Monday, 23 March 2009

Margo Gets Hitched

Well it’s been ages since I updated this blog. Things just got so busy that I could barely process experiencing it all, let alone sit back and reflect! I’ve been in London 1 year & 9 months and my life has certainly changed a lot in that time. Differently than I might have guessed!

Quite a lot has happened, so I’ll hit some of the highlights. Rick came over here to stay with me for awhile and in April we went to Istanbul to meet up with my brother Adam and his wife Goli. They rented an apartment there for a month so Adam could wind down a bit after his 2nd deployment in Iraq. We were there for about 6 days. We had an amazing time seeing all the sights, haggling in the bazaars, eating delicious Turkish food, smoking shisha and drinking apple tea.

Goli was an excellent tour guide, she speaks the language and has spent a lot of time there. She grew up in Iran and she and her family used to spend holidays in Turkey, where some of her extended family live. She showed us the local hang-outs and Adam gave us fascinating history lessons about Istanbul and all the incredible mosques and museums and palaces we went to. Rick and I loved it there. I’ll have to write a post about that trip soon.

In June, Rick proposed and I said yes (of course!) and we got engaged. We were super happy and excited. A few days later we went on a bit of a whirlwind trip to Brussels, Amsterdam, Munich, Cesky Krumlov and Prague. I really don’t like to fly so I was particularly excited about this trip because it only involved 1 flight – from Prague to London. We took the Eurostar to Brussels and then the Eurail the rest of the way. I much prefer traveling on trains, even though it takes longer. It’s more relaxing and it’s great to see the scenery and really get the feel of traveling from one place to another.

That trip was definitely an adventure – traversing 5 countries in 8 days is not something I would recommend or repeat! We mis-judged the amount of time it took to get to each place, waiting for connections, and there were also changes that we couldn’t have foreseen. We’re both relaxed about traveling so that was a big help, but we spent a lot more time en route then we wanted and not enough time in each place. Lesson learned.

We were able to see some incredible things though and we had a great time overall. The biggest problem was that we got stuck in the rain in Amsterdam and Rick, being gentlemanly, gave me his coat because I wasn't wearing one, and he ended up getting bronchitis. He was pretty sick most of the trip.

I had to take him to the hospital in Prague, which we were apprehensive about, but we actually received faster and better care there than we ever have in London! I’ll write a longer post on that trip at some point, but some of the highlights were – Taking the train over the Alps - the scenery was truly breathtaking (poor Rick slept through it). We went to an old beer garden in Germany and drank beer in big steins and ate lots of delicious sausages and schnitzel and pretzels. In Amsterdam we had waffles and all kinds of good food and went to the van Gogh museum. We ate hearty comfort-style food in Prague – potatoes and meat and soup and dumplings. I walked around the Jewish quarter there and saw the amazing old Jewish cemetery.

We also toured several castles during the trip, which is one of my favorite things to do. There's a beautiful one in Cesky Krumlov and in Prague we went to the castle and the St. Vitus Cathedral. Prague is so beautiful. We really want to go back, especially since Rick had never been there before and he had to spend a good part of his time there in bed.

After we got back from the trip things got REALLY hectic, because Rick and I had to start planning our wedding! We had to organize it very quickly so it was stressful, especially organizing it from another country.

My workmates and friends in London threw me a hen night (what they call a bachelorette party in England - the bachelor is called a ‘stag’) and it was really sweet – we ate sushi and cakes and they gave me big sparkly fairy wings and a feather boa and feather flapper-style headband to wear. We went dancing on Brick Lane and had a great time.

The wedding was in NY in September, and it was amazing, we had such an incredible time. I had never met Rick’s family before, because they live in Santa Fe and they didn't have a chance to visit while I was living in NY. Rick had met my Dad and brothers but not my Mom & Stepdad. Rick’s family came in a few days before the wedding and we went out with them and showed them around NY a bit. They were so wonderful and welcoming to me, the nicest new family I could have ever hoped for! They even got me a birthday present, which is really sweet because my birthday was right after my wedding and with all the other stuff going on I didn’t really expect any presents or for anyone to really remember it! Rick’s sister also made us a beautiful photo book that had pictures of me & Rick from when we were kids up until now.

The Sunday before the wedding, Annick and Mary threw a really fun bachelorette party for me, themed as a lingerie shower. We had Italian food and a cake and played some games and I got lots of amazing lingerie, which is always appreciated (by both me & Rick)! I was even lucky enough to get a set from Agent Provocateur! Afterwards we went out bar-hopping in Williamsburg and then I retrieved my fiancée while he was still somewhat functional after his bachelor party. Rick had his bachelor party at Roberta’s and it’ll just suffice to say that he had a fun time and that I was lucky to get him back in one piece. My brother Craig came in from Miami a week early to hang with us and I asked him to be my representation at the party and look after Rick. I don’t think I’ll ask Craig to be a chaperone again, in the end Craig probably drank more than Rick! They had a great time though, so as long as they survived, it’s all good.

My Mom came to town a few days early as well and we took Rick’s Mom & sister to Katz’s Deli for some yummy NY-style deli sandwiches, and we met up with some of my girlfriends and had our nails done.

The night before the wedding we hosted a big dinner with the two families so everyone could get to know each other. We had it at Roberta’s (our friends’ restaurant in Brooklyn) and they really turned it out for us. There was lots of delicious food and wine and everyone got along fantastically. It was an amazing feeling to be in a room with all of my family, some of Rick’s family (and some of our friends). This never happens because my family is so spread apart geographically and it’s such a pleasure when I get to see everyone. Also when your parents are divorced it’s rare to have both sides of the family in one place.

But that was really just a pre-cursor to the actual wedding, where we had almost all of the people we really love in the world in one place!

We stayed at the Chelsea Hotel for the day of the wedding and a few days afterwards. On the day of wedding, Adam hung out with me and chauffeured me around, which was great because we got to spend more time together. I had my hair done in the morning and then a few of my girlfriends came to the hotel to help me get ready. We drank some champagne and had fun getting all dolled up.

The ceremony was in Prospect Park in the afternoon with about 20 people, just immediate family and a handful of our closest friends. Rick and I said traditional vows and then vows we wrote ourselves. My youngest brother Max (who's 6 years old) was the ring bearer and he did a great job. He’s a riot - he has such an impish sense of humor. He kept moving the box away from me when I went to get the rings – little whippersnapper! Everyone was cracking up.

I didn’t have any Bridesmaids but I asked my best friend Mary to be my un-official Maid of Honor, and she did a reading for the blessing at the end of the ceremony. The reading was partially from Rilke and then she wrote the rest, it was beautiful.

Our friend Ian played a violin serenade as I walked down the aisle (which wasn’t quite an aisle but a trail of rose petals in the park) and both of my parents escorted me, which was really nice. I wore a 50s-style white dress with beautiful white heels that my Aunt Pam bought me as a present, and a vintage white beaded bag that she lent me. I had my hair swept up and wore a Swarovski crystal tiara that's a replica of the tiara that Audrey Hepburn wore in Roman Holiday. It was hand-made by this amazing jeweler, Count Alexander, who is an actual Austrian Count! We bought it in London at his gorgeous little shop in Angel from his mother, who is a Baroness. She was beautiful and charming and so sweet helping us choose the tiara. I also wore a vintage 40s white fur stole that we bought in London. Rick wore an exquisite Vivienne Westwood grey suit and looked super sexy. One of us had to get married in Westwood!

Afterwards we all went to the reception at a French bistro in Williamsburg. We had about 90 people there and although a few close friends couldn’t make it, and because of space constraints there were some family and friends we couldn’t invite, it was definitely still the only time I’ve had the experience of having almost all my loved ones together! That was so amazing. Everyone just looked so gorgeous and seemed really happy and it made the evening so special. We really couldn’t have had a better time.

My friend Jay DJ’d and there was an open bar with beer and wine and cocktails. The food was delicious – cheese plates, salmon tarts, marinated chicken skewers, calamari, sautéed escargot (they were so good!), fresh snapper, homemade spinach and goat cheese ravioli, coq au vin, garlic mashed potatoes... We had 100 pink and white chocolate and vanilla French-style butter cupcakes for dessert and set them up in two tiers. They were a big hit! They were huge and delicious. It was fun to cut a cupcake instead of an actual cake. I shoved a bunch of it in Rick’s face :)

The staff at the restaurant were so friendly and attentive, I was really indebted to one waitress who went out of her way to make sure I always had a drink and made me a plate of food and forced me to sit down and eat! If she hadn’t done that, I know I would never have had any food all night, I was too distracted talking to everyone.

The best part of the wedding reception for Rick and I was the toasts. Mary and Adam started them off and then after that it just kept going – in the end, so many people got up to speak. Our parents, siblings, a lot of our friends... people were so sweet and had the most beautiful things to say and best wishes for us. Some of the speeches were just all-out hysterical. It was a really fun part of the night and we definitely felt really loved. Afterwards, Rick and I had our first dance as a married couple and then I danced with my Dad and Rick danced with his Mom.

People came from all over - my cousin Roya came all the way out from LA! My cousin Jeanmarie came from Philly, Rick's family and some friends came out from Santa Fe. My neighbors from when I was growing up, the Gigliotti's, came out and I was so happy to see them. Unfortunately their daughter Maria couldn't make it but it was so great to see Michele and Frank. My Mom & Stepdad came out from Texas, Craig from Miami, Adam & Goli and Goli's Mom traveled from DC, it was just so wonderful. My friend Shannon came who I really miss and I never get to see enough. My Aunt & Uncle & cousins from Connecticut. And of course all our friends and family from NY.

The party lasted until about 2am, and then we went back to the hotel. When we got back there was an amazing gift box that Mary & Erika had sent for us with all kinds of sweets and toiletries and a bottle of champagne. It was such a great touch to end the evening with and I’ll always remember how amazing and generous everyone was during the whole experience.

My girlfriends really helped me immensely throughout everything. Planning the wedding from overseas and in such a short time period was not an easy task, but they made it all so much easier. Mary designed the wedding invitations and the cocktail menu for us and did a gorgeous job. She also helped us find the venue. Our friend Tiffany (who’s a professional photographer) did the photography for the wedding along with my friend Jenna who photo-assisted. The photos came out amazing! Tiffany also printed up all the cocktail menus for us. Annick helped in so many ways, she let us stay with her for part of the time we were in NY and one night she stayed home and filled out all the place cards! Anjalie came dress shopping with me in London and was a huge help.

Erika was amazing – not only did she and her husband Ian host us for most of our trip, she helped me so much with everything – including co-ordinating with the restaurant and helping plan everything. She dealt with the florist to order the bouquet and boutonnieres and then she hand-made all the beautiful flower arrangements for the tables as a present for us! She also got my veil for me, dropped off all the flowers at the venue and helped arrange the tables, etc. and just gave us so much advice and support. She and Ian bought us our guest book and just generally did tons of things for us, I couldn’t even list them all. Loads of other people also helped us out in different ways and we were just really overwhelmed with the generosity and love from all of our friends and family! It had been a rough few months leading up to the wedding, so it was really amazing to come home and get such a big dose of happiness and positivity. It made it so difficult to leave everyone again!

The next day we had some family & friends over to our suite at the Chelsea for a NY-style brunch - bagels and lox, muffins, whitefish salad, cookies, so much good stuff. Rick's family brought delicious homemade snacks from New Mexico. We spent the rest of the day showing Rick's Mom and Sister and Uncle around NY and hanging with his friend Ricky. I took them all over Manhattan, and then we ate at my favorite resturant in Chinatown, Wo Hop. My family had left earlier that day and Rick's family left the next morning. It was so sad when we had to say goodbye to our families.

We stayed in the Chelsea for 2 days after the wedding, which was pretty much all we had in the way of a honeymoon so far. We’d like to take a honeymoon trip at some point, but I didn’t have any vacation time left at my job after the wedding. I have more vacation now that it’s the new year, but with the economy as it is, it’ll probably be some time before we can go away.

Rick stayed behind in NY after the wedding to get his Visa sorted out but all went well and he was approved to live and work in England. We moved to our own place a few months ago. We love our new flat, it's great to live by ourselves and we live right near a beautiful park.

Rick and I have so much fun together and although being married is definitely an adjustment, it's one we've happily made. He is a great partner and takes care of me so well (and hopefully I do the same for him!) He's a gifted artist and a mean cook and just an all-around fantastic guy. I have so much respect and admiration for who he is and how he interacts with the world. He approaches life in a different way from me, and unapologetically so, which I really enjoy. I think we both have strengths that compliment each other. He's already taught me so much and I know that I'll continue to learn by being around him and having his input and advice. He's really been such a positive, happy element in my life and I'm so glad to have found someone so amazing. :)

Since the wedding, we’ve both pretty much just been busy working and trying to save money to do some more traveling. We did get over to Paris again for a few days for Rick’s birthday and stayed with our friend Jon. I finally saw the Louvre on that trip!

I want to take as much advantage as possible being so close to mainland Europe while we’re here - there’s so many places we’d like to go next it’s hard to decide. I’ve still never been to Santa Fe though. Rick’s family wants to do a party for us so we could celebrate the wedding with all his friends and family that couldn’t make it to NY, so we’re hoping to visit Santa Fe as soon as we can. I can’t wait to see it, I’ve heard so much about it! And I know Rick really misses everyone.

Well that’s all for now. I’m working on a post with advice for people who are visiting NY. I get asked about where to go in NY pretty often lately so I figured it would be a good idea to put together all my favorite places and recommendations and just send people a link when they ask.

So that should be up soon if you’re interested. As always, hope everyone is well and please keep in touch. For everyone who helped us with or came to the wedding – we hope you had a blast and thank you so much for everything!!

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