Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Honeymoon In ?...

Since I am on break for a bit and out of town (till Monday) I thought I would leave my wonderful readers to help me out with some honeymoon ideas. They fall into two categories. Need a Passport and Needent a Passport. These only need to be relatively realistic. Where should we go? What should we do. We will NOT be taking children. What would you do given the opportunity? Dream a little dream with me! Comments please!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Padrinos & Madrinas - A Hispanic Wedding Tradition

There is a lovely tradition among many Hispanic countries when it comes to the wedding. While marriage is a bond between two people, it is just as much about bringing two families together. Hispanic families are much more communal and participate much more in each other's lives than many cultures. Part of the tradition in a Hispanic wedding, Mexican in my case, is the idea of the Padrino and the Madrina.

Historically this would have been a spiritual, emotional, and relational guide for the couple. The couple's Godparents as it loosely translates, would also support the new couple throughout the engagement and early years of marriage. Think extreme best man & maid of honor. Today this idea has evolved.

When I was first introduced to this idea it was one of the strangest things I had ever heard of. I asked "So you really ask other people to pay for your wedding stuff?" I could not get the idea through my head and it sounded kind of rude to me. In truth, it is a great honor to be asked to be a Padrino and it is taken very seriously. Think Groomsmen and Bridesmaids except you aren't annoyed about the tux you have to rent or the dress you will never wear again, you are actually excited. Again, it is as if you have been asked to me the Best man or the Maid of Honor. This is big.

There are Padrinos for certain elements of the traditional Hispanic wedding mass. There is a processional of elements in the ceremony including a small pillow to kneel on, a lasso to join the couple, a rosary, the guest book and the unity coins. These are very traditional elements and we are not sure which we will be incorporating at this point. (We are not Catholic though he was raised as such. We will be having a more laid back ceremony performed by our pastor.)

I have been asked to be the Madrina of a couple things since Alex and I have been married. Two of Alex's sisters have had weddings in our seven years. In the first we purchased the wedding rings. In the second we purchased the bride's gown. After providing these I feel much more comfortable with how this all works and I look forward to incorporating my families into our ceremony like this.

It really does make it more personal this way! As I previously mentioned individuals in my family volunteered to help me make our wedding happen. By volunteering their services, time, and talents they have become my Madrinas and will forever be linked to my heart for their additions to my special day.

As I think about what needs to be done and who to ask I get a little nervous. All of my Madrinas so far are from my side of the family - the non Hispanic side! I will be asking for help with many more things in the coming months and while I look forward to it knowing that it is indeed an honor, it makes me nervous! There is still a language barrier between my husband's family and I so I automatically get over nervous about doing things the right way. As if I haven't been married to him seven years already!

Grascias Madrinas!

Moss & Recycled Wedding Decor

I love these moss covered letters one bride made. Moss I have!

What a fantastic use of cans.
I will have to take a look at these some more later.

Another idea: I have lots of dairies out my way. I wonder if I could get them to let me borrow any milk bottles for vases for my wedding day... worth a shot.

photos from's fantastic inspiration boards!

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Duke Gardens Ceremony - Not Quite

Every time I have envisioned getting married I have seen us standing under a canopy of Wisteria - possibly my favorite thing that blooms. I love the smell, the look, the feeling. I have always loved walking through parks where the wisteria has taken over. When the warm air moves your nose is filled with the sweet intoxicating aroma of purple. If purple had a smell it would certainly smell like wisteria.

So I went and explored a place I had in mind for my ceremony. It is pricey but I was willing to splurge for this one thing if it was what I had envisioned. I would cut back on other things to make it work if it was what I dreamed of. So off I went camera in hand to the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. For 500 dollars you can have your wedding ceremony beneath a beautiful canopy of wisteria. A small price to pay for one's dream. A big price to pay if it isn't.

When I got there on Saturday I realized I have been missing out for 8 years. HOW have I never been here before? As we could find no parking and I was really only there for one thing, some perspective, I ran out of the car with camera in hand while Alex drove around in the car. I was kicking myself for having missed this as soon as I entered. I have been to some amazing gardens all over the world including some amazing gardens in Holland. This took the cake for me. Looking good so far right?

I am heading to the pergola where the wisteria lives. I turn the corner and there is it. I love the thick old wisteria trunks. They always seem strong and wise to me. Kind of like how some people feel about oak trees. They I see the view from the pergola. It would be PERFECT! It would be perfect if I was having a small intimate gathering of about 600 people! I immediately see that it is not what I dreamed. Okay. It really is amazing about would be splendid if I wanted a wedding party of 20 or so and I had many more guests. Otherwise I would be dwarfed and it would certainly be much more about the garden than my husband and I.

Then I took as many pictures as I could in about 30 minutes. I only saw a small portion of the gardens. I will be going back this week. I will also be going back many more times. To think, I had been wanting to go see the Biltmore Gardens ($30) and this is here!

So I am looking again for a ceremony site. I would really love an outdoor wedding. I love my church and I can certainly do it there but it is not what I have ever visualized. Any ideas guys? I am open to suggestions!

I wonder how long it takes to grow wisteria....

Wisteria photo by Kym Pokorny

Friday, March 21, 2008

Location Location Location!

Venue Priorities for this Bride
Price: Need I explain this one?
Flexibility: I need flexibility in order to have the day I want. I also want everyone on both sides of the family to feel welcome and at home. A large part of this is the food. It needs to be less pretentious than I tend to envision (I am a foodie after all) and more like comfort food. I am thinking paper plates on a beautiful backdrop.
Comfort Level for Guests /Relaxation Element: I have many types of people coming and I am combining two different cultures. I want everyone, including all the children, to be able to relax and have a good time.
Natural Beauty: For what I am envisioning for my reception I can not see having it anywhere that could be described as formal. I want rustic and natural.This will help with decorating too.

I have long thought about location. Where would I most love to have my wedding? What have I pictured, dreamed of? Well this vision of course rarely fits in with budget. So I find myself looking more for places that fit. That is of course, fine. Man have I looked at a lot of places online. Can I just say thank you internet gurus for slideshows. I can not imagine driving around looking at all these places before the invention of the internet.

The major deciding factor is catering. I have a fabulous family who has volunteered to help me with food. Two families actually. Alex's family has made it clear for a while now that when the time came I knew where to go and I would have it no other way. I love my Aunt Julieta's cooking and I want to make sure I am not limited by a set of "Approved Vendors". My reception food will be laid back and relaxed. I also think my dear Aunt Laura has volunteered to help as well. What fabulous people.

I called around all day yesterday about different places, seeing if they are booked, asking all sorts of questions. Fortunately the two places I am really interested in don't start taking reservations till the month of the event, the year before so I have a fair shot. I might have scared one of the event planners though when I mentioned sleeping outside her office the night before. Oh well, I didn't ever mention my name.

I want to tell you where I am thinking but I am afraid doing so will be like saying "Well, it couldn't be worse" in a movie. It always rains. In the meantime Alex and I will be visiting some parks we haven't yet been to this weekend. Yay.

Maybe I will take and post some hint pictures of the possible location and you guys can try and guess where they were taken. That would be okay right? I will say there will be lots of trees and possibly some water.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Your Love Stories

Love stores. Who doesn't love a good love story. Since it was a our love story that brought us together and sharing our love story that inspired my loved ones to help me with our wedding I had an idea. Something I have been thinking about doing is collecting the love stories of those helping me with the wedding and compiling them in a booklet for the tables. Or maybe putting them in picture frames around the room for people to read. I would also love to collect old wedding pictures to go with them. I think it would be fun to read other's stories. I know I enjoyed reading them on Valentines day. So what do you think? Would you let me share your stories?


I am finding that a lot of the things I have wanted to have or do are trendy now. I hate being trendy. I like to be different.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Recycling Gold for Wedding Rings

When Alex and I got married we went out and bought some simple gold bands at our jewelry store. While we love our rings because they were really the only thing we sprung for, they are not comfortable. Not a nice comfort band and it tends to bother Alex's finger.

We really want new bands but I am sentimental and thought we should try to see if we can have our rings melted down and reformed to create our rings. As I did more research I discovered something I had never thought about. Gold mining is really terrible for the environment. Never thought about this. Really.

So here is another great thing about melting my rings down. I have some rings I am not fond of and never wear but I can use them to make my bands. I love this idea because I can incorporate my old bands with jewelry I have, like the ring Alex gave me when we were dating that isn't exactly my style.

While I found several places on the internet, I will be contacting my jewelry store we have used for years. There is just something about mailing off my wedding bands to the internet that makes me uncomfortable. Maybe as a back-up plan.

I love this idea and I am glad to see this available and becoming more common place.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


For Ella Perhaps?

Minus the froo froo ribbon around the base of the flowers. Just a wrapping around the stems. I wonder what kind of flowers these are. hum.

Elegant Organic

I am thinking of sort of an elegant organic look for the wedding. I think it will sort of depend on where I end up doing it but this is definately the direction I am going in. I think it will feel comfortable and it will be more cost effective and by cost effective I mean FREE. So got any cool wood in your yard that needs trimming back sometime between now and next spring? See any pretty driftwood while your on a beach this summer - pick it up! Is there a vineyard near you that will cut back grapevines? Ask them for some! Help me decorate!

I have also directed my husband NOT to kill the moss in our yard that he has been trying to get rid of for 2 years now. I think I can harvest it and use that too. It comes back anyways. Ask Alex.

I am looking for things that have already fallen or will be cut back anyways. I don't want to cut things down because that just is not environmentally friendly. I will be searching the globe, or maybe just NC and some the neighboring states, for interesting stones, wood and anything else like that. For those friends and family wishing to help, this would be great! Think of us when you are out in nature this year!

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

I will be posting random things I find that I like as an ongoing file for myself. My virtual wedding ideas folder if you will.

Earth Friendly Weddings
Top: Stones are tossed with essential oils for aromatherapy effect.
Bottom: Stone Placeholders with guest's names stamped on them. After the reception guests sign them or leave a message. Then the stones are collected in a jar for a keepsake! Brilliant and almost free!

The Purpose of my Wedding Blog

I will be using this blog to help me think out loud - as opposed to talking to myself like usual I will be talking to you! I love feedback just don't rain on my parade! =) I will be sharing some ideas I have been cooking up the last 7 years. I wasn't really one of those girls who spent a lot of time thinking up my dream wedding. After all I was going to be the Scary Cat Lady remember? I have been cooking things up for about 7 years now so I have lots of ideas I need to weed through.

Ideas like:

  • Having Alex wear a traditional Mexican Mariachi Costume
  • Walking down the isle to our favorite trainwreck's "Opps, I Did It Again"
  • Getting matching tattoos of all our wedding dates on our butts the night before the wedding.
  • Having a "Girl's Night Out" to celebrate the end to my bachelorette status with a bang
  • Wearing a dress thats a little less traditional
So what do you guys think?

Yes, I am joking. Calm down. Can you believe this dress is actually on The Knot?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why Now? Seven Years Later

So why now you might be wondering. We have been married seven years, seven LONG years (just kidding babe) come April 2008 and we have been meaning to do this ever since. Actually, theyear after we got married (2002) I had the place reserved, plans made, people asked and the dress picked out. Then life happened and it just seemed like we should spend the money on debt reduction or something like that.

I am so glad we waited to do the wedding. It has given us the spectacular opportunity to have our sweet children, the loves of both of our lives, involved in the ceremony. It also allowed us to make a significant impact financially on our lives by not starting out in wedding debt. Though I had to wait for the wedding, it was worth it for the marriage.

Another great thing about waiting - I AM ALREADY MARRIED! I don't have to worry about the cold feet of the wedding day! I can relax and enjoy it! I don't remember much at all about the second time which was very low key in the church with only a few friends and family. I was so strung out after the previous weeks (see posts How I Married a Mexican I & II). I will be able to enjoy it, remember the words I speak and take in the faces I see.

Another reason now? My dear husband who is anything but an involved wedding planner, has showed increasing interest in sharing this event with our loved ones. Seeing as I am not pregnant anymore I can not use my last excuse. Also money, our biggest excuse, will not be as much of an issue either thanks to the generosity of some sweet family.

My cousin Christy called last week and surprised me. At the end of the conversation I sort of felt as if I had been proposed to! It was fantastic. She said she and her sister Rachel had cooked up a brilliant plan to help us with our wedding after reading our story. They offered to help me alongside with my Aunt and another cousin (they need blogs don't they?). Christy will do my photography, Rachel my invitations & favors, Christina my cake, and my Aunt Laura will help with my food. T.H.A.N.K. Y.O.U!

So Ladies, if you hadn't already figured it out, a resounding YES please!

I am very excited at the prospect of sharing this day with the family and friends who could not be with us at the first or the second!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How I Married A Mexican: Part II

The follow up to Part One is continued here.. Get your ding dongs and a soda guys. This is a long one.

Now I know all of you were just dying to know the end last time...I left off with all the drama of a daytime soap opera/telenovela. Will she die? Will she find out her love is really her long lost Siamese twin detached at birth and then sold to the gypsies so her mother could finally afford that new glass eye? Well, I hate to disappoint you. I just said yes. Even though there was no ring, no romance, none of that stuff I said yes. Hey sometimes a man is just so overcome with emotion that he flat out decides to ask you while your both falling asleep on the floor. Or at least that the benefit of the doubt I gave him.

I made him ask my mom and dad for permission to marry me. I know - old fashioned but I knew they would say yes as they adored him already. He did and they of course said yes after an appropriately tense conversation and questioning. I am a southern girl so I decided to play by protocol at least with this one to win some brownie points with the parents who not long before were probably wondering if I would ever get it together.

So with their approval I went on my merry way, no longer destined to be the Scary Cat Lady on the corner. I was planning a nice spring wedding in my mind... The Knot web page was made. Lets see when are the tulips in bloom? When is the wisteria draped from the trees so the smell can waft down over us? Who will I ask to be my bridesmaids? So off I went thinking I had a good 12 months or so to plan. This was around April 15th or so when he asked me. (I have never been one of those women who remember the date of the first time they went on a date and the first kiss and all that stuff. I am doing great knowing my own birthday.)

Now some background information for you. Alex was an illegal alien. Now I know some of you have never met anyone who has done something so horrible - bear with me. Yes, he was an illegal immigrant. I could tell you his story but that is his blog not mine. Suffice to say, he risked a lot to get here and he made the most of it. I had no idea what this meant as far as our marriage went. Neither did he. We were both pretty clueless, you know, in love.

One day at work while one of our friends, a Columbian immigrant, was congratulating me she mentioned something interesting. The Life Act of 2000 was something we should look into because she was pretty sure it applied to us and Alex's immigration status. hum. I googled it on my lunch break. I had no idea what the heck it was after trying to decipher it for I don't know how long but I knew two things, it looked like the only way we would be married with no long term trouble and this law was about to expire and with it, my happy marriage.

After talking to some people down at the local Latino assistance office I knew I needed some help. They recommended a good immigration lawyer - I called my mommy. I didn't have money for a lawyer. Let me explain some rules of the Life Act. We had to meet certain qualifications:

  • Alex had to be able to prove he had been in the country as a resident before the law was enacted.
  • We had a ton of confusing paperwork to navigate.
  • We had to come up with a lot of money.
  • We had to be married.
  • We had to turn all of this in by April 30th.
There was more than this of course. Mainly the second to the last one was what I was worried about. By the time I sorted all of this out I think I had about 11 days left to make it all happen. Me. I seem to remember Alex was limited help, bless his heart. I say seem to remember because those two weeks are even more cloudy to me than my first 2 postpartum weeks with my first born. I remember few details. Sort of like how you block out child birth.

As I busied myself getting untold amounts of paperwork filled out, copied, certified, translated, certified again, scanned, photos and somehow coming up with all that money I was all the while wondering what the heck I was doing. It takes a lot of faith in one person and more faith in God for a girl who witnessed two divorces to rush into a marriage in less than two weeks. Especially when she never thought she would get married in the first place. Faith and maybe a little foolish romanticism and I am guessing a lot of youthful stupidity. I was 21.

The faith comes in here though... My mom, as I said earlier, loved him and supported me when I called bawling my eyes out attempting to explain all this. In retrospect I wonder what that phone call sounded like because I know it must have happened but I don't remember it. What I do remember was another phone call. The one to my pastor.

Again the details are fuzzy but I do know I called and I think I led off with something like "I know you make everyone do premarital counseling before you will marry them but I don't have time for anything like that! You have to marry me this weekend!" He didn't know i was dating. I think I also said something like "You can call my mom and she will explain everything, please?"

So with all that out of the way and everyone in agreement that even though this was pretty much insane, we would make it happen. Not everyone was able to be there. Those calls were pretty strange to make too. "Hey umm, so what are you doing around 2:00 on Sunday? I was hoping you could make it to see me get married!"

Friday we went to the Magistrate's office. This had all the romance of any trip to the Jail. Yep, I got married in the jail house baby. How many people have that to tell their kids? Me, Alex, my roommate and his uncle and aunt made our way to the jail house. We squeezed into a 8x8 foot office with Mr. Personality himself. Without looking at us once, he asked if we would like the short version or the long version. Me, not wanting to cheat any of the potential romance from the day, opted for the long version. I think it was about 30 words. I assume the short version was something like "Do ya? Do ya? Good, yer married" because the long version was not much more.

We proceeded to go get a country biscuit at this little corner whole in the wall place that I think is still standing, but may very well have caught fire due to all the grease. Romance I am telling you. This was Friday. I am sure Saturday was spent checking over all of the paperwork obsessively for the millionth time. I think that is also when we bought our wedding bands, our one luxury. Sunday rolled around and we headed down to the church. I don't remember much of that day either. I know I went to Walmart that morning for a couple roses just so I would have something to hold onto. I have to say, for Wally World they were actually pretty. I wanted nothing remotely wedding like to happen that day. I wanted simple, bare bones because I was still planning "my wedding".

We were married and as is tradition after the ceremony, we went to Mi Casita - the local Mexican joint. What - you didn't do that? Bad food after we got married was tradition for us at this point. We said our goodbyes to those who made it and headed to Charlotte for the honeymoon.

I will say at least we stayed in a nice place that night, a beautiful Hilton. Too bad we didn't sleep - not for the typical honeymoon reason. We were so strung out. We had to be at the INS no later than 4:00am. We had to get in line. Many people just camped out there overnight. This was no Wii they were waiting for.

Seeing all those people from many different countries all lined up, knowing most of them had been through so much more to get there than just 2 weeks of stress, it hit me. This was big. It was the rest of our lives being completely changed. What ifs started hitting me. What if he had asked me 2 weeks later. What if we had missed it. The real impact of that law's expiration is only still hitting us now. This was pre - 911. There is no way now for someone in the US who is in the situation we were to have the happy ending we have. I am so thankful for the events that had to take place and I know why they happened. It was not coincidence.

We waited in line all day behind hundreds and hundreds of people. We switched out standing in line so the other could go to the restroom and get food. We helped check people's paperwork for them one last time. We commiserated with others. We entertained bored children. We waited. We were some of the last people admitted. There were hundreds behind us. When we got to the desk to submit the paperwork it finally all hit me. I really cried. What amazed me is that that woman behind the desk had no idea what small part she was playing in such a big thing for so many people. The next day over 600,000 more cross the country doing the same were on the news. Amazing what power those 8 little numbers of a social security number have.

We finished there and waited more and waited more. After 911 things changed and we waited more. There were so many more steps left. As we were learning to be married we also wondered if we would be deported. When you step up and admit you are there you have this terror in the back of your mind placed there by so many out to get the people who are different. It is easier to hide sometimes. We finally had to contact our state representative to get something done.

Three years later we were approved. The usual waiting time is about 6 months.

We never did have our wedding. I planned it and had a date and place reserved but it seemed silly to spend all that money when we were just getting started. We still talk about it every now and then. One day. I would love to do it when my kids are still little and can be flower girl and ring bearer. Shoot - I still want my romantic proposal and a ring! I know one thing, as terrifying and unromantic as it all was it was so worth it!

Also, if you have any legitimate questions about illegal immigration and the issues surrounding it my husband and I would be happy to answer any candidly. I think it is important to see Undocumented Immigrants as people with stories and histories not just faceless numbers as is true of ANY people.

Monday, March 10, 2008

How I Married A Mexican: Part I

By Request...

It was a hot steamy morning. As the sun peaked over the river I had the overwhelming sensation that I was again distracted from my blog's original intent. Sorry folks. My muddled musings. I just thought a blog with parts deserved at least a novel-like beginning. Where was I?

Oh yea, my story. Well Alex and I met at work, you know, right after I decided I would NEVER date anyone else I worked with. We dated about 2 months before coming out of the closet at the office Christmas party. Next spring, after Alex had come home for a few holidays and family events which were his initiation into the family as well as good testing grounds for me.

In April, I have never been good with dates, I would say like the 13th or so? We had a wonderful day just driving around the chapel hill area's more scenic farm areas. We discovered the Maple View Farm ice cream country store that day. They have the most delicious homemade ice cream. We watched the sunset and then discovered this house we both thought would be perfect for us. We went back to his apartment and he cooked me dinner, huevos ala mexican I am sure. As we were laying on the floor he goes "you want to marry me?" as casually as can be.

Now if you know me you will know how insane this is. This is me, with all my issues and abandonment mess. Me who it took forever to say I love you back. By the way, this was by no means romantic. It was funny how unromantic it was but it had been a romantic day so I cut him a break.

After what seemed like about a millennium without a follow up on his part I said "do I WANT to marry you or WILL I marry you?" For those of you who don't know, Alex is from Mexico so I wanted to make sure there was no miscommunication before I said anything. He just says "Both". My brain is moving so fast it might explode all over his plain white walls and mismatched bachelor's couches from all the friction and smoke. So I look over at him, not looking at me, and say

Sunday, March 9, 2008

This Is Us