After spending one hectic night in Paris, as mentioned in my previous entry, Mr. C and were off to a Mediterranean paradise via Air Malta.
Malta is a Mediterranean island just south of Sicily and north of Tunisia and Libya. Because of its unique and convenient location between Europe and Africa, it represents an interesting blend of language, food, culture, and history. The primary language is Maltese (a strange blend of Arabic and Italian), but many people speak English as Malta was a British colony from 1813 to 1964. Malta is also a member of the European Union and, as such, uses the Euro as currency. The country is also devoutly Roman Catholic, and there were many festivals taking place honoring local patron saints. Although strangely its Muslim and Arabic past still lingers in the language and place names throughout the islands. Practically all the buildings are constructed of the tan stone that is mined on the islands. In fact, it is a law that buildings are constructed of this material, probably for both aesthetic and environmental reasons as there are few trees on the island. It gives the place a very beautiful and unique appearance.
It’s time for the Camel honeymoon recaps! In case you missed it, we visited the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo with a short stop in the city of Paris on our way home. I will include a mixture of pretentious Instagram photos and “real” photos from my DSLR. Sorry if you get photo overload, but I took a lot on this trip!
The night of our wedding, Mr. C and I stayed at a place in downtown Athens called Hotel Indigo. It’s only about 15 to 20 minutes from our venue and we had a limo ride there. One our our coworker’s wives upgraded our original reservation to the presidential suite. It had three rooms, a bathroom the size of our apartment bedroom, a baby grand piano, a living room with a giant flat screen TV, a second entryway bathroom—in short, it was enormous and absolutely ridiculous as we’d only really be spending a few hours there. I actually woke up around 4:00 am, my head abuzz with wedding day emotions, and was only able to fall back asleep as dawn crept into the windows. Around 10:00 am we checked out of our decadent room and met up with my dad, step-family, grandma, aunts and uncles for breakfast at their hotel down the street. We also ran into Mr. C’s dad and stepmother who were also staying at the hotel.
The Camels are officially home from the honeymoon and it was a romantic and spectacular time that we will not soon forget. Right now I am overwhelmed with all the photos I took over those two weeks, and I’m still debating how much or how little detail I’d like to include in my recaps, but I will be sure to get back with you guys soon with our experiences on Malta, Gozo, and then in the city of Paris.
Until then, I feel that I need to backtrack a little and talk about our rehearsal dinner. What is usually a rather uneventful wedding tradition was made complicated by the first meeting of my mother and stepmother in addition to some sour post-divorce emotions on Mr. Camel’s side of the family. You can read more about my concerns and pre-wedding emotions in the post “Healing the Past: Family Drama and the Wedding.”
In this case, I think a picture will speak a thousand words, and so I present to you the first photograph of me (as an adult) with my mom and dad who divorced in 1997:
It’s official, hive—the Camels are a married couple at last! The day was absolutely, positively perfect and it exceeded all of my expectations. I had so many people tell me that it was one of the most beautiful weddings they had ever attended, and for someone who has poured her heart and soul into this event for fourteen months, those comments had me grinning from ear to ear. I’m also pretty sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the house after we read our vows. My only complaint? It went so fast. Everyone tells you this, but I was so overwhelmed with everything that it all seemed finished in a moment. We blinked and it was all done. The entire weekend was an intense building of emotions from so many different places that I’m still carefully sorting through them. Anyway, I have so much more to say and share, but it will have to wait for another time. Until then, here are some teaser guest photos!
Last night at our rehearsal dinner, I had the first photo taken with both my mom and dad in 15 years. I saw my mother meet and hug my stepmother for the first time. I saw my mom chatting casually with my step siblings. In essence I saw two worlds which I thought would be forever disconnected finally joined. It was easily one of the most emotional moments of my life. A lot of old wounds healed last night, and not just for me, but for everyone. I bawled my eyes out. I couldn’t stop the tears even if I tried. I sobbed like a baby in front of basically everyone I knew. To see everyone so happy, to see not two families joined but four families joined—it was something very, very special. My aunt called it a miracle. She hugged me and looked into my eyes and said, “I know how much this means to you. This healed a lot of hearts tonight.” And now we are really joining these families by marriage. The power of what this union really means hit me in full force as I witnessed all that love, love that was practically palpable, love bursting at the seams.
Anyway, I guess I will just say that this is my last post as Miss Camel. I will be marrying my best friend today, the guy who makes it all worthwhile. The guy who held my hand as I cried and cried as I watched my two families rejoin after so much emotional pain. The guy who makes me laugh, who always encourages me, lifts me up out of the darkness. The guy who loves me unconditionally. The guy who makes every day brighter, every place feel like home. I can’t imagine any other person to start this journey with.
Well guys, I am getting married this weekend. Our 14-month engagement is finally at an end! But what would a wedding be without some last-minute DIY crafts? I made these programs and had them printed at a local print shop for cheap. With a dedicated assembly line including my dad, Mr. C, and myself, we were able to assemble 80 of these wedding program fans last night. We tied on little blue, cream, and pink ribbons to tie in with our wedding colors. I ran out this afternoon and bought a basket to put them in for the ceremony. And here is the final product:
I used the wreaths and cameo graphics that I made for our save the dates, so that made these pretty simple to create. I was really inspired by the layout that Mrs. Bunting created for her wedding programs and used that as a guide for ours.
My parents divorced when I was 13 years old, and it was a nasty, bitter split. My dad left my mom for another woman. Not an upgrade or trophy wife, but a woman his age with three young children. He moved to the other side of the country and several years later he remarried. While I have since forgiven my father, my mother has not. In fact, my mother has never met my stepmother. My mother understandably has a lot of old wounds from the divorce. She had a really hard time recovering (it took years) and I think even now, even though she has remarried and moved to Illinois with her husband, she has not forgiven nor forgotten the past.
The last time my parents were in the same room together was in 2006 when my mom was seeing me off at the airport when I was moving to Japan. My dad also happened to be there as he was flying through Atlanta (he’s a commercial airline pilot) on a trip. I won’t lie—it was awkward. I remember standing there and feeling red in the face, hands sweaty. My dad looked incredibly uncomfortable. I was so thankful when it was over, but then I cried realizing it was the first time I’d seen them both together, at the same time, in 10 years. Even at 30 years old, the idea of having a photo taken with my mom and dad at my wedding still makes me tear up. Old emotions like this don’t heal and disappear, they lurk under the surface of your skin; they resurface at Christmas, on birthdays, whenever I think about being able to go “home,” which doesn’t exist anymore.
Always over the years, the one thing that has been cycling through the back of my mind is: what’s going to happen when I get married? Even when I was in relationships that I knew had no future potential, even when I was single, it was always a worry that would surface from time to time: what happens when my mother, who can be at times very volatile and irrational, finally meets the woman who she believes destroyed her marriage?
Mr. C and I are getting married at Cloverleaf Farm a relatively new venue that has only hosted a few weddings thus far. Actually, their very first wedding was just in November, but we booked them in August before they had even finished renovating the property. There was a lot of work to be done—a barn to clean up and repair, painting in the house, a bar to be built. We booked them on good faith that by May most of the major projects would be completed.
Well, our good faith and patience paid off! We visited the property just last week and I was blown away the beauty of the property. We arrived at 6:00 pm, around the time we will be getting married in a few weeks, and the light was absolutely gorgeous. All the rustic, rolling fields and pecan trees behind the property were aglow with the golden hues of the setting sun. I’m not usually a very weepy person, but I actually started to tear up looking out over the field where we are getting married in a few short weeks. The barn has been renovated with cafe lights and rustic chandeliers strung from the ceiling. The coordinator directed me towards their blog with even more gorgeous photos from their recent April weddings. You can see them on the property website under their photos section, if you are interested. I am just so excited to be getting married at this venue!
I took a few photos with my phone that I wanted to share, since I really didn’t have many photos of the venue to share when I first posted about it last fall. You can read about how we chose Cloverleaf in the venue entry. I was trying to capture that lovely golden hour just as the sun is setting.
Since the beginning of our engagement I’ve always known that I would like to have a reading from The Little Prince at our wedding ceremony. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a children’s book written by French author and pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I was first introduced to the book as a child when my dad read it to me. I always loved the simple tale about the world of adults and the world of children.
One of my bridesmaids recently gave me the Little Prince popup book, which is so beautiful! I love it so much that I actually bought one for my dad to give him as a thank you gift before the wedding.
Our reader is a dear friend and coworker, the English department chair at our school. She actually played a large role in hiring me at the school where we work, which in turn played a role in me meeting and falling in love with Mr. C! So we actually owe her a pretty large debt of gratitude, and we thought she would be the perfect person to be a reader at our ceremony, especially when she reads in her gentle, eloquent teacher-reader voice.
I love macarons. Specifically Ladurée macarons, but any will do really so long as they are made with care. In another blogger bee life, I would have loved to have blogged as Miss Macarons from the Tea Party generation. Macarons were present on the day Mr. C and I got engaged. We were at Versailles and of course Ladurée has a small boutique inside the palace to satiate your sweet tooth. There is nothing more decadent than sitting on the beautifully manicured grounds of Versailles or in the whimsical gardens of the Queen’s Hamlet and munching on some dainty little macarons in all the colors you know Marie Antoinette herself would have loved. I remember my first visit to Versailles in the summer of 2011. I was there with my stepsister, and I knew I had to try the macarons I had seen photos of so often online. I sat on the lawn munching away thing, “This is the life.” My stepsister, however, was not as impressed. Well, more for me!
The days have been flying by lately. I feel so consumed by work and wedding tasks that I look up and a week, two weeks, three weeks have flown by. Everything is moving so quickly and I feel that we are going to reach a critical mass soon! I’m starting to wonder why we decided to get married one week after the school year ends. But despite the mounting stress of work and the wedding, I’m glad that we will be getting married early in the summer so that we can enjoy the rest of our time off without worrying about wedding tasks. We can enjoy our much earned break and enjoy being married to each other.
Even though I’m feeling burned out and overwhelmed by the wedding—I’m still going to be sad when it’s all over. I think that I am probably very susceptible to experiencing the dreaded post-wedding depression. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, I have a stressful job that isn’t always easy. In fact, most of the time it is not easy. Mr. C and I work at a Title I high poverty high school, and there are a lot of emotional issues that are attached to what we do each day. Not only due to the current state of education, but also with the daily issues that students come to us with each day. We both teach “high stakes” test subjects, which puts a lot of pressure on us to bring in good test scores with students who, even as 12th graders, often struggle with basic reading comprehension, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills. Needless to say, the wedding has been a very happy, positive distraction this year.
I had my hair trial last Friday! It was a busy day because, as one of the two Senior Advisory Board sponsors, I had just finished organizing and chaperoning the Class of 2013 senior picnic. I’ve been referring to the senior events as my “second wedding,” as it has involved designing and printing senior T-shirts, collecting money, securing payments for vendors, organizing catering and decorations for a senior breakfast, organizing catering and a DJ for the senior picnic. It has been a LOT of work and a lot of extra stress these last few weeks. But the good news is that everything came together perfectly. There were a few mistakes here and there, but I will know better for next year. I’m just glad it’s over and that means one huge worry and time commitment off my shoulders. Now to focus more on the wedding (and the big tests my AP world history and economics kids will be taking).
I rushed straight from the picnic (in my own senior T-shirt) to the salon. I wasn’t feeling very bridal or beautiful, but I left feeling really happy and confident in the skills of my stylist. I came in feeling like a hot mess and I this is what I left with:
Our invitations were definitely a labor of love. Thankfully, I learned the basic ropes of Adobe Illustrator when I sat down to create our save-the-dates earlier this year. This meant that the invitation process went much more quickly and smoothly than the save-the-date creation process. What took me a long time was finally settling on a color scheme and design. There are so many choices and it can feel overwhelming at times. At the end of the day, I simply needed to sit down, pick a design and walk away from it—and that’s just what I did. I’m incredibly happy with the way that they turned out. Here is how it appeared to our guests upon opening the envelope:
Poor Mr. C punched out all of those belly bands using a Martha Stewart punch one morning while I was sleeping in. He popped in The Hobbit DVD and went to town. By the time I woke up he had 100 beautiful belly bands neatly stacked into piles. He was also a huge help in the assembly process, as we ended up mailing off around 80 of these invites to our nearest and dearest.
In the midst of wedding-crafting madness, I wanted to share a few updates with you guys! First of all, I recently completed a really simple DIY project.
I picked up two wreaths, wooden letters, and silk flowers that were on sale at Michaels and crafted these up in a few minutes. I know they would probably look better with fresh flowers instead, but it’s one less thing for me to worry about and maybe a fun detail for photos. More than likely not many people will even notice them! But I know they will look cute on the back of the chairs at our sweetheart table during the wedding reception.
Mr. C and I did something slightly unconventional—we recently celebrated our joint bachelor/bachelorette weekend in Las Vegas. I thought it would be a a lot fun if some of my bridesmaids and his groomsmen could meet and mingle during an awesome Vegas adventure. Not many of our entourage were able to make it (my bridesmaids live all over the country and two just had their first babies)—but it was an amazing time nonetheless. This might not be the most typical way to celebrate, but I highly recommend it!
In the end we had two of Mr. C’s groomsmen (one being my older brother) and two of my bridesmaids plus the husband of my matron of honor. It was a fun, laid back group and we tried our best not to get into too much trouble (wish I could say the same for my brother and the other groomsmen!).
|After getting a little too much sun by the pool.|
In order to save money we ended up staying at Excalibur. It’s certainly not the nicest or classiest hotel, but it served our needs of a place to crash. Plus it was dirt cheap and their pool is actually really nice, and that’s where I ended up spending most of our afternoons anyway. The one big disadvantage is that Excalibur is located way down at the end of the strip. In the past, I have also stayed at Treasure Island and Aria, which have much better locations in the middle of the strip and closer to Caesar’s Palace and the Venetian. I think a lot of new visitors to Las Vegas don’t understand how much walking and stair-climbing you will do as you explore the strip and its many outrageous hotels and attractions. This was actually my fifth time to Vegas, so I had a pretty good idea of what to do and where to go. But don’t wear ridiculous heels unless you pack yourself some flats to wear on the walk (or take a taxi or the tram).