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

Hours of Happy

Hip, hip, huzzah! Our Monthly DC Blogger Meetup #2 happened last night and was a lot of fun!

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We met up at Front Page in Dupont Circle for some drinks and good times. I never really “got” happy hour before, but I think I do now. It really puts a positive spin back on your day!

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Stephanie and Allison chatting it up.

A few of the bloggers there are also going to be at the Healthy Living Summit this weekend (leaving tomorrow morning for it! Ahh!) so it was nice to have a pre-introduction introduction, so to speak.

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Sarah, Nicole, Claire, Erin, Stephanie, and Allison. Whee!

I actually got (shock!) wine:

Gris

And along with my crisp pinot gris (I say as if I haven’t been repulsed by wine for 22 of the past 23 years), I had some obviously very, very healthy nosh:

Les Pommes Frites.
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BAHAHAHA.

Fried food is still delicious, I don’t care what you say. And of course I shared! The rest of my day was pretty balanced anyway to allow for some luxury anyway — check my long, LONG overdue Daily Eats post if you don’t believe me!

Real Nutrition. :)
Claire was very supportive of my choices, hehe.

So after my first official DC happy hour, I think I can say that it was mucho enjoyed…o. If anybody ever wants to grab a drink in the city after work, just let me know! (See? I can be a city girl. Just call me Carrie Bradshaw.)

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I love her.

Remember, these meetups are becoming a standing monthly occurrence, so if you’re ever interested in being put on the email list just holler at me!

The rest of today will be dedicated to preparing for HLS and the trip up to Philly. I suspect there may be more than one soft pretzels consumed this weekend…

Today’s the last day to enter for a chance to win TWO bags of Adora chocolates. Giveaway winner will be randomly drawn tomorrow morning!

Do you happy hour? Do you sad hour?

Daily Eats – 8/17/11

Yes! Daily Eats makes a triumphant return! Just in time for What I Ate Wednesday. 🙂

Breakfast

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Leftover bits of apple walnut bread

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Apple

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Two mandarin oranges

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Handful of cereal mix: Cinnamon Puffins and Fiber One

Lunch

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Eggplant Lasagna

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A few forkfuls of tuna salad mixed with black beans. Yes, I realize this picture looks kind of gross, but it’s actually a tasty combo.

Snack

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Oops! Someone found the office candy jar…

Dinner

Gris
Pinot Gris x2

Les Pommes Frites.
Garlic-Parmesan French Fries

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Fried Calimari

Yup. Fried crap for dinner. Super healthy. 😉 Don’t worry, I didn’t eat it *all* myself! And it was totally worth it. It was just some nosh from the DC blogger meetup at Front Page tonight, and you’ll get the full report tomorrow. Nighty night!

Seasons 52 (Weigh-in)

Happy Monday, friends! Today marks my official first day at my new job in the big citaaaay (as opposed to my previous cozy Northern Virginian gig) so think good thoughts for me! I’m admittedly nervous about starting a new job, but luckily I finished up my week of fake unemployment with a bang: going out to dinner for an early celebration of my 1-year blogiversary! (The actual annivesary of my blog is tomorrow! Eeee!) Naturally, this called for getting dolled up and forcing Steve to be my personal photographer:

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Oh, and some robot. Duh.

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How did we celebrate? Why, dinner with Steve and the fam at Seasons 52, of course!

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Seasons 52 is an expanding restaurant chain that serves upscale Americana grill food and every item on their menu is under 475 calories. I can verify that it was delicious, and it was verified by our waiter that they don’t ever cook with butter in the restaurant! A pretty good place to go to for my preemptive blogiversary celebration, eh?

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I started off the night with a coconut strawberry “skinny” martini, made with strawberry-infused vodka, coconut water, and agave.

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Just my kinda drink!

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Hehe.

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We got a ton of various appetizers for the table to share, too: tuna-avocado rolls, chipotle shrimp and garlic chicken flatbreads, and a goat cheese ravioli thing that my sister got – delish!

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And I also got an incredible arugula salad with goat cheese, pistachios (!!) and golden beets. Where can I find golden beets? I feel like I’ve never seen them in the grocery store but I looooove them.

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For my main entree, I got caramelized sea scallops with asparagus and pearl pasta. Yum-o.

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And dessert was the best part! Seasons 52 claims to have originated the “shot glass desserts” and I would believe it — they were delicious!

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They had a ton of flavors — red velvet cake, mocha macchiato, rocky road, blueberry cheesecake, and more! Mine?

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Key lime pie, of course! I got to sample everyone else’s too, but mine was definitely a winner. Just a small bite of dessert at the end of a (huge) great meal. Parfait!

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Thanks for dinner, Mom and Dad!

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It was a great night, with great company, and even helped me momentarily forget how nervous I am about starting my new job. It’s always so nice to get the whole family together (thanks for playing the role of family photographer, Dan!)

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Even if it was just for us to be photobombed by my boyfriend. Womp.

And now, alas, can’t let you all go without the stats for the day, can I?

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Week’s Weight: 189.6 lbs
This Week’s Weight: 189.9 lbs
This Week’s Loss: +0.3 lbs

Hoo boy. Weeeeeell, I can’t really say I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t exactly do, uh, “well” over 4 days of furloughed laziness. But considering the pizza consumption and the, uh 2 times I exercised this past week, it’s actually not as bad as I was expecting. I know that probably sounds bad but… yeah. I mean, in spite of a gain, I am just SO thankful not to see 190-something back on the scale? I know, it’s a VERY small margin, and by the time I have had breakfast I’m sure I’ll have broken the barrier again. But, hey. It’s at least keeping me to my personal goal of never seeing 190 back on the scale again, and for now, I’ll take it. A new week, a new job, renewed motivation!

As their part of their blogiversary present to me, my parents gave me a “coupon” to cash in for a shopping extravaganza with my mom and sister! Amazing, right?? I feel that this is the motivation that will help me to push through these last 20 – 25 pounds. Because, regardless of how vain it sounds, I really, really, REALLY want to be able to spend my “coupon” on size 10 clothing. Plus there’s just that whole 5 miler thing coming up RAPIDLY at the end of September I’m supposed to be running (and yesterday morning’s lousy 1.2 miles with my sissypoo was a harsh reality check.) C’mon, Gretchen, you can do it!

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Bring. It. On.