Monday, August 10, 2009

Viva Italia!

I often get most of my best thinking done in the car. So, naturally, I was having a heated internal debate a couple weeks ago as I drove to Sister and BIL Bruschetta's house. Was I really showing up early for their annual BBQ/pool party? My sister had asked me to arrive with the mister around 1:30, so I could help her cook and he could assist with setup. Or would I find the backyard teeming with family and friends, all there to celebrate our shower?

Nope, this couldn't be our shower. That's why I'd packed a bathing suit, towel and change of clothes. It was why Mr. Bruschetta -- who'd have to leave their house early for work -- was driving separately.

Then again, it was the most perfect Saturday for a Christmas in July celebration. (What a cute theme that would be!)

But just couldn't be! We'd had a leisurely morning, with a lengthy visit to the gym -- which ended with Mr. Bruschetta's offer to stretch my tight muscles (ouch!) for a quarter hour. He seemed not at all in a rush, and so nonchalant.

Well, except for that question he asked when I was getting changed right before we left. As I was selecting an outfit, Mr. Bruschetta uncharacteristically butted in: "You're not getting dressed up, are you?" No, wasn't planning on it. But what if I did want to wear a cute skirt?

My secret-detecting radar was picking up some signals, but overall, it seemed like an ordinary day. So I pulled into Sister and BIL Bruschetta's driveway and headed toward the front door.

"No," interjected Mr. Bruschetta. "Let's go in through the backyard. We can say 'hi' to BIL Bruschetta -- he's probably grilling now."

Well, okay, fine. No complaints from me, as I followed the mister into the backyard. My eyes fell first on the grill, which clearly wasn't working yet. So I looked beyond the barbecue, and saw...

...and then I noticed everyone standing beneath a white tent, snapping pictures* while the Italian national anthem streamed into the yard.

I remember sort of freezing when I realized exactly what was happening. And you know what they say about karma. Yup, I walked right into our wedding shower with a makeup-less face, ready for an afternoon of cooking and party prep.

Sister Bruschetta, clearly delighted that I'd been fooled -- how else could you explain my arriving with ten un-shucked ears of corn, the main ingredient for one of our favorite summer salads? -- guided me inside, and together we "shopped" her closet for a shower-appropriate outfit.**

Left to right: Bridal attendant Tiff, MOH Sister Bruschetta, me, Bruschetta 'maids Steph, Carey and Kris

Back outside, my nearests and dearests quickly ensured I had a drink in hand, and helped me fill my plate with delicious Italian cuisine. Halfway through my baked ziti and salad, I started to notice all the cute details -- compliments of Mama, Daddy and Sister Bruschetta, with props for help from the Bruschetta 'maids and BIL Bruschetta. With its checkered tablecloths and colored Christmas lights, the otherwise plain tent felt more like al fresco dining at a mom-and-pop restaurant. And check out the napkins! Sister Bruschetta folded each into a pocket to hold the silverware.

The favors? Mini merlot bottles with adorable DIY embellishments: a tag including one of our engagement pictures, featuring our wedding colors, and attached to the bottle with gold yarn looped through a heart-shaped hole, the handiwork of Bruschetta 'maid Kris. And see the bowl brimming with little green, white and red goodies? Mama Bruschetta found mints -- individually wrapped to look like tiny Italian flags, each stamped with "Grazie" on the front -- and ordered them from Florida (yeah for Google!).

Mama Bruschetta had laminated a copy of our engagement announcement, and posted it by the back door, along with a copy of the shower invitation, so everyone saw both whenever they went into the house. (Pictured below, on top of a number of our gifts, is the copy Sister Bruschetta gave me after the shower [duh]. Each guest received an invitation in a bright red hand-addressed envelope.)

How cute is this? Sister Bruschetta went through several drafts, and nixed a number of graphics before pairing my "Miss Bruschetta" icon with a Mrs. Pinot Noir inspired picture.

Bruschetta 'maid Carey led everyone through several games, including quizzes to determine who knows the bride and groom best, and a fill-in-the-blank sheet of famous couples. Then, the mister and I tackled our mountain of gifts together. The first one we unwrapped? The coveted KitchenAid, from BruschettAunt Cino, who proudly reminded me that she reads our wedding blog, and knew I was smitten with the mixer for quite some time now.

My girls were hard at work, with Bruschetta 'maid Kris keeping a list of gift-givers and gifts, and Bruschetta 'maid Carey constructing an, um, interesting bow bonnet. With the mister by my side, and Sister Bruschetta and Bruschetta 'maid Steph working seamlessly behind the scenes, this part of the shower passed by smoothly -- and, pretty enjoyably, too, if you check out the photo evidence!

We added an impressive number of new tools to our culinary arsenal (thanks, everyone!), including several Wusthof knives from Mama, Daddy, Sister and BIL Bruschetta. (Um, wow, so excited to start cooking with these after the wedding!)

After the presents -- and the requisite bow bonnet pictures -- our wonderful hosts served dessert: vanilla and chocolate Italian-themed cupcakes, and a huge fruit salad (which Bruschetta 'maid Steph prepared to be served inside a hollowed out watermelon!).

As the shower was wrapping up, I learned Mr. Bruschetta would be having his bachelor party that night -- but that my big night out with the girls wouldn't take place for a few more weeks. Sister Bruschetta -- and the Bruschetta 'maids -- insisted that we all go into the city for a bit, so I wouldn't be sitting at home thinking (read: worrying) about my mister.***

We had drinks on the rooftop bar at Continental Midtown, followed by tapas downstairs -- a little too much fun with the two-way mirror in the bathroom -- and a gelato run to Capogiro for dessert.

I crashed at Sister and BIL Bruschetta's house, and the mister returned the next day for a lazy, impromptu pool party. Why not make a weekend out of it?

Was your shower a surprise? Anyone else have a coed shower -- or, as BIL Bruschetta termed it, a "bridal/groomal party"?

*Special thanks to Mama and Sister Bruschetta for sharing theses pictures with me! BIL Bruschetta also captured most of the shower on video, but I haven't had time to check out his footage!

**My mister had tried to grab a few clothing options without my noticing, but the pieces he picked either don't fit me well anymore (yea/boo for effective wedding workouts and diets) or would have required a strapless bra, which he didn't realize -- and therefore didn't pack!

***Mr. Bruschetta had been very clear about his bachelor party not including any strippers, so I wasn't fretting about this aspect of his guys' night. But with a big group of guys leading my fiance from bar to bar, I was admittedly fearful he'd end up drinking much more than he intended. And I was so relieved my girls kept my mind occupied -- and my tummy full -- that night!

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