Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Anniversary...

Today marks 5 years of being unlawfully married to Sara.  To be honest is hard to believe it has been 5 years already; it really does seem like just yesterday we promised to spend the rest of our lives together.  I remember so many details from the proposal to the planning to the actual day.  I always knew that someday I would get married and have children with someone, but I wasn’t one of those girls who dreamed of their wedding day.  Sara on the other hand was borderline Monica Gellar.  She knew what she wanted in a ring, a dress, and the fine tuned details that go into a wedding.  So in lieu of our special day I thought it would be great to share a recap.

The ring:  Sara talked about diamonds a lot during our dating days.  I knew nothing about diamonds except that they can cut or scratch glass. Being the geek I am, I used the World Wide Web to research how to find the perfect diamond.  I learned the “3 C’s”: Cut, Clarity, Color, the only problem is even though Sara talked all the time of what she wanted I couldn’t wrap my brain around the perfect ring for her.  So I tricked her one day when we were out and about shopping, took a specific way so we could stop at a jewelry store.  As we got closer, I was like…”Hey isn’t that where Clarkson Jewelers is? We should go in there and take a look around, what do you think?”  To a girl who loves to talk about diamonds it was an easy pitch and I don’t think she suspected a thing.  We walked in the store and start looking around. “Sara Leahy?” someone shouted from behind the counter.  It was someone that Sara went to high school with, Stacy.  It was a huge sigh of relief because I felt like everyone in the store was staring at the two girls who walked in.  Sara tried on just about every ring. Stacy and Sara were like two little girls playing with their moms’ jewelry.  I was more interested in the watches, but definitely not interested in the price tags. I asked Sara, “If you had pick one ring, what would you choose?”  She quickly went to the one she like most.  Stacy asked her, “What kind of cut and size are you looking for?” Sara told her and with that a vault door opens and here comes these individual packets of diamonds.  Next thing you know we are looking through a scope at all these different diamonds.  Sara picked the one she liked the most, Stacy wrote it down, even measured Sara’s finger, and gave prices for the different styles.  Of course the next question was, are you guys going to buy something today?  We both looked at each other and said, “No…we were just looking.”  We left shortly after that and I knew I set myself up for talking about diamonds for the next few days.  Also the talk about that is too much money, don’t ever spend that on a ring, but I really love that one. Come Monday morning I called Stacy up at Clarkson and told her to order the ring and picked the platinum setting, it was more expensive, but it was the one.  Stacy seemed super excited.  The ring would take a few weeks to arrive.

The proposal: Sara has a group of close friends called the OBG’s (Official Big Girls).  The friends range from old to new, some from high school some from college and friends of friends who are members.  Every year the OBG’s have a holiday party and ironically the party was around the same time the ring was ready. I thought using the holiday party was a perfect way to propose since all of her closest friends would be there. 

The Holiday party is a blast, each year it is hosted at the person who opens the White Elephant during the gift exchange. Everyone brings a gift for no one in particular, the gift goes into a pile, and then in one by one (in a particular order) someone picks a gift from the pile to open or steals an opened gift from someone else.  This happens until all the gifts are unwrapped and the stealing ends. Each year it seems that the rules change, but I thought it would be awesome if I wrapped the ring and somehow Sara ended up with it.  This would require some assistance from someone from the OBG’s.  I knew Sara’s best friend Cray wouldn’t be able to keep this secrete from her, but her other best friend Tom (Tommy) would be able to.  I waited until the last minute to go shopping for my OBG gift on purpose. I had some other errands to run (not really) so I told her I would get my gift while I was out.  I stopped at Target with a few gift ideas in mind, but knew I wouldn’t be able not show Sara what gift I got when I got home or she would think something was up.  So I decided I would buy two separate gifts. The two ideas I had were a Barbie or a Mrs. Potato Head.  I stopped at Target on a quest to find either one and found both.  The goal was to find something that Sara would want to steal and I wasn’t feeling the two I had in hand.  I went up and down the aisles for extra inspiration and in the clearance aisle was a Potato head family bucket.  I am not kidding Mr., Mrs., and kid Potato head in one bucket.  I was so wrapped up in this awesome find I can’t remember what my actual OBG gift exchange was.  I called Tom while I was on the way to pick up the ring and went over to his house. He was the first person to see Sara’s handpicked ring.  He cried a little.. I saw it.  I even got wedding wrapping paper instead of Christmas to wrap it because I thought it would draw Sara’s attention.  We discussed how we would fix the exchange so no matter what she would end up with that gift. I stuck the box with the ring into a Potato head butt wrapped it and Tom was going to bring it to the party.

The party this year was at Todd’s house.  Sara didn't expect a thing.  I wasn't nervous until Sara’s ex showed up to the party; it was super awkward for me. Tom had talked to Missy about the engagement, so we went over the details.  We had to sort of fix the gift exchange this year because once a gift is stolen 3 times; it becomes that 3rd person’s gift.  Sara had already been counting the gifts and realized that there was an extra gift.  She was very adamant about the extra gift; however someone came to the party without a gift so it all worked out. Sara didn't like that; you can’t bend the rules around Sara.  We made sure that Sara sat in the chair that begins the present game.  I was shocked that she didn't grab the gift wrapped in wedding paper, although she did pick it up.  The plan was whoever got the gift with the hidden ring, if it was stolen once then Tom or Missy would steal it the 3rd time.  Interestingly everyone kept avoiding the wedding paper wrapped gift…until the ex’s date grabbed it.  I am sure my face was priceless, but no worries we still had a good plan.   Missy kept talking about the Potato head family bucket, how she wanted it really bad.  Sara whispered to me…I want that so if it makes it to us, you might have to steal it.  Sweet, my plan is working she wants the heads.  The stealing was crazy this year and we went back around the circle.  Missy stole the Potato head bucket making it number 2 and Sara jumped up stole it from Missy making it number 3, so no one could steal it back, even though she ended at Sara any way.  So everything worked out. Missy told Sara, “You should get them out and put them together.  Gosh…I wanted those so bad…”  To that, Sara opened the bucket and started taking out the Potato’s.  She came across the one that was really heavy.  When she opened the butt, she was like… “What the…” and I was down on one knee.  Then in true Hamilton black cloud fashion the darned box would not come out of the butt.  Tom and I practiced this for like 20 minutes and it was flawless.  Finally I got the box out, opened it up, and asked Sara to marry me…and she said YES!

The Wedding: I think everyone expected Sara to be a Bridezilla, but she was so far from that.  We knew we up front we would be paying for the majority of the festivities out of our own pocket. We had originally thought of using some friends who were getting ready to launch a new company for party planning, but we opted for planning on our own after we saw how expensive their ideas were. I never knew flowers were so freaking expensive.   We started saving and planning early.  We got so lucky on so many levels.  It helps when you know a lot of people who know a lot of people.  When we walked into the reception site the planner knew Sara’s brother, so we got a friends and family deal on that.  We found a nice place in Tower Grove to have the wedding and it was available. A friend of mine knows an amazing DJ/Karaoke duo; they did it for free (we just tipped them well).  Sara’s sister-in-law is a photographer. My friend runs a limo place, another discount.   Tom has a flower contact and as a gift to us, Michael and Tom paid for the flowers.  One of Sara’s bridesmaids, Jami, is amazing at hair and makeup.  It was crazy how everything was panning out.  Then we went shopping at Target, Sara found these awesome dresses that would be perfect for both our bridesmaids and ironically they had everyone’s size.  Then we went to Kohls and they had a sale on shirts, so we got shirts for the brides groomsmen/women.  We did our own invitations, went to Michaels with a 40% off one item finding the ones we like and discovered at the register they were on clearance.  We went to Things Remembered to get our wedding party gifts, we got a discount there.  Sara’s brother was going to officiate our wedding.  Everything fell into place so smoothly without breaking the bank.

We had a quick rehearsal at our house the night before.  It rained all night, but that didn’t diminish anything.  I thought for sure Sara would be freaking out, but she wasn’t.  She left to stay the night at Cray's and in the morning went to Tom and Michael’s to get ready.  My brother and sister, Alex and Katelyn, were staying the night with me.  Sara didn’t know that I had planned on decorating the wedding sight with balloons, candles, and rose pedals.  Tom had brought me a few dozen white roses, so Katelyn and I started turning them into just pedals, leaving a few full flowers for decoration.  The morning came quickly. We packed up the car and headed to the city, it was raining.  First item on the check list was getting the hotel key, as we pull into the hotel parking garage Alex realizes his left his shoes at the house.  The hotel will not let me get the room because it is in Sara’s name and even though we both have a credit card with the same numbers the room is reserved on, they will not give me the key.  I call my best woman, Amy, whose house we are going to get ready and she suggests stopping at Payless, but Alex has a size too big than what they carry.  I tell her we are going to bolt home and get them, got back to the hotel to park the car, have Amy pick us up, go to the park to move the tables, then get dressed and ready.  Surprisingly we made did it all in good time.  I needed to iron everyone’s clothes and take a shower.  My other best woman Andie arrives from Chicago and we head over to the park to set things up.  I had table clothes, mirrors with candle holders, candles, rose pedals, roses, and helium balloons in our wedding colors.  How we got that all ready in time is crazy to me.  Then our families started showing up, we only has our family at the wedding ceremony.  Everyone was asking my wedding party, how’s she doing? She doesn’t seem nervous at all?  I think everyone was surprised how calm I was.  Then this idiot riding his bike pedals over to our site for whatever reason. He rolls over and pops one of the candle holders…glass everywhere.  I kept my cool, but Andie on the other hand went off, I thought she was going to tackle that biker.  She is very protective of me

I remember seeing the Limo pull up; music started and everyone took their places as Sara’s wedding party walked down the longest walking path ever.  My wedding party thanked me for not making them walk down that. Sara stayed on the Limo until everyone made it down, her song came up: ABBA – “I do, I do, I do…”, and then I remember seeing the most beautiful woman I have ever seen make her way towards me.  I still can’t believe she let me marry her.  I wrote our wedding ceremony and together we wrote our vows.  Her brother got choked up while he officiated, to hide that he laughed a little.  It was funny.  The ceremony was amazing and we all toasted at the end with the best champagne ever,  four dollar Verdi. It was way more than I imagined it to be. 

Then it was picture time.  We drove around the park and took a lot of great pictures, then around St. Louis to all the traditional wedding photo spots.  Our wedding party gifts were these stainless steel stein mugs with their initials on them. Everyone was using theirs to drink out of during the Limo ride.  When we got off the Limo at Kiener plaza there were so many other wedding parties there.  The best part was some groomsmen walking toward us complimenting our dudes….uh…um…ah...chicks for their cool steins.  Oh the facial expressions were priceless when they realized we weren't like the traditional wedding groups.  We had some girls in dresses and some in shirts and pants.  Our parties were mixed boys and girls.  It was great!  The only bad thing was our Limo didn't have a restroom, so we made a pit stop at Rue 13.  They weren't open yet, but they let us in and the owner bought us a round of shots. 

The reception:  We showed up to our reception and our wedding party seemed to have a blast on our picture outing.  They announced the wedding party into the room. We didn't have formal tables set up so everyone could sit with whoever they wanted.  We picked the Schlafly Tap room because they had an amazing area to host this special occasion and they have some awesome beer. Our main goal was for everyone to have a good time in a relaxed environment.  It was so great to see all our friends and family in once place.  We didn't do a cake cutting and shove it into each other’s faces, instead we had three different cakes sliced up and ready for eating.  We had music and Karaoke which I think I was huge hit.  We also had some wedding crashers.  Many of my friends said it was one of the best wedding receptions they had been to; even our wedding crashers I later met at a happy hour said they had a blast.  I didn't get a chance to eat any of the food because there were so many people to talk to, but I never had an empty glass.  The reception seemed to fly by so fast; in fact I thought the entire day was over before it started even with the extra little hitches.  It was purely magical from start to finish. 

Now here we are 5 years later, still in love and still magical…

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