Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Home Stretch (The Last Weeks before the Wedding)

One week out.  The butterflies were starting to stir in my tummy. Through countless texts between our wedding coordinator, my daughter, and me, we had succesfully dealt with last minute rental decisions (linens, dancefloor, limo, etc.)  Denise, our wedding coordinator, was working on the menus and programs.  My employer was quite understanding, since it was obvious that I was spending some of my on-the-clock time dealing with last minute wedding details. 

Finally it was Friday, exactly one week before the wedding weekend, and I was looking forward to chilling a bit, attending my daughter's college graduation the next day and just spending some last quiet(er) moments of family time before Wedding Week hit in full force.

My daughter at this point was getting pretty frazzled and pulled in too many directions.  Early in the week she had one last shower to go to (an informal lingerie shower given by the bridesmaids.) Shortly after returning home from that, she started packing her things up to move out of our home, and the next day she left, heading down south to join her fiance in Waco. They were extremely busy with their last minute wedding projects.  They were preparing and packing for the honeymoon, and she also needed to begin packing for the move from her apartment to her fiance's apartment after the wedding. There were also preparations and rehearsals to attend for her upcoming college graduation ceremony.  Sandwiched in between her graduation and the wedding, the groom's brother was also graduating from high school, and they planned to attend that together too.
I was admittedly blue and weepy the first few days or so after she moved out...I had expected her to possibly stay with us until early the next week, so when she started to pack up her things it was an unpleasant surprise. It is just so final when you watch your first child leave the nest for the last time as a single girl, knowing that life in your household would be forever different. I had also hoped to have her more conveniently close by for any last minute wedding details that might come up. As it turned out, it was probably better that we had some space between us during those last few days before her wedding.

So, it had been a tough week and that Friday evening, I was at my computer relaxing with Facebooking and blogging, when I noticed an email had come in from the reception venue banquet manager at the Waco Hilton.  She was trying to get the menu finalized at Denise's request, so that Denise could get the menus sent to the printers.  (I think Denise had an inkling that something wasn't quite right, so she went the roundabout way and got the banquet manager involved.)  We still also had not given the hotel the final headcount for the food, either. (It was due several days before.)  My hubby and I had done all of our last minute calling of our relatives who hadn't RSVPd (and I was really surprised at some who hadn't!) But, my daughter, her fiance and his family still had some rounding up of guests to do, to get a final tally.

The food order attached to the banquet manager's email was no where near complete.  Most of the appetizers to be served in the pre-function area were not mentioned, and there was no mention of a vegetarian option which (we thought) had been planned all along as the alternative to the parmesan chicken lunch entree.  I texted my daughter quickly.  There was evidently a major misunderstanding.  Several months before, she and her fiance had visited the hotel for a "tasting", and my husband and I assumed that the selection of foods had been finalized at that time. My daughter said that no, she thought they were just doing the tasting, and my husband and I were going to place the actual food order.  So here we were, one week out, with the food order incomplete. 

It was an unwelcome surprise, being so close to the wedding. Tempers flared and communication was short and tense.  My husband and I eventually got the order straightened out and communicated to the venue, along with a ballpark guest count.  Actually, we were a bit peeved at the hotel catering manager for not pursuing this with us earlier in the game.  We felt it should have been her responsibility to follow up and make sure the food order was on track.  Denise, the wedding coordinator put it all into perspective.  One week out, this could still be fixed.  If it had been NEXT Friday, she said, then we REALLY would have had a problem! 

My first clue that something was amiss came earlier that day; I had been puzzled by a comment Denise made in a phone conversation we had.  She was meeting with the banquet manager at the hotel at the time.  She asked me, "Why are you having a buffet table for the appetizers when you are serving so little food...why not just pass an hourdeuvres tray?"  I was taken aback by the question and had no idea where she was coming from at the time.  Now, I knew.

Just graduated!
The next day was a long one, involving meeting some of my husband's family to carpool down to Baylor University in Waco for my daughter's graduation ceremony.  We proudly watched her walk the stage to get her Bachelor's Degree, Magna Cum Laude.  Afterwards we shared a meal with our relatives, my daughter and her fiance, and his parents who had come to show support for their future daughter-in-law.  It was actually a very pleasant evening of visiting and bonding.  We ate at the restaurant of the Hilton which would be the reception venue, hoping to meet up with the banquet manager to discuss things a bit more.  But, she was no where to be found.  We kept things as light as possible with my daughter, not mentioning the menu issue once, because we could tell that stress was taking its toll on her.  We said good bye after the dinner, and we would not see her again until next Friday, the day before the wedding!  We were dog tired on the drive back home that evening.

Still on the agenda was one last D-I-Y project. I wanted to make a hair ornament for my daughter to wear after taking off her veil for the recepion.  We had priced them at the bridal stores and they were pretty outrageous; they could cost $100 or more.  I knew I could make one much less expensively if I could find the right materials.  It took a shopping expedition to both Hobby Lobby and Michael's on Sunday afternoon, but I found some things that I thought would work.  The plan was to make it that evening or Monday get one more thing checked off the list. Of course I just didn't find the time, until much later in the week!

I went to work Monday through Wednesday as usual of Wedding Week.  In the evenings of the early part of the week, Denise, my daughter and I corresponded frequently about the order of the wedding service, and details for the program. As the week went on, my direct conversations and texts with my daughter were less frequent and still somewhat subdued, and I hated that things seemed to be a bit uncomfortable between us.  I took Thursday off.  My husband and I spent most of the morning with more emails and phone calls back and forth with Denise and the hotel venue conveying the final guest count, discussing final delivery arrangements for the rentals, table setup up, the seating chart, etc.  I also got a pedicure, ran errands and did a little shopping. 

I had decided against doing welcome bags for our out of town guests staying at the hotel, since we did not expect too many of them, and most of them had just driven in a few hours from other parts of Texas or Arkansas.  But I thought it would be nice to make little "Emergency Kit" gift bags for the bridesmaids.  So, that Thursday evening I got Dollar Store white bags and pretty light blue and white curling ribbon, and filled them with items like travel-sized deoderant, toothpaste, Tums, safety pins, gum, bobby pins, etc.  In hindsight, it was a nice idea -- but a total waste of time.  As it turned out, the bags did not get delivered to the girls until the hectic morning of the wedding, and some of the girls did not even open them. A few of the bags actually went back home with me after the wedding.

That night I also started gathering all the many items we would need to load into our car to take down to Waco with us the next day. This included favors, vases and containers, decorating items, wedding gifts, the bridesmaid's gift bags, and my big wedding planning binder, not to mention the bride's gown and veil and our wedding apparel.  We also had taken the tiers of the cardboard cake ball stand (already decorated) apart for the trip for easier transporting (or so we hoped.)

The hair clip in action!
I got started making my daughter's hairclip after 11:00 pm on Thursday night.  Considering the hour and how exhausted I was, I think it turned out pretty darned good -- it turned out to be just the right size for her massive curled long hairdo.  It took around 30 minutes, and the materials cost maybe $10!  I remember going to bed that night, so tired I was almost in tears, thinking I wish I could just sleep through the coming weekend.  That was the first time, ever, in this whole wedding planning process, that I was just ready for it to be OVER!

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