Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Philadelphia: Part II (The Wedding Day!)

My cousin has always been passionately involved with the growth, strengthening, and betterment of Philly, so it was only natural–no, perfection–that she would have her wedding at Christ Church Neighborhood House. The Neighborhood House was opened in 1915, serving as a community center for low income families, particularly during The Depression. Now it serves as an arts incubator. 

 The ceremony and reception site was the basketball court! This is where many community theatre productions take place. We were very lucky to have production-quality lights and sound!

Ready for load-in!

 This was a lowkey, diy wedding. The brilliant wedding coordinator had the idea of lining all the long tables against the wall. It made the large space feel more snug and intimate, and then during cocktail hour when the room would need to be turned over, all the tables simply needed to be rotated for dining.

 My cousin and her now-husband are REALLY into Legos. This was the original set they built and photographed for their actual invitations that were sent out months before.

 Her husband works for a beer distributor, and there were tasteful (and tasty) beer decorations incorporated into the space. These empty growlers were filled with drinking water and were used as table signs. Each growler was named after a favorite attraction or neighborhood. My sister and I stayed up until midnight the night before to help cut the labels by hand.

 The actual wedding rehearsal took place the DAY of the wedding at noon. By about 1pm, the ladies left to a hotel room to get ready while Sam (sister) and I stayed behind to "monitor" the groomsmen who were responsible for the rest of the load-in. They were actually well-behaved and truly enthusiastic. They helped us string all these LED candles to create a Hogwarts-esque backdrop.

 Me on the scaffolding while Sam helps balance the composition of candles.

 All set!

 When we returned to the venue in the evening, I was completely surprised! The windows were blacked out, the groomsmen had turned on the candles–we told them earlier in the day, "You guys are responsible for turning them on since we'll be in our dresses and heels!"–and the theater lights were also turned on. I couldn't believe how the venue was transformed into something so beautiful and dramatic and eerily romantic! By the way, those chandeliers were just left hanging in the venue from a vaudeville show that took place the night before!

 I'm a sucker for good lighting.

Family picture. My cousin enthusiastically approved of my joke of wanting to wear a donut printed dress.

 This beer list was funny and very much appreciated. Everything I tried was delicious!

 The venue was BYOB, and was just so easy and chill.

 Dress: &Apparel / Shoes: Lulus

As soon as I saw the dress on the website, I notified my cousin. She was so enthusiastic about it, like, "You can't come if you don't wear it" so I bought it and immediately felt buyer's remorse. I don't like buying outlandish pieces of clothing, and this dress was $50 (that's expensive!) for something so bizarre. At the time it felt like a stupid, ridiculous purchase and it was about a year before the wedding so it just sat in my closet for all that time. Within a few hours, the dress had been sold out (it's still sold out), and I haven't been able to find it anywhere else on the internet! I got soooo many compliments on the way to the venue and from all of her friends and family. I think it brought everyone a lot of joy and a giggle. It definitely paid off. Since I don't have too many pictures in it, I may wear it for another wedding!

 Dress: Forever 21 / Jacket: Zara (similar)

My sister bought her dress from F21 about 2 weeks before the wedding, and although our dresses came from different brands with a year between our respective purchases, her dress is the same fabric and silhouette as my own!!!!

 Friends of the bride and groom performed the song for the first dance. It was Starship - Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now. It was adorable. Not only was it an acoustic version that was performed well, but EVERYONE sang along. The room was filled with so much love and rock and roll in this moment.

 This was the BEST wedding food I've ever had. I asked my cousin about it and she said she just located a green, sustainable caterer and didn't even do a tasting!!!

 They brought their plates of food around each table so they could eat and talk to everyone.

 Obsessed with this venue.

 Instead of cake, the couple ordered customized ice cream sandwiches.

They were freaking delicious. I've never had one so delicious.

The wedding took place from 5:30-9:30pm, followed by an informal afterparty at a bar a few blocks away. Around midnight, we headed back to their hotel room to order room service and just chat. My family sadly had to leave and catch a 6am flight the next day!!! We chatted until 2am, and got a two hour nap. The weekend was such a whirlwind!!!


It was a perfect wedding. In my years of event production, I couldn't believe that the day ran so flawlessly. It definitely took a great team. The bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, and the lucky couple were so chill and "go with the flow". It really felt like a HAPPY day, and I think that's what made it the best wedding ever.

By the way, I cried SO MUCH. My parents and sister laughed at me; I was a faucet that couldn't turn off.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Moving Forward

I think I could easily wrap up 2016 very simply. 

I took it easy. I didn't travel too much, I didn't work too hard. Instead, I spent time at home with my bedridden great-grandmother. She was 103 years old and she died peacefully in July with her family at her bedside. It's easy for me to feel like I should have worked harder towards my goals, but I am happy that I gave her my time (almost) every day. All my life we weren't very close, but caring for her needs from January through July was the most intimate that we have ever been. I am grateful. 

However, 2017 is the year I get back to work. I have purchased this Passion Planner and I can't wait to get it in the mail! Cheers to planning, reflection, strategy, focus, and achieving goals!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Philadelphia: Part I

My sister and I had about 45 minutes to explore the Reading Terminal Market, which is an indoor farmers market. It's very much like Grand Central Market in DTLA, or like the Ferry Building in SF (but not as fancy).

I wanted to start a tradition of buying 1 hot sauce bottle from every place I travel, but I can't seem to find anything good that's less than 3oz.

The night before the wedding, my cousin had her family dinner at Brauhaus Schmitz. It really felt like we were in Germany with the amazing beers and family-style dinner.

 Last minute wedding prep until midnight!

New Jersey

I'm interrupting my monthly photo diary updates to post about my recent east coast trip! My family flew to Philadelphia to celebrate my cousin's wedding, but we definitely had to devote one day to visiting friends and family in New Jersey.

 I flew a separate red-eye flight, didn't sleep much, then landed and went to the hotel gym. I was tired.

 First stop was our Italian family. This is their sweet pup, Nala.

 Fall foliage was in full effect. Prepare for photoshoot fun.

 Italians don't quit when it comes to food. We sat down to enjoy this build-your-own sandwich spread and midway through lunch, our Uncle left to go pick up pizza!!!

This is technically back in Pennsylvania, but this is my father's childhood home. It's over 200 years old and used to store and provide ice to the town. There was a separate ice shed on the property.