Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Christina's Bridal Shower

On Sunday I was lucky enough to attend the first of Christina's two bridal showers she's having. Her mom is throwing one for her in NY at the end of July, but I already have Mike and Kerry's engagement party to attend that day, so Kenny's mom was kind enough to invite me to the Bridal Shower she was throwing in Vineland, NJ. Kenny's backyard was so beautiful and they lucked out with really excellent weather! It was hot and humid, but there was a nice constant breeze, which made sitting outside totally bearable (despite the constant hair blowing in my face and mouth as I was trying to eat, but I digress...)

I got there a little after 1:00 and was treated to some lovely food. Cheese, guacamole, eggplant dip (which coincidentally Chris's mom has been making and I've been eating nonstop lately!) chips, vegetables and the like. Then sandwiches, broccoli salad, fruit, and salad for lunch. I caught up with Christina's family and her adorable grandmother. I also met two of Christina's co-workers from Harrah's and caught up with her fellow bridesmaid Emily, who I know from Wagner.

Emily put together a version of "The Newlywed Game" for Christina and Kenny which was TOP-NOTCH. She had 30 questions for both Christina and Kenny. She videotaped Kenny's answers a few weeks ago. Then, she would ask Christina the same question, would play the tape of Kenny's answers and we'd see how many they answered the same. I seriously could not BELIEVE how well they did. 21 1/2 out of 30 questions right?!?! They even answered "If Kenny was a fruit...what fruit would he be?" the same! I mean? How many fruits are there in the world and they both said Pineapple?? "If a meteor was heading toward your house and Kenny had to grab one last item to save before leaving what would he take?" They both answered correctly with computer/laptop. How does Christina like her coffee in the morning? "Splenda and whatever flavored creamer was on sale that week" answered exactly the same by both parties. Everyone there was really impressed.
Sadly, I don't think Chris and I would have done very well in this game. But all week I've been randomly asking Chris questions, just in case! Christina was laughing saying it's either really cute how many they answered the same, or just proof that they spend far too much time together and need to get a hobby and/or more friends. Hahaha! I would agree with her...if they weren't so gosh darn cute together!

Then Christina opened her presents!
That was from me!
While (Whilst?) she was opening gifts we had to make things out of toilet paper that Christina would need for her wedding night. I made a garter belt..but I didn't take enough toilet paper, so it ended up being a calflet. Bahaha, just what every bride needs on her wedding day... a calflet!

And what bridal shower would be complete without the ribbon hat?

Emily made an amazing pina-colada cake (pineapple cake with a coconut cream-cheese frosting). We also had a pineapple, mandarin-orange, marshmallow salad, brownies and cookies. I left around 5:30 to head back to New York and even though it took me 4 HOURS to get home due to traffic, it was still worth it. :) I'm so happy I was able to attend at least one of Christina's showers, and be there to celebrate with her through this exciting time.

3 months and counting you two!!

When I got home from work on Monday, Christina and Kenny's wedding invitation was waiting for us in our mailbox. I love them!! It's almost here Christina!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pennsylvania Engagement Party!

Last Saturday, June 19, was our Pennsylvania Engagement party at my parent's house! I went home Thursday night right after work by the (Justin) Beiber Bus. It was so relaxing, easy, and quick and I got to watch The Blind Side on my Archos! I wish I could just hop on a bus to go home all the time. I got home around 8:00, ate dinner, and talked to my parents about our plan of attack in order to get everything ready by 2:00 Saturday. After that, I hit the sack for the long day ahead of me!

Friday was busy, busy, busy! My mom had a half day of school, so dad and I went to pick up all the rented things from Taylor Rental in the morning. We picked up tables/chairs/tent/poles/chafing dishes and I held the martini glasses on my lap. I cannot BELIEVE we fit everything on my dad's truck, but we did!
We worked for a little over an hour unloading and setting everything up..and did I mention sweating? When all was said and done, this was the beautiful backyard!
After we ate lunch (we maaaay or may not have dipped into the Sicilian macaroni my mom brought home), my mom and I went to pick up the cake. We then went to the dollar store to look for a good punch bowl for the sangria I was planning to make, which proved unsuccessful. Luckily, we found a great one at Wegmans! There is truly no better place on earth than Wegmans, and we were there for pretty much the entire afternoon.(Side note: Alec Baldwin was on Jay Leno a few weeks ago and he said he's been trying to get his mom to move closer to him in NYC, so he can spend more time with her. She refuses to move from upstate NY because she can't leave Wegmans...I hear ya Mrs. Baldwin!!) We got back home around 5:00, and I immediately started work on dinner. I really wanted to cook for my parents and sister since I never get to. My dad grilled chicken and some seasoned asparagus, while I made risotto with pine-nuts and a tomato casserole. It was a fantastic summer meal outside on our patio. After dinner we cleaned up, worked a little more on food preparation, and I set to work on two picture boards I wanted to display at the party. I had gone through albums and albums of Chris's baby pictures during the week and picked out a few of little Laura from my mom's albums as well.

Saturday was still busy, busy, busy. Melissa and Dakota came over early and were a huuuge help. Melissa arranged the flowers in vases and put them on the tables. Then I had to send them both to the liquor store to get my sangria drink supplies which I didn't have a chance to get on Friday. I stayed back and made guacamole, and helped my mom get the appetizers ready to go for 2:00, while my dad set up the backyard. Then, I finally went upstairs to get ready for the party. When I came back down an hour later, I was pleasantly surprised to see my mom's coworker, Brooke, had arrived and was helping my mom! I've only met Brooke very briefly once before, but my mom talks about her so much I feel like I know her already! I noticed a jug of what looked like lemonade behind Brooke and asked her what that was. My mom got her funny "I have a surprise for you" look on her face, and starts to lead us outside to the bar area we had set up on the patio. The table was all set up with the martini glasses and a cute little plaque:
For all of those special people in Laura and Chris's lives, we invite you to enjoy a special martini that was made just for them.  "Kiwi Pear Martini" Garnished with a blackberry-
My mom then told me that Brooke was here not only to serve as our bartender, but to prepare special "Kiwi Pear Martinis" for our guests! My mom knew that I was on the hunt for a proper green signature martini for my wedding, especially after Mandy's "Syracuse-tini's" were such a hit at her's, (Ben and I should know, we had about 20 each!). So Brooke and my mom had been on the hunt to find the perfect one for Chris and me! They were soooooo good and I can't wait to ask The Sandcastle to serve these at the wedding. Soon after that, our house started buzzing with people. My dad arrived home with Ben, Kyle and Matt who he picked up from the bus station on his way to get my Grandma...who LOVED the martinis by the way, isn't she the cutest?

By 2:00 I was in full-out eating, drinking and greeting mode. The food we had was really great! Appetizers were cheese plates, chips and guacamole, pesto bruschetta, and homemade meatballs. For dinner my mom served Sicilian Macaroni (ziti with eggplant), shrimp orzo salad, Chris's mom's garlic broccoli, and an apple/walnut chicken salad. I was significantly stuffed! It was a great feeling to have so many people who mean so much to me in one place. I'm happy my Grandma Lois and Grandpa Oehmke were able to make it, as well as my Aunt Laura and Uncle David and some of my parent's close friends. Even my wonderful little puppy, Shadow, was there to celebrate with us!
Hey, he's 14 and has tummy troubles!
Everyone from our bridal party was there, even though the majority of them are from out of state! I feel very lucky that we have such great, loyal friends.  I also think that Matt was about to burst with excitement that he was FINALLY, after 5 years of friendship, getting to see Schnecksville. Matt had been waiting for this day for a loooong time. He also decided to tweet the entire day to make fun of me for tweeting through Mandy's wedding.

Hedgetopia: In honor of @LWoodsNY I will be attempting to over-tweet her engagement party. Lets see how SHE likes it!

Hedgetopia: Just passed the Schnecksville fire company! I'm trapped in the most Quaint city in Lehigh Valley! #Dundruff

Though he was mocking me for most of them, it was fantastic to read over all of Matt's 48 Tweets from the day once he told me about it. I'll include some more highlights of Matt's tweets below.

Hedgetopia: Croquet is the second whitest thing I've ever done. And that's saying something. #Dundruff

Luckily, my dad stepped in after our first game and set it up properly and then played a game with Chris's friends and their S.O.'s! 

Hedgetopia: Laura's dad just taught us the REAL rules to Croquet. Much more fun than fake Laura croquet. #Dundruff

Later on for dessert we had homemade vanilla ice cream (from my new ice cream maker!), oreo truffles (or, little balls of heaven as my mom calls them) and CAKE!

Then we got a great pic of Chris and his groomsmen (Not all my bridesmaids were there by the time I thought about doing this, arrrg! Oh well, better luck next time!)
Mike, James, Mike, Chris, Chris, Matt, Billy

Hedgetopia: Laura about to open gifts. Too bad Eric tripped over the power cord and now everyone has to go home... #Dundruff

That's a lie...well, Eric did trip over the power cord..but it was quick fix! It was getting more and more humid, so we went inside to open our wonderful gifts while our guests looked through the 5 scrapbooks I've made of Chris and me through the years, (I know...I need a life).

Hedgetopia: Laura broke out the scrapbooks. AND WE'RE TRAPPED HERE. SEND HELP. #Dundruff

After that, Smith was finally off of work and able to join us for a little, so we couldn't let the night go without at least one Wagner picture!

By then many of our guests gathered their things to head back to their homes. Ben, Kyle, Matt, Mike, Kerry, James, and Maria were spending the night so after hanging out a bit (and ordering the 5-5-5 deal from Dominos) we finally all went to sleep.

All in all the party was a huge success. I'm very grateful for Brooke's bar-tending and martini making skills; for my mom's coworkers, Nancy and Rae, who gave her great tips and advice along the way; for Melissa and Dakota's help that weekend; and especially my parents who put a lot of work and time into the day, and it certainly paid off. I think they aren't going to know what to do with themselves now that it's over!

And now for my favorite part....I love a good slide-show!:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Engagement Party #2!

This weekend is our Engagement Party #2 at my parent's house in Pennyslvania!! 
This is going to be a great chance for all of our groomsmen and bridesmaids to get together, celebrate, get to know each other and should really kick off the fact that our wedding is literally "less than a year" away! I will have tons and tons of updating throughout the weekend if I can actually remember to do it, I may even twitter it so you all (cough, Kate) can follow

Also, I'm trying to update my Knot Wedding Website a little bit more and keep information current on there. Options are minimal at best with that website, but it's fun to work on. I'll report back here as soon as possible with an update on the weekend!

Photo of the day:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I have an announcement to make!

I hadn't really realized it, but I had been so focused on and excited for Mandy and Billy's wedding (rightly so) for the past few months, that I hadn't really had time to realize that my wedding is getting closer and closer. With 11 months to go till the wedding and another engagement party this coming weekend, I finally feel like this is really happening!! In addition, Chris and I have recently each added a sixth member to our bridesmaids and groomsmen and I'm so excited about it! Chris has added the newly married, and ever handsome, Billy Leef, and I am very happy to announce the addition of a dear friend of mine:

SMITH!! (or Lauren as some like to call her)

What can I say about Smith? As a fellow Schnecksvillian, I have known her as long as I've known Mal..about 23 years! But there is not a single person on the face of this earth other than Smith who I can say "I've gone to pre-school, kindergarten, junior high, high school AND college with." I mean...that's a lot of years, a lot of schools, and let me tell you...a lot of memories!
Wagner Ladies!

I could go rummaging through my old elementary school project videos right now...but I'll save those for another time. Buuut I do have some pictures courtesy of Smith's Facebook! This is her and me at the Schnecksville Diner after a fashion show we were in where we modeled pants my mom made us: circa 4th grade! Below is one of our many Mrs. Lerew piano recitals in elementary school.

Piano Recital: Lauren, Mal and Me!

Smith and I did shows together in High School after I dragged (and apparently forced?) her to audition for Once Upon a Mattress our Sophomore year: which she got in, and was hooked ever since! (I KNOW there's a picture around somewhere of us from that show!) The other thing I can say about smith is she has literally been there from the very beginning of me and Chris's relationship in college. She was one of my first friends from home to meet him, and was there for me through the typical drama and emotions that comes with a budding relationship and being 19. (She was a trooper)
Mets Game summer 2006
We both lived in the city the summer of 2006, the same summer I lived with Mal. I've seen countless ballets with her and her Uncle Dan, spent many a night hanging out in the apartment on Madison Avenue, I've spent more Christmas nights at her and Mal's house than I've even spent with Chris, and went on the Wagner Senior Cruise together. Smith has been a steady and solid friend over the years, and I am so happy to have her in my life, and excited to have her in my wedding!


Senior Cruise 2007

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ashley's Bridal Shower

This past weekend was Ashley's Bridal shower in good old Pennsylvania: God I love that state! Saturday morning I picked up Ben and Kyle from the Staten Island Ferry (what a blast from the past that was) and we headed our way out to Ashley's parents house. Ashley's house was just lovely and it was the perfect setting for a Bridal Shower. Ashley's Beautiful Bridesmaids and Flower girl:
Bridesmaids plus Flower Girl plus Ashley

There was great food, good company and all around good times. I looved the croissant sandwiches with turkey and chicken salad. They also had a great salad with poppy-seed dressing, and panini's with turkey, jelly and cheese, among other delicious treats. For dessert they had Dutch apple pie as well as another apple and peach pie with ice cream! YUM! Of course, there was lots and lots of wine on hand as well. It was also great to see and catch up with Smith and her mom!
Ashley with her Grandma, and proof that we were there! This is the only picture of Ben, Kyle and me from that day!
Ben, Kyle, Smith and I were kind of the bad kids in the back of the classroom as Ashley opened all her wonderful gifts. I guess that's what happens when you drink lots of wine on a hot least that's what I'm telling myself. So there we were, the raucous crew in the back of the room, but as Smith pointed out: Ashley would have been right there with us had she not been stuck, ya know..opening gifts and all. (What a hardship!!)
Cannisters from the Smith's!
Starting to open my gift!
She got some beautiful things...cannisters, towels, pie dishes, a tarte tartine!, bakeware, silverware, etc. etc. AND a beautiful big red platter from 'moi, that I expect, to be served a turkey on next Thanksgiving! I also won 2nd place in "Wedding Gift Bingo" once she opened my gift which was super exciting!! I got a soap dish that I proceded to drop in front of everyone and nearly missed Mrs. Smith's broken and cast foot...good one Laura, good one.

When all was said and done, Ashley had a BEAUTIFUL hat to show for it that Jeff's sister Reagan made. So, another successful and enjoyable Bridal Shower, I have such fun friends!! I didn't want to leave, but my parents were waiting for me in Allentown so I bid farewell a little before 6:00, and headed home to Allentown for the night (only 45 minutes away!)

On mom and I went shopping and got some materials for the bridesmaid's gifts my mom will be putting together and I am SO. EXCITED. about it. It was so fun to pick out things and get some nitty-gritty project work started for the wedding!

P.S. Stay tuned: Tomorrow I have a very special announcement!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Congratulations Mandy and Billy!

WOA!! So I think I'm finally back to a somewhat normal schedule after the craziness that was this past weekend. Mandy and Billy's wedding was an amaaaaaazing time and I know I will remember last weekend for the rest of my life! I have about 20 million pictures I could post here to explain the weekend, but I'll try and keep it to the highlights. This post took me a good 3 days to write because it's soooo long but bear with me...there's text, pictures and even videos at the end if you make it that far!!!

Chris and I arrived at the Sofitel in Philadelphia around 4:30pm on Friday. After we settled into our room, we walked and walked and walked all over Philly exploring and taking in the city. We had trouble deciding on a place to eat dinner because there were just SO MANY OPTIONS, but we finally settled on a cute italian place near our hotel called Il Portico.
Il Portico
For appetizer we had mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto topped with a mushroom sauce. For dinner, I ordered linguine with Bolognese sauce and Chris ordered gnocchi in a cream sauce and for dessert we shared chocolate mousse! We were obviously stuffed after that, so after dinner we walked around Rittenhouse Park for a good hour enjoying the BEAUTIFUL weather, people watching (there was a couple rolling around in the grass, making out, for a good 40 these days!) and talking. It was in one word: perfect.

We fell asleep pretty early Friday night and were dressed and out the door by 10:30 on Saturday which I am still pretty impressed with! We must have still been full from our dinner the night before because neither of us were hungry. So, we walked around Philly and explored some more. We eventually made our way over to Devil's Alley for brunch, which was where our hotel concierge had recommended we eat.
Devil's Alley
Chris ordered their special which was a piece of french toast, corn pancake, 2 eggs, potatoes and bacon. I knew I'd end up eating half of Chris' breakfast with him (which I did) so I stuck with the yogurt with granola and fruit. Then I went to get my nails done for the wedding because I was nervous about making sure I'd fit that into our day, while Chris hung out in the hotel room. After that, we walked about 25 minutes down to old town Philly. We had done the whole Philly tour a few years ago when we went, so we mostly just walked about the grounds, went into the Benjamin Franklin Museum, and got a picture with the Liberty Bell ...because...well why not?
No trip to Philly would be complete without a cheese steak. Unfortunately, Geno's and Pat's were a really far walk from our where we were and even farther from the hotel, and we didn't want to get the car out of the garage just for that. So, we ended up going to a place right down the street from the Sofitel called Jim' soon as we walked in, we recognized the place! This was the same place we had gone to for cheese steaks with friends 5 years ago when we visited Philly! It was kind of a funny coincidence. Unfortunately, there was a reason we didn't remember the name of this place because the cheese steaks were not memorable...which was pretty disappointing.
Finally a happy boy!!

Now, onto the fun stuff. Mandy and Billy's Rehearsal dinner took place at a pub called Elephant and Castle. This was a great, laid back, casual place with buffet dinner (they had the most amaaaazing soft pretzels that were a cross between soft pretzels and funnel cake) annnnnnd KAREOKE!!!

The bridesmaids opened the night with some good old "Living on a Prayer"...
Followed by a rousing rendition of Billy Joel's "Piano Man" sung by...well everyone!
"Sing us a song you're the piano man..."
Soooo cute!

The night was a blast! I had decided on Friday that I was going to "twitter" my way through the weekend. I verrry rarely use twitter, but for whatever reason, thought I'd try and actually update it this weekend. It actually turned out to be sooo great looking back on my twitter account after the weekend and remembering certain phrases or moments, so I'm really glad I "twittered"...or "twatted" as we like to say. There were some great one-liners from the weekend that I otherwise would never have remembered. At approximately 9:30pm I wrote:
"Okey...I'm three huuuge margaritas in....this can't be good!! Wait it is!!"
So yea....that pretty much sums up that we all (well at least I) had a great time. 
Mal and Me with the Bride!
(Note: I'm really sad because I have a great video of Billy, Eric and Chris singing a boy band song...and I don't have it on my computer because it's still on Chris's I'll post it separately this weekend!)

NOW for the wedding day!!! 
The girls got ready in Mandy's room the morning of the wedding. We had two makeup artists set-up to help us out, plus two photographers and there was a lot of hustle and bustle going on!
Lizzy getting her makeup done
Mandy looked stunning in her dress. I can only hope I am half as glamorous and gorgeous on my wedding day:

We then drove all around Philly in a TROLLEY taking photos for most of the afternoon.

Mandy and Billy got pictures taken at the Eastern State Penitentary, but only a few people were allowed in at once, so we had to wait in the trolley while they got those done. I cannot wait to see how those pictures come out! After that, we headed down to picturesque old town Philly where we got some great photos!

Lovely Ladies
Handsome Men
The whole fam!
Then we went to Reading Terminal Market which was so much fun! We were actually all STARVVVING by this point so it was the perfect pit stop for us. Time for cheese-steaks!!
They were actually out of bread when we got there!! But luckily, some of the guys went to go buy bread at another food stand, brought it back to the cheese-steak place and told them to make us sandwiches...which they did. And boy was it worth it!! These were so much better than the ones Chris and I had the day before.
Dan saves the day!! Here's the bread..make us sandwiches!!
So worth it!!
After the fun of Reading Terminal, we were off to the Mutter Museum (with an umlaut) for the ketubah signing, ceremony, and of course... reception! The ketubah signing was really neat and I'm so happy that I was able to sit in during it. Mandy and Billy were officially married after this!! But it was still onto the ceremony!
Yea...Billy has a kazoo in his mouth....
I was actually really nervous walking down the aisle! But, thankfully the aisle was short and I got through it just fine and took my post up in front. Once all the girls, grandparents, parents, and groom were in, the music changed to Ben Harper's "Forever" and it was at this point that I full-out burst into tears.
Mandy's entrance with her parents
During the Ceremony
Sam leading the way as we walk out after the ceremony. The second we hit those doors we all immediately took our shoes off!
After the ceremony we headed downstairs for cocktail hour. For cocktails, there was a guitar and trumpet player playing jazz music, who were great, it set an excellent vibe for the evening. We were served Asian inspired food, (dumplings, lo-mein, etc.) and my favorite part of the night was Mandy and Billy's signature drink...the "Syracuse-Tini"!! Not sure what was in it...but it was good, strong and what I drank for the rest of the night!
I think these are what Ben drank for the night, too...but before we were in too many..we got some nice pics! So glad the boys were able to be there, this is one of my favs!:
We also got to walk around the Mutter Museum (or museum of medical oddities...which always makes for a romping good time!) We saw skulls, enlarged colons, skeletons, entertainment! Around 8:00 we headed back upstairs for the reception where the band was great, the energy was great, the food was great....and Mandy and Billy's first dance was great:

And what Jewish wedding would be complete without the Chair Lift followed by the horah dance?

The rest of the time we danced our asses off until midnight, with of course some intermitten wedding things that always need to be taken care of the cake cutting:

Mandy danced with her dad, Billy danced with his mom, My fiance practiced what it's like to dance with a true bride (I think he also wore his yarmulke longer than anyone else there!):
I think I did a few splits on the dance floor, Sam had to fix Mandy's bustle on her dress a few times, I spilled a Syracuse-Tini in front of Mandy's Dad which provided him with a good laugh, Mal and Eric tore up the dance floor (I have a video of that somewhere too!!!) Ben and I totally broke it down to Single Ladies (another video I'm currently tracking down)....I got mad at Chris for giving me dance instruction, Matt and I shared a dance..where I constantly grabbed his tie and did a spin (?), plus lots more craziness but I think these pictures followed by the video sum up the party pretty nicely:

Bottom Line....everyone had a great time and I am so so so happy for Mandy and Billy. After the wedding, we walked back to the hotel, hung out in the hotel lobby bar for another hour or so. It was also Ben's 25 Birthday at the stroke of midnight!! (it was so very nice of Mandy to throw a big huge birthday party for him wasn't it???) So we showered him with the necessary love and affection that Ben requires and hopefully he wasn't too overshadowed!

Finally Ben, Kyle and I went to get a pizza, and snuck off to our hotel rooms with Chris in tow so no one would steal it...(though Mal and Eric still snuffed us out!! It's ok..I forgive you two). The next morning there was brunch in the hotel for anyone who stayed over night. It was reallll rough getting out of bed for the 9am brunch, but the lure of wonderful brunch food got us up and moving, however slow that may have been. I'm very sad it's over and...

I can't believe that by this time next year, it'll be us!!!!
(Disclaimer: Thanks to all who's pictures I used in this post. Some of them were too good not to include!)