Meet me under the tallest Christmas tree

I woke up in a hotel in River North the morning after Brian’s work holiday party. I had brought a coule outfits but after the wild night, I was leaning toward a pair of tie-dye yoga pants and a hoodie. Brian steered me away from super comfort and suggested I try something else.

“Okay, ya weirdo.”

He had apparently made reservations at a restaurant called Brunch, where we would soon eat ourselves stupid. “You can’t leave brunch to chance,” said the man who rarely makes reservations for anything.

“Okay, ya weirdo.”

Breakfast nachos at Brunch: a plate of waffle fries, cheese, bacon, and eggs.

And so we went to brunch at Brunch, where they served breakfast appetizers (nachos made from waffle fries and topped with eggs—are you drooling yet?), coffee in thrifted mugs, and the most perfectly poached egg on the planet.

Sleeping Beauty coffee mug

And I thought this was going to be the highlight of my day…

I was slightly suspicious, of course, partially because I had booked the hotel with the hopes that Brian would take the hint and partially because of a group text exchange of some friends who must have forgotten I was in the chat.

I defer to the other two guys: Brian because he has some pretty big plans today...

Oh does, he, Eric?…Big plans, huh? What kind of big plans?

But I had no idea the wild ride I was in for. At Brunch, Brian was distracted. Staring at his phone (which is unusual for him). Furiously texting. I asked who he was talking to and he kinda  brushed it off.

“Okay, ya weirdo.”

As we finished our meal, making tentative plans to go to one of the museums, Brian jumped up quickly, stating he had to go to the bathroom as if it were there first time he’d ever done it.

“Okay, ya weirdo.”

I spent my time wisely, screwing around on social media, bragging about the best poached eggs ever on Instagram and showing off last night’s makeup like a rockstar on Snapchat.

Just a selfie of me bragging that I was still wearing last night's makeup.

And then I waited.

And waited. And it got a little weird.

And then it got a lot weird when I looked up to see two of our friends, Eric and Brooke (one of my Something Blue girls). And Brooke had her video camera.

All I could think was, Okay, so it’s happening here. An interesting choice, Brian.

I never expected a big scene or anything. I figured it would be quiet, somewhere nice/special, but mostly quiet. And never on video.

Eric slid in next to me, and Brooke sat down where Brian had been sitting.

“So where’s Brian?”

“Ummmm…the bathroom?”

“I don’t think he’s coming back,” her words were drawn, full of excitement.

“Where’s his jacket?”

“You’re sitting on it.”

Brooke reached into his coat pocket and pulled out an envelope.

Inside the envelope was a note, an Android-compatible usb reader, and a cryptex.

For those of you unsure of what a cryptex is, go back to the The DaVinci Code. That puzzley thing Langdon had to solve? That’s a cryptex.

The note from was a clue to open the cryptex. Eric had the answer (and additional clues), so he could provide hints. Brooke knew nothing, so she could help me solve it.

As we spent an embarrassingly long time trying to solve this puzzle, I figured out how to get the answer, and was about to work it into the cryptex, when I realized, the cryptex numerical combination was still taped to the bottom of the device.

Nailed it!

Inside the cryptex, was a usb memory thingy (which plugged into the cable which plugged into my phone). It was a video from Brian, in which he told me that he planned an adventure and gave me a clue to another location.

This led us to The Looking Glass Theater near Water Tower Place. Upon our arrival, several really excited attendants handed me another cryptex and another clue. I solved this one in approximately 37 seconds, and inside this bigger cryptex was another clue to another location.

Again, it took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure out the location, which I knew was at Navy Pier, but had no idea where to go once we got there. As we were walking through the entrance, I mentioned The Crystal Gardens, having gone to an even there years ago. And Eric was like, BOOM.

We made our way up the escalator, and as I looked through the windows,

Oh fuck, my parents are here!

My parents were sitting at a table inside the garden with another cryptex. They also knew the answers and had additional clues for me. Eventually, Brooke solved it, because holy crap it was hard.

Inside the cryptex was a final location clue (and a flower hair clip, because as you can see, there’s room for a flower inside) in which Brian told me to meet him under tallest tree.

I knew immediately we were going to Winter Wonderfest at the end of the pier. My mom had wristbands for all of us to get in, so she led the charge. And we made our way through the restaurants and shops, twisting and turning to avoid crowds.

As we drew closer to the fest, Eric received some intel, and was told to find the man in the blue suit before coming in.

When we arrived an elf in a blue suit greeted us.

“Welcome! Welcome! You must be Chrissy! We’ve been waiting for you! I am the mayor of Winter Wonderfest! Welcome!”

A few other elves, including what appeared to be a reporter elf, appeared, but I looked past them to see Brian, wearing a suit under the giant Christmas tree in the center of the hall.

The mayor took my arm and walked me toward Brian while the other elves cried, “Make way! Make way! Chrissy’s coming through!”

As I walked up to Brian, he pulled out a velvet box with my grandmother’s ring inside it and got down on one knee.

Behind me, I heard someone yell out, “Oh shit! He goin’ to propose!”

Proposal under the Christmas tree at Winter Wonderfest

He asked me to be his bride, and of course I said yes. We hugged and kissed and then hugged my parents, his brother, amd our freakin’ awesome friends who had joined me on the scavenger hunt.

And then we needed some good pictures, of course. Brian got down on one knee, again, and asked me to marry him, again. And I said yes, again. It was perfect.

After wandering around the indoor fest for a while, the six of us went for champagne and snacks at Riva, a Navy Pier restaurant Brian and I had been to a few years earlier on my birthday.

We even kept the empty champagne bottle until fittingly, our wedding day, when it managed to get tossed out with other bottles in the mass insanity that was my house the morning of the wedding.

And now, a year later, I can look back on that memory my wonderful husband created for us before he was my husband. And Christmas will forever be better than it was before.

What was your proposal like?

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!

If Shingles Didn’t Kill Me, Wedding Planning Might…

One month from today, I’ll be waking up next to Brian (um, yes. He’s not allowed to abandon me the night before our wedding, despite the fact that the world thinks he shouldn’t see me before our wedding. And despite the fact that he’s probably going to wake up to a house full of crazy if my family has anything to say about it…) and starting the most magical day of my life to date. You know how my Clark Griswold expectations have already built this up in my mind. Don’t try to fix it.  

But the last nine months have not been without fault. I’ve made LOTS of mistakes in this whole wedding planning process. Even while utilizing the best wedding advice ever, I still managed to stress out internally to the point where it came out in the form of motherfucking shingles. And remember how that advice said not to stress about the details? I just put them off until…well…now…or two weeks from now. Whatever.

Quirky Chrissy Wedding shower

So I’ve made some errors…while drinking a lot of champagne. And enjoying every minute of being engaged (except for the moments people encourage me to use the word, “fiance,” because I really think it’s a douchey word). I thought I’d tell you things you should probably not do (and I’m sure over the next 31 days, there will be a laundry list of more things I’ll do wrong. But you know what? At the end of the day, Brian is marrying Chrissy. And then we’re going to Europe (and don’t try to rob my house, robbers. My brother is moving in for the time we’re gone. And he’s big and scary and mean).

Don’t do what I did

  • I ordered enough invitations to hand one to every. single. man. woman. and child (yes, even the toddlers standing up in my wedding). NO ONE TELLS YOU THAT YOU ONLY NEED INVITATIONS ON A PER HOUSEHOLD BASIS! So I’m telling you. We ordered our invitations from Vistaprint using Ebates for a sweet bonus, but I ordered way too many of them. Luckily, I was able to change my order when I realized my mistake, but they could only give me a big fat credit on VistaPrint to make up for it. So, I’ve pretty much got business cards for life or I might order some cool rando swag. We’ll see.
  • I forgot to stamp envelopes. On both thank you notes from my showers and actual wedding invitations, several came back to us because I didn’t triple check for stamps on everything. Sometimes, the post office is nice to me. Sometimes, it’s not.
  • Speaking of invitations, I also sent several invitations to the wrong or old addresses. Also resulting in envelopes being returned to us.
  • I’m also pretty sure we forgot to send invitations to some people full stop. This was a very hectic time in our lives, and I don’t know how people do this and dear god why didn’t I hire someone to manage the details?!
  • I waited until the last minute to book our hotel rooms. I know that had I booked two months ago, when I booked our flights, I probably could have saved a shit ton more money. But I did work pretty hard to get the best prices I could for the nicest hotels in our price range on TripAdvisor. I’m very happy with our choices. For now. I’ll let you know in October how that worked out for us.
  • I still haven’t picked out music. Like…none of it. Ceremony music. First dance song. The only thing I know for certain is that my dad and I will dance to “Daddy’s Little Girl” because the man has had that planned since before my actual birth. And now it’s like fuuuuuck. I can’t believe I put this off and now I have to make decisions. I hate making decisions. WHY DIDN’T I HIRE SOMEONE TO MAKE DECISIONS?

6 wedding planning mistakes to avoid because no one tells you this stuff.

Well, I know there are more mistakes to be made, so I’m just going to get to making them, and I can’t wait to tell you all about everything! And if you’re getting married…hire someone to manage the details.

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!

Planning a Wedding is Hard Work

It’s been a little over two months since Brian and I got engaged.  We (and by we, let’s be honest here, I mostly mean me) are deep in the throws of the planning.

Since Brian has been telling me we would get married this year since last January  (why yes, he did wait until December to pop the question), I knew we didn’t have a lot of time to waste. So we jumped right in.

It’s gone a little something like this:

image

Read wedding planning book. I did this last summer, before Brian proposed, when my wedding guru friend Alessandra hooked me up with her amazingly helpful and real book.


Leave book on bedside table, let boyfriend wake up next to you reading book, and make notes in the margins when you know he’s looking.

*Results may vary, engagement not guaranteed by buying or reading this book.

Get engaged. Sometimes,  this will happen before the wedding book reading. You do you, Boo.

Drink champagne.

Ask mom to stop blabbing to the world before you get a chance to tell some of your besties before they hear about it on Facebook.

Tell the Internet.

Drink champagne.

Start receiving wedding advice from anyone and everyone. Choose wisely which advice you listen to and which advice goes in one ear and out the other. So far the best advice has come from my boss: “Don’t let the details stress you out. Don’t get caught up in Pinterest.”

The worst advice comes from everyone else (and let’s be honest here,  I’ve offered this up to a lot of people, myself, and even try to convince Brian it’s true, but it’s likely a do as I say, not as I do situation): “Don’t worry about what other people think. It’s your wedding. You’re paying for it. Do what you want.” Yeah. Right. You know how many people have already told me how irritating they find a wedding without cake? Fucking Pavlovian responses. Wedding bells = cake. Even when the bride and groom don’t particularly love cake.

Drink champagne.

Re-read wedding planning book. Alessandra encourages a do what you want mentality but she also understands that it’s not always possible and to focus more on the not stressing out part. She’s realistic about that shit.

Make future husband read the groom chapter of wedding book.

Binge watch Gilmore Girls.

Drink champagne.

Start making actual decisions.

Like the where: I started emailing venues for pricing, capacity, and other details. I plugged it all into a fancy spreadsheet I created and mathed the shit out of the prices. I narrowed it down to three places, found out availability for the general season we wanted, visited the venues and scoped out details, and ultimately made our decision.

And the photographer: This was a factor in our location as well. The photographer we (I) wanted was available on certain dates, which narrowed our venue options further.

And the DJ: We were so close to skipping this and just making a playlist, but decided the cost was worth it for someone who could actually read the crowd and manage the tunes to keep the kind of atmosphere we want.

Drink champagne.

And now here we are. Exactly 7 months from our wedding. We’re not completely on track with the timetable mapped out in the book, but it’s more of a guide than a rulebook, which is what we needed. With a lot more to do, I’m still not stressed. I’m excited. And in the grand scheme of all the things, the ONLY thing that matters at the end of the day? Is that Brian and I are pledging to spend the rest of our lives together.

So, fine. Let them eat cake.

image

What was it like when you planned your wedding? If you’re not married yet, what are you most excited/worried about? What was the best wedding you’ve been to like? The worst?

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!

I Didn’t Want Him to Buy an Engagement Ring

After a certain point in your relationship, people start asking questions. They ask if wedding bells will be ringing in the near future. They start grabbing your hand every time they see you, hunting for a giant, sparkly rock. They address invitations, thank-you cards, and holiday greetings to “Mr. and Mrs. _____” in an attempt to get a rise out of your male counterpart.

For me, this started about three years ago. His family. My family. Our friends. Everyone kept asking, “When is he going to buy you a ring?” For a long time, I laughed it off, showed them my empty ring finger and shrugged nonchalantly. A few months ago, I started answering with the truth.

I didn’t want a ring.

I didn't want an engagement ring

This is not to say that I didn’t want to get married. I just didn’t want an engagement ring. I love pretty jewelry, but I rarely wear it. In the first couple years of dating, Brian bought me necklaces and earrings that fit my personality perfectly. When I’m wearing these beautiful accessories, I think, oh, this is so nice. Maybe I’ll start wearing jewelry more often. Maybe I’ll be the girl who always wears fine jewelry.

Here’s my actual MO: I’ll wear the jewelry for a few weeks until I forget to put it on in the morning. I leave it sitting on the coffee table when I paint my nails. It gets left in the bathroom after I shower. Eventually, the necklaces, accent rings and earrings retire to my jewelry box, where they sit, collecting dust and waiting for some TLC. When I remember them, I pull them out for special occasions – weddings, special date nights and fancy parties, but then they go back to the jewelry box for another couple of months.

After nearly five years in a relationship, Brian and I have built a life together. We purchased a house and established our own little family of two. We talk about the future, marriage and babies. As a proposal drew closer, I’d begun hinting at not wanting a ring, but I wasn’t convinced he believed me.

We finally had a conversation about engagement rings, and I told him I’ve never had strong feelings about my dream engagement ring. I’ve fantasized about the ceremony, cocktail-hour cheese display, reception, honeymoon, and marriage, but never about the ring. It just wasn’t important to me.

I asked him if it was important to him that he buys me a ring. He wasn’t entirely sure. You know what worried him most? What other people thought. He didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I told him that we were probably going to disappoint a lot of people when we started heading down that path of wedding and marriage bliss. Not everyone will agree with our decisions for the wedding, how we choose to raise babies and God only knows what else.

I realized that his concern was mostly with social conventions, and I started thinking about my heirloom jewelry collection of rings passed down from my parents. I told him, “Just steal my great-grandma’s ring from my jewelry box, and we’ll be cool.”

He didn’t look swayed. We locked eyes and I explained I have a beautiful heirloom ring that belonged to my great-grandmother. I would be honored to wear it and have my family be a part of our wedding.

We considered the financial implications of buying a ring. To fit the industry standard, he was supposed to spend about $4,000, and so we talked about the things we could do with that money. From remodeling the bathroom to finishing the basement, planning a big wedding with our family and friends or paying for the honeymoon of our dreams, it seemed to me that stretching $4K further than a size 8 ring would be a wiser investment. And let’s be honest. A four thousand dollar piece of jewelry that I may wear for a year at most? My soul cries for the amount of cheese I could buy with that kind of money.

Sure, he could buy me an inexpensive ring, but I’m perfectly content with an heirloom piece that represents tradition and family. How cool is that? After I made my case, Brian finally understood and was on board with the plan to use my great-grandmother’s ring to signify our engagement. To hell with what everyone else thinks about buying a fancy new diamond. The ring I wear for however many months we’re engaged will be super pretty. And won’t have cost either of us a dime.

A week before we got engaged, he asked me one more time, “Are you sure you don’t want me to buy you a ring?”

I responded with a very confident “yes.”

I wanted to shift the focus from showing off the ring to sharing the excitement about committing ourselves to each other. And so, when my best friend silently pilfered a ring from my dusty, rarely opened jewelry box and asked me to be his wife, I promised to try and wear that ring every day. But for better or worse, when I forget to put the ring back on after washing the dishes or taking a shower, it can live safely in my jewelry box (I hope) while that four grand remains untouched in our savings account.

How do you feel about engagement rings? Do you have one/want one/not want one? Am I just a weirdo?

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!

Worth the Wait: The End of an Era

It’s been five months since I last wrote about The Handsome Grown Up that you came to know and love this spring. If you don’t feel like reading through the whole story just yet (you will soon, if you haven’t already), we met on this very day many years ago. We flirted, we dated, I worked like hell to fuck it all up, and yet he still stuck around. When last I spoke of The Grown Up, he was driving away from my house as I drunk cried myself to sleep. Make no mistake – I was the one being an idiot. It was the drunkest I ever got in the presence of The Grown Up…and we dated for a long-ass time. He called the next night, after I panicked like a teenage girl for about 12 hours, and all was fine (except for the lost wallet from my fall at the bar).

I’m going to fast-forward a little bit though because dating life is pretty much, you know, normalcy, and I can’t imagine you wanting to sit through all the ins and outs of a relationship from yesteryear…and quite frankly, it’s time we brought this story to an end.

The Grown Up and I dated solidly for many years. We met each other’s families. We traveled a bit. We fell madly in love. He made me laugh more than anyone on the planet, and I was surprised how much time I could spend with him and not want to kill him. After that first date, I never went home, much to the chagrin of his incredibly understanding roommate. He always told me, “Home is where your cheese is” because after our first weekend together, he bought me a bag full of fancy cheese. But he was wrong. Home was where he was. He was everything.

I waited a long time for this. And now it's the End of an era

He is everything.

He is the first page of my book and the last. He captured my heart and never once dropped it. He encourages me to follow every last one of my dreams, no matter how ridiculous. He pushes me to be my better self. He IS my better half, and without him, I wouldn’t be where I am.

So when he asked me to be his bride, the only answer I had for him was, “Yes!”

When he asked me to be his bride...I said yes.

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!