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Our Massachusetts Wedding Retrospective, Part 1: The Final Prep

Hampden Country Club.

The beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows of the Hampden Country Club function space in autumn.

As our Friday wedding date approached, we watched the weather carefully. Although both the ceremony and the reception were taking place indoors, the travel into and out of each, and the travel on the several miles of road between the venues (i.e. the safety of our guests) were still a concern of ours. And this is putting aside the fact that we had planned very carefully in order to ensure that in the event of sunshine, we would have a perfect opportunity to photograph at our reception venue with a glorious sunset as a backdrop, overlooking a lush and multicolored valley. There was more than a week of bold sunshine leading up to our rehearsal dinner, and more sunshine on deck, slotted for after our wedding had ended. As much as we planned and hoped and followed the meteorologist’s every word, the sad truth was we would be going about our wedding day in the rain, with an inevitable 70 to 80 percent change of precipitation. But we were determined to make the best of whatever situation came our way.

In actuality, weather issues aside, both Alison and I needed to have our optimism on high gear anyway. About two or three weeks prior to the wedding, Alison’s dad, who has a history of heart and respiratory problems, was admitted into a Springfield area hospital, where he was to have another important procedure pertaining to his heart condition. Under normal circumstances, this procedure would understandably take a stressful and frightening toll on an individual and their family. With tons of final wedding preparations to nail down and organize, it became a taxing time. It was a bittersweet final path to the Roman Catholic Church marriage, to which her parents so thrillingly looked forward. We did not know how everything would turn out, though hoped Alison’s dad would make it through the procedure unscathed and recover in time still to walk his beloved daughter, my bride, down the aisle.

With tears in at least one person’s eyes at any given time, we worked together with my bride’s mother, and cousins and friends, to finish the following:

fall impressions glass coasters

The glass coasters (sets of two) imprinted with white leaves, in which sat our guests' seating assignments. The coasters served as our thank you favors.

– writing out and packaging with lace ribbon the guests’ party favors / seating cards (glass coasters shown here; a link can be found in our last diary entry);

– welcome (“goodie”) bags for our guests staying in our select hotel block (at the Hampton Inn in Chicopee, a fabulous hotel with nice amenities including a full complimentary breakfast and a can-do staff) which included personalized bottles of spring water (labeled them ourselves with “Alison & John’s Wedding”), chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies from a Springfield area bakery, small autumn-scented votive candles, a schedule of wedding day events and key addresses/directions, and mints that read “thank you” on them;

– writing, designing, printing and assembling programs for the ceremony (which we made on Alison’s mother’s home computer — they came out very classy without too much fuss);

– packaging / organizing everything to be brought to the church and the reception hall (i.e. pew bows, Unity Candles, remaining centerpieces, guest book/matted photo, etc.), and the list of who was to bring what, where.

We couldn’t have finished everything in time without the help of our family and friends. Furthermore, we would never would have had time to finish other vastly important items — like writing our vows!

Two nights before the wedding, we sat down and came up with our pledge to one another:

John/Alison, my best friend and partner,
You love me, and I, you.
You inspire me to be a better person.
You inspire me to change the world.
You remind me to care for myself.
You remind me to breathe.
You are imperfect, but you try your best.
You forgive readily, and are always forgiven.
You accept me for who I am, and you make me stronger.
You are my rock in times of frustration and sorrow.
You are the light of my day.

These things I promise in our marriage together;
I commit to progress, not perfection.
I commit to strength in God, our family, and friends.
I commit to the practice of patience, listening, passion, and compassion.
I commit to be true to you, in good times, and in bad.
I commit to care for you, in sickness and in health.
I commit to love and honor you all the days of my life.

After finishing our vows, we also needed to connect once more with our photographer and DJ, to apprise them of a couple last minute changes to the day, especially the fully yet sadly anticipated absence of Alison’s dad.

At the end of the day, we both felt quite accomplished — and exhausted — and slept like babies. What was in store for us the next morning?¬† Yes, you guessed correctly: manicures.

Stay tuned for the riveting second installment of Our Wedding Retrospective!

The Boston DJ’s Wedding Diary: T-Minus 9 Days…!!!

Last time we connected here in my wedding diary, we had so much time to play with. Now, we have only nine days. It is tricky to figure out exactly where all the time went (though I imagine a good deal may have gone to prepping for and performing at the billion other weddings we had booked this spring, summer and fall!). It is certainly a bit tough to breathe at this point, with still two other weddings standing between my work schedule and my own wedding (read: downtime). I do see daybreak, and I’m making the final dash for it.

My lovely, soothing yet on-the-ball fiancee Alison has been working her tail off on wedding details for months, though I have been chipping in here and there. This past week, we met finally with our priest (who actually reminded us to get our rings!), applied for our marriage certificate at city hall, and begin dis- and re-assembling our wedding favors/table seating cards (these are very cool leaf  coasters, which you are see here http://www.momentsofelegance.com/catalog/fall-impressions-glass-photo-coasters-p-1820.html).

We decided to go with my good friend Oscar at Omar & Oscar’s Jewelry in East Boston, Mass., for our last-minute wedding bands. I have very simple tastes (my first pick of the showcase was actually a $40 stainless steel ring), but my better half eventually talked me into choosing a slightly more stylish band that is a layering of yellow gold on titanium. Her band is being custom made in white gold with between three and five small diamonds totaling about 1/4 karat, to match the width of the triple diamond setting on the engagement ring.

Tree stump slice centerpiece

DIY: tree stump slice centerpiece featuring bride & groom's initials, made with woodburning tools, and tea lights. c

Some of the things we have had the most fun in planning and designing are the centerpieces. We will have three different arrangements, all geared toward our warm fall theme, coinciding with the chocolate brown napkins and chair bows (bows we bought ourselves online for only $0.60 each – our friends will be putting them on the chairs, saving us $2.90 per chair from going with the bows supplied by the venue). A third of the tables with feature a set of two cylinder vases, 7” high and 10” high, each filled with an autumn potpourri (collected by us on the cheap from the abundance of nature) of tree bark, acorns, pine cones, etc. A candle will be placed into the top of each vase, with tea lights around the base of each. Another third of the tables will feature a 6 inch high, 6 inch diameter tree stump slice, with a hole drilled into the center, into which the bridemaids’ bouquets will double as a flower arrangement centerpiece (see the cost-saving trends here?). The final third, which we are most excited about, feature a set of two similar tree stump slices, one leaned against the other, into which we will be emblazoning our initials into, using wood-burning tools purchased at Michael’s Crafts. Tea lights will accompany this centerpiece style as well. You can see a photo of it here.

There is much more info, tips, and pics to see in the coming days, so stay tuned!

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