From L-R: Kevin Killourie, Donny Chase III, Samantha Warren (that's me and no, I did not ride a horse to the mountain despite my wide stance), Peter Eiermann, Meghan Simone (and no, Meg is not trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue), Dave Eiermann, Kyle Warren (the truffle ketchup to my french fries).
I started skiing before I could really walk and was so passionate about it, that I attended a ski academy so I could pursue it competitively. Sadly, I sucked (especially in contrast to my school's many Olympians) and the daily frustration caused by that led me to take a rather lengthy hiatus from being on snow. Whereas as I used to ski nearly every single day that Sugarloaf was open, in the eight or so years following my graduation, I could count the number of days I skied each year on a single hand. All that has changed this year, thanks to a variety of factors, including a husband and several good friends who are obsessed with skiing and determined to make it as fun for me as it for them. (Of course the irony is that we now live two plus hours from Maine's best mountains, though for the past eight years, we've lived in their shadows.)
One such friend is Meg Simone, a talented (and oh so fun!) New Hampshire wedding videographer who I worked with at Lani and Steve's wedding this past summer at the York Harbor Inn. Knowing we were skiing more, Meg invited Kyle and me to join her ski race team that participated in the Wednesday evening Racing With the Moon league at Shawnee Peak. Though it's a bit of a push to get out the door and to the mountain with all of our gear every Wednesday night, we are so grateful we said YES!!! Our five teammates - the Jackson/North Conway contingent of Meg, her boyfriend Dave, Donnie and Kevin and then our fellow Portland rep, Pete - are the most fun, down-to-earth, hilarious ski racing buddies Kyle and I could ask for and they've all helped to reignite my love for skiing (stay tuned for a future post on our recent 750 mile Maine ski adventure- yes, I said 750).
The team used to be sponsored by Badger Realty, and their moniker reflected that. But seeing as they've finished in fifth place every year since they joined the league, we all decided to just embrace it!!! Don't hate. Now we're named "In Fifth Place." And what's more- we've actually finished in fifth place in -I think- every race this season and are currently- no surprise- ranked fifth overall with two races to go. It was funny because after one race earlier in the season, the results showed that'd we were in fourth and we were actually a bit bummed about it. But when we looked more closely, we realized that they'd listed someone as a scorer for our team who actually isn't one of the In Fifth Place A-teamers (everyone wants a piece). Back in fifth! Crisis averted!
Note to self: Sometimes it really helps to specifically define your goals!
I think there are about 15 or so teams (some of which have some super speedy Master's racers on there), so fifth place is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, everyone is abuzz about our consistency (they call us a concept team and underachievers everywhere are cheering us on), and the fact that we all dine family style- the seven of us crowded around a little round table- following every race. We're so consistent that we can't just chock it up to chance anymore. We can't reveal how we do it, but let's just say it involves some Cera F, a bottle of glue, several pitchers of beer and a slide rule. I kid.
Personally, after not being in gates for a decade (and not suspecting I ever would again), I am pretty pleased about my own performance. I've place third in four of the eight races and Meg and I usually flipflop between third and fourth (the women who get first and second are way faster than us and most of the men actually, and far too talented to top). I must admit, it's nice to have a little athletic confidence boost each week the day after our dodgeball team gets embarrassed.
Go team In Fifth Place!!!
Here is a slice of our shenanigans -video of course by Meg (I am the one in the helmet and blue jacket who is always screaming - don't worry, I won't do this at your wedding- and Kyle is in the green fleece):
Racing with the Moon - Shawnee Peak from Meg Simone on Vimeo.
Bridal blogger: Kristina (of Kristina & Jimmy) of Salem, MA*
Connection to Maine: Bride's homestate
Wedding Date: May 24, 2008
Wedding Location: Wedding ceremony and reception at the York Harbor Inn in York, Maine
Guests invited: 130
Guests attending: 90 (75 from out of state)
*You can see original coverage of Kristina and Jimmy's wedding here on the old I Do Click Wedding Photography blog and watch their slideshow here
When Jimmy proposed in May of 2006, we were both heads-in-the-clouds ecstatic! We were getting married! Of course we had talked about it, but the proposal was very much a surprise (a very good surprise). But because of this, neither of us had really thought about what we wanted our wedding to be. We did know that we actually had to have a wedding (although my dad's lifelong joke of buying roundtrip tickets to Vegas and $50 bucks was briefly considered), but beyond that, we had nothing. Jimmy and I were starting from scratch on just about every wedding detail.
As all of this year's brides are gearing up for the big event, I hope that I can offer some bits of advice. Every couple is different – that much is obvious. One of the first things Jimmy and I did was reflect on the weddings we had been to together and realized how big the spectrum really was! There were large, lavish weddings as well as intimate, casual weddings. There were bands or DJs, sit down dinners or buffets. There were snowstorms at the winter weddings and the remnants of a hurricane at a shore wedding. Where is a couple to even begin? How do you weigh all of these options and ensure that hurricanes stay at bay?
We were given the most wonderful advice from many people (including from our parents): we were told to make the day exactly what WE wanted it to be and not to worry so much about everyone else. On top of that, Jimmy and I agreed from the get-go that there would be at least 10 guests that would be unhappy about something; we didn't know who, or what, but agreed that this would happen and that it was OK.
Just know that there is no set formula for having the most wonderful day. You need to pick what feels right for you as a couple and of course try to stay close to your budget, pesky thing that it is. Try not to over think things – hard as it may be. I think this is the one thing we did that kept the whole planning process sane. Basically, once we finished our research and then talked to a vendor, if the vibe was right, we went with it. It may sound cheesy, but it worked and kept our stress level pretty low. Take Sam for example. I spent hours researching local photographers (that was one thing we wanted to do – hire Maine-based folks). Sam's style was most to my liking, so I contacted her first. Once we had our initial interaction, I knew instantly she was the right one. It made no sense to me to continue interviewing or searching any further. We booked her and could not have been happier. It worked that way for our venue, our florist, our violinist and our DJ.
Once you get all of the details down and get to that best of days, try to enjoy it. Jimmy and I loved every second of our day and would not have changed a single thing. The whole day goes by so very quickly that it is important for the two of you to step back every so often and take it all in. All of those people are there for the two of you. Be sure to acknowledge that because you never know what tomorrow holds. We have lost two dear people who attended our wedding and we are so grateful that they were a part of our day – we hold those memories dearly. It is a powerful thing.
And don't forget, not everything can be planned for. Sometimes, the best moments are ones you didn't see coming. At our wedding, we requested a specific last song that had meaning to us. In the middle of that song, all of our guests gathered around, tears flowing and there was a spontaneous, emotional group hug. Jimmy and I did not see it coming (could never have planned that) and we still get teary thinking about it; that song gives us chills now and is extra special to us. It is our favorite moment of the day.
Biggest planning surprise: Oops. Hair salons book up in advance on the weekends… Oh yeah, and that marriage license thing... first, you need to apply for one and second, in Maine, the town halls aren't necessarily open on a weekend which can be tricky if you live out of state...
Favorite wedding planning resource: Sam's Blog. I stalked it daily. Real people, real New England weddings, real budgets. Enough said. I stalked Emilie Sommer's blog too, thanks to a link from Sam in some long forgotten post.
I wish I'd spent more time: Sleeping in on the wedding day. I was so excited, I got up early and ran out of steam at the end of the night. We had to leave the after party too early.
I wish I'd spent less time: Thinking about the tiny details which never came to fruition – Should we have starfish place tags? Do we print programs? Do the bridesmaids really want me to dictate what kind of shoes they wear?
I am glad I/we did: Allow children. There are so many children in our family it was important having them there. I am also glad that we had sanctioned kids' tables outfitted with toys and games and then had them fed first with chicken fingers and fries. It kept them occupied for the 'boring' parts and helped the parents relax.
I am glad we didn't: Drink too much. We remember everything. Boring as it sounds, so glad it worked out that way although it was not planned – we were just so busy chatting, dancing, etc.
Favorite wedding moment: Group Hug! (see above)
Detail that was worth it: Hiring van service to transport our guests
Detail that was a waste: I honestly think we did a good job limiting the fluff. I can't think of anything!!!
Best wedding splurge: Make your own ice cream sundae bar instead of cake. Hard to believe that it costs more, but SOOOO worth it!
Best wedding steal: Table Numbers. I went to a craft store and bought really pretty gold paper and picked a really pretty font and printed them at (gasp!) work on the professional copy machine.
My best advice is: Go with your gut, and don't over think decisions.
And, for a bit of shameless self-promotion, what was your favorite part about working with Samantha Warren Weddings: When Sam walked in the door, it was as if my best friend had just arrived. By that I mean that I felt instantly at ease and knew that she truly cared and that she was looking out for me. She brings such a professional yet relaxed vibe. I can't say enough good things about her. We had guests come up to us during (and after) the wedding raving about how great she was – how she was everywhere and managed to capture everything… I am pretty sure she was part of that group hug, too. Kudos Sam – you are a ROCK STAR!!!
Read Past Bride's Side Posts:
-Vol.1: 10 tips for making the "Best Day of Your Life" just that
-Vol. 2: 'Remember you are starting a life together'
-Vol. 3: Go green, but stay real
Vol.4: If I knew then, what I know now
Who: Andrea and Cory
What: A blue racecar/Eiffel Tower themed (it really worked!) family-focused wedding for 150 in Freeport
Where: Ceremony and celebration in Freeport at the Hilton Garden Inn and its intimate Old Town Hall.
When: Saturday, February 14, 2009 (Valentine's Day!)
How: Bridal party hair on site by the fun team from the Brunswick-based Looking Glass Studio, dress from Andrea's Bridal of Portland, whoopie pie wedding cake from Wicked Whoopies, DJing by the bride's uncle/matchmaker using the groom's equipment (he runs Cory Creamer DJ Services based in Bath- 207.740.1600) and detail on top of detail masterfully executed by the bride's mom, Gayle, the events planner for Falmouth-based Tyler Technologies.
Why: Perhaps it's cliché to say that opposites attract, but oh, how they do. And perhaps no couple better proves that point than Andrea and Cory. She, a high school French teacher, who lived in France during college, has a master's degree from Middlebury and openly admits to a slight obsession with Celine Dion. He, a Volvo mechanic (good to know!) who organizes and announces car races (on the track and on the ice) and before their honeymoon, had never been south of Boston.
Despite these differences, the two attended the same Maine high school- Morse in Bath- and met while playing on the intermural floor hockey team (his team needed a girl). The timing wasn't right. Fast forward, and Cory is the DJ at Andrea's father's 50th birthday bash (those Schmidt's sure know how to throw a party). The timing still wasn't right. Skip ahead another year, and Andrea's aunt informs her "Cory Creamer is single!!!" (having seen them chatting at the previous summer's birthday party). Cory had a young daughter and his was ex expecting, and though that might seem like another case of bad timing, the two felt a connection that could not be overlooked despite life's beautiful complications.
Three years later, and she's dotingly gone to a few demolition derbies and he to a Celine Dion concert. He DJs dances for her high school students, and she lovingly picks out Kaylee and Gage's outfits each Saturday. And they celebrate their obvious difference, knowing that the things they most value - devotion to family, loyalty to friends and a love for quiet moments and life's little unexpected gifts - are shared and sure.
And their wedding day (chosen not because of cupid but due to the logistics of her teaching schedule and his DJ/announcing one) reflected that, from the racing/France fusion theme, to their special dances, to that pause near the end of the nigh, when Cory saw his new wife from across the room, and left his friends to walk to her and lovingly help her pull pins from her updo. Perfect timing.
Perhaps an influence from her time living in France, Andrea speaks with much more than her words. It was so fun to capture all of her many expressions, like here, as she gets her makeup applied by Gretchen, her aunt/matron of honor.
Gretchen works in optometry, so she was very delicate around Andrea's eyes.
A most beautiful bride! A tight shot that totally showcases Andrea's playful personality.
Cory's 5-year-old daughter, Kaylee, was a fabulous flower girl. She got into her dress nearly two hours before the ceremony, and despite pizza and other non-white friendly snacks all over the suite, she stayed perfectly princess-like with nary a stain.
Any woman who has even been laced up into a wedding dress knows exactly what Andrea's eyes are saying here.
Tres jolie, oui? Andrea's dress (from Andrea's Bridal funny enough) fit her so perfectly, that I was shocked to learn that her mom and dad had bought it for her at an insurance auction of all places before she was even engaged and before she'd even seen it.)
During the couple's ceremony, guests watched a video of images from Andrea and Cory's lives and it was fun to see that despite their many differences, there were snapshots that showed the(ir) similarities of growing up in coastal Maine. The show was also a nice chance for the two to snuggle up, along with Cory's adorable son Gage, who is reminding himself to stay quiet.
In lieu of traditional vows, Andrea and Cory wrote very personal letters to one another, which they read aloud. Both moved me and so many guests to tears (and giggles), but it was when Cory began reading his own note to Andrea that his emotion came through in what was likely the most memorable moment of the day.
Andrea tried to calm him with the most tender of kisses.
And eventually he was able to finish. I love Kaylee's nervousness for her dad as even at 5, she grasps the meaning of this moment, and look at Gage reaching up for his daddy. Could those kids be any cuter?
There was little time for formal photographs, as the ceremony began after 5 p.m. and dinner and !dancing! were waiting. The formals became especially interesting when one of the groomsmen had to run out of the room due to a bout of nasty food poisoning from the night before. What a trooper he was! Nevertheless, I was able to capture some really true portraits, like this one of Andrea and her mom.
Then Andrea and Cory...
And then it was across the drive to the reception, where Andrea's mom had DIYed ever delightful detail, from the silk flower centerpieces to the whoopie pie cake to the homemade card box- a little cardboard car covered with crepe paper flowers that even had a mini Maine vanity license plate, complete with the couple's new last name.
So connected during the first dance.
And a favorite photograph from the father-daughter dance. You can tell how relaxed Andrea is in her dad's arms, and she is just taking it all in during this very quiet moment.
Cory danced with his daughter for a special dance. Look at those little stocking feet!
Cory then surprised Andrea when he and some close friends serenaded her with Mr. Big's "To Be With You." What a fun treat (though I haven't been able to get that song out of my head since.)
When I met with Cory and Andrea in Freeport a few weeks before the wedding to talk about the details of the day, they were in excited agreement about how every aspect of the day would go down- except for the cake cutting, which brought about some rather playful taunting between the two. Given this, Andrea didn't really know what to expect- but you can clearly see here she knows something is up.
Her anxiety only grew during the cutting.
Those are some devious little looks.
And so it was no surprise when this happened.
Luckily, they quickly kissed and made up and Andrea, who had planned to change into a second dress for the party, decided to do that right away.
Andrea and Gretchen are known for their Grease routine, and didn't disappoint.
And a final kiss on the dance floor ended the night.
Congratulations, Andrea and Cory!!! I really couldn't have asked for a better way to spend Valentine's Day than celebrating with you, and I've had a fabulous virtual vacation, following you through Facebook on your Las Vegas honeymoon adventures. You affirm my belief in the old adage that opposites attract, and that sometimes, what you're looking for has been right in front of you the entire time. Beaucoup d'amour and bonne chance!
Bridal blogger: Chrystal (of Chrystal & Ben) of Glenburn, Maine*
Wedding Date: June 7, 2008 (06.07.08)
Wedding Location: Wedding ceremony and reception at the Spectacular Events Center in Bangor, Maine
Guests invited: 150
Guests attending: 100 (12 from out of state)
*You can see original coverage of Chrystal and Ben's wedding here on the old I Do Click Wedding Photography blog and watch their slideshow here
If knowing what I know now, I could write a letter to me then, here is what I would have told myself:
I would tell her that despite all the stress and worry you're going through now, after the wedding you will be an extremely happily married woman, who takes comfort in knowing that you best friend will always be right by your side.
I’d tell her that ivory is just as common as white. And there’s no need to have a meltdown the morning after ordering an ivory dress- everything comes in ivory and it will be O.K.
I’d ask her if her cake really is that important, and when she said yes I would tell her to hire a professional bakery to make it for her. Having a friend do it for a bargain won’t be worth it when you look over from your head table to see it leaning over so far that you’re afraid it may actually fall.
I would tell her not to worry about the extra money she will spend on a bridesmaids dress, it will all be worth it when her amazing friend gets to stand up with her on her big day.
I would tell her to accept all the help people are offering- it’s just silly not to when you have so much to do. Remember they wouldn’t offer to help if they didn’t want to.
I would remind her that while all she can think about is the wedding, other people around her still have lives. Don’t get annoyed when they forget something wedding related, it doesn’t mean they don’t care.
I would tell her that maybe she too needs to “forget” the wedding for a little bit. A break from planning may be just what she needs to regroup and stay grounded. Remember the big picture.
I would tell myself to stop worrying about the weather, it will be perfect. And even if you think it won’t, you’ll be marrying your best friend so who gives a darn about the weather.
Lastly I would tell her that on her big day there a few things she should do:
-Stop and take a minute to enjoy that the sky really is that blue
-Notice how tenderly your dad will look at you as he gives away his baby girl
-Soak up all those lovey dovey looks from your groom as he says his “I Do’s”
-Just have a blast, you spent a long time planning a big party -now enjoy it!
Biggest planning surprise: How expensive everything was- I think I was little naive about how much everything would cost before I really got going.
Favorite wedding planning resource: Sam’s Blog! Seeing pictures of what real brides had done was a big help. And websites like WeddingChannel and The Knot.
I wish I'd spent more time: Trying different hairstyles to make sure I absolutely loved it.
I wish I'd spent less time: Worrying about the weather. It turned out to be the most perfect day ever, but even if it hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have been able to change it so what's the point in worrying about it.
I am glad I/we did: Pictures before the ceremony. We had a lot more time and didn’t feel as rushed between the ceremony and reception.
I am glad we didn't: Spend the night apart before the wedding. It was comforting to wake up with Ben on the morning of our wedding and to be able to talk to him before we both went our separate ways to get ready.
Favorite wedding moment: Seeing Ben for the first time once I was in my dress and ready to go. Seeing his smiling face -everything else just melted away!
Detail that was worth it: Our guest book. I made a scrapbook with pictures of us from all 4 years we had been together, including some awesome engagement shots from Sam. It was on black paper so we got some metallic silver pens and let people write messages around the photos.
Detail that was a waste: Bubbles for people to blow once we were pronounced husband and wife. I saw some people blowing some but overall it didn’t turn out how I had hoped.
Best wedding splurge: Sam for sure! Worth every penny!
Best wedding steal: My shoes, I found them on clearance at a local bridal shop for $10.
My best advice is: To relax, let go of the things that aren’t perfect and just have fun.
And, for a bit of shameless self-promotion, what was your favorite part about working with Samantha Warren Weddings: Her ability to be a best friend to someone she barely knows! Sam was amazing the whole day making sure I stayed hydrated and had everything I needed. She even gave me the amazing idea to ditch my crinoline and bra when it started bothering me after the ceremony. Thanks for that Sam, I felt so much better after I took it off!
Read Past Bride's Side Posts:
-Vol.1: 10 tips for making the "Best Day of Your Life" just that
-Vol. 2: 'Remember you are starting a life together'
-Vol. 3: Go green, but stay real
As I told you last month, the latest issue of Real Maine Weddings magazine features Sam and Scott's winter wedding. Though the article (entitled "Northern exposure") that I wrote about the wedding was first published online last month, the actual magazine didn't hit stands until this week, just in time for Sam and Scott's one year anniversary on Sunday! Congratulations you two - we can't wait to catch up when you come home from Colorado later this month.
Here is a look at the individual pages (thanks Kyle for the scans). Definitely pick up a copy (available at Shaw's, Hannaford and local book stores) as it's a great resource for Maine wedding planning with some very yummy eye candy:
I am also happy to report that Sara and Dean's green wedding at the Asticou Inn was included in a review of Maine wedding trends. While I really hope that eco-friendly nuptials are more than just a fad, I am glad that Real Maine Weddings choose to include them in their pages. Other trends include colorful wedding shoes, photobooths at weddings and silly wedding party formal photos (umm... yeah).
An overview of the trends page (sorry for the black lines- scanner trouble):
And a close-up of the section featuring my photo of their green centerpieces: