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!

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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.