Saturday, January 05, 2008

The engagement, part 7

So continuing from here...

We were going to get married... I had identified the ring style I wanted (one in particular had caught my eye... but I knew he could pick anything). Just when and where it would happen was up in the air.

And then it wasn't.

Wasn't up in the air, that is. We got to talking and decided it might be nice to go to Napa Valley (our frequent getaway). We thought it might be nice to eat at Tra Vigne for dinner. We thought it might be nice to stay at White Sulphur Springs Resort.

We normally didn't do it up quite so nicely in Napa. Normally the Calistoga Comfort Inn was more our pace.

Napa greeted us as it always did... with an open array of wine drinking options providing you pony up your $5 for tasting, $10 if you wanted the good stuff. AB and I always ponied up the $5, made friends with the tasting room attendant by being friendly and asking questions then picking out a few bottles and frequently were offered reserve tastings on the side. (And there's your tip for visiting Napa.)

We dressed up and headed out to the new and hugely touted Tra Vigne restuarant. We had reservations, but were for some reason, relegated to eating in the bar. I wasn't overly concerned as the food was still truly fantastic. I had my first real cheese course and was sold. I love cheese. Oh and I had dessert too.

The entire time I saw a huge, abnormally large box bulging from my fiance to be's pants. It was the ring... wasn't it?

Still, I waited. No proposal during appetizers, dinner, cheese course or dessert. (Or does dessert come before cheese course?)

What was that box in his pants and why was it so large? It looked horribly uncomfortable, but I resisted saying anything.

We paid and walked out the door, down the steps and there at the base of the steps he dropped to his knee and asked me to marry him as he pried that big jewelry box from his pocket.

Nope, the ring wasn't *that* huge that it required the huge box. But apparently Roger's Jewelers felt that they should give you a huge box for the big bucks you drop, but I am sure they didn't realize the logistics problems this poses for guys.

I couldn't get him to stand up fast enough. I hugged him and said yes.

I slid the ring on my finger - it was the one I picked out but was a little bummed I didn't get to wear the ring as it was umpteen sizes too big. I would have had it sized on the spot if I could have. I wanted the shiny multi-faceted carbon crystal structure to flash in front of everyone's eyes.

We returned to Reno and I announced to my family that I was getting married and soon the decision making began. Where would we marry? When is the date? Would we be paying for it ourselves? How many people would we invite? Who would we invite?

I didn't want to marry in Nevada. (Funny the different personalities... I lived in Nevada and left to marry. My sister came to Nevada to marry.) So that meant Colorado or somewhere else. Reno is also 12 miles to the California border and one of the big draws is Lake Tahoe. Close enough for us to plan, yet attractive enough to people who might want to travel. Also on that note, we could in theory invite loads of people, no one would feel left out, but few would probably actually attend. We had our locale selected.

My first choice in date was August 19, 1999 as that was my grandfather's birthday and his and my grandmother's anniversary. But 3 months to plan a wedding, by ourselves, was way too much to handle.

We pulled out the calendar and looked more seriously at dates. March 18th jumped out at me. If it wasn't going to be August 19th, it had to have an 8 in it. And the 18th was a Saturday. I didn't want to be a sweaty summer bride, and the following fall was too far away. March 18th was Spring Break too, which was nice and convenient being I was a graduate student. It was perfect.

Slowly but surely the details started falling into place. A venue was the first objective... my first choice was the resort at Squaw Valley since we were both skiers. They were excited to host a wedding, and while a little pricey, we could swing it. Then they laughed when I told them it would be March 18th. No way were they closing their restaurant during Spring Break! This was Lake Tahoe and by the way, was I nuts?!

There was no convincing them and they recommended we consider May for our wedding if we really wanted it at Squaw.

We checked everywhere and only found cheese on the Nevada side and small quaint, expensive as hell restaurants on the California side. I was saved when I read in one of my umpteen wedding planning books a recommendation to seek out different venues... like a college.

There was a college at Tahoe, Sierra Nevada College. See the picture on the front page (not the snowboarder, not the library). This was it. The place where my reception was held. And on the cheap too.

We met the director of food services and she was thrilled to do our wedding. She had an impressive resume being one of the original owners of McCormicks and Schmicks in Seattle. She was bought out by a partner and relocated/retired to Tahoe to plan meals for the spoiled rich kids whose parents could afford the $35K a year for a private liberal arts college situated conveniently at the base of a ski area.

(We benefited from this. Fantastic food, fantastic venue, a hobby for the chef, a chance for her to shine and have fun, and payment? Oh they would work with us. (We actually had to insist after 3 months she send a statement to us... it had slipped her mind.) I think we paid $15-20 a head for smoked salmon, brie, fruit, plated walnut pear salads, prime rib, and salmon and sides. Incredible. )

Once our venue was selected we secured our other vendors... cake, DJ (worthy of a post unto itself... I am restraining my fast fingers here), and florist though we ordered very few flowers... we wanted the natural beauty of our selected church (on the California side - an important detail) and reception hall to stand out.

We went about looking for a photographer. Everyone we met we figured, ehh... they would work. Then we met John Clausen. He was a photographer for Ski Magazine who dabbled in weddings on the side.

Our budget was then broken. I couldn't even look at another photographer.

I needed a dress, we selected our wedding party (my bridesmaids were my sister, Vargas Girl and AB's little sister, AB's groomsmen were his best friend JB and his two brothers), they needed dresses (not the boys, the girls did), AB needed to decide on tuxes, favors, out of town guests, invitations to be made (yes, I handmade our invitations and Vargas Girl handmade the vellum envelopes) etc, etc. And the honeymoon! After much debate we decided it would be Costa Rica. It was out of the US, tropical, yet adventurous, there was an active volcano there (still is) and most of all... cheap.

One of the sticking points in wedding planning came in trying to find an organist... we couldn't find one. Apparently the church had an organ, but no organist because there were none to be found in the area. What would I march down the aisle to?

One of AB's high school friends came to the wedding... Stefan, a musician living in Seattle would fly down (at our expense... he was a musician and all) and stay with AB's friends in the condo they rented together. (Thanks again guys.)

It got done. The wedding was planned. We used to joke about AB's future in wedding planning. He enjoyed it all and was quite good at it. I could have never done it without him.

Before we knew it, the guests started arriving.

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