what happened to all those cake stands
August 9, 2012

You may recall the tale of my mom, the anti-mother-of-the-bride turned rabid cake stand collector.

By the end of the search, the wedding day seemed to be besides the point. But we still had a party to throw, so out came all the glass.

At the day after brunch, we gave some cake stands away to the most special women in my life (though, admittedly, we did not give them the most special cake stands.)

We lost a few to a tragic rolling cart accident while loading up the car.

One of the tiniest cake stands – the one that sat on the sweetheart table where Dave and I had our first meal as husband and wife – is now in our tiniest of New York City kitchens. Its pattern is called “Good Luck” and it was typically given to newlyweds in an effort to send them off into their life together with just that.

In recent weeks, Mom’s managed to carve out a few more from the collection; they’re currently sitting on the dining room buffet, labeled and catalogued, waiting to be distributed to more ladies we love.

But of course, at least 15 remain in her kitchen cabinets, displacing china and stemware that I don’t foresee ever regaining their spot in the limelight. We are, very firmly, cake stand people now.

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the aftermath
August 7, 2012

I was going to tell you all about the day after the wedding, in which I woke up before Dave (unheard of!) and bounded up to my parents’ room clutching a copy of the New York Times to find my dad with his hair sticking straight up and my mother still in bed at 8:30 at the morning (unheard of!) and how I sat on the corner of their bed and we talked about the evening and kept saying things like “just perfect” and “wonderful” and “lucky, lucky, lucky.”

But dude, even I am getting a little bit tired of these 1,000 word-plus wedding-related blabs.

So instead I will just give you the highlights. I will tell you that I did not get that cheeseburger, sadly, but I did eat an entire plateful of bacon at our post-wedding brunch.

A few pieces ended up on this dress and left distinct grease stains but I didn’t really care.

At the brunch, I flitted from table to table, taking in all these people who had come so far to see us get married, now in the rosy daylight.

Neither the boy who vomited on the bus nor his entourage made it to the brunch. Evan made it, but only after enduring a car ride with my aunt and uncle (both in their 70s) yelling at their GPS. Sometimes watching your worlds collide is poignant and stirring and sometimes it’s just hilarious.

Dave and I took the train back to New York, lugging with all those outfits I had insisted on bringing for no apparent reason, and ran into Tracey and Aaron and Evan too.

We got back to the apartment and ate the same sushi I’d been eating nearly every night pre-wedding and sat in our same living room, but everything felt different. We read the wishes and congratulations everyone wrote on their cards and I cried.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep or the post-wedding buzz or the promise of Hawaii the next morning. But man, I don’t think I’ve ever felt as happy as I did that next day, when it all started sinking in.

Previously: the pre-wedded state, Dave & Rach Get Married, Part 1; Dave & Rach Get Married, Part 2; Dave & Rach Get Married, Part 3

Next: the honeymoon, duh.

Rach & Dave get married, part 3
August 6, 2012

First on the agenda after all those Mediterranean appetizers: a teeth check.

Once we affirm we don’t have strands of roasted red pepper stuck in our bicuspids, we’re ready to hit cocktail hour.

We’ve rejected the idea of a receiving line and will end up spending the dinner hour downing our beef wellington and then sneaking out to the terrace alone when we probably should be rotating amongst the tables, but for now, we’re really working it. The tartar station and passed slices of filet I was planning on focusing on are now a distant memory; my new cocktail hour goal seems to involve flinging my arms around as many people as possible. I am a hugging machine. (The massive wine glass filled with champagne that a family friend hands me seems to help with this pursuit.)

One of the many modern American wedding expectations I have a problem with is the Grand Entrance Of The Newly Betrothed Mr. And His Missus. First off, I’m not taking Dave’s name in any way, shape or form, so what is there to really announce anyway? I fret about the bridal party not wanting to boogie in to the Black Eyed Peas, about Dave and I being embarrassed of the spotlight too.

And then I come up with a solution.

Only Dave and I will do the entrance. They’ll call us “Dave and Rach” – duh, those are our names. And Notorious B.I.G.’s Hypnotize will be blaring in the background.

It is absolutely the right call.

Then it’s time for the traditional Jewish dance/brush with death: the hora.

I watch in horror as some of Dave’s scrawny, non-Jewish friends are recruited in the heat of the moment to hold the chairs. The result is a bumpy, petrifying ride meant to…brace us for what marriage feels like? I’m not sure, but I know I’m much happier when we’re finally on the ground again.

Of course, as soon as it’s my parents’ turn to test the limits of their mortality, I’m all for it, clapping away.

There are some more dances, but there’s nothing really hilarious about them to share, except for maybe how terrible Dave and I are at dancing. It never even crossed our minds to take a class; we know we’re beyond help.

My dance with my Dad is no better choreographed – the coordination challenges I face span generations – but it is very special to me, if only because both my parents, never the biggest supporters of all this traditional wedding crap, are somehow now beaming.

The toasts range from Poignant (my best friends) to Not At All Focused On Us (my mother, classically trying to prevent her daughter from being the center of attention on her freaking wedding day) to Very Painful To Listen To (An Unidentified Drunk Brother.)

Not because the Unidentified Drunk Brother doesn’t love us of course, but maybe because he put too much faith in his improv skills and his ability to handle an open bar. His final line – wishing us the 3 C’s in our marriage: compassion, communication and sex – gets a big laugh from me, both because it’s funny and because, thank god, it seems like he’s finally going to hand over the mic to someone else.

Dave’s 15-year-old brother – he of bar mitzvah and embarrassing Facebook debacle fame – makes the best speech, in Dave’s and my opinion. He cuts right to the chase, wishes us well, and is done in 15 seconds flat. The whole crowd is so grateful we all ignore the glass of champagne he’s holding.

I know you’re supposed to have some big moving moment at your wedding, probably at your ceremony, as you devote the remainder of your days on earth to your husband, or maybe right before you walk down the aisle, as you contemplate your girlhood  with your parents and begin to see the step you’re taking as a distinct, new chapter in your life. But my moment, if I had one, probably came on the dance floor.

We’re surrounded by a swaying crowd of family and friends, and, this is far from poetic, I know, but everyone just appears to be having a wonderful time at this silly little event. Everyone we love seems to love us right back.

Honestly, Dave and I are kind of shocked that we are capable of throwing this kind of party, capable of somehow convincing people to rally around us like that. We’re moderately sure the constant flow of champagne has something to do with it, but still. It makes me very happy.

The dance floor festivities continue to rage and Dave and I momentarily sneak out for a private cake cutting.

By this point, I’m pretty sure the night has officially reached Your Wedding Isn’t A Failure status (see above dance floor moment), but we’re not taking any chances. Our back-up plan was to buy our guests’ love calorically, with 10 different flavors of cake, and we’re sticking to it.

So that’s my wedding success tip: excessive desserts. Heaping plates of cakes slices, lemon bars, cream puffs and meringues seem to do the trick for us.

After all the cake has been eaten, the champagne drunk, the two encores played by the band, who promises to perform at our anniversary party, it’s time to peace out.

We board the buses. I’m next to Dave near the back, head on his shoulder, soaking everything in, when suddenly I catch a snippet of conversation from the seat ahead of me.

“Get it together, man,” the voice whispers. “We’re almost there.”

And then, there’s a lot of vomit.

I’m so high on bliss, so bossy on bridal status and so fucking intent on throwing a rager that I simply gather up my dress and make a beeline for the exit, no worse for the wear.

Then we all pile into the bar in the lobby of our hotel. My cousins are situated on bar stools, our friends are sprawled out on the lounge furniture, my aunts and uncles are congregating near the entrance. Jon is pouring glasses of champagne for my parents, someone’s ordering wine by the bottle. My college newspaper co-editor is sitting next to my high school biology classmate who’s  laughing at something my office husband is saying as he slowly drains a glass of whiskey. The bar is starting to feel like an episode of “This is Your Life,” and it’s awesome.

Of course, the happy couple can’t outstay their welcome. We leave the partygoers to their revelry and head upstairs to our room, consider the bottle of champagne on ice, the note addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. B.” (never heard of them), the cute little nightgowns I stocked up on for our honeymoon.

“How would you feel about getting a cheeseburger?” I ask.

And my new husband just laughs at me.

Next up: The day after, and a few bonus features.

Previously: the pre-wedded state; Rach & Dave get married, part 1; Rach & Dave get married, part 2

All photographs by Elisabeth Millay.

Rach & Dave get married, part 2
August 3, 2012

Once we leave behind the packed lobby and beseeching relatives, and it’s just me and Dave, I’m a very happy girl.

We wander down the streets of New Haven and soon learn that my cathedral-length veil is serious business.

It has a mind of its own and is kind of hamming it up for the camera. Instead of staying behind my head, where it seems to me veils generally ought to reside, it gets all brash and needy and  starts tangling up in Dave’s legs.

My veil is an attention whore.

It’s awkward for everyone involved.


Once the veil is put back in its place – literally and figuratively – Dave and I get back to our jobs: walking around and looking at each other adoringly.

Eventually we get to a big courtyard — Yale’s Old Campus, where I partied with Meg many a night freshman year.

All those girls I forced to wear mint green show up, along with our families. We fit in some group shots in lightening speed and round out the hour with the proven Three-Prong Approach to Solid Candid Photos in mind: giggle, smile, walk. Repeat.

We head back to the hotel and board a bus that takes us to the totally non-exclusive club where we’re holding the wedding. The veil gets all demanding again (seriously, whose wedding day is it?) and I require assistance to de-board.

We set up camp in the bridal suite and the girls immediately start fretting over the veil and the skirt of my dress. All that tulle has gathered dirt and debris and possibly even some baby animals after the outdoor photo session and the bridesmaids are determined to make it perfect before my walk down the aisle.

They start out handling everything in a pretty PG manner.

But soon they’re all up in my business. They’re under my skirt, attacking every layer. Someone finds a lint roller in the bathroom baskets. The photographer says she’s never seen anything like this.

I’m initially a touch skeptical, but soon feel nothing but pride and gratitude as my best friends swirl around and below me like little cleaning nymphs. I remember all the times they’ve been there for me, through breakups and hangups and all manner of catastrophes — now, including a dirtied bridal gown. My love for them has never been so palpable or infinite.

Next up is the signing of our ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract. We get a few family members arranged in the room, and we sit, and we wait. The rabbi – the only guy required to get this show on the road – is late. I’m a little panicky and implore my mother to perhaps just “reach out” to him. She scorns my PR speak and brings in the wedding coordinator, who tells me clergy of all denominations are inevitably late, too busy answering to a higher power and all that to pay attention to the time.

Lo and behold, he soon arrives, and we sign the small but beautiful papercut document with an intimate group watching.

Two of our old friends act as our witnesses, including my dear friend Meriel, who used to eat dinner at my family’s house every Tuesday night growing up. Afterwards, we would either go to Hebrew School or, if I could convince Meriel to ditch, the mall. It’s hard to believe we’re two grown-up Jewish women now, but somehow, here we are. I’m feeling stunned and grateful for her signature and her embrace and her fierce haircut. The day is turning into a blur of joy.

After signing our lives away, Dave and I have a few moments to decompress.

And just as the severity of what we’re about to do comes to me, it’s off to the races.

Let it be known that my father, through all of this, appears elated. In person, my mother looks ravishing in her navy and black off the shoulder Bergdorf cocktail dress and I can only assume that, deep down inside, she shares my father’s joy. But the photographic evidence points to something…less than happiness. My mother and a handful of other relatives radiate not glee but confusion and disapproval. Their looks range from Extremely Low IQ to Stroke Victim to Utterly Disgusted By The Event That’s About To Take Place.

Some people just have resting angry faces or lack control of their facial muscles, my mother explains as we scroll through the pictures.

Needless to say, there are lots of photos of my dad in our wedding album.

Anyway, like I said, we’re heading into battle.

We’ve opted for a theatre-in-the-round type set up for the ceremony. We pat ourselves on the back for our untraditional approach only to later find out that the chuppah in the middle thing is actually a longstanding Sephardic Jewish tradition. We’re not Sephardic and thus decide we still get points for creativity. Besides, everyone seems to like the cozy, inclusive feel it creates.

The rabbi, who we’ve been working with for over a year, leads a lovely, moving ceremony that apparently makes Bridget’s parents beg her to marry a Jewish guy. We circle each other seven times as part of a mystical, ancient tradition. We drink wine from two silver kiddush cups – one that belonged to my great grandparents and one that Tracey got us as a wedding gift. We’re wrapped in a tallis – Jewish prayer shawl – and feel the hands of our parents on our heads as they give us their blessing.

Then it’s time to do that thing we initially tried to avoid but were coaxed into by our very wise rabbi: open our mouths.

They’re not vows exactly, just little statements of love and devotion. I’ve been working on mine in a Gmail draft stubbornly labeled “ceremony thoughts” (the word “vows” makes me kind of want to “vomit”) for upwards of five months, often with Call Me Maybe blaring on repeat in the background. Dave started and finished his the night before — and I have it on good authority he exceeded our recommended word count.

Mine are short, sugary sweet, and made Megan cry when I let her take a peek at them the Thursday night before the wedding.

I am convinced that mine are going to kick Dave’s ass. I am a writer, for God’s sakes. People pay me to do this.

Instead, Dave, speaking first, busts out a set of perfectly sappy, shockingly well-written sentences, referencing life and death and love. The crescendo comes with a hospital anecdote that revolves around an elderly patient’s UTI.

The crowd (packed full of nephrologists) goes wild.

My own reaction slowly evolves from incredulity that he actually just said that, to slight agitation at the realization that he’s upstaging me, to, finally, just giving in and laughing along with everyone else.

Of course, now that it’s my turn, the spoken promises and memories I’ve woven together seem to fall on deaf ears — they are poignant yes, but they lack references to pee. Not as fun, seems to be the audience’s consensus.

Whatever — before we know it, Dave breaks the glass and everyone’s screaming Mazel Tov and we’re booking it out of there as Eight Days a Week plays in the background.

We head straight to our yichud, a Jewish custom that ensures a married couple’s first moments together will be shielded from their elderly relatives’ piercing New York accents and that they won’t have to camp out in front of the kitchen door with the other old Jewish men in order to ensure access to the passed appetizers. No, instead we are whisked away to a private room with our own hors d’oeuvre tray.

We sit down, I shrug off my shoes, we start to process the fact that we’re going to be together forever…and then the rabbi busts in.

“Oops!” he says, averting his eyes and hurrying off the way he came.

Fortunately, we are not engaged in any inappropriate behavior, unless you count examining our new wedding rings and stuffing our faces with Mediterranean sampler appetizers.

And besides, so what if we were? We’re married now! Three years of living in sin and wearing red dresses at the wrong time have come to a rather official end and while I doubt very much that my penchant for sarcastic statements or fashion risks will be casualties of the transition, it does feel like something really wonderful and new is starting.

Next up: We make our grand entrance to a rap classic, we start to suspect we’re throwing an amazing party and someone throws up on the bus home, thus confirming our suspicions. 

Previously: the pre-wedded state, Rach & Dave Get Married Part 1

All photos by Elisabeth Millay.

 

Rach & Dave get married, part 1
August 1, 2012

I wake up the morning of the wedding feeling both characteristically like myself (giddy over the big pile of tulle hanging in the closet) but  also, in other, shocking ways, most definitely not like myself (absence of hunger.) The big pile of tulle, aka my dress, gets flung over my shoulder and carried upstairs to the little penthouse space of the hotel, where I am the first to arrive.

It’s the perfect backdrop for getting ready. Slowly, my closest girlfriends, a few female family members and the people we’ve hired to make us beautiful arrive.

Surrounded by all of my favorite girls, fielding a few poignant emails from friends detained in Africa or Michigan and wishing us well, I’m pretty content. For about two hours. Then I start to get extremely antsy. Everyone else is getting their locks curled or giggling over mimosas while I, slated last for hair and makeup and equipped with my newfound disdain for food, am just kind of sitting there, very ready to get this show on the road.

 

Suddenly, in a flash, everything starts happening. The four-course lunch my mother and I planned, while under the delusion that either of us would be capable of eating roasted tomato soup and smoked salmon sandwiches, arrives. The florist is here, carrying big boxes of blooms. And it’s finally time for the professionals to have at my face and hair.

In the midst of this flurry of activity, the elevator doors open and my dad’s childhood friend emerges. Apparently unaware that this is a ladies only zone, he parks it and starts gabbing with my mother. He’s eating a big green apple. Loudly. The photographers think he’s my father and start snapping away. I start to lose my shit.

Sensing trouble, my friend Courtney starts administering sips of champagne as the hair dresser and makeup artist step it into high gear and double team me. The girls also force feed me mini muffins, ignoring my insistence that I’ve evolved into some sort of superhuman creature that doesn’t require sustenance. Somewhere in there, the baby’s breath headband that the florist designed to look just like the one my mother wore on her wedding day gets pinned in my hair.

The maids of honor throw their mint green dresses on and Megan and I each take a second to contemplate our appearance. I’m not completely enthused but decide just to go with it.

We’re running 15 minutes behind schedule now, which sends That Girl Who’s Always 15 Minutes Early into a tailspin. I throw off my clothing in the bathroom and stomp out into the windowed room in my underwear, ready to confront my dress.

I am intent on getting this party started immediately.

My mother helps me put on my grandmother’s watch and starts to cry a bit. It is very delicate and very beautiful and a reminder of all the people who aren’t here.

We move on to my other jewels (all borrowed, with my mother’s reluctant blessing) and are confronted with a knot emergency. My dad – my real dad! – is summoned up from the suite where the boys are getting ready to help. He is highly photogenic. The photographers start snapping away with purpose now.

Downstairs, my brothers are in need of backup from my father too. Much more comfortable in climbing harnesses than tuxedos, they require some assistance getting dressed. Dave is looking happy and confident, though he tells me later that both him and my dad ordered the egg white frittata at breakfast, a sure sign that they’re affected by the same No Food Necessary bug I seem to have caught.

Dave gets downstairs first. Waiting patiently for his bride, he runs into our good friend who promptly launches into a story about a post-rehearsal dinner hookup that took place the evening before.

And that is exactly the information that Dave is relaying to me when we see each other for the first time in our wedding garb.

I’m vaguely aware that the lobby is filled with dozens of our guests. As soon as I hear my aunt with the loving yet extremely screechy voice call my name, I decide it’s time to book it.

And off we go.

Next up: My bridesmaids throw themselves under my wedding gown, we sign our lives away in an ancient Jewish tradition and Dave makes a references to UTIs in his vows. Stay tuned.

Previously: the pre-wedded state

*All photos by the wonderful Elisabeth Millay, except for the third, fourth and sixth, which are from my dear friend and devoted documenter of our lives, Tracey.

the pre-wedded state
July 30, 2012

Ready or not, we’re kicking off the wedding posts. This is part 1, which reduces April 2012 to a series of frenetic bullet points before breaking into a nice light jog (in the form of a group nail salon trip, estrogen-soaked sushi luncheon and wine-soaked rehearsal dinner) leading up to the main event. I know you don’t really care, but indulge me, ok?

To understand exactly how this wedding went down, it would probably be helpful to witness the shape I was in going into the whole thing. And, seeing as I wasn’t exactly keeping you current in real-time on this little blog, some catch-up is probably in order.

To summarize: April was a crazy ass month.

To whit, I remember the following:

-Spending several late, lonely nights in my office, working on the biggest story of my silly little fledgling career and wondering, why, in god’s name, this had to happen now. Trying to enjoy the excitement and frustration and fleeting accolades anyway.

– Eating boatloads of sushi takeout from the place down the block; relatedly, starting to consider my kitchen a foreign country where pots and pans went to die.

-A few lucky midweek moments with Dave: one where he got out of work oddly early and met me, giddy off another big byline, in the park with Franny on one of the first perfect days of the season; another after his hospital-mandated alcohol training program in midtown, where I met up with him and all the residency guys ironically indulging in bootfuls of beer in celebration. I downed his.

-Celebrating my mom’s birthday with dad and Dave at the restaurant at the Pierre…and then sneaking into the Pierre’s ballrooms with Mom to take a peak at that which we hadn’t let ourselves see in the beginning stages of wedding planning, for fear of falling in (very expensive) love. With the preparations for the April 21 bride swirling around us, all I could think was one more week, one more week.

-Eating macaroni and cheese in a hotel restaurant in Washington, DC on a rainy Sunday evening with an old, old friend who would, in a few short days, carefully sign our ketubah.

The week of the wedding, I covered a Supreme Court hearing, dashed back from DC on the train feeling 100 times lighter, and worked one last crazy day from our apartment (that ended with a much-deserved nap).

By mid-week I was off from work, picking up the entirely fantastic, entirely frivolous outfits (Hawaiian-print Nanette Lapore dress and electric blue pants) my mother  had insisted on buying me for my honeymoon. (Hot Jap tip: buy your dress at Saks and your mom too, overcome with love for her bride and the proximity of the DVF section to the bridal salon, just might take pity on you during your final fitting and respond with lovely, lovely gifts of the fashion variety.)

On Wednesday night, I went back to Connecticut, where the reality of my insane Type A ways set in: I had pretty much already taken care of everything. With only a few errant wedding errands left on the list, there was really nothing much to do, and the main task at hand became simply to sit and wait and mull in the house I grew up in. Get here, get here, get here, I kept thinking. Also: 20 months is far too long of an engagement.

Fortunately, Thursday night closed with a precious few hours spent with my very best friend, flouncing around in various lacy dresses and crying over my vows, and Friday arrived as if hopped up on amphetamines. Suddenly, Sarah was on the correct coast! Plans that had previously just been itineraries in an email were swinging into motion. And all of my favorite girls were flocking to the nail place I’ve been attending for years, the place I got my toenails painted for prom.

We got sushi at That Sushi Place We Always Go To After Getting Our Nails Done. It wasn’t fancy but it was tradition.

We directed the out-of-towners up to New Haven and I drove back to my parents’ house and found my family gathered around old photo albums, showing Jacob’s girlfriend just how weird we all were as children. Dave called and we realized the train he was on would be passing through Fairfield in a few minutes. No need for him to trek all the way up to the city in which we would be wed alone – I got in the car and retrieved my groom from the station.

A few minutes later, all the kids piled in the car for the ride up to New Haven. We played Call Me Maybe and Meatloaf ballads on repeat and when we got stuck in a little traffic, everyone sang.

The hotel was just as cool as Dave and I remembered. We scoped out our little suite and then headed upstairs to pile on Jon’s bed and eat macarons. Sarah and Tracey were prematurely drafting our announcement for the Penn alumni mag. Everything seemed to be propelling us forward.

I slipped on the red lace dress I had bought during a BHLDN sale. (Why red? you ask. Isn’t that a little untraditional? you say. To which I respond: jig has been up for a long time, bitches.)

I had also, for some unknown reason, brought my entire wardrobe to the hotel, including a white wool winter coat, which I sensibly abandoned in the closet after determining it was at least 65 degrees outside. I couldn’t walk in my satin peep-toes and internally commended myself for at least choosing a pair of sensible, if sparkly, flats for the actual wedding day.

We walked into Zinc to find Megan and Bridget and Courtney at the bar, already through one bottle of champagne. I began to suspect it was going to be an excellent night. Evan arrived and picked me up when he hugged me, like he always does. Grandma Lottie was sipping a glass of red and beaming. Dave and I surrounded ourselves with those who came from farthest away (California! Paris! We are so lucky.) My brothers’ toasts were ego-bruising and hilarious. Chelsea and Amruta stood up and said words I wasn’t planning to hear, in a very good way. It all nearly made me cry.

Afterward, everyone else headed to a dive bar for beers and fries while Dave and I snuck back to the hotel.

We had decided the best approach was just to stay together, as we had done every night for nearly three years and were, apparently, on the cusp of promising to do for a lot longer than that. I remember our bedtime routine – brushing teeth, laying out clothes, pulling back sheets – feeling both incredibly surreal and incredibly familiar. I was giddy, but also content and sure and comfortable — enough so that despite being on the brink of that which I had thought about for so very long (a bride) I fell right to sleep.

*Next up: Someone slaps fake eyelashes on me for the first time, Courtney feeds me bites of a blueberry muffin and crucial sips of champagne, and a green apple almost sends me over the edge (all with professional photographic proof!) Stay tuned.

*Most photos here are either crappy little snippets from my iPhone or the product of other people commandeering my dslr. Rehearsal dinner photos borrowed from my lovely, camera-obsessed friend T.

the calm after the storm
July 12, 2012

Things have been a little…how to say this? Busy is a bit loaded these days, nuts is on the vague side, topsy-turvy is probably the most accurate, but it sounds a tad lame, doesn’t it?

Oh well. Let’s go with topsy-turvy, for lack of better, cooler options.

Things have been a little topsy-turvy around here lately.

It started when we seized on Dave’s first weekend days off in forever and opted to camp out at my parents’ house in Connecticut, sifting through a sea of boxes and bubble wrap and then driving back a carload of wedding gifts deemed fit to flood our tiny New York City kitchen. We swapped out the fancy new plates for the old chipped ones, fancy new pots for the old not-so-much-nonstick-anymore ones, and boxed up all the castaways for Meg.

Have I mentioned that my best friend Meg just started residency at this hospital, the one Dave works at and the one we live right next door to? Oh, only a hundred times? With multiple exclamation points? I’m a little excited. She’s training to be a pediatrician here and living right across the street — but first, for two weeks, was living right here with us.

She got home from work every evening in her predictably adorable outfits and arrestingly professional white coat and we chatted about our days. We all sat down around the table together and ate big dinners that I, for the first time in months, felt genuinely motivated to make – big batches of gazpacho and roasted eggplant and a plum cake which, unfortunately, may have unintentionally lacked oil (whoops.) We used placemats and serving bowls. Meg and Dave said everything was delicious, even the cake without oil. I packed up the leftovers for lunch and turned my back on my love affair with Wendy’s fries for a few days.

Life was lovely — who doesn’t like presents and in-house best friends and meals that make you feel like an actual adult? — but also, like I mentioned, a little topsy-turvy. Boxes and suitcases and stray socks were everywhere. Cooking for a crowd every day left me a bit self-conscious and frazzled. Francine, for one, was convinced we were moving. She donned that same “what the fuck” expression she wore when we left Philadelphia and made a run for the door every time we tried to head out with boxes in hand. She started waking up at 4:15 a.m., 4 a.m., 3:45 a.m., intent on playing with Megan. It was endearing, but also supremely annoying, for all parties involved. We didn’t get much sleep.

And now it’s kind of over. I mean, it’s really just starting, the part where my best friend and I share a zip code for at least two years and I use china plates with a boy who’s signed up for a hell of a lot longer than that. But the lack of chaos, it’s pretty strange.

Because when I sat down and actually thought about it, I realized we’ve been in this state of motion for a while. Pressing rewind brought up that trip to Hawaii, that wedding, that move to New York, that endless brooding over whether to move to New York (or maybe California or maybe Boston), that engagement, that engagement freak-out, that year of travel and, hmm, that move to Philadelphia that really started this whole thing off. It’s been kind of a crazy few years.

Some of the stuff was scary and overwhelming. But it was also almost universally  joyful, even if it didn’t quite feel that way at the time. And it was all pretty…big, at least in the scheme of my little life.

So it’s unfamiliar now, this feeling of not having anything on the horizon. I think you may have gotten the drift that we’re not planning to have kids anytime soon. The fellowship application process that Dave would normally have to start prepping for now actually got pushed back for this crop of internal medicine residents, meaning we don’t have to think about where we’re moving or what specialty’s he’s doing for another year or so. (And besides, it’s already pretty clear that we’re probably staying in New York and he’s probably going to be my Dad. Sigh.)

There’s no big milestones to look forward to, no catastrophe to plan for or big party to pine for. It’s a little disconcerting and it doesn’t quite fit my personality. I get bored easily. I like having big projects (especially those that involve tulle and lots of cake.) I like dashing off from one thing to the next.

But I also like cooking for my friends and drinking cold beers on hot rooftops and walking along the East River with my dog (especially when she spends her nights asleep.) And I have lots of little blips dotting the space from here until the next big marker: birthday parties and beach weekends and PTO days we’ll figure out some use for. I’m starting to suspect that I could get used to this. I’m starting to suspect that it will probably fly by anyway, and we’ll be back to the life changes, the big milestones, the topsy-turvy, before you know it.

hitched.
June 19, 2012

Our wedding was shockingly perfect.

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I know that sounds strange, and I don’t want to make it seem like I didn’t suspect that marrying that boy I chose five years ago was going to be a good call, and maybe even a little fun. But still, somehow, it all caught me off guard.

The joy and the love, without pretense. The way you can put on a pile of tulle and fake eyelashes and lip gloss and still feel just like yourself. All the little moments woven in between the big ones — because, as it turns out, that’s all you’ll remember. The celebrated traditions, the bits and pieces when all eyes are on you, the epic embraces captured on camera – your memory will be wiped clean of all those, but you’ll be able to call up, with vivid clarity, the feeling of writing out the names of everyone you love on those silly little escort cards. Of letting your best friend read your vows on Thursday night and watching her cry and thinking: passing that index card to her was a good decision (it was) and, you’re totally going to blow his vows out of the water (you’re actually not, how hilarious is that?) Of lying on Jon’s bed before the rehearsal dinner, passing around a pack of pastel macaroons, and deciding that even though they fly them in daily from Paris to the Upper East Side now, it’s still somehow better when he brings them. Of collapsing in a fit of laughter when the rabbi — the rabbi! — interrupts your yichud, and sneaking in a second one on the terrace after dinner to compensate. Of how opening nearly every single card, in your same old living room that somehow looked different in the weird vortex that is the hours after eating scrambled eggs with all your (moderately hungover) family and friends but before you jet off the Hawaii for two weeks, made you cry.

And of that party.

Man, it was a great party.

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I didn’t chronicle it in detail here (because, let’s be honest, I haven’t chronicled much of anything in detail here in quite some time), but it was a bit of a rough winter, as the past few have tended to be. I lost someone close to me and I screamed myself hoarse and I said things I didn’t mean and I struggled with being the bride and growing up and being a grown up in this city. One stretch in particular was marked by a bedside visit where I shared a photo of my wedding dress with someone I knew wasn’t going to be alive to see it in person, looming biopsy results that unfolded like the worst kind of dejavu and then, finally, a guest list war that brought me to tears (ok, and to inappropriate text messages.)

There was a flash in those weeks when I didn’t even think this whole wedding thing was worth it. The ensuing flip-out involved many profanities but the general sentiment was this: why can’t we just go to the courthouse?

I’ll give you a response to that question that involves lots of words and photos and jokes and stories, just as soon as I get all of our pictures back from our photographer. But for now, I’ll just leave you with the short answer, which is that, apparently, even the day that everyone tells you is going to be the most important of your life, the day you’ve spent so long planning and waiting for that you’re positively sure you’re already jaded and a little skeptical and just oh so ready to tackle everything you’ve sized up in your head, can still manage to surprise you in the most wonderful way.

*All photos by the incredible Elisabeth Millay. A sneak peak of the day through her lens can be seen here.

spring 2012.
March 17, 2012

So you’re saying I get to cover a Supreme Court case, get married, spend two weeks in Hawaii and then have my best friend move in down the street? SIGN ME THE FUCK UP. 

the wedding collection
December 17, 2011

My mom is not your typical Mother of the Bride.

For starters, she refuses to wear beige. She’s not exceedingly interested in tablecloths or lighting or bridesmaid dresses, unless of course there’s a possibility she could wear one of those to my wedding, hold the sparkly floor-length gowns favored by Jewish mothers the Long Island over, please. She dropped more eye rolls than tears in Kleinfeld. She’s just not really into much of this wedding stuff, and she wants you (seller of dresses, seller of bands, daughter who insists on emailing her five times a day about guest books) to know it.

Which is why it is extremely difficult to understand why I spent last weekend attempting to dissuade her from buying a $100 cut-glass cake stand wedding centerpiece from a shop in the antiques capital of Southwestern Pennsylvania, to which we had traveled at her insistance.

It was a long strange road from feminist who built tables to the ten minutes I spent prying the Eyewinker patterned piece — reduced to $50, let it be known — out of her hands. We first got the idea to use vintage, pressed-glass cake stands for our centerpieces from our florist, who had just completed a gorgeous wedding where they were also used for a cake buffet and flanked an escort card table. I thought it was beautiful but was a bit daunted by the task – we would have to snag 40 to 50 cake stands to pull it off for our wedding. And, of course, the mother of the bride for the original wedding had been the model of wedding devotion, collecting her cake stands over a period of years. (I know this, of course, because our first thought was to try to take the easy way out and just buy the damn cake stands from that wedding. It didn’t go over too well.)

Despite the enormity of the task at hand, my mom seemed both nonplussed and uninterested in dealing with the issue in a timely fashion. We could just get them at Homegoods and Pier One, she reasoned. Her decorator friend would take care of everything! It was around the time the decorator friend’s own son got engaged – leaving her to plan a wedding of her own, as a model mother-of-the-groom no doubt – that the panic started to set in.

We made our way to a few junk shops in Connecticut, but came up empty-handed. I started to become resigned to the idea of mass-ordering them from Target. And then we stumbled upon Adamstown.

We were on the way to the wedding of an old friend of mine in Lancaster, Pa., driving through a part of the state where there are no highways, just long roads with stoplights and bad diners and – hey,  is that a table with a bunch of cake stands on the side of the street?

As it happened, it wasn’t (it was mostly just junk that sparkled in the July sunshine) but that table was a harbinger of shops ahead that specialized in, oddly enough, pressed glass. (Turns out most of the cake stand patterns we were in search of were mass-produced in factories in Pittsburgh in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and most hadn’t gotten very far over the next 120 or so years.) We rolled up to Meriel’s wedding with a trunk filled with cardboard boxes filled with cakestands. We collected 20 – maybe 30? – that weekend. We were very proud of ourselves.

And, honestly, that’s where it ended for me.

I returned to New York, where my puppy was still eating my possessions and my fiance was still working crazy hours and the only cake stands around were pricey specimens of the non-vintage variety at Fish’s Eddy.

My mother, meanwhile, was becoming more and more obsessed. She bought a copy of Early American Patterned Glass Cake Stands & Serving Pieces and started cataloguing our cake stands by pattern, labeling each one with a post-it note. She waded through muddy puddles in search of more cake stands at a Massachusetts flea market, hours away, in the wake of Hurricane Irene. She started stalking eBay, eager for another cake stand hit. And, after a few too many of those cake stands were stolen from her grasp by last-minute bidders, she insisted we return to Adamstown.

I honestly didn’t know how bad it had gotten until were curled up in our Holiday Inn Express in Allentown and she started referring to the authors of EAPGS&SP by first name (Bettye and Jane, of course.) The next day, she declined to let me get the simple, cheap cake stands I liked, in search of bigger fish to fry: the Ribbon Candy pattern, the intricate, yet ugly, Eyewinker. We were beyond the little Harp pattern I adored, she said.

This was quite the role reversal from the woman who gives me dirty looks when I veer from the Banana Republic sale rack. We finally left with no more than 20 cake stands, at my insistence.

When we got home, I suggested we start tallying up our total take, past purchases included. She was reluctant, but allowed me to start bringing down a few boxes from her closet. Soon we had about 50 cake stands gathered on my parents’ dining room table.

The stash.

Mom with her cake stands - and precious cake stand bible.

Dad looking on in confusion/resigned horror.

It was a scene, and maybe a promising one – if not for the fact that we soon realized the bounty didn’t include any of the cake stands we had scored this summer. Meaning there’s still about 30 more where that came from. Meaning, my mother’s out of control.

We joked that we would have to pile them up in the bathroom at the wedding. We joked that next Thanksgiving, everyone would be given a cut-glass cake stand in lieu of a plate to take their food. We joked that my mother would have to build a new room in our house to hold all the cake stands, that she needed to start thinking about an exit strategy.

As is my way, I joked a lot at the expense of my mother.

But the truth is, our cake stand expedition has been one of my favorite parts of planning this wedding. I wrote her a note afterwards, and the only thing I could think to write was that it had been such a “special time” for me – a phrase we usually only employ sarcastically but one that I really, really meant this time.

My parents weren’t the biggest fans of this whole wedding thing at first – they love Dave, and they love me, but they wanted to make sure I didn’t lose sight of my career, wanted to make sure I didn’t settle down too early. And, in many ways – see: the saga that is trying to get my mother into a mother-of-the-bride dress – they still are the antithesis of all typical things weddings. But they’ve also become our biggest advocates throughout this whole process in their own way – generous, flexible, supportive and, as always, sarcastic – which, while it may not be model parents of the bride behavior, is fine by me.

And so it really has been a special time — a time when I’m living close to my family, when we have a big party to plan and a big occasion to celebrate. Eventually, things will be different – this wedding will happen, Dave and I might move away, I will no longer be able to test three kinds of cake and six kinds of filling without gaining weight. None of it’s forever (least of all my astonishing New York metabolism.) And so I’m so very grateful for the right now, for all of it, even if it means my mom completely decimated our budget for centerpieces.

And for the record, she was right about the Eyewinker. We should have just gotten it. It’s a special time, a special collection.

Also, Bettye and Jane say it’s worth $250.