The Wedding Planning Trilogy: Engagement, Year Three

This year marks the 10th anniversary of my wedding to W. As part of the celebration, I will be documenting our relationship from the proposal up to the wedding, and each year up to our 10th anniversary.

Writing this post brough back a lot of bad memories. Emotions flared during last leg of the planning, especially after the engagement dinner. A lot of the key stakeholders on both sides of the aisle burned bridges, some without even realizing they had crossed a line, because of their resistance to our plans and their constant second guessing. It wasn’t sinking in that we didn’t need their opinions about fancy silverware or plates, nor felt inclined to offer an unpronounceable meal to our guests to show off our “engineering money”. Salsa, merengue, pigeon peas, mofongo balls, Medalla and lechón asado (roasted pork) was all we needed to kick off our journey as husband and wife.👰🤵🍻

By mid 2007 the era of the fat cows, as my aunt Lola called the booming economy, came to an end. The downward spiral of our mutual fund investments, caused by the market’s overreaction to the loan scandals and rising foreclosures, had cut the budget substantially. Our two year old home lost 20% of its value in less than six months! Printing our own invitations, capping the guest list at 150, and eliminating live music during the cocktail hour were necessary departures from the “high end experience” people “expected” to save some dough. We didn’t need a bouquet or boutonnieres, a videographer, or anything that alluded to being well off in the middle of the financial crisis mode. The nostalgia of the good old days, when plastic tables and “neveritas” or coolers in someone’s luscious backyard, had us yearning for simpler time when the music, the people and the food was all that mattered.

Myopic vendors couldn’t see our vision and severely ridiculed and scoffed at our frugally understated and unpretentious formal wedding in tones of purple, with wood, water and candle accents. Clerks slammed our choices and laughed at our predicament. How rude! When people began to question my sanity I realized there were too many chefs in the kitchen, and none of them were working for me. This was OUR wedding! Overwhelmed by the resistance to change and pushback, the rest of our decisions were kept under wraps. In modern geek terms we wanted the equivalent of a Dothraki-Targaryen wedding: dancing rituals💃🕺, fire(works)🔥 and endless libations🥂🍾. Epic. Wish I had gotten married now instead to have done it GoT themed. Hehehe. The best option to recapture the magic was an outdoor ceremony at Las Casitas in El Conquistador about 30 mins away in a bluff overlooking the beach and the vast blue Atlantic Ocean.

Casitas Gardens.jpg
Las Casitas. Copyright El Conquistador

Nothing was easy for us, not even the cake tastings. In our culture, it is tradition to have the Best Man and Maid of Honor pay for the fondant covered masterpiece and prices were astronomical. Since we couldn’t find an affordable confection, and didn’t want to force such a monetary burden on them, we opted to bake our own. The family’s bizcocho de queso cake recipe, a staple at our Washirica  parties, was a better bet anyway. The padrinos agreed and pitched in for the materials, volunteering their kitchens and time for the bake-off. This win inspired me to make bets with a few naysayers who counter they could find a service cheaper than budgeted. Many failed to find economically equivalent alternatives so they opted to pay for the budgeted services. That’s how we got the funds to place the band and the photographer under contract, how we secured beer on tap from Old Harbor Brewing, and how W got the fireworks.

All this was hustled in less than two weeks. Two weeks! All but the decor. Purple is the color of engineering and Parisian royalty which is why we had always loved it. Our planner picked up the impossible mission of using silver, gold, and brown/wood to spruce up the reception hall that every other vendor had opted to criticize. She was able to imagine giving the room a wow factor that wilting flowers alone couldn’t achieve for our Wedding Zen feel. She won us over with the idea of submerging lilies and orchids in short 12″ vases, in an effort to address my allergies and budget concerns.

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First run on the centerpieces.

Less flowers = smaller expense. This went over well because we didn’t want an obstructed view of the dance floor or tables with behemoth arrangements. A few trees and hypoallergenic solutions later she had an indoor Bosque Mágico o lighted forest experience outlined. All we needed was to find a decorations supplier that would not balk at the idea of a purple wedding.

Thankfully, that mystery was solved six months later during a side trip we took when we went back to the island to attend our best man’s wedding. The angels at Charlie’s rental understood our needs and online ordered the perfect the tabletops, accessories and chairs. They even threw in the plants and lights at a good price! Whatever they didn’t carry they found for us via catalogue. With the money we saved, we placed an order for a suckling pig a la varita for the cocktail hour.  My future father in law, who had vetoed that idea months prior, has a change of heart when one of his guests mentioned that was a phenomenal touch especially during the holidays. The rest of the items fell into place. The universe finally conspired in our favor. 🍾🎉🥂

The last thing we handled was the hair and make up appointments which included a Keratin treatment for W’s unruly shoulder length curly locks. (Don’t laugh, he was ahead of the Metrosexual craze. Temeber that?) It took me a while to find an updo worthy of being immortalized in pictures, and shoes to replace the Jimmy Choo’s I could no longer afford. Whatever was left would be borrowed or rented last minute. With four months to go, it all seemed to be running smoothly. Time to start putting the invitations in order…

Stay tuned for the next entry into this Countdown to 10! saga, The Wedding: Take One.

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