Stunning Autumn / Fall Season Monique Lhuillier Gown for Sale!

Off-White Silk Satin Strapless Sweetheart Top w/Bodice Gown & Hand Tufted Shirt

Perfect for a fall wedding in New England (ours was in mid-October). White (really, off-white) caricata strapless draped bodice gown with hand tufted skirt, silk satin, ruching on the neckline, embellished accent at waist/belt. A similar dress can be found on the designer’s website, in fall 2011 collection called ‘life,’ which is priced at $5,000-7,000.

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The bride was a size 8, at 5’9” tall with 1.5” heels. A few minor alterations were done, making the dress a bit more streamlined from the original, a bit more A-lined.

Here is an article which puts the designer’s dresses in the top 10 of wedding gowns:  http://www.weddingclan.com/monique-lhuillier-wedding-dresses-gowns-top-10-rated.html

The estimated value of the gown is $4,000+. The asking price is $1,600. Gown has been professionally cleaned and pressed, ready to go!

Please call Alison at (413) 575-0231 for more information.

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The Passionate-Red Themed Vietnamese Wedding of Thuy & Kevin at Marriott Boston Long Wharf

On the evening of Saturday, February 25, 2012,Thuy and Kevin, both of Vietnamese descent, tied the knot and celebrated their marriage at the Marriott Boston Long Wharf.

The cocktail hour of the reception took place in the hotel’s conjoined Constitution, Faneuil, Beacon, and Haymarket rooms, overlooking the pier and New England Aquarium. Guests arrived to the laid back sound of our smooth jazz mix, and were invited to sign a traditional Vietnamese banner scroll in lieu of a guest book.

As guests mingled in the cocktail lounge, we and the exemplary staff at the Marriott put the very final touches on the recently renovated – and magnificent – Harborview Ballroom. The wedding featured red décor, from the uplighting to linens to chiffon chair pads to rose-filled centerpieces and even backlit DJ booth. As the sun went down over Boston Harbor, the room glowed with warmth and richness.

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Entering the ballroom to a bit of traditional Vietnamese instrumental music, guests awaited the grand entrance of the parents and bridal party. Because the bride and groom wished to have most of the introductions spoken in Vietnamese (to accommodate all those who traveled from afar for the wedding!), the groom’s older sister Vivian assisted with the intros. After the wedding party and couple were announced, the family made a point to recognize the siblings and several other important family members in the crowd, which was such an atypical and nice touch.

Toasts and dinner got underway. During dinner, the two sets of table centerpieces were given away. The smaller pieces were awarded to whoever had a penny under their charger plate. The larger rose pieces? Those were awarded to the folks who knew the couple best, via trivia questions provided by the matron of honor. I ran around the room like Richard Dawson on Family Fued, the numerous answers so hilariously incorrect!  After that fun came the cake cutting ceremony, set to the tune of Harry Connick, Jr.’s “Recipe For Love.” The cake was actually an arrangement of three different sized white frosted cakes donning red embellishments, atop thin golden metal pedestals of different heights. The couple was quite neat during the ceremony!

During dessert, the bride and groom shared in their first dance together as husband and wife to a wedding favorite, Etta James’s “At Last.” [Note: traditionally, the couple’s first dance often takes place either immediately following their grand entrance, or as this couple chose, following dinner to kick off dancing.] Following that, the couple simultaneously shared a dance with their respective mothers, to an older Vietnamese song entitled “Long Me” (Y Van). Quite beautiful, both in tune and meaning (find the song and translated lyrics on YouTube).

From there, it was a full-on dance party. The house lights dropped and the party lights got turned on. A little bit in the action, the bouquet was tossed to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” and we even played a couple of fun games (again, at the planning of the matron of honor), which were actually really fun and funny. The first was recruiting five male contestants including the groom, to stand on chairs, pull up their pant legs, and let a blind-folded bride wearing dishwashing gloves try to identify her new hubby only by the obstructed feel of his shin and calf muscle. Then, it was vice versa. It’s important to note that both bride and groom identified their mate!

The next game was set to severely embarrass both of them, as Kevin stood on chairs for the entire room to see, as Thuy ran a hard-boiled egg up one pants leg and back down the other as quickly as possible (having quite a bit of trouble at the halfway point!). And the crowd went wild!

We got everyone back to the dance party after this, there was an impromptu congo line started by the groom, and then before we all knew it, the party was at its end. The final song of the night was selected by the couple: “When You Got a Good Thing” by Lady Antebellum. All the remaining guests circled around the married couple as they danced.

A great night was had by all, including me. A big thanks and congratulations to Kevin and Thuy for inviting me to be a part of their special day. Thanks and shout out to Sonja and the always can-do (and punctual!) staff at Marriott Boston Long Wharf. Everyone, enjoy the photos from the celebration.

[This wedding experience was shared by full-time Boston-area wedding specialist, DJ John Dudley. You can find more information, tips, ideas, testimonials, videos, photos, and more at http://www.DJJohnDudley.com, http://www.YouTube.com/user/DJJohnDudley, on Facebook (DJ John Dudley Entertainment), and on Twitter (@thebostondj). We welcome your questions, comments, needs for wedding advice, etc.]

Our Massachusetts Wedding Retrospective, Part 4: Finally The Reception!

We headed steadily southward across the Western Massachusetts countryside toward the Hampden Country Club, in a bus filled with joy and champagne. The impending rain was still on our side. The bloated clouds would soon provide a silver backlit canvas for the remainder of our wedding formal photos.

We pulled up to the front of the venue, members of the bridal party hustling off the bus and rushing around, passing bouquets and boxes this way, coats and champagne that way. The function coordinator Kim met us at the bus, along with members of her crew, and immediately began taking drink orders and providing piping hot hors d’oeuvres. Inside the majority of our guests were already celebrating to upbeat music and an open bar, a massive display of crackers and cheese, fruit, vegetables, dips, and antipasto items, clearly visible through the glass front doors.

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Still in a race against the dissipating daylight and the approaching thunderstorms, we shouted to one another as we rushed along to the left hand side of the venue and its low-rising rock wall and stairs, by which we would photograph. We had so much fun using our own creatively as well as taking suggestions for poses from our photographers – both the hired guns and our paparazzi guests. [Our photographer, Julia Pai, and her assistant, at one point were so focused on the task at hand, that Julia instructed our function coordinator, who was trying to pass around more appetizers to members of the bridal party, to go inside. It seemed funny and somewhat rude at the time, but in hindsight, it was good to stay focused on the portraits. The bacon wrapped scallops were delicious, but they would not create the lasting memories our photos would.] The rainbow shaded forest of maple and birch and oak and pine, and the pure perspective of our hilltop venue, took everyone’s breath away.

All was not perfect, though. As we were down to our final ten minutes of sunlight, I realized my mother was still nowhere to be found. Our second shuttle bus arrived at that moment, and as I and others tried to usher my mom to our portrait site, she refused to go (“the grass is wet, and my stockings will get wet and uncomfortable – I’m not doing it!”). I hollered at her, insisting that she come, as bridal party members; despite her stubbornness, I would not let my wedding day pass without my beloved mother in those photos, for posterity’s sake. We quickly renegotiated the site, down the hill onto the concrete patio, with mere minutes left to spare. In the end, my mother and I, as well as my other closest family members, took the shots as planned, and they turned out perfectly.

At the exact moment my best man and I finished our last photo together outside, darkness instantly swept over us and it began to downpour. God was certainly on our side this fine day! We went inside and joined everyone in the “bridal suite,” which was actually a portion of the golf club’s locker room, which was nicely designed for our wedding purposes. Everything was clean; the sofas and chairs were off-white wicker covered in floral cushions, and the carpets were equally bright. The time to venture upstairs and prepare for the grand introductions came quickly, and away we went.

Everyone lined up behind a large room-dividing curtain, nervous and discussing what creative moves they would make as they were introduced into the room. [I’ve seen some bridal party members enter the reception at this time with beers and wine glasses in hand. Some see this as tacky; others find it fun. I believe our entire wedding party left their bottles and glasses behind the curtain, by their own volition.] As we prepared ourselves, our DJ, according to our wishes, got everyone to their seats while he played “Enterlude” from the band The Killers’ album Sam’s Town, which in effect greeted our guests and thanked them for joining us for the day. My mother was then escorted in by my cousin’s fiancée; Alison’s mother entered with her son and granddaughter/our flower girl. These folks came into the room to the Glee version of “Sweet Caroline,” as my parents-in-law are huge Sox fans. Next came the bridesmaids and groomsmen, paired up, and they danced stylishly into the room to the upbeat funk of “Shotgun” by Jr. Walker & The All-Stars (the song is more commonly known as the theme to The Cosby Show). Finally, Alison and I received our introduction as “…a couple who will change the world as we know it: Mr. & Mrs. John & Alison Dudley,” set to a version of The Killers’ song “Bones,” which I had edited. The room erupted as the curtain was pulled back, and our faces too erupted, into beaming smiles.

We made our way to the dance floor, and as we arrived, we faced each other. Salsa music came in over the speakers. We took a lot of liberty in altering the short routine we had failed to practice thoroughly. Alison showed her flair, spinning the dress wide and flashing her shoes. Our guests hooted and hollered. I played second fiddle, as a good husband should in this scenario. The salsa track, “El Menu” by El Gran Combo, faded out after about a minute and the song drifted romantically into the soft touch of Sting’s “Fields of Gold.” [I had edited these two songs together as well. Some may ask, How did you choose these songs? Well, a salsa track was a definite, as Alison and I had taken salsa dance lessons a couple years prior. We chose this one for its slower tempo and food-related love lyrics. For the Sting track, I actually heard it twice as I suffered through a root canal not more than two weeks before the wedding; it provided me a short bit of comfort for me then, and later it hit both of us as a very moving song, with references to a long future together, children, etc.]

Following our dance and a round of cheers, the bridal party remained flanking the dance floor as they did during our first dance. We went right into our toasts. Alison’s mother started with a welcome and thank you, on behalf of herself and her husband. Alison had two toasters: her cousin, and her closest friend (maid of honor). I also had two: my two best friends. The bridesmaids’ speeches were very touching, as they typically are. My groomsmen’s toasts were brief, both touching on our friendships, with very funny sentiments (and neither toast shared anything embarrassing about me, which was very pleasing). Even my DJ, who is a good friend and colleague of mine, also shared a few personal, very sweet words about Alison and me. Lastly, I, in my father-in-law’s stead, led the evening’s benediction, thanking God for all he had given us.

[Interjecting a couple of side notes here… First, for those brides or grooms out there who may share a similar story at their wedding, I was without the company of both my father and younger brother, both of whom had passed away. I wanted to honor their memory, and did so in a couple distinct ways at the reception. I brought along two photos of us, which were fashioned with leaves and placed right next to the matted photo we used as our guest book. I included their names in my benediction. I also had my DJ play a couple of hand-selected doo-wop tunes by The Drifters; these songs we listened to, as my dad would croon, on long car rides my family shared when my brother and I were young. For my brother specifically, who passed due to a drug overdose, both Alison and I wore a silver overdose prevention ribbon pin, on our dress and tuxedo, respectively.

Second, with respect to our centerpieces, which we reviewed in prior posts, we had many last minute problems and changes. The large log slices into which we had planned to drill three-inch wide holes and then have the bridesmaids place their bouquets, to serve as centerpieces for about a third of the tables, were not able to serve as such. My valiant do-it-yourself (DIY) approach resulted in many logs with a one-inch hole in them – not adequate – and left in our backyard. One completed slice made it to the reception, which served to display my bride’s bright white bouquet on our sweetheart table; we flanked this on both sides with the bridesmaids’ bouquets, as you can see in the photos. We replaced this failed concept last minute by going to A.C. Moore and purchasing five very-thin and sanded wood slices, and used our wood-burning tools purchased from Michael’s Crafts to write special messages on each, like “Eternal Love,” or the date of the wedding, or a heart with our initials inside. We surrounded each on the tables with more artificial leaves and small battery-operated tea lights purchased from Michael’s. We actually used leaves and the small lights on every table. The handpicked forest item, potpourri style vase idea, referred also in a prior diary entry here, turned out as lovely as expected, though we ended up using this concept on two-thirds of the tables. Everything on the tables matched nicely with the brown lace chair bows, which we again purchased online for $0.60 a piece, and which our function coordinator so generously offered to tie onto the chairs.]

It was time to eat! We had gone with ‘stations,’ as opposed to formal plated meals. We wanted a free-flowing atmosphere at our reception; we did not want folks stuck at the tables all night. The menu featured two carving stations of turkey and steamship round of beef, sides of mashed potato and squash, cook-to-order pasta station, lobster bisque and minestrone soup, and garden salad seasoned with extraordinary custom-made vinaigrette. People all grabbed a plate or two of something or other, and headed back to the tables. It was just about this time that we went over and performed our cake cutting ceremony, set to Alison’s choice in music, a live version of Sarah McLachlan’s “Ice Cream.” The cake, baked and decorated by the function venue with our cake topper and artificial leaves, came out perfectly. Our concept for the top tier had a lovely result: it appeared as if the bride was shoving the groom into a pile of leaves. [We found this topper on the internet; multiple websites featured it.] There were no fork on the table, so after we sliced and pulled a small portion of our white cake with Grand Marnier vanilla frosting, we delicately fed it to each other with our fingers. [The woman always eats first, then the husband!] We sealed everything with a sugary sweet kiss.

Right after our cake cutting, we took an opportunity to surprise my uncle with a cake of his own. His birthday fell on the day of our wedding. With his family and friends singing the song, cameras snapped away, a huge smile on his face (he’s usually a very low-key, private guy, but he ate this up!). Then, if there were not enough sugar already in the room, my mom-in-law presented me with my groom’s cake, a surprise to me even though it sat right next to the wedding cake – I swear, I didn’t notice it! This edible art was the coolest thing I had ever seen, and many guests said the same thing. The cake was a chocolate and peanut-butter filled DJ’s turntable complete with headphones, microphone, and a record that featured my name and a photo of Alison and me. Again, the coolest thing I had ever seen and definitely one of the most thoughtful!
My mother and I then shared our much-anticipated slow dance together, to her choice in song, Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are.” With that, the formalities were finished, and it was party time! [For couples seeking a high-energy, quick-pace wedding: it took just under one hour to go from the grand entrance of the bridal party to the dance floor party!] Everyone had a blast to the music; my friend the DJ even tossed me the microphone so I could lead the Cupid Shuffle – I couldn’t escape it. Our most reluctant family and friends all made at least one visit out to the dance floor, which made us very happy, to see them enjoying themselves. Of course, the open bar (especially our seasonal signature drinks for the night, Spiked Apple Cider and pumpkin beer) kept the night extra exciting: a couple of our friends started a round of invisible double-dutch at one point, leaving one very good friend of mine laid flat out on the floor after ‘getting his legs caught up in the ropes.’

The photos kept snapping. People kept dancing. Faces kept smiling. After a couple hours of nothing but dance, it was suddenly over, and our guests were shouting at me to get into my shuttle. Apparently, Alison and everyone else were already inside it! I jogged through the main corridor, with friends and family to my left and right, giving and getting high-fives as I went along. I hopped up the stairs of the luxury bus to a round of cheers as the door closed behind me.

What a perfect day.

[This Wedding Diary is written by full-time Boston-area wedding specialist, DJ John Dudley. You can find more information, tips, ideas, testimonials, videos, photos, and more at http://www.DJJohnDudley.com , http://www.YouTube.com/user/DJJohnDudley , on Facebook (DJ John Dudley Entertainment), and on Twitter (@thebostondj). We welcome your questions, comments, needs for wedding advice, etc.]

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Our Massachusetts Wedding Retrospective, Part 3: The Ceremony

In a miraculous move by Mother Nature, the humidity remained as we approached and reached the parish steps, but the rain stopped altogether. The precipitation even held out for the bridesmaids and my bride, though the bus driver had an umbrella open and ready, just in case a deluge struck between the sidewalk and the safety of the parish foyer.

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I sweated things out in the sacristy with my best man as guests and the rest of the bridal party arrived. Rays of sunshine even began to glide in through the stained glass window portrait of some saint or another. Those beams, along with some reassuring words from my oldest friend, helped keep my peace. We posed for a few photos, when suddenly my best man’s fiancée came hustling into the holy apartment, my smart-phone in hand. Apparently, the nurse tending to my father-in-law decided to make an incoming call to us on Skype, instead of awaiting our planned outgoing call to her. It was mere minutes before the start of the ceremony, and now we could not figure out how to navigate the circumstances. We could see her, but she couldn’t see us; and, we could hardly hear her through a lagging cell signal and poor (yet expected) audio. The priest somehow deciphered the nurse’s words; we ended the call, dialed the hospital room back, and all was well!  We were so pleased to see and greet my new dad, who was decked out in a crisp white tuxedo shirt and berry bowtie, matching the rest of the wedding party. With that, our friend flew back into the main room, to grant our dad a quick hello to all of our friends and family, and then a much anticipated view of the grand procession, his daughter and wife walking down the aisle, arm in arm.

The church organ was brilliant; the bridal party walking past the lacey white pew bows with vibrantly colored bouquets, lovely; our flower girl, precious, and more so, thorough. (As she reached the front pew, and her daddy, she turned the basket upside-down. Then, upon not being satisfied where the final petal dropped, she bent down, picked it up, and tossed it once more. At that point, daddy pulled her off the runway and into the pew.) I stood there in awe as my stunning, classic-looking bride approached, bright white bouquet of spider mums in hand, veil in hair. (My guests continue to tell me how large of a smile I wore at that time.)

The Mass began. Under the meticulously painted dome over the altar, our readers – Alison’s oldest childhood friend, her uncle and cousin (a bridesmaid), and my aunt – kicked off the services. Alison and I had handpicked much of the wedding ceremony liturgy, with some support from our priest. We chose to include a Unity Candle ceremony in our services. Some parish priests allow this, others do not; you need to ask for permission. We were very glad we were granted the opportunity. In the Catholic tradition, the candle, or rather its flame, is a symbol of Christ, the light of the world. Our mothers approached the altar and ignited the individual flames Alison and I would later use in our part of the ceremony. When the time came, after our vows and rings were exchanged, we took our individual candles and lit the larger center candle, symbolizing our separate lives being joined together, and extinguished the separate lights of the side candles.

Our best man and maid of honor came close as we exchanged our vows; as we did, in complete honesty, more sunshine poured in through the long stained glass windows. [If you haven’t read our earlier post, our custom vows are copied here for your convenience. They were written by yours truly, two nights prior, in approximately 20 minutes:

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.]

For other couples getting married in the Roman Catholic Church, yours vows are something else you will need to review in advance with your priest. To clear up any confusion: you may be allowed to write your own, or you may be denied that opportunity. It is up to the discretion of the individual priest. However, if you do receive the go-ahead, you must include certain standard points (for example, faithfulness in sickness, health, wealth, poverty, etc.) in your language, and again, have it all reviewed by the priest. The Church does not offer much, if any, leeway on those points.

My best man took the rings from his pocket, worried even more they would fall from his hands, after the priest sprayed a generous amount of Holy Water on them. They did safely make it to our fingers instead of the floor, and we finished the ceremony with a tear or two in each of our eyes. Our friend continued to roam the parish with my cell phone, capturing the ceremony from all angles, for the viewing pleasure of our dad. We often peered over to dad by way of the video call, waving and smiling, and our guests did the same.

After a very heartfelt and meaningful sermon, an extended period of ‘sharing peace’ (Alison and I kissed or shook hands with every member of our large wedding party), and the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we arrived at another blessed concession by our priest. He had allowed us to invite two members of our family (Alison’s cousins — one, a piano player; the other, a vocalist) to perform a rendition of Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love” as our post-Communion meditation music. I still sing or hum the song to this day, more than a month later, on a regular basis. The performance really stole our breath away, and we will never forget it.

Finally, the Mass had ended, and it was time to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” The cell phone and Skype call made a final pass around the audience, and our dad and guests waved goodbye to each other. (The phone battery died just as the Mass ended!) The church organ cued up. Alison and I were beaming ear to ear and practically skipped down that aisle. Our bridal party followed us to the back of the church, and immediately back to the front again. We had planned to take a few formal bridal party shots, and then photos with Alison’s side of the family, with our photographer at the parish. We had arranged to pose for photos with my family once we arrived at the reception hall. We were in a race against daylight and anticipated late-day thunderstorms, to snap photographs outside there, overlooking the valley.

In the fourth and final installment of Our Wedding Retrospective, it is party time. Get ready to learn of great ideas for fall-themed centerpieces, slideshow setups, drink specials, and much more!

——————-

[This Wedding Diary is written by full-time Massachusetts wedding specialist, DJ John Dudley. You can find more information, tips, ideas, testimonials, videos, photos, and more at http://www.DJJohnDudley.com , http://www.YouTube.com/user/DJJohnDudley , on Facebook (DJ John Dudley Entertainment), and on Twitter (@thebostondj). We welcome your questions, comments, needs for wedding advice, etc.]

Our Massachusetts Wedding Retrospective, Part 2: Pre-Ceremony

Somehow, following a long, raucous post-wedding rehearsal dinner at the local Polynesian pop-spot, Hu Ke Lau, I still wake up bright and early in our master suite at the Hampton Inn Chicopee, with two of my groomsmen stirring in the adjoining room. Through our negotiations with Sandy at the hotel, we had procured one of the hotel’s two master suites for our wedding weekend, for two nights, one of which was complimentary (a stipulation we set with the sales manager, upon our block of rooms selling out), the second of which was at the discounted rate we arranged for our guests’ standard rooms. [Note: A friend of mine in the hotel industry in Boston once told me that it costs a hotel approximately $17 per night to maintain most rooms, so when you bargain for a hotel block for wedding, be polite but hard-nosed, as now you know the whole story.] Some of the guys stayed with me, while some bridesmaids stayed over at my mother-in-law’s house with my bride.

That morning, after a complimentary breakfast at the hotel (something other local top-brand hotels in the area did not offer), I took off with the maid of honor to receive the manicure my mom-in-law had so lovingly and readily booked for me. This was only the second ‘mani’ of my life, accepted only slightly less reluctantly than the first. As we ventured out we encountered rain, and according to the Weather Channel, we could still expect a solid sixty percent chance of rain well into the early evening. We kept our fingers crossed. Rain aside, we had other issues that weighed on our minds, namely Alison’s father, who was now guaranteed to miss the entire wedding day due to the status of his health. He found himself bed-ridden in the intermediate care unit of the hospital instead of rightfully by his daughter’s side at the altar. (Although both Alison and I were raised Roman Catholic and still practiced our faith, a church marriage was one of the few wishes her father and mother held most dear.)

The fantastical thoughts and discussions I had shared with Alison and family the few days leading up to this one now turned more pressing and realistic: What if I could set up a Skype teleconference between that isolated hospital room and the warm interior of St. Stan’s? After the salon appointment, I, with the support of my best man, his fiancée, and my new cousin-in-law, ventured to my new dad’s bedside. We had many concerns, including being able to tap into the hospital’s restricted wireless signal, positioning the laptop so that everyone could see one another later in the day, properly instructing and trusting hospital staff to operate the program and accept the incoming call when the time came, and of course, ensuring that my father-in-law would be found fashioned in the crisp white tuxedo shirt and berry bowtie we brought along with us. (The man had always been an impeccable dresser, and we would certainly not have this day be different from any other.)

With the grace of God, everything worked out at the hospital, and again with His grace, the same would happen when my best man’s fiancée called the laptop from the Skype application on my Evo 4G inside the church at 3:25pm. I could not thank her enough as she offered to walk around the altar and crowd during the Mass, connecting the world of that hospital room and the world of the wedding. We made our way back to the hotel with safety in mind, as we encountered yet another flash downpour.

After returning to the hotel in the early afternoon with an unnatural sheen to my finger caps and a glowing optimism toward my new father being able to virtually attend the wedding, following one quick check-in phone call to my lovely bride, I did what was natural to me in times of growing pressure: I chatted with anyone and everyone (read: procrastinated). At some point – only an hour before the limo bus was to arrive and transport my groomsmen and me to St. Stanislaus Basilica – I made my way to the room and began getting ready. Within an hour, I found myself boarding the bus with my groomsmen and others, popping open a bottle of champagne, and rolling toward to the church, with rain smacking the windows.

In the third installment of Our Wedding Retrospective, you’ll get to read about and even see photos of the ceremony, so stay tuned!

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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