The process from fiancé to blushing bride(s) is a multi-armed beast, as this couple is discovering
I told her I’d marry her at Jenny’s Noodle House or our own backyard. She told me she wanted me to have the wedding of my dreams and that she wanted to have hers, too.
“I waited more than 50 years to find you, and I’m only going to do this once. So we’re going to do it right,” she said.
And so began the journey not just from fiancées, but all the way to wives. And what a journey it is … and it’s barely halfway over.
Robin and I got engaged in July 2016. She proposed to me in a movie-worthy scene: A surprise trip to Mackinac Island for my birthday. We rode in a horse drawn carriage — the only form of transportation on the island other than bicycles and emergency vehicles — to the Grand Hotel, where Somewhere in Time was filmed and home to the country’s longest veranda. That very veranda was where she popped the question as the sun began to set in the summer sky.
I was wearing the Samuel Dong dress covered in painterly flowers that she had gotten me the day before in Traverse City with a pair of nude Jimmy Choo pumps. She was wearing a baby blue blazer with her signature pink checked Vineyard Vines shirt and bright blue Cole Haans. In the photos, we look perfectly matched and I look perfectly shocked, because I was.
Right from the start, we knew we wanted to wait until the spring of 2018 to get married — partly because my daughter is graduating high school in two months and heading off to college in the fall. But the truth is, the six months after we got engaged were a whirlwind, entertaining at the lake, a dinner in D.C., Feast in Portland, Plezzure Island in Galveston, a holiday in France, a cruise in the Caribbean, and then Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s had their way with us. So although we found ourselves day-dreaming about our perfect wedding, it wasn’t until the first of the year that we started planning in earnest.
Sort of. I did buy my gown. This is our wedding and we want everything to reflect us. We are making all of the decisions together — the venue, the music, the flowers, the photographer. But the dress: That had to be all me. I know exactly how I want to look for her and the minute I saw the dress, I knew. I wish I could tell you all about it. But there’s no way she won’t be reading this. So, suffice it to say, she won’t be disappointed. Think the Sex and the City movie, the kind of couture drama that every girly girl’s dreams are made of.
Robin is having a custom tux made. She’s thinking navy. I’m thinking she’ll be the sharpest bride ever to walk down the aisle. Honestly, I can’t stop imagining that moment. I think we’re going to do that thing where the couple sees each other for the first time privately, right before the ceremony so we can have that moment all to ourselves (along with our photographer, of course). That way we can take photos while everyone arrives and has a cocktail so we don’t keep everyone waiting between the ceremony and the reception. I get misty-eyed every time I think of that moment. It’s that second, more than anything else, that I can hardly wait for. (Insert nauseatingly wistful sigh here.)
Once the holidays were behind us, we began serious planning. Other than the dress — it took me weeks to confess to her that I had bought it because I knew she would think I was nuts … and she did — the first thing we did was hire a designer/planner. From the first minute we met with Chad Cornwall and Kyle Santolini, who together are Revisionist Events, we knew that not only would we have the most brilliant wedding of our dreams, we also knew that the two of them would keep the two of us sane and relatively stress-free and help us to remember that this is about us not about anyone or anything else.
We picked the venue, and it is mind-blowingly perfect. It’s in Houston and is called The Astorian. Even though we live on Lake Livingston, we still call Houston our second home since Robin lived there for so long and because so many of our friends live there. The Astorian was once a warehouse; now it’s equal parts chic and industrial. Grand Central Terminal was the design inspiration. It’s just so glorious that it requires almost no decoration, though I know Chad and Kyle will make it even more spectacular. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Everyone who knows Robin says there is no venue on the planet that is more her. I couldn’t agree more and I could not be any happy that we’re getting married there.
The DJ has also been hired — a friend of Robin’s, Bradley David Janacek. I’m told he’s well known in Houston and after meeting with him and making him swear not to play the Macarena, the Electric Slide, anything by Jimmy Buffet, a number of other songs that make me want to peel my skin off, I’m excited to have him in the booth or spinning or whatever it is the kids are calling it these days.
We haven’t landed on a photographer yet. I am very particular on that front. I hate, loathe and despise the majority of wedding photography. I desperately want our photos to look more like they belong in a gorgeous magazine and less like they belong at the bridal expo.
Speaking of which, my fantabulous fiancé actually took me to one of those shows, despite the fact that she would generally rather have her toenails removed than attend one. But she knew how much I wanted to go even though I knew deep down that it would be painfully cheesy, which it was. Oh, was it cheesy! I can tell you, we agreed 110 percent on what we absolutely don’t want at our wedding. But even if we didn’t get that peace of mind from attending, the giggling and hand-holding alone were worth the price of admission. We did get two ideas that I, regrettably, cannot reveal until after the wedding. But it’ll be worth the wait. Pinky promise.
We’ve started looking at rings. As the Effiel Tower glittered outside of our riverboat cabin this past fall, I gave her a simple silver band engraved with the longitude and latitude of the Grand Hotel where she proposed. But on our wedding day, I plan to give her the ring I’m having made with the diamond from her mother’s engagement ring, a simple tension setting in platinum. I have my heart set on two of the most impossibly thin eternity bands, one for either side of the perfection I call my engagement ring. Robin proposed with her mother’s ring and later replaced it with a ring that couldn’t be any more me.
Amazing friends of ours are gifting us with a wedding cake from Who Made the Cake! Nothing on the calendar yet. But I am antsy as all get out to taste a million cake and frosting flavors with my girl and our friends and to pick out a cake that will make everyone say, “Yup. That looks like Robin and Jenny, all right.”
Landing on the guest list has been a challenge. We both have out-of-town relatives and mutual friends who are no-brainers for the list. But then there are the friends that we each have that the other hasn’t yet met. It’s more of an issue for me since we live outside of Houston and I have met her crew there and they are now my friends as well. But I have friends from Dallas and beyond who she not only has never met but maybe has rarely or even ever heard of. There are people who are insanely important to me despite the time and miles that separate us. So, invited they will be.
When you’re trying to keep your wedding at a place designed to look like Grand Central from becoming Grand Central, it can be tricky. It’s an emotional time but it’s an expensive one too. When it comes to wedding planning I don’t think any decision is harder than the guest list when emotions and reality both have to be considered. But, like everything else, we are making it work with lots of talking and even more kindness and understanding.
My dad is officiating. He’s leaving it up to us to write it, but he’ll be performing it, including as much or as little of the Jewish traditions and rituals as we both would like and incorporating as much Christian and secular traditions as we like as well. Writing it together is as exciting as it is daunting. But we’re looking forward to tackling it together and I am over the moon that Robin decided that she’d like him to perform the ceremony. She decided minutes after meeting him. She says the very fact that he didn’t push the issue made her sure that he was the man for the job. Makes me feel as sappy as a girl can feel.
Some days it feels like we almost have everything done. Other days it feels like there are still a million zillion things to do. We still haven’t decided whether or not to have favors. We love the idea of ending the evening with a greasy to-go snack. We haven’t landed on a caterer or a menu. We still have candles and flowers to decide on. Save the Dates have been ordered but we haven’t even started looking at invitations. We have the guest list in progress. So, right this minute, it feels as if the fun has only just begun.
Luckily, it has been really fun. We’ve had our head-butt moments, of course. And two women getting married — strong-willed, intelligent and opinionated women to boot — does have its challenges. Two bouquets or one? Who goes to whose bachelorette party? Who walks down the aisle first? But most importantly, how do we equally honor and represent who we both are as individuals as well as who we are growing into as a couple? It’s a remarkable feat that Robin and I are giddy to turn into a night that will forever stand for the beginning of a pretty kick-ass journey.
It’s an incredible thing, deciding to get married. The wedding is just a symbol of course — a party, an event, a moment in time to serve as the marker for when it all began. And I have no doubt that the mark we make will be a memorable one full of the love and joy and family and friends that define who we are: Two women who are eternally grateful to have found one another and who are ecstatic to have said yes to happily ever after.
— Jenny Block
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 5, 2017.