Time to Ride Off Into the Sunset

Where do I even start?

Stallion and I started dating on August 27, 2005. He proposed to me on August 25, 2012. I was introduced to you all on September 25, 2013. We tied the knot on April 5, 2014. And today,  91 blog posts later, I sign off for the last time as Mrs. Filly.

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BYE, GUYS. (courtesy of Aleksey Photography)

It’s been a wild ride. Planning a wedding is alternately exhilarating and exhausting. I’ve shared with you all the ups, downs, and boring parts – I did an Excel tutorial, for heaven’s sake, does it get more boring than that?!

As usual, I’m veering off-topic. The point is, over the past nine months, I’ve shared a slice of my life with you all, and I want to thank you for reading, for commenting, for sharing your stories with me. Weddingbee is such a special community, and it has been a privilege to serve as a bee blogger. Whether you enjoyed my posts or not, whether you’ve been following my story since the beginning or just started reading, the point is that you’ve been there, and I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

How is newlywed life treating the Fillies? Pretty much exactly the same as single life, except we have a healthier savings account and nicer stuff in our kitchen, and my hair is longer because I am NOT getting a post-wedding chop. So life is good. No complaints.

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Abusing photo booth privileges everywhere we go.

What does the future hold for the Fillies? That’s to be determined. Stallion is in his last year of his Ph.D. program, on track to defend his dissertation in the spring, meaning that come May, we’ll very likely be packing up and moving again. This time next year, we could be literally ANYWHERE. It’s scary, but exciting – who knows what our next adventure will be? In the meantime, we’re making the most of Boston while we’re still here. Maybe by the time we leave, I’ll have incorporated “wicked” into my everyday vocabulary. Stranger things have happened.

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WICKED PISSAH AT FENWAY PAHK! GO SAWX! (Did I do a good job?)

What am I going to do with all my free time now that I don’t have to plan a wedding anymore? Um, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. And I am going to enjoy every second of it. Oh, and I’m taking the GMAT in three weeks, so assuming I don’t completely forget high school math, it’s looking like grad school may be in the cards for me. What can I say? I like pain.

Any last bits of advice for brides-to-be? Enjoy every second. Even the boring stuff. And for heaven’s sake, be nice to people.

It’s been real, you guys. This isn’t goodbye; it’s “see you later”.

Love love love,

Lauren/Mrs. Filly

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This is B and I dressed up as little piggies. I always wanted to share it, but the time never felt right. And since this is my last post, I guess it’s now or never.

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I guess my last-last picture should be Stallion and I, right? Probably. (courtesy of Aleksey Photography)

I love you guys. Thank you for putting up with me. Bye!

A Stable Kind of Love: South Jersey Vendor Roundup

Mrs. Filly’s guide to getting the most out of your vendors: treat them the way you would like to be treated.

This means feed them, tip them (all of them, not just the non-business owners!), and be nice to them. Easy. As. Pie.

I loved every single thing about my wedding. But I didn’t do any of it myself (and thank god for that!) Stallion and I had an excellent group of vendors who went above and beyond to make sure every single aspect of our day was perfect, and I’m thrilled to give them all a shout-out here on Weddingbee.

Attention, all South Jersey/Philadelphia area brides – if you’re looking for vendors, I can vouch for these people 100% and I would not hesitate to recommend any of them to a friend. In fact, I already have.

In the interest of full disclosure, none of my vendors were aware that I blogged for Weddingbee, so as far as they were concerned, I was just another bride. They had no incentive to treat me any differently than they would anyone else. Meaning? You’ll get the same fantastic treatment that I did.

You’ll notice I’m not including budget information in this post. That’s because, for the most part, my vendors don’t publicly disclose their prices, so I felt uncomfortable blogging about it. We took care of our guests, everyone had an awesome time, and we didn’t go into debt over it, so I’m at peace with what we spent on the wedding. If anyone has any questions regarding our budget, feel free to message me – I’d be happy to discuss the details in private.

So here we go – here are all the fabulous folks who made our wedding day so wonderful. All photos, unless specifically noted, are courtesy of Aleksey Photography.

Venue/catering/accomodations – The Grand Hotel, Cape May, NJ

I cannot say enough wonderful things about our venue. From the moment I walked in the door, Katlyn Mogavero (the incredible wedding coordinator) took such great care of us. She was super responsive with emails, she answered all my (often ridiculous) questions, and she has an amazing eye for detail. At our wedding tasting last fall, she remembered every single couples’ names, wedding dates, and wedding details without a moment’s hesitation.

Here’s the thing. Finding a beautiful venue or delicious catering or anything like that isn’t too difficult, especially in Cape May. And our venue was absolutely beautiful and the food was incredibly delicious, so that was great. But the thing that especially stood out about the Grand is how we were treated. The flexibility, the willingness to help us with anything we needed, the lack of pretention or attitude – that can be hard to find. And that’s what was so special about the Grand. I looked at pretty much every single wedding venue in Cape May, and I can assure you, it does not get any better than the Grand.

Get married at the Grand, work with Katlyn, and everything will be beyond perfect. End of story.

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Photography – Aleksey Photography, Cape May, NJ

I mean, you guys have seen the quality of the photography we got, so I don’t need to go into detail about that. Suffice it to say that Stallion and I were absolutely thrilled with our photos. The hardest part was narrowing down what we wanted to put in the album, since we loved every single picture! We wanted a casual, photojournalistic style, and that’s exactly what we got. Aleks blended into the background so much that once the formal photos were done, we completely forgot he was there – he did an amazing job of capturing us naturally, in our element. He’s so nice, it’s impossible not to feel at ease working with him. And he’s incredibly efficient – we were done with our formal photos in a snap, leaving us plenty of time to let loose and have fun with our guests. We didn’t get a second shooter, and frankly, we didn’t need one – Aleks got every single shot we could have possibly wanted.

For those of you who are wondering, our package included an engagement shoot and eight hours of coverage. We received an 8×10 print of our choice, all digital and hard copy proofs (1,200 photos in all!), our album, and two parent albums. Our contract stipulated that we were to receive our photos within six to eight weeks following our wedding, but we received our photos just after the four-week mark. So I was able to get my recaps going right away, you lucky ducks!

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Entertainment – The B Street Band, Belmar, NJ

Here’s my favorite thing about the B Street Band. They’ve played venues big and small, to crowds small and large, all throughout the country. They’ve played in front of the Boss himself. And they played our wedding with as much energy and enthusiasm as they would the biggest show of their lives. I know in our contract, they indicated they would take a break at some point during the evening, but they never did – they kept the party rocking all night long, from start to finish. The set list was about a quarter Springsteen songs and three-quarters everything else, I think. I don’t remember exactly; I just remember dancing my face off. They’re the best.

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Ceremony music – Catherine Boyd, Cape May, NJ

Catherine came highly recommended by the Grand, and since I trusted Katlyn implicitly, I took her word for it. And right away, I knew I’d made the right call – she was incredibly affordable, she’s a total sweetheart, and she will take the time to find the sheet music and learn ANY song you ask of her. The only regret I have about booking her is that I wasn’t able to listen to her beautiful prelude since I was hidden away on the other side of the hotel! But the parts that I could hear were pretty perfect.

We booked Catherine to play a half hour prelude and the ceremony. She provided her own amplification and provided a microphone for our officiant as well. I could not have asked for more. Frankly, I would have paid two or three times her asking rate, because she’s that good.

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Floral – The Manic Botanic, Corbin City, NJ

I think I’ve posted approximately ten million photos of my flowers, so you guys have a good idea of what they look like. Manic Botanic wasn’t the most affordable florist we looked at, but the splurge was well worth it (not that they were unreasonably expensive or anything, don’t get me wrong!). I don’t know anything about flowers, but their work stood head and shoulders above the other florists we looked at. I didn’t really have a vision for my flowers, so I had them go to town with whatever they thought would look good, and oh my, they knocked it out of the park. I could not have asked for more beautiful flowers. (And Tami, who I first met with when I had my consultation there, recently got engaged – congratulations!!)

Our package included one bridal bouquet, three bridesmaids’ bouquets, two corsages for our moms, five boutonnieres (groom, two groomsmen, and two dads), a ceremony arch, flower petals along the aisle, sweetheart table decor, twenty centerpieces, cake flowers, and a complementary bathroom arrangement in lieu of a toss bouquet.

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Cake – Blue Dolfin Sweets, Marmora, NJ

I knew I would like Stefan when, following our cake tasting, we had to stagger back out to our car, loaded with a ton of free goodies to take home. (“You like this? It’s great! Take one!” over and over and over) His prices are beyond affordable – we got our cakes plus a Viennese table for an absolute steal – and everything is sooooo delicious. Our cake was the opposite of the stereotypical bland, dry wedding cake. We had a vanilla cake with chocolate chips, raspberry mousse filling, and buttercream frosting, and the slice I wolfed down on my way to the afterparty was absolute heaven.

My favorite thing about Stefan? He tells it like it is. He was very up front about what would and would not work and what we could achieve within our budget. It was really refreshing.

Downside? He’s casual. Very casual. So casual, in fact, that we didn’t actually have a formal contract with him. We gave him a tiny deposit and he jotted our names and wedding date down in a notebook, and that’s all there was to it. There was one small communication issue that could have been solved if we had had a formal contract, but honestly, it isn’t worth detailing here because it’s so minor. I’m still extremely happy with how everything turned out, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use him again.

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Uplighting – DFX Soundvision, West Berlin, NJ

DFX was another vendor recommended by Katlyn, and it was another spot-on recommendation! Megan was familiar with my venue and was extremely respectful of our budget. I was initially on the fence about springing for uplighting, but I’m so glad I did. It really made the room pop. Our package included fifteen lights, setup, and delivery. I wish we could have done more, but since it was one of the very last wedding expenses, we didn’t have the wiggle room in our budget. I still think we achieved the impact we were going for.

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Photo Booth – Boardwalk Photo Booth Rentals, Wildwood, NJ

I LOVED our photo booth, and so did the rest of our guests. Scott couldn’t have been more of a pleasure to work with. He was very up front about how much time we needed the rental for (hint: way less than we were prepared to pay for!). He had no trouble using our custom monogram for the photo booth strips. We paid for an upgrade that enabled every person that went into the photo booth to get a strip, as opposed to one for the entire group, and it was totally worth it. Our package included a three-and-a-half hour rental, an attendant (who was lovely and super professional!), two tables filled with props, a guestbook with everybody’s photo strips, and a flash drive with electronic copies of all the photos. One of my friends got married about two months after we did, and she loved our photo booth so much that she booked them right away for her own wedding – they are that great.

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Invitations – Wedding Paper Divas

We ordered save the dates, our invitation suite, and place cards from Wedding Paper Divas, and they did a lovely job. They are popular for a reason – they do great work. Everything came exactly as we ordered them, and everything looked great. I have nothing to say about WPD that hasn’t been said a million times already.

My only complaint? Thermography invitations, like the ones we used, are never eligible for coupons. But they were worth the money, so I’ll put my big girl pants on and deal with it.

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Miscellaneous paper – How Lovely Paper (Etsy)

Chelsie rocks. We ordered programs, menus, table numbers, and a few miscellaneous signs, and everything came out perfectly. She was super flexible in regards to customizing everything to exactly what we wanted, and we loved the end result. Particularly important when you’re dealing with Etsy sellers – she is incredibly responsive via email.

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Bouquet preservation – Hana Willow Design (formerly known as Papertini), Philadelphia, PA

Hands down, Tanti and Stefanie are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my entire life. When I was looking for bouquet preservation options, I was immediately drawn to their fresh, modern take on things. They don’t just preserve a bouquet, they create a work of art. They used our invitation suite, my dress, and my professional photos for inspiration to create something that reflected the best parts of our wedding.

The day after the wedding, my sister B dropped my flowers off at Tanti’s home outside Philadelphia, and about six weeks later, the end result was at my doorstep. It’s beyond perfect. The gold, the lace, the shells, the subtle sparkle … it’s the perfect way to memorialize my wedding without making my apartment look like my wedding threw up in it.

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(via Hana Willow Design)

Guestbook – Franny and Franky Designs (Etsy)

Have I mentioned before that my guestbook was created by Mrs. Ladyfingers? Is this new information? Long hair, don’t care. Christina was so great to work with – she used a custom color palette just for us and gave us about a million layout proofs to choose from. She printed it for us, but we could have received an electronic file and printed it ourselves if we had wanted to. Seeing all the sweet messages from our guests brings a smile to my face every single day.

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Hair/makeup – Nine Salon & Spa, Rio Grande, NJ

As a longtime client of Nine Salon (even though I live in Boston now, I try to make it here at least once a year for Carrie to do my hair!), I knew I was in good hands for the wedding. We got manis and pedis at the salon the day before the wedding, and on our wedding day, they came to the hotel to do our hair and makeup. I think we cleaned up pretty nicely. And everything held up beautifully – the only casualty was my fake eyelashes. Considering the crazy wind we were dealing with when we were taking pictures on the beach, that’s not too shabby.

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Bridal attire – Kleinfeld Bridal, New York, NY

Kleinfeld was the first and only place I shopped for my wedding dress. And yeah, it’s kind of a madhouse, but we made early morning appointments whenever possible, and it was just fine. More important than where you shop is the person who is helping you, and in that regard, I could not have asked for a better experience. I worked with Katie when I bought my dress (Alita Graham 7809, which has since been discontinued) and Alyssa when I came back for my veil and accessories, but the biggest rock stars of all were Ramona and Vera (yes, THE Vera, Say Yes to the Dress watchers!) in alterations. Katie may have helped me choose the right dress, but Ramona is the one who made it fit and flatter my figure perfectly.

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Personal photo – right after deciding to plunk down the most money I’ve ever spent on an article of clothing. Little did I know what this well-worn, poorly-fitting sample was capable of!

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Personal photo from one of my alterations appointments – Vera and Ramona ordered extra lace and designed these cap sleeves just for me. I love the pleated detail and the raw edges and how the sleeves meet to form a V on my back. The customization came out better than I could have ever imagined.

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The end result – I have never felt so beautiful in my entire life.

If you can request to work with certain people at Kleinfeld, ask for Katie and Alyssa when you’re shopping, and for alterations, it’s Ramona all the way. Everyone at Kleinfeld was incredibly nice and professional, but as far as I’m concerned, Ramona is the MVP. I wish she could tailor every single article of clothing that I own.

Bridesmaids’ attire – J.Crew

I gave my bridesmaids three criteria: J.Crew, silk chiffon, dark eggplant. The cut of the dress was up to them. All three bridesmaids were very happy with the fit and quality of their dresses, and I thought everybody looked fabulous. Such chic. Much fabulous. Amaze.

My advice: hold out for sales (especially if you can stack sales with a student/teacher discount … shh!) or purchase used on eBay.

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Mens’ attire – Men’s Wearhouse

Like Mrs. Waterfall, we rented Black by Vera Wang tuxedos for Stallion, his groomsmen, and our fathers. All the rentals arrived on time and were complete, and there were no major fit issues. The only thing that came up was when we put down our deposit, we were told that we had enough orders for Stallion to get a free suit after the wedding. After the wedding, we were told that no, we were one order short. They gave Stallion the coupon anyway, and given the restrictions on it (up to $500 off a full-price suit), there wasn’t anything he was interested in, so it didn’t matter. We’d still use them again without hesitation, but as far as the free suit coupon went, Stallion was better off holding out for a sale instead.

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Jewelry – Terrone Jewelers, Toms River, NJ

My dad has been best friends with Ralph, the owner of Terrone Jewelers, since they were in junior high. I guess that qualifies as a friendor? Ralph has taken care of my family’s jewelry for years, and there was no place else we would consider going for something as important as our wedding jewelry. He resized my engagement ring, reset my wedding band in platinum (it was originally set in white gold, which I’m allergic to), and ordered and engraved Stallion’s wedding band. Everything turned out absolutely perfect, and we will treasure our rings for the rest of our lives.

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So that’s that – all the people who made the Filly wedding so fabulous.

To all the people listed above: thank you for your hard work, dedication, and expertise. You all exceeded my expectations beyond my wildest dreams. My wedding would not be what it was without your contributions.

If I could redo my wedding, I would not hesitate to use every single one of these vendors again. They are all incredibly talented and professional. South Jersey and Philadelphia brides, take it from me – it doesn’t get any better than these folks! As I mentioned above, if anyone has any questions or would like to discuss these vendors in more detail, feel free to message me.

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A Stable Kind of Love: The Difference Is In the Details

You all knew this was coming. These are my favorite, favorite, favorite kinds of posts, and I am so excited to share mine with you. I know I’ve shared a few of these already, but it’s nice to have them all together.

Without further ado, here are the details of my wedding that I loved so much.

All photos courtesy of Aleksey Photography.

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I got ready in an oversized monogrammed button-down, courtesy of Miss Lucy’s Monograms. They were so comfortable and well-made; I’m glad I gave them as bridesmaids’ gifts as well. Everybody loved them!

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Obligatory hanging dress photo.

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My shoes were so pretty (Badgley Mischka’s Lacie), but despite many hours of breaking them in around my apartment, they were ultimately torture instruments of the devil and I ditched them during the reception.

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I borrowed my Alpha Delta Pi sisters’ pins for my bouquet (yes, some of them are upside down – our florist was pinning them on, and she noticed about halfway through that they were upside down. She asked if she should redo them; I said no way! I thought it was pretty fun that they were facing all different ways, sort of like how Mr. Bicycle’s bow tie was upside down.) … along with some sweet little bees!

My bees were sent to me by Mrs. Orchard, had been previously worn by Mrs. Meerkat, Mrs. Knitting, Mrs. Earrings, Mrs. Cheetah, Mrs. Zebra, Mrs. Ostrich, Mrs. Lox, Mrs. Crepe, Mrs. Cinnamon Bun, Mrs. High Wire, Mrs. Ladyfingers, Mrs. Honey, Mrs. Doily, Mrs. Dalmatian, Mrs. Mink, Mrs. Scepter, Mrs. Bracelet, Mrs. Archer, Mrs. Toadstool, Mrs. Palm Tree, Mrs. Rucksack, Mrs. Airplane, and Mrs. Jet Setter, and they are now in the lovely Miss Milk Cow’s hands. Hopefully they bring her as much wedding day good luck and happiness as they did for me and the other beautiful bees who wore them before me.

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I know, I know, it’s a super corny thing to do, but when I saw these sample tags at my first dress fitting, I started bawling in the middle of Kleinfeld’s, so … yeah.

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The millions of teeny, tiny buttons that gave Stallion and I so much agita after the wedding. They sure are pretty.

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photo 0101Some of my wedding day jewelry: my engagement thing, a sterling silver bracelet that I got for my thirteenth birthday and wear every single day (and the clasp broke the morning after the wedding – weird, right?), and a sapphire and diamond bracelet that I borrowed from my great aunt. All beautiful, and all mean so much to me.

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Stallon wore Villanova cufflinks to represent our alma mater.

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He is so stinking cute. Anyway, all the menfolk wore Black by Vera Wang tuxes like this; each boutonniere consisted of three spray roses (white for Stallion, light purple for M and G, mixed for our dads.)

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My grandfather passed away in 2009. He was Scottish and took great pride in his heritage. To pay homage, my dad wore his kilt pin on his boutonniere – it’s the crest of his (okay, our) clan. Clan Maclellan, for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing.

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I just can’t get enough of our flowers. Not sorry. My bouquet consisted of white hydrangea, white garden roses, and light purple spray roses; my bridesmaids’ bouquets were purple hydrangea, white garden roses, lavender spray roses, purple lisianthus, dark purple stock, and light pink spray roses.

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Or our ceremony arch.

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Our ceremony programs were simple but so pretty. For those of you who don’t remember, we ordered the design from How Lovely Paper on Etsy and had them printed at PIP, a local print shop. Each program measured 4.25 by 11 inches – you know, a regular sheet of paper cut in half lengthways – and was double-sided.

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The ceremony setup. I loved the white to lavender gradient of rose petals that our florist put down …

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… Although it was so windy, they scattered pretty much right away. (And they were so gorgeous, it didn’t even matter.)

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I loved our escort card sandbox display, surrounded by family wedding photos.

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And our guestbook, a printed heart map of Cape May, was courtesy of Mrs. Ladyfingers’s Etsy shop, Franny and Franky Designs.

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The pintuck detail on our linens was all Stallion. He nailed it.

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I didn’t spend much time at our sweetheart table, but it was nice to look at.

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I could honestly post pictures of our flowers all day and be happy.

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We had two types of centerpieces going on. This was one of them – three small flower cubes, three candlesticks (Miss Llama called them Monet vases, which sounds way nicer!) of varying heights, plus tea lights and scattered rose petals.

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This was the other type – one large flower cube with tea lights and scattered rose petals. So we sort of had a varied height look going on without having to spring for tall floral arrangements.

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Our place settings –  the menus coordinated with the ceremony programs perfectly. Not that anyone noticed except me, which is basically how all wedding details work, right?

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Guess what else coordinates? The table numbers. We popped them into black Ikea Nyttja photo frames – we had thought about buying Tolsby frames and painting them black, but it didn’t seem worth the trouble. And the Nyttja frames weren’t that much more expensive, anyway.

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Remember the custom monogram I mentioned? There it is on the photo booth strips.

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The ballroom, all set up and ready to rock. Since it’s still daylight in this photo, it doesn’t show off our purple uplighting to its best advantage …

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… But this does! I’m so happy we sprung for the uplighting. It was a subtle but really elegant touch.

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Little-known fact: a group of ADPis cannot get together without getting at least one picture throwing diamonds.

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Who needs a cake topper when you have such gorgeous flowers?

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I love the effect of our cake against the mirrored wall. And that cake stand – believe it or not, that’s our venue’s standard cake stand. I’m pretty sure anything would look gorgeous displayed like that.

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Our cake looked good, but tasted better. Hopefully it tastes just as delicious when we have the top on our first anniversary. Only 272 days to go …

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Our rings – my bands are so dainty next to Stallion’s manly man band.

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One more gratuitous ring post, because why not?

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I know this isn’t really a detail, but I would just like to point out how much Glenn (the lead singer of the B Street Band) resembles Bruce Springsteen. Which is a very appropriate detail when a Springsteen cover band is playing at your wedding.

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That’s all, folks.

Detail overload? Possibly. I loved so much about my wedding, I wanted to share every last thing with you guys. I can’t believe I’m at this point – I’ve shared my planning journey, I’ve shared the big day, I’ve shared my favorite details, and in my next post, I’m really excited to give credit where credit is due. Because without the incredible vendors who put everything together for Stallion and I, none of this would have happened.

What were your favorite details from your wedding? Is there such a thing as detail overload?

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A Stable Kind of Love: After the Party, It’s the Afterparty

And that was that. The Filly wedding had officially come to an end.

But unofficially, not really. We all trooped downstairs to Hemingway’s, the hotel bar, to keep the party going.

Well, almost everybody went downstairs right away. I had to run back to our suite for some emergency dress repairs. Because I am a classy lady at all times, I had kicked my shoes off at some point in the evening and left them under our sweetheart table. My dress had been expertly tailored to my height – with shoes on. Without shoes, my dress was a little too long, and at the end of the night, one of my friends accidentally stepped on the back of my dress, and one of my bustle points broke. Nothing a safety pin couldn’t fix. (Pro tip: have handy friends.)

But anyway. Afterparty time!

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So did that. (G has mastered the invisible saxophone.)

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My dad ran around picking up drink tabs and, apparently, high-fiving my friends. (Also, can we just talk about B’s hair for a minute? I loved her updo and it looks perfect, over 12 hours after it was done.)

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If the party was in full swing upstairs in the ballroom, it got even crazier downstairs in Hemingway’s. My dad was running around the bar picking up any tabs he could get his hands on. Katlyn, the wedding coordinator, kept appearing like magic to make sure my drink was full at all times. The dance floor was jam-packed. My 92-year-old great aunt was partying right alongside the 20-somethings. It was so much fun.

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All those cheesy line dances (I’m looking at you, Cupid Shuffle) that our band didn’t play happened down here. In case anyone was really, really missing them.

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I feel like these pictures all look like the type of pictures we took bar-hopping in college, only we’re all way better dressed here.

The reception officially ended at 11:30, but for the second night in a row, we closed down Hemingway’s around 2AM. The official last-last dance of the Filly wedding?

Ain’t no shame in my Disney game.

Once Stallion and I made the trek back to our suite, it was time to take off the nicest, most expensive dress I’ve ever worn (and will ever wear). Problem? We couldn’t get my dress off. That long row of gorgeous tiny buttons was proving impossible to undo. And so, after about a half hour of struggling, I had to start making phone calls.

Yes, hive, I had to call for help to get me out of my wedding dress. Is that what rock bottom feels like?

Finally, I got a hold of my sister K, who could barely contain her laughter, and she had me out of my dress in no time. And it wasn’t awkward at all. (Not.)

Oh, and at some point during the whole get-me-out-of-my-dress debacle, my phone fell in the toilet. R.I.P., Toilet Phone.

And that was how I started off my life as a Smug Married.

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The morning after. The curtains are closed for a reason. Namely, our pounding headaches.

Bright and early, and a little worse for wear, it was time for our post-wedding brunch. Back in the ballroom, we had a continental breakfast on offer – bagels, pastries, fruit, yogurt, coffee, tea, and juices. We wanted it to be super casual and laid back; we wanted people to feel free to stop by any time and stay for as long (or short!) as they wanted, like an open house type of feel. Which was why we didn’t have hot food – we had thought it might get kind of gross if it was sitting out for a few hours.

In hindsight, we could have done something fancier – of everyone who came to brunch (about 110 of our 150 guests), most people did show up right on time and stay the entire two hours. That said, given that we didn’t ask people to RSVP for this, the headcount we gave to the Grand was a total shot in the dark. A continental breakfast gave us maximum flexibility – if we had way less people than anticipated, we could enjoy leftover bagels forever, and if way more people showed up, cutting up extra fruit was a lot easier than preparing another tray of bacon.

The point is, brunch was really nice, and people really appreciated being fed. Who doesn’t like a good bagel?

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We kept the decor for brunch reeeeally simple. No chair covers, standard linens (we had Katlyn choose everything, and I thought the pinky-peach tablecloths complemented the green chairs so nicely. It looked so springy and pretty.), house centerpieces consisting of glass bowls filled with sand, sea glass, and shells.

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Some of the decor from last night stayed up, like the family wedding photos.

And finally, finally, finally, it was all over. Our guests hit the road, and it was time for us to do the same. We checked out of our rooms, loaded up the cars, and hit the road. Officially, unofficially, no matter how you sliced it, there was nothing left to do. The Filly wedding weekend was nothing more than a memory. (And it was time for our fabulous Jamaican honeymoon. Oh man, I seriously miss Couples/Jamaica. Let’s go back, Stallion.)

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B took the flowers with her to Philadelphia for preservation. More on that to come!

I don’t really have a graceful way to end this post. My wedding came and went in the blink of an eye. I had spent the past year and a half making lists, calling vendors, reading contracts, looking for inspiration, overthinking every decision I made, and yes, writing for Weddingbee, and it was finally all over.

And you know what? It . Felt. Awesome. Like a huge and extremely expensive weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

I loved my wedding, and I had fun planning it, but you know what I love more? Free time. I am so happy to put wedding planning behind me and move on to whatever Stallion’s and my next adventures may be.

Fortunately for you guys (or not, who knows, maybe you’re all sick of me!), I have a few more things to say before I sign off once and for all.

How did you feel once your wedding was over?

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A Stable Kind of Love: Baby, We Were Born to Run

The entrances have been made, the toasts are done, dinner has been eaten, and the cake has been cut. What’s left to do? Oh, right – dance the night away! We hired the B Street Band for a reason. We wanted a party, and a massive party is exactly what we got.

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All photos courtesy of Aleksey Photography.

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The dance floor was packed the entire night. The band played a good mix of Springsteen hits – Thunder Road, Dancing in the Dark, Hungry Heart – and Motown/classic rock crowd pleasers – Shout, Sweet Caroline, Brown-Eyed Girl, Runaround Sue – and because it was, after all, the Jersey Shore, they had to play Under the Boardwalk by the Drifters.

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Don’t worry, you guys. I was thoroughly undignified at all times.

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But so was everyone else, so it was okay.

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Every once in a while, Steve, the sax player, would go running through the crowd. It was awesome.

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I got to dance with my husband. Stallion’s friend got a tambourine.

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My dad got my 92-year-old great aunt to dance.

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Tell me, how much do you love looking at pictures of strangers dancing? (Strangers to you, anyway. I know all these people. Don’t worry.)

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All good things must come to an end, and our wedding was no exception. There was just one song left for the band to play.

I think the idea of a special, private last dance has been covered extensively here on Weddingbee – I know Mrs. Rucksack, Mrs. Camera, and Mrs. Jaguar have all done it – but we opted to make our last dance the biggest, best crowd pleaser of all. We wanted to end our wedding on the absolute highest note. And we have the rest of our lives to be alone together, but we didn’t have much time left with our guests. We wanted everybody together on the dance floor for the last song.

So here it is.

We had actually thought about doing a slowed-down version of Born to Run as our first dance, but we ultimately decided against it because if we used it for the first dance, we’d miss out on it as a party song. And saving this song for the very last dance was well worth it.

I don’t have many vivid memories from my wedding day, but this – getting to dance and jump around and fist pump and sing my lungs out with all my closest friends and family and my newly-minted husband by my side – is something that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.

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The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive 
Everybody’s out on the run tonight, but there’s no place left to hide 
Together, Wendy, we can live with the sadness 
I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul 
Someday, girl, I don’t know when 
We’re gonna get to that place where we really wanna go 
And we’ll walk in the sun 
But ’til then, tramps like us 
Baby, we were born to run

The wedding was officially over. But the party? That was just getting started.

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A Stable Kind of Love: Time For A Good Old-Fashioned Cake Flip

Remember my post from eons ago, where I told you all about my favorite family tradition? Here it is, you guys – the fabled Filly family cake flip.

After dinner, a giant cake was wheeled out onto the dance floor. The very smart venue coordinators took a measure to protect the dance floor, and they put down a tarp. Officiant F took a look at the tarp and went, “What? They don’t believe in me?” I mean, if I were the venue and I knew a dude who’d had a few drinks would be flinging a cake up into the air in the middle of my dance floor … yeah, I’d put a tarp down too.

(Side note: I feel like most people in the wedding industry have seen it all and it takes a lot to surprise them. My vendors – the venue, the photographer, the baker – were all shocked when I told them about the cake flip. Guess who’s a special snowflake?)

All photos courtesy of Aleksey Photography, as usual.

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Just to be clear, we were counting the flip cake as part of the cake that would be served to our guests. So if F dropped it … well, let’s just say he was under a lot of pressure here.

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The room went silent … no, actually, once our friends caught on to what was happening, they started a raucous, “Flip the cake!” chant.

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Mid flip …

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BOOM. Success!

And you know I got it on video, too.

Is that not the most badass thing you’ve ever seen, or what?

The successfully-flipped cake was whisked back into the kitchen to be cut up and served to our guests. Meanwhile, it was time for a far less exciting event – the cake cutting.

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Our cake was set up against a mirrored wall in the ballroom – I loved the effect.

I didn’t blog about our cake, because frankly, as long as it tasted good, I didn’t give a hoot what it looked like. I just sent our baker a bunch of inspiration photos and let him go to town. I love how each tier has a different design. In hindsight, I might have preferred something a little simpler, but at the end of the day? Not a big deal. Cake design wasn’t at the top of my priority list, and I think ours came out pretty nice, even if it’s not exactly what I’d envisioned.

Especially because the cake was so freaking delicious – we had a vanilla/chocolate chip cake with raspberry mousse filling. Not like chunks of raspberries – I’m one of those people who is anti-cooked fruit in baked goods; I hate the texture – but a smooth, tart-sweet raspberry cloud of wonderful. Oh, and NO FONDANT. Buttercream all the way. (If I’m being honest, it was the most delicious buttercream frosting I’ve ever had in my entire life.)

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we eat the cake, we have to cut the damn thing.

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Look at us, working together to hold a sharp knife. Teamwork.

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HULKSMASH.

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Sheer panic. I’m going, “Wait, we’re actually supposed to cut a piece? WHAT?!” Not joking. I’m an idiot.

Once we’d managed to extract a (mangled) piece of cake, we each fed each other a bite. No utensils here, because we’re classy like that.

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FEED FAT CHICK ALL THE CAKE.

When our guests realized there would be no cake smashing, there were audible groans of disappointment. Sorry, not sorry. I wasn’t spending lord-only-knows-how-much on hair and makeup just to have buttercream frosting smeared all over the moneymaker. (Related: when discussing the cake smashing or lack thereof prior to the wedding, Stallion negotiated a bunch of concessions from me in order to not do it – namely, I had to buy him a pizza and fold the laundry that week – and once I’d agreed to it, he revealed that he’d never intended on cake smashing me at all and he was just making fun of me. Jerk.)

Anyway, that candy bar I mentioned earlier? That was open for business, too.

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The candy bar was along each side of the cake, and we stocked it with goodies unique to (or at least characteristic of) the Jersey Shore – fudge, chocolate-covered strawberries, saltwater taffy, and caramel popcorn.

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Not enough dessert for you? No worries, there’s more! To go with the candy bar, we had a Viennese table featuring cream puffs, Napoleons, cannoli, and other goodies that I don’t really remember. (Nor do I have pictures of, at least not that I can find.) And we had sweet little purple takeout containers for everybody to fill up to their heart’s desire. Taking to heart Mrs. Phone Booth’s post about branding, we used a cool custom monogram on the containers (and the photo booth strips, but I forgot to mention that in my last post).

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Our monogram. It required ~mad art skillz~ on my part. (via Wedding Chicks – I LOVE their freebies!)

We had more dessert than I could shake a stick at, and just like dinner, I never got around to eating it. Well, that’s kind of a lie – I scarfed down my piece of cake on my way down to the after party, but I completely missed out on the candy bar and Viennese table. But everyone else enjoyed it, and that’s the important part.

Is there ever a thing as too much dessert? If so, did I meet that threshold? Serious question, people.

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A Stable Kind of Love: We Stuff Our Faces

Just in case our guests hadn’t eaten enough at cocktail hour, there was still dinner to look forward to.

All photos courtesy of Aleksey Photography.

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Each place setting looked something like this.

Can’t read the menu? Here’s what we had on offer:

First course: Mixed greens tossed with strawberries, walnuts, goat cheese, and honey vinaigrette

Second course: Choice of herb-crusted filet mignon topped with jumbo lump crabmeat OR bone-in chicken breast stuffed with provolone, spinach, and prosciutto, both served with roasted potatoes and fresh baby vegetables. (If I remember correctly, it was a mix of roasted carrots, zucchini, and asparagus … so good.)

Dessert: Wedding cake, Viennese pastry table, candy bar – all of which will be discussed further in my next post. Contain your excitement.

And now for the million dollar question: did I eat?

Well, hive, I tried. Our venue coordinator let us know when each course was put down at our table, we eventually made our way over to sit down and eat it, and ultimately … I still didn’t manage to eat. Through no one’s fault but my own, of course. I was so giddy and excited and nervous that, despite my best efforts (and you guys know I don’t exactly miss meals), I couldn’t manage to eat. I just wasn’t hungry. That said, the few bites I had were absolutely delicious, and in hindsight, I really wish I had tried a little harder to eat more.

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Our sweetheart table, at which I sat for approximately ten seconds.

We had a few other things going on during dinner, as well. Once our photographer had eaten (FEED YOUR VENDORS. It’s the nice thing to do, especially when they’re working their asses off for several hours on your behalf.) he went around to take table pictures. I know it’s kind of old school, but it’s a nice idea – we’re guaranteed to have at least one photo of everyone who was at the wedding, you know?

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A selection of our table photos. My guests are so beautiful.

And then in case people wanted their picture taken some more, the photo booth was open as well. I know, I know, photo booths are done to death these days, but guess what? People love them, and ours was no exception. The photo booth was consistently packed the entire night.

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A selection of our photo booth’s greatest hits. (Photo booth courtesy of Boardwalk Photo Booth Rentals – god bless them for putting up with this rowdy crowd!)

You may notice that the top right photo doesn’t have any faces. That’s because it’s a safe-for-work representation of the best photo booth moment of all. Two different people on two separate occasions mooned the photo booth! I’m talking bare butt cheeks, you guys. If that’s not confirmation that our photo booth was a rousing success, I don’t know what is.

And that’s only the beginning – the party was just getting started.

Did you do table photos during dinner? Is mooning the photo booth the next big wedding trend? (I hope so.)

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A Stable Kind of Love: We’re Toasted and Roasted

Following our spotlight dances, Stallion and I got comfortable at our sweetheart table. It was time for our bridal party to take the stage.

Wedding toasts generally fall into one of three categories: sweet, funny, and awkward. Fortunately, our toasts only fell into the first two categories.

All photos courtesy of Aleksey Photography, as usual.

First up, my dad.

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Behind him, the sun was setting over Cape May. It was so beautiful, I’m not sure how anyone managed to pay attention to what he was actually saying.

He started off his toast by telling his favorite embarrassing story about Stallion and I. The summer we started dating, going into our senior year of high school, he would meet me at school after soccer practice and we’d go drive around town and do stupid teenage things. I would stop at my parents’ house, change into something cute, and jet out the door. One day, my dad stopped me and gave me what he thought was valuable relationship advice: if I REALLY wanted to impress this new guy I was seeing, shouldn’t I take the time to shower after playing soccer for several hours in the hot summer sun? I reacted in a typical teenage girl fashion, meaning I said something along the lines of, “JESUS CHRIST DAD LEAVE ME ALONE UGH BYE,” and promptly disregarded his advice. Fortunately for me, Stallion accepted me as I was, post-soccer B.O. and all.

The other anecdote I remember from his toast was a more recent one. I was working on the seating chart for the reception, and I asked both sets of parents who they wanted to sit with. Stallion’s parents asked if they could sit with my parents. I relayed this back to my parents, who thought it was a great idea. My dad spun the story (giving a shoutout to Stallion’s mom for coming up with it in the first place!) into how weddings aren’t just about a couple uniting as one family, they’re about families coming together as one, and how happy he was to count Stallion’s family as part of his own.

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Next up, Stallion’s best man, M, had a few things to say. Mostly, he talked about his friendship with Stallion and my love (not) of fantasy football.

Okay, confession time: like a lot of my wedding day, most of M’s toast is a big fat blur in my brain. Frankly, if I hadn’t heard the anecdotes my dad talked about in his toast a million times and if I didn’t have the hard copy of my sisters’ toast right in front of me, I wouldn’t remember theirs either. I feel terrible – I remember enjoying the toast, I remember laughing my ass off, I just don’t remember what he said. I’m so sorry, M. Your toast was great and so are you. I’m terrible.

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It may look like we’re enjoying the toasts, but apparently it’s all going in one ear and out the other. Worst bride and groom ever.

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My sisters/co-maids of honor were last. Fortunately (ha!) for you all, I actually have their toast in its entirety, because of our four toasters, they were the only ones who wrote their toast in advance – that’s right, my dad and M totally winged it. Bold move, boys. Anyway, here’s what my sisters had to say:

Filly and Stallion. For the past eight years, it’s been Filly and Stallion.  Since August 27, 2005, it’s been Filly and Stallion. For 3,143 days, it’s been Filly and Stallion.  Some of you may only know Filly as the louder, less filtered half of “Filly and Stallion.” Some of you know her as a Villanovan, yelling too loud at basketball games and dressing up like a Jersey Shore Barbie doll. Some of you know her as a fellow Mother Seton classmate who was the captain of the soccer team and would read Cosmopolitan in the back of AP US History class.

But we know Filly as our big sister.  She’s the girl we spent our lives looking up to – literally my entire life. A few months after I was born, I had surgery on my head.  I didn’t open my eyes for a while after the surgery, but when I heard “La-La” calling my name, I opened my eyes.

We know Filly as the reason why we both learned piano, ballet, the clarinet, and soccer.  Whatever Filly did, we wanted to follow. In third grade when we got to choose an instrument for band, I chose the clarinet – not really one of the coolest instruments. But I thought it was cool because Filly chose the clarinet. 

I know Filly as the big sister who teamed up with my little sister over here to shove me in a hamper. There were always days like that – days that we didn’t get along. We’d call each other “idiot morons” because that was the worst we could come up with.

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This may be my all time favorite picture of my sisters.

But Filly was always the big sister who let me tag along whenever I wanted to.  She let me hang out with her friends, join her dance classes, and even play on her soccer team. She never made me feel like the annoying kid sister.

She let us both follow her to Mother Seton for high school and to Villanova for college. She not only let me join her sorority, but she (and the rest of my soon-to-be sisters) welcomed me with open arms.

As the oldest, Filly had already experienced most things we had trouble with growing up- so crisis after crisis, she was there to lend an ear and guide us through. When I was getting my learner’s permit in high school, Filly – in a very literal sense – took the wheel when I hit a parked car and decided I never wanted to drive again. Because when Filly was learning to drive, she made the same dramatic declaration after getting pulled over. And so she knew exactly how to get me back on the road.

She helped me pick my college, my prom dress, my makeup routine, my life goals. We’ve both gotten through life with a lot fewer bumps and bruises because she was there to show us the way. 

We know Filly as the best big sister we could ever ask for – from opening my eyes to shoving me into a hamper and everything in between.  So when Stallion walked into her life in the summer of 2005, I wasn’t too excited about the idea of someone taking my big sister away. My big sister deserves the best, after all. I didn’t want just any guy walking in and whisking her away.

During their freshman orientation at Villanova, Filly was hospitalized – for those that know the story, you already know; for those that don’t, I’ll spare you. (For the curious readers, all I will say is that unlike most college freshmen’s hospitalizations, it had nothing to do with alcohol and I was legitimately ill. But that’s not a fun story.) But she was in the hospital for several days and missed her entire freshman orientation.  Stallion missed orientation that year, too. Every day, he walked nearly two miles each way from Villanova to Bryn Mawr Hospital to visit Filly to be by her side and make sure she was okay. With each day, I learned – and I think my whole family did, as well – that Stallion was most definitely worth it. 

You all may know Stallion as the more reserved half of “Filly and Stallion,” or you may know him as an amazingly smart and talented engineer. You may know him from Villanova intramurals or from high school baseball. But I know Stallion as the guy who whisked my big sister away – and deserved it.  And now I know him as my brother-in-law.

Filly and Stallion, the two of you have been through a lot since August 27th, 2005. Going off to college, studying abroad, different surgeries, and moving up to Massachusetts together. You’ve had quite the journey, and but we all know it’s only just begun.  I know that I don’t need to wish you guys luck because – to be honest, Stallion, to be able to stick it out with my family for 8 years, 7 months, and 9 days, it takes a lot more than luck. But I do want to wish you both all the happiness in the world – because you both deserve it. 

I’ve never given a wedding toast before, but it’s on the horizon for me. I thought my sisters did an amazing job with their toast, so I asked them for some advice. And because I love you all, I’ll share what they said. Without further ado, a few helpful hints from B:

  • Avoid inside jokes. No one else in the room will understand them, so save them for a card or a letter to the bride/groom.
  • Make it personal, but don’t be embarrassing. Your speech should definitely be personalized to your relationship with the bride/groom, but don’t stories that might put one of them in a negative light – it’s not the time or place.
  • I can’t really give a rule on length – only you know what’s important enough for you to say and how long that will take. Try to make it long enough that there’s some substance to what you’re saying, but not too long that the guests will stop paying attention.

While this post was super long, the toasts themselves weren’t – maaaaybe fifteen minutes, but I really think it was less than that. Next up, the most important part: dinner!

Who said a toast at your wedding? Got any more tips for a successful toast? Anyone else craving toast after reading that word so many times? Mmm, toast.

 

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A Stable Kind of Love: Down the Shore, Everything’s All Right

Stallion and I decided that once the party started up, it should continue with minimal interruptions. That meant that we’d be banging out all the standard wedding traditions early in the evening, one right after another, and once they were done, we’d be out of the spotlight and everyone could go about their business.

First up: spotlight dances. From the moment we’d booked the B Street Band to play our wedding, we knew what our first dance/awkward middle school sway would be.

All photos courtesy of Aleksey Photography.

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A Cape May wedding, a New Jersey native (and an honorary New Jerseyan, even if he doesn’t think it’s much of an honor) – Jersey Girl was the perfect song for us. Between you and me, we had also strongly considered If I Should Fall Behind, but the more Stallion listened to it, the more he thought it was “funeral-y”. So Jersey Girl it is.

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I got no time for the corner boys 
Down in the street making all that noise 
Or the girls out on the avenue 
‘Cause tonight I want to be with you

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Tonight I’m gonna take that ride 
Across the river to the Jersey side 
Take my baby to the carnival 
And I’ll take her on all the rides 

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Down the shore everything’s all right 
You and your baby on a Saturday night 
You know all my dreams come true 
When I’m walking down the street with you 

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You know she thrills me with all her charms 
When I’m wrapped up in my baby’s arms 
My little girl gives me everything 
I know that some day, she’ll wear my ring 

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So don’t bother me man, I ain’t got no time 
I’m on my way to see that girl of mine 
‘Cause nothing matters in this whole wide world 
When you’re in love with a Jersey girl 

After the wedding, my mom commented on how happy we looked during our first dance and wanted to know what we’d been talking about during it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t anything cute or romantic – mostly, Stallion was asking if we were in rhythm and I was telling him that no, we weren’t. But, as always, my mom was right; we were very, very happy in that moment.

Following our first dance, Stallion took a seat while I stayed on the dance floor to share a dance with my father.

Both Stallion and I are fortunate in that we have great relationships with our parents, so it was important to us to include spotlight dances with them in the reception. We asked our parents to choose the songs for their dances; we wanted the song to mean as much to them as it would to us.

My dad’s choice was a little out of left field – it was Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by the Platters.

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Lyrically speaking, it’s not the most conventional song for a father-daughter dance (it’s actually a breakup song), but that’s not the reason my dad chose it. When I was a baby, my dad would dance with me to this song around our living room. It meant a lot to him that we dance to it one more time.

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He attempted to coach me through a basic waltz box step , but I’m pretty sure his efforts were fruitless.

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They said someday you’ll find
All who love are blind
When your heart’s on fire
You must realize
Smoke gets in your eyes 

Following our dance, it was Stallion’s turn to dance with his mom, who chose When You Need Me by (of course!) Bruce Springsteen.

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When you need, me call my name
‘Cause without you, my life just isn’t the same
‘Cause when this world kicked me around
You picked me up off the ground
So if you need me, I’ll be there

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I love Stallion’s mom’s face here – you can totally tell she thinks the world of her son. Great minds think alike!

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For those of you who are keeping score, while neither of us cried during our first dance, both my dad and Stallion’s mom cried during their spotlight dances. I’m assuming this means that we did something right … right?

I’m so glad we took the time to dance with our parents, even though our slow dance skills start and end at the middle school sway. I guess we inherited our dancing abilities (or lack thereof) from somewhere!

Did you include spotlight dances at your reception? What songs did you choose?

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A Stable Kind of Love: We Make A Grand-ish Entrance

Our private cocktail hour was fun, but we were excited to get back together with our guests and celebrate. Once everyone made their way into the ballroom, Katlyn brought us up to the adjacent alcove to prepare for our “grand entrance”.

Truthfully? I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a big entrance at all – I felt really awkward about it! But I figured I’ll never have the chance to do something like this again, so why not have fun with it? And at the end of the day, it was pretty cool.

Stallion and I are huge Bruce Springsteen fans – actually, between you and me, we went to a Springsteen concert about a month before we got engaged, and he had been acting so weird that night that I had thought he might propose then – and since we were having a Springsteen cover band play our reception, we naturally had to make our grand entrance to a Springsteen song. And what better than Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out?

I could hear everyone clapping along to the music from inside the ballroom, and I remember grabbing Stallion’s arm and whispering, “Everyone likes it!” Good thing, because they were kind of a captive audience at that point.

All photos courtesy of Aleksey Photography.

First up, Stallion’s parents …

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Next up, my parents …

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Now, the wedding party had asked Stallion and I if there was anything they should do when they walk in. I had no suggestions other than maybe walking, smiling, and looking pretty. I guess they were a little more ambitious than that – G, walking my sisters in, planned on twirling them both simultaneously …

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… Which sounded cute in theory, but when they attempted to execute this dangerously complicated move, they smacked right into each other!

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Like sister, like sister.

Fortunately, M and Z were a little more graceful!

photo 0775And last but not least, the always classy and elegant bride and groom! (For those of you who are interested, since I did not change my name, the band announced us by our first names instead of saying, “Mr. and Mrs. Whatever”.)

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I was flailing around so violently that I knocked my hair clip right off my head, leading to this beautiful face:

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That is what the shock and horror of realizing that your wildly overpriced hair clip has detached from your head looks like. Fortunately, I was able to shove it back into my hair and keep dancing like a fool.

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After a minute or so (during which I was bouncing around the dance floor and yelling to Stallion, “What are we supposed to do? I feel weird!”), the music slowed down and the band announced that it was time for our first dance as husband and wife. It was time to get serious. At least, for a few minutes.

Did you opt for a grand entrance, or did you keep it low-key? Anyone else screw up their entrance?

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