Wedding Events - The Send-Off Brunch

The morning after the wedding, we had brunch for everybody. My parents brought breakfast casserole, bagels, and orange juice/sherbet with champagne for mimosas. It was really nice to be able to see everybody again and just relax/hang out before people started driving home. A few people swam in the pool, but most just lounged for a while. After breakfast, Ken and I did laundry so that we could pack for the honeymoon. For dinner, Joe and Heather (and Oliver) took us to this small dockside place that was delicious. All in all, it was a nice way to wind down after the stress of the wedding day.

Wedding Events - The Big Day!

Countdown at 0
Unsurprisingly, I had trouble sleeping the night before/morning of the wedding. I woke up around 4:30 and just laid there until around 7 when my alarm went off. Dad made mom and I eggs for breakfast before we started our mother/daughter wedding day adventures.

Hair and makeup were first on the agenda. We drove down to Siesta Key to the salon. My mother of the bride present was for mom to get her makeup done with me. After we got all prettied up, we went to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants ever - Captain Curt's. I'm sure we looked strange with our makeup and my updo, but their clam chowder is the best!

As we went to leave Captain Curt's, this lady got mad because she thought mom honked at her (it was the car behind us). She got out of her car screaming as she walked toward us. All I could think was that I was going to miss the wedding because we were in jail or something. Mom just told her it wasn't us that honked and told the lady to get back in her van so we could all just go on. Luckily that worked, but it was a crazy moment.

We picked up my bouquet and got on the road back to Bradenton Beach. Along the way, we stopped for the cupcakes. I was a little nervous about them because, after having issues with the first bakery I'd booked, we'd just switched vendors 2 weeks prior and I hadn't had a chance to taste anything from this place. I needn't have worried, though. It smelled so good when we walked in that we bought a couple extra cupcakes to eat on the way back... which were amazing.

Up to this point, everything was on schedule for the most part and I was feeling relaxed. That calm feeling ended when we arrived at the venue to set up. Short version was, despite only having 2 hours prior to the ceremony to prep, nothing was ready for us to decorate when we arrived and another couple interrupted our time to have their rehearsal for the following night. My parents and I didn't leave to get dressed until about 45 minutes before the ceremony start time. We flew back to the condo and got ready in record speed, but still were late getting back to the venue. I felt awful about being late, but as mom said - there certainly wouldn't start without me...

The actual ceremony was really nice. Despite forgetting the rings and mom having to run and get them, everything was lovely. It started late because of the issues with decorating, the officiant did the wrong reading, and it was a bit warmer than expected, but none of that mattered. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day. The food was great, though I didn't get a chance to eat much of it because we were walking around talking to everybody. At the end of the night, we walked back to the hotel, just a couple blocks away. People along the street congratulated us and wished us luck. It was an amazing night.

Wedding Events - Welcome Cookout

Welcome Cookout

I spent most of the day before the wedding with my family, making sure everything was prepped and ready for the different festivities. food to the venue to get a rough idea of where things would need to be set up the next day. Since we didn't have a wedding party, we didn't really have an actual rehearsal. After mapping things out, it was time for the cookout!

Ken's family hosted the welcome cookout for us, similar to a rehearsal dinner. We rented out a pavilion at a beach front park for everyone to get to meet each other before the actual wedding. The decorations were a lot of fun and Ken's mom found an awesome Mickey plate for us. I also conspired with Ken's mom to have a UK-themed jello cake (his favorite) for a groom's cake. 

After everyone ate, we spent time on the beach catching up and enjoying the wildlife. The kids found a crab on the beach they were excited to watch. There was also a bird, falcon maybe?, that caught a fish and was eating it up in a tree. Around sunset, we decided to pack up and everyone went off to do their own things for the evening. I went with my parents back to their room to get last minute things ready and prep my hair for the big day!

The scenery was gorgeous and the food was wonderful. It was a perfect day for a relaxed, beach-side meal with our closest friends and family... and a nice break from months of planning and stress over wedding details.

Pre-Wedding Reunion - Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios

For our final day at Disney, we went to Hollywood Studios.  We arrived within minutes of rope drop (opening) and headed straight for Toy Story Midway Mania.  Since the line was only 20 minutes, we went ahead and rode it, rather than getting fastpasses for later.  We then went to Starring Rolls and had a smorgasbord  of cupcakes, cinnamon buns, and donuts.  The boys couldn't believe we were letting them eat so much sugar for breakfast!

After eating, Dustin took Amelia to the Mickey Mouse Playhouse area while the rest of us rode Tower of Terror and Rock-N-Rollercoaster.  Aidan got upset over RNR and refused to ride it again.  Alex and Rachel wanted to ride again, but it was time to go find Dustin.

 Ken, Dustin, and Amelia went to Muppet Vision 3D.  The rest of us rode Star Tours.  Alex was the "rebel spy" which Aidan thought was hilarious. Since it was the last day, the boys were allowed to spend their allotted money, while all went to toy guns in the Star Wars shop.  We ate lunch at 50's Prime Time and decided to head on out.  We left Hollywood Studios and began our 2 hour drive to Bradenton for the wedding.

On our way, we stopped by Ken's mom's rental house to say hi to his family.  We got to our hotel around 7 or 8 and had dinner with Chris and Marci and the hotel bar/restaurant.  The atmosphere sitting outside near the beach was wonderful, even if the food was mediocre.  As much fun as it was to be with the kids at Disney, it was nice to have a relaxing evening with just adults.

Pre-Wedding Reunion - Epcot


The second day, we went to Epcot!  I was really excited about it being the Food & Wine Festival - I'd never been to Disney World in the fall so I hadn't experienced it before.  Epcot is also special to us because that's where Ken proposed to me in May 2012.

To start the day, while everyone rode Spaceship Earth, I ran on to get us fastpasses for Soarin' because they were already almost gone!  We met back up to ride Imagination with Figment, which Amelia absolutely loved - she even got a little stuffed Figment doll.  After playing around in the Innovations pavilion, we took everyone to Club Cool to try "Beverly"... there were some pretty funny faces.  We got everybody with it!  Alex and Aidan tried it even after watching Rachel and Dustin's reactions to it.  Everyone got a kick out of it.

Right as we began to walk toward World Showcase, it started pouring.  We hopped on a friendship boat that took us straight to a dock right in front of the Germany pavilion.  We were a little early for our reservation so we looked around the little shops.  We ended up hanging out in the crystal store because it was closest to the restaurant and out of the rain, which was not the smartest idea with 3 kids.  We did manage to make it without incident, though there were a few close calls.

German Band
For lunch, we ate at Biergarten in Germany.  The buffet was full of wonderful German fare.  Those of us who were old enough also got to sample a few German beers with our meal.  The building itself was pretty cool; it felt like you were sitting outside in a rural German village.  There was a water mill and fantastic band playing live, classic German music.  In addition to the typical polka, a couple of them played water glasses, which was absolutely beautiful to listen to.  It was a really nice opportunity for us to be able to sit down and relax for a while, while enjoying tasty food and unique entertainment.  Dustin especially enjoyed it, given his German heritage.

After lunch, we worked our way around one side of the World Showcase.  We stopped and had dessert in France, which the boys loved.  Poor Amelia was so worn out she completely slept through it.  Rachel got really excited about all of the Sailor Moon stuff in the Japan pavilion.  My personal favorite was when we stopped at the Canada kiosk for a mini version of the Le Cellier filet!  It was a small portion and we split it (seeing as we'd just had lunch less than an hour earlier), but I just love the flavor of it.  We made it back to Future World just in time for our Soarin' fastpasses.  Dustin decided just wait with Amelia, due to his fear of heights, but everyone else thought it was awesome.  Alex really wanted to ride again, but the line was 2 hours long, so we decided to move on to other things.

As we were walking over to ride Test Track, it started raining again.  We ducked into the Character Spot just in time!  A huge crowd came in right after us to get out of the rain.  We got to get pictures with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy.  The rain had slowed some, but Test Track was still down, so we went on to Mission: Space.  Rachel, Alex, Aidan, and I rode it while the guys waited with Amelia.  The boys said it made them feel sick, Amelia was crabby, and everyone was pretty worn out so we decided to call it a day.  We didn't get to do much of the Food & Wine Festival and didn't even see the other half of the World Showcase, but everyone had a great time.  We decided to have Chinese food delivered for dinner, to finish our "trip around the world."

Pre-Wedding Reunion - Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Since we were going to be in Florida already for the wedding, we decided to take a few days at Disney.  Ken's family came with us - Penny (Ken's mom), Jenny (aunt), Julie (older sister), Rachel (younger sister), Dustin (Rachel's fiance), Alex (nephew), Aidan (nephew), and Amelia (niece). Our first morning at Disney, we had breakfast at Chef Mickeys.  We got to meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto!  Minnie was Amelia's favorite.  After finishing breakfast, most of us rode the monorail to the Magic Kingdom (Ken and Dustin drove the cars from the Contemporary to the MK parking lot). Once the guys met up with us, everyone was excited to enter the park for the very first time.  Except for Ken and I, it was everyone's first time seeing the castle.  It was great watching their faces as we walked down Main Street.

We started in Adventureland and rode Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Magic Carpets of Aladdin.  Everyone got a kick out of the cheesy Jungle Cruise jokes and Jack Sparrow.  We planned to go back later in the day to get Dole Whip since we'd just eaten, but we forgot.  While most of us rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain, Ken and Dustin took Amelia to the Country Bear Jamboree.  They came back just in time to watch us plummet down the mountain.  After lunch at Columbia Harbour House, we went to Haunted Mansion.  Aidan was a little freaked out, but was happy he ended up riding it.  Surprisingly, Amelia was completely fine with riding, only got scared at a few brief parts.

Next, we journeyed to Fantasyland for Mickey's Philharmagic - my personal favorite!  We tried the new "Lafou's Brew" but none of us was really impressed with it.  Since Amelia loves Ariel, we rode the new Little Mermaid ride... which we ended up getting stuck on for over 20 minutes.  Needless to say, we were "Under the Sea" for quite a while.  After the kids rode Dumbo, we went on to Tomorrowland.  The plan was to ride Space Mountain, but the line was over an hour long and people were getting restless, so we skipped it.  Dustin, Amelia, and I grabbed some cream cheese pretzels while everyone else rode Stitch's Great Escape. The boys loved the Space Range Spin and Ken got called out during the Laugh Floor for looking like a chia pet.  By that point, it was almost time for the park to close for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (which wasn't worth the cost to us), so we called it a day and went back to the house and swam.  Penny, Julie, and Aunt Jenny went on to the beach, leaving just the 7 of us for the rest of the Disney portion of the trip.

2 months

Tomorrow marks 2 months on the wedding countdown, 57 days to Disney! I dropped the invitations in the mail today and am excited to get people's official RSVPs! I even was a total nerd and sent one to Mickey and Minnie. I've heard that "they" will write back with a congratulations letter. Time will tell.

Wedding Planning Trip - Orlando, Day 3

Today was the last day of our trip together. At midnight, it was time to book our cruise excursions. Didn't get everything we wanted on the days we wanted, but I was able to move things around and get everything. Tina and I then stayed up talking until about 6am... which is why we slept through my alarm at 9:30. I woke up at 10:54am and we had breakfast reservations at 11!

After rushing around like crazy, including packing up to leave, we made it to Grand Floridian about 45 minutes late. They said we might be too late for characters. But we got to see Alice, Mad Hatter, and Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins is Ken's favorite, so I've been wondering about this place-1900 Park Fare. I told Alice that she was Tina's favorite and she responded "I'm my favorite too!" Which we got a kick out of.
Overall, I liked the breakfast despite not being a "breakfast" person.

After breakfast/pretty much lunch, we walked around the hotel a bit and then used a groupon I found for us to get our nails done. After that, it was time to leave. Tina drove me to the airport, and after a few hiccups, I boarded my flight. We both arrived safely at our destinations.

I had such a great time and I can't wait to be back down there again in less than 70 days!

Wedding Planning Trip - Orlando, Day 2

Today, Tina and I slept in and relaxed. Once we decided to start the day, we went back to Disney for lunch. We ate at Beaches & Cream, complete with root beer float and sundae. After eating, we walked around the Boardwalk and other Epcot hotels for a while. It started looking like it was going to rain so we left and went shopping at a few of the discount roadside places.

For dinner, we chose to venture over to Universal City Walk. We visited all the shops, waiting to get hungry, since we had a late lunch. After picking up a few gifts for our significant others, we decided to eat at Hard Rock.

Since we had already checked out all the shops at City Walk, we went to Downtown Disney Westside. On the way, we caught a few of the bigger Epcot fireworks. We did a bit more shopping, continued on through Pleasure Island, and then revisited the Marketplace. We caught the boat back over to the Westside and called it a night.

Never Grow Up,

Wedding Planning Trip - Orlando, Day 1

We checked out of our hotel in Bradenton and arrived in Orlando around noon. It was too early to check in at the new hotel, so we decided to head to Downtown Disney for lunch. We ate at Earl of Sandwich. I was fighting a massive headache so after we ate, I picked up some really expensive Tylenol and Aleve. It was worth it because the only other thing that helped was standing with my hand pressed on to of my head, which was only slightly embarrassing. We walked around in World of Disney for a while, but didn't find anything we were dying to buy. We finished up our time at DTD with sundaes at Ghiradelli. By that time, we could check in at the hotel so we came back and took a nap.
For dinner, we went to Kona at the Polynesian. Neither of us were in love with our meals, but they were pretty good. We then took a monorail tour around the resort's. Tina loves Victorian things, so she liked the Grand Floridian. We then did a little shopping at the Contemporary. The fireworks started as we left the Contemporary, so we were able to see some of them from the monorail. We ended up getting stuck in the Magic Kingdom exit traffic, but it wasn't too bad.
All in all, it was a good day.

Even when wedding planning, Never Grow Up!

Wedding Planning Trip - Siesta Key/Sarasota

Yesterday was a little slow to start. Tina and I accidentally stayed up taking until 5am the night before, so when the alarm went off, neither of us were thrilled.

Upon arrival in Siesta Key, we had lunch at Captain Curt's (best clam chowder ever... except the now closed Oyster Bar). It almost felt like coming home; the area is just so familiar to me.

The first appointment of the day was with the florist. I was a little surprised because I thought by actually coming in that I'd be able to see what my flowers would look like. Pretty much all we did was discuss what I wanted, which we'd already been doing over email. I also found out that a few changes I was wanting to make would add $75 to the cost. I'll figure something else out or just keep the flowers how I had them.

Next, we went to my hair trial. That was fairly upsetting because the stylest told that my hair won't work for any of the styles I wanted. I brought 4 different pictures thinking that at least one of them would work. They were all fairly similar, but we're different enough that I thought I had enough variety. She told me my hair was too thin, even though I have a lot of hair, to do the styles I wanted. She tried to do something similar, but it just didn't look right. She made some suggestions for how it could be changed, but I don't think it will change the look enough to make it like what I had been picturing. Back to the drawing board on that one.

With all the wedding appointments finished, Tina and I began the vacation portion of our trip. We went out and laid on the beach by Calini. We got in the ocean for a little while too. It was so relaxing to hear the waves crash against the shore. When it started to thunder, we packed up and left. We had dinner at Daiquiri Deck, walked around the shops, then I got ice cream at Big Olaf's.

When we got back to the hotel, Tina played around with a few different styles in my hair. We also started googling for celebrity updos with hair similar to mine. I think we found the look I want, that will actually quirk with my hair. I'm feeling pretty excited about it. All in all, despite the disappointment, it was a very good day.

Wedding Planning Trip - Anna Maria Island

Today was our day on Anna Maria Island. We grabbed lunch at the BeachHouse, where Ken and I are getting married. We started with coconut shrimp (amazing) and conch fritters (it had peppers, so I didn't love it, but I think Ken will). Then Tina and I split the tropical chicken and grouper. The chicken was good, for someone that doesn't love chicken. The grouper was great.

Throughout the meal, particularly during our eating shrimp, this one seagull would NOT leave us alone. Most of them were just flying around, chill. But this one kept trying to land on our table. He was so close I could have touched him several times. It made for an interesting meal.
After eating, it was time for our appointment with Shawn, the wedding specialist for the restaurant. She was running a bit late, due to a wreck, so Tina and I grabbed a couple pina coladas to enjoy while we waited. Tina said it was better than the ones she had in Puerto Rico, where they supposedly have the best in the world. Once Shawn arrived, we talked about menu, timeline, linens, etc.
After a good 2 hours of wedding talk, we drove around the island. We stopped by the park where we are having the cookout, picked up some info from the chamber of commerce, and tried to go to the beach, but it was surprisingly difficult to find a public beach with parking. The clouds were starting to roll in so we decided to call it a day and had on back to the hotel. By the way, Gigi's cupcakes taste even better the next day!

One of my favorite parts of today was actually being about to see the venue in person, visualizing everything. It made things feel more real than ever! I'm so excited for Ken and I to start our lives together in such a beautiful location.

Wedding Planning Trip - Arrival Day

Yesterday, I arrived in Florida for my wedding planning/detail finalization trip. My friend Tina picked me up at the airport and we began our journey. First thing was a cupcake tasting at Gigi's cupcakes in Tampa. We both thought that the "Wedding cake" flavor (white cake, white buttercream) was rather dry. The southern comfort (pecan pie flavored) was very dense and sticky. The cherry cola flavored one wasn't bad. My favorite was the strawberry flavored one. We also tried some mini cupcakes, not shown. They were chocolate with cream cheese frosting and yellow with chocolate frosting. Both of those were good, too. I liked them, but I'm not sure how feasible it will be to actually have them at the wedding, due to the distance. We could have them delivered, but it pretty much doubled the price.

After that, we went to an outlet mall where I found 2 (yes, TWO) pairs of shorts that fit for less than $20 Total. That was pretty exciting for me! After picking up a present for Ken, we grabbed some dinner and went back to the hotel, where Tina helped me edit my thesis... again. We stayed up talking until about 2am.

Definitely a good start to the trip.

Into Double Digits... Maybe

Today marks 99 days on our countdown... well one of them.  It's roughly 99 days until we arrive at Disney.  I think we will end up getting down there the day before Ken's family arrives.  If we decide to just arrive the same day, then we're really at 100 days.  Super exciting, either way.

Wedding Planning Adventures

Speaking of countdowns, it's less than a month until I head down to Florida to finalize plans with our vendors.  The arrival day, I figure we'll just hang out and go to the beach.  We'll do one full day on the island, have lunch at the restaurant, meet with the coordinator, ride the trolley, etc.  We'll spend one day in Sarasota, finalizing my bouquet with my florist and visiting the salon where I think I want to get my hair/makeup done for the big day.  After that, we're going to spend a few days in Orlando, probably do Downtown Disney and/or Universal's City Walk.

Ken's bachelor party is this weekend.  He and two other friends of ours that have/will be getting married this summer are doing a joint venture.  They are heading out camping for the weekend.  Last I heard, my bachelorette party will be mid-September, but it's all a surprise so I don't know much else! :-)  I'm getting really pumped about it, though!

Cruise News

          It's almost time to decide what excursions and such we'll be doing on the cruise.  I know we want to do one of the ATV adventure in Costa Maya or Cozumel, Mexico, but there are several to choose from.  
           I'd also really like to do the couple's massage on the beach (Castaway Cay) or dinner at one of the nicer restaurants (Palo or Remy).  Both options would be adult's only, which would be really nice for the honeymoon!  There are just so many options!

So Close, Yet So Far

I'm bored at work, so I decided to start up a new series about all the exciting upcoming events in our lives.
This October, we're going to WDW with Ken's family (and mine too, if they decide to come) for a few days.  I'm really really excited about this.  None of Ken's family has ever been before, so I'm pretty pumped for them to see everything for the first time.  I've made a few dinner reservations (Garden Grill and Chef Mickey's), but I don't know which, if any, we'll keep. After 3 days at Disney, we'll head to the coast. 

Then, the wedding festivities will start.  First, there's the welcome cookout.  We rented a local park and are going to grill out and chill with our friends and family.  The next day, we're getting married on the beach at sunset!  After the ceremony, we'll just walk right up to the restaurant and eat.  The following morning, we'll be having brunch... somewhere.  Not sure if we'll be hosting people at one of the rental places with our parents or if we'll just pick somewhere to meet everyone out.  It's on my list of things to decide.

And then we'll have a day to get everything packed up to leave on our cruise.  We'll be spending a week on a Disney cruise to Mexico and the Cayman Islands!  We splurged a bit and got a cabin with a private balcony.  We've just started looking at the shore excursions and all the fun things the cruise will have to offer. 

Well, I think that pretty much covers things for now.  I can't believe everything is less than 6 months away!