It simply all flew by too fast.
Not enough pictures to tell the story. But these shall suffice ;)
It goes without saying that the moment I touchdown in Pittsburgh, all that's on my mind tends to dissapate and I'm engulfed by the comforts of home. Home even equals the smell (I know, who am I?) of the Pittsburgh International Airport which seriously takes me back everytime I deboard a flight. It was time with my parents spent solo which is a rare blessing. A Loafers lunch. A pop in to the Wexford wine & spirits and not getting carded (damnit.) It was an long overdue evening spent in Mt. Lebo for a dinner party at SKr's childhood home + a savory meal with her parents and family friends. It was hours and hours scattered intermittently of CBA updates and presentation details. It was an afternoon of wine tasting and presents galore with women showering SEP with love (two months and counting!). It was an evening with old friends at Jax's house where (I always say this) conversation lasts until 330am and can jump from "ooo how do you make that salad dressing" to "wait, rewind, he said WHAT?" about relationship dynamics and the like in the same breath and sentence. It was flying back with SKr on Sunday and pretending we're sisters and swapping seats to sit next to each other and having the travel time whiz by in a snap.
It simply all flew by too fast.
Not enough pictures to tell the story. But these shall suffice ;)
Sister's professional wedding pics came in! Going through each one had us reliving the day in its entirity. What a most perfectly THEM kind of celebration...can't say it enough....(below in order of favorites;)
So in love!
Dad's amazing rendition of "To Make You Feel My Love" during the ceremony.
Me & Collier (Brady's sis) smiling on....
The "CuzBudz"...when the 6 of us cousins were little and would family vacation together, our parents allowed us to believe that we were a rockband (I kid you not.) This is our reunion pic ;)
I mean...what a goodlooking couple!
The series of me nailing my speech. Sisterly pride right here!!
It started off just as so:
*perfectly sunny and crisp Friday NYC evening
*important guests arrive from Russia and London (!!)
*hi's and hugs and "so good to see you!"s echo in St. Xavier
*the rehearsal begins church, eyes stare in awe of the beauty of the murals
*the energy is high
*the anticipation higher
*the last Markle brother ready to be a husband
*the gorgeous Irina ready to be Mrs. Markle #4 ;)
And it was underway! The wedding weekend of such an important couple in our lives: Lee's brother Andrew and his (now wife!) Irina. A blending of cultures in the most fabulous of ways. After the rehearsal we headed to Blue Water Grill for dinner in the vault! BWG was once a bank and the nooks and crannies of this restaurant give it such an old world (almost Titanic-like) feel as you venture down the marble staircase where the private dining experience awaited us. My in-laws have the rehearsal dinner agenda and flow down to a science. Personal stories and anecdotes of the bride and groom filled the vault with laughter and heartfelt tears.
My sweet sis-in-law Neha's welcoming of Irina into our family left me welling up with tears, unable to look up. Neha, Irina and I share such a unique connection as the wives of those Markle brothers, a special club of 3 that can only understand what it's like to be married to one of the "boys" ;)
Elena, Irina's mother's toast also struck a chord within me, as she spoke to her only child, her daughter Irina, with her best friend since childhood by her side. Nicholai traveled from Moscow to celebrate Andrew & Irina's marriage and their friendship, standing not just the test of time but different continents was a powerful example of a lifelong frinedship. She spoke to the love of one's friends, the community of support that augments any marriage and family circle. She talked honestly (as Russians do;) and charged the room to hold on to those dear friends that have been with us through our lives, that even through the distance, disagreements, careers and choices, those that you have known since childhood and still have now....those friendships...THOSE are ones to nuture. And to hold on to tightly. To respect the changes that inevitably occur as we age. But in those differences grows understanding and a bond that is ever so deep. My mind immediately wandered to my own friendships since childhood: Jax, my first friend when we moved to Wexford. Who share the same 7year old memories that I do. I'm not sure there is a word powerful enough to convey the importance of that person's role in giving perspective to life. Elena, thank you for your words and the reflection is granted me...
Wedding Saturday rolled around the following day, Dad got to town, we rehearsed our song, and caught up over another batch of my (now famous;) chicken noodle soup. The song? "The Wedding Song" by Paul Stookey which was sung at our wedding last December and at so many of the guests in attendance weddings' as well. Having not sung in public in YEARS, my nerves were high, but as soon as we got up to the alter and it began, they melted away. To sing for Irina & Andrew on the most important day of their lives was a powerful moment for me to share with my Dad.
Irina was breathtakingly beautiful as she walked down the aisle in a dress so perfect for her in detail and style. The ceremony, presided by the childhood priest & family friend of the Markles, Fr. Ed, was full of love and sentiment. Jaina was not too sure about walking down the aisle this time around as flower girl, but as soon as the ceremony ended that personality emerged and she was a total riot from start to finish. And hands down the most adorably cute toddler in that white tafetta dress, matching fur cape and silver glitter shoes ;) Other highlights of my darling niece include her hilariuos commentary all night long:
"Uncle Lee, you're so SILLY!" -Jaina, hardly able to contain herself laughing with the crowd during Lee's speech.
"This is PopPop's car!" -Jaina, as we drove to photos in Washington Square Park in the hummer limo.
"I'll take the cheese sandwich!" -Jaina, upon sitting down at the dinner table, noticing the menu cards and placing her order ;)
Andrew & Irina, your love makes my heart swell. To many more shared memories as the years and decades pass and I wish you nothing but a lifetime of happiness! CHEERS (!!!)
ps: we're off to Barbados this week for our own anniversary celebration....what a YEAR. Back next weekend for and update that hopefully simply says: rest & relaxation x 5 days = heaven.
This was more than a wedding...this was a *fete*. A three day affair in Paradise Valley, Arizona that had all attendees best friends by the end and wondering when we could all get together again. Talk about a chapter in our Fall Wedding Circuit novel...one full of highlights, sun, southwest fliar and (naturally, a whole lotta) love.
A Top Ten Rundown of the Downing-Fletcher Wedding:
10. The Welcome Box: First of all, this was massive. And contained more treats and goodies than one could ever ask for. Combine this with the hotel's free warm chocolate chip cookies upon arrival and bam, you have yourself one happy pair. The agenda and contents welcomed us to AZ with such Linds & Brian-ness about it....and we were thrilled to get to experience it all. Including the rattlesnake eggs;)
9. Hiking Camelback Mountain: One of the best hikes I've ever had, strenuous but fun with sweeping views of the Valley. Covered in red rock dust and so thankful I brought my Merrell hiking boots, Thursday's hike was a total success! Add this to the "great memories as husband and wife" book on the ledge;)
8. Lunch @ ASU: What a gorgeous campus! I now know why my sweet friend EJ took one visit to ASU our senior year in high school and never turned back;) Mill Street (the College Ave of ASU for my PSU readers) is dotted with bars galore, great shops and outdoor eateries. Did I mention it is always sunny in Tempe? Yeah. The good life.
7. The Welcome Party: Let's make it very clear that the Downings know how to throw a party. In the gorgeous (and sprawling!) patio underneath the stars, they welcomed out of town guests with a mexican feast and margaritas. Hugs + tequilla + toasting to the bride & groom = so happy.
6. Mountain Biking in Sedona: It was up & at'em for us on Friday morning! A 2hr drive north and we arrived in Red Rock County. As you drive up highway 17 to Sedona, its colorful rocks peak out along the horizon and just beg you to come for a visit. After trying out the more extreme mountain bike trails at first (and a few tears shed by yours truly), we opted for a still hard, yet much more leisurly route. Only then was I a happy camper. After 4 hours, we made our way back to Paradise Valley with two really, really essential pit stops: In & Out Burger(overrated IMO)....and the JCrew Outlet(never overrated IMO). Also enroute home, we experienced our first desert haboob, ha! Dust storms are a crazy weather phenom in the southwest, but have no fear, we survived :)
5. Late Night with Linds & Brian: From outdoor adventuring to a cocktail party? Sign. Us. UP. The bride and groom were glowing after a wonderful rehearsal and more cheers filled the presidential suite of the hotel. I think Lee's words to Bri were "dude, where's the Tiger? Mike Tyson hanging out?". Just one awesome party space. (photo on left does not it justice but I had to post one w the Pi Phi gals;)
4. The Ceremony: In the words of a fellow guest, Liz...the only thing more beautiful than the setting was the bride. With Camelback mountain as the backdrop, rose petal lined aisle and country music playing in the background....this set quite the romantic tone. Que the wedding chills. I was so loving every second of this ;)
(Ps: can we address for one moment my Cruella D'Ville brunette strip of hair? UGH. Blonde failure. Highlights appointment made for Wednesday.)
3. The Details: If you know my Linds, noone is surprised by the absolute attention to detail in every capacity for this wedding but boy did she surprise us with some fun additions! From the white parasols, desert flowers, NYC destination placecards, old-world card box, "Eat Drink & Be Married" napkins, courtesy basket note in the restroom(my fav little touch) and signature Nittany-tini cocktails, to the double flavor strawberry shortcake & triple chocolate cake flavors, photo booth, love-themed candy after dinne treats, and the "Whoopie! We're Married" whoppie pie parting favor...it's safe to say, she thought of everything;)
2. The Costume Change: Take one barbie doll bride, the perfect gown, hair and makeup of the stars and then throw in a costume change? I mean...Linds, you knocked this one out of the park. A DVF(I'm guessing this based on a quick search) lace ditty and her patent leather red Louboutins, she was a vision and more in her element than I have ever seen her be.
1. The Love: I'm not sure I have the words to verbalize how perfect of a match and love L & B have. Their personalities mirror their excitement for life and it goes without saying their adoration for each other is so precious to witness. During one of the last songs of the night, with her new hubby spinning her around, Linds closed her eyes and you could tell she never felt more alive or happy than any other moment of life. *sighsighsighgushgushgush* Love you Mr. & Mrs. Fletcher (!!!) Thank YOU for allowing us to share in the most special weekend of your lives...
PPS: On a seperate note, I convinced 3 other wedding guests (Liz, Maggie and Lind's cousin Chad) to venture to bikram yoga Scottsdale on Saturday afternoon pre-ceremony. One of the toughest, hottest classes Ive ever experienced. Congrats to the newbies who survived one killer 90min session. I wanted to leave class, too;)
Tonight will be the night I document it all in detail...but here's a sneak peek at the video my Dad made for Eliz & Brady, shown at the rehersal dinner. Gets me everytime. *SIGH*
Love is in the air! And it's safe to say I'm very content with so many of our friends and family getting married these days. I know the time will come when 5-6-7 weddings a year will be a thing of the past and Lee & I will long for the reason to get dressed up, enjoy a cocktail hour (or two) and dance the night away. These wedding weekends also take on such a distinct character, really embodying the essence of the couple in their choices made from start to finish. Effortless, relaxed, calm were the bride and groom to be this time around.... with a side of fall foliage and perfect autumn breeziness to accompany their movements as they became husband & wife.
Lee and I fell in love with the South Berkshires area and the Hudson River Valley as a whole this past weekend, indulging in little side trips to go along with the wedding events. After a long week at work, it's exhausting sometimes to get in the car, battle the west side highway traffic, and navigate to an area in the pitch dark and pouring rain....but when we woke up on Saturday morning in our tiny rustic room at the Old Inn on the Green, we were so happy for the respite from the hussle bussle....and so excited to share in the joy of two good friends becoming partners for life.
Our home for the weekend: The Old Inn on the Green. Quaint is an understatement. Fresh baked scones and muffins, homemade granola, warm apple cider, french pressed coffee, wood burning fireplace in our room, soft and cozy blankets...how great are B&B memories? :)
Pre-ceremony hike around Bennedict Pond after yoga with the bride.
Mr. & Mrs. Bryan Birsic!
The Wexford contingency of friends:) We clean up well.
Sunday rolled around just like that. A leisurely drive back to the city allowed us to partake in some traditional American fall things: scenic drive, apple cider donuts (*best welcome bag addtion ever), a pumpkin patch/apple stand (!!!)...
Milbrook Winery for stop #2: tasting room shot, almost time to be harvested grapes, a moment of smiles amoung many during our walking tour of the vineyards.
The discovery that we were "close" to one of the few micro-distilleries in the NY area led to stop #3: Hudson Valley Distillers. Bourbon tasting on a Sunday after a wedding? Oh why not;)
We’ve all had a perfect weekend. Those really rare string of days where everything, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, goes and flows just too wonderfully, too succinctly, with more laughter and happiness than imagined....swooping in to beat the already high expectations and anticipations. Where the combination of personalities and timing and surprises all form this crazy & cosmically amazing 48 hours of life perfection.
And THAT is just how I would describe my little sister's bachelorette party weekend in NYC :)
Before I go into the rundown of events, these are those things that happened insanly too well:
*Liz’s flight from Chicago takes off on time and arrives in NYC early. (Chicago > NYC = never on time.) In fact, ALL guests from out of town arrive on time. That’s some travel karma awesomeness.
*The weather forecast for the weekend: 75, sunny and breezy all 3 days. Not a cloud in the sky sunny.
*SKr arrives at 530pm on Friday to help me with the final food prep. We finish the spread literally as the first girl arrives to my apt.
*Speaking of the spread, the amount of food and drink purchased was SPOT ON. This is so hard to predict with 11 girls. I win.
*Suprisingly not hungover on Saturday morning = 9am spin class before the bride to be wakes up. Who does this on a crazy busy weekend? Certainly not normal me. But it felt great!
*Make quiche from scratch for rooftop brunch post-spin. Finished 5min before girls arrive. Piping hot homemade quiche? Just call me Martha.
*Last decision manicures needed between pole dancing class and get-ready-for-night mode. Walk into QQ nails with 7 girls and we dont have appointments….and are able to accommodate. Unbelievable!
*Rooftop cocktails at night + group photo shoot on the roof with perfect empire state building backdrop. SKr gets to speak Spanish to our neighbors in the bldg. Happiness.
*Limo arrives and we were upgraded for FREE from a normal limo to a a mega one.
*Seated downstairs at dinner next to (wait for it)...a photo booth :) :)
*Complimentarty extra bottle of surprise champagne sent over by the manager of restaurant and his wife (a friend of mine from PSU). Chills.
*Large table at LPQ Meatpacking open & secured for a table of 10 for brunch on Sunday. THIS NEVER HAPPENS.
From start to finish this weekend's events went off without a hitch and was carried simply on life long friendship reunioning and lots of girly giggling. Friday night, I hosted a champagne party with all the tapas and small plates I could find @ Trader Joes. Mushroom truffle & tomato pesto pizzettas, parmesean artichoke dip, shrimp cocktail, greek salad, fruit & hummus and a fully loaded cheese plate (naturally) and......... the cupcake tower. Best Williams & Sonoma $26 purchase ever. We gabbed and told funny Liz stories, had a cameo by one of her favorite PSU guy friends, embarassed her with a game called "The Road to Brady" and caught up like any 9 girls do: swapping fashion steals, hair advice, travel tips, etc etc. And some good ol' fashioned poking fun at each other through the timeless art of storytelling. Half a case of brut cuvee later + 3 bottles of wine = kickoff to bachelorette weekend success!
On Saturday, (shocked at my very minimal hangover), I made my way to a 9am spin class to sweat it out and ward off any sleepies for the rest of the day. After spin, it was time for rooftop brunch with the girls and what brunch is complete without a quiche! Quiche, Brooklyn bagels, fruit salad and lots and lots of java. October 8th and we were sunning in NYC in the perfect indian summer breeze? Yes, please. Before we got too comfortable up there, it was off to our private pole dancing class! Hahahaha. I know, such a bachelorette staple. Perhaps overdone. But it is TOO great. For an hour, Miss T (the instructor....who gave us all stripper names...I was Chastity and my sister the bride to be....DIAMOND;) showed us some sweet pole moves and we all had a hilarious time trying to look half as natural and smooth as she did. We mastered the sexy strut around the pole. We did not master the double turn and seductive body rolling. Good times had by all.
Manicures were the next necessity of the afternoon and (while an unplanned part of the weekend), we miraculously scored 7 manicures at my fav QQ Nails in Chelsea without appointments! Lizzie & I went for a green-grey Essie color...tres chic. After the manis, it was already time to get ready for the big night out! All the girls arrived and we toasted to the bride to be, presented her with a special "Dear Liz" memory book and .... had her open some sweet lingerie gifts. I mean, who doesnt love a lacey nighty?!? (censoring other gifts given;) More kettles and sodas and it was to the roof for a photo with the gorgeously lit Empire State Building in the background. Always a sight to give even the most jaded New Yorker chills and perspective. I love my town :)
830pm on the dot and our limo arrived! Upgraded to an SUV one, we felt really special. Lizzie was donning her sash and veil and feeling the love. Dinner at the Smith was a feast with a perfect pre-fix menu that made everyone feel in foodie heaven (hello beer battered string beans, brown sugar short ribs, and goat cheese pesto ravioli.) The photo booth + Lizzie's toasting with each table + extra bottle of champagne sent from the manager + happy tears. Spectacular. By 1045, we were off to the main event : Rubix Cube at the Canal Room! A must for anyone who ever visits or lives in NYC....Rubix Cube is an 80s cover band to rival all others. I mean, one time I went and Debbie Gibson actually showed up to sing with them. $20 ticket = best ever. And sister got pulled up on stage to dance and twirl and belt out "Pour Some Sugar On Me" with the band. True story. The "younger" gals made their way to after party themselves out at Sandra's apartment and Mama MOH (me) face planted into bed to catch some Zzzzs. What a night. What a weekend. What a celebration with the ladies who love her most for my sis! 3 weeks til the wedding...woohoo!
PS: Photo dump from the weekend. Overload. Sorry!
October is a month full of wedding celebrations GALORE. In just 31 days, Lee and I will cumulatively attend/host a shower, 3 bachelor/ette parties, and 2 weddings (!!!). Having gone through our own wedding parties last Fall, it feels so good to honor these couples who were so supportive of our Big Day with an equal amount of fun, love and gifts in return ;)
Andrew & Irina's beautiful couple's shower in Pennsylvania on Saturday night started the month off on the right foot and was a gorgeous celebration for an equally gorgeous couple. Mike & Marlene (my in-laws) both spoke to the smile that became so permanent on Andrew's face since finding Irina.....and Irina's parents both gave beautiful Russian toasts to the bride & groom to-be, wishing them a lifetime of health as it is the crux of life....and to always nurture the love that they have right now. Nostrovia ;-)
And as was read by my Mom at my Pittsburgh wedding shower as well as by my childhood friend Jackie at our wedding, I was so happy to share the "Fall in Love" poem by Pedro Arrupe with all guests on Saturday evening.
Fall in Love
Nothing is more practical than finding God,
that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings,
what you will do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.
Pedro Arrupe, S.J.
The cadance of this poem read aloud gets me everytime. Arrupe's words are so delicate and soft yet deeply moving in the most basic of ways. There's a lot of love in our own world these days, so much so that I want to bottle it up and put it on my bedside stand for when hardships and difficult times arrise. And they will come at some point, no life is void of them. But for now, I feel blessed to be in a life-is-better-than-good chapter and I am so very grateful.
PS: and on a girly note, my wedding Louboutins came back (had them dyed black) and they are perrrrrfect. I'm not sure why a shoe makes me feel so giddy but these certainly do. (probably because this is the first and last pair I will ever own ;)
With just two months and 3 days til our 1st anniversary, I thought it was time I learned how to use iMovie and put some wedding photos to music. (I've also been charged with the difficult task of choosing our favorite photos to put in an album and it is HARD.) Our photographer took the most amazing photojournalistic style pictures to document our big day. Each moment captured the essence of our love, friends and family with such delicate precision...an artistic eye for snapping the most perfect glimpses of December 4th, 2010. When I look back from the first to the last, I honestly relive each second of the day and it is incredible. (and now I'm crying.) The story of us....Enjoy!
Same idea. Different couple! How unique an experience for two sisters to marry two best friends and share wedding celebrations just a year apart. It was home to Pittsburgh for me (Lee had his annual fishing trip and sadly had to miss out) to get the wedding hoopla rolling with a perfectly Kernion-style engagement party: tons of asian food from Lulu's Noodles, ladylocks from my Aunt Patty, "pop" and some adult beverages, and....an ice cream cake :)
The whole day could not have gone over any better and the happiness of Elizabeth & Brady is so evident to anyone that spends even a moment of time with them. Saying they are a perfect match is an understatement. They define it :)
PS: Before the festivities got under way, I was able to zip downtown (seriously, you can get anywhere in Pgh in 15min, it's amazing) and do a drop-in class at Bikram Yoga Pittsburgh(!!). I had heard through a friend that this studio strongly discourages drinking of water during class. I was up for the challenge and actually applaud studios who form their own identity within the constrictions of the 26-posture structure that is Bikram's style. Shannon the instructor was fantastic and the community of practioners is strong. I yearn for this in NYC, but I think there are just too many people that frequent a studio and not on any normal schedule that you just dont get to know individuals like you would in a smaller town. But I digress. Upon entering the room, I noticed it felt cold. Okay, maybe not cold....but breezy and the same temp as outside. The room slowly started to warm but in general (another quirk of the studio?) is that they may teach at a lower temp (perhaps closer to 100-105) where I'm used to 115-120. It made the no water thing an afterthought (wow am I actually normalizing to 120degree yoga? proud moment) and at no point was I waiting for the natural breaks in class to chug some H20. Perhaps it was just my body on that day, perhpas just the different environment. It was a welcomed change of pace :) And either way, BYPgh is doing an amazing service to the yogis in town by offering this form of yoga and being such a supportive group of instructors. And they have a resident juice maker who bottles their own green liquids for after class! HUGE WIN.
PPS: I cannot leave this weekend update without sharing the amazing cuteness of my friend Jax. She and her bf recently rented a home in my hometown and while they were out of town for the weekend she offered to let me pop by and snoop around to see the place. (And left me the most adorable note(!!) with a teapot and loose tea to sit and take in the summer sounds of a truly Pittsburgh warm late September night.) Having a lifelong friend take this next step in cultivating a first home with the one they love is so special to me. The personal touches to the house and the gorgeous patio and foliage in their backyard made me feel so proud of them....Big steps and life in the making.
PPSS: I love Pittsburgh. I loved being welcomed by Franco and George. I love that we had Sat night dinner at Eat 'N Park. I love that Giant Eagle goes ga-ga for the black & gold. I love the Strip District's sale of ridiculous Steelers paraphernalia. I love the yinzers walking the streets. I love everything about it. And I specifically love this t-shirt: Drink Up Yinz Bitches.
Sarah: one part of a family of THREE with my husband Lee and sweet girl Morgan, simply wanting to chronicle the path I'm on and the path that will come to be. For now it's NYC urban mamaville where everyday is a new adventure! (Actually, just getting to the post office is an adventure.)
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