September 28, 2014

My sister got Hitched

When I was in Charleston, South Carolina, in mid January to run a half marathon and visit friends, I received a call from my favorite sibling, Allison.  I could tell she was overjoyed about something, so I put her on speaker phone with my friends to hear her surprise, “I’m going to be Mrs. Wheeler!!”  Everyone on my end cheered… even those who didn’t know my sister cheered because how do you not cheer for love?  Allison and Evan had dated for almost six years and Evan knew there was mounting pressure for him to propose:  either shit or get off the pot.  So he shitted (or is it shat?) (and yes, I just analogized getting married to pooping).

Step one:  the engagement party.  We had a champagne bar complete with a champagne fountain, because every celebration needs champagne.  We had cotton candy to dye the champagne pink, because pink makes everything better.   I had “save the date” koozies made, because I’m from Kentucky where koozies are made for everything.  I even had a mini polaroid camera to take pictures of the guests for the guest book, because everyone loves taking face pics with no do-overs.  

Next event:  the bridal shower.  Pinterest became my worst enemy during the bridal shower planning.  My nights leading up to the shower went like this:  "I need to look on Pinterest to find easy finger food ideas"... one click on this site; one click on that site...  and two hours later I found myself buying new outdoor furniture from Pottery Barn and watching youtube videos for Beer Olympics ideas… having completely aborted the original mission of finger foods.  

I did manage to find the Pinterest project from hell:
Projected project time: 3 hours.
Actual project time: 3 weeks.
Each rose was individually crafted from streamers.
never want to see streamers again.

The matron of honor, Brooke, co-hosted the shower and Brooke turned my house into a page out of a Martha Stewart magazine.  It was quite fabulous if I do say so myself.

But the best story from the shower was the conversation my mother and I had at a liquor store when I was buying rum for the bridal shower punch.
Me:  How many liters is 6 cups?
Mom:  (doing math in her head)  About 1.4 liters or so
Me:  Ok, so we are going to need two of these (as I proceeded to grab 2 fifths of rum)
Me:  But I’m following a punch recipe
Mom:  I don’t care what the recipe says, this is a BRIDAL SHOWER!
Me:  But this is a recipe I got straight from Martha Stewart’s website, and she recommends it for bridal showers
Mom:  Yeah, and Martha went to prison.
*How do you argue with that?  However, I still used both fifths. 
*I wanted to name the punch “Martha’s Prison Punch,” but that idea was vetoed because this was a BRIDAL SHOWER!

Final pre-wedding event:  the bachelorette party.  Allison chose to throw down in Chicago and 22 girls showed up.  Yes, boys, I said 22 girls.  I can’t tell any stories because that’s against the rules.  But I can show some innocent pictures and share a video starring the most entertaining limo driver in Chicago.
Bridal Brunch at City Winery
Bachelorette Dinner at Tavernita
The struggle is real

Allison spent hours upon days upon weeks upon months planning her fairytale wedding.  She wanted a fall wedding, so task #1 was looking at the University of Kentucky football schedule to make sure she picked a bye week.  She knew football tailgating for some guests might take precedence over her wedding (that may or may not have included me).  The date was set for September 20, 2014.  The location was set for downtown Indianapolis:  the Vermont Street Basin situated along the Indy Canal would be the home for the ceremony and the reception would be held at The Roof Ballroom.

Indianapolis Canal

It was finally the day before the big day.  The six bridesmaids spent the day before the wedding with the bride doing all things girls do before a wedding:  manicures, pedicures, mimosas, and a bridal lunch.  The groomsmen spent the day doing what guys do before a wedding:  golf.  

The rehearsal that night was a typical rehearsal of trying to iron out all the intricacies of the ceremony with people repeatedly saying, “Quit talking and listen.”  I think I even threw in a couple of “Sssshhhhhhhh!” to keep everyone focused… I was hungry.  The rehearsal dinner was at Harry and Izzy’s downtown and about 50 friends and family joined Allison and Evan to celebrate their wedding eve.  (As I type this blog, I am realizing how much celebration and activity goes into an upcoming wedding and it’s making me want to get married.  But not for the husband part; I want it for all the parties in my honor.  And I get to register for fine china and tons of unnecessary things just because.  So how do I sign up for this marriage thing?)

September 20th arrived.  At 9am, the hair stylists and makeup artists arrived at the hotel to get the bridesmaids' hair and makeup did, which was a three hour process.  I’m going to bet that at 9am, Evan and all the groomsmen were still snoring in bed.  The afternoon was spent lounging in Allie’s suite, lunch was catered, the photographers showed up, I was trying to perfect our adult gummy bears, and we helped Allie get tied and buttoned into her wedding dress.  I also performed a little alteration on my full body Spanx to make it easier for me to use the bathroom the rest of the night.

My favorite moment of the afternoon was when my dad showed up and saw Allison for the first time in her dress and veil… he was very emotional and it was adorably sweet.  I just hope he’s not fist pumping if I ever get married.

The weather the day of Allie’s wedding was almost too perfect:  ideal temperatures, no wind, low humidity (which pleased the females), and beautiful blue skies.  So what do people do when there is fabulous weather?… go outside.  And where do people go outside when in Indianapolis?… apparently the entire city explores the canal area.  There were people in kayaks and pedal boats; there were gondolas complete with the traditionally dressed gondolier; people were cruising around on tandem bikes and Surreys; and some were just strolling along on a leisurely walk.  People were everywhere and unfortunately it is human nature to stop and watch when there is a wedding.  I’ve been guilty of this before, too.  But for some reason this was different… “Why are all these freaks just standing around and staring?”

As an attempt for some privacy during the ceremony, the ceremony assistants (i.e. Allie’s friends) would clear the area and politely ask the gawkers to get the hell away.  No less than three minutes later, a whole new mob would surround the wedding site and someone would have to clear the area again.  Evan and the groomsmen were about to walk over the bridge for their grand entrance and we didn’t want thirty tourists on the bridge acting as paparazzi.  After several rounds of attempting to secure the area, we succumbed to losing the battle.  People were going to watch and we couldn’t do anything about it.  I also need to mention that there were randoms who videoed the wedding… what in the world are you going to do with that video?  It is going to be your weekly Friday night entertainment?

But then IT happened.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a few Segways headed in our direction right as Evan started to cross the bridge.  All the bridesmaids looked at each other in complete fear:  Allie is going to die if she sees this.  We frantically told the helmet-wearing-Segwayers to speed through the area:  “Go!  Go fast!  The groom is coming!”  I initially thought there were only a few Segways, but their line was never ending.  I lost count after the twentieth person Segwayed through… I could only laugh at this point.  Not every bride and groom can say there was a Segway tour that delayed the start of their wedding.  Allie and Evan now have that honor.

Despite the large amount of uninvited guests, it was a perfect wedding.  At the end, the cheers of celebration from the randoms on the  bridge were priceless… I saw Arsenio Hall's signature move and some jumping jacks… but once again, how do you not cheer for love?

It was finally party time.  The reception was unforgettable with over 200 guests, a sit down dinner, and open bar.  I have a feeling my parents forgot they have another daughter... my wedding may have to be held in my backyard with ten of my closest friends, followed by a buffet dinner at the Golden Coral and cash bar at the Elizabethtown American Legion.  Oh, and my dad wants bag pipes instead of a string quartet (true story).  

Now it was time for the big surprise of the night.  I'm not sure how or why I came up with this idea, but I wanted to surprise Allie and Evan with a flash mob.  I spent hours watching youtube videos of flash mobs, trying to find the perfect song and easiest dance/hand moves that even the most uncoordinated could still follow.  And then it hit me.  Allison and I have watched the movie Hitch starring Will Smith a thousand times together (I’m actually watching it now for old times sake).  The ending has always been our favorite when the wedding guests do an awesome soul train line to Heavy D’s 90’s hit of “Now that we found love.”  I specifically remember Allie saying once upon a time, “I want that at my wedding.”  She wanted a soul train and I wanted a flash mob.  So why not do both?

Once I figured out the logistics with the DJ, I spent one Sunday evening dancing around my living room like a lunatic while filming myself.  I don’t always dance around my living room, but when I do, I accidentally leave all my curtains open for my neighbors to watch.  And I don’t always dance around my living room, but when I do, I try to look as ridiculous as possible.  I uploaded my professionally made video to youtube and sent the link to all of my contacts on the guest list.  I just hoped and prayed that enough people would participate so that we wouldn't look like a small cluster with flailing body parts.  To my surprise, more people than I imagined practiced the cheesy dance and came ready with their best soul train moves.  Most importantly, it was a true surprise for Allie and Evan and they loved it.  And that makes me happy.  (Side note:  if anyone has any pictures/videos of this, can you please send them my way?  I have no proof this actually happened.)

The reception carried on as expected.  I continued the two year long process of teaching my cousin how to Dougie.  The Cupid Shuffle got everyone on the dance floor, despite Allie banning this song for the night.  My date Brandon and I did our best Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey imitation.  And I had too many Yogi Bears, which was the bourbon specialty drink of the night.  After the reception, the party soldiered on at a bar with Allie still in her wedding dress, because that's what every classy fun bride does.  The bouncer had to be paid off to let Allie in the bar since she wasn't carrying any identification (who keeps an ID in their wedding dress?).  And White Castle was personally delivered straight to the bar courtesy of Evan’s friends.  And that is how you end a perfect day.  Now that we found love what are we going to do with it?

September 15, 2014

Lonnie, you may now kiss your bride

I checked in at the Now Jade Resort under the name of Mrs. Stacy Martinez.  I checked out of the resort eight days later under the name of Mr. Brook Martinez.  The resort had difficulty distinguishing between my first and middle names; they were not able to spell either correctly; they were confused with my marital status; and they were unable to identify my gender.  However, they had absolutely no problems with my last name.  And that is how I knew I was in Mexico.

Around 35 friends, new and old, gathered in Cancun last week to celebrate the wedding of our friends Lonnie and Nicole.  Nothing could make me happier than a week on the beach with so many of my closest friends (ok, I lie, a UK basketball championship would make me happier).

Checking in at the hotel seemed to take an entire day.  It took me forever to convince the desk clerk that I really didn’t speak Spanish even though my last my last name was Martinez.  He then could not understand why Mr. Brett Clem did not arrive with me.  It was a foreign concept to him that we were not traveling together.  He was even more confused when I told him Mr. Clem was actually Ms. Clem.  But once he comprehended that Brett was a misses, he had to reassign our room from a king bed to two queens.  Apparently single females do not vacation together often.  Ms. Clem said it best after she spent a morning at the pool, "I'm not wearing makeup for the rest of the trip because I have found the only two single people on this resort:  me and you."

Mr. Brett Clem and Mrs. Stacy Martinez
You are not an official couple until you have a couples massage: mission accomplished.

I then complicated matters even more by asking to be upgraded to their “preferred club.”  On paper, upgrading to preferred status meant a large two room suite with a slew of extra amenities.  In real life, some of these extra amenities weren’t so amenical (that’s not a word, but it sounds good).

*access to private lounge and other private areas = access to private lounge (what other areas?)
*jacuzzi on balcony = the water in the jacuzzi was brown (however, this was not noticeable at 3am)
*upgraded mini bar = expired Pringles and stale peanut M&Ms
*pillow menu = ?????
*two 32” LCD televisions = pointless without American ESPN
*complimentary Wi-Fi access in suite = Wi-Fi did not reach our suite
*complimentary bottle of champagne = free bottle of champagne!!!

The Now Jade Resort was an all inclusive resort and sometimes that means smaller portion sizes of food and weak drinks.  Our first meal was at their hibachi restaurant and I was super excited to get edamame… because I can eat edamame like a fat boy eats cake.  Now, I understand that Americans do not understand the concept of portion control, but this was slightly ridiculous.

These four edamame filled up my left toe

Rumor was that the portion sizes were consistently small throughout all the restaurants at the resort… specifically at Capers, which was the Italian restaurant.  Our friends told us, “the food is sooooo good at the Italian restaurant, but you get such small portions, so just order two of everything.”  Unfortunately, I believed them just like I believed twitter that morning when it told me that Betty White had died.  Expecting to get portion sizes similar to my four edamame, myself and three friends proceeded to order the entire menu.  We all ordered a salad (Britt ordered two).  We all ordered a soup.  We all ordered a pasta (Justin ordered two).  We all ordered a main entree.  However, the portion sizes ended up being pretty close to normal.  After inhaling the salad, soup, and pasta, I was uncomfortably full and I was struggling to take normal breaths.

But it wasn’t over.  When our waiter brought out our main entrĂ©e of veal ossobuco, our eyes became saucers. It was the largest piece of meat I have ever seen delivered on a plate.  I think God was punishing us… I asked for forgiveness for ordering this much food when there are starving children in Biafra… there was no way I could let this massive hunk of ossobucco go to waste.  It was delizioso and I forced as much as I could into my expanding tummy, but I could no longer breathe.  I needed to be rolled out of the restaurant and put straight to bed.  As for the girls who told us to order two of everything, I now trust them as much as I do a politician.

Veal Ossobuco:  small portions my ass

Day drinking at the pool was just what you would expect from day drinking at the pool.  Britt discovered the #1 margarita (that was perfected by our favorite bartender Calixto).  I fell in love with the Iceberg (poured Corona topped with frozen margarita).  Justin’s role was to order shots of tequila and Jim Beam all week.  Emily and Catherine couldn't drink because they were pregnant (which was a stupid excuse).  Leslie just drank straight from the liquor bottles behind the bar.  And of course there were the tropical fruity drinks garnished with umbrellas and flowers that were consumed by the guys more than the girls (#notmanly).  

Being friends with Justin can be dangerous

Leslie had the right idea.  She is my hero.

I couldn't take a picture without my new best friend: the Iceberg

The two non-drinkers due to their baby bumps

Now day drinking can lead to many memorable events.  For instance, you can get kicked out of the ocean when there is a red flag warning.  Now granted the red flags are there for your safety to prevent this thing called death, but I find it humorous that you can be kicked out of a body of water that occupies two-thirds of our planet’s surface (I had to google that).  Day drinking can also lead to Marcello, the pool guy, pick someone up (not me!) after wiping out down a staircase.  It can lead to serious negotiation with the bartender to go on a wild goose chase throughout the resort to find us Bud Light when the bar ran out.  It even led to a large tip for Marcello when he convinced one of the restaurants to seat us at 4pm for dinner despite their no swimwear and no wet clothes policy… even though our clothes were soaked from our bathing suits and we were still wrapped in beach towels.  But most commonly, day drinking led to late afternoon naps. 

You get kicked out of the ocean when you can't even stand up.

But David Hasselhoff, I mean Justin, was always there to save the day.

After epic days poolside, we would rally.  Well, some nights we rallied.  Other nights, I was in bed by 9pm.  Not to sleep, but to read my book that was absolutely enthralling.  I never said I was a cool kid.  (But if you want a great non-fiction read:  “Five Days at Memorial” documents the life and death decisions made at a hospital in NOLA during Hurricane Katrina.)  

The nights that we did venture out past 9pm didn’t disappoint.  The resort had karaoke one night, and it was as disastrous as karaoke always is.  Nicole, the bride, was in heaven since she is a karaoke junkie… I really wish I had sent her a karaoke machine as her wedding present instead of silverware because she would definitely use the karaoke machine more than forks.  A large group of us took to the stage to serenade the crowd with the University of Kentucky fight song (because of course we did).  Olivia’s surprise lap dance from the DJ was a huge highlight… but Justin won the night with his REO Speedwagon debacle.

Nicole is the karaoke queen

We may not sound good, but at least we look good.

Justin stole the night
(not certain, but this video may not play on mobile devices
so you may have to find a computer to see this piece of gold)

The reason for the season (vacation didn’t rhyme) was to watch our good friends join in holy matrimony.  Despite the scorching hot and humid weather conditions, it was as beautiful as expected.  Thank you Lonnie and Nicole for your friendship.  I was honored to be a part of your special day and am so happy for the two of you.

Girl just wanna have fun... cheesy, but appropriate.

I'm so fancy... you already know

It was such a memorable week, despite the undiagnosed rash that I developed that hasn't changed in two weeks.  So who's volunteering to get married next year for another destination wedding??