Sunday, January 31, 2010

Destination Bride Part Four: Key West

When stalking a friend on Facebook, I noticed he had just been to a lovely colourful wedding where there was white sand and palm trees.  I had to admit my stalking to him to get the venue, but it was worth the embarrassment.

Welcome to choice #4, Southernmost House, Key West, Florida.

Yup, so it's pretty much a pink gingerbread house on a white beach in the land of Ernest Hemingway and gay men.

I love it.

And it's pretty reasonable to rent for the weekend!  Dancing around the pool, sparklers on the beach, pina coladas in hand.  Right?  Sound good so far?

Even the menu is yummalicious!  A mix of Caribbean, Mexican and a bit of US of A thrown in for good measure. 

Therefore, what could possibly be my issue with this heaven?  Well first, you have to fly from Western Canada to Miami and then rent a car to get down.  I think you can fly right into Key West but the whole fun is driving down the Keys because they are so freaking pretty.  Plus the rooms are a bit pricey for me to expect my guests to pay.

But it's pink!  PINK!  Like my ring!  And I bet they have amazing Key Lime Pie.

The best part would be the fact we could play Beach Boys all night long and that would be okay.

The Bridal Breakdown

I am sure to have many of these in the next coming year (that's right folks, we've set a date!  Well, we've narrowed it down to three months in 2011 AND the engineer is talking wedding) but last night I had my first bridal breakdown.

My dad informed me that most of my family will not attend my wedding if it exceeds the borders of Alberta or British Columbia.  Not because they don't want to come, more that travel for them is not really in the books.  Which promptly made me cry.

Of course I want my family at my wedding.  That's the whole point right?  To be surrounded by family and friends?  So I spent a total of FIVE hours online searching all the possibilities around the province that fit our criteria.

Apparently our criteria is a bit rigid.  Firstly, we are not having our wedding in Rainy City.  Just not an option.  You have to end at 12 or 1 AM, and not that we are party animals, but no one wants to end the dancing at midnight.  We aren't Cinderella here.

Therefore we are looking for a venue that (A) is pretty (B) has accommodation on site and (C) allows for late events.  Good luck.

There actually are several options.  Unfortunately those several options hold weddings of about 80.  Ugh.

Fine.  So there are still several options for big weddings. But then we spend our entire wedding budget on a so-so wedding in a so-so place.  With so-so run-of-the-mill food.  And we all know how I feel about that.

I suppose I would rather use our money to have a full week's experience and a magical wedding.

Nothing in Canada is really sitting right.

You know how they say you know your wedding dress is the one when you put it on?  That's how I feel about venues.  There is a feeling I get when something clicks and I just know that's the place I want to get married.  The place where I commit my life to the Engineer can be nothing short of magical.  I am all about the magic.  Hence the sunset over Tuscany.  Or fireworks over Epcot.

Why am I finding magic everywhere else that isn't my home?  Sign perhaps that it's time to move to New York full-time?

Hence the bridal breakdown of calling my dad five times.  Then talking to the Engineer in the middle of the night.  Who, amazingly enough, shares the same need for magic (he just doesn't call it that).  He too will look at a venue and say, 'well, I guess it's nice . . . enough'.  Enough?

I want stars and fireworks and dancing in barefeet until the sun comes up!  Therefore, if you can think of a place in Western Canada that fits these things, please pass it on . . . . .

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Like Father Like Food

I have another thing to add about my dad (did you read my entry about him? - I tried to link it to this but I can't figure it out).  Anyways.

My dad loves peanuts.  He loves peanuts in their shell. He always has peanuts in his pocket and as he stomps around Calgary, perhaps in a drug store, perhaps in Home Depot, he eats his peanuts and drops the shell where ever he is.  And then he asks if you want a peanut.

I think it's funny.

He also once munched on a cinnamon stick as they are good for the heart.  But when he did so, he spit it out immediately and said things like 'bleck' 'ptha' 'terrible'.

Then promptly offered it to me.

My cousins are in awe of him because they swear they once saw him eat a muffin, have some of the muffin fall off, and catch that muffin bit in mid-air in his mouth.  He denies this ever happening.

I am not so sure.

Us Groundwaters are not delicate eaters.  We eat fast and shovel the food in our mouths like it is our last meal.  Or maybe that is just my dad.  Sometimes when eating, my mum and I just stop and stare at the wonder that is his mouth.

Then again we have all seen me shove food into my mouth and practically die of happiness.

It must be the genes.  Minus the peanuts in my pocket.

My love of all food and food from hole-in-the-wall restaurants comes from my parents.  When all the other kids in Winnipeg got to go to chain restaurants like Perkins or Red Lobster, I was dragged to a funny smelling South East Indian restaurant.  Or a Portuguese place where my parents told me calamari were Ukrainian french fries - I ate the whole plate and then cried when I found out the truth.

Don't ask me where Ukrainian comes from in a Portuguese restaurant.

They also tricked me at a young age into eating caviar by telling me it was ice cream balls.  Liars.

For all their trickery, I am grateful.  Without my peanut-popping dad, or my culinary mum, I might not be the food loving gal I am today.

Then again I might also be a size 2.

Meh, bacon's better than skinny.

London Town Eats

I love British food.  I don't care what you say.  I know it's no duck confit, but how can one go wrong with chicken and leek pie?  You can't.

Watch for yourself

The Engagement Announcement

Of course I had to make a video.

And lucky you, the Engineer is finally revealed!  Is it as exciting as when we found out Big's name in 'Sex and the City'?

Yup, thought so.

Friday, January 29, 2010

That's Amore!

I have a love affair with Italy.

The food, the wine, the bread, the culture, the language.

And yet I have never been there.

I know right?

I've been many places, but many places in Europe is not one of them.  Namely Italy.

I feel we would get on quite well, Italy and me.  That's why the Engineer and I are going to Italy in the spring for our 'JellyMoon' (due to the fact we can't really take a honeymoon because the Engineer is becoming the Finance/Business/I don't-really-know-what-he-does Man at Goldman Sachs without much time off).  That's why we are going on it now.  And because it is not quite honey, we must settle for jelly.

But Italy is also a place I would consider getting married in.  I mean why not right?  It's Italy!  Have you seen Under the Tuscan Sun?  Or I guess I should be asking if you have read it.  Anyways, after walking out of that movie I turned to my friend Liz (one of my BM's) and said 'I am going to have to buy a house in Tuscany".


Seeing as Europe is somewhat pricey to have a wedding, I was sort of expecting the prices of my Italian dream to come back super high.

But they are not!  AAAAAAAAH!  When things are expensive it's so easy to say, 'no thank you'.

To rent a villa for a week isn't bad.  It works out to be about 200 Euros a person.  Wine is cheap in Italy. And food is plenty and affordable.  I mean the difference between France and Italy is foie gras vs. pasta.

Here comes the amazing part, one of the Villas I want is actually in Cortona.  Where Under the Tuscan Sun is set!  I could have an 'Under the Tuscan Sun' Wedding! EEEEEEEEEE!

Sipping chianti in Chianti - nice right?  I've been talking to Veronika, a super sweet woman and owner of Fonte de Medici, a gorgeous villa and I can't help but think maybe my Italian love affair should start with my actual love affair?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Destination Bride Part Two: Disneyworld Resort

This has been on my list for a long time.  Twenty years long time.

I first saw the Wedding Pavillion from the monorail that takes you from the Magic Kingdom to Epcot Centre when I was a little girl.  From that moment on I always knew the best place on earth to get married would be the happiest place on earth.

Firstly, I am a Disney nerd.  Not the Disney nerd who has Mickey paraphernalia everywhere, but the Disney nerd who owns every single movie and has been to every single Disney park (except Hong Kong - it opened after I was there).  My first time in Europe did I go to Paris?  Versailles?  Well yes, but after I had been to Disneyland Paris.

My mum loves Disneyworld.  My friends love Disneyworld.  And even the fiance loves Disneyworld.

But do we love the Disneyworld weddings?

I don't know yet.  My wedding planner is a bit slow - it takes weeks to get any new information.  Okay fine, days, but I am an anxious bride and I want to plan this sucker!  I suspect when I do get the information, the wedding of my dreams is going to have a serious price tag.

I wish I could say 'we', but the Engineer is still out for the count on planning (this is actually a lie, he participated in guest numbers the other day).  Anyways, I want the ceremony to blend with the reception.  Therefore, we can get married in Italy at Epcot followed immediately by our meal, followed by fireworks, followed by dancing.

Sounds normal right?

Okay, it's $2000 for the wedding venue (normal), another $700 for the reception venue (cheap!), a whopping $125/person for food (aaaaaaaaah!!), and who knows how much for drinking, decor, flowers, etc.  I can't bring in any outside vendors so it will add up quickly as all things Disney tend to do.  It's not that we mind spending it, it's that we mind spending it on the party that isn't exactly what we want.  Like dancing in our barefeet all night long.

The biggest pros of this wedding are that Disney is a great family place for all my family with kids.  It's one of my favorite places and we're guaranteed to have an amazing time.  Just stomping around Epcot with my gal-pals and the Engineer makes me happy.

Hmmm, honeymoon perhaps?  And my friends can come?

Dogs Vs. Kids

I've always said that having dogs is like practising for children.  I don't think I differ too much from parents of human babies.

Let's take a look at the facts:

Real Babies:  You have to change their poopy diapers.
Dog Babies:  I have to pick up their poop.

Real Babies:  Have good behaviour days and bad behaviour days (the latter is often when you are meeting people for the first time)
Dog babies:  Ditto.  For example, yesterday, the boys met one of my friends for the first time on a long walk through Stanley Park.  Mr. Mop was in fine asshole form. Pulling at his leash, jumping, nipping at my hands, chewing his leash.  When he was finally off-leash, he ran around the park like a crazy, possessed beast.  A woman stopped me to ask me if I was afraid of coyotes eating my dogs (ummm, now I am) and in that time, Mop snatched my toque from out of my hands, ran away with it and shook it in that way dogs do when they are killing their prey.  He refused to give it back.  When I made him, he nipped my finger.  My friend called him a rascal.
Today?  Perfect little gentlemen.  He didn't pull on his leash, he heeled the entire walk, and no jumping.  But of course for my eyes only.

Real Babies:  Spit up on you.
Dog Babies:  Just the other day, Brooklyn was asleep on my tummy when he opened his eyes, looked up at me, and promptly threw up on my shirt.

Real Babies:  Have temper tantrums
Dog Babies:  Oh god, so embarrassing.  Once when walking down the Promenade on a sunny day with Manhattan in the background, Mop (of course) decided he did not want to go home.  He went nuts.  Barking, crying, shrieking, jumping at other people.  I kept stopping him and putting him in the alpha roll but this only made matters worse.  He nipped at my face, growled, cried.  People stopped and stared.  I even called the Engineer to come help me as I was on the verge of tears.  So embarrassing.  Then when we got home he fell asleep like a little kitten.

Real Babies:  Get overtired and act out.
Dog Babies:  See above.  I know it's time to leave the dog park when Mop is so over-excited he turns into a douchebag.

Real Babies:  Are sweetest when they are asleep.
Dog Babies:  How many pictures can I possibly have of my sleeping dogs?

Real Babies:  No matter what they do, you love them unconditionally.
Dog Babies:  No matter what they do, you love them unconditionally.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Destination Bride Part One: France

 France is a big country.  

And I have only been to Paris and Disneyland (yes, apparently I opted for Mickey over Provence). 

Therefore I enlisted the help of wedding planners from Chateau and Villa Weddings.

I found these ladies while doing research for my television show (called ‘Wedding Belles’ - watch out for it in March!).  They are based in Europe and specialize in, well, chatueau and villa weddings.  So when the Engineer proposed I immediately got in contact with them about my own wedding.

Point of awesome one:  they are speedy speedy in their correspondance.  A big plus I think for the stressful bride.  Within one day, Caroline always gets back to me with ideas and solutions. 

So far, her ideas are:  a luxury Mediterranean Villa near St. Tropez, a castle in the Loire Valley, and, get this, a pumpkin castle!  PUMPKIN CASTLE!  Named this because they grow pumpkins in their courtyard.  It’s like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast Combined. 

Can we say amazing??? AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

So the negative side of a France wedding is not only the fact that France is a difficult destination to get to, but that all venues and food is in Euro.  Which means 1.5 times each amount.  And each amount isn’t cheap.  To rent a venue is about 5000 euro.  Which is comparable to renting some venues in Canada.  But add the exchange rate, now it’s closer to $8000.  Food ranges from 100 to 150 euro a head!  Which even if in equivalent dollars is high.  But have 100 people at a wedding and about $200 a head?  You get the picture.

But look at these pictures?  Amazing right? To stay near this castle is only about 50 Euros per couple a night, not bad.  But thousands to get there . . .

Granted, if we choose one of these places, oru numbers significantly decrease and we are guaranteed amazing service.  And it’s a fairytale.  But at what cost?

Another French location, at a high price, is a converted old farm house in Provence:  Le Mas de la Rose

Pretty oui?  Should be, it's about 27 000 Euro for a week, or 10 000 for the reception. Ummm, ouch.

Compensation?  The Engineer and I are planning a visit here on our JellyMoon (our Honeymoon which is happening before the wedding, therefore it is Jelly, not Honey) because they have a special before April 1st.  Hooray for sales!!

The Planning Begins

As stated before, the Engineer is not into the wedding planning thus far.  He thought that by giving me a ring, we could let the wedding talk stop for a bit.  Ummmm, he is crazy.

But he is not the only man with that thinking.

At the dog park the other day I got talking with a  couple about their wedding.  Her husband proposed in New York and even though she was cold and tired, after a red-eye flight, she immediately went to her computer and started to plan their nuptials.  At three in the morning she poked him and asked how many people did he think he would invite.  He rolled over and told her to go to bed.  Apprently, like the Engineer, he had been planning the ring and proposal for six months and the idea of having a wedding was not first thing on his mind.

What are guys thinking? I know they have been planning the engagement for a long time.  But we have been planning our wedding for about 20 times that length so we are very excited to get down to business!

I decided to stop my dress hunt because I feel I should pick a location first (sort of true, the dresses I want to try on are either in Calgary or New York so I am forced to wait).  

And where to have this wedding is becoming the question of the day.

I am now the professional in awesome destinations so I am going to share them with my trusty readers in hopes I inspire some answers/ideas from you as well as perhaps give you ideas for your own wedding.

Some, mostly my co-host on the show, will say that destination weddings are terrible because not all your loved ones can come.  I understand this problem.  And if the Engineer had a smaller family and I had less friends, and we didn’t want an intimate wedding, none of this would be an issue.  As it stands our list is already at 245 people (it keeps growing everyday).  

This may seem really big to some and really small to others.  But keep  in mind this is only immediate family and friends!  This is not friends of parents, co-workers, second cousins to the groom.  This is actually my closest friends, and our aunts/unlces/cousins only.

In my dreams, my wedding has always been small and sweet.  I know that with the profession I have chosen, you would think I would love a day when 300 people tell me how pretty I am and shower me with attention.  Actually this makes me feel uncomfortable and sort of nauseous.

Therefore, having a destination wedding will hopefully mean we have an intimate affair.  Of course, I still really hope my family comes – you know who you are because you read my blog!  And I know most of my friends will come because they love travel and I don’t exactly have to twist their rubber arms. 

So here comes the bride and her dream destinations.

These entries will be titled as ‘DESTINATION BRIDE”


Friday, January 22, 2010

I'd Like to Thank the Brits . . .

Being of complete British stock, I know a thing or two about our friendly cousins across the ocean. 

Here are some things they have given us that I truly appreciate:

1.  Tea

My grandfather taught me how to brew a perfect cup of tea when I was quite small.  Boil cold water (I don’t really know why), warm up teapot with hot water prior to putting tea bag/leaves into pot, pour water into pot. 

I mean it’s not rocket science is it?  And yet, how come some cups of tea taste better than others?  It’s part tea itself, part brewing time and part pot. I’m not kidding.  If you have a crap pot you will have crap tea.  Survey says? The traditional old Brown Betty is still the best pot for brewing tea. 

I’ve grown up drinking tea first thing in the morning.  My mum doesn’t really talk to me before she has her tea.  We drink tea when we come in from an outing, be it groceries or the Oscars.  We drink tea in the tub.  We drink tea when we are sick.  When we are sad.  When we are happy.  I would venture to guess I drink about four pots a day.  That’s over 10 cups of tea. 

In England, I noticed my tea consumption went up when visiting my relatives.  ‘Fancy a brew?’ is the code for a cup of tea.  But I guess that isn’t really a code, it's pretty straightforward.

I am also a firm believer in tea cozies (or as my little friend Sophia says, ‘tea hats’).  Like warming your pot before filling it with tea, a cozy keeps your pot warm so you can have countless cups of warm tea.  I use a pink and white one my grandmother knitted.  She died when I was fairly young so I like to think she’s there with me at every cup, having her own tasty brew.

Our flat in London is not equipped with a kettle.  The Engineer suggested I warm up water in a microwave.  I don’t even know how to tell him all the wrong that is that sentence. 

2.  Fascinators

Do you know what these are?  Probably not.  It hasn’t exactly caught on over here.  They’ve tried to come here, and some brave girls venture out with this atop their curls (read: me) but for most Canucks, we are not a headpiece-wearing nation.

Too bad.

Look at how cute they are. 


We had a stagette for my friend last year at the racetrack.  Her maid-of-honour created these little masterpieces for all to wear.  They were gorgeous and totally made our outfits!

At my wedding I fully intend to wear one in lieu of a veil, have my bridesmaids wear them and encourage my guests to get in the British frenzy.

3.  Food

Yes, you heard me right:  food.  And not just Jamie, Gordon or Nigella.  I mean British food.

I know the reputation but I feel strongly that British food offers some of the best comfort around.  I don’t know anything that tastes much better than my mum’s roast beef and hot Yorkshire pudding.  Or my auntie’s potato pie with mushy peas.  My cousin makes a killer chicken stew with dumplings.  Sausages?  With mashed potatoes and gravy?  Cornish pasties?  Chicken and leek pies?  Eton mess?  Clotted cream, jam and scones? Hula Hoops? 

Need I go on? 

Nothing warms a soul like British comfort.

4.  Nicknames

Not that these have been imported but I am trying to start a trend.  British people call each other cute pet names like chicken, pigeon, sausage, chook (which is a cute form of chicken), hen, dove, love, and pet.  Am I missing anything?

A man called me chicken and I swooned.  He was 80.

5. Pimm's.  See previous entry.

6.  Jane Austen, her books, the movies starring Colin Firth.

Nothing here to add except did you know there is a Jane Austen festival in Bath and you can rent Georgian dress and prance around Bath like Elizabeth Bennet??  AAAAAAAAAH!

7.  Men with accents

Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Prince William and Harry, Clive Owen, Jude Law, and the list goes on. 

8.  Chick Lit

Thank you thank you thank you Helen Fielding and our favorite girl with a diary, Bridget!  Since then, British writers have filled shelves with books that belong on Easter Sunday (due to their bright, pastel colours).  Mostly all the same, but the best beach reads ever!!

9.  Cadbury

Ummmm.  Yes.  Dairy Milk forever.  Swiss chocolate my ass, it’s all about English chocolate.  And speaking of ass . . . . mine is getting big.

10. Harry Potter

I am still waiting for my invite to Hogwarts.

And last, but not least, my favourite Sunday morning activity:  watching Corrie.  I don't care what you think, I love Coronation Street.

And I love England

Pimm's Cup Friend?

As stated before, the Engineer and I are highly enjoying the pub experience.  I don’t think I have ever been to England and enjoyed it so much.  I suspect the lack of smoking is the culprit.  And the cheapish beverages.  As well, that now in my 30’s, I much prefer a drink and conversation to the noise and inflated prices of a trendy bar. 

Another lovely thing about the British pub is the fact that during the winter they offer winter drinks:  mulled wine and winter Pimm's.  WINTER PIMM'S!

We discovered this amazing concoction after a chilly walk through a snowy Regent's Park.  I feel quite confident in saying that nothing on earth is quite so pleasant as a jaunty stroll through the snow and warming up in a cozy Primrose pub sipping warm Pimm's. Surrounded by dogs. 

The only thing that perhaps beats this is a jaunty walk through Regent’s Park in the spring, smelling flowers and the like, then finding refreshment in an airy Primrose pub and sipping Pimm's Number 1 Cup. 

Have you heard of the magic of Pimm's?  I discovered this drink in the summer of 2004 while at school in London.  My lovely Kiwi friend introduced me to a pitcher of Pimm's on a balmy summer evening at a gorgeous pub.  I am sad to say that this pub has since turned into a Starbucks.

Never mind, back to Pimm's.  Lara said, “Do you want a Pimm's cup friend?”  And I had no idea what she was talking about.  Then she placed a pitcher of a light-coloured beverage (think weak iced tea) in front of me.  Into my glass she poured the summer heaven, complete with orange & cucumber slices.  My first sip?  Love.

I then brought Pimms home for my friends.  Mixing pitchers at the cabin overlooking the lake.  My friends also fell in love.  In fact, the day I met the Engineer on a beach, I served up Pimm's.  He didn’t like it.  He couldn’t understand why there was salad in his drink.  But the Engineer is not what I would call a connoisseur of food so I forgive him.

Since then, Pimm's has become quite du jour.  Not that I take credit for its popularity, but it is a funny little coincidence don’t you think?  (For the record, I also loved Cherry print WAY back, before it was ever in – circa 2001 – and flower hair accessories and owl jewelery – maybe I am a trend setter after all?)

Imagine my delight and surprise then, when my Pimm's cohort and fellow lover, and I happened across a pub that served Winter Pimm's. 

I went a bit nuts.  And looked like the biggest tourist ever – taking pictures and asking for the recipe.

Our first sip was magic. A mix of apple cider, mulled wine and a hint of Pimms.  I tried it at other pubs where it was slightly different, but yummy.  Therefore, like its summer sister, I think slight variations are welcome and delicious. 

Do you want to try Pimm's?  You’ll need the recipe but the fun little fascinator is up to you!

Summer Pimm's:

- 1 Bottle of Pimm's (available near the gin, as it is a gin base, at your local liquor store)
- Ginger ale, sprite, or lemonade (or a mix of all three)
- An orange, a cucumber and mint
- Lots of ice.

Put ice in pitcher, fill up half (or more!) of pitcher with Pimm's, and fill the rest of pitcher with mix.  Garnish with plenty of orange slices, cucumber and mint. 


Winter Pimm's:

- 1 bottle of Winter Pimm's (a slightly darker and richer variation.  If not available at your store, go ahead and use regular Pimms)
- Combination of apple, cranberry and pineapple juice
- Cinnamon & cloves (or mulling spices)

Heat juices on stove.  Add spices.  Let boil and get flavour.  Place in cup and add one ounce (or more!) of Winter Pimm's


Don’t blame me if you suddenly start speaking with a British accent and have a strong urge to romp in the countryside.

If you want actual recipes and the history of Pimm's, click here

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And the Hunt is On

I couldn’t wait for Kleinfeld’s.  Or my mum.  Or anyone for that matter.  I was itching to try on a wedding dress.

Basically, I have what I want as my wedding dress picked out.  But I feel that as a bride, I should take advantage of this one time in my life when I can spend hours trying on dresses and drinking champagne.  I also feel that what I think will look good and what will actually look good are two different things.

I am on a mission to try on as many styles of dresses as possible.

First stop:  Harrods.  Now I appeased my culture/I am-in-London-go to-a-museum  side first by heading to the Victoria Albert museum.  It was great.

I rushed out, pleased with my cultural self, and popped in to Harrods for a quick look. When I went to school five years ago in London, a friend and I had peeked in to the bridal department then. I had spotted the most beautiful gowns. I vowed to go back when I was engaged.

Ta da!  Now I am! And they NO LONGER carry that Italian designer!  BOO!  For the life of me, I can’t remember his name. 

Whatever.  I decided to check these Spanish duds out.  There was a sale.  Like 80% sale. How awesome would it be to find a dress at Harrods for $500?!!!  Too bad they were all ugly. 

I did spot a dress that on the hanger appeared to have a bustle.  Something I would like to explore as I have a thing for Edwardian/Victorian England. 

I was guided into a huge ‘princess’ room where the girl stayed inside with me.  Ick, first thing I don’t like about wedding dress shopping. I hate people watching me get out of my boots.  It’s sooooo unflattering.  Then I stepped into this dress that had about 2000 yards of fabric.  It was ridiculous!! 

Once I was in, she strapped me in good and tight. The dress weighed about 30 pounds.  One look in the mirror and I knew.  This was not my dress. 

I was sort of disappointed.  I thought I would at least have the ‘oh wow, I am a bride’ moment.  But all I could think in my head was that I looked like a giant, pale meringue. 

Meh.  That was the first one.  I think I will try on one more ball gown just to verify that I am not going to be a puffy bride.

Also:  where are the pink dresses!?

To Plan or Not to Plan

The morning I woke up and realized the proposal was not just a happy dream, I immediately went into plan mode.

I have been dreaming about my wedding for years. 

Since I was a flower girl in my aunt’s wedding, I have had a wedding obsession.  

I was barely three for her wedding, and so halfway down the aisle I started to wail for my mum and was carried out.  I don’t remember that. 

I do remember sitting in the hotel room as my aunt and her bridesmaids got ready.  To me it was a sea of pink and tulle.  It was then that I became hooked. 

I had to be carried away again later that night when they would only play the ‘chicken dance’ once and I threw a fit because I wanted to hear it again.

That was the last time I was carried out of a wedding.  Good record considering how many I have been to.

On sunny Saturdays in Winnipeg, my mum would drive me past the Parliament buildings to look at all the brides having their photos taken.  I loved it.  So did she. I know she reads this blog.  It’s your fault I am now wedding obsessed mum so don’t blame me when I start making plans.

Then I worked for weddings.  Which was annoying until after dinner.  That’s when most of our hard work was done and I could sit at the bar and listen to the speeches.  That’s right, I listed to perfect strangers speeches and still cried.  I loved the slide shows, the first dance, the time when men would wear ties on their heads and drunk bridesmaids would kick off their shoes.

It’s no wonder that I have been planning my wedding for ages.  Not only have I been in eight, but also I have been to just as many as a guest.  I have sat there, enjoying the wedding but planning in my head what I would do differently.  I watch every wedding show there is on television.  Heck, I now even have my own wedding show (stay tuned for more information). 

Therefore I feel completely justified in wanting to plan my wedding right away.  It's like the bride beast has been unleashed.

In the last few years I have had a ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ wedding theme, complete with sonnet vows.  A quiet elopement on the Italian Rivera.  A barnyard BBQ.  A Highland fling.  A sunset wedding in Greece.  A tea party wedding in England. 

You name it.  I’ve thought of it. 

The Engineer was surprised when I went right to it.  He thought his proposal bought him a grace period of three months wedding-talk free.  Ummmm, what planet do men live on??

This way of thinking is not unique to him.  It happened to my other friend as well.  And three of his buddies at school told him this was the rule.  They are just as stupid as he is.

He says, ‘let’s enjoy the engagement’.  HELLO?  Enjoying the engagement means talking about the wedding!!!

We have come to an agreement.  We will not talk about the wedding until February 1st.  And each time I talk about it, I push it back a day.  What I don’t understand is why did he ask me if he didn’t want to plan a wedding?  Weirdo. 

I leave back to Canada this week so we are doing a spreadsheet this week about where to have the wedding.  This has bought him one week of non-wedding talk in February. 

Doesn’t he understand we have to set a date? Pick where we are getting married so our guests have time to plan?  A venue? 

I swear, once that is done, it will be a few months of hardly any wedding talk.   

Well, maybe not.  

I have this ring on my finger!  I want to talk wedding!

I did buy wedding magazines.  I have done late night research. I have asked my flower girls to be in the wedding.  I have even asked a couple of my friends to be bridesmaids (this is going to be a long and painful task as you can imagine.  Right now I can have four or EIGHT!!!!)  I have even already fought with my mum.  And I have tried on my first dress.  At Harrods.  It was hideous.

Alas, after the first feverish week my wedding planning has calmed down.  I am not staying up until three staring wide-eyed at the screen and the many possibilities.  I am no longer tricking the Engineer into looking at a picture on the Internet. 

I am, however, starting a wedding show next week.  And hopefully hosting a television show about weddings will make planning mine so much easier. 

The 'F' Word

About a year and a half ago, the Engineer came to me with a ring.  Obviously not the magnificent pink wonder on my finger right now, but a ring that meant very much to him nonetheless.  From him, it was a sign of his commitment to our relationship and his plans to spend the rest of his life with me.  A throwback to the ‘Promise Ring’ of the 50’s, or, a ‘shut up’ ring if you will.

Since then, I have always assumed we would get married and thus have been using the term ‘fiancé’ from time to time.  I felt uncomfortable calling him a fiancé as, clearly, he was not my fiancé.  

But when you are close to thirty, traveling far distances for the relationship, boyfriend just seems so . . . .  high school.  So I would call him my fiancé to the crazy border crossing police.  Other times I would refer to him as my partner.  But seeing as his name can also belong to a girl I was often taken for a  lesbian.  Which is fine, don’t get me wrong, just not appropriate when I am buying him underwear.  Most of the time I referred to him as my ‘person’.  He was more than a boyfriend, but not quite my fiancé.

Well now I have a big, fat ring on my finger and we are in fact, fianced.  So now it is perfectly all right to call him my fiancé.

Too bad we both feel like nerds saying that word.

The Engineer doesn’t like it.  He introduces me as ‘Sarah’.  No preamble, just ‘this is Sarah’.  I think he hopes people will notice the ring and assume we are engaged.

All this practice of calling him my fiancé and yet I still can’t do it.  It feels so forced.  So unnatural.  So grown up.  

GAH!  Is that the issue?  I’ve been playing wedding in my head since I was able to marry my cat and dress up in my mum’s silk robe.  But now that it’s here, it feels so strange.  Like I am allowed to go to the wedding sites I have been secretly visiting for the past three years. 

Or not so secretly. 

My closet wedding hunger is now allowed to be out in the open.  I can actually call the Engineer ‘the fiancé’.  

So far I still feel like calling him ‘muffin’.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

British Invasion. Oh wait, Canadian Invasion

The Engineer and I are happily enjoying our newly engaged status by wanting to spend every minute of every day together.  If I wasn't me, I would totally puke.

Our new status as a newly engaged couple also coincides with some fun British adventures.

This includes the fact that people in England drive on the other side of the road.  It takes me a day or two, but I get used to it pretty quickly.  The Engineer doesn't know which way to look, so he has opted for not looking.  That is his solution.  Don't worry, future mother-in-law, he at least is crossing not so busy streets!

We have a favorite activity:  pubs.

There are two reasons we like the pubs:  they are cute (perhaps my reason) and alcohol is cheap.  Even with the exchange rate.  We go to pubs everywhere.  I think we have been to more pubs than restaurants.

There is one around the corner from us that we head to just for a nightcap.  The only nightcap I am used to is a cup of tea and a facemask!

British pubs are cozy because they are often carpeted, have dark wood, and they are quiet (call me old, but I like to hear the conversation).  And in the winter they serve mulled wine.  How can I not love that?  It's like a fairytale.

If fairytales were for alcoholics.

We decided to play darts at the pub this evening.  That's right.  Darts.  And we have a quiz night on Monday.  Watch out!  We are party animals!

We have also done cheesy things like see 'Sherlock Holmes' on Baker Street.  Where, by the by, the theatre has a cute and funky little bar inside of it.  You can take wine into the movie.  Wine!  Movie!  BRILLIANT!!!

British chocolate is another fun pastime.  I realize it is not so much a pastime as something to eat.  Same thing in my book.  And for whatever reason, British chocolate just tastes better.  Oh, but it's not just chocolate we are filling up on.  It's also Hula Hoops.  Crunchy, salty Hula Hoops.  We 'high five' each other if we go a day without having a packet.  I suspect we are getting fat.

Also, due to the fact we feel our tube passes are expensive, we take public transport everywhere.  Just this afternoon, I made us take a double decker to Paddington Station.  When we left Paddington Station and walked ONE block, I recognized our tube stop.  Ummm?  Wait, a bus drove us in a circle to a place we could have walked to?  Yes.  Damn, I keep forgetting London is like that.

Markets is another new thing for us to do together.  Albeit, we only went to Portobello Market.  I kept singing the song from 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks' much to the annoyance of the Engineer.  The annoyance did not last long as he quickly immersed himself in old maps and pocket watches.  So I sang it to myself.

So far England is quite fun, perhaps because we have been tipsy through most of it.  But wether it's the new ring on my finger, the mulled wine, or the romance of an old city, we have both fallen in love with London.  Again.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Always a bridesmaid and finally . . . . .


That's right folks - this professional bridesmaid is finally going to don the white dress herself!!

Sorry for the delay in any new entries, but with Christmas, jet lag and the fact I had to tell my mum in person (and, ummm, most of my readers) I had to wait for this entry.

So here it goes, the story you've all been waiting to hear.  Okay fine, all two of you have been waiting to hear:

The Engineer and I arrived in London early in the morning on New Year's Eve.  I was ridiculously excited to be here because this is my favourite city (New York now ties it I must admit) but I was also super sick with a cold and lack of sleep.

I made us take a nap.

We finally roused ourselves late late afternoon and I was jumping off the walls to go on an adventure.  Many of my friends wondered if he was going to propose on New Years, but I didn't want to get my hopes up.  I did, however, pick my dress to wear for the night and think to myself, "would I want to get engaged in this"? (Yes, I am crazy like Kate Hudson in 'Bride Wars').  I really wasn't expecting anything because he didn't plan anything special.  We had a hotel but cancelled it and in that moment I truly thought it was a definite no-go.

Time for our adventure.

Sarah's side:  We take off for Picadilly Circus first.  Which is sadly undergoing construction so the statue/fountain is all boarded up.  Nevermind.  We'll go to Wagamama for noodles.  Which is yummy and we don't have to wait in line because we are eating like senior citizens at 5pm.

The Engineer's side:  Damn!  Picadilly looks like crap and it's so freaking busy.  Keep coat on my lap when eating, keep coat on lap when eating.  Do not let go of box, do not let go of box

Sarah's side:  Leave Wagamama and turn the corner headed to one of my favourite spots on earth, ever, Trafalgar Square.  Crap, it's freezing.  Oh wow, even the Engineer is cold.  He won't take his hand out of his pocket, I will hold on to his elbow.

The Engineer's side:  WHAT?  We're in Trafalgar Square already??  Okay, perfect place, perfect place, but where?  According to 'Places to Propose in London' this is number two.  F*&CK!  The fountains are BOARDED UP!  Because of New Year's.  I suppose they don't want drunk rowdies jumping in the frozen water.  Which Sarah would probably do because she keeps telling me about the time she danced in the fountain.  Crap it's freezing. And she wants to hold my hand.  GAH!  She's going for my hand in my pocket! Turn away! Turn away!  HA, crisis averted.

Sarah's side: Over the Golden Jubilee Bridge we go, taking a look at Big Ben and London Eye. It's so pretty!  I love London! But god damn I'm cold!  And I feel super sick.  My face hurts.  Take my picture! I look pretty!

The Engineer's side:  GAH!  This place is freaking crowded. There are tourists and drunk people everywhere.  She wants me to take her picture.  Must let go of box.  Is the Eye even moving?  It's the number one place to propose in London.  But that's cheesy.  She'll hate it.  But maybe tonight, yes, maybe that's the perfect place.

Sarah's side: Ooooh, the Eye is moving!  Maybe we could have a bubble to ourselves.  Oh, that would be so romantic.

Sarah and the Engineer:  We walk towards to London eye, but alas, it is closed to plebs like us.  We heard the girls in front of us say that it was open until nine!  DAMN!

Sarah's side: Westminster Bridge.  My other favourite spot in the world.  Tell the Engineer about the time my RADA friends and I wrote a letter about our summer and dropped it into a bottle beneath this bridge.

The Engineer's side:  Stop talking about RADA or Jenn Greene.

Sarah's side:  Big Ben is so lovely, the parliament building is so lovely.  I love this place.

The Engineer's side:  Oh god, this is perfect.  She loves it here.  Whoops, she just tripped and almost dropped her camera over the edge.  Ummmm, maybe not a good place for a pink sapphire?  Plus, it's crowded and people are drunk and yelling.  Did that guy just puke?  It's only 7:00!  Hmmm, what to do?  Tell her I love her.


Sarah's side:  Oh GOD!  He said my name seriously!  Oh god, he is going to propose!  EEEEEE!

"Oh my god! Are you going to propose??"

"Uh, no.  I just wanted to tell you I love you."

"Oh"  kiss him "it's cold, let's keep going"

Sarah's side:  Westminster Abbey.  I love the way it looks and how it's been here for hundreds of years.  And the full moon is out!  Wow, over Big Ben and the Abbey it looks like a fairytale.

The Engineer's side:  Wow, it looks like a fairytale.  Okay, here.  I will ask her here.  Oh wait, is that the police?  There are like thirty of them just standing there!

Sarah's side:  I have to pee.  Bad.  It's also really cold.  Let's go.

The Engineer's side:  Hmmm, maybe that park there?  Point to it.

Sarah's side:  Oh, that park. If we go I will just end up telling him about the time I was here with my RADA friends. Plus I really have to pee.

The Engineer:  She has to pee.

Another few hours pass.  I do, in fact, find a place to pee.  But it's in a coffee shop which is warm.  We both try hard not to fall asleep.  So cozy, so warm, snooze.  I make us go outside again to wake us up.  This does not work.  So we head to Covent Garden and the Maple Leaf Pub.  I realize this is bad.  It's a Canadian pub in London and it's our first night.  But it's really big and there is still room inside it.  We hang out here for a couple of hours and drink cider.

The Engineer:  Do not take off coat.  Do not take off coat.  It's hot in here!  Do NOT take off coat.

Sarah:  Why doesn't he take off his coat?

"Is my ring on your persons?" I joke and squeeze him

The Engineer:  GAH!

Sarah: He's so cute.

Sarah:  It's 11:30, let's go watch the fireworks

The Engineer:  Holy mother of god, why are there so many drunk people yelling so loudly??  But she loves fireworks . . .

Sarah:  F*#@k it.  It's cold. I'm cold. I'm sick.  And I am tired.  I should watch the fireworks because I am in London but I just want to sleep.  Let's go home.

The Engineer:  Home?  Oh god, I have to ask her!  But where?  I can't wait until tomorrow!

We are on Oxford Street at New Year's, and then jump in a cab.  The cabbie talks the WHOLE way home.

The Engineer: Shut up cabbie!  I have to think! Where?  Where?

Sarah: As we step out of the cab it starts to snow.  Oh wow!  It's so pretty!

The Engineer:  Snow!  She loves snow!  Is that a yard?  I'll point to it?

Sarah:  It's just a yard.  I have to pee. Get inside!

The Engineer:  Crap.

Sarah:  My head hurts, I am so tired.  And as I am taking off my socks . . . . .

The Engineer:  Well, I guess this is as good a time as any.  And there are no people around.  Perfect.

The Engineer got all serious again and said, "I don't want to ever start a year without you"

Sarah: "Yeah, me neither"

And then the box appeared!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!  I started to freak out!

What is that? I said.

What do you think it is?

OH MY GOD!  OH MY GOD!!!  And I ran away to the back of the bed.  Then I jumped my way back.

"Are you joking?  Is this a joke?  Are you kidding me??"

"Sarah, I want to spend the rest of my life with you"

And then he got down on one knee. At this point I am wiggling and bouncing up and down.

"Will you marry me?"  Except I didn't hear him say it because I was screaming when he opened the box and revealed my amazing PINK engagement ring (An actual, original Larry Ho).  I grabbed his face and said 'YES' and then jumped on him.

Then I jumped on the bed like a kid, did a few somersaults and rolled around.  Looked at my finger and then jumped some more.  Then I jumped back on him.

"Wait, you have to say it again!  I didn't hear you!"

"It's not my fault you weren't paying attention."

"I was! I was just too excited!"

"Sarah, will you marry me?"


And that is the story of how the Engineer took me on a romantic, wonderful walk of my favourite city on New Year's, to all the amazing places and proposed to me when I was taking my socks off.  Hopefully the rest of our lives will always knock my socks off.

ps. I thought I was going to cry, but I didn't.  I did somersaults.  It wasn't until the morning, in the light of day, that I looked at him and said, "I knew the moment I fell in love with you that I wanted to marry you.  What took you so long?"  Then I cried (happy tears! not tears of why did it take you so long?!)