Tuesday, April 27, 2010
As I write this and set it up to publish, I am still undecided on whether or not to take my netbook on the honeymoon. Checking email or blogging seems so unromantic! Then again, as SP pointed out, we can always transfer photos off the camera to the laptop and free up some space on the memory card. But then again - will I really have time to even turn it on? Decisions, decisions...
So where are we? By the time this posts, we will have enjoyed several days in Savannah, GA and then moved on to Charleston, SC. I have always wanted to see these 2 cities, they were within driving distance (although 11.5 hours of driving plus stops makes for a very long day on the road), and several magazines have written about how romantic these 2 cities are.
Honeymoon details coming soon!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Things are slowly returning to 'normal.' The out of town family has returned to their homes. My parents left Tuesday morning. They did so much for us and thanks to them we had a fantastic wedding.
Saturday night, after the wedding, SP and I returned home. Yes, home, not to a hotel. We decided that we'd rather save the money for the honeymoon than pay for a night at a hotel after the wedding. And, I think we figured we'd be tired and just want our own bed, plus our own kitchen to make soothing cups of tea, which is exactly what we did once we had changed into our jammies and unloaded the car.
We took our hot tea into the living room and opened gifts. My parents stayed with us in our guest room in the basement, so they watched the gift opening and helped us write down gift info. It was sort of like Christmas!!
One thing I've been thinking throughout the past 2 weeks is how lucky we are.
Not to get all sappy on the blog, and certainly I do not mean that I don't feel loved on a daily basis, but there is something so powerful and overwhelming about starting down that aisle and seeing all these faces - both family and friends - beaming at you, so happy for you, and just wanting your day to be perfect. Seeing them all gathered in one place just made it so crystal clear how very lucky I am to have such fabulous family and friends. So many were so helpful and giving and generous in helping us have the perfect day and right now I am at a loss for how to even begin thanking them.SP and I finally got to bed around 2 am after the wedding. Sunday morning, we were back to our usual Sunday routine of breakfast and Sunday paper - we were just really tired. Unfortunately, EPAS and her family had already set off for home so we were unable to spend any more time with them. SP's mom was returning home on Sunday. Our out of town friends were headed home. My brother and his family were still here - they came over in late morning and spent the day here. We ate leftover food from the rehearsal dinner and wedding (Sewickley Speakeasy was kind enough to box up all the extra appetizers) and Uncle SP was overwhelmed by his newly official niece and nephew playing Wii games with him.
Later Sunday evening, we all watched the hockey game together - I think we might be getting my niece into hockey! My nephew played with his new toy from his grandma, a Star Wars mini light saber, and Uncle SP was soooo cool because he put it together for him.
It was nice to spend some non-wedding time with them since they live in GA and we see them only 1-2 times a year.
Monday SP went to work and my mom helped me start to clean up and organize the house. We are going on a honeymoon soon, but right now, I can't imagine how other couples depart right away on a trip! We are glad we decided to spend some time at home after the wedding and before the honeymoon.
Sadly, the top layer of our cake - the layer we are supposed to freeze for a year - had a little sliding problem on Monday (it was fine for the wedding; this happened post wedding, after it sat in our kitchen for 2 days!). It was a problem like SP's birthday cake! We tried to save it, but it wasn't looking too good, so then we decided to eat half our top layer and freeze half for next year (GASP!!! Yes, we are eating half our top layer!) but when SP moved it out of the box and tried to slice it, it all fell apart. We now have a plastic container filled with mangled cake to munch on and the other mangled half is currently in the freezer. Oops! Why did we decided to eat it now? We love this cake and the icing and were afraid that after a year it just wouldn't taste as yummy, so we figured we'd enjoy at least half of it!!!
Look for posts soon on our honeymoon - I'll reveal our destinations later but for now I will say that we are very glad we decided to wait a bit for a trip to Europe (save some more money, hope for a better exchange rate) since the Iceland volcano is messing up air travel. We are staying in the USA and going to what are supposed to be 2 lovely, romantic places and we are driving, not flying - so, no, we are not going to Hawaii like many newlyweds!
Friday, April 23, 2010
Sewickley Speakeasy is off Route 65. The building is the former residence of Captain John Hays, the founder of Haysville, and it dates from the 1800's. It's up a steep driveway and surrounded by woods. Down the hill and across Route 65 are the Ohio River and some train tracks. The river made for a nice view out the reception room windows and the trains provided entertainment for those guests under 10 years old! Time to watch the train:
The Speakeasy was more than accommodating. They were wonderful. As horrible as the service was at Buca di Beppo, the Speakeasy was the polar opposite.
My mom and I met several times with Chef Janice. She told us we could pick entrees off the menu or create our own entrees. We opted for 4 entrees off the menu plus one of the specials we've had there before. They let us rearrange the tables. They let us have our own cake delivered. They let us bring in our own table decorations. They ordered ivory and peach linens for the tables and replaced the usual burgundy salt and pepper shakers with clear ones. They set up a cake table and a gift table. They put out our place cards and our Sarris favors, complete with pretty peach bow, at each place setting:You can customize these favors, so when I called Sarris to order them, I chose a dark chocolate covered cherry, a chocolate cream, a milk chocolate covered caramel, and a cappuccino meltaway.
PM and her friend DL made my lovely table centerpieces. I wanted fresh peach and ivory roses in vases. They placed the vases in the center of a square mirror and placed votives in the corners of the mirrors.Our table had more greenery on it than the other tables:They also arranged some greenery and votives on the window sills, fireplace mantle, cake table, and appetizer (then later cookie) table.
Along with greenery and votives on the cake table was our wedding cake knife & server and a gorgeous Cinderella cake topper that SP's dad gave us at the rehearsal dinner:Our cake set matched the unity candle holder design - the Lenox Opal Innocence design.
Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and we were unable to have the cocktail/appetizer hour outside on the patio. Instead, there was a table set up inside with the appetizers: vegetable trays with spinach dip, cheese trays, shrimp cocktail, bruschetta (peppers, tomatoes, artichokes, olives on top): and mushroom caps stuffed with crabmeat and served with a buerre blanc sauce:I hope everyone enjoyed the appetizers. I really enjoyed them!
The servers walked around with the pre-chosen bottles of wine (Coppola Malbec, Clay Station Cabernet-Shiraz, Ponzi Pinot Grigio, and Kendall Jackson Reserve Chardonnay), keeping everyone's glass full. Other wines by the glass were available plus beer and mixed drinks. During the cocktail hour, SP & I traveled from table to table, talking with our guests. SP was very attentive, making sure my wine glass and appetizer plate followed me everywhere!
Then it was time for a surprise: a champagne toast. Originally, I said no to a champagne toast because I though there were too many guests who don't drink/don't like champagne. But, as a surprise, my parents arranged for it -- they told me it was my reward for winning the March Madness Family Basketball Bracket Contest.My dad said a blessing and SP's dad gave a lovely toast and we enjoyed some champagne. Of course our guests tinged their silverware against glasses - this turned out to be something the youngest guests especially enjoyed! What fun - being allowed to bang on a glass with a knife or fork!Then it was time for salad. Mixed greens with tiny tomatoes and a choice of balsamic or ranch dressing. I asked them to put the dressing on the side, so there were ramekins of dressing on the table. Some people like a little dressing, some a lot. Warm rolls were also served. I thought it was a nice touch that each person had a scoop of butter on their bread plate instead of using a communal butter dish (or those pats of butter).
Next up was the entree. One option was Veal Marsala because the bride likes veal:One option was tilapia stuffed with crabmeat because the bride's mom really likes that dish:Another was Duck a l'Orange because the groom and bride's dad really like duck:There was Chicken Cordon Blue:And finally another fish dish, Poached Salmon: With each entree came a vegetable medley: zucchini, carrots, and red pepper with dill. For the kids, there were chicken tenders, corn, macaroni & cheese, and some also had French fries:Again, I hope everyone enjoyed their entree. I really liked my veal. Then it was time to mingle again! Soon enough the cookie table was set up and coffee was being served. PM handled our cookie table as a thank you to us for SP fixing her computer last January/February. L also brought some cookies. Look at these cookies!
I can't even tell you all the kinds. PM told me there were 40 dozen cookies! Lady lox, pizzelles rolled and stuffed with cream (like a cannoli), buckeyes, coconut balls, nut crescents, lots of other nut kinds, chocolate ones, citrus ones... Here's the plate that SP and I carried from table to table - we didn't finish them all:And then, just when you loaded up on cookies and coffee (or more wine!), it was time to cut the cake.Bethel Bakery wedding cake. Here's a close-up: We chose a very simple design and we chose the 'crowning glory' on top - a mound of icing flowers. Our icing flowers were tinted peach. It was a very pale peach; my Jasc Paint Shop Quick Fix seems to make colors a bit too intense/neon-y but I swear all the peach was pale peach, not glowy peach bordering on orangey! Our cake layers were almond-chocolate-almond. The 2 fillings were raspberry and chocolate cream. Yum!Before we knew it the reception was over. The wedding was over. We left last, loading up the car with gifts and leftover food/cake.
It went by so quickly! I wish it could have lasted a bit longer. I wish I could have spent more time with guests - I hope I did a good job of being a chit chatty social butterfly with everyone! The Speakeasy did a fabulous job and so did PM & DL with my dress and the table/mantle decor. Many thanks to everyone who made the day so wonderful.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The flowers: We ordered the bride's bouquet, my niece's bouquet, and the corsages/boutonnieres from Puhlman's in Carnegie. My bouquet was a nosegay of peach & ivory roses tied with a peach ribbon:The corsages and boutonnieres were also peach & ivory roses. While mom was in Carnegie, she drove by the church - and the road was still closed at both ends. Uh-oh.We set off to get our hair done. Did I mention that after many beautiful, sunny, warm April days, after the storms rolled through it was cold, gray, and sprinkly all wedding weekend long? Yeah. Boo. I was very worried about my hair surviving the weather!
It took almost 2 hours for my niece and I to get our hair done. Lots of soft curls! Plus a flower for me. Normally, my hair is straight. We had to trim the outer petals off the flower because it was too big for my tiny head! After trimming off petals, it didn't resemble an open rose anymore, but oh well. Better that than looking like my head was being attacked by a giant peach bug!After lots of hairspray and fussing, we were off to the next stop: lunch. We grabbed lunch at Wendy's and went right to the church for rehearsal. At this point, one side of the road was opened (of course not the side we gave everyone in the directions to the church) and when we pulled in, the electric guys were working on the pole/lines right at the corner of the church. In fact, a few moments after we pulled in, power was finally restored to the church. Around this time, there were lots of frantic phone calls to give the people involved in the rehearsal the alternate directions.Everyone arrived and we had a crazy, quick rehearsal at 1:30 pm before dashing off to get ready. Unfortunately, since the church is an historical church and therefore not open all the time, we all had to leave since they were going to lock it until 3 pm. SP had planned on staying and changing at the church, but instead he and his dad ended up hanging out at a Starbucks and - get ready for a laugh - the groom got dressed in a Starbucks bathroom!!!! They headed back to the church around 3 pm.Meanwhile, my parents, niece, and I dashed home. Thank goodness Robinson isn't too far from Carnegie! During this time, SP and I were calling wedding guests to give them the alternate directions. Good thing we were having a small wedding!!
Shortly after I got home and started washing my face and re-doing my make-up, my friend PM stopped by for emergency dress altering. Stupidly, I didn't try on the camisole when the seamstress dropped it off (there had been a prior fitting so I just figured all was OK) and the straps were falling off my shoulders. I had put the camisole on in the morning so that I wouldn't have to pull it on over my head later in the day and put on a warm, comfy button-front shirt for hair/rehearsal and struggled with floppy straps. PM quickly stitched me up - no more floppy straps.
After a quick, crazy hour at home, we were off to the church, again!! Happily, it never actually did more than sprinkle a week bit. Being the bride and therefore the last to arrive/enter, I missed the church organist playing the 1823 pipe organ that was brought from England and carried over the Allegheny Mountains.Around 4 pm my dad walked me down the aisle and by 4:30 pm we were married!! I got a little teary a couple of times and had to try to zone out so I wouldn't cry and ruin my make-up!! The moms got teary - I cry whenever other people cry so I couldn't look at the moms!!! SP got a little choked up when he was reciting the vows so I stopped looking at him then!!
My niece was my 'Bride's Attendant'/Maid of Honor:I told her she could wear whatever dress she wanted. I wanted her to feel comfortable. She and her mom bought this dress. My niece liked it; her mom didn't think it was formal enough. I thought she looked pretty, especially since usually she's more of a tomboy, and her hair was in soft curls and pulled back. We got her a 'bouquet' of 3 ivory roses to carry.
SP's 7 year old nephew was the 'Groom's Attendant'/Best Man. We told him he didn't have to wear a suit. He did wear a tie and looked very handsome. He stood at attention:He got a little bored halfway through:And sometimes, you just gotta dance during the wedding ceremony:We got married at Old St. Luke's Church in Carnegie. It was a Presbyterian ceremony. My brother read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 and EPAS read selected verses from Song of Songs, Mark, and John. We lit a unity candle:Otherwise it was a typical wedding ceremony! We stayed in front of the church after the ceremony and everyone came up to us for the receiving line. And then we took some photos!
In keeping with our not extravagant and not typical wedding, we did not hire a professional photographer. Instead, we asked Googer to take photos. He borrowed the digital SLR camera he gave his mom for Christmas and he took many wonderful photos. Thank you Googer!!
Everyone left the church and it was just SP and I. We got into our car (no limo - remember, not your typical wedding!) and smiled and smooched and then it was off to the reception!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Last Friday was 'Rehearsal Day.' In the afternoon, my parents took the favors and place cards and other things up to the reception restaurant while I visited with L and our friend C (from VA) and SP got some X-Box time. Around 3 pm some storms moved through. Our lights flickered a few times but we never lost power. The trees in the woods behind our house swayed in the wind but didn't topple. It seemed like a 'typical' storm rolling through.
Around 4:30 pm, as we were leaving for the church, my phone rang. It was the reverend, He said,"We have a problem." Uh-oh. I can't even begin to describe the thoughts that went spinning through my head. Those are just not words a bride, or groom, or bride's parents want to hear so close to the big event!!
It turns out that the road to the church was blocked at both ends due to downed trees and power lines. No one could get to the church. Uh-oh. I asked him what he would suggest for a new rehearsal time. He suggested Saturday - the day of the wedding - at 1:30 --- and the wedding is at 4 pm!!! But what choice did we have? So I quickly yelled down the stairs and out the windows at my family to not leave, explained the situation, and we all started making phone calls.
My brother's family was just passing the exit to our house, so they detoured here. SP's dad also was able to detour here as were EPAS and her family. Unfortunately for Googer and SP's mom, they were too far past any exits for our house and stuck in traffic so they ended up just meeting us at the rehearsal dinner.So everyone hung out here for about an hour before we went to the rehearsal dinner at Buca di Beppo. We were at the Pope's table, which I thought was in a private room, but I wouldn't call it a room so much as a nook and it was a tight squeeze. We all took turns spinning the creepy Pope face in the enter of the table - no one wanted it looking at them! The decor was, in my opinion, cheesy, but I suspected going in it wouldn't be 'serious' Italian decor.
I made the reservation and food selections in early March. I reconfirmed the Wednesday before. We even signed and returned a paper confirming our guest count and food selections and giving a credit card to hold the reservation. And yet the room was NOT SET UP for our party. Unbelievable. I have zero tolerance for this kind of thing.
And oh yes - SP and I were the last to arrive (since we were feeding the cat and locking up the house, we left after everyone else). We told the hostess we were there for our rehearsal dinner and she told us to go wait in a corner of the crowded entryway for someone to show us to our rehearsal dinner!!! We are the bride and groom!!! Not to be all Bridezilla, but all weekend long everyone else bent over backwards to cater to our every whim and need and desire and made us feel like a prince and princess but not Buca!!!! Fortunately, we caught sight of Googer and followed him to our table.
Buca finally managed to add the additional 5 place settings and chairs but then it seemed to take FOREVER to have our server show up to take our drink orders. The soft drinks arrived quickly enough, but the wine seemed to take a while, and the beers arrived AFTER THE APPETIZER. I was annoyed. Especially since it took a while for the appetizers to arrive. Grrr.
We had Fried Mozzarella and Mozzarella Caprese for appetizers.After another long wait, the salads arrived: Caesar Saladand Apple Gorgonzola Salad (tart Granny Smith apples, spiced walnuts, dried cranberries and Gorgonzola cheese tossed with lettuce in Italian vinaigrette).After another long wait, our pasta and entrees arrived. The pastas were Chicken Cannelloni (pasta tubes stuffed with chicken, spinach, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses with a hint of lemon zest and nutmeg, baked on a bed of rosa sauce)and Spaghetti Marinara.The entrees were Chicken Parmesanand Chicken Limone (chicken breasts lightly sautéed and topped with lemon butter sauce and capers).I should mention here that our group had 4 children. My 11 year old niece was eating the 'adult food' but the 3 nephews (ages 9, 7, and 5) were supposed to get cheese pizzas. The pizzas were on the signed confirmation. But Buca FORGOT the cheese pizzas. I had to remind them when the adult pastas/entrees arrived and then the pizzas didn't show up until AFTER the adults finished eating their meals. Do you know how hard it is for children to sit at a restaurant and behave and NOT have their food? They ended up snacking on the 'adult food' and then barely touched their pizzas!
This was followed by what I swear was a half hour wait for coffee and dessert. We ended up using that time to give out our thank you gifts, which included thank yous for the kids and the thank yous were toys, so the boys got to play with new toys to keep them amused.
Dessert finally arrived: an order of cannoliand the Dolce Platter: TiramisuChocolate Cake, which was such a deep fudgy chocolate that even after a 'photo quick fix' is still too dark to see much detailCheesecakeand Apple Crostata.And then - we waited and waited and waited for the check. The coffee was never refilled (although the server did leave the pot, but once it was empty, it was never replaced). Our server never returned to check on dessert, never returned to see if we needed anything else, never returned to see if we wanted dessert wrapped up.
Finally SP went off to find someone, anyone, because we hardly ever saw an employee outside in the hallway area by our nook. We also had to locate our own wrapped up food!!! (But of course not the desserts because we were never given the option to have those wrapped to go).
I was furious, but we had a large group, everyone was getting tired and maybe even a little hot in the small nook space, there was the stress of the church being not reachable, so I didn't complain. Take away the crappy service, and it was a wonderful evening with family, and really, that's the point.
After we got home, SP realized he forgot his bag with his diabetes stuff so he went back to get it and when he returned home, he mentioned that they hadn't even started to clear our table and that it seemed all the employees were in the bar watching the Pens game. Yes, it's playoff time, but YOU ARE AT WORK!!!! We suspected that's where our server was all evening and SP's extra trip back confirmed it. I am so mad about the LOUSY service. I can't believe that HORRIBLE server got an automatic 20% tip because we were a large group. Their paperwork is very clear about having 2.5 hours at the Pope's table for your event, but at 9 pm, after 3 hours, we still didn't have the check and hadn't seen our server for at least half an hour.
So my Buca di Beppo Robinson opinion: acceptable but not great Italian food but LOUSY LOUSY LOUSY SERVICE.
Did I mention the service was LOUSY??!!!!!!!
**Thanks to Googer for the photos. I am not good with Photo Editing, so all I did was a 'quick fix' in Jasc Paint Shop Photo Album. If the the color or something looks 'off,' it's my fault for trying to brighten them a bit from the raw photo data. Don't worry, SP, I was careful to not save over any of the converted files - all original data and conversions are safe!