Monday, December 24, 2012

Noel, Noel, The Angel Did Sing....

Well, Christmas is upon us and yet another year is about to come to a close.  How quickly 2012 flew by.  I cannot believe we're about to enter a new year already.  It feels like just yesterday we celebrated the year 2012 and I had so much to look forward to this year. As 2013 approaches,  here are the things that made 2012 a memorable one.

1:   My oldest was in his last year as a primary school student, a very older 12 year old boy/man.
2:   My daughter was finally turning 5.
3:   My youngest son no longer a preschooler.
4:   My daughter taking her very first trip on an airplane to the USA!
5:   A nice family mini vacation (albeit sans my princess).
6:   My new job!
7:   My upcoming nuptials and all that that entailed (bridal shower, GIFTS!!!, bachelorette party, Serenata       and rehearsal dinner with family and friends).
8:   My wedding day (of course)!
9:   Our honeymoon!
10:  A 2012 Christmas (surviving the much talked about 12/21/12 Apocalypse.

Yes it was a memorable year, like so many before.  BUT this was a really busy year for me and my family.  It is the year I finally became a wife after all and married the man of my dreams and the father of my three beautiful and wonderful children.  It's a year I will never forgot, that is for sure. It's also the year my daughter will forever remember as it was the year she took her very first BIG trip without us to the great America. It's a year that my family will remember too, as many of them came to Costa Rica for the very first time.  It was a year filled with amazing things and some hardship as well.  The year started out, for us, on a bad note but really picked up as the months came and went.  We hope the year will end with a good bang and looking forward to seeing what 2013 holds for me and my family.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wedding Expectations

So while the wedding exceeded my wildest dreams, there were still some things that were unexpected, as is the case with any large event.

First off, there were the inevitable no-shows.  However, there were also the inevitable people who don't RSVP but show up anyway, so it balanced out perfectly.

There were more kids than I planned for...but again, that balanced out itself as some of them were too happy and excited to eat (my own 3 kids skipped out on dinner after filling up on candy and appetizers).

Things did not go as planned and it was still all good.... no one would have known (well, except for the hour late start).

I peed on my dress.... OOPS! LOL

I ripped my dress... a minor rip than can be fixed.  BUT everyone LOVED it and all the girls kept coming up to me and telling me how I looked like a princess.  Thanks girls.

I wanted to make a personalized thank you speech that I typed out and then misplaced.  So I just spoke from the heart, with tears flowing.  It was more organic and real and so much more me.

I hadn't planned on or asked anyone to make a toast, people just knew to do that. They are all sweet and perfect.

There was thankfully enough alcohol.

I hadn't planned on spending so much money but my simple wedding was an extravagant affair that left guests in awe.

I wanted to take more photos of myself and of me and the groom.  But my relaxed attitude the day off made me too lax to care.

I forgot to video tape.  Well, I didn't forget.. I had my camera.  BUT hubby's friends were supposed to videotape and they forget to get tape.  I have no footage of the ceremony (which was funny and sweet and oh so perfect) or the reception, except for a few images of people eating... a quick video we asked hubby's cousin to capture. That is the ONE thing I would change if I could: get some damn video footage.

I wanted a warm, sunny day: what I got was an overcast and rainy one.  Thankfully it was just sprinkling  not a downpour and it was noticeably and thankfully warmer on my wedding day than it had been days prior.

I misplaced my sister's Nicholas Sparks reading and my personal vows.  Glad I did though (my vows) as I was too emotional to really speak and broke down when saying my I Do's.

The candy buffet was a hit and miss.  Kids started eating the candy even before we got there.  No one took candy to go in the personalized bags I had.  But it was all pretty much gone by the end of the night and so in that sense, the kids enjoyed it.  I wish they had taken some home in the bags though.

I am not sure how the cocktail hour snacks were set up... I didn't get a chance to see it or taste the goodies. They were all gone by the time the ceremony and receiving line was over.  I am glad people enjoyed it though.

The money dance was nice but not what we expected at all.  However, our gift table was overflowing, which was also something we were not expecting.

The decor and the food were both magnificent... exceeded our expectations.  The centerpieces were a 1000 times better than we could have ever imagined and guests raved about the food.

It was quite simply, the wedding of my dreams.

Wedding Week Wackyness

It was a crazy week leading up to the wedding so I wanted to kind of do one blog before I did individual posts about each event.

The weekend before the wedding saw me running errands and getting all the important information I needed for the officiating lawyer.

Monday the 19th, I had a facial, which left me relaxed and my skin as smooth as silk.  I am hoping I can do this more regularly.

Tuesday the 20th I paid my florist bill and met with baker to finalize details. I also made a Yamuni pit stop. My sister in law made it into town.

Wednesday the 21st, I had to shop for Thanksgiving.  Yes, amid all the wedding craziness, I decided to also host and make Thanksgiving dinner for my out of town family.

Thursday the 22nd was Thanksgiving Day and the arrival of my uncle and aunt as well as my mom, step-dad, 2 brothers, 2 sisters and 2 nephews.  It was a FULL house. Thankfully, my uncle and aunt were only stopping by as they had a hotel room booked for their one week stay.  I also had to make my final payment to reception venue. It was a hectic day filled with cooking, cleaning and errands.  The food was delicious though...and the turkey was a huge hit.

Friday the 23rd was my bachelorette party (more in detail post coming soon).  It was also the night of my Serenata (pics to follow).  I also had to take my sisters and mom for their fittings, attend my massage appointment (I actually feel asleep), pick up rental items and pay baker the final payment.  It also marked the arrival of my grandma, my uncle's wife and my cousin and her husband.  Everyone from out of time had finally arrived.

Saturday the 24th was hectic.  I had to get my nails and pedicure, have my hair washed, blow dried and flat ironed, pick up table linens from the caterer, and just basically get everything organized and packed up and finish every last minute detail.  I am so thankful I had help.  It was a late night.

Vendor Review

Soon I'll have to post pictures.... but I wanted to review my vendors first.  I had amazing vendors.  And all are budget friendly.  They truly went above and beyond to make my day amazing and a simple thank you just does not seem enough.

GloboFiesta Catering:

I cannot say enough good things about Alejandro and Salvador.  What an amazing company and team.  As I blogged before, Salvador was the one who sought me out and along with his boss, Alejandro, was willing to work with me and my budget to give me what I wanted in a price that was accommodating to my wallet.  The food was top notch, the service was amazing and the waitstaff so friendly, I got comments from guests about how much they loved everything.  I can't wait to use this company again one day soon. A++

Maria Selva Flortisteria:

The very first vendor I booked turned out to be my best vendor experience.  She not only worked with my budget but even gave me more than I asked for.  She went above and beyond to make sure the bouquets  bouts and centerpieces looked amazing.  When I met with her, I gave her my budget, which was already pretty low.  But when I told her what I wanted included in that budget, she was more than willing to make it work.  The centerpieces were more than what I expected or could have dreamed about.  She was even willing to change around a few last minute details so I could get her to not only set up the centerpieces for me, but to deliver them as well.  Amazing person, amazing vendor. A+++

Transportation: Jorge Hernandez

A last minute addition to the budget, I am so glad I was able to squeeze this in: it allowed us to provide a  ride for our guests that needed one to the ceremony and reception.  The bus was spacious, airy and very comfortable and guests appreciated the thought and gesture.  And for the price, I won't complain.  I do wish they had decided to provide transportation in the price from the reception for guest who needed a ride home, but se la vie.  A

Pasteleria La Familia Bakery

As a local family owned bakery, I didn't expect much from this vendor: just a decent tasting 4 tiered cake with simple decor.  But the owner went above for me and actually delivered and set up the cake at the reception for me at o additional charge: now that is how you get repeat business.  I saw the cake for the first time at the reception and was very happy with the result.  The actual cake was pretty good too, although a little on the drier side so not as moist as the one I tasted. Guests indulged though and I heard no complaints. For all his hard work I was very happy with the outcome.  A

Foto Digital Madrigal

Can I review a vendor even before I see their finished product.  I have yet to hear from my photographer, after he told me he would contact me just 3 days after the wedding.  I have not had an email or a phone call and I still have to pay $60 (not paid until I get my pictures).  I have been waiting and waiting and even sent an email but have not gotten a response.  I figure they are busy and it does take some time to  print and edit pictures to a professional standard.  So I wait.  However, I will review the photographer's actual service, which was outstanding.  He showed up on time (early actually) and needed no direction.  He got right to work taking detail shots, candid shots and a few posed shots as well.  He was quick and efficient,  a true professional and took any pictures I wanted.  I didn't even notice him during the ceremony until after the I do's.  And at the reception, he got right to work with the formal shots.  His ideas were funny and cute and sweet and I know the shots he got will look great.  Also, before he left, he let us know he had gotten all the shots he needed but wanted to make sure we were Ok with that or if he should stay some more. I hope we did get a lot of pictures.  A for service.

Eventos Don Carias:

The space alone speaks for itself but the owner stepping in to lend us a helping hand was unexpected.  Everyone loved the space.  So looking forward to renting this space again.  A+++

Eventos San Antonio:

Again, the space alone speaks for itself.  People were literally blown away.  The massively high ceilings and huge columns lend it to something out of a magazine.  There was more than enough space for diners and dancers alike; did not feel cramped at all.  The owner was pretty stand-offish and allowed us to do our thing. Even letting us get in a little earlier than usual to decorate. I would rent this space again.  On a side note, I was a little miffed when I went to make my final payment as I found out that indeed, kids under 5 would have to pay if I was getting them their own seat, a very important detail I was not informed off.  It worked out in the end but the extra dough I had hoped for went right back into the budget.   A+++

Discomovil Energia:

What can I say about our DJ. Well, he did his job and people had fun.  BUT he was a little bit of a disappointment because he did not follow my dance hall song list.  He played typical music that typical Costa Ricans love but I wanted more of a dance hall club feel and he didn't deliver...not until my brother went in to lend a helping hand did he get it right.  He also did not take directions well at the actual reception; for instance, when it was time for dinner, it took his assistant a long time to start the dinner music playlist.  I had to tell him many times to do this as he kept playing dance music.  But he got the entrance song, the first dance and the cake cutting songs correct.  And when it came time for the dollar dance and bouquet and garter tosses, I just went in and did my thing so he could follow my lead. C

Officiant: Alberto Poveda

I have to be thankful for this guy.  He stepped in at the eleventh hour to the rescue me after my original officiant bailed... thankfully she found him as my replacement and he did his job.  He was very helpful in showing up to the rehearsal and allowing us to sign the documents there instead of at the actual ceremony. He seemed to take directions well and was willing to let us do anything we wanted to personalize our ceremony to our liking.  He was also very detailed and gave me a list of everything I would need and was very communicative by email before the wedding.  On the actual wedding day though, he seemed very nervous (like it was his first time officiating an actual wedding) and I had to cue my family for various portions of hte ceremony, like the reading, candle lighting and ring blessing.  He did his job though, keeping the ceremony short and just as sweet.  B

Staioner: Calle La Margura

We did all our own stationary and had everything printed up at a local print shop (with the exception of the programs) in this infamous area in San Pedro.  With a plethora of look alike shops offering similar services, this one stood out.  They had everything printed up the same day for us.  And when they ran out of our preferred paper, they went looking for more, saving the day when they found some right in house. A

Wedding Planner

I did not have an actual wedding planner but I did have a day of helper/coordinator.  Hubby's cousin gave me one the best gifts ever by agreeing to be my wedding helper for free.  And she did an amazing job too.  She isn't a professional by any means but she did a damn good job and saved me $300 bones. She kept everyone organized, kept track of my personal belongings, got the processional started and helped clean up the ceremony site.  She was even on hand at the reception,  in between enjoying her time as a guest, for anything I needed.  She and I are actually thinking of going into business together... we're that good. A+++

Yakira Hair Salon: Guadalupe

I LOVED my hair and makeup trial but hated the price.  I was not as happy with my hair and makeup on wedding day.  Don't get me wrong, I looked great.  But it was definitely not the same.  Maybe it's  because the person who did my hair and makeup at the trial (owner Yakira) did not do my hair and makeup on the big day.  But I was happy with how quickly I was done.  And in the end, I was still a smoking hot bride.  Also, I got my nails and pedicure done at the same salon and was hugely disappointed.  The nails took all day to dry which meant they got messed up by the end of the night the night before.  Luckily, they were fixed the day off but they still weren't what I was expecting.  I will never have my nails done at Yakira's again... the style they use and the product they use is not something I would recommend   I have had my nails look 1000 times better on a regular day than they did for my wedding. C

Onix Ropperia (Grooms outfit)

This store saved the day in a BIG way  After hubby's suit fail, this store was able to work with him on super short notice to find his suit, shoes, shirt, belt and a jeweled color in the blue that matched the wedding color. They also gave him a really good price and allowed us to pay for the suit and pay only a portion for everything else, giving him time to pay the rest at a later date.  Hubby was stunningly handsome at the wedding.  With a quick alterations to the pants the day we bought them, the suit fit perfectly.  On a minor note: I accidentally threw away the jeweled collar and so he never got to wear it the day of the wedding. A

Clinica Ropa Nani

The lady who outfitted me and my bridal party gets 2 grades (one for the girls and one for the guys).  For my dress, she gets an A (I LOVE my dress).  It was tulle perfection and I felt like a princess.  However, she didn't alter the dress like she was supposed to so it was a little big (however, that is mainly my fault for losing so much weight).  For the bridesmaids dresses, she gets an A.  The dresses were all gorgeous and all my maids look beautiful.  However, she failed to take in 2 dresses, after being repeatedly told to do so.  Oversight on her part maybe... she was super rushed after my sisters fittings.  But for my bridesmaid C's dress, she had a few weeks to handle that alteration and still didn't do her job.  As for hubby's suit fail... well, FAIL!  And I still had to pay for it. She also made an extra bridesmaids dress (which is why I had to spend more money on material s for the vests.. BIG oops).  I am not sure if all the stress of my wedding got to her. Also, all the groomsmen's vests were tight.  She really dropped the ball.  She gets an A for the girls and a D for the guys.  Overall grade C-

Registry List: Yamuni

Oh, the troubles I went through with this store.  Very accommodating but I had complaints from guests on multiple occasions about my list not being updated and the store people not being helpful.  They finally got it right after my third trip but it was just unnecessary time I had to take to fix an issue they should have dealt with on their own.  I like all the selection they have though and the varying prices for items.  B

Aquileres Everest: napkins and chair covers

I am glad I took hubby's advice and rented chair covers.  It brought the whole look together and made the reception that much more elegant.  Napkins was something I decided to rent at the very last minute and I am glad I did; I just did not think paper napkins would have given me the right look I was after.  The white cloth napkins brought the decor up to a standard that was pure elegance, worthy of a magazine spread.  The whole room was so refined and beautiful and I know without the chair covers, it would not have looked so wonderful.  The all white chair covers, white table linens and napkins made the blue and silver table squares pop. A


I had my facial and massage done by a friend (I am guessing since I got the number from her) of my hair and makeup lady.  The facial was relaxing and worked wonders for my skin and the massage was just what I needed right before the wedding.  Also, the lady is super nice to boot.  A

Newly Weds At Last!!!!!

We are finally married and can I tell you what a relief it is to be finally done with wedding related planning and STUFF!

I feel great, different somehow in ways I cannot explain but good different.  Our relationship has taken on a new level of importance that is just hard to put into words.  We have been together 14 years and as soon as we said our I do's, I felt a shift in our lives; we are in it for the long haul, as we have proven but this time, there is no turning back.  Marriage lends a sort of definite finality to our lives now.  We are complete as a couple; we have the kids, the house and the dogs and now being married has made it all REAL!

Now, we've been 'married' for some time but are reveling in our newlywed status as legally wed man and wife.  We have settled into our new relationship, as if it is a starting point to our new lives together.  We're more conscious of our actions towards each other and are trying to start off our married life on better footing; no mean spirited fighting (we can hope).  And more mature conversations when we're upset.  At least we have to try for the sake of the kids: my daughter was so happy that after the wedding she asked my husband (wow, what a rush to say that and actually know it's for real):

"So dada, you love mommy now?"
"Of course, I always loved mommy"
"So, you're not going to fight anymore?"

Heartbreaking a little bit, yes.  We're real.  We show our kids the fighting and the making up and all of the love and affection that comes with a normal relationship.  But I think we need better tools to handle our anger with each other and at least not have those drag out fights in front of the kids.

Now, on to the actual wedding and day!  What a surreal feeling it was to finally be a bride and not just a bride to be anymore.  And when I finally became a wife, it was like chocolate pieces on top of a sundae. It was heaven.

We started the day off early.  I had a lot to do the final week leading up to the wedding, and also dealing with family that flew in a few days before that were staying with us (all 13 plus people under one roof: YIKES!).

I had to decorate and set up two halls, ceremony and reception sites, so I took my two brothers and little sister as well as my sister in law and older son.  With so many people on hand, set up was a breeze (minus a set back at the reception site when we set up the wrong tables and chairs and had to re-do set up again AND my sister in law and son having to drive home to retrieve more chair covers).  The ceremony set up was literally 30 minutes (if that).  We set up chairs, the unity candle and table and the cocktail hour tables and linens.  I decided to forgo any other decor as the site on it's own was just beautiful and the pom poms I had in mind was too distracting and not forming how I wanted them to.  The owner volunteered to set up the goodies for us when it came time so we left all the snacks and platter with her.

I was able to set up and decorate to my liking and then we were off.  I had a hair and makeup appointment to go to and was accompanied by my brother.  It took a while to actually get in the makeup chair as the lady was late but I used that time to fix my nails and toes, which got ruined the day before.  Hair and makeup was quick and I was outta there and on my way home.  And as it turned out, was not only on time but was early. My girls were late getting to my house but the photographer was early and used his time well by getting a few candid and detail shots.  While I was relaxing, family arrived for the the bus to drop them to the ceremony and I busied myself with pictures and some video.  I guess I was too relaxed as I let the time get away from me.  By the time I realized the hour, it was time to get into my dress and for the bus to take family and friends away... so we ended up running late.

The ceremony was perfect: but we had a few hiccups.  We were an hour late... more people than I anticipated showed up...  I never got a glimpse or a taste of the cocktail hour snacks...  It was drizzling and I could not find my vows or my sisters reading.

Oh and we had some last minute music consultation as I stood outside waiting in the rain with an umbrella. See, the person in charge of the music never made it to the rehearsal so I had to clue him in on the how to's: he was a pro and did very well.  Also, the morning of the wedding, hubby's cousin had to fix the music for us, which he did with perfection.

In the end, we (or I) decided to skip all the extra stuff and just get down to business.  The recessional was a huge hit with our guests.  Everyone was clapping and hooting as each person recessed down the aisle.   When it was my turn, accompanied by my uncle,  a last minute decision,  I could not hold back the tears.  I got a nice, loud round of applause. And I felt all the love coming towards me from everyone.  It was also the first time seeing hubby that day since the evening before... and he had a story to tell all his own on his chaotic start to the morning.

We kept it short and sweet: with a brief welcome, a short Bible reading by sister in law, the unity candle lighting and the blessing of the rings by my aunt and grandmother.  There were moments of tears and of course, being me, laughter. After the vows, we kissed and the room erupted in applause and shouts of joy.  I only wish I had some video footage but it will forever be held in my memory that is for sure.

Everyone LOVED the ceremony and the space   But we had so much more in store for them later at the reception. We did have an impromptu receiving line and a few pics but not all the pics I had hoped for.  However, the ceremony was exactly how I wanted it and I could not have asked for anything more.

After getting to the reception hall 15 minutes early, we did our entrance to the Party Rock anthem and hubby and I danced our way in, followed by our first dance.  After months of working out a timeline,  I ditched it in the end for a simpler, more relaxed evening.  We skipped all other formal dances, which made for a better time and smoother transitions.  We did have lots of formal and informal pictures at the reception and hope I get all the pictures I have dreamt about for months;  after going over the shot list for weeks of all the pictures I wanted,  I decided to just go with the flow instead of direct the photographer 

The night went by in such a haze,like a dream but I was able to enjoy my night and every moment, especially after my first alcoholic drink (and my last LOL).  The DJ spun some tunes but didn't use my song list very much. It wasn't until my brother got him to put some dance hall did I feel like moving and grooving.  After dinner, which was delicious,  I kind of just turned it all over to the guests and enjoyed the rest of my night.

We had the dollar dance, which was OK (we didn't make a lot of money but it was nice to keep that tradition anyway).  But to my surprise, the gift table was full and overloading. We also did the bouquet and garter toss, which was better than I expected;  lots of single girls and guys who were actually scrambling to get both; glad I did.

After the party was over (and everyone had their fun... for a Sunday night, it seemed like people didn't want to leave), we sent the centerpiece floral arrangements home with guests who could not stop raving about them. Soon it was time for us to clean up.  We cleaned up pretty quickly with the help of my siblings and a few friends and were able to get all our decor, the centerpiece glassware, all napkins and table covers  in an hour and half (the caterers helped clean up too by taking the linens off the table; they also cut up my cake and set up a self serve style station)

All in all, it was the perfect wedding and now I am actually considering going into the wedding planning business.  It is actually fun. And I love planning and decor.  Everyone could not stop raving about the decor, the food, the flowers, the colors, the halls, everything.  I felt like all my hard work had finally paid off.

The icing on the cake for me and hubby: after everything was over, hubby and I got to enjoy a blissful night as a newly wed couple in a super luxe hotel room with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries as husband and wife.