and dessert--and when we still didn't want the date to end--sat in his car in a 24 hour CVS/pharmacy parking lot and talked for hours before our first kiss goodnight. It was an instant connection that left us giddy with excitement, and within the week I received a dozen long stemmed red roses and song lyrics in my email inbox that solidified he was a keeper. Before long we were moving into our first apartment together, getting kittens, hunting for our first house, sharing important family and life celebrations and losses together, getting a puppy, finishing up our college educations and daydreaming about the future. And Sunday night in NYC, he finally asked me to marry him, and of course I said YES!