Before the Wedding

Last summer I got married. I was planning to write about the days leading up to the wedding but then (almost) one year passed and I never did. So here goes.

I got married on a Saturday and I took that Thursday and Friday off (and also the following week for our honeymoon in Jamaica but that’s a post for another day). I live in New York City and the wedding was in Connecticut, roughly three hours away by train, so I didn’t need to buffer in much travel time. I did need to do some challenging packing. I threw my Jamaica shit in a suitcase and left that with Jeff. And I packed my absolute wedding weekend necessities (wedding shoes, Spanx and vows. Smartly, we kept the wedding license in CT with my mom so it would remain in state.) in a duffel bag. I grabbed the duffel and then headed out at noon to go get my nails done from an artist I DMed on Instagram earlier that month.

The nails took three hours to complete. Woops! It turns out it takes a long time to 1. get your client to decide on WTF they want to do (sorry, I’m indecisive forever) 2. painstakingly handpaint micro-floral designs on ALL 10 FINGERS. I saw many women come and go while I sat in the chair and the topic of my wedding came up. Because it was in two days! One woman said her wedding was on a beach and a huge storm rolled through. But 25+ years later, she had nothing but happy memories of the day!

After that, I headed to Midtown to pick up my wedding dress which was being held at the tailor’s. I found the dress at Anthropologie and bought it direct from the designer on Black Friday. When the dress came in around February, I picked it up from the designer’s boutique conveniently located in Midtown and then had them run it over to their preferred tailor, just a few blocks away.

Over the next seven months I made 4-5 visits to the shop for alterations and I never once tried it on at home. Maybe this seems odd for anyone who doesn’t live in New York but I did not trust that my beautiful, pristine dress would survive the subway ride back to Brooklyn. I also shared one tiny closet with Jeff and a cat, Reggie, who through no fault of her own, would leave a coat of fur on the dress, somehow penetrating through the protective shell.

But I did need to eventually take it from the shop and bring it to Connecticut. Thursday afternoon I climbed a flight of stairs up to the tailors, made my last payment and nervously accepted the dress from the woman at the counter. When I walked out on the city street, across from “Chazz Palminteri Italian Restaurant” and around the corner from Times Square, I felt like Anne Hathaway carrying the unpublished Harry Potter manuscript in Devil Wears Prada. I had precious cargo and I needed to get it to its final destination unscathed. I was headed to Grand Central.

For as scared as I was of getting my dress ripped or peed on or smudged by the silver body paint of those unsettling living statues, (remember I was slicing through Times Square) I was also THRILLED to be living out a childhood fantasy.

I was racing through the iconic Grand Central Station with a wedding dress under my arm to catch a train to marry the man I love. I was Meg Fucking Ryan. I was Julia Roberts. I was the picture of a rom-com heroine and I was running to meet my Tom Hanks or Dermot Mulroney. I found him in the lower-level cafeteria, sitting at a table way in the back, surrounded by all our bags and his suit. I asked Jeff if he had written his vows and he said he was working on it. I bought some overpriced, but handmade guacamole and we anxiously ate through a bag of chips. We were getting married in two days – what.

We boarded the train and I carefully hung the dress on a hook against my window seat. I pet it and whispered into its folds, “don’t be damaged when I open you up later.” An hour into the two-hour ride back to Connecticut, Jeff showed me the vows he wrote and I started crying. We sighed and were able to catch our breath before the next leg of the trip.

That night and the night after, we stayed on my brother’s pullout couch which was formerly owned by my grandmother. He lived in the town next to our venue. It was also the town where the guest’s hotels were located and where we had the rehearsal dinner so we used his place as a base of operations.

The next day was Friday, August 17th, and it was hot and humid. But we had errands we wanted to run, and my brother was working, and we didn’t have a car, so we just walked all over town. We stopped at CVS to pick up items to put in the guest’s welcome bags and then we trekked over to two separate hotels where we blocked rooms. We actually assembled them right there in the lobbies of the hotels. At the Marriott there were roughly nine other weddings happening that weekend and the desk agent pointed me to the rows of other guest bags.

That evening, after we had showered and changed, we drove with my brother to the venue for the rehearsal. I’ll never forget opening the door to “the castle” and seeing our wedding party in full for the first time. It’s cliche but honestly weddings are surreal for no other reason than you’re seeing everyone across your life in one room. And they’re just hanging out and chatting but for what reason? You might forget for a second. Then you remember, it’s for you and that’s crazy!

We rehearsed an outdoor and indoor ceremony, in case of rain, and on the day, it did rain, but we were prepared. And then when it was all over, we drove back to the neighboring town and ate New Haven-style pizza at the back room of a bar-turned dance club after hours. I knew we shouldn’t stay out late, tomorrow was the most important day of our lives, but a few of us stopped at a nearby bar for their signature rubber ducky in a glass cocktail. Writing this now it sounds like a fever dream brought on by our two-day schlep across cities and state lines. Or maybe it was the result of magical thinking, what you get when you ask two people to put into words how they feel about spending the rest of their lives together.

The next day we got married.

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