Monday, November 25, 2013

We Say "I Do"

Since the wedding location is about 45 minutes away from our home, we only had a short time to prepare. We had that Sunday, November 10th, plus Saturday the 16th to accomplish most of our tasks. Ricky's apartment would serve as a location for both ceremony and reception. Chairs would be set up for the ceremony and be moved after. Between the ceremony and dinner, Eric and I would have photos taken while family set up the Chipotle buffet and eating areas. As you can see, it takes more than just the wedding couple to make it happen.

While thinking about the chunk of time between the ceremony and eating, I was stressed. How would we get the guests out of Ricky's apartment and down to the lobby for light snacks? There had to be a nice way of saying, "Okay people. We need to bring in the tables. Go hangout in the lobby until someone calls you all up." We'd figure that out later. 

On the same night Eric would finish the Wedding alter, Karla flew in from Northern California. Karla and Eric have a friendship that stretches far back through the web of time. When I met her in 2003, a friendship between her and I began to blossom. She's been "an ear", a person of knowledge, and a source of infectious laughter. Soon after Eric and I became engaged in 2009, we asked Karla to be our officiant.  

Let us fast forward to the Saturday before the wedding. I had to work. Off to Disneyland, at 4 AM I went. Eric had a few more hours sleep and headed back to Hollywood. Karla, Ricky, and Eric went at it all day. And then I waltzed in after work, around 4:30 PM. It was quite a long day. By the time I arrived they had a vast amount of set up complete and the place was glistening. Later Eric's mom Mary arrived with his aunt, Cecilia. They had the center pieces ready and were about to set up the Candy Bar. 

Once the candy was set up in their glass display jars and the navy blue ribbon was thoughtout the space, it felt like this was all coming together. Eric and I were so worried about logistics, we still didn't have that "OMG, WE ARE GETTING MARRIED" moment. But, I think under the surface it was slowly starting to sink into our brains. 

That night I had an awful experience where I was up every hour. I'm sure most people can relate to an annoying night such as that. The one thing I didn't want was to appear completely exhausted. We were taking lots of photos the next day and we both wanted a refreshed look!

    View from Ricky's place

Eric and I weren't awake too early. We finally got up around 7:15 for our big day. The set up was mostly complete so there was no need for a rushed morning. And once we set out to LA, it was a stress free ride. 

Once we arrived we added some last minute touches and waited for the cake delivery. There was a hole on the counter for our cake, so this would complete our spread. Too bad the delivery man was all business. I don't think he looked one person in the eye. 

We got over the weird delivery man quickly. Cassie and Ryan, great friends and photography duo, arrived to snap some shots of the place beforehand. At that point Eric and I decided it was time to get ready! In Ricky's bedroom, as we changed clothes, we strategically avoided the five tables we had stored there. I kept thinking, "oh poor Ricky. We've turned his world upside down". Soon, the guests would start to arrive. 

    Nephews taking in the view of  the Hollywood Hills

I'm not sure if anyone realized, but we had pop music as background, performed by a string quartet (recorded). To name a few, kudos to those of you that recognized Lady Gaga, Foo Fighters or The Beatles!! We had one or two guests arrive, then it seemed as though most all guests arrived at once. 

I told Eric, "At the moment it feels as though we are hosting a nice cocktail party. But, we are getting married in about 15 minutes!" It was nice to see how excited everyone was and people's reaction to the decor was great!

Karla delivered a deeply emotional introduction tailored to Eric and  myself. She touched on our vacations, love for collecting, and even Cirque du Soleil. Karla said that although we love these hobbies/places, it isn't as deep as the commitment we have for each other. There was even a moment where she surveyed our guests "Who has known the couple for 15 years......" and so on. It was nice she included them as well. 

    "15 years? Raise your hands!"

"Do you take Eric to be your husband?"

"I do."

Those words will resonate within my memory forever. He and I stood there in front of our family and friends while admitting to one another we were in it until the end. Although I knew that  two feet from me were our guests, I felt like Eric and I were the only ones in that room. I can't explain how special it was and still is. 

The ceremony felt as thought it lasted a few minutes, but I am told it was around 20 minutes. Karla graciously led the seated guests to join her for a light refreshment in the lobby. After a few quick family photos and hugs, Eric and I followed Cassie and Ryan for our wedding photos. We were heading to the streets of Hollywood and the location of our first date, The Pantages theater. 

     Eric and Kelly(our close friend and roomie for many years)

As I said, The Pantages was our first date on April 19, 2002. We watched The Lion King. As it turns out, the same show was back in Hollywood again!! It was meant to happen!! Well, most of us think it's pretty cool. 

    Where it all began.

We took a few shots standing underneath the marquee. Cassie and Ryan stopped traffic to get the shot!! It was insanely hilarious. But there we were trying to only smile and not laugh. The Russeks are hardcore! 

    Cassie and Ryan! Love the sock bun Cassie!!

    Martin (my best man) and Jason (our friend and Martin's boyfriend) came along for the fun. Too bad they didn't get a photo of Cassie in the street, stopping traffic. 

When we headed back, Eric and I found the place ready for food! It was a relief that the wedding was happening smoothly. When we throw a party I like to oversee the event, but I had to let go of the reigns this time. 

So far everyone was loving Chipotle!! Based on this wedding meal, our friend Angie decided to use the same catering service for work. I dug into my meal with a little wine! After all, it is mine and Eric's favorite place to dine. I probably should've taken a photo of the food. Well, it was a taco bar with burrito bowl options. 

A short while later we gathered for the toasts. Both Ricky and Martin delivered some wonderful words and wished us well. The drink of choice for the toasts was Moscato Champagne. It was delicious and I'm glad we still have one bottle left!

I had never cut a cake "with" someone before so we tried to make it look as natural as possible. If you were there, did it work? As we knew from already tasting it, the cake would be fabulous. I'm pretty sure I ate 2 1/2 slices. Another big thank you to my cousin for taking care of the cake's cost! 

As a matter of fact, there are many people to acknowledge! It feels like we can't thank our family and friends enough. Our Mom's made a big contribution to the day and helped us bring this to life. They gave us a day Eric and I will never forget. It's been almost two weeks and I'm still reliving it in my head. But, that was only the beginning. In two days we have our Disney World Honeymoon! After that there is life. I don't know what we will go through together, but I'm glad I will be with Eric. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to Plan a Gay Wedding in 2 Months

We looked around the room. Eric and I could see the left over Chipotle, tasty left over cake, wine, "empty chairs and empty tables", and a few guests that had stayed behind. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, our wedding day was drawing to a close. So much time and creative energy was spent to bring about our cherished day. Did we feel satisfied? We sure did! 

Planning only began in mid September. With the wedding day on November 17th, we heard many say we were crazy. Eric and I, being a little stubborn, were determined to carry out our wedding prior to our upcoming Disney World trip, December 2nd. It did cross our level headed minds to wait one more week December 1st, but that is Thanksgiving weekend. So, that was a "No". 

Eric and I had an idea of what we wanted, but budget, location, and timing would play a huge role. And, when I say we knew what we wanted, I meant we had about four ideas between us. Did that cause some arguments along the way? Of course it did! Do you all think a smaller wedding made planning any easier? No, not at all. Later, when the decor fell into place, it felt perfect.  

A hard subject when one has a small wedding or event is the Guest List. When we decided to keep it at 50 and under, I assumed that was a good amount. Well, when we started listing names the slots filled quickly. Hard decisions were made and looking back, I don't think we even disagreed about the list. Once a number was decided, it definitely was understood between us that we had to be strict. 

Right away we had some family members that stepped up, without hesitation. My cousin Albert and wife Clara really wanted to purchase the cake. We were blown away by the gesture. Then, his sister and my cousin, Francesca, offered food money, and to create our "card receiving" box. We also had both Mothers offer to lend a huge hand in many different ways. Ricky, Eric's best man, allowed us to hold the wedding at his place. And, our great friend Cassie would be our photographer for both our wedding guest book, and the event itself. I can honestly say without our family and friends' generosity, this wouldn't have happened.

One item we quickly crossed off our list was the cake. Eric, my mom, and myself headed to Glendale for the cake tasting at the bakery Portos. They had about 12-16 different combinations for us. The red velvet was tempting, but lately it's almost too expected. We made up our own cake combination of white and chocolate cake, layered with vanilla custard. Eric and I couldn't wait for everyone to taste it!

During October, the details changed, shapes evolved and themes came and went . Would we have round tables or rectangular?  Something that drove me insane was that even though I could envision the space, I wanted to see the final product and experience it. Thank goodness the catering company was a "no brainer" for the both of us. We chose to go with Chipotle catering because it's our favorite. The spread we went with was the three meat taco bar. They would also throw in a few different salsas and chips with guacamole.

Suddenly time was creeping toward October 17th. This meant we absolutely had to send out the invitations. We just needed to decide on the style we liked. I have to be honest, the idea of sending out a massive text message did cross our minds. Don't worry, we got rid of that idea.

After invitations, the first photo shoot was upon us. As I mentioned before, our great friend Cassie would take our photos. She went with us to Disneyland and California Adventure in the wee hours of a Monday morning. Eric and I would be posing for our Guest Book. Eric had the idea to have photos where our guests could sign the borders, and write short messages. It was such a fun morning in the parks. Cassie is amazing at what she does. Check out Russek Photography on Facebook! 

(I don't rely on mirrors alone...they're deceiving)

It was an experience trying on suits for the big day. To be frank, we did encounter frustration as we shopped. Since we loved the first suits we tried on, it was hard to settle on anything else. Maybe a guy would usually think, "Hey it's no biggie." But for us it was really important. There was no wedding dress to be featured at this wedding ceremony. Eric and I were it and we wanted to look as good as possible. Once we finalized the suits, I felt stress levels slightly lower. 

 With exactly two weeks left, Eric, his parents, Ricky, Greg, and I got to work. Poor Ricky was "losing" his living room. We cleared it all out in that one afternoon. The sofa, tables, lamps, and shelf all ended up in his spare room. Ricky was left with the floor to sit on, and a TV. So when I say we couldn't have done it without Ricky, it's the truth. 

The plan was to then return to the following Sunday, which was a week from the wedding, to get even more prepared. When that day came, Eric then brought the backdrop for our ceremony. He made it that week from plywood, chalkboard paint, and of course chalk. He spent almost five hours getting this piece just right. 

Whoa, what a blog post, right? I want to keep all of your interest so I'll be back soon with a heck of a lot more photos and the wedding details. I can't give it all at once! And, if you were there, then I guess you know all the secrets. I will add that our daydream was becoming a reality. See all back soon!