Buckle up, folks - it's gonna be a long one...
I guess in a lot of ways this is the post I've been waiting to write since, oh, I don't know, 2008? Back in the days when I was first blogging and VERY single and wrote about what my dream wedding plans looked like. This post is a long time coming. And, now the time has come and there are so many things I want to say and remember and express and this seems like the perfect place...
So, why Miami?
I got this question A LOT when our wedding plans began to take flight and it really annoyed me. I mean, HELLO?! It's my hometown, my favorite city, and pretty much where I wish I lived now. We can't move there, so getting married there is sort of like the world's greatest consolation prize. Why NOT Miami was a more appropriate question in my mind.
Now, I understand that people like to question your intentions and decisions no matter what, and I guess some people didn't realize that I'm from Miami upon inquiring. Believe it or not, Ben and I actually talked about getting married in Florida on our first date. Yes, it's true. So for us, this was a decision that was made long before he slipped the ring on my finger. Getting married in New York would have been a completely different experience (and guest list) and was honestly never on the table.
Those of you with long loyalties and excellent memories remember and know that my parents met and fell in love at the University of Miami, and I was born and grew up pretty much across the street from campus. My parents' marriage and my relationship with them has always been one of the defining factors of who I am. The photo above was taken at the University of Miami "Love Bridge," where couples from the U have bricks in which their love is literally etched in stone. This was my and Perri's 30th anniversary gift to them and even though I've never bought a "brick" before or since, I can say with certainty that is the most expensive one I'll ever purchase. But it was worth every single penny and means even more to me now that my mom is gone. I'm SO glad we did it when we did and that she got to see it and enjoy it.
(Side note for those of you who are wondering why I didn't go to the U as well: tuition rates. See also: I was a slacker in high school and didn't even apply because I wouldn't have gotten in. See also: My parents set up a Florida prepaid college tuition account for me when I was a baby, so state school it was!)
I could go on and on (and on and on) about Miami and the place that it has in my heart, but in short: I've always planning on getting married there and luckily Ben loved the idea of a Florida wedding from the get-go. Planning this shindig from afar has been a labor of love but I couldn't imagine doing this anywhere else.
There are other factors, too. From a practical standpoint, Florida made (makes) a lot of sense for a few very important wedding guests, Nana being at the top of that list. I'm thrilled she doesn't have to get on a plane and is instead making the car trip from SW FL with my aunt and uncle. She flew to New York for my mom's funeral, of course, but I honestly think that was the last bit of air travel she'll be doing. She's 89 and feeling fine but her convenience and comfort is of the utmost importance to me. Sadly, between Ben and myself, Nana is the only living grandparent and I never for a moment forget how lucky I am to have her. She's walking down the aisle and it means EVERYTHING to me.
My great-godmother Norma (godmother's mom) also sort of fits that bill... I don't know whether or not she would've been able to travel for this, and I'm so glad that it doesn't matter. My godmother, Lynn, is my dad's best friend from childhood, and my dad practically grew up in her house, so her mother was kind of like a second mom so my dad. To have them both at my wedding (and my godmother as my ketubah witness) is so meaningful to me and I know to my dad. You know how at bar/bat mitzvahs the videographer hands the mic to guests so they can give you a little video message? In mine, Norma said, "I hope I can dance at your wedding someday," and I've never forgotten that. It's 17 years later, and she can.
When most people think of Miami these days, South Beach is the first thing that comes to mind. I'm excited to show our guests a different, quieter side of the Magic City... one that isn't on the ocean! We're getting married just moments away from my childhood home and as you're reading this, we're probably on the way to the Coral Gables Courthouse to get our marriage license.
For me, there is a sort of beautiful symmetry in all of this. My parents met and fell in love in Miami, and they got married in New York. Ben and I met and fell in love in New York, and we're getting married in Miami.
I've been dreaming of this day my whole life, and yet, I hope the next few days go by very slowly. I want to savor every minute.
I've worked really hard in every sense to get here. Worked hard on myself - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually - and on my relationship. I've allowed myself to be the person that Ben deserves to marry, which hasn't always been easy. I've worked really hard on this wedding, and I'm still accepting the fact that there will be snafus. Nothing in life is perfect, but I know that this will be close.
Every wedding is different. Sure, they might all look the same on Pinterest, but attend enough and you know this not to be true. Ben and I attended a wedding on Sunday that was so, so lovely. My favorite part was probably the father-daughter dance. They danced to "The Way You Look Tonight" and it was just very light and happy and smiley. As I watched them, I realized that my dance with my dad is going to look quite different. We've had our song picked out since I was a kid, and the nature of our relationship coupled with the still somewhat fresh loss of my mom... Well, let's just say I turned to Ben and said, "Oh God. My dance with my dad is going to be really schmaltzy." FYI, wedding guests: don't even THINK about coming onto the dance floor during our song. I've waited 30 years for these four minutes and if you try to join us my wedding planner will stop you with a flat palm. You've been warned!
As for our wedding? It's going to be very emotional. Even if my mom were still here, it'd still be emotional. Honestly. Because that's who we are. My mom was a crier and so am I. In the words of Steve Martin, we're the Schmaltz family! And I'm proud of it.
I know I've mentioned it before, but one of my most vivid childhood memories is of seeing Father of the Bride with my dad in the movie theater and him turning to me and whispering, "Doesn't he remind you of me?" during Steve Martin's monologue about being an overprotective father. Clearly, I associate that movie with a lot in my life.
Psst...wedding guests...do me ONE favor. I know speeches at a wedding can be a little boring, but please, please, PLEASE put your chatter on hold for just a few moments for me. My dad and I have worked so, so hard on our toasts - we have poured so much time, energy and heart into each word - and I would like for everyone to be able to hear what we have to say - especially since I haven't heard my dad's and he hasn't heard mine. I can't speak for the best man or maid of honor, but I'm certain they'll be equally as charming. You will be rewarded with copious desserts.
You're going to see me hit every high and every low. I'm going to laugh a lot and I think crying is inevitable. Yes, our wedding is going to be emotional but you know what else it's going to be? A FUCKING BLAST, THAT'S WHAT. It's going to be fun and fancy and funny and filled to the brim with laughter and love. I may be a sap, but I'm also a Good Time Sally. Jewish weddings start late and end very late. Pace yourselves at the bar and bring flat shoes to change into, ladies. It's going to be a bumpy, crazy, unforgettable ride.
One last thing: this wedding is a dream come true and the past year leading up to it has admittedly at times been a bit of a nightmare. But know that there was not one second during any of the planning, headaches, moans and groans that I wasn't incredibly grateful for ALL of it. I don't take anything in my life for granted anymore, and despite loss and tragedy, I never forget how unbelievably fortunate I am.