Archives for November 2016

Good Morning, Sunshine

When I was a little girl, one of my mom’s best friends got married. Her wedding was the first big wedding I had ever been to, and the only one I recall from my childhood. I remember hunting down the servers with passed hors d’oeuvres, searching for shrimp cocktail. I remember playing with the other kids in the super fancy bathroom. I remember the ceremony and riding in the car with several of the bridesmaids from the church to the reception. But what I remember most of all was the morning of the wedding.

A dozen or more women and girls, racing around the bride’s house. Pantyhose flying, curling irons sizzling, jewelry clasping, and (because it was the very early 90’s) a cloud of hairspray wafted through the house. My hair was French braided, a style I adored but could never accomplish on my own or even with the help of my mom.
The house was buzzing with life, love, and joy. Pure, unadulterated joy. Hectic, crazy, and loud, but happy. Full of excitement.
So when it came time for my wedding…I knew I couldn’t settle for less than that. So in addition to my bridal party, my mom and other women in my life, including the bride whose wedding morning inspired my own, joined me the morning of the wedding for the start of a beautiful, happy, and magical day.
Pointing at my awesome bride hoodie in front of my tri-fold mirror where my wedding dress hung was one of my favorite photos.

At the last minute, I bought this hoodie and a bride tank top from Amazon, and they both arrived the day before the wedding!

I woke up the morning of the wedding, put on my tie-dye yoga pants and other bridewear, and quietly snuck out to get myself some breakfast. I picked up bagels and cream cheese along with a fruit platter for the onslaught of ladies.
After a delightful exchange with the dude at Einstein Bagels (He was all, “It’s your wedding day? Why are you buying the bagels?” and I was all, “Because everyone is sleeping, and I was hungry.”), I made my way back to my bed, where Brian was sleeping and I started playing with my Snapchat filters.
 I created a wedding day snapchat geofilter for my house the morning of the wedding.
 If you remember from our Cheesy wedding prep, Ally spent the night at our house.  If you’re debating whether to have people sleep at your house on the night before your wedding, do it. It was fun to have her there the night before, and even more fun in the morning. It was no surprise that when she woke up, she started playing with Snapchat filters too.
My bridesmaid created a wedding morning blanket fort in the guest room and sent me a Snap to invite me to jump in on her cozy.
Obviously, I left my sleeping husband and went to snuggle with my awake bestie. Shortly thereafter, Katie arrived. And my future sister-in-law. And my friend Laura with the flowers. And my hairdresser. And Rachel with two of the three kids. And the rest of the ladies. And the photographer. It got loud and crazy real fast.
Katie and Ally jumped into helping Laura with flower stuff in my garage. I sat down with Katelyn for some hair magic. If you can, GET YOUR HAIRDRESSER TO COME TO YOUR HOUSE. This was one of the best decisions I made through the whole planning process. We didn’t start until like 10am. I didn’t have to leave my house or drive 20 minutes or worry about anything.The rest of the ladies snacked and started doing their hair and makeup as well.
I’ll let the photos do some of the talking:
I wanted a boho chic, but sleek wedding hairdo with a side braid and curls and low-side pouf. My hairdresser nailed it.

I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect visualization of the wedding hair I wanted.

my aunt putting on my bridal make-up the day of my wedding.

I told my aunt, who used to have her own line of make-up, that I wanted to look like the butterfly snapchat filter. I may be biased, but I think she nailed it.

 

I love this wood tri-fold standing mirror in my bedroom. It was the perfect spot to hang my wedding gown.

When I bought this wood tri-fold standing mirror at an estate sale last summer, I knew I wanted it for wedding photos (yes, before Brian and I were engaged).

 

We received a personalized wedding gift of Connect Four with our wedding colors and hashtag

For our wedding, we received a personalized Connect Four from a couple of our friends.

Black and white bridal photo in front of a tri-fold mirror in bride's bedroom

bride and flower gir bridal photo in front of a tri-fold mirror in bride's bedroom

We have this window from our bedroom to our front room that made for a perfect Bridal sneak peek before the big reveal

We have this window from our bedroom to our front room that made for a perfect bridal sneak peek before the big reveal

 

Some of the amazing women in my life looking up at me in my bedroom window on my wedding day

Don’t mind the mess y’all…I made the photographer come take a photo from my POV because this was awesome.

The bride is coming down the stairs and her family and friends are watching.

And then I came down stairs…the photographer called this, “the big reveal” even though everyone had been in and out of my bedroom 😉

Bride coming down stairs

Taking a wedding photo in my grandfather's chair

Anyone who has ever been to my house knows that this was my grandpa’s chair, and I used to play in it as a little girl. I freaking love this chair.

We ordered Jimmy John’s for lunch (which I managed to finally slam 5 minutes before the ceremony when I realized I was starving. Yes, a Jimmy John’s Vito, full of delicious garlicky goodness right before my wedding. I also split it with the ring bearer who kept asking me for a bite), so everyone had something to eat, and they delivered Freaky Fast as JJ tends to do. And then we all rolled out in a party bus I hired at the last minute (are you catching a theme here, guys?) when I realized I didn’t know how to get 13 people from my house to the venue.

Are you tired of wedding nonsense, yet?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue

Man. Our wedding…where to go from cheese? I guess I’ll start by explaining the bridal party. Because that shit got out of control real fast. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

So it all started with the whole picking bridesmaids thing. Which was hard because holy shit I have a lot of amazing friends. And I didn’t want to offend anyone. I also didn’t want to impose on…well…everyone.

And then there was Brian…who only wanted two groomsmen: his brothers. We compromised by making my godson the most handsome junior groomsman to ever exist.

the groom, groomsmen, and junior groomsman at the alter

This photo makes my heart happy.

So I chose two bridesmaids and a matron of honor. Katie was destined to be my MOH from the first day I met her. She even planned a rough draft of her speech 4 years ago when I begged her to guest post on this little ole blog. I always knew my cousin Rachel would be one of my bridesmaids, and my post-college bestie, Ally, was a perfect complement to the other two.

we took wedding photos at a playground, and had so much fun on the purple dinosaur.

Ally’s outgoing personality balanced Rachel’s and Katie’s introvertness. We all had a blast.

I invited the three of them over with Brian’s brothers for some quality wedding planning time, and invited them to be my bridesmaids with a super fun little puzzle gift (when I tell you about our engagement, this will make more sense. Hold tight, y’all. That’s coming soon to a QC near you).

My bridesmaid proposal included pink gerber daisies in pink vases, Sweethearts candies, heart-shaped rings, a message in a bottle, and a scrabble tile unscramble

The message in a bottle had song lyrics with a different song memory for each maid. Once they named the song, I handed them the scrabble tiles, and they had to unscramble the word. I made them work for it, y’all.

But what about the other super important people in my life? Tom and Matty were always going to be bridesmen in my wedding, and I knew I had to make it happen. I told them and my brother that they were ushers, but let’s be honest here, guys…they were absolutely my bridesmen. You may be asking why there are only two men in this pictures…the answer is complicated, but it ends with a really handsome baby boy who I will convince to call me Crazy Auntie Chrissy, just as I do with all the tiny humans I love.

My bridesmen kissing me on the cheek at the wedding

I love these guys.

And then my girls. I’ve stood up in three weddings. I have some amazing family. And oh-mah-gah what would I do without some of these other women in my life? So I created a whole new category of the bridal party.

Standing with my something blue crew, all wearing teal dresses

We never actually got one picture with everyone included, but it’s totally okay. There are two women not pictured-one who was unable to make it at the last minute (another baby was born just a few weeks earlier and something came up for them) and another hadn’t arrived when these photos were taken (she ALSO had just had a baby. SO MANY BABIES!), but she was in some of the later pics!

I called them my Something Blue Crew, and they were magical. Because my colors were pink and teal, I asked my bridesmaids to do the whole official same dress thing in the pinkest pink I could find, and then I asked the Blue Crew to wear something teal.

I printed poems and messages on cardstock to ask my Something Blue Crew to be a part of my wedding

I wrote a silly little rhyme-y poem and either mailed or hand-delivered these, depending on whether the girls lived out of town.

I wanted to make sure that my Something Blue Crew knew that they were a special part of my world, so I went to eBates, and ultimately Mixbooks, to create my invitations. I wrote the poem and the blurb at the bottom, and was super excited about it.

As I spoke with each girl, I was thrilled that they were just as pumped about it as I was. Essentially, they were bridesmaids without the responsibilities. They didn’t walk down the aisle, but they were introduced at dinner. They were invited to the rehearsal, but not required. They didn’t have to go buy crazy fancy dresses and shoes or get their hair and nails done, but some of them did. And they all looked perfect.

The kids were also spot on. My sassy little niece nailed it as the flower girl with the rando basket I had from an old Halloween costume that I wrapped ribbon around. And my AMAZING floral friend plucked rose petals for her to throw.

The flower girl threw pink rose petals

She was so afraid of running out of flowers that she only dropped a few at a time.

Our ring bearer nailed it. He made it all the way up the LONG aisle without hesitation. And with full-on cuteness. I even found him the most perfect toddler tuxedo on Amazon.

Our ring bearer had a sign that said "Has anybody seen the rings?" and dragged the ring pillow behind him.

At two years old, we didn’t think our ring bearer should carry the ring, but we did give him a fun sign and tied the pillow to his wrist so he could drag it the whole way down the aisle.

He and his sister had a blast.

The ring bearer and flower girl walking back up the aisle

The ring bearer’s sign was double-sided, so on the way back, we switched it.

And they were all there with me on Brian’s and my day.

the full bridal party with bride, groom, groomsman, bridesmaids, ushers/bridesmen, something blue crew, flower girl, and ring bearer.

And the colors turned out to be my best, happiest, most wonderful dream come to life.

Magic.

Wedding photography courtesy of Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Our Cheesy Wedding

So, I’m thinking on Wednesdays, I’m going to try posting little snippets and tidbits from our wedding, mostly because THERE’S SO MUCH TO SHARE, and I really don’t want to overwhelm y’all.

I figured the best place to start is with our wedding theme…which came together at the very last minute.

It all started with a cheese cake. A cake made of cheese wheels. Both Brian and I aren’t big fans of cake, and the thought of tasting tons of cake and paying for tons of cake when that’s not what we wanted was less that desirable. I originally thought cheesecakes, but Brian doesn’t like those, either.

Cue big giant wheels of my favorite thing on the planet (Brian not withstanding), and we had ourselves a cake that dreams are made of.

If you love cheese as much as I do, I highly recommend the cheese-themed wedding.

Originally, I had planned to vet the wheels, find the cheapest prices, order them, and set them up, all by myself. Basically, pre-wedding me was insane. (You’re going to see as this series unfolds that people like me aren’t DIY experts, so if you’re looking for those kind of wedding planning tips, you’re in the wrong place, my friends. If, on the contrary, you’re looking for realistic, I-paid-someone-to-do-it and I-have-the-best-friends-on-the-planet advice, I’m your gal.)

About two months before the wedding, I realized I was crazy and definitely didn’t want to add more to my to-do list, so I called Whole Foods Orland Park. I knew they had a kickin’ cheese selection and there was one near the wedding venue. I worked with two unbelievably wonderful people in the cheese department, and they were just as excited about our cheese cake as I was.

No cheese themed wedding is complete without wheels of cheese...

Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography. The piece de resistance of our wedding was definitely the cheese wheel cake. Some people thought it was a cake made to look like cheese, but no. It was a cake made of cheese. Obvi. Laura decorated the cheese table and added the extra flourishes, accoutrements, and MORE CHEESE.

I’m so glad I called them because it turned out to be one of the best wedding experiences I had with vendors. After some back and forth with the cheese selections, in which they sent pictures and prices, and I asked for changes a few times, we finally had a pretty good idea of what we were going to choose, and I thanked them for their patience.

They invited me down to Orland Park for a cheese tasting, and I was already in love. Brian had zero interest in most things wedding, so I brought my pal Laura, who is a godsend and amazing. She managed a significant number of day-of wedding details for me, did my flowers, candy buffet, and handled the cheese cake.

Our wedding cake was three tiered cheese wheels. This was the demo from Whole Foods.

Whole Foods set up a clothed table with a sign that said, “reserved for the future Mr. and Mrs. Woj” and flowers and little place settings. They set up a cake with the wheels we had chosen so we could see and touch.

At Whole Foods, we tasted all three cheeses: Marieke Gouda, a young Manchego, and a Petite Basque, and they even paired the cheese with three glasses of wine. After I placed my order (in which I got 10% OFF for buying whole wheels), they handed me a lovely goodie bag with Whole Foods treats and beauty samples as a thank you to their bride. OMG I died. It was about a month before the wedding and I had yet to feel super duper special with any of the wedding vendors I was working with. None of the bridal events I attended were even close to this magical.

You can ask your cheese vendor to make shaped displays with goat cheese.

Laura made Whole Foods turn cranberry goat cheese into beautiful heart-shaped displays. There was one on the head table just for us, too. It was fucking perfect. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

As the wedding day drew near, I stumbled across mini cheese grater favors. We had planned to donate to a charity in lieu of favors, but once I saw those, I knew what I needed to do.

If you're going to have a cheese themed wedding, you need to have cheese grater favors.

Mama Bear tied ribbons around each grater the week before the wedding, and Ally, my night before slumber party bridesmaid, handled the sticking of the names on the grater boxes at midnight the night before the wedding. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

A week before the wedding, I also decided to make Snapchat geofilters, which is SO EASY.

We created Snapchat Filters for our cheesy wedding

Two of my Something Blues (More on that next week) using the Snapchat filters I made.

I had also thrown around the idea of naming tables instead of numbering them…but I was lazy and just kept putting it off. Until the day before the wedding. Brian was printing table names and labels for the favors with guest names and their tables. I was just trying not to freak out because it was 1 o’clock in the morning.

We named our tables after cheeses

The hardest part was coming up with the 28ish different cheese names for the tables…Laura managed all the centerpiece decorations and shit. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

But it all came together so nicely. And cutting the cake WAS THE MOST FUN THING EVER.

As I was cutting the cheese cake with my new husband., we kept laughing

Take note: It’s surprisingly hard to cut into a giant wheel of cheese. I recommend a practice cut. We were supposed to cut into the bottom layer, but that was not happening, so the top layer got the knife instead. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

Taking a bite out of a big hunk of cheese makes for an awesome cake cutting ceremony at a wedding.

I could not. Stop. Laughing. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

Our cake cutting was hilarious. Because the cake was made of cheese.

You guys. We cut the cheese at our wedding. We CUT. THE. CHEESE. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

And THAT’S how you have a cheesy wedding.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The pain will subside if we stand together

I’ve often been asked by people who know me professionally if I have an “off” button. If I’m ever not cheerful, happy, and positive. Yesterday, some of them saw the darkness that lies within me. Yesterday felt like one of the worst days.

The only way I can adequately put my feelings into words is by comparing it to other experiences. Few times in my life I have felt this numb exhaustion.

The first was in high school, when my first boyfriend broke up with me. I didn’t understand the feeling, and my mom compared it to the death of someone you love. Heartbreak is often the death of a relationship, and your body mourns that death. I barely slept. I couldn’t eat. And I found solace in a summer nanny job that kept my mind occupied and my body busy. Children have healing powers. But even then, I took to writing in order to work through my feelings.

A year later, September 11, 2001 happened. Three weeks into my freshman year at Bradley University and the world felt like it was crumbling. we collectively sat glued to our TVs, terrified, unsure, sad, and angry. We went to candlelight vigils and mass en mass. We prayed. And we cried.

The next time I felt that empty sadness was the first time (of three) my college boyfriend broke up with me. It was an old friend enveloping me in a dark cloud, and I truly wondered if I’d ever smile again. I lived inside my journal. Writing  the same thoughts and feelings over and over in every way I could.

And then, a real and painful death shattered me. My grandfather died. My grandfather, who had lived in our home for ten years. And the raw pain I felt was guttural. I trampled across campus, tears streaming down my face, coating my boyfriend’s pajama pants in mud to find him in the engineering lab because I didn’t now what else to do. I just knew I couldn’t be alone. For months, I’d start thinking of him and just cry. I would think, I’m okay. And then I’d hear a song on the radio or someone would say something that reminded me of him. And I’d burst into tears. My body and mind exhausted from crying, from thinking, from worry. I felt the pain physically.

It has happened several more times since then, but every time I experienced that exhausting, empty sadness, I came out of it, alive. Stronger. With kindness, courage, and resolve.

This week, it truly feels like someone died. Maybe it was democracy, but only time will tell. I have to have hope. And faith. And belief that this is not the end of the world, but the start of a revolution. I have to do what I can, and I hope you will, too, to continue to fight for women, racial minorities, non-Christian religious or non-religious people, the LGBT community, refugees, and any people looking for the American dream.

Bay City, Wisconsin

Bay City, Wisconsin

 

Yesterday, we mourned. Today, we rise.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!