Gretchen vs. The Need to Meal Plan

So, I work for Yelp. I’m the Northern Virginia Community Manager, and, yes, it’s the raddest, most bomb-diggity job ever. I get paid to do things like write, put together fun events that make me feel uber-popular, and love on local businesses — all things I do on the reg anyway. Plus, I work from home, have amazing local coworkers, and have access to all the free mints and chapstick a girl could ever need.

It rocks. Now, to be clear, this really was not meant to be a bragging session about how great my job is. It’s great, and it’s a really good fit for me. But it also presents a challenge when it comes to my new lease on trying to lose weight.

Lemme ‘splain. See, while Yelp can help you find pretty much anything from a new doctor to a place to get your bike fixed, as you can all probably attest, it is most well-known for being a resource when it comes to food & restaurants. And the fact of the matter is that the majority of businesses with whom I work and the majority of places where I throw events are restaurants. So, yeah, I’m around food and thinking about food and looking at food a lot.

Throw in the fact that even in my personal world, I love dining out — trying new restaurants, getting the scoop on the latest food trends, satisfying my unquenchable thirst for bubble tea — and you can see where we might hit a few road blocks, weight loss-wise. Now, losing weight and eating out are not mutually exclusive things, of course. I’ve written many posts in the past about being able eat in restaurants while in weight-loss mode, and I never really gave up my love for dining out when I lost weight before.

But even with the frequency of which I was going out to eat back then (I did it quite a bit), it’s not the same as it is now. Back when I was working my old government contracting jobs, I was in a routine where I was eating breakfast before work, then usually bringing in a healthy lunch. So even if I went out to dinner, I had still set myself up well to be able to indulge a little more than evening. But in this job, every day is so different from the next, and I don’t always know exactly how things are going to play out, meal-wise.

Some days I’m home all day and have the flexibility to be able to cook and make whatever I want, but other days I might be out flitting from meeting to meeting all day long. This week alone, I had a dinner event Monday, met my coworker for lunch Tuesday, had all-day calls Wednesday, and I have another event tonight.

I don’t mean to make it seem like I blame my weight gain on this job. I really don’t! But it would be naive of me not to recognize the additional temptations and challenges that come with having a food-centric job. It makes planning things out in advance all the harder… and at the same time all the more necessary. The problem is, I’ve never been great at meal planning, prepping, or any of that stuff. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pantry kind of home cook, and I like being inspired in the kitchen.

So my current challenge is to get better about planning out my week in advance, so that I take full advantage of the times when I can eat at home, and so that I make good, thoughtful choices when I’m out. I know that this will involve not a small amount of pre-planning grocery lists and whatnot, so that I make sure that A) I always have good options to eat when I am home, and B) the food I do get at the store doesn’t go bad before I can use it. I admit, I am notoriously awful at overdoing it at the grocery store and then letting food go bad in our fridge because I didn’t think about how many events or commitments I had that week.

But with a little bit of extra planning, I know that I can be successful. Take last night, for example. I have dinner with my family every week (aww/gross, I know ;)), and we started doing a new thing where we rotate between my parents’ house, Ben & Taylor’s house, and my house. Since last night was Sean’s & my first time hosting, I took full advantage of being able to cook something healthy for the whole fam.

I made a large batch of turkey chili with beans (with all the fixin’s!) and some baked sweet potato fries. It ended up being a delicious and filling meal for everyone (well, at least I sure hope they didn’t leave hungry!) and I got to stay on track. And all it took was a tiiiiny bit of forethought — I mean, maybe this is a bad example because obviously I wasn’t going to just play pantry roulette when I knew I had a large group of people to feed, but you kind of get where I’m going with this, right?

And once I get the hang of planning the week out better, hopefully it will also help alleviate my automatic default setting of wanting to go out (or order in) whenever I don’t really know what I want to eat. The trick will, of course, be continually planning meals that are exciting and relatively culinarily challenging since I like to pretend like I’m on Top Chef every time I’m in the kitchen. That’s why I really loved meal boxes like Hello Fresh — the meals they sent were so interesting and everything I needed was already RIGHT THERE. Except that, too, fell victim to ingredients going bad in the fridge because I didn’t use them in time due to various other dinnertime commitments of one kind or another. Plus, it was just a little too expensive to maintain on the reg.

Aaaanyway, all this babbling has really just been to say that I’m going to try meal planning a little better from now on. So all you super organized folks, let me know the secrets to your success! Do you use a planner, do you have a whiteboard, are you putting your meals into Google Calendar… is there an app for that?

Be proud of me, guys. As Alexander Hamilton/Lin-Manuel Miranda says, “For the first time I’m thinking past tomorrow!” (Ohhhh yeah, I’m SUUUUPER Hamilton obsessed by the way) and genuinely trying to take a grown-up approach to this ish. Because, while dining out is an inevitability for me (even if work wasn’t a factor, I just love restaurants, man!), there is absolutely no excuse not to make the most of the time I do get to spend in my own kitchen, right?

Success, Failure, and Complications of the Past

Most of you reading this probably know that back in August 2010, I started this blog purely to help me with my weight loss. It was called, “Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!” and writing about my struggles, victories, failures, and successes eventually led me from 246 pounds to 186 pounds — a sixty pound weight loss.

Of course, as we all know, I did not maintain that weight loss. And I find myself nearly exactly at the same weight I was five and a half years ago — in fact, I had to lose 7 pounds just to get back to (almost) the same starting point. Needless to say, facing up to this fact has been a real challenge for me.

See, previously having succeeded in losing weight, I have all sorts of comparison photos that show the before vs. the “after.” Of course, now, having gained my weight back, my “current” is basically worse off than my original “before.” This, it goes without saying, is both a strange and supremely disheartening feeling. In past years, I spent not a small amount of time putting together collages and photo comparisons of myself before and after my weight loss. I wrote many, many posts all about how overjoyed I was not to be “that person” anymore… only to slowly become that person over the next couple of years.

Now, granted, I realize that I’m not really the exact same person. I’m older, wiser (?), and my hair has gotten way, way, way more fun. But you understand my point. The fact that I’ve already been through this once (and, if we’re being honest, it’s really been more like eleventy billion times, given how often I’ve started and stalled in my various weight loss attempts, but I digress…) means that I’ve got a lot of complicated feelings about going through it again.

Every victory feels tainted with the knowledge that I’m doing it over.

Every time I stop myself from taking seconds, or I decline ordering dessert, it reminds me that I’m just at the very beginning of this long, arduous process.

And it just feels like I’ve wasted so much time.

How do I celebrate my current and future successes when each one is just a reminder that I backslid so far in the first place? How do I look past what’s happened in my past?

I know in a cognitive sense that it’s dumb to dwell on this. What’s happened has happened, and the only way to go is forward. But knowing and feeling, I think we can all agree, are different things. And right now, this feels so joyless because I can’t block out the idea that I’m living my own straight-to-DVD sequel.

This is not to say that I’m discouraged enough to stop. It’s the contrary, really, I feel as though I have all the more to prove now. I just hope that as I go along, I’ll be able to reclaim some of the joy that comes with the smaller victories along the way. Because any way you dice it, staring down 40 or 60 or 80 or however many pounds one needs to lose… that’s a tough pill to swallow. And finding joy in the 5 pound losses and the non-scale victories and the little indicators of success was so crucial for me the first time around.

I guess there’s only one way to find out how I’m really going to be feeling over time — I need to give it time. After all, this is still so new. And yet, old. Haha, are you guys sick of me talking like this yet?

All right, I think I’ve blabbed on enough for one day. Those who know me, know that I deal with having a lot of feelings on any regular day, so throw in my currently complicated self-image, weight loss, and what can only be described as intense sugar withdrawal symptoms, and well, you get me.

But don’t worry, sunshiney, bubbly Gretchen will make a triumphant return before long, I’m sure of it. Just let this hot mess version work out a few more things first, eh?

 

The Shame & the Silence

It’s all too familiar a scenario. Days spent sitting in front of a computer, your typing fingers pretty much the only parts of your body receiving any kind of exercise. Exhaustion settles in from the mental and social battles you’ve fought as part of your job, even though physically you’ve accomplished very little. And due to that exhaustion, you’re ready to just toss something quick and easy (and bad for you) into your mouth so that you can decompress. And so your nights are spent in front of a TV, catching up on missed shows or Netflix queues, or laying back on the couch reading a book.

Unsurprisingly, the lack of movement, the diet of terrible and delicious food, the sedentary life you’ve groomed yourself into leads to the things you know they lead to. Your clothes start fitting tighter, some stop fitting altogether. You push them into the back of your closet to help you forget. You hate the photos that other people take of you. You untag yourself, you delete. You stop looking so closely at yourself in the mirror. You only concentrate on the things you still like, the things unaffected by what you’ve been doing to yourself: your eyes are still nice. You can still have fun with your hair. And hey, your shoes always fit.

Your mood shifts at the drop of the hat. Maybe it’s a reflection in a store window, a TV commercial, an accidental gaze down at your own body — whatever it is, it has the power to turn you from feeling pretty and put together to depressed and despondent.

But despite all this, the denial is still strong. You can put it out of your mind. You can ignore it. “I’m still fit,” you tell yourself, even though your heart rate shoots up from merely carrying a load of laundry upstairs. “I can still do things,” you argue, as if surviving a day at Disneyworld or being able to stand through a 3-hour event is an accomplishment. As if you’ll be 28-years-old forever.

Deep down, you know that things aren’t good. That you don’t think you look good, but that’s really not the biggest part of it. It’s that you don’t feel good. In your body or about your body. You know other people can tell. And the only reason your family isn’t saying anything is because they’ve already been down this path with you before. To their credit, it’s probably the smart thing to do. You don’t react well to criticism. You never have. You always had to do things your way.

Then, one day, after weeks and months and years of denial and disinterest and clever angles, the moment finally comes. You really have had enough. You know what this moment feels like, you’ve felt it before. You’re really ready to make a change, get back on the horse, start focusing on yourself again. You take a deep breath, and finally face what you’ve been avoiding for so very, very long: the scale.

You step on, you force yourself to open your eyes, and you look at the number on the floor in front of you.

Your shoulders fall. Your heart drops. You’ve failed.

This is me. This has been me, for longer than I like to admit. I pretty much stopped blogging about weight loss, claiming I’d moved on, that I was happy with myself as-is, no changes needed. Which, you know, I do believe in as a concept, but it never actually rang true for me. Because despite my declarations, I never really stopped thinking about my weight. I never stopped wondering, wishing, wanting. And every time I finally got my stuff together enough to actually do something about it, for some reason or another, I failed.

At first I talked about it. I talked about starting my weight loss all over again. I talked about how much harder it was and how much longer it was taking and how something just wasn’t clicking this time. I talked about wanting to lose weight for myself, and then to lose weight for my wedding, and… then I stopped talking about it. Because really, I was just saying the same things over and over again. And eventually, not talking about it meant I could pretend not to think about it. Which led me right back to the beginning.

So the next time I tried, things were worse. The number was higher. The stakes were higher.  And I was all the more ashamed. “I’ll just start on my own,” I’d think. “I’ll get back to where I was and then I’ll start blogging about it again, so they don’t know.” As if they didn’t already know.

Except I never got to that point. Because the shame led me to silence and the silence meant I wasn’t reaching out for the support that I required to succeed. That was the cycle.

I should have known better, of course. I should have known that it’s better for me to talk openly about my failings, to share my experience, and to have your support, than to keep it all to myself. I should have known that people will talk and speculate anyway, and that, I mean, hello, folks aren’t blind. I have a visible job and live my life out loud. People aren’t stupid. Hiding photos is one thing, but you can’t prevent people from being able to see you in real life.

But none of it was ever really enough to push me back into the light. Whether it was just because of my supreme laziness or the shame I felt in admitting what was going on to myself — let alone to other people, I just let things continue to worsen. And worsen they did, until I found myself at the exact point where I am now: where I only wear a fraction of my closet because the rest of it either doesn’t fit or doesn’t flatter anymore. Where I delete more pictures than not because I’m so embarrassed by the way that I look. Where I just avoid looking.

And where, when I finally did take that step onto the scale, I found myself looking at a number I’ve never seen before: 254 pounds.

Yep, almost 10 pounds higher than my previous “highest” weight.

The shame hit me pretty hard then, as you can imagine. Enough to make me want to clam up and crawl back into a hole. But I know that’s not the way to move past this. I can’t be silent anymore, and I don’t want to do this alone anymore. There’s nothing I can do about it now except move forward. I can’t turn back time. I can’t take it back. And, as I’ve learned the hard way, I can’t do this in secret. I can’t hide myself away until I’ve lost enough weight that I deem it “okay” to start sharing again. I tried. I failed. It got worse.

So here I am, singing that same old song about being ready to start again. All I can say is that it really does feel different. Or rather, it feels the same — i t feels like the first time, when everything came together in just the right way and just the right time to make me actually want to make a real change.

I admit, I’ve actually started already. Still ashamed by the number I saw, I waited until I could say I’ve already accomplished at least something before I was even brave enough to post this. I know that makes pretty much everything I just said pretty hypocritical, but hey, I’m only human. I’m down 7 pounds since that initial weigh-in, which still means that, at 247 pounds, I’ve still got a long ways to go.

But I’m doing it. No more hiding from the light. No more silence. I know many of you have been down this road with me so many times before that you probably can’t help but roll your eyes. I don’t blame you. Because I know that me saying, “It feels different this time! But also kind of the same!” is probably not as reassuring to you as it is to me. But, rest assured, I am reassured. I want this, I want health, I want to feel good, I want to look good. I want to play longer with my nieces and walk longer with my dogs and I just want to do more. Be more. Live more.

And I have nowhere to go but on.


And now, on a completely unrelated, and much less serious note, since, you know, I can only take so much austerity at a time…

Happy 12th birthday, Harry! <3

28 Years Young

So, I know it’s been a minute since I’ve been back in these parts, and I don’t even have a single excuse (other than, well, y’know, life). I truly, honestly, genuinely meant to get back to blogging much sooner than this, what with all the wedding DIY projects I want to share, various trips I’ve taken, and additional hair colors I’ve gone through.

So I apologize for taking so long to get back to my blogging roots. But today I make my triumphant return to the interwebs and we begin again!

First off, some updates:

  • I chopped off my hair basically the minute I returned from my honeymoon, and have proceeded to dye it varying shades of purple and also shave designs into the back of my head. I’m kind of loving it.

  • I got a new tattoo about a month ago. It’s a vial of Felix Felicis, the liquid luck potion from Harry Potter, and I think it’s pretty rad. I got it done at Patriots Tattoo in Fairfax.

  • Sean’s grandfather sadly passed away at the end of February, so we took a quick trip down to San Antonio to be with his family. We are so grateful that he was able to be at the wedding and that we got as much time with him as we did. <3

  • We had our annual Yelp regional conference a few weeks ago, which not only gave me the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by my coworkers (our team spans from PA to NC), but also to bust out my trusty Pikachu onesie. (#bestjobever)

  • My niece/goddaughter Mia also turned 3 at the end of March! Unghhhh, look how little she used to be…

  • And finally, speaking of birthdays…

Today is mine! Huzzah! I am 28 years young today which means it’s time to update my bio and start thinking about what to put on my before-I-turn-30 bucket list, heh. Fun fact: I don’t know if I’ve already shared this, but Sean’s mom and I actually have the same birthday! So did he luck out or what? He only has to remember the one date for both of us! 😉

I spent this past weekend in Macon, GA with my family for my baby niece Kira’s baptism, but we also snuck in an early birthday celebration while we were all together. We went to Dovetail, this awesome hyper-local farm-to-table concept — my kinda place.

I know I probably say this every year, but I think that 28 is shaping up to be my best year yet! I mean, I’ve already got a blizzard wedding under my belt, so pretty much everything in life seems easy breezy in comparison. I’m still loving my kickass job with Yelp, I’ve got a rad family, a home into which I can pour all my post-wedding extracurricular energy (a post on my obsession with my new bar cart is forthcoming), and my awesome grumpy old man pups (plus I basically timeshare my brother’s dog Pixel).

And as a perfect birthday present, I just received my wedding video! So please, feast your eyes on the wonderful video that the wonderful Doug Stanford created, which really showcases just how awesome and crazy and sentimental and special our wedding day really was.

Those last shots at the end are my favorite. 🙂

With that, I leave you for now — with the promise that much more is to come soon. (Although, I realize that my promises mean essentially nothing to you, since I’ve been promising to blog more for like, a year. Hahahaha…haha…ha.) I fly back to DC tonight (still in Macon for the day), so I’ll catch you on the flip!

Foxes in Paradise & A Blizzard Wedding

Howdy folks! I’m back from my honeymoon, well-rested, relaxed (well, sort of), and — by some miracle! — actually a little bit tan! Sean and I escaped the 2 – 3 feet of show that Winter Storm Jonas dumped on the DC Metro area and spent 3 days traipsing around the Florida Keys, a day in Miami, and then 7 days aboard the Norwegian Escape!


We spent some time with Hemingway’s cats in Key West (they have thumbs!), ate lots of delicious seafood all throughout Florida, drank LOTS o’ drinks (exhibit A below), got some time in the sun, and just spent time enjoying being husband and wife (which is still SO weird to say, not gonna lie.)


The Norwegian Escape is a brand new cruise ship that sailed to St. Thomas, Tortola, and Nassau. I’d never cruised on Norwegian before, but I found a really great deal and what with it being a shiny new ship, I’m glad we gave it a try!


It was a lot of fun — the boat was definitely constructed with families in mind, so it had waterslides, a ropes course, and some really great shows. All of which I took full advantage of, heh. The boat had a capacity of over FOUR THOUSAND passengers (crazy!), plus something like 1,700 staff, but it definitely never felt like there were that many people on board. Thank goodness.


Overall I had a really great time: our room was nice, the excursions were good, the staff was friendly, and the ship was beautiful! We went snorkeling and beach-dwelling in St. Thomas & Tortola, we got to spend a lot of time in the sun, and the food was pretty good on the ship.


However, there were definitely a few things I didn’t really like — when I booked, the casino on board was supposed to be smoke-free (hooray!), but apparently NCL changed their minds at some point and it definitely was NOT. And because of the casino’s location right in the center of the main Atrium area, three whole levels of the ship basically smelled like smoke all the time. Which especially sucked, ’cause it was one of the most beautiful parts of the ship!


Also, one of the restaurants on board the ship was supposed to be included as a complimentary option, but before our sailing, they changed it to be priced a la carte. Which I don’t really care that much about since there were plenty of free options on board, but it just seems so sketchy for a huge company to constantly be going back and forth and changing their minds. If I had my druthers, I’d probably still prefer to cruise Celebrity, but who knows? Maybe I just need to take a few more cruises to really decide. 😉

Now, since Winter Storm Jonas decided to crash our wedding and  we got hit with what some dubbed the Blizzard of the Century (still a little early in this century to make that call, in my opinion, but whatever), I feel pretty confident in saying that we earned our honeymoon.

Especially considering the state of things when we left. Feet of snow, unplowed neighborhoods (ours didn’t get touched ’til Monday!), slick roads. Oy. I had to walk half a mile in the snow from the closest cleared road just to be able to get to the house to pack for our honeymoon!


But, let’s be real, it’s kind of a miracle that Sean and I were still able to get married at all — never mind the fact that it was a legitimately awesome party and aside from the whole missing half our guests thing, it couldn’t have been more wonderful.

See, the week before Winter Storm Jonas hit the Eastern seaboard, most people were making emergency trips to Trader Joe’s, purchasing extra snow shovels from Home Depot, and waiting in line to fill up their gas tanks. Me? I was preparing to get married.

Yep, out of all the days in winter that could have been hit with a mega-blizzard, OF COURSE it was on my wedding. As my uncle, who officiated our wedding, so eloquently quoted, “If you want to make God laugh, make plans.

Our venue, the morning of the wedding.
Now, I chose a January wedding date in the first place, so I can’t really say that I wasn’t prepared for a snowy wedding day. I mean, c’mon, I had the boots, I had the faux fur coat… I just wasn’t prepared for THAT MUCH snow. But even with #Snowzilla crashing the wedding, I knew, without a doubt, that I wanted to get married to my love if at all humanly possible.


Canceling/postponing didn’t really feel like an option, since by the time the storm was looking like it was definitely happening and that it would be as bad as folks were saying, many of our family members had already arrived in town. Some of our vendors had already canceled on us, but our venue, caterer, coordinator, photographer, and videographer never did (because they’re the BEST), so we figured at the very least, there would be some great food at a beautiful spot in Old Town Alexandria, and we’d be able to capture the experience with the folks who were able to make it.

For the most part, we just proceeded as if there wasn’t a world-ending blizzard about to rain (well, snow) on my parade. We got our manis + pedis, we worked on the flowers (well, my amazing super-bridesmaid Holly did most of the flower arranging while I cried quietly in the corner), and we just tried to make the best out of what was turning into an increasingly more insane situation.

When we realized just how bad the storm was looking, my family hastily worked to book ourselves and the wedding party at the Hilton Old Town Alexandria, located just half a mile from our venue for the weekend. So on Friday, just before the snow unleashed itself upon the greater DC area, we all packed up and headed into Alexandria.

Thankfully, many of our family members were already staying at either the same hotel or one just across the street, and the rest of my extended family members immediately jumped on rearranging their travel plans, rebooking flights that got canceled and driving many hours so they could beat the storm. It was incredible — almost every single member of my family who had RSVP’d yes was able to be at the wedding, and I was so, so touched.

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So Friday evening we headed over to the Memorial for our wedding rehearsal — the snow was already coming down pretty hard at this point — and were met by a WUS9 reporter who wanted to do a story on our wedding! So that was fun, and you can check out the video here, hehe.

Friday night was our rehearsal dinner, which — again, thankfully — Sean’s parents were hosting at the very same hotel. So there were no major worries there, thank goodness! We had a traditional Chinese tea ceremony as part of the festivities, ate lots of food, drank, and all had a damn good time because, hey, it’s not like any of us were going anywhere that night!

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It was kind of a blessing in disguise, really, because I have some really awesome friends who changed their plans and hung out with us a day early so they wouldn’t miss the wedding, so I got to spend extra time with them. That was kind of a theme throughout the entire weekend, in fact: blessings in disguise. People really reveal themselves during a crisis, and I am so fortunate to be surrounded with people who sacrificed their weekends, changed their plans, and never complained for a second that I was forcing them to deal with a blizzard.

Right, so, Saturday. The Wedding Day.

Obviously, things didn’t run quite as smoothly as they might have sans-blizzard, but as you already know, all’s well that ends well. Even though everything went basically as smooth as it could have, especially given the circumstances, I spent a lot of the morning pretty stressed out because I kept thinking that worse things were going to happen. At this point, our hair & makeup folks had already canceled on us, and the DJ wasn’t able to make it either, but I think I was half-expecting for the caterer to call and say they couldn’t get there, or for the venue to call and say they were shutting down. We put up our photographer, videographer, and coordinator in the hotel with us, so that was comforting, but without the caterer and without the venue, things would have been a very different situation, so I was still anxious.

But of course, I had no real reason to be! Aside from our timeline getting a little bit skewed because we all had to do our own hair & makeup, and us having to change our first look from outdoors to indoors because, well, obviously, things went relatively smoothly. Remember that thing I said about how certain people reveal themselves to be absolutely amazing in a crisis? Well, I’ve got a lot of those people in my life.

When we decided to move our entire encampment to Alexandria on Friday, my parents’ next-door-neighbors amazingly agreed to look after all five of our family’s dogs (yes, FIVE). They even ended up shoveling my parents’ walk AND shoveling out some of the back yard for the boys. I was incredulous. When I forgot one of my makeup bags, my friend Megan walked ten blocks IN A BLIZZARD to Walgreens to pick up supplies so that I could do my own makeup.

My wunder-bridesmaid Holly stepped in — after already spending the night before making boutonnieres — to do my hair on the day of the wedding, and it looked amazing. My friend Breanne helped the rest of my bridesmaids with their hair + makeup. And the groomsmen stepped in to create a wedding playlist when we found out that the DJ wasn’t going to make it.

Originally, I’d had all kinds of grand plans to be able to set up a lot of the decor and stuff myself, because I had a very specific vision of how I wanted everything to look. I wanted to provide examples of the centerpieces and stuff, because, you know, I’m a crazy person. Well, with having to move everyone over to the Hilton and do the rehearsal and not collapse into a pile of tears and everything, that obviously didn’t happen. But, again, it didn’t matter because my coordinator Caitlin and her assistant executed every detail wonderfully.

They spent extra time over at the Memorial ensuring things were all set up, coordinating with the vendors, coordinating with my bridesmaids, and I never knew any of it was even going on. She’s good, folks. She is good.

After we were (finally) ready, I went down to the hotel lobby to do my first look with Sean. Then we headed over to the Memorial nice and early to take more photos. Originally our plan was to go around Old Town Alexandria to take photos but, of course, that was one of many plans that had to change. Which was not a big deal, as it turned out, because the wind and snow at this point was so intense, it was like you were being shot with tiny little icicles all over your body. Brrrr. This shot that Sean’s brother captured sums it up pretty well:


I will tell you, I think the thing that provided me with the biggest sense of relief that entire day was just physically GETTING to our wedding venue. Until I actually walked through that door, I felt like there was still a chance that this wasn’t going to happen. And since I ran into another bride in the lobby of the hotel whose venue had cancelled on her, it wasn’t until I was on-site, with my groom, my officiants, my parents, my wedding party, and my awesome vendors, that I really knew, 100%, that this was happening.

Sean’s brother also captured this moment of joyful sobbing that happened when I found out that my friend Chad had literally walked 2 miles to play our ceremony music. Hey, 1/4 of a string quartet is a pretty good turnout when there’s a blizzard going on outside!

Unfortunately the weather outside was too severe at this point to do any more photos outside (Sean and I tried, haha), so took some wedding party photos and family photos indoors while folks were arriving. Before we knew it, it was time to start the show! And amazingly, we still started the ceremony almost exactly on time!

Our wedding ceremony was filled with love and joy — we followed a traditional Episcopalian liturgy, but added a few personal touches, including exchanging some personal vows. Sean’s vows were amazing, and unshockingly, I basically cried my way through the entire ceremony.

And when all was said and done, we were MARRIED! Mr. & Mrs. Fox, at your service!

TIME TO BOOGIE!!!!!

We had a pretty traditional wedding setup — with the ceremony, then cocktail hour, then dinner, dancing, and debauchery.

We may have had half the amount of people, but they partied twice as hard! Almost all the guests who couldn’t make it were locally-based. With the Metro shut down Friday night, I think the amount of snow was just too intense for people to even get out of their neighborhoods. So a HUMONGOUS MOUNTAIN of bonus points goes Anne & Matt and Lara & Jim who win the Ultimate Grand Prize as our only friends who made it to the wedding despite not staying at the hotel the night before. They’re crazy. I love them. 

Photos stolen from Anne :)
It was a ridiculously good time. DJ Ben (my bro) & DJ Brett (Sean’s best man) kept the tunes spinning and folks were gettin’ down on the dance floor, and it was a pretty amazing night.

After Sean and I had finished eating, we slipped away to take a few more photos and shoot some video together, and when we came back it was party time!


Mia was the real star of this wedding, let’s be honest. 😉

My friend Megan brought her sweet Fuji Film Instamax camera (basically an even more awesome Polaroid), and captured some great shots throughout the day too.

Obviously, this is really just a brief overview of everything that went on throughout our wedding weekend, and there’s so much more to dive into, buuuuuut this post has already been ridiculously long, haha. So prepare yourself for more posts to come, as I’ve got lots of details to show you, stories to tell, and there are lots more photos to come from my awesome photographer, too. And I can’t WAIT to see my wedding video! There’s still so much to relive from this awesome, momentous, historic, wonderful, wonderful day.

Lovelovelove,

Gretchen Fox <3