A year ago today, a blizzard had descended upon the mid-Atlantic region. Snowfalls of up to (and beyond) 30-inches were forecasted. People were hunkering down in their homes, ready to tough it out for the long haul.
Reflecting back on that day, a year later, aside from the fact that I’m still amazed that my wedding actually happened at all, what sticks out to me is basically this:
Of course I got married in a blizzard.
I mean, if it was going to be anyone, of course it was going to be me. I just had to be that little bit extra, don’t you know? Besides, with my penchant for overthinking, people-pleasing, and general anxiety, I think that throwing a blizzard at me on one of the already-most-stressful days of my relatively young life was probably a pretty smart choice. It really helped me put things in perspective.
After all, I got married in the midst of the biggest blizzard to hit the DC area in a century, and everything still turned out okay. And here we are, exactly one year later, still standing strong.
Not to brag, but I think Sean and I kind of crushed this whole first year of marriage thing. I’ve heard it said that the first year of marriage is the hardest, which — if true — must mean that he and I are in for a pretty smooth ride! Sure, we’ve had our verbal tussles, great moments and less great ones, and for the life of me I still don’t understand what is so hard about putting your dirty clothes IN the hamper instead of right next to it, but this past year has still, without a doubt, been the best one yet.
I can’t wait to see what this coming year — and then the fifty after that — bring as well. The adventure has still just begun!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
On Saturday, January 23rd, 2016, the entire greater metropolitan Washington DC area was buried under multiple feet of snow. Snowzilla blew in, and it blew in HARD. So what did I do?
I got married, of course!
What, you think little things like near-hurricane force winds, 20 – 30 inches of snow, and sub-freezing temperatures were gonna stop me from marrying the love of my life?
Was it perfect? Was it the wedding I’ve dreamt of since forever? Did it go off without a hitch?
Okay, I mean, sure, I didn’t PLAN for it to snow like the world was ending, adjustments had to be made, and alternate plans had to be put into effect. But it was an absolutely, undoubtedly, rip-roaringly magical night. Every tear I cried that entire day (and you guys know I cry A LOT) was a happy tear. And I’m gonna go ahead and throw it out there that it ended up being all the more memorable due to the, ahem, circumstances. 😉
Alas, not all of our guests were able to join us, of course, but even with Winter Storm Jonas crashing the wedding, over half of my guests moved Heaven and Hell and mountains of snow to be able to attend. I fully recognize how extraordinarily lucky I am.
I am so incredibly blessed to have family and friends who changed their plans, made contingencies, pitched in, and helped pull off an absolutely spectacular night. My dad & mom, siblings, bridesmaids, and basically every person I came across did more than I ever could have asked to ensure Sean and I were still able to get hitched, and I am eternally grateful.
A lot of people put in a lot of extra work to make this day happen, and special props go to some of the most absolutely incredible vendors in the entire DMV. These guys got me through this most epic of days and honestly, I’m so lucky to have found them:
Jon Fleming Photography, for not only camping out with us during the storm, but for turning around these amazing sneak peek photos faster than I could even blink!
Classic Occasions by Caitlin, for going ABOVE & BEYOND in every possible way. Forget day-of coordinator, or even week- or month-of coordinator. Caitlin was my salvation. This needs a much longer post to explain, and it’ll get one, but just know that she is EVERYTHING.
Main Event Caterers, for not only showing up to serve bomb ass drinks and delicious food, but for not even batting an eye when I said the show was going on, blizzard or nah.
Chad Schwartz of Triforce Quartet for literally walking 2 miles (!!) in the raging snow to represent the other three members of his string quartet and give me the ceremony music of my dreams.
And the absolutely awesome staff at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, who spent Friday night and all of Saturday plowing and shoveling and sweeping snow to ensure my wedding would actually happen. Roger & Kevin — you guys were our guardian angels!
I promise I will go into detail on how exactly we managed to pull off a wedding in the middle of a blizzard in a later post (let’s be honest, it’ll probably take a couple of posts, hahaha), but seeing as how I’ve got a honeymoon to prepare for (we leave for the Florida Keys and a Caribbean cruise tomorrow!), for now, I’ll just say this:
Yep, we’re 10 days away from The Big Day. My face is pretty much permanently set in one of the two following expressions:
I’ve happily been able to check off more items off my to-do list, while, of course rendering that act completely pointless since I’ve been simultaneously adding new tasks as I go, hahahaha. But, hey, we are literally in the home stretch, which means that really, even if the absolutely nothing else gets done at this point, in the end, I’m still gettin’ hitched (well, except for that mildly important Marriage License line item, I guess.)
Plus, even though I’m an emotional mess who cries a bare minimum of twice a day (yesterday’s were 1. while reading my vows aloud, 2. while sitting in Red Lobster with my family just thinking about how I’m getting married in ten days), I have lots of awesome things to get excited for now, too!
I’m hosting a Yelp Elite Event on Thursday (my last as “Gretchen P.” — at my next event, I’ll be “Gretchen F.”!), and my sister and brother-in-law are able to attend that so it should be a lot of fun. Plus, my bachelorette party is on Saturday (wooooo!) AND my friend & bridesmaid Jessica is also coming back from Korea that same day! She’s such a trooper for not only flying in overnight, but also for planning on coming out to all the bachelorette activities, even though I would 100% understand if she couldn’t rally.
My bridesmaids are totally spoiling me for my bachelorette party — I mean, based on what I’ve been told, it’s more like an entire bachelorette day! I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it… provided I survive the nighttime activities, ahahaha.
All right, so just for consistency’s sake, here’s the current state of the infamous List:
And, of course, it continues to grow ever longer with a combination of things I literally did not even think about prior to having my vendors ask about them (I need to pick a song to cut the cake to?), things that I won’t be able to do until literally those final few days before the wedding, and last-minute ideas that I really don’t need but am obviously going to do anyway because, hello, I’m Gretchen (I’m lookin’ at you, flip flop basket!).
Pick Reception Music — First Dance: ☑ Father/Daughter :☑ Mother/Son: ☐ Bridal Party Entrance: ☐ Bride & Groom Entrance: ☑ Anniversary Dance: ☐ Cake Cutting: ☐
Reserve U-Haul for Transporting Alcohol, Flowers, and Decorations: ☑
Print Travel Docs for Honeymoon: ☐
Pack for Honeymoon: ☐
Flip Flop Basket: ☐
Print Seating Chart: ☐
Create Print-Out for Guestbook: ☐ (I’m using a Chinese silk cloth as my guestbook, as is tradition in my family, and want to print out a little explanation of the significance for guests.)
Make Sure Bridesmaid Dresses Fit: ☐ (We did Rent the Runway, so cross your fingers for us!)
Prep All Wedding Flowers: ☐ (We pick them up Thursday morning from the wholesaler)
Make Bouquets & Boutonnieres: ☐
I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, but don’t worry, if I did I’m sure I’ll have some kind of cryptic stress dream about it — In Tuesday night’s wedding-related dream I was evidently getting married on a Thursday afternoon, the makeup + hair people didn’t show up, and my bridesmaids kept leaving me alone to go run personal errands.
I also have plans to implement a strict no-dairy diet next week (normally I just kind of force myself to live with the effects of my lactose intolerance, but I’m not taking any bloaty/phlegmy/uncomfortable chances for my wedding), and really need to up, up, up my water intake. The weather has taken a serious turn to the cold and dry lately, and I want to be well-hydrated so I can be all dewy and glowy and crap.
Hooookay, anyway, yet again, I make no promises to be back with another update before the big day, but I have a feeling I’ll want to recap my bachelorette festivities with you guys (not to mention to get the personal satisfaction out of showing off a (hopefully) fully checked-off list) so I’ll see you lataaaaa!