Monday, August 29, 2011

Love Weathers All

I wasn't a glass slipper kind of bride. But not just because, frankly, they sound exceedingly uncomfortable. No, the erratic, eclectic weather our wedding day heralded two years ago today demanded practicality.

{Cindy shot it, but just you wait hive -- I'm so excited to do this photo justice by sharing all the details that led up to the moment the camera went "click."}

I've long believed rain visits on significant days of my life. Coming home from the hospital as a newborn. Proms and graduations. The first day of orientation at Villanova University. Snow bid me farewell as I moved from Boston back to Philly after grad school in December 2006. And, of course, there were the bizarre skies that helped make our wedding day so memorable.

So while the weather this past week defies the regional norm -- tremors from the Washington, D.C. earthquake on Tuesday, gusts and sheets of rain as Hurricane Irene made her way up the East Coast over the weekend -- I can't help but wonder what these conditions are forecasting about the year ahead.

Or maybe they're not omens. Maybe the wacky weather we've experienced recently is meant to remind me no matter what life brings, my best friend -- my love of 10 years, Mr. Bruschetta -- will be sloshing through every puddle, whether in celebration or consternation, right by my side. And that's just about the best anniversary present I can imagine.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Remember These Faces?

{ all images, moving forward, courtesy of the amazing Cindy Patrick, unless otherwise noted}

What do you do when your videographer holds your wedding video hostage? Unfortunately, Mr. Bruschetta and I had the distinct displeasure of learning firsthand how to manage this frustrating, emotional situation.

The initial delay, I'll admit, was completely our fault. After our wedding, the mister and I immersed ourselves in all things house-hunting: HGTV and Zillow, learning the ins and outs of mortgages, inspections and appraisals (before closing on our "First and Forever" home in July 2010). We dragged our feet a bit getting our honeymoon pictures to our videographer (to be included in a slide-show featuring Andrea Bocelli's rendition of "O Sole Mio"), but assumed the video could easily be finalized after passing these photos along to him.

We communicated with him every two or three weeks, and each time, the promise was the same: The video's nearly complete, I'll have it for you very soon. In the end, it took the wedding equivalent of the jaws of life -- threatening litigation, and paying a surprise visit to our videographer's home, which was his office when we contracted with him back in 2008 (so, really, it wasn't too stalker-ish or creepy) -- to liberate our video from his clutches. The final product isn't free of flaws -- in his haste, I'm sure, our wedding date flip-flops between the correct year (2009) and 2011, and it ends proudly proclaiming us Mr. and Mrs. [insert Mr. Bru's last name here], despite the fact that I kept my maiden name -- but after one year of waiting, stressing and feeling sick to my stomach at the thought of losing precious day-of footage, I'll take it.

Hive, I'm so sorry for my prolonged absence. You've totally been on my mind, and I was never able to shake the guilty feeling I was letting down everyone eager to read about our special day. However, while our video was MIA, I just couldn't face the task of sifting through the 3,000+ images our fantastic photographer captured on our wedding day -- and, unfortunately, without knowing if I would ever hear our vows, relive my dad's insanely sweet toast or see our first dance (after two months' worth of dance lessons to prepare!) the thought of blogging sent me into a complete and utter panic.

I really can't wait to share our extraordinarily memorable day for you. I'm just going to ask for a smidgen more patience, while the husband and I sort through our pro pics, and I'll be back in about a month to kick off the official Bruschetta recaps -- if you'll have me, of course!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

John Beckwith

Daddy Bru was already a shoe-in for the "Best Father of the Bride" title after his art-acquiring heroics one week before our wedding (sorry, George Banks).

Little did I know that, while I was stressing over last-minute details and frantically trying to earn the status of "most tranquil bride," Daddy Bru was juggling his own wedding-related load. He shared this story with us at the rehearsal dinner, and even then, less than 24 hours before the wedding, as Mr. Bruschetta and I laughed at his moxie, one thought bubbled to the surface: "I can't wait to post about this on Weddingbee!"

Inspired by "Poor Wedding Dad" -- Weddingbee reader august15bride's (now blogging / Tweeting as the fitness-loving Wannabe Athlete) father -- I asked Daddy Bru if he would recount the tale his pre-wedding antics for the hive. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! And now, here's Daddy Bruschetta (with some links added by yours truly, and our "real" names used sparingly throughout) in his own words:

Two days before the wedding...and so much yet to do. Our contact at the F.U.E.L. House had a family emergency out of town, and left the final arrangements to an assistant. Mr. Bruschetta and I had to pick up all the booze and deliver it F.U.E.L. I figured while we were there, we’d make sure that appropriate art had been placed on the walls. Chris and I arrived at F.U.E.L.'s service entrance on 3rd Street, and began unloading case after case of adult beverages. We quickly saw that another unloading process was going on at the same time: A portrait gallery of assorted local artists’ landscapes, portraits, still lifes, etc. -- a welcome relief from what had been labeled as art that adorned the walls before.

As we completed the delivery, and a sense of ease concerning the facility had begun to take hold, my mind began to wander: In two days, this building would be full of people celebrating the Bruschetta wedding. What would it be like? Would it be everything she expected? Would it be memorable? For some strange reason, as I tried to picture it in my mind, I didn’t think of my other daughter’s wedding of less than two years earlier; rather, a panorama of wedding scenes from a movie I'd recently seen: Wedding Crashers.


Wait second! Owen Wilson was one of the stars of that movie, and what did I just read about him just the other day? That’s right, I remembered: He’s here in Philadelphia...right now...filming a movie with Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Jack Nicholson. I'd seen Nicholson at a Phillies game just a week earlier -- and read an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer a few days earlier which mentioned they were filming this very week on location in University City – less than three miles from where we at that moment. The entire cast had to be staying in the area, and in all probability, they were staying in one of the better hotels in Center City or Society Hill.

Oh, the wheels were turning.

“Chris,” I meekly suggested, “ do you think Margot would be upset, or feel that her special day would be ruined in any way, if Owen Wilson were to crash your wedding reception?”

Chris didn’t think I was serious and said, “She’d love it if he crashed, especially if Vince Vaughn were to join him.”

I told him I was serious and explained what I was thinking. Chris told me it was all wishful thinking. How would we get an invitation to Owen -- especially now, only two days before the wedding? (By the way, Chris still was okay with idea, even after he realized I was serious.)

Fair question, but I had an answer ready to allay his skepticism: The wife of one of my clients worked for the Philadelphia Film Office, an organization with the mission to promote Philadelphia as a site for filming, and assist producers in all aspects of working with the city once filming has begun.

I called Jerry to see if he could put me in touch with his wife. Unfortunately, he told me she was off this week and out of town.

By now I was pumped and emboldened. Nothing was going to stop me. I picked up the phone, called the PFO and asked for Sharon Pinkenson, the director. I got through to her secretary, but she wasn’t about to put me through unless I explained the nature of my call. What the heck! I began to explain the whole crazy notion. As I was telling her this story, it occurred to me that this could actually be a great public relations stunt for the Film Office, the movie's producers and Owen Wilson’s publicist. A couple years earlier, he'd gone through some troubling personal issues and could probably use a boost in his public image. As I told Sharon's assistant what a great opportunity this would be to all concerned if Owen showed up (with camera crew in tow), had a few drinks, and then went out and did whatever rich Hollywood stars do when stuck in a town like Philadelphia on a Saturday night in August, I began to imagine that it could actually happen...despite the negativity I was getting back in return.

“I can get your message [an invitation to the reception and my cell number] to the Film Office’s liaison on location in West Philly, but I can’t be sure that it will get to Mr. Wilson. I don’t know if Mr. Wilson would want to attend. He may have other plans.”

But, at the end of our conversation, she did admit it was an original idea (no one else had thought of this -- at least no one had floated anything similar through the Film Office) and would be great publicity for the movie, the city and Owen, if he and his agent thought they needed this kind of attention.

So, all day Friday, I made sure my cell phone was charged. I kept checking for missed calls. Nada.

By the time evening rolled around, the rehearsal and dinner would be underway and my focus would shift elsewhere. We were now in the midst of the 24-hour whirlwind. Still, I would occasionally think about it. I gave the Film Office all the information: Betsy Ross House beginning at 5:30. He can bring three guests. Stay as long as he wants. Maybe...just maybe.

Even as the reception began, and guests started to arrive right up to the [edited to remove spoilers for the yet-to-come Bruschetta recaps!], I would occasionally look at the gate that opened up to the courtyard, half expecting to see that mop of tousled blond hair. I even knew what I was going to say: I would walk up to him, introduce myself as the bride’s father, and question whether he was with the groom's family.

Alas, it didn’t happen. But it makes a great story! And more importantly, it was a wonderful wedding everyone enjoyed, even without Owen Wilson. He’ll never know what a great party he missed.

Are you planning on inviting any "crashers" to your wedding? Did you have any famous faces at your reception? Share *your* story!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Two Birds (Er, Bows), One Stone

Excuse this brief pause from the Weddingbee blogging -- I'll be cooking up another post or two for next week (promise, Pengy!).

Okay, here's the background: Since closing on our "First & Forever" home at the end of July, my mind drifts easily to house-related projects. As we were preparing for settlement, Sister and BIL Bruschetta -- who are expecting in mid-November -- began preparing their first place for sale. And while Sister and BIL Bruschetta started searching for their new home, Mama Bru and I mailed the baby shower invitations -- which included a small blurb encouraging guests to wrap their presents to reflect their "gender guess."

New home, with potential rooms needing painting (especially the nursery!), plus new baby, with an upcoming pink-and-blue-themed shower to celebrate? The super cute DIY bows Jessica created over on How About Orange popped into my head, with one home-improvement-themed stand-in for the magazine pages: paint swatches.

The resulting bows are just too cute! And, in one convenient little package, six potential interior paint colors each, for either a baby boy or girl.

Flip them over, and you can even see the (in this case, Behr) color name and number on some of the bow loops!

This craft still needs a bit of perfecting, as the thick loops don't adhere to each other easily. They're definitely adorable, though, and I hope to figure out how -- Glue Dots and double-sided tape aren't strong enough -- to get these bows to stick, despite the cardstock-y nature of the swatches.

In case Sister and BIL Bruschetta stumble across this post, I don't want to reveal which color would adorn *our* gift. So why don't you guess?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Seven Day Glitch

(Or, Why Daddy Bruschetta Could Be Mayor of Philadelphia)

You're counting down to the wedding. Finishing up some projects, ditching others and trying to find the time to jot down a proper honeymoon packing list. The last thing you need right now is a curve ball. But that's precisely what we got one week before our much-anticipated day.

In early 2008, when Mr. Bruschetta and I had secured our venue -- the erstwhile F.U.E.L. House (which has since been rebranded "TRUST") -- we learned we'd be able to peruse the gallery as the wedding approached to see if we wanted to substitute any of the "stock" art stored on the building's third (administrative) floor.

We adored the F.U.E.L. House (yeah, name change be damned! At least for the purposes of my posts, it just feels wrong to call the place where we celebrated so jubilantly something unfamiliar, to which we have absolutely no connection), for many reasons, including its eccentric art displays. We loved the idea of splashes of color -- whether from abstract, three-dimensional pieces or paint-adorned canvases -- infusing the beautiful, neutral-hued space.

Know what we saw lining the walls on August 21, 2009? Nearly 100 small, square, frames, each holding its own black-on-beige sketch. Colorless to the extreme. The very definition of bland. Vanilla without the deliciousness. (Sorry for the lack of pictures, hive! Shock definitely get the best of me, and I forgot to capture the monochromatic display.)

Okay, fine. No problem, I thought. Let's take a look at the stock art, and go from there.

Turns out, though, the gallery had recently returned all these once-readily-available paintings to their rightful owners. The storage space on the third floor held nary a piece of artwork. And with our original contact out of the area for a family emergency, we weren't offered *any* alternatives to add much-needed vibrancy to the walls.

Let me stop to acknowledge that really, in the grand scheme, this pallid palate would not in any way have dampened our wedding day. But (as I'm sure many of you would agree) with the finish line relentlessly nearing, sometimes smaller details are magnified. An issue you might have simply brushed off six months earlier becomes impossible to ignore, demanding attention -- nay, resolution -- so it's no longer an indelible nag taking up valuable sanity. (Am I right? Anyone else feel like this? Or was alone in placing so much pressure for perfection upon myself as our wedding neared?)

Enter Daddy Bruschetta. Without any complaints or balking at the absurdity of the situation, this "Act Two" FOB -- having cut his teeth on Sister and BIL Bruschettas' November 2007 nuptials -- took control of the situation. After several phone calls, my people-person father realized he had knew someone closely connected to the person who *owns* the F.U.E.L. House. Was our wedding significant enough to warrant any attention to this gripe?

Daddy Bru forwarded each of the messages to me as they were sent and received. Even now, one year later, I can't skim the emails without getting choked up. Not at all the conventional wedding scrapbook materials, they're nonetheless moments in time conveying the panic I was feeling, and the extent to which my dad was going to try to make his little girl happy.

Excerpts from the initial plea for assistance:
Bert has what may appear as a small problem, but to a bride and bride's mother, small problems during a marriage weekend, I am sure, become bigger than life.

Could you please look into this, and have someone speak directly to Bert? He's a good guy trying hard to manage all the excitement of a daughter getting married.
And as the clouds parted, with the promise of new installations the day before the wedding:
I assure you that you are making an exhausted father very happy because of your efforts.
Sure, the replacement art really did add something special to the space. But the exchanges Daddy Bruschetta had on our behalf -- seriously, at times I still can't believe how many people he seems to know in the city -- were the real treasure that came out of this bridal bump in the road.

Did any challenges trip you up the week before your wedding? Or, for any to-be-marrieds buzzing around the hive, d'ya just wanna commiserate about trying to be a calm, cool and collected bride -- but not doing the greatest job?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Man Twirls* and Marriage Prep

There's just something about that oh-so perfect ballroom dip. It gets me every time.

Luckily, my mister willingly agreed, early on in our planning process (don't forget, hive, we had a practically-infinite-and-good-Lord-will-it-ever-end 20-month engagement) to assist with what would end up being one of the last DIY(ish) "projects" we could fit in before the wedding.

I'm talking, of course, about private dance lessons, and the choreographed number that resulted, and would transition our guests from cocktail hour to dinner and dancing.

Our goal: Master moves we could polish and perform during the just-over-two-minute-long song we'd selected. We didn't want to look overly stiff or obviously cheesy (subtly, sure), but also hoped to become familiar enough with the sequences that no amount of nerves, elation or tipsy guests could break our rhythm. So we signed up for 10 sessions, to be stretched over the eight weeks remaining before our wedding.

At the first of our weeknight, hour-long lessons, Mr. Bruschetta and I met Kate, who would instruct us right up through the final lesson just days before the wedding. She asked if we'd selected our song -- we did, and shared the title and group** -- and as she played the tune and started marking steps, moving, swaying, twisting and turning, an enormous grin crept onto her face.

"Oh, this is going to be great," Kate gushed. "I'm thinking a mix of swing and foxy -- a less formal version of the foxtrot," she rushed to explain, when met with our puzzled faces.

Both ballroom novices, we started out v-e-r-y slowly, learning the proper frame, and how the right amount of pressure -- hand-to-hand, and the connection between his other hand and my back -- was crucial to the entire equation. How else would we know where the other was planning (or hoping) to move?

During our first meeting, we didn't get beyond the proper way to execute the box step. Seriously. One hour on hand pressure and four straight-sided steps. Pushing aside the panicky feeling that we'd never perfect a performance before the wedding, we practiced our "snazzy" moves at BIL & SIL Bruschetta's June 20 wedding -- along with several overenthusiastic, embarrassingly unskilled dips.

And at our next lesson, we began learning the elements of both dance styles. At first, the sessions consisted mainly of stringing together counts to create some semblance of continuity across the floor. Soon, though, we had enough material to begin actually creating something. We offered input about when we wanted to transition from foxy to swing, and willingly agreed when Kate suggested more complicated moves that, themselves, took entire lessons to learn.

All the while, Mr. Bruschetta and I practiced diligently between our weeknight jaunts into Old City. (Immediately after our sessions, too. Summer's lingering lightness -- anyone else going to miss daylight saving time as much as I will? -- encouraged us to continue drilling our new moves on the way to the car each week. That giggling, lovey couple none-too-shyly performing along the brick sidewalks of Front and Lombard Streets? Yup, the Bruschettas.) We put in three to four hours each week, and soon, I was confident enough to strap on my reception wedges during our lessons and nightly run-throughs.

If one of us faltered on a new move, the other offered encouragement. When we performed a flawless sequence, we acknowledged the small milestone. Almost from the start, we joked how the entire exercise -- taking all these private lessons -- was like its own form of marriage prep. Communication, trust. Hard work and fun. We laughed at how many parallels there were between the step we were preparing to take, and the steps we were learning each week.

But the best part about our lessons, the reason spending all this extra time -- driving into the city, parking, practicing, heading home and dancing the same steps again and again, with our furniture pushed aside to create as much open space in the apartment as possible -- didn't drive this time-crunched bride-to-be crazy was this: When we stepped into the studio each week, the wedding stress stayed outside. We had to focus on our routine, on each other -- and in doing so, what started out as something we hoped would wow our guests ended up being more of a treat for ourselves. A weeknight date, a haven from the otherwise chaotic weeks counting down to the wedding.

I'd love to share a video snippet with the hive -- and definitely will, once we have it. My post-wedding hiatus extended beyond the 'bee, though, and so we've only very recently finalized things with our videographer, and are anxiously awaiting the finished product.

Did (or will / would) you take private lessons to prepare for your first dance?

*Our nickname for the first move of our dance, which involved Mr. Bruschetta stepping through my upstretched arm.

**So what was this mystical, mysterious song to which we spun, dipped and (man) twirled? Ah, that, dear hive, is a post for another time.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

When Life Stings Back: One Bee's Mea Culpa

::sheepishly waving hello:: Hi, hive.

Simply put, it wasn't supposed to be like this. Sure, the weeks and days leading up to our wedding were crazy, but I was...coping. (If you're guessing there's more to that deceptively-simple statement, you're oh-so very right!) All of what *needed* to get done -- and most of what we'd planned to accomplish -- was checked off our trusty giant Post-It to-do list.

The big day came.

We smiled. We kissed. We cried. We ate. We danced. We celebrated.* And then we honeymooned.**

Now, a bit of background:

During our 20-month engagement, I had begrudgingly worked in a position I found neither challenging nor inspiring. The team into which I was hired was solid, but an alarming number of these talented people had left our drama-filled, bureaucratic and, simply put, unhealthy (traceable to several long-standing, my-way-or-the-highway types) work environment.

The idea of searching for a new employer *while* planning the wedding was overwhelming. And with Mr. Bruschetta finishing his physical therapy doctorate, I was, at the time, content to hold my "meh" job which, I rationalized, at least permitted me ample Weddingbee-reading time (and provided the essential paycheck, too!). Ever the planner, I set my sights on November 2009 to launch into my job hunt.

So imagine my surprise upon learning, a mere two days after returning from our blissful (albeit jam-packed) "Giro d'Italia," that my supervisor -- who passionately loved his job (though, like others in our department, struggled with the interpersonal, um...challenges prevalent in the department) -- was putting in his two weeks' notice after accepting a position elsewhere.

My world came crashing down. I was assigned a new direct report -- a member of the aforementioned deleterious sub-division. The job I already moderately disliked became torturous. Despite having recently married my best friend, I'd never felt more alone. This was, quite simply put, the closest I've ever come to depression. By the time 5:00 rolled around each day, I was either fuming at my demoralizing situation, or so emotionally fragile I'd spend the entire evening curled up in bed sobbing, unable to even verbalize the struggles that had led me to this dark place.

Trust me though, hive, when I say the 'bee never left my thoughts. (Special thanks to the hive members who, through private message or by commenting on one of my last posts, sent "Where are you, Bru? Please come back!" messages. At the time, though, these sweet pleas saddened me more, broadening the chasm that separated me from Weddingbee.) I hated myself for attaining "fair-weather bee" status, but couldn't rationalize continuing to blog. Not when the joy we experienced on our wedding day was so harshly juxtaposed to the unhappiness that had forced its way into my life. Not while the necessity of finding and securing the position that, I believed, would fix everything was my top priority.

My excuses, however, can't explain why, after starting my new position in late December, I continued to stay away. They don't make it easier to justify my continued absence, even after the metaphorical clouds had parted.

The only semi-logical reasoning I can offer is this: The unexpected reality that so unpleasantly greeted me in September 2009 robbed us of the newlywed bliss that should have marked the Bruschettas' first few married months. With no way to get back that lost time -- one-quarter of our newlywed year -- I focused on the future.

We boxed up our wedding keepsakes, my mister patiently waiting for his verbose blogger bride to reawaken. We embraced our first Christmas, New Year's and Valentine's as husband and wife. And a few months into 2010, we started planning for the next big thing.

House hunting supplanted job searching. Home blogs filled the void left by their wedding and photography counterparts. A steady HGTV diet replaced our Food Network addiction. And we celebrated our "paper" anniversary one month early, as stacks of signed documents paved the pathway to our "First and Forever" home.

I could see it looming in the distance, though. After we'd cleaned and vacated our apartment. As we emptied each box and reassembled our furniture. That nagging feeling; the realization I had once adored blogging. Was I ready for my Weddingbee hiatus to end? Hadn't enough time passed? Or would revisiting the weeks leading up to our wedding, and those following it, reopen wounds that had only recently healed?

This is an amazing community. I consider myself *so* fortunate to have been able to chronicle my planning; I'm honored to be in the company of such amazingly talented readers and contributors. It feels great to buzz back into the hive. And, if you'll have me, I'd love nothing more than to finish sharing our story.

What do you say, hive?

* These not-so-terribly-descriptive sentences do not, in any way, constitute the official Bruschetta recaps. :-)

** Nor does this one. Come on, hive! 12 days in Italy? This wordy one's got more to share than she even knows how to stuff into a blog post!