Thursday, January 8, 2009

What a Wonderful Week

Ray called a week before the wedding and said, “I have a big favor to ask you. If you say you’ll do it, you’ll never have to give me another gift in my life . . . no birthdays, no Christmas, nothing.” I wondered what gift was big enough to preempt all gifts and he continued, “Will you please dance with me at our wedding?” Collective ahhh.

Before we started to dance, Ray took me by both arms, looked down and said, “Thank you. This has been such a very, very, very wonderful day. This is the happiest day of my life. I just don’t want it to end. I haven’t wanted any of it to end. I wanted to drive slow all the way home from the temple. Thank you.” Now mind you, this comes from a man that believes fast is the only way to travel, not only does he fly a plane he drives like he’s flying a plane, but on the day of his wedding he wished for a rewind button or at least slow motion.

And that is how this last week has been for me, too. It’s just been very, very, very wonderful, even the few glitches couldn’t cloud the time (all three interstate passes closed to avalanche danger and trapped Cali, Ray and several guests on the other side of the mountain). However, I knew once I sat down to post it would mean it was truly over and so I’ve waited and waited . . .

My sister, Rachel, Hydn and Ande at the airport ready to fly home

but now that everyone is long gone, and since I don’t have any wedding pictures to show yet, I’ll share some of the successful pre-wedding prep trivia:

1. Ray and Cali drafted an agenda on a spread sheet and sent it out to the families a week before the wedding. It included several days (from individual arrivals to departures) and told everyone where to be and when and what to expect each hour of the day. It even included menus and where and when the meals would be served.

2. We deposited money in Ray and Cali’s account for the wedding and then let them decide where and how they wanted to use it. It was a sanity saver for me, all I had to do was jump in and brainstorm, support and help rather than worry, or try to figure out a more economical way to do x y or z, or write checks. (I know myself. I knew I would constantly be trying to recreate the wheel.) It was fun to go with their ideas rather than trying to simplify, complicate or modify them. For example, they didn’t want to spend the money on a wedding cake and it wasn’t my worry to convince them they needed one or heaven help me, make one. (However, if Amy were around I think there would be a different ending to this story.)

I love cooking in the winter because all the world is a refrigerator—
the potatoes cooling for the potato salad.
3. I organized and prepared easy-to-serve meals for the 30 member wedding party in advance and it was well worth the effort because it gave us a lot of great time to comfortably visit and eat with Ray’s family. Thanks to crock-pot liners and one pot meals there was a minimum of dishes and meals went smoothly.

Wednesday night: Crock-pots (with liners) full of soup—clam chowder/chili—and hot cinnamon rolls for people as they arrived.

Thursday morning: Hashbrown casseroles in foil pans, French toast, milk and juice

Thursday afternoon meal: Since everyone (including the grandmothers) went to the church to decorate, we packed the lunch in a cooler and took it with us. When we got to the church I asked my niece, Emily, if she would take charge of the meal while everyone else set up. Because we’d made shredded barbecued beef earlier in the week and refrigerated it in a crock-pot liner, all Emily had to do was re-warm it. We also made potato salad, chips, vegetables and dip and Texas sheet cake in advance.

Friday morning: Ande packed a breakfast lunch bag for everyone containing juice, yogurt and a muffin. (I bought peanuts for the bags, too, but we forgot to put them in.) Because friends and family had generously offered their homes for out-of-town guests to stay in, and because everyone had to leave for the temple at different times, everybody took their breakfast bag home with them Thursday night.

Friday noon: A wedding brunch (pasta bar) was hosted by Ray’s family at a church after the wedding ceremony.

Friday evening: The reception dinner. We knew we could serve a meal as economically as or cheaper than we could serve cake and hor’dourves. We had good friends who also happen to be good cooks help with the meal. Each friend was assigned a menu item: one cooked 100 pounds of meat, another made 200 twice-baked potatoes and another prepared a spinach-mandarin orange salad. We added fresh green beans, rolls and desserts (cheesecake and double cream chocolate pie) from Costco. I had a good friend and co-worker (who was a former head school cook) oversee the kitchen. Each friend that was in charge of a menu item brought their food cooked and ready to serve and then helped in the kitchen until their food item was on the plate and then they joined the reception. The food was wonderful. I would do it again with only one small change: the twice-baked potatoes took up more room in the ovens and consequently our friends were nervous they couldn’t keep them warm enough (however, they did). Next time I would just serve the twice-baked potatoes out of their skins so that they could be kept warm in a roaster pan on the counter.

Saturday morning: Bacon waffles, hashbrown patties, milk and juice. (The bacon was cooked, crumbled and frozen ahead of time.)
Even the ironing board cover matched
4. Ray and Cali’s colors were a couple of shades of green, eggplant and cream. Calvin grew wheat grass at work under the plant lights in antiqued green metal containers. I sewed table center, fabric squares for the wheat grass to sit on. (They also had a few potted orchids and a few purple beta fish for centerpieces, too. One lone beta fish remains. I’m supposed to be babysitting him. Calvin feeds him bread crumbs and I feed him bacon bits. Discouragingly enough he lives on.) The centerpieces were colorful, pretty, fresh and relatively inexpensive. Now if the other three kids would just fall in love with the same colors.

5. I wondered what to do for luminaries to line the sidewalk. Susan suggested large glass vases with a candle in the bottom. I got ten vases at Goodwill for 49 cents each and a dollar’s worth of candles at the $tore. I never did get outside in time to see them lit, but I like to think they flickered as lovely in the snow as they do in my head.

6. Lights. Hundreds of them. Cali wanted a lower, false ceiling made from Christmas lights and it was the best investment. It made instant atmosphere and greatly diminished the need for other décor and flowers. One thing we discovered is that that they need to be plugged in from both ends otherwise the flow of the electricity weakens by the end strand. Count on two extension cords not one.

Hydn perched next to Calvin for a good half hour while Calvin fed him oranges
7. Thanks to Julie Phipp's suggestion that Clementine’s would make a darling, subtle contribution to a winter wedding, we had a large glass bowl of them sitting atop a platform in the middle of the dessert table. They were bright, colorful, edible and helped Calvin make a friend of Hydn the day after the wedding.
Cali and my sister, Chris

8. Everybody was willing to share their talent which made it so nice. My sister, Chris, arranged the flowers. One student played the piano while another ten students served the dinner. As I mentioned before, friends cooked. Ray’s family were workhorses, those lights didn’t go up by magic and neither did the clean-up. Other friends made the guest favors of a white chocolate lime truffle and a chocolate covered caramel for an affordable price. It was wonderful having everyone’s talents to make a nice celebration.

9. I was a little nervous about what to give Cali as a shower gift. What does the mother give the daughter at a shower? It needs to be big, but not too big. It needs to be nice, but you’ve already spent all your money on a wedding and Christmas, so how do you afford nice? The mother is in a mini-spotlight and spot-lights are hot and uncomfortable.
I wanted to give Cali containers like I have in our kitchen filled with groceries (mom did that for me and I loved it). However, Ande shook her head and said, “Too practical.” Cali would have gratefully accepted 400-thread count sheets as luxurious, but $75 for a little unexciting package didn't sound very motherly or fun. Suddenly, I remembered something Ande and I had seen at a Thanksgiving bazaar. It was an old window in a wooden frame that had the vinyl saying,

“Once in awhile in the middle of ordinary life, love comes along and gives us a fairytale.”

printed on it with a berry wreath surrounding the vinyl phrase. It was darling and I thought it fit Cali and Ray’s story perfectly. However, it was too expensive to buy at the bazaar. But, three weeks later and panicking about a shower gift I was certainly wishing I had bought it anyway. I told Calvin my dilemma about a shower gift. At the time he was under a lot of Christmas pressure making TWO PINK bows for Christmas, plus a fireplace mantel and bench, plus making Ray a gun for a Christmas/wedding present. So, when I told him my problem he looked like the gift tsunami was going to swallow him. I reminded him he didn’t need to fix my problem; I just wondered if he knew where I could find an old window so I could make the gift. I was really kicking myself at this point because when we drove through Amish country last month there was a box of old windows on one of the lawns that said FREE. I wanted to get them but Calvin reminded me there was no way to get them home. However, when you’re desperate for a window frame, you think the inconvenience of transporting them is minute. Calvin finally said, “I’ll bet I know where one is.” BINGO. The gold mine. There was not only one window there were ten. Calvin took one to town and sprayed it with a high-pressure hose, then sanded the window frame and I added the vinyl, wreath and bow. It turned out just like I hoped. But the greatest thing was it saved our bacon. We forgot to decorate the foyer of the church! We thought of the sidewalk, we thought of the cultural hall, we thought of ribbons for the door handle, but we forgot the foyer. However, the window frame was big enough we could put it on an easel and call it good.

10. I grew my fingernails out. I think the last time I grew them out was for my own wedding 26+ years ago. I kept a little glass nail file (courtesy of Ande) with me and I haven’t been tempted to bite them once. Glass nail files do not leave the snags that emery boards do which make you want to even them up with your teeth. Here is an SPT of my nails (trimmed for the fourth or fifth time) in front of a bouquet of flowers that Ray and Cali sent a few days after the wedding. The card so sweetly said: To a perfect organizer, a beautiful hostess and our mom. We love you! R and C

The last dance at Cali and Ray’s reception was “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. That’s the best way to close this post of pre-wedding trivia, what a wonderful week in a wonderful world.


Tiffany Fackrell said...

oh it sounds wonderful!!! So sorry we missed it!! As for the wedding cake you should have convinced her to do a fake one! That is what we had. fake styrofoam - you probably even could have borrowed it, it was at my mom's house, Jorden's was fake too! Oh well, I am sure everything turned out just dandy! (just keep that in mind for the next wedding)! I am really happy for Cali and Ray! I love being married!

HeatherM said...

Jane-It was a wonderful wedding, and a wonderful world you created. You guys did a fabulous job. It was so nice to go and share in Cali's day with you guys. What an evening! The flickering candles did look beautiful - although I didn't notice them until the way out! Darla assures me they were there when we walked in! And, the frame turned out to be absolutely gorgeous. Great job, Neighbor Jane, great job!

Jill said...

I've been checking every day for a wedding update, but it's no wonder you weren't ready to write about it yet. You must be exhausted, and a little sad/glad to have it all over.

I'm so glad it went well. The false ceiling sounds wonderful. Also, the coming together of so many family and friends to support and help. It must have been overwhelmingly touching.

Kathy said...

I LOVE this post. I want to refer to it again then next time I am going to host my large family. So what are crock pot liners. Am I the only one in the world who has never heard of them? It was one of the most awesome receptions I have attended. I am glad you could enjoy it. You had the perfect help! And that is the greatest idea to put money in a bank account and let the couple decide how they want to spend it. I am done with receptions, but I will pass that idea on to every one who will listen. I love you Jane!!!!

mdr said...

As always, you did a fabulous job. Megan and I had a great time. I loved the fovyer decor and never knew till now that it wasn't originally planned for that but couldn't have fit any better. You all looked great and most of all seemed relaxed and to be enjoying yourselves. Truly a day to remember and I know you will have many more with an additional "kid" (Ray) in the fold now.

Best wishes to you and your wonderful family.

Donna Chapin said...

Thanks for letting us know the "rest of the story" as I wondered how you managed with all or your company and trying to accomplish your lists of things to do. Of course, I knew you could be a wonderful hostess as well as get your tasks completed.
I had a wonderful time, and am so glad that I was able to come over and help celebrate!
Ray & Cali are an adorable couple!

Liza said...

So glad that everything worked out lovely for your family.

Amy said...

I loved every bit of this. I want to see your window craft & pictures of the bride son! It all sounds so lovely (especially the practical food details - love that).

Cassidy said...

I'm glad you posted this. I wondered how everything went. I even called in the evening on the wedding day to get details from SOMEONE, but it was busy, darn it. I was thinking about it ALL DAY. YAY for Cali and everything. I'm glad it went so well.

Barb said...

I have been WAITING for this post! (You weren't kidding about the details before)
I'm both scared and inspired to have to work on a project like this some day. I can hardly wait for pictures! Go crazy with the pictures on your blog when you get them!
Kathy: I have never heard of crockpot liners, either. I have 2 crockpots of different shapes (one oval and one round) so I am very curious if crockpot liners are flexible and if they'll fit in either shape.

Becky said...

I have been *stalking* your blog Jane and I was so excited when this post went up! Love all the behind-the-scenes detail that went into creating the magic...

I'm anxiously waiting for LOTS more photos and I can't wait to find out more about crockpot liners! :)

melanie said...

You wrote a perfect post! I could imagine the whole thing with all your great descriptive writing. I'm really sad I missed the magic.

When you get some photos, they should be posted. Or at least brought to your next hair appointment. Even if it's far off. :)

Susan said...

My dearest Jane! The wedding was so beautiful! I loved the centerpieces. I loved the dinner. I loved the desserts. But I really loved the story telling. Ray and Cali did a great job! Even Terry had fun and that is saying something!

tina said...

Finally!!! You know that we have all been waiting to hear how everything turned out! We've been on the edge of our chairs (or beds)! Thanks for sharing. Funny story - I had a dream earlier this week that I wasn't invited to the reception (which in real life I don't know why I would be since I don't really know Cali), so I went there anyway and there was a long line of cars waiting to enter the reception. So, somehow got past them and went inside and was sampling all the food. I had my kids with me who love strawberries and wanted to eat them all ('cuz there's always strawberries in dream land wedding receptions). Then, I snuck out and I think I dream switched gears; I don't really remember the rest. The reception wasn't in a church though, it was like in a really long trailer like thing. Weird! I am glad it turned out well!

Miller Family said...

Oh I can't wait to see pictures. Everything sounded so wonderful. You have such an amazing talent and knack for getting big projects done. Kudos!

Lyle and Mary: said...

wow Jane I'm glad you got your life back after the wedding and have time to blog surf again.
The wedding day sounds like it was everything you hoped for. Yea!!!

Lori said...

What a wonderful. Beautiful bride, handsome groom, delicious meal, wonderful hosts....Thanks for letting us share in your JOY!

Ryan and Haley Krumblis said...

Aunt Jane,
I am so disappointed that I couldn't be there! It sounds so great! Cali and I are planning a trip for Cali, Ray, Ryan and I so we can all get to know each other, since they are going to have to be aunts and uncles for me when I have kids. On the day of the wedding, mom and I kept saying where everyone was..."Right now Cali and Ray are being sealed, right now they are having their brunch, right now they are at the hotel, etc." We can't wait to meet them!

Kim Sue said...

wow sounds wonderful and crazy all at the same time! I have delightful images running through my head and I can't wait to see a picture or two.

Ande Payne said...

You're right Mom, that was a wonderful week. Thanks for being so amazing and pulling it off. I love you.

michelle said...

YES! I've been anxiously awaiting this post, Jane!

I'm glad you wrote about all the details, I loved every bit of it. I can't imagine putting on a wedding myself...

Alyson said... you know i only get on here not very often so i have to read all of a week or two in one sitting and i alway end up crying in a good way..maybe im a baby..or your the sweetest lady i know!!! pretty sure its the second part..thanks so much for letting me be a part of the wedding day with you are all so great!!

Marie said...

This was such a great review! I'd been wanting to come and check up on your and the wedding and FINALLY got a chance to do it. I was well rewarded too! The whole thing sounded just wonderful. How did this all come together in 4 weeks?

Lucy said...

So busily wonderful. I'm glad everything went as well as it did. It doesn't surpise me at all that Cali should be so practical with the mother she has.

Congratulations on your new addition.