I was waiting to put some distance between myself and this entry. At some point I was hoping the sickening happiness and loving-everyone fog would settle, and I could write coherently, dryly (and somewhat cynical) about weddings being all about pomp and circumstance. But that’s not how my stupid emotions work, and they’re still going crazy.
So, let’s work through this together, let’s work out the turmoil of emotions, hormones, and genuine love.
I’ve become quite an expert in weddings. It all begins when somewhere along the way I started collecting friends. In my childhood, as I grew up, and even into my 20’s. I always thought “the more, the merrier” was the best way to approach friendships. After all, friends are the part of our families we get to choose, right?
What I didn’t think about was that these friends would grow up, like people tend to do, and fall in love, and want to get married, and want to start a family. I also overlooked a crucial point. Just as my friends mean the world to me, I belong to their world as well. We tend to forget that, mostly because we’re self involved. (I use we to deflect from myself, just in case you didn’t catch that. I’m extremely self-aware.)
This means, each milestone in my friend’s life includes me, just like my milestones will include them. Et voilá, reciprocity! So, with each engagement, each wedding, each baby, I’m there! And when I step back, I’m nothing but grateful. This wedding was no different.
Vanessa, the bride, and I met in junior high. We bonded over being in the choir together, one of the boy bands du jour, and movies. Movies were our true love affair. We sat for hours watching old Hollywood in its heyday. We were probably the only 12 year old girls that were aware of the Andrews Sisters, and wished we could somehow catch the attention of Ol’ Blue Eyes. Yeah, it’s a wake up call when you realize all your favorite actors and singers are dead, and you’re a tween! Needless to say, but our bond somehow survived the general fluctuations of life, the living in different cities, and everything else that could’ve gotten in the way. It was still a surprise when Vane called me and asked that I be a bridesmaid, and then pressed her luck by asking me to sing “Pie Jesu” and say something during the reception. There’s no evidence of the song, so don’t even go there. However, I did keep a copy of the speech, and you can see it later in the post – with the corresponding picture from an unflattering angle.
Enough about me, let’s talk more about the wedding, and all the events leading up to it. Great Expectations is a great novel, it could also be the underlying theme of every single wedding. There are expectations about everything, from the location to the flower details. Each one a potential for tears, or even worse rage. Yet, even with all the potential for sheer horror, we go through with it with the hope that it’s the greatest metaphor for life. That somehow hard work, sleepless nights, and emotional breakdowns will yield beautiful moments that make it all worthwhile.
A week before the wedding I quit my job, and would start my funemployment in New York City. There’s enough here for another entry, so I’ll hold off on that until a later date. Let’s focus here on love and friendships.
My funemployment week started off with a bridal shower and a bachelorette party. Things got a little rowdy, but it was mostly girls being silly and making inappropriate jokes. And one of the bridesmaids yelling at the rest to finish the tiny cupcakes because they were her favorite and she wasn’t going to just throw them away! Yes, Carla, I’m calling you out. But you were right, they were delicious. All the girls bonded, and I think I’ve made new friends, along with the mini high school reunion that happened. Yeah, I keep collecting friends, I think it’s far healthier than if I started collecting stamps. (A big shout out to the MOH Tracy, we’ll start our “Tale of Two City Girls” blog soon – working title.)
Great Expectations is also the inspiration for much of this wedding. Well, that and Jane Austen. (The only thing missing was a double wedding and Colin Firth. That would have been a great addition.) The ceremony and reception took place at Alder Manor in Yonkers, NY. Not the first place I would have thought for a romantic wedding, but shame on me for assuming. You know what they say when you assume. When you drive up to the manor, you get a chill. I can’t say if it was good or bad, mostly it was intrigue. Stay tune for Lali waxing poetically about architecture and design. For now, lets leave it at: it was living up to great expectations. The dilapidated mansion, home to a family at some point and the false outdoor setting for several Hollywood movies, served as the perfect backdrop for a romantic wedding. Being there made everyone feel like fairy tales could come true, that Hollywood endings were a possibility. Basically, I was battling with myself. At some point, I did let it all go and got swept into the whole emotional roller coaster and happily ever after, romcom big gesture. The devil’s in the details, and Vane excelled in all of them. From the dresses she chose, to the beautifully placed photographs of their families throughout the years. I must say that Nathan executed each of these details with such preciseness that can only come from love, because there was A LOT of little things.
The table arrangements were done by matching keys and movie titles. The keys then turned into charms you could wear long after the ceremony. At the entry way there were two flags, PR and UK represent. This was, after all, a multicultural affair. The guest book had within it quotes and antique etches, there was also an old hairbrush, old leather-bound books, and hearts cut out from famous novels. Each thing made it feel like you were stepping into this world, and it made the old dilapidated mansion feel like a home. The food was a nice blend of rice and beans, different proteins and salad. For their first dance, Vane and Nathan wowed everyone with the cutest choreographed dance! And I was surprised with Nathan’s amazing dancing skillz – again, pardon me for assuming, I should know better at this point! Vane doesn’t do mediocre!
I’m sure I’ve forgotten many other things, like late night conversations and belting out Beyoncé in the hotel room (y’all know she’s my spirit animal.) There were also more Great Expectation metaphors and movie quotes (I’ll spare you.) That would make this a novel, rather than a very long blog entry. For now, I leave you with a lovely collection of pictures, which will compensate a 1,000 words each.
The bachelorette party started with making our own pasties and a burlesque class. Eat your heart out, Dita von Tees.
Mine were themed, Mardi Gras. They are staying in their little gold bag forever. Those kindergarten-level-pasties should never terrorize anyone!
We did the obligatory phallic lollipops and shots. Crown and sash in tow, we went out in NYC, and then to a burlesque show. You know, now we’re total experts after our ONE class.
This was one of the views. In one of the brief moments of respite prior to the ceremony some of us snuck* off to meander through the manor.
(*Editorial note on the use of “snuck” vs. “sneaked.” Yeah, I’m sticking by my verb choice. )
It’s like the Secret Garden. (Yes, book nerds everywhere, rejoice!)
Getting a bride into her dress is a team effort.
Those buttons were like a chastity belt! But the dress was gorgeous, so whatever.
There were little birds flying in the greenery behind. All worthy of Vanessa & Nathan.
Unofficial, but awesome, high school reunion. We’ve been friends for a long time, special mention goes out to Yari for handling me like a champ! (And always laughing WITH me.)
Our true nature comes out.
(Photography courtesy of Yarimar Jiménez.)
Life is messy. We can’t tell what happens in the future, and fate can be a fickle friend. But movies are clean, they take the messes and wrap them up in our Hero’s Journey.
So, tonight, I want to offer my advice the best I can: vicariously, through movies.
First, we have an ordinary world. But soon it all changes, fate or a good screenplay writer, turns up and turns our ordinary world upside down.
After all, Ilsa could have walked into any joint, but she walked into Rich’s in Casablanca and nothing was the same.We take the leap, the chance, but these are forces in the world that will always try to keep lovers apart.
So, here are my top 5 couples (abridged) of how to overcome, or sidestep altogether, the common pitfalls and traps of marriage.
- Ben & Elaine from “The Graduate”: if only to remind you that there are some messed up families out there! Ben and Elaine faced one of the worst, so anything you face will probably be A LOT easier!
- Karen & Milton from “From Here to Eternity”: inspiring more attempts at sex on the beach than any other screen couple. Leading to more disappointed couples who just end up with sand in not-so-fun-areas.
- Melvin & Carol from “As Good As It Says”: may you always take your pills, ma you want to make each other a better man or woman.
- Phil & Rita from “Groundhog’s Day”: may you fall in love with each other every day, even when it could get monotonous… always try to figure out how to make the mundane exciting.
- Westley & Buttercup from “The Princess Bride”: Because they taught us “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a little while.”
There are many more, and really any Meg Ryan movie can show you it’s all solved by a grand gesture on top of the Empire State Building, but for now…
We’ve reached the end of our journey, the beginning of your happily ever after, and our Hero’s Reward.
¡Qué vivan los novios!
I’ve tried being serious, and I held out as long as I could. That was about 10 seconds.
Don’t the make a gorgeous couple?
Thanks for hanging on till the end! Give yourself a pat on the back. Until the next one!