Thursday, August 4, 2016

Scholarships and the “Careful” Screening Process . . .

The happy ending

Scholarships are hard to get. You have to have excellent grades and also score well on the SAT’s and/or ACT standardized tests. In our experience those were the two main factors considered. They will say extracurricular activities play a role, the college essay is a factor, community involvement is considered. I think the things come into play when grades or test scores may not be as high as the college is looking for.  Some private high schools also give scholarships. They are based on grades and test scores to their own standardized exam.  Here is my daughter’s experience with scholarships.

When my older daughter graduated from intermediate school she applied to various high schools. She took the exam for Catholic high schools because the public schools she applied to were highly competitive. My daughter graduated intermediate school as valedictorian and needless to say her grades were nearly perfect. When she took the entrance exam for Catholic school she knew she had done well. She even completed more of it than one of her friends, who was the valedictorian at another neighborhood school. The day scholarships were announced to the Catholic school they both applied for, my daughter did not receive a call, but her friend did. We were bewildered as to how can that be? Both girls were valedictorians and my daughter was certain she had performed better on the entrance exam. Of course this was a Friday afternoon so we could not inquire about it for her. On Monday morning my husband, who is much more patient and tactful than I am, called the school and asked them why our daughter did not get a scholarship when her grades were outstanding and she felt she did very well on the exam. He just wanted to know where she fell short. He was told they would get back to him, but they do have a "very careful screening process."  In no less than thirty minutes I received a call from the school telling me my daughter had been granted a full scholarship. No explanation as to how she fell through the cracks of their careful screening process. When my daughter got home from school I let her know the “good” news. She was less than impressed and really very irritated. She felt slighted, overlooked and they had ruined her chance to enjoy her accomplishment because it had come after the fact, when other students had already made it known they had been granted scholarships. It would look like she was a “second thought” because if she truly deserved it why wasn't she selected during the screening process. Fortunately for her, her first choice of public high schools had accepted her and she was able to decline the scholarship.

Fast forward four years. Once again it was time to apply to schools. My daughter filled out quite a few applications, took a prep class to do well on the SAT’s and ACT exams, and she had a very good average from a highly regarded academic high school in New York City. Acceptance letters started pouring in. Many of them offering scholarships. Of course she was waiting until they all came in to make her decision. One school never replied. It was my alma mater, St. John’s University. She asked if I would call them and ask for her application fee back since they did not bother to even notify her if she had been accepted or not. Once again she was disgusted. I called them and explained that my daughter had applied and received no answer from them so we would like a refund of our application fee. The woman on the other end seemed perplexed. She disappeared for a few minutes. She returned to the phone and asked me if my daughter would fill out another application. I told her I was sure she would not. Then she said she would look into it and call me back.  Less than an hour later my phone rings. It’s St. John’s University offering her a full scholarship! I thanked them. I thought this was good news. My daughter came home and I told her what happened. She rolled her eyes and launched into a little rant. This was exactly what happened to her when she applied to the Catholic high school. She wanted no part of St. John’s. She had already gotten a half scholarship to Hofstra and she wanted to go there. Her father and I agreed.

After she accepted Hofstra’s offer to attend she gets a phone call from them. I listen in on the other line. The admission’s officer introduces himself and tells her that Hofstra would like to offer her a full scholarship instead of a half scholarship and that they would be sending her a new letter confirming this offer shortly. He just wanted to let her know it was coming. My daughter thank him. She got off the phone to tell me (not knowing I had listened in). More than a few days had passed and no letter arrived. My daughter started to believe that maybe she didn’t hear him correctly. Of course I knew she had because I heard it too. I told her to call and check on the letter. They confirmed it was coming and that she had been offered a full scholarship. The letter did arrive. She picked the right school and went there for four years graduating Summa Cum Laude, with highest honors, double majoring in Television/Communications and English. 

Moral of the story: If you think you deserve a scholarship and don’t get one, call and find out why.  You may have just fallen through the cracks.

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Pep Talk . . .

There are times in life when we could use a pep talk. Here's one.

Often, in life, we get in a rut. We do the same things every day, week in and week out. We are almost robotic. It's so easy to just roll with the flow. Changing things requires some effort, maybe a lot of effort. Life can be tiring, it can wear us out. But, while we are stuck in our routines and are waiting for something to happen, we are losing precious time. Time to make memories, time to try new things, time to take chances and look for opportunities to make our hopes and dreams a reality.

When a new year begins, when there is the birth of a new baby or wedding in the family, when we graduate college, when we get that first promotion at work, we can see all the infinite possibilities ahead of us. We believe we can do anything we put our minds to. We are motivated to reach our goals. We may take steps towards those goals and gain momentum. But life is unpredictable. We may hit a little bump in the road that derails us for a time and makes us feel like giving up. Sometimes we are disappointed and frustrated and lose the desire to stay on track. Sometimes a devastating loss can send us into a depression that is hard to get past. It's those times when we have to pick ourselves up and use our internal dialogue to help ourselves remember what we want and what we need to do. Every day that we are "stuck" is one less day we are living life and moving towards our goals. 

I know in everyone's life there are highs and lows. It's easy to be positive and energetic when you feel everything is going your way. But when things don't always go they way you want or expect them to, that's when the hard work begins. The only person you have control over is you. You have one life to live. You shouldn't waste one minute of it. Don't let anything stop you from living your dreams. Break through the depression, the frustration, the disappointment and push yourself to move on. It will get easier with each passing day as you move further way from the bad experiences and start creating new good experiences. 

And if, along the way, you see others going through their own struggles in life, throw them a kind word, a helping hand, a hug or a prayer to help them get past the bumps in their lives.  Helping others is a great way to heal ourselves and push through our own pain. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

How To Plan A Wedding . . .

Beautiful Gifts made by Grandmother of the Groom

The big day finally comes!  Your child announces she is engaged. After opening some champagne, going out to dinner and celebrating . . . it’s time to plan a wedding. I’ve learned a few things over this past year and maybe I can actually blog it and save some you a few headaches.

The very first thing the couple has to do is pick a date.  That date is important because it tells you how much time you have to get everything done. My daughter picked a date that was less than 12 months away, but assured me she would be organized and take care of everything. She even bought a “planner” to keep track of it all. Tip: Don’t believe your child when she says she will take care of everything, it ain’t happening.

I told the newly engaged couple that my husband and I would pay for the wedding and they should do whatever makes them happy.  They didn’t waste too much time picking a venue. My daughter liked the second one they saw, The Bay Ridge Manor in Brooklyn, and was satisfied she was getting a five star venue at a reasonable cost.  My husband and I accompanied them when it was time to place the deposit. First major accomplishment!

My daughter and her fiancĂ© spoke with the photographer recommended by the venue. They like him, he has great reviews, they book him and we (the parents) provide the deposit.  The photographer, who has been to dozens of weddings, recommends the company that provides the DJ and Master of Ceremonies. The couple checks them out and likes what they see and hear. We write a check for the deposit. We are getting very good at writing checks.

Time to shop for the gown in early December. We find one that’s perfect. I leave the deposit. One snafu comes up, they are all booked for alterations until after her wedding and we are on our own to find a seamstress.  When the gown arrives, about four months later, guess who has to find the seamstress . . . if you said me, you would be correct. I found a great experienced seamstress in my neighborhood and booked our first appointment.

The holidays put a little cramp in the planning. In fact, they really slow down the momentum and we have to pick things up again. We go shopping for the Mother of the Bride gown before we are hit with a major snow storm. My daughter also looks at the “Save the Date” cards online and orders some. I end up writing out all the envelopes for her because she never listened to me in grade school when I told her that her handwriting was atrocious.

Who is going to officiate at the wedding? All this planning and expense will be for nothing if we do not have an officiant. My daughter finds a priest online who is highly recommended.  He comes from New Jersey. Excuse me if this makes me a bit nervous. 

In the meantime I keep asking about the limousines. My daughter isn’t interested in limousines, she says the 10 of us can take Uber cabs to the photo site in July, in hot and humid weather, through the congested streets of Brooklyn, in her gown with the very long train. No problem, the photographer says we can.  So ultimately, I had to find the limo company myself, visit with the owner and of course pay for the service.  Here’s a tip. Listen to your gut, find a five start company. Companies with five stars will do their best, they do not want their ratings affected by a bad review as they generate a lot of their business without any real publicity.  

Who is going to do our hair and make up? My daughter has no clue and apparently this was not one of the things she was going to take care of either. One day I was at my salon talking about my dilemma when the hair stylist said she would come to the hotel that morning and do our hair and bring her make up person too. I asked her if she was serious because I had only been going there less than 6 months. She said she was. That was a huge load off my mind. 

Oh, we need some flowers too. My daughter knows nothing about flowers. All she knows is she wants a baby’s breath bouquet. She asks me to visit the florist with her and of course I happily comply. We meet with the florist, also recommended by the venue, and have a discussion. He is very helpful. The venue does provide very small centerpieces for the tables in their package, but we upgrade them to a nice size. I order two large floral arrangements for the wedding ceremony, along with corsages and boutonnieres. The florist suggests a runner and some bows for the seats. When we are done with the package, I pay for it and we leave.

There are so many more details to take care of including: engagement pictures, invitations, the bridal shower, the bachelor party, the cake topper, pictures of grandparents for a frame in memory of them, the card box, the favors for both the shower and wedding, new shoes, jewelry, new suits for the father and groom, new handbags, booking the hotel for two nights, hair pieces, hair and make up trials etc etc.  Every time you think you are done, think again.

My daughter asked me if I wanted to walk her down the aisle with her father. Of course I said yes and I was happy she asked me. She also wanted to know if I wanted to make a speech. I thought about it. As usual I like having the “last word.” After loving her and raising her for 29 years I felt I had something to say and so I said I would make a speech . . . and a memory.

Finally, here’s what you need to know. Even before your daughter gets engaged you should be online gathering vendors with five star reviews so you have a good starting point. It pays to do your homework. Visit the and other wedding sites for vendors who already have reviews. Do not believe your daughter when she says she will take care of everything. Even if she buys a huge planner and waves it around. She is going to get tired and overwhelmed, especially if she has a full time job and only has the weekends to work on it. Do not remind her you told her a year is not enough time to plan a wedding. You have to keep her calm, make sure she knows you have her back. If the Master of Ceremonies gets fired a week before the wedding, and they want to replace him, and she is a nervous wreck, tell her it’s no problem. Sometimes things work out for the best. The main thing is that she gets married and gets out of town!  If six people drop off the guest list as soon as she gets back from making the final payment at the venue and she is upset, tell her not to worry about it. What’s done is done. Whether they come or not it’s not a big deal at this point, there are worse things. Don’t forget she still has to do last minute laundry and packing for the honeymoon. She is out buying special gifts she wants to give to those who did a lot to make her day special. She is probably doing a lot more than you are aware of. Remind her to get her rest and eat well. You not only want her day to go perfectly, you want her to be able to enjoy it and the honeymoon. 

The wedding was perfect. My daughter and son in-law are in Hawaii right now. I hope they are making memories to last a lifetime and that they live happily ever after.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Take the "Best" Out of Best Western

The closest hotel to the venue where my daughter's wedding was held was the "Gregory" Best Western Hotel. It was just a few blocks away. Due to the convenience and proximity, my daughter reserved a suite of rooms for us and out of town guests. When we saw it last year it was being "renovated." I use the term loosely because after our stay there I can only imagine what it looked like before remodeling. The pictures online are deceiving.  Over the years we have stayed at many different hotels and I have to say this was by far the worst. I would rather pitch a tent on an New York City street than to ever book a room at this hotel (and anyone who knows me knows that I hate camping).

Here's the story.  When my daughter sent out her "Save the Dates" about four moths ago, I called and booked two rooms immediately for her and for us, making sure they were in close proximity since my two daughters and I needed to have out hair and makeup done first thing in the morning.  No problem they said. The week of the wedding I called to reconfirm the rooms and make sure they noted we wanted our rooms together. No problem, it was noted.  They told us they had valet parking available for a nominal fee. That was great because it's a very congested area.

On July 8th we arrive after 3 PM check in time and our rooms are not ready. They are scrambling around trying to figure out how to get us the two rooms we requested that were next to one another. Already I am pissed off. I need to unload all our clothes for the weekend and organize everything before we went to the "Welcome Dinner" that the parents of the groom graciously hosted for out of town guests. We finally get our rooms, but there is a nice big sign on the front desk saying their parking lot is full, sorry for the inconvenience. Seriously? So my husband brings the car to a municipal lot while we try to figure out what to do. Long story short, he ended up taking it out and finding a spot on the street.

We go up to our rooms and I should have taken pictures because I could have spared you 1,000 words.  I have never been to a hotel room that does not have bedspreads on the beds. No bedspreads and really no blankets either for that matter. Instead that had two thick "sheets" and a piece of material about 2 feet wide and 6 feet long laying across the bottom of the bed. What the hell that is good for I don't know. One of the beds was about 12 inches away from he closet, blocking me from putting all our garment bags in there. The bathroom had little space to maneuver around or to place your toiletries. The dresser was dusty. There were three lousy pillows on each bed instead of four. The pillows left a lot to be desired, just like everything else.  So now we are off to a great start.

The next morning we are busy getting ready for the wedding as best we can. We had no choice but to make due. The maid caught us going back and forth out of the room around 10 AM and she wanted to  clean the room. I told her it can't be now because the bride is getting ready.  By 1 PM we all leave to take the limousine to the photoshoot destination. On our way out my husband spots the maid and tells her the room will be free now if she wants to clean it.  I couldn't understand every word she said, but it was clear to all of us that she didn't want to or intend to clean our room. She was very annoyed. (Can you believe it?  I still can't, but this blog is going to their corporate headquarters as soon as I post it.) So, I politely tell her it's fine, she doesn't have to clean the room, but would she please leave us three clean towels. She calmed down and agreed to do that. And she did.

Sunday morning we prepare to check out and believe me I could not wait to get out of there. My brother in law left the wedding early so we left a couple of favors for him at the desk with his name and room number on them. He was out sight-seeing that morning and told us he was staying an extra night. When my husband hands over the favors the desk person tells him his brother checked out. My husband told them no, he was out this morning but was coming back for another night. Then he called my brother in law to tell him he should call and straighten this out. My brother in law came back to find he had been checked out. You can imagine he was disgusted so he told them he was leaving and made sure they weren't going to charge him for two nights. They said no. Well guess what? They charged him for two nights and, when he called, they told him it would take 24 hours to get the extra charge removed.  Nice.

I am going to make sure everyone I know hears about my experience. I would never stay at this hotel again or any other Best Western for that matter. I do not have one good thing to say about it except it was close to my daughter's venue.

P.S. If you think I'm exaggerating here are some other reviews and by the way one star is being generous.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Mother of the Bride Speech . . .

The big day of my older daughter's wedding has come and gone this past Saturday, July 9th 2016. A whole year of planning all came together and part of that included my Mother of the Bride speech. I had planned a nine minute speech, but my sweet daughter was less than pleased to hear it was going to run so long and ask me to cut it by a half or a third.  What could I do? Whatever baby wants, baby gets. I went back to the drawing board and cut out a chunk of what I considered to be the best parts. I was still left with a pretty great little speech from the heart and, as I promised I would, I am publishing the entire speech on my blog right after the wedding. So here is the unedited version, the parts in italics were edited out.

Mother of the Bride Speech

"I'd like to thank everyone for coming to celebrate this very special day in Melissa and Matthew's new life as husband and wife. I especially want to thank those of you who traveled from other states to be here today to share in our joy and in the happiest day of their lives."

(Edited Portion)

When Melissa asked me if I wanted to make a speech, I thought about for a minute and said yes. After all, when will I ever get a another chance to practice my stand up comedy on a captive audience? So many stories and so little time.

What can I tell you about Melissa? She loves to sleep. She got me into trouble with the nurse the first day she was born. The nurse brought her to me for her feeding and told me to wake her up by opening the blankets and tickling her feet. I did that . . . for 45 minutes . . . without success. Her eyes were sealed tight. The nurse came back and saw the bottle was still full and scolded me for not asking for help and throwing her all off schedule. My first day as a mom and I was already a failure. But Melissa slept through it so it's like it never happened.

Melissa is beautiful and always has been. I took her to a 70 year old pediatrician when she was just five days old. After examining her and reassuring me she was a healthy baby, he turned to me and said, "You know something, she is really cute. I've seen thousands of babies over the years and trust me I know." I couldn't argue with him. She was perfect in my eyes.

Melissa is very smart, sometimes too smart. We knew early on she was going to keep us on our toes. At two years old I took her Christmas shopping for a pocket calendar for my brother. As we stood in Hallmark, in front of their collection, Melissa, who came up to my knee at the time, looked up at me and said, "Let's get him a sophisticated one." I soon got used to her precocious outbursts when at dinner time she would interject herself into our conversations with expressions like "in my opinion" or "as a matter of fact." At five, since she was too young for college, we took her for an IQ test for the gifted program in our school district. At the end of the test, the gray haired psychologist came out and told me he couldn't give me her score, but she did very, very well. That was no surprise to me. But, as we walked to the car, Melissa informed me she got one question wrong. I asked, "How do you know, and which one was it?" She said, "He asked me what does "antique" mean, and I didn't want to hurt his feelings and say "old." I said, "Why? Because he has gray hair?" And she nodded. I think she should have gotten extra credit for that.

Melissa is compassionate and caring. When she was seven years old I decided to get new curtains for the living room and dining room. After 11 years I needed a change. Melissa walked in to see them hanging on the windows and I could see she disapproved. "Why did you get new curtains," she asked, "the old ones were perfectly fine." "I know, but I wanted some new ones." Then she said, "What about all the homeless people? We have a home and we had good curtains. They have nothing. You could have given that money to them." "I could have" I answered, "but if you are so worried about the homeless and you already have lots of toys, how about we donate the money from your Christmas presents this year to the homeless." She looked at me in silence. One of the few times I have made her speechless.

Melissa also wanted to help save the rain forest, adopt a gorilla, send blankets to animal shelters, and other humanitarian causes. When she was in college, a professor made her aware of a website that lends money to people in third world countries so they can start a business and repay the interest free loan. The repaid money then goes back to the donor or can be used again to help others. Melissa came right home and sent $100 of her money to the site. When she got her first job she signed up to sponsor a child a third world country for $25 a month. I told her it was a big commitment and she was just getting her own life started. She answered it's not that much money, it's the price of going to a movie. I want to make a difference. And she has made a difference . . . in the world and every day of our lives. 


(Continued unedited)

As a mother, when they place that beautiful little baby in your arms for the first time, you want the very best for them. You live your life to make them happy, to protect and teach them, to nurture them and keep them healthy. And, you worry about them. One minute they are with you 24/7 and the next they are starting school and going off on their own. And, as the years pass, and they grow up, you pray they will find the right person to share their lives with. One day, while Melissa was still in college, I was in her room and said to her, "you know Melissa, I'm worried about you and your future. Where are you going to find a nice decent guy in this world?" She looked up at me and said, "I don't know, I worry about that too."  We had raised a beautiful, thoughtful, loving and intelligent daughter, but where was she going to find her "soul mate." And it couldn't just be any man. Like everything else that we wanted for her, we wanted her to have the best. Someone who would love and protect her and make her happy, just as we had done all these years. Was there a man who would win Melissa's heart and be good enough for our daughter?

Then, in the fall of 2009, Melissa came to me and started talking about a guy named Matt that she had met at work. She started telling me a little about him. He had also gone to Hofstra, but he was a year older than her. As she spoke about him I could see she really liked him. Mothers know these things. And from what she told me I already knew Matt was kind, sensitive, genuinely nice and had strong family values. The gleam in her eyes and slight blush of her cheeks told me more than anything she could possibly say. And, over the seven years they have been together, I could see that Matt made Melissa happy, which, by the way, isn't an easy thing to do. I know he respects her, loves her and takes care of her. The gleam in her eyes is always there and I knew in my heart she had found her perfect match. Matthew is a man who is everything a mother could want for her daughter, a man who her father and I happily entrust with Melissa's future. And I want to thank Matt's parents, Gina and Jim, for raising such a wonderful man; and Jim for showing him how to be a loving husband and father. We love Matt and are proud to have him as our son. Today, Melissa has gained two brothers in Josh and Zach. Matt has gained a sister in Lauren. Melissa and Matt have not only joined their lives in marriage, but they have also joined their two families together today and forever.

Now here's a little marriage advice that "they" say I should include in my speech. Matt pay attention, since Melissa isn't known for taking my advice. A marriage is not 50/50, it's 100/100. You bring all that you are and all you have to give into it every day. Rely on each other's strengths, compromise on things when you can, help, support and encourage each other. You are building a new life and your new family unit starts today. Always remember the things about each other that made you fall in love. Always be honest with one another. Trust is as important as love. No relationship can last without it. Make memories together. Talk to and listen to each other, and that means making actual eye contact . . . shut the television, turn off the phone and put away the laptop and all other electronic devices that create distractions and take precious time away from each other.  And, one day, when you are ready to have children of your own (and I hope you do or I'll have done all this crocheting for nothing) I know you will both be great parents and raise your beautiful children with the love and values you have both experienced growing up. I pray your children will bring you as much joy and pride as you have brought us. 
So let me end with a little toast: Melissa and Matthew, this day has been a long time coming. You both deserve every happiness in life and so I wish you a very long, prosperous and healthy happily ever after. 
The end.

P.S. I am very happy to say that many of the guests loved my speech and my daughter, Melissa, who was pretty stressed and trying to hold back her tears for the sake of her make-up, told me that this was the first time she cried all day. I wanted to have a special moment to tell Matthew and Melissa how much they are loved and I guess I did a good job . . . if I say so myself.

Now that I reread both the edited and unedited versions I think I am happy I cut it down.  As is often the case, my daughter was right.  I wandered down memory lane, took a detour and got a little lost in the nostalgia while I was trying to find my way to a loving and memorable speech. The shortened speech I finally delivered was as perfect as everything else that took place in the wedding.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Bridal Shower . . .

The future Bride and Groom . . . Surprise!

When my older daughter started planning her wedding she advised me there will be no wedding party. I realized that her sister and I would have to throw her a shower if she was going to have one.  As I said in my blog about the wedding, it’s been 33 years since I have been to a wedding or shower. I had no clue what to do. To make it easy on us, I knew I wanted to have it at a nice restaurant. Right after the holidays of 2015 we started to look into places we could have the shower and what lies we needed to come up with so my daughter would not be suspicious.

First thing we had to do was come up with a list and get the invitations. As it turned out the list was not very long at all. We had 15 to 20 names and expected about 15 people to come. I had wanted to get a private room, but 15 people fell well below the 25 or 30 minimum required. I spoke to my neighbor, who attends weddings and showers almost every other week. She is my expert! She took me to a local Italian restaurant with a nice decor and easy parking. They told me they could set up the tables and give me a separate table for the gifts. It didn’t matter how many showed up the day of the shower, they could easily set the table accordingly. That was a load off my mind. I made reservations for April 24th, the day before my daughter’s birthday, and tell her to save that date because we are taking her out to dinner for her birthday . . . it’s her last birthday as a single woman. Never hurts to add a little guilt. She fell for it.

Me and my baby!

Now I had the little problem of getting her to dress up so she would look nice in the pictures. What to do? I explain to her that her younger sister has a few new dresses in her closet and was looking forward to wearing one to dinner. I asked her if she would wear something nice and we would all dress up since it’s a Sunday. She agreed. That was easy. She must really be preoccupied with the wedding because her usual inquisitiveness and tendency to ask unending questions were turned off. All she wanted to know is what kind of restaurant we are going to and that was it.

Meanwhile, I ordered a beautiful cake from local bakery. Just my luck that when we went to pick it up the main street the bakery is on was closed for some ridiculous “fair.”  I had to walk three blocks uphill to pick it up and carry it back to the car where my husband was waiting. The cake was loaded with two layers of pudding so it was a little heavy, just sayin'.  And before going for cake I went to pick up a few balloons, adding birthday balloons so I would not be “lying” about the birthday dinner. When we finally get home from those little errands, my husband and I decide to load up the car with the gifts. Since the number of people was uncertain, my younger daughter and I bought about 16 gifts. We wanted the bride to have a few things to open to make the day memorable. It might have been overkill. Oh well.

Meet the Parents!

I told everyone the date of the shower and sent the invitations out 2 weeks later, in February.  To cut a long story very short, over the course of two months, the number of people coming kept dwindling from 15 to 12 to 11 to 9. But my future son in law’s mother said her two sons and husband would be coming to drop off her and her daughter in law at the restaurant. That’s when I told her the men should join us. I’ll have them set up a separate table for them nearby. I was really happy to have them there for this special occasion. I was especially surprised to see my future SIL’s brother and wife there. They had just gotten home at 1:30 AM the night before after a 20 hour flight from Thailand!  And yet, less than 12 hours later, they were at my daughter’s shower. I will never forget the fact they were there. In fact all the right people were there to share this little celebration with us. We had a very nice dinner, the service was great. The gifts were opened. The cake was delicious. No one rushed us. Everyone enjoyed themselves. 

We had a total of 6 guys who also doubled as photographers! We ended up with 15 people in the end. And since this was a Shower/Birthday, I think everything turned out even better than I hoped for and planned. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Wedding Planner . . .

Engagement picture

The Wedding Planner I am not. The last wedding I have been to and planned was my own, 33 years ago this coming June. Things have changed quite a bit over the past 33 years. Most notably the cost of everything has exploded beyond my wildest imagination. But, my little girl is getting married, and I wanted her to have everything the way she and her fiancĂ© want it. I didn't give my opinion unless I was asked. This is her day. No one told us what to do and I have no regrets about my wedding. I am hoping the same for my daughter.

This has been quite a little whirlwind in the making. They got engaged July 4th, 2015 and my daughter wanted to get married as soon as reasonably possible . . . so she figured a year would be plenty of time to plan. I was a little overwhelmed thinking she doesn’t have enough time, but she is well organized and figured she could take care of everything in a timely manner. Okay, great, as long as I don't have to plan it I didn't care. First she needed a venue. The venues get booked well in advance. They found a place they liked. They considered the available dates and took the first one that was open. My husband and I went there with them, checkbook in hand. Did I mention the venue is not too far from us, but in a heavily trafficked area?  This means we need to stay at a hotel near the venue the night before and night of the wedding. I guess you could call it a destination wedding? I book two rooms for us, check check.

Next on the list Photographer, DJ and Master of Ceremonies, check, check check (literally). These are things I told them they can’t skimp on so make sure they are highly recommended or reviewed. Pictures will last you the rest of your life and you need people who know how to keep a wedding lively and entertaining. Oh and we need engagement pictures, which came out terrific and were a bargain! Next we go shopping for wedding dress on December 6th, 2015. The place seemed to have millions of gowns. You have to make an appointment so you get your own personal assistant help you pick out and try on the gowns. When I went for my gown 33 years ago I saw one I loved in a magazine, they had it at a local store. I went there, tried it on and bought it. My daughter tried on a few different gowns based on what she told the assistant she wanted. She found one that looked beautiful on her and that was enough for her. I pay one half the cost and we all got nice canvas tote bags with the store logo on it. One tiny little glitch. They are already booked for alterations till July so she has to get her own seamstress to alter it. They have to order her size and it will take 4 months for it to come in. That puts us in April. No worries. I look online and find a recommended seamstress that we are seeing this week for the first fitting. Check.

Oh but now we need the Mother of the Bride gown and her sister needs a dress as well. I expressed interest in a pink dress since it's a summer wedding. My daughter did not approve of pink. I was informed "Pink" is for babies. "But, I look good in pink,” I say. That argument didn't sway her. She started sending me links to gowns in burgundy, dark green, purple, etc. I forget what she called them, I think it was jewel tones. I didn't want to stress her out, but I didn't want to wear a dark fall color in July . . . shoot me. Instead I say, “okay sweetie, we'll go look and see what they have and what looks good on me.” Meanwhile, my husband, who has had a brand new gray suit sitting around for 20 years, has gained 10 pounds. So off we go to get him a new suit, shirt, tie, socks etc. not to wait till the last minute. And, as soon as the holidays are over and before the blizzard hits, we go to the mall and shop for my gown and my younger daughter's dress. We both found dresses we liked and the bride-to-be approved. Hallelujah. My gown ended up being a silver color with sparkly gems all over it. Well, we are making some good progress. However, now we all need shoes, especially the bride and I, who are having alterations done. My younger daughter and I also need evening bags and jewelry. The bride needs jewelry. My daughter expressed an interest in opal earring and pendant to wear on her wedding day. We went shopping and found a nice set. I decided it would be her birthday present and we got them. 

What else could we need?  The wedding favors? They are on the way. Check. The Save the Date and Wedding Invitations, done and done. We need a box to hold the wedding cards the night of the wedding . . . on the way. We need a nice frame to hold the wedding pictures of three sets of grandparents who will be missed from the celebration. We need table numbers in gold. We need a suitable cake topper. In my day everyone had the same cake topper, but you'd be surprised at all the variations there are today. There are almost as many cake toppers as there are wedding gowns!  I'm just waiting for the bride to advise me which items she needs me to order. 

Now you might think we are done. Nope. My daughter, the bride, with her beautiful full dress with the extra long train, has decided we will all get in Uber cabs to go take pictures at the park. Yes, you read right. Uber cabs in July with a big ass wedding dress. I tell her we need limos. Since she made up her mind to take Uber cabs, she has thrown the limousines back into my lap. She finds me one place who wants $1,701 for two basic 9 passenger limos. I am not getting a good feel about this place. I try for 6 weeks to find another company. Suddenly a five star reviewed limo company pops up on my laptop screen. I call to make an appointment to speak to the owner. Long story short, he charged me $400 LESS and threw in a complimentary limo at the end of the wedding to take the newly weds back to the hotel!  Booked and check paid in full. The lesson here is to trust your gut feeling!

Oh and I almost forgot! You might remember that we will not be at home the day before and day of the wedding.  That poses another little problem called hair and makeup. Normally you would go to your own salon the morning of the wedding, that's what I did. But we won't be home. So I ask my hair stylist and her makeup artist if they could come to the hotel and do the hair and makeup of me and my daughters. Since the photographer plans to come at 11 AM to take some pictures, they would need to come early on a Saturday. Like maybe 7 AM. I speak to my hairstylist and bring my daughters there so she can look at there hair. She agrees to come. That's a load off my mind.

Now that's not all there is to it. I'm sure I forgot a half dozen to a dozen things along the way. My brain tries to protect me from stress. I’ve been crocheting a lot not to think of anything. It works just fine for me. I have made my husband take me to Michael’s a couple dozen times, maybe more. I have crocheted another five afghans and other things. Pounds of yarn later we are three months away from the wedding day.