Time flies when you’re married to someone as fun (and loving and kind and hardworking) as Nick. Today we’re celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary.
photo by Henry Photographers
It has been a wild, happy and very full (and fulfilling!) four years since we walked down the aisle at Saint Cecilia Parish for the first time as husband and wife. I’m so proud of our marriage and family and feel so grateful to have Nick as my partner in it all.
Why simply recycle… when you can up-cycle? And by up-cycle, I mean slap some metallic paint on a few jars destined for the recycling bin. Easy as that.
My sister’s bridal shower provided the perfect opportunity to dump glitter all over my condo, cut up a bunch of ribbon, and smear paint all over the place. I love a good craft project. These vases, which I filled with silk peonies (my sister will have the real deal in her bouquet this weekend), took all of five minutes to make, plus an overnight to dry and cost less than six bucks.
Easy, up-cycled vases
What you’ll need:
Several clean, dry glass jars (I used a couple pasta sauce jars and a few Bonne Maman jam jars)
An old mixing bowl or similar, deep container that you don’t mind ruining covering in paint (I used a Ziplock container that was missing its lid)
Newspaper or cardboard for drying
Super obvious, likely unnecessary step-by-step:
Wash and dry all glass jars and prep am area where you can allow painted jars to dry overnight (I used several old cardboard boxes and bribed Clark to stay away from them).
Work with one jar at a time. Pour a small amount of paint into your mixing bowl, dip your first jar and tip over to dry, allowing the paint to drip down the sides. Use as much or as little paint as you like.
Repeat step two until all jars have been dipped.
Allow paint to dry over night before tipping them upright.
Do not use these vases for food or drink. I am certain neither Martha Stewart nor I want anyone to get poisoned.
These vases would also make great pen and pencil holders for your desk, or cute storage for jewelry and makeup brushes.
Semi-related: Is it just me, or does everyone think The Home Depot be renamed The Compliment Depot? I dropped in there before work last week and got an unexpected early morning ego boost. I love places that open early (mostly because I get a run in my nylons nearly every morning and don’t always have an extra pair or nine on hand). Anyway, I was there to buy a convertible hand cart (my life is truly glamorous, in case that wasn’t abundantly obvious) and walked up and down every aisle twice. Including the toilet one. With no luck.
After waiting in line for a few minutes at customer service, I learned the carts are located in the garden department. The gentleman who pointed me in the right direction remarked on how patient I was (not true, but okay…). When I estimated that I would need to move more than 150 pounds, but fewer than 800 pounds, the person helping me said I was very smart for knowing that (um… that’s a range of 650 pounds, and I only know that because I used the calculator app on my iPhone). When I refused an offer of assistance and carried the monstrosity of a cart out on my own, I got a whoa, you’re strong (this person clearly did not see me nearly fall under my own car while trying to lift the cart into the trunk). I was also complimented on my pretty dress and great smile (I think it was actually a grimace, since I was in the aforementioned toilet aisle).
I’ll be back there soon for more compliments, and more metallic paint.
I have become that person that won’t stop talking about her wedding. You thought I was done, but I’ve really been spending the last (nearly) two months since my last wedding post tricking you all into believing I was done. Because I am sneaky like that. Mostly, I will talk about our wedding as long as Nick and I are married (the plan is for that to be, welp, forever). Please come to terms with this. Or delete me from your internet life (No. Please don’t do that.).
Remember when I advised you to make a list of things that didn’t matter? Flowers were very much not on that list for me. I worked in a flower shop as a youth of America (someone kept saying that in a meeting yesterday – the youth of America part, not the flower shop part – and now I can’t stop saying it).
It was the best part-time job I’ve ever had. I quickly learned the names of every flower (and that I am allergic to stargazer lilies, and that I am prejudiced against carnations), and loved watching the designers create the most beautiful arrangements. The shop’s owner is one of the smartest, savviest, most hard working people I have ever met. And she knows exactly what I like. I knew I needed her to do our flowers.
Moving on. The headpiece was made by Vera Wang (or maybe, like, one of her minions). The eyelashes were made by God. Just kidding. They’re store-bought. So is my skin tone. Being pale and freckly is fine 364 days of the year, but I didn’t want to risk blending in with my dress, so I went the, um, old-fashioned route: spray tanning. Before you picture J-Woww (is that how you spell her name?), I aimed for a few days in the sun (if that were safe, and if my skin turned any color other than hot pink after 10 minutes of exposure), rather than a few years down the Shore.
Okay. Less writing, more photos.
Big church, big dress.
Maybe when I grow up I will be as tall as my siblings.
I wish I had a balcony like that in real life. I would make so many speeches.
And more (unsolicited) advice for brides
The last time I offered unsolicited advice for brides, we talked about finding a good pair of flats, a mantra, and the perfect bridesmaid’s dress. Today, we’re talking registries. Awkward, I know. That’s why I feel like it’s important to talk about them.
No one wants to feel (or appear) greedy. A registry is essentially a list of stuff you want. Maybe you need some of the things on the list. Or maybe you feel like you’re pretty much set. It’s okay (and I think, normal) to feel a little weird about telling people – people who will likely be spending time and money by simply attending your wedding – that you want a whole bunch of forks, waffle makers, and margarita sets.
With that said, I like to think registries were invented for a purpose other than to make you feel uncomfortable. In fact, they can save you from uncomfortable situations such as opening six of the aforementioned waffle makers at your bridal shower.
People like to give presents that they know will be enjoyed, appreciated, and used by the recipient. Thinking about this helped me when it came time to wield the scanner gun thing. (Truth be told, I became a bit obsessed with that thing.)
When registering, think realistically about what you want, and why you want it. In an imaginary world, Nick and I regularly host elaborate dinner parties on fine china. In reality, a dining table (let alone the actual diners) does not fit into our condo. Six basic (but beautiful) white place settings made much more sense for us. China can wait. So can the waffle makers.
It also helps to think about space. Accumulating items for the sake of accumulating items never goes well. Especially if your basement and attic are effectively other people’s condo units. And are therefore locked. And not places you can store things.
Look into alternates to traditional registries. One of the most thoughtful wedding gifts we received was a donation to a children’s charity in our names. Nick and I were really moved by that. Sites like I Do Foundation and Just Give allow you to share your favorite causes with family and friends.
If you are planning to change your name, you might also consider adding a service like Miss Now Mrs to your registry. Having spent several hours at the Social Security Administration last week, I can assure you that services like this are worth the $29.95.
If only you could register for French bulldogs. And two additional hours of sleep. And magical, calorie free Junior Mints.
Also On Tap for Today:
Enjoying my last day as a 30 year old (by acting like a 70 year old, in sweats and glasses… at 8 PM)
Welp, it’s cold (again). It is, after all, January in Boston. I am wearing layers and layers and reminiscing about a much warmer day, no so long ago, when Nick and jumped ship small boat and swam to shore at Devil’s Bay, Virgin Gorda. Perhaps a look at some of the 5,004 photos I took (with my snazzy underwater-friendly Nikon, which I bought as a wedding present… to myself) will help warm us up.
Virgin Gorda, one of the British Virgin Islands, was about an hour by power boat from St. John. We made stopped en route at Tortola to clear customs, which was a bit terrifying, as our first mate had to take our passports and go ashore without us while we waited for the all clear to pick her up. I like to know where my passport is at all times. And who’s touching it. And potentially making counterfeit copies of it (True Life: I watch too many spy and cop shows). Soon enough, though, we were on our way.
As much as I like to plan and be bossy, I got bogged down with wedding details as the big day approached and left the honeymoon to Nick (he did an incredible job). While I intended to be helpful in researching day trips, restaurants, and beaches, I mostly saw one photo of Virgin Gorda and said, “We neeeeeeed to go there.” And then went back to writing out place cards.
If you’re in the neighborhood, say on St. John or St. Thomas, a day trip to The Baths at Virgin Gorda is a must. The baths are incredible ancient rock formations (baths is short for batholith, I think… not bathtub) that line the shore, creating turquoise salt water pools and tranquil caves that beg to be explored. As mesmerizing as the photos I found online were, I wasn’t prepared for how amazing they would be in person. I was captivated long before we got to shore, my mouth hanging open (and my snorkel tube thing taking on water). They are just gorgeous.
Were the baths to be found in American territory, I am certain we would have been required to…
sign some sort of waiver
wear a helmet
Being elsewhere, however, we were able to literally swim up to the rocks, ditch our fins and snorkels and make our way along the sandy path leading through the baths.
We spent a few hours climbing up and over rocks, swimming in tidal pools, and watching the ocean water rush in between the giant boulders. It was, simply put, magical – the perfect playground for my overactive imagination and often distracting curiosity.
I didn’t want to leave, but we sort of had to. From a warmer day on Virgin Gorda, to a much colder day in Boston, it’s good to have pictures like these to remind us how incredible the world is. And how lucky we are to be able to explore it. And that it’s sort of okay to hand your passport over to an unseen stranger.
Also On Tap for Today:
Be sure to check in on elderly friends and neighbors when the weather’s this cold
While we’ve officially been married for two months (and seven days, NBD) and I’ve shared various iPhone pics… I now have, in my possession, our official wedding photos from the incredibly talented Katherine and Craig at Henry Photographers. Brace yourself. My sock bun is almost as big as my goofy smile.
More to come, including photos from our Mass at St. Cecilia. But first, every bride-to-be’s favorite part of wedding planning… unsolicited advice!
My advice for brides:
People are going to ask you a lot of questions. You will know the answers to some. You will not have even considered the answers to others (there really are people in the Universe who care about table linens). You will want to keep some secrets. Develop a canned answer now, if you can. “It’s a surprise!” worked quite well for me. It creates intrigue, without being dismissive. And it works for (nearly) everything. What does your dress look like? It’s a surprise. What is your first dance song? It’s a surprise. (Considering we finalized this choice three days before the wedding, our indecisiveness was the real surprise. To our DJ.) Who are your bridesmaids? It’s a surprise. Am I invited? It’s a surprise.
Bring flats. Sparkly ones, if you can manage.
Speaking of shoes, I wore a pair of black pumps. I knew no one would see them (they were hidden under all that Vera), so for once in my life I had the sense to choose function over fashion. I have worn those pumps a dozen times since the wedding. The lesson: there are plenty of opportunities to be sensible rather than fanciful. Would champagne sequined shoes with some sort of ruffle or feather adornment have been fabulous? Yes. Would anyone notice them, without me hoisting up my dress? No. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy amazing shoes. It just means that you don’t have to. Regardless of what Pinterest tells you.
Secure a non-ugly, non-plastic hanger for your dress. Unless you don’t mind the cheap-o version showing up in photographs, as seen above. Whoops.
Don’t limit yourself to actual bridesmaids dresses. I think I had a dream, nay, a vision!, about champagne sequins dresses. I became obsessed by this idea. I searched for months and months a few days, and found the perfect dress at Nordstrom. It was reasonably priced and looked incredible… on my incredible looking bridesmaids. I only wish I had ordered one for myself. (#crazybridestatement)
Make a list of things that meet the following criteria: If this doesn’t get done, I will not die. If this doesn’t get done, the wedding will still go on. If this doesn’t get done, I will likely be the only one who notices. For me, Mass programs were on that list. Not surprisingly, I didn’t get around to printing them. And I didn’t die. The wedding still went on. Maybe a few people noticed, but I like to imagine they thought I was a devoted environmentalist and made a conscious decision to save my brother and sister trees of the rain forest. Things that do not meet the criteria, just in case you need examples: getting your marriage license and getting to the church on time. Commit to not having a meltdown if the things on this list do not get done. Focus on the important things. Like table linens.
Find a mantra, a happy place, or a patient friend (or a stiff drink?) for when things get a little frenzied. They might. They might not. I’m lucky that we had very few bumps along the road (don’t ask me about our caterer), and planning our wedding was quite a bit of fun for me. Anytime I felt myself turning ferocious, though, I tried (and sometimes succeeded) in reminding myself that people are operating from a very good place. And with the best of intentions. Ultimately, I get to spend the rest of my life with Nick, and that is all that matters.
I wasn’t sure whether to lead with that, or save the best for last. It seems like much of the year (and the end of 2011) felt like a lead up to the wedding, and I loved (nearly) every minute of it. From marriage prep class to cake (pop) tasting, it was quite a bit of fun. Seriously. There was certainly a melt down or two, but when you get to marry your best friend, the silly stuff (like table linen swatches) sort of fades to the background.
A close second to getting married was the time we spent immediately thereafter. Nick and I took a ten day honeymoon to St. John, where we swam, snorkeled, explored, sailed and floated to our hearts’ content.
After months and months of listening to Nick and friends rave about CrossFit, I got my first taste of the proverbial KoolAid while visiting Reebok World Headquarters and Reebok CrossFit One with FitFluential. I was hooked at 3-2-1 go! I joined Crossfit Southie and started going to WODs twice a week with Nick. If you’re looking to be challenged, and to find a great community to keep you going, I highly recommend taking your own sip of the (paleo?) KoolAid.
Clark passed his AKC Canine Good Citizen and therapy dog exams earlier this year (I like to think I did a little work, too, but it’s his name on the certificates…). We’ve made visits to a local children’s hospital (specifically to a pediatric and adolescent psych unit) nearly every week since July and I can say without reservation, it has been the most rewarding and moving volunteer work I have ever done. It’s such a privilege to be able to connect with such wonderful kids, and the adults who care for them. Though some visits are more difficult than others, I always leave feeling like my heart is spilling over. And Clark always looks pretty darn happy, too.
5. Putting down roots in my ‘hood
Perhaps it’s because our condo was good and renovated by the start of 2012, but it feels like we really put down roots this year. From Crossfit Southie to our local coffee shop, our routine is very local. And I love that. I love that strangers know my dog’s name (I don’t love when they try to feed him Cheetos, though). I love that I see the same people, doing the same things, day after day. I love that I have to cross a bridge to leave, and a bridge to come home.
Simply put, I love our hood. Especially when I’m wearing a (Reebok) hood.
6. Making a health plan
After vowing to find a new primary care physician for years, I finally made good on my promise and ended up with not only a great doctor, but an entire team of health care professionals. Though the months of blood tests, elimination diets, poking and prodding got old fast, I am feeling better than I have in years. Like, 10 years. Though chronic illnesses like colitis don’t vanish into thin air, I’ve learned so much about managing symptoms and making changes. This former pastatarian has forgone gluten and lived to tell of it. And the weekly B12 injections? Completely worth the literal pain in the butt.
200 miles, 12 girls, 2 vans. A recipe for disaster? Or the ultimate weekend? Thanks to New Balance, we averted disaster and had the ultimate relay experience. I think of my teammates whenever I hear “Call Me Maybe.” Fortunately, I love my teammates. I hear that song a lot. Still.
This should have been far closer to the top of the list (my brain has a tendency to wander, we know this), but becoming an aunt has been a highlight not only of 2012, but of my semi-young life in total. I could have never imagined loving someone as much as I do my niece. When my older brother called me from the hospital to say that Nora Elizabeth had finally arrived, I cried and cried and cried. And when I held her the first time, welp… I cried and cried and cried. She is just incredible.
Being a guest of Nespresso and Emirates Team New Zealand on a VIP boat (complete with the best espresso) in Newport Harbor felt like something that should be reserved for a, welp, VIP. Somehow, I got a spot on one of the boats and enjoyed a front row view of the match races this summer. It was, quite simply, incredible.
If that last goofball dancing photo was any indication, I had a blast at our reception. Before we made our way to the venue, though, we took our little trolley around the corner from St. Cecilia for formal photos with our wedding party and families (including Nick’s grandmother, who traveled from Portugal, and our four month old niece… who traveled from Charlestown).
Incidentally, just a few days after our wedding, our photographers Katherine and Craig welcomed a baby of their own. He looks like such a love! I am sure they have their hands full, but I will be sure to share some of our professional photos as soon as we have them. In the meantime, we’ll make do with random photos posted on Facebook and/or borrowed from my mother’s iPhone.
We met the rest of our guests a bit later in the upper gallery at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres (one perk of being a French major: I never misspell hors d’oeuvres… or Jacques Chirac). The venue staff encouraged us to make use of the gorgeous balcony with a grand entrance, and so we did. I held onto Nick’s shoulder for dear life as we made our way down the staircase to the main theatre. If anyone’s likely to tumble into their own wedding reception, it would be me. Luckily, I stayed upright. While our wedding party entered to MJ’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” Nick and I share an affinity for Stevie Wonder with the President and entered to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” We went right into our first dance to Ben Folds’ “The Luckiest,” which is…. welp, my favorite song of all time by a non-Michael Jackson artist.
My father and I danced to Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?“
Nick and his mother danced to Scott Keo’s “All To You“
My sister and Nick’s brother, our Maid of Honor and Best Man respectively, delivered the most kind, heartfelt toasts. Again and again, I kept thinking we really are the luckiest.
I fell in love with the venue the moment we entered the theatre and looked up to see the beautiful preserved ceiling. The building is a renovated court house and has been hosting weddings for a little over a year. Their staff was absolutely lovely to work with, and so helpful throughout the process. Everything came together just as we had hoped, from the flowers to the dessert bar to the tiny canvases my sister helped me turn into table numbers.
The three of us (Nick, my dress and I) floated about the room chatting with friends and family over dinner, but still managed to get a few bites of our own meals.
We had a few hiccups along the way (that’s a cute way of saying I grew two new ulcers, right?) with our caterer, but the food itself was great. Our guests chose between crispy stuffed chicken with Boursin and spinach, and pumpkin ravioli with sage brown butter. The challenged among us (that would be me) enjoyed a vegetarian, gluten-free falafal cake with a cucumber yogurt dressing. I took a very dainty bite of our (not gluten-free) ceremonial cake… because really… it was our wedding day.
Kelly at Mix Bakery clearly got our vision and delivered the perfect little mixfetti cake (with pale pink ribbons of frosting), and a full dessert bar for our guests that included carrot cake and peanut butter cup mini cupcakes, miniature whoopie pies, and several varieties of cake pops.
Kelly put together a Pinterest board as we went back and forth on ideas. Being such a visual person, this was tremendously helpful for me. Not to mention fun. And appetite stimulating. I loved that our friends and family were able to grab sweets and head to the dance floor, without having to wait for a traditional cake service. And maaaaan, did we dance. DJ Sheldon had nearly the whole crowd on the dance floor for hours.
I could not have pictured a more perfect day. Let’s do this again soon.
Let’s get down to wedding business, shall we? I truly appreciate all the kind comments and tweets and am excited to catch you up on our wedding and honeymoon over several hundred posts. And yes, I promise to tell you all about those killer bridesmaids dresses. While I was extremely excited for our reception (and the aforementioned dresses), the highlight was definitely the moment we exchanged vows and our marriage became “official.”
For Catholics, many – if not most – of life’s greatest milestones are marked by the seven holy sacraments. Since I will never receive the sacrament of holy orders (obvi), that leaves six:
Anointing of the Sick
Holy Matrimony (or the sacrament of marriage, if you’re feeling casual) is a public sign of giving oneself totally to your partner, while also making a commitment to our faith. Because Nick and I have such a warm, welcoming faith community, our decision to get married at our parish, St. Cecilia, was an easy one.
Our wedding rehearsal [this photo and the truly special one at the bottom of this post were taken by my lovely friend Kristine]
In the months leading up to our wedding, we met with our pastor and our pastoral associate (he was also our cantor and coordinated our Mass). We requested our baptismal certificates from the churches where we were baptized – mine from Hyde Park and Nick’s from Lowell. [Catholic fun (?) fact: The parish where you were baptized – most likely as an infant – keeps all of your official records regardless of if/when you join a new parish. Most records are still kept by hand.] We completed a day-long marriage preparation class (often referred to as pre-Cana) at The Paulist Center in Boston, which focused on conversations about faith, finances, and relationships. I had no idea what to expect going into the process, but truthfully, we had an overwhelmingly positive experience. We are really lucky to have found a home in our parish and the people that make up that community.
For the Mass itself, we were encouraged to choose the readings and music that best spoke to us and our relationship. Not surprisingly, we chose readings and songs about love (truly creative, I know) and joy and peace. In addition to our bridesmaids and groomsmen, we had a chance to involve family members in a special way at our Mass. We chose two readings from the New Testament that I adore. Ordinarily a Catholic Mass includes one Old Testament reading and one New Testament reading, but most of our OT (…if I may) options were a little too “wife, obey your husband” for us. I do what I want.
After the Gospel reading (John 15:9-12), Fr. John gave such a touching homily. I am so grateful for the way he welcomed our family and friends, and shared bits and pieces of our conversation with him in the days leading up to the wedding. He talked about the things we love most about one another and reminded us how important it is to continue to “bring these words to speech.”
I managed to keep my composure (mostly), but teared up a number of times throughout Mass. The music and readings were just perfect. Being walked toward the altar by my father, and seeing so many loved ones on each side of the aisle, was incredible… especially knowing that Nick was waiting for me just a few yards away. To have so many people gathered around us as we exchanged vows was such a gift. At the risk of sounding like a cheese doodle, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love we felt that day.