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Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Trip Home

You'll have to excuse the late (or lack of) posting, I have not been feeling well at all this week. I'm not sure if I have a sinus infection or what, but I haven't had a voice since Saturday night...not fun!

Anyway, I had a really nice trip home. The weather was chilly but thankfully no snow, and I was able to spend some time with friends and family.

Wednesday we went on a wine-tasting day trip. We started with Three Brothers Winery & Estates which combines three wineries and a brewery all on one property. You are given a trail map and complete a tasting at each stop. They all have very interesting/unique themes which made it even more fun!

The first stop was just your average winery... the second stop was....well...not : )

They have a barbecue stand and a stage for live music outside (when it's warm out), even the names of the wine were pretty unusual...

The third stop was the War-Horse brewery, also very cool....

The fourth stop was a boutique-themed winery for their sister. It wasn't as outrageously decorated as the others so I didn't take any photos.

After Three Brothers, we went to our last stop Wagner Vineyards which was very pretty, and the wine was tasty too!

 My beautiful mom : )

We found these guys outside...

We missed most of the leaves changing, but you can imagine how gorgeous it is when they are fire-engine red!

Thursday was a tough day for us all but it was nice to be together (minus my sister Renea who unfortunately got stuck working this weekend). We tried to just stay busy and keep it positive. I know my dad was on all of our minds that day...and every day for that matter.

We had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Georgio's Village Cafe then went to the casino for a little bit, where my sister Mel, Mom, and I all ended up losing but Brad won $10 (can you tell we're high rollers) ? That night we kept things relaxed and got take-out and played Scattergories at my sister's house.

Friday we had a huge brunch at Turning Stone, which was delicious and very filling. This is actually a weekly dance-brunch that my mom goes to. The crowd is definitely a bit older, but my Sister Mel, Niece Victoria, and Mom had a good time dancing...this photo cracks me up!

After we went to the (MOST) Science museum in Syracuse which was really fun. I went as a kid but this was my first time returning as an adult. They had a lot of different exhibits but our favorite was the Dinosaurs... 

Saturday was the big day Angela and Steve got married! My mom snapped this photo of us before we left the house...

They had a noon wedding at Our Lady of Lourdes Church and a reception that evening at Greystone Castle. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to charge my camera and was only able to take a couple photos at the ceremony, but I did take plenty at the reception

The bride was gorgeous... 

They also did a family dance to You Make Me Smile in honor of their daughter who had her second open-heart surgery a year prior... tears! 

I love the photo of Ang kissing her daughter, so precious!

Angela danced with her Dad and Steve with his Mom....

It was a beautiful wedding, and we had such a good time at the reception! An extra-special thanks to my wonderful Sister Mel who was our driver for the evening : )

 Sunday afternoon we met my friend Laura and her family out for a late lunch before we flew out. I didn't get to spend a ton of time with her, but it was great catching up and her two little-ones are just the cutest!

Trips like these always go by way too fast but it goes without saying that we had a wonderful trip! There's no place like home : )

Monday, October 20, 2014

Enagagements, Anniversaries, and Ready for Home!

Last Thursday we were invited to attend the surprise engagement of our friend's Tom and Erin. Tom proposed after dinner at a park and then coaxed his fiancée into the nearby Neighborhood Pub where all of their friends and family were waiting to celebrate. She explained that he literally asked about a minute prior to walking in so her reaction was amazing; tears, laughs, a priceless look of shock (in a good way)! Tom did a great job of planning everything...and an equally great job picking out a gorgeous ring ; ) We are so happy for them!

Brad and I celebrated our first anniversary this weekend. We went out for a delicious steak dinner and then exchanged the traditional first-year paper gifts. Brad surprised me with orchestra-level seats to my absolute favorite show, Phantom of the Opera! I've seen it many times, read the original novel by Gaston Leroux, and can even play some of Andrew Lloyd Webber's music on the piano....needless to say I am super excited!

For his gift,  I put together 12 envelopes, one for each month, that contain "Brad" themed dates. I won't go into too much detail about what the dates are because the idea is for him to open one each month and be surprised : )

I am going to be taking a break from blogging this week as we are flying to NY tomorrow. It's been a year since I have been home, which is absolutely crazy to think about as I have never been away this long. I can't begin to explain how much I miss my friends and family, and am looking forward to soaking in every moment with them!

It's going to be a busy and emotional week. Thursday is the year anniversary of my dad's passing. I am so thankful that we will be together on this day, and hope to keep the focus on celebrating his life together.

Saturday I will be a guest at one of my dearest friend's wedding. Angela and Steve will be married a year to the date of their daughter Makaila's Open Heart Surgery; it has been an incredibly difficult journey for them but what a beautiful way to celebrate their health and happiness as a family!

 I also get to meet (and love on) Stacey and Jon's baby boy Jack for the first time. She had just found out she was expecting right around the time of my wedding, and now he is already almost 5 months old!

I look forward to sharing many new happy memories with you when I get back : ) 

Thursday, October 16, 2014


This week marks our one-year anniversary of marriage. This has been a difficult year for us, but we have grown stronger and more united than before. Some have asked if I still planned to celebrate my anniversary since it's so closely associated with my dad's passing. It does feel unnatural to be celebrating this week. It's a struggle to handle this mix of feelings, and it's true my wedding will always be bittersweet. I have been thinking about this a lot; and ultimately this day was made even more special in that these are my last moments and memories I have with my dad. I am so thankful we had that time together as a family. When my dad passed he knew he was loved immensely and his heart was filled with joy.

 I've gone back and forth with whether or not I wanted to write this post. I finally compiled all of my photos and seeing the smiles and happiness, I had my answer. I thought what better time then on my first anniversary to share them with you...

Our Wedding Weekend

 We had our destination wedding in Tulum, Mexico at the Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa. It was in The Riviera Maya a  year prior that Brad first mentioned that he wanted to marry me. We had the best time on that trip and were so excited to get married in paradise...

We used Vista Print for invitations, place cards, menus, and personalized stickers for our cake boxes. Having the finest stationary wasn't super important to me, but I wanted them to look nice. Brad's brother Jeff did our calligraphy as his gift to us; it was a special touch!

Friday Night Cocktail Hour

Instead of a rehearsal, we planned a welcome cocktail hour for our 21 guests to get to know each other. We gave out destination wedding survival-kits with things like hand-sanitizer, Tylenol, and sunscreen just in case they forgot something essential. This was my only real DIY project...because we won't talk about the botched unity candle experiment! I also had guests sign this really fun book I had made by Shutterfly with all of our engagement photos.


Wedding Day

The morning of the wedding I had breakfast with friends and family. My friends from NY  gave me a  cookbook  they made with their family recipes in it. I keep it on my coffee table; such a personal and sweet gift . 

After breakfast my dad and I rehearsed our father-daughter dance. While we didn't have much time to practice, it really came out beautifully in no small part due to my dad ; )

 That afternoon I had my hair and makeup done at the spa. I had lots of inspiration pictures and was really nervous but everything came out great. It was a really nice morning and I was happy to have my friends and family by my side. Brad spent the day with his parents. The photographer did a little mini session with us individually but we decided not to do a first-look.  

My dress was from Allure Bridals  and I had my shoes custom made from Etsy. My jewelry was a family heirloom. I wore a necklace (though I made it into a bracelet), that is passed down to the youngest daughter in my family. My something blue/borrowed was a beautiful
handkerchief made from my friend Laura's wedding dress. She had it embroidered in blue with my married name.

The resort florist provided flowers based on my chosen color-scheme. When you have a destination wedding a lot of things are left sight unseen until the big day. It's definitely tough for someone who likes to know every-detail of everything, but it also allowed me to relax more than I normally would. I loved the centerpieces for the table and my bouquet, but my only gripe were the yellowish babies breath...just not a fan. It goes to show you that there will always be things that aren't perfect about your wedding day but honestly it just doesn't matter! 

  The Ceremony

We got married at the little blue church on-sight. It was really small and quaint and most importantly air-conditioned! We did get some photos done at the beach but it was extremely hot and uncomfortable; this was definitely the right way to go! 

I chose to have both of my parents walk me down the aisle. My Mom and Dad did the same for their wedding so I wanted to keep the tradition. I literally took two steps toward the door and ripped the bottom of my lace dress with my heel. I immediately started to stress but my parents both just said relax and enjoy this moment. I  took a deep breath and thankfully forgot all about my dress.

While we didn't write our own vows, we chose all of the prayers and readings. Brad's mom and both of my sisters gave the readings. We decided not to have a wedding party but Brad's dad stood beside him and served as Ring Barer and my mom did the same for me as Matron of Honor.

We walked down the aisle to fairly traditional songs Canon in D, Ave Maria, and Arioso but our recessional was Dream a Little Dream of Me. We chose our musician without hearing him play which I am not sure I recommend. Trust me when I say it is near impossible to find an English speaking Spanish Guitarist in Tulum, Mexico!

I was afraid I would tear up at my ceremony as I tend to cry at every wedding I go to; but it was just the opposite! I couldn't stop smiling...beaming actually. I have never been happier.

The Cocktail Hour

We had group photos, cocktails, and  hors d'oeuvres outside after the ceremony. While we aren't big dancers, we hired a mariachi band which fit in with the locale. It was a lot of fun and I was able to dance with my dad (though I don't know which song), but Brad and I danced to La-Bamba ...which I requested because oddly enough we have memories with that song.

The Reception Dinner

Since we had a smaller group, we decided to have a private dinner at the wine cellar in lieu of a traditional reception. Again, air conditioning won out but I think our guests appreciated that! I found cute starfish wine stoppers as favors; and we had guests sign matting that we eventually framed with our wedding photo and put in our living room.

 My dad and sisters gave speeches and Brad's Dad said a beautiful prayer. Surrounded by loved ones enjoying a wonderful meal together is basically my idea of perfection. I  wasn't running around table-to-table, I could just focus in on being present and I loved every second of it!
Afterward there was a fire dancer show and live music...a fabulous ending to a perfect day!

Thanks to my friends Beth, Lindsay, and our photographer for these beautiful photos!

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