Rehearsal & Dinner

It was a Thursday at 4PM, and luckily for us, all but one of our bridal party managed to leave work or class early to meet up downtown for our rehearsal. While preparing, Nick and I had been very adamant with our bridal party that we’d have to arrive on time as we only had one hour with our venue due to another event later that night. Nick had especially driven this fact home, knowing that some of his buds were notorious for losing track of time. And you know what ended up happening?

WE were the ones who were late! And by 15 minutes too.

Nick, will never ever ever, live that one down.

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So after we’d already cut out 15 minutes from our one-hour time frame, we managed to run through everything twice. Our event coordinators with the venue were absolutely wonderful, as our friends were rowdy and constantly needed to be shushed and corralled. My little cousins, who were our ring bearer and usher, were the best behaved of the entire group.

And of course, my girls had made me a beautiful veil and bouquet:

Overall, it was a really great rehearsal. I felt confident that everyone knew where they needed to be, where to stand, and when. I owe it all to our coordinators with The M@dison, Connie and Rachel:

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These women are machines. They are organized, high-energy, and have the right amount of aggressiveness to make sure it all happens. You’ll see me singing their praises throughout my upcoming posts.

After our rehearsal was finished, we packed up the cars and headed to dinner. Nick’s mom had planned us a wonderful meal at Juliano’s not far from downtown. Once we arrived, everyone naturally fit into 4 tables: Nick’s friends, my friends, my cousins, and our parents/us. The rehearsal dinner was so much fun, as we hung out with all our best friends surrounded by food and drinks. As an added bonus, my friends from England had flown in the day prior and we dragged them to our dinner too! I met Jess back in 6th grade via… wait for it… Neopets. Seriously, Neopets! We’d started out as pen pals and never lost touch, especially as Myspace/Facebook/iMessage came around. So the evening had English accents dashed in to fill my heart with happiness.

And finally, the part we’d all been waiting for. Nick and I had been really excited to give everyone their gifts as thank-yous for being in our bridal party and helping with all things wedding. We’d spent a lot of time to make each item customized for each person and were quite happy with the results.

For my girls, I’d ordered everyone a large tote with gray & white geometric patterns. Their names were embroidered on the front in their favorite color, and if they were already married I’d instead had it monogrammed. They turned out really lovely, I kind of regretted not getting one for myself! They also each received a flask with their name on it and a small image. For my girls who have developed drunk personas over the years, these names were used instead and were the HIT of the gifts. Lauren was Lola, and Kayla was Drayla. We normally wouldn’t have gone the flask route, but our wedding was going to be a beer-and-wine only event so we were subtly encouraging our bridal party to have their own private stash haha.

For the guys, we’d ordered specialized cuff links for each one that best represented their interest/career/hobbies. Overall we had a firefighter crest, mortar and pestle, treble clef, bullet, lion head, motorcycle, golf, and D20 cuff links. They too received customized flasks, and everyone enjoyed passing their gifts around for all to see. For Nick we’d ordered caduceus cuff links (medical symbol), Autobots for our ring bearer, and Batman for our usher. The guys really loved these, and went straight to Instagram to post some fun shots:

Finally, it was time for our parents to open their gifts. My dad and step-dad each received “Father of the Bride” cufflinks, as well as photo frames they’d each later receive a print for after the wedding. The frames were actually a great find, having more of a manly feel. They were black with mirror panels and looked really sharp. Since we didn’t have wedding photos yet, I’d placed a stick-figure drawing in each.

For Nick’s mom, we’d bought a vase from Things Remembered with a customized message engraved down its front. She loved it! Nick’s mom is really great about having her dinner table updated with the season, and we’re hoping she’ll be able to find some use for it during the spring and summer.

And then the gift I’d been most excited for – my mom’s. I’d given her a massage certificate to make sure her gift had the same monetary value as Nick’s mom, but it was the inexpensive gift I wanted her to see. From Etsy, I’d ordered a handkerchief with the lyrics to “You Are My Sunshine” embroidered on it. She got all teary eyed, and my mission was accomplished. My mom is the reason I’ve made it to where I am today, and I wanted to bring it full circle from my childhood with this gift.

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It was also part of a bigger plan for a sentimental explosion on the wedding day. I’d laid the groundwork the week prior on Mother’s Day when I’d had the lyrics printed onto a photo of us (using the alternative words she’d always used to make us giggle). What my mom didn’t know was that our mother-daughter dance on my wedding day would be sung acoustically by her friends, and “You Are My Sunshine” would be woven into the chorus. Bring your umbrellas ladies and gentlemen…

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After the gifts were finished, everyone mingled for a short while before heading home. Nick and I were driving my English friends back downtown to their hotel first, and I royally embarrassed myself trying to get out of the parking lot. I hadn’t noticed earlier that there was one of those yellow cement parking blocks at the head of the space we’d parked in, and drove right over it thinking I could pull through the space. Luckily we were in an SUV, so I didn’t completely ruin our car. The next day when I was talking to one of my bridesmaids, I’d learned I wasn’t the only one to be fooled by the hidden block. Thank goodness!

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about where we purchased any of our bridal party gifts. I’m happy to send that info, along with any other questions you might have.

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