#TheVictimWedding Part 1

I’m in no way going to attempt to tell the story of our wedding week and mini moon in one post. I can’t sit still for that long, and I wouldn’t want to torture you by making you scroll endlessly.

Needless to say, our wedding week was CRAZYTOWN U.S.A. In the months and weeks leading up to our wedding, I really thought I was going to go legitimately crazy from the stress, drama, and fighting. Note to self: next time, fight harder for the things you want in the beginning, especially when you know EXACTLY how things will turn out if you don’t.

For nearly a week straight, I drank Pepto Bismol like water. If you don’t think stress causes your internal organs, namely your stomach and intestines, to go completely berserk, then you clearly have never planned a wedding. Ours had a guest list topping out at 382. Thankfully, only around 280 came, so yeah, there’s that too.

I’m also not very good at keeping surprises, so holding all of it in, the stress, the surprises, the procrastinating, the not fighting-Timmy’s-battles-even-though-I-wanted-to-so-bad stuff, took their toll on my body and mental health. Two days before the wedding, Timmy and I went to dinner where we discussed how in the future, event planning will go one of two ways: either I do everything with little to no input from Timmy OR there is no event.

Seems reasonable, right?

We spent Memorial Day weekend as the calm before the storm. It was us two and Floyd, beaching it, sleeping in, enjoying what we could before we had to pack up and head to Atlanta. It really was glorious.

Photo May 30, 8 17 29 PMPhoto May 30, 8 19 08 PM

We arrived in Atlanta on Tuesday evening after a 7 hour drive. It was a PAIN in the ass to try to remember to bring all the wedding stuff that we had stored in our tiny little apartment. With my checklist in hand, I made sure we packed every last item. However, as soon as Timmy got his hands on one of our marquee letters that had been hanging in our apartment for MONTHS, he immediately broke one of the bulbs at the stem.

Imagine the scene, will you. We’re already leaving 4-5 hours later then planned, Timmy’s to-do list hasn’t gotten any shorter, and he breaks a bulb.

Now imagine my brain exploding.

So after that fun experience, we hit the ground running in Atlanta. My mom and I knocked so many things off the to-do list that weren’t necessarily big things, but small things that were growing by the minute. The poster program had to be printed and backed. Check. We had to drop off all the decorations at our event designer. Check. We had to get a new bulb and back up bulbs from Home Depot for the marquee letters. Check.

It felt like it went on and on. And this doesn’t even include Timmy’s list that he left for the last minute.

We did make time to stop by our friends, Matt and Lindsey’s house to give them a reprieve from a tough year, even if it was only for about an hour. We gifted them a couple’s massage and I watched their son for them so they could get out of the house and reconnect. It was probably the best idea Timmy and I had this entire time. I highly recommend that in the thick of wedding planning that you do something for someone else. It got our minds off of things and helped us focus on what matters: friends and family in our lives.

Thursday night, I had a wonderful night at home hanging out with my family that had come from so far. We danced, drank LOTS of cava, and relaxed before the craziness of the weekend began.

Friday rolled around and I started the day off with a hike up Stone Mountain with 4 of my friends from my bridal party. It was amazing. Getting a good sweat, seeing all of Atlanta, spending some much needed quality time with my friends…it was the best start to our weekend. We even got done faster than expected, so once I got back to my parents’, I decided to watch Harry Potter until the verrrrryy last minute.

Those were the last moments I had to myself for the rest of the weekend.

We headed over to our next door neighbor’s house where our neighbors threw me the best bridal luncheon ever. It was EXACTLY what I wanted and what I needed. The most important people of my life were all there: those I grew up with, the women of my family, my bridal party, my best friends. It was low-key, delicious, and so so so fun to catch up in an intimate setting.

Of course I cried. Who wouldn’t??

Then we headed over to our hotel, the Glenn Hotel, our home base for the weekend. Our friend Mathew scored us a SICK deal on the penthouse, and we’re still amazed at what he was able to do for us. It was HUGE, posh, and completely sexy. It was awesome! We grabbed our shuttle bus with the grooms’ party and headed over to our venue, the Foundry at Puritan Mill for the rehearsal.

That was quite the clusterf**k. Imagine 24 people plus 4 parents plus the engaged couple plus our officiant and music man plus our wedding planner. It was ridiculous. Timmy’s side tended to not shut up the entire time we were up there and it took EVERYTHING I had not to just completely lose my mind at them. With the stress of everything just starting to bubble over, I was reaching my breaking point with the drama and disrespect. But I held it in and made sure we got through it, blow-up free.

See, I’m improving.

I can’t fathom trying to do something like this again, and although I don’t regret our wedding weekend AT ALL, I still wish I had gotten something more intimate, something smaller, something more, for lack of a better word, calm. Some people really did go off the deep-end in the planning of this wedding, and I can’t help but think that if the sheer magnitude and scale of this wedding had been eliminated from the beginning, the drama would have decreased significantly.

Or not at all. Who knows.

All I know is that it was the greatest weekend of our lives. Words don’t exist to describe it at all. But when you make your wedding as personal as we did, the effects are felt and are lasting. Stay tuned for #thevictimwedding rehearsal dinner.

♥, VB

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The People You Turn Into

What is it about weddings that can turn a person inside out? What happens in a person that makes them either go to the light or the dark side?

If there’s anything I’ve learned about wedding planning (and there have been many lessons), it’s that people change when it comes to weddings. Weddings can either amplify the good nature within people or it brings out the crazy. The complete bat-shit crazy.

Sound familiar? Here’s some of the people you might meet, the good and the bad, after you get engaged:

  1. Butt-Hurt McGee

This person is sooooooooooooo offended that you didn’t ask them to be in the wedding party/throw a shower/include them in your day somehow. In fact, they’re so butt hurt by not being included that they’ll throw shade every which way they can by turning down invitations to parties, not answering phone calls or texts, and even threatening to not go to your wedding.

This person will basically be absent for you during wedding planning. Even if you were close before, they will vanish anytime you call or try to hang out. There’s nothing you can do to make up for the terrible “rift” your decisions have caused the relationship, mainly because the “rift” is made up and not that serious.

Depending on your level of closeness, you can decide to really put some effort into repairing the relationship and addressing the conflict or just walk away.

2. The Nickle and Dimer

This person is so obsessed with the bottom line that they’d rather you have your wedding in a parking lot and ask people to bring their own chairs, booze, and food than try to pay for anything over the budget. They can’t see the end picture because they’re so bogged down with the small details that nearly every decision ends in a stalemate and uber frustration.

No doubt, this was me at the very beginning of wedding planning. I was so overwhelmed with the high price tags of everything wedding-related that I basically shut down and cried every day. The guilt of a big budget followed by millions of decisions made me the human version of a IED. Want to know when the next explosion is? Just say the price tag and KABOOM.

3. Me, Myself, and I

This person has made it clear that your wedding is all about them. Every question they ask is all about them. “How am I supposed to get around town?” “Who is going to watch my kids?” “How could you NOT want to meet my child?” “Can you do this for me?” “Can you do that for me?” “Your wedding locations are really inconvenient for me.” “Me me me me.”

This is the worst person ever. Not only can they not understand that your wedding is about you and your fiance, they make it a point to let you know any chance they get that if you’re not meeting their every need, they’re not happy for you in the least bit. Not until you switch the focus to them, that is. Then they’re overjoyed at the chance to have a me-party during your big day.

4. The Worrier

This person is worrying about everything and they’re not even the one getting married. They will contact you obsessively about every little detail, even ones that have nothing to do with them or their duties. “Has anyone done this yet?” “Where am I supposed to meet you?” “I emailed/texted/called you 1 hour ago, why haven’t you responded?” “Who is picking this person up?” “Why don’t I know everything that’s going on?”

This person is EXHAUSTING. I mean, 100% completely out of control debilitating. If the incessant calls/emails/texts don’t wear you down, then the million and one ridiculous “What if/then this?” made-up scenarios will stress you out so much you can’t help but lose it.

5. The “I’ve Forgotten How to Adult” adult

Normally, this person has everything in their life together. They have/had a job, pay their bills on time, may have a family, and is someone who typically handles their stuff. Yet, somehow wedding planning makes them question how they accomplish the simplest tasks day to day. “How do I get around a city I already live in?” “How do I get myself dressed and looking presentable on the wedding day?” “When and where am I supposed to feed myself?” “How are others supposed to feed themselves?”

This person will frustrate the crap out of you. No matter how many times you remind them that they normally drive themselves around, or that they can call a cab, or that they can hire someone to do stuff for them, they will continue to insist that they don’t know how to do these things. The easiest thing to do with this person is to ignore them until after the wedding.

6. The Ghost

Where has this person gone? You contacted them at the beginning to ask them to be a part of your wedding in some way, and they subsequently ghost you and never respond to anything again. In fact, you have to contact them 5 or more times before they respond, and who knows if they’re actually going to answer the questions you posed for them.

Sometimes your Ghost is Me, Myself, and I. They disappear until you can somehow make it about them again. And when you do, they’ll respond to you lightning fast as though they never ghosted you in the first place.

This person is different from Butt-Hurt McGee. They’re not offended or hurt, they’re just terrible at staying in contact. Even when they know it’s crucial to be around and accessible, they can’t get it together long enough to respond to emails/texts/calls in a timely manner. They simply, POOF, vanish from communication and you don’t know if they’re alive or dead anymore.

This person isn’t terrible, they’re just annoying as f^*k.

7. The “I’ve Lost My Mind and Will Make Terrible Decisions” friend

This person will out of nowhere and with no warning become your worst enemy at a moment’s notice. They will behave like a crazy person, make really terrible decisions (usually fueled by alcohol and a general unhappiness with their own life), and end up destroying the bond you may have had with them.

This person will generally not apologize. In fact, instead of apologizing, they’ll use any excuse to justify their bad behavior and question you for even bringing it up to them like they did anything wrong. This person is T.O.X.I.C. You may have seen some of the warning signs before but chose to ignore them because they never did anything bad to you in the past, and besides, it’s your wedding! Everyone will be on their best behavior, right? Right??

This person may make you question yourself and what you did to deserve this type of reaction. The person may also fuel the fire of other people’s bad behavior because they think they may be able to get away with acting out. Which will then make you question your relationships with these people in the first place.

This is not really the state of mind you want to find yourself in while you’re planning your own wedding. The best thing you can do is sever the tie and move on.

8. The Human Bra

Without question, this is who you want everyone associated with your wedding to be. These people are the most supportive, the most helpful, the most loving and caring people of all. Never hesitating to ask, “How can I help?” “Where do you need me?” “I’m here for you”, the human bra is the person and persons who will support you through the drama and help out when you’re about to lose your mind from all the stupid little decisions that have to be made.

They’ll text you out of the blue to tell you they love you and they’re excited for not just your wedding but also your marriage. They’ll do their best to keep the drama away from you and your fiance, attend all your functions, and never complain. Even if they can’t bring their children even though they want to (because duh, they love them), they say nothing and handle their lives efficiently so that they can help you out.

I’m happy to report that the human bra is everyone on my side. They have gone out of their way to make me feel special and loved and excited for my wedding and my marriage. They’ve even done the same for Timmy, just to make him feel all the love and support that I’ve received. I just can’t get enough of them!

——–

Obviously, I’m exaggerating a bit and poking fun not just at the people I’ve met during my own wedding planning, but stories I’ve heard from friends who had their own fair share of craziness during their weddings. You can only control what you can control. and although some of these personalities have driven me crazy, I’m choosing to focus on the good. The good being my friends, family, and of course, Timmy.

2 weeks. Let’s do this.

♥, VB

Lessons Learned from Wedding Planning

The follow-up sentence to this title should read: from someone who is known as a control freak by everyone who knows her and also has mild OCD.

I realized how much time has passed since we got engaged when a co-worker a few days ago asked if I had found my dress yet, and I replied, “Yes, just this past November.”

Pause. Not November 2015. NOVEMBER 2014, OVER A YEAR AGO.

So yeah, we’ve been planning our wedding for quite a while now. And our wedding planner reminded us we only have 18 weeks left until our wedding, which ended up with Timmy and I dry heaving a bit at this news. Things haven’t felt all that stressful the last 6 months or so, simply because we got most everything completed as soon as we set the date.

I know I’m quite different from most people in this world. Organized doesn’t even begin to describe how I operate. I see the world not how it is, but how I can group like things with like and how quickly can I accomplish challenges and to-do lists. So once Timmy and I set the date, off I went like a horse out of the gate.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned over the process of planning a wedding for a date 1.5 years after getting engaged. I tried to give us enough time to do what we needed to do (from a different state) while also giving us a cushion of time to also do the dirty work of getting used to what life would be like as a married couple. So many lessons however were ones that came out of left field for me.

I originally scheduled dress shopping at only two small stores in Atlanta Thanksgiving weekend in 2014 simply to placate my sister and mother, who were quickly starting down the “when are you going to start planning” path. I figured dress shopping would calm them down.

Lesson #1: Expect the Unexpected

…like buying a dress before you thought you would and before you have a budget.

I had ZERO plans to buy a dress. And lo and behold, I found my dress at the last store we went into, La Raine’s Bridal Boutique in Virginia Highlands. Correction: my sister found my dress, which was the last one of the day, and I had already changed back into my clothes when my sister brought me the dress. I immediately said, “Oh. My. God.” when I put it on, and the consultant reminded me that this dress was the only one I had a reaction to.

And then I knew. Done. Check. Dress found.

The whole thing happened faster than I had intended, and all of the sudden, with that decision, wedding planning had begun. I wholeheartedly had planned on waiting MONTHS before starting any type of planning with Timmy.

Expectations mean next to nothing when it comes to wedding planning.

Even though it wasn’t the color I wanted, it wasn’t ever what I had envisioned, it was definitely my dress. Which leads me to my second lesson-

Lesson #2: Compromise Will Save You…and Your Sanity

I tried on maybe 20 dresses at both stores. And once I found my dress, I stopped the search and never looked back. I’m the best decision-maker ever (although some have called me impulsive, including myself). I make decisions quickly, with assertiveness and acceptance. Timmy, well, not so much.

I learned maybe 1 minute into our wedding planning that everything I learned about being with Timmy would have to be applied times 10 to the planning process or else we were going to kill each other. I would make a list of decisions that needed to be made, asked him to honestly decide if he cared about those decisions, and the ones he agreed to, I gave him 2-3 weeks to marinate before re-addressing the issues.

That way, I wasn’t all down his grill about deciding things on my schedule, and I still got a decision made by him in a timely fashion.

Obviously, not all decisions have worked like this, but I would say, once we found our groove, probably 75% of the decisions were solved in this way.

I have compromised on nearly every aspect that I thought I would have very strong opinions about. When it came down to it, if it seemed like Timmy felt stronger about something than I did, I let him have it his way. Now, some of those decisions are biting us in the ass a bit now, and I wish I had fought more for some of the things that are going exactly the way I predicted, but hindsight, blah blah blah.

Lesson #3: You Have to Let It Go

Making decisions between Timmy and I has never been an easy thing. I knew heading into this we would really be testing our relationship in ways that I hadn’t anticipated. At the end of the day however, we both realized that we had to let it go. Resentments? Let it go. Anger? Let it go. Confusion and frustration? Let it go.

And I don’t mean let it go like “never discuss it and get over it.” I mean, talk. Talk. More talking. Talk more than you thought you needed to. And then talk again.

Talking through everything that popped up, no matter how insignificant the emotion or issue, made us get on the same page. There was no other option than to be in sync with each other.

And after talking, we realized the issues or things we were so worked up about, NOW we could just let them go.

Lesson #4: You Have to Be on the Same Team. Period.

There has been some drama pop up here and there, like everyone experiences when you attempt to bring two families and two sets of friendships together. If Timmy and I had been divided on anything, we would probably not be wedding planning at this point anymore.

The first issue that ever popped up, the one that blindsided us completely, and had us scrambling to re-evaluate some friendships and trusted loved ones, FORCED us to be on the same team. He had to have my back and I had to have his. We knew we could NOT have opposing or conflicting statements, emotions, or decisions. Any sign of us not being together on it would have severely affected the emotional state of the other person and could have torn us apart.

Once we realized how strong our teamwork was and how it made our vision complete, we have been on the same team on everything else since then. There are no ifs, ands, or butts on this one.

Lesson #5: Still Date Each Other

This one got much easier once we moved back in together at the beginning of this month. Timmy and I hadn’t lived together in 2 years, so every weekend we spent together, going back and forth between Orlando and St. Pete was always filled with dinners out and about.

But during the week, it was usually a call once or twice a day, and then a quick FaceTime right before going to bed. Love was there, but connecting is quite challenging that way.

Once we moved back in, we promised each other a number of things that we’ll see how well we can stick to them over time. The one thing we HAVE done is cook meals and sit down at the dinner table nearly every night for almost 4 weeks. No t.v., no phones, no distractions. Just us.

It can be easy, after 6.5 years together, to start to take each other for granted. And yes, for the record, I’ve heard 90% of Timmy’s life stories a million times now. But that shouldn’t keep us from spending real time together. Time enjoying meals cooked together or by the other partner. Time looking at each other, time not rushed, time for us.

It’s only been a month of living in my less than 800 square foot, one bedroom, one bath apartment, a place we were CERTAIN would make us kill each other in no time at all, and we have grown so much closer, it’s insane. In our cozy little apartment, it feels more like home than any other place we’ve lived together.

Lesson #6: Use Who You Hire

We made about 93% of the decisions on our own. And yes, one of our first decisions was to hire a wedding planner. But I’ve only used her for her expertise maybe 3 times in almost a year.

Why? Like most things in life, sometimes it’s just easier when you do it yourself. I used the internet, my wise friends and family, and my gut to make decisions and hire vendors that fit our vision. I talked to my most organized friends and they gave me what they had when they were planning their own wedding.

I quite clearly can do this all myself. I involved Timmy on the things he asked to be involved in. But at the end of the day, I struggled with figuring out how to use my wedding planner.

And then, MONTHS after already printing out the invitations and having them sit in my apartment for close to 9 months now, my wedding planner caught the only typo that 6 of us who reviewed the invitation never caught.

And my heart fell through my butt.

Obviously (well not really as she had to explain this to me on the phone yesterday) proofreading every important document is a wedding planner’s duty. [Thankfully, the typo is not a big deal or else I would have to order brand new ones. Most people won’t even catch it when they receive the invite. Whew.]

So that naturally led to discussions of the guest list (which so far, has really been the only point of true contention between Timmy and I). And she reminded me of the million and one things to remember when addressing envelopes (which are stupid and I hate them), so she reminded me that she also can look through the guest list to review everything there.

I mean, these are things that it didn’t even occur to me to use her for. I didn’t need her help in picking out invites. We didn’t want to spend a fortune because everyone just throws them away anyways, and we weren’t going to design some floral, romantic, girly thing from scratch. We didn’t want to spend money on calligraphy since the envelopes are the first to go in the trash. But what she did remind me was that since the invites are technically from my parents, they would want calligraphy on the envelopes since it’s a thoughtful and very beautiful touch.

She helped steer us to some vendors that have been amazing so far, but the band was all us, color choices were me, outfits us, wedding page me, music selection us. Her expertise was so invaluable at the beginning when I didn’t know how to talk to vendors, how to look at proposals, how to not work with some vendors, spatial design and decor for a room the size of ours.

If you hire a wedding planner or day-of-coordinator, USE THEM. Don’t believe for a second, since you’re so organized, you don’t need them until the day of. I could’ve saved SO MUCH TIME just reviewing all my decisions directly with her instead of searching the internet like a mad woman for proper etiquette, yada, yada, yada.

Lesson #7: Poof! There Goes Your Budget

You have set ideas how things will go. I wanted to elope and avoid spending money of any kind. I wanted the whole thing to be about the two of us, that’s it. And Timmy felt very strongly that NO.

All of the sudden, we were planning a wedding that I didn’t really want. My parents gave us a budget (because they are amazing and OMG how incredible are they?!!) and it didn’t work with the amount of people on the list. Then they raised it. And it still didn’t work. And they raised it again. And the whole time Timmy and I kept fighting about the guest list and the amount of money I felt we were spending and at the same time wasting.

And then we had another budget increase from Timmy’s mother, and all of the sudden, our costs went crazy. It was like there was no limit on something I had desperately wanted limits for. And I felt crushed. Crushed by guilt. Crushed by the loss of the way I had wanted things to turn out.

If you don’t put your foot down, your budget will explode in your face. My parents gave us, quite frankly, a VERY healthy budget and it still wasn’t enough to satisfy some people’s desires. Instead of buckling down and saying from the very beginning, oh well, we can’t have everything and everyone we’ve known our whole lives at this wedding, we’re still running into issues around the guest list now.

But because we’re also on the same team, these later challenges have felt much easier to handle since we’re both shouldering the effort.

Lesson #8: Plan for the Marriage, Not the Wedding

Like I said before, we have had a long engagement intentionally. At the very beginning, I had a VERY hard time adjusting to this new course in life. I hated everything that we were doing and everything that we had to keep making decisions on.

And now, I’m loving it. I love planning. I love making decisions. We’re at a really good place where now all I am is excited for our wedding. I’m not dreading it, I’m not sad or guilty or anything else but stoked to party with all our friends. I’m so excited, some days I’m ready for it to be tomorrow.

But we 100% haven’t forgotten that the wedding is one day. The real thing is the marriage. The wedding is temporary, a memory that hopefully we’ll be able to store away as much as we can for as long as we can, but a marriage is forever. Whenever we’re with our married friends, one of my first questions is “What is your advice to us?”

I’m craving time with Timmy, even in our cramped apartment, because soon, he will be my husband (I’m still making gagging noises when I say that, so clearly I’m not 100% ready). I need to know him better, I need to trust him more than ever, I need to feel like we’re both fully committed to this partnership. Not that I haven’t felt any of those things before. I just need them more now.

Because marriage is the hard stuff. Picking out vases and candles and outfits and paper for invitations is not hard. That stuff is NOTHING compared to what kind of life marriage brings two people. And it’s a part of life that Timmy and I have zero context for because we’ve never been married.

It’s the fear and uncertainty of the unknown that is keeping my brain up at night sometimes. Even when my heart is settled and sure and dedicated.

So through all these lessons, this roller coaster of emotions spent on a million plus decisions for this wedding, I still repeat what I said almost one year ago:

“The happy is being with my partner, the happy is spending a life exploring each other and this world, the happy is making him laugh for years to come, the happy is in the celebration of this love.

The happy is Timmy. Which will be my mantra from here until our wedding day.”

♥, VB

Costa Rica

December started with a trip we had been planning forever and then POOF it was here. We went to Tamarindo, Costa Rica for my college friend Taamy’s wedding to her perfect match Dave. It all started with the card enclosed in our goody bag and ended with some of the best memories I’ll take to the grave.

We flew from Tampa to Atlanta, Atlanta to Liberia, Costa Rica. From there, we took a shuttle about an hour away to Tamarindo, a little surfer town right on the Pacific, close to the Nicaragua-side of Costa Rica. It was so cute and really hopping, with tons of shops, restaurants, and surfer hang-outs. We got to Hotel Pasatiempo, and tried to get a quick nap in before walking around and exploring the place.

Taamy is that friend (we all have one) who can’t wait to start planning her next exotic vacation, who will try anything once and more times if she likes it, who is fearless, beautiful, and fun fun fun. We were so honored to be invited to this intimate shin-dig and we were incredibly emotional to see their love and gratitude for their wedding weekend. Timmy actually had a moment during the ceremony where he couldn’t stop crying, it was really that overwhelmingly touching.

The first night we got there was the joint Bachelor-Bachelorette party at Casa Alang-Alang, the house that Taamy and Dave rented for the week. There was a moment where I was dancing on the side of one of their many infinity pools at the house they were staying at. All of the sudden, I got pushed into the pool, fully clothed. Now, I’m not one for drama, but if there’s ever a reason to get pissed off beyond belief, it would be when a grown ass adult pushes another grown ass adult into a pool fully clothed in a pretty dress.

Well, I did nothing because it was a wedding celebration party for Dave and Taamy and I will NEVER be THAT person who starts fights and takes attention away from the couple. I went upstairs, asked Taamy for a change of clothes, and obviously had to explain what happened, but I left it at that. Taamy and Dave were PISSED. I kept trying to diffuse the situation, but at this point, Taamy had had a few, and you could see the drunk spiral happen a mile away.

The next day, Taamy said she got so mad not because of the alcohol but because she hates when men think they can behave however they want around women because they’ve been drinking. I still think the spiral contributed to how upset she got, but either way, it was unfortunate and I wish it hadn’t happened. The guy who pushed me in however sent me and Timmy a nice bottle of sparking wine with a very classy apology note attached over the holidays, so it’s all good.

It was actually all good the first time he apologized, but I guess Taamy and Dave really let him have it later.

Their wedding was drop-dead gorgeous, their house was UNREAL (I mean it. It was like 10 bedrooms, owned by the guy who started Billabong and who owns Au Bon Pain, 3 infinity pools, and a cliffside view of the Pacific), their wedding vows were real and deep, and we couldn’t be happier that the two of these crazy people found each other in this world. Any opportunity to hang out with my college peeps is the best time ever.

Timmy learned from his Panama mishaps and decided to pack every undershirt he owns and also brought sweat towels. He DID NOT stop getting compliments from everyone on his suit choices and his towel decisions. He was so proud of himself. 🙂

There was a crazy, “This world is so small” moment we had while getting breakfast at a small place across the street from our hotel. We sat down and Timmy saw that the people next to us had an Oakland hat on. Taamy and Dave currently live in Oakland so it wasn’t a complete jump to assume they were there for the wedding. When we asked, they said no, they were actually on their honeymoon. This was the conversation.

Timmy: “Are y’all here for the wedding?”

Guy: “No, actually we’re here on our honeymoon.”

Timmy: “Oh cool, I thought you were since the bride and groom live in Oakland.”

Guy: “Nope, we live in Florida. We just got married in Orlando.”

Me: “Really?! I live in St. Pete and he lives in Orlando.”

Guy and Girl: “Where?”

Timmy: “Lake Mary.”

Guy: “Dude, I live in Sanford.”

After discussing the streets, they realized that they live 1.2 miles away from each other. WTF.

Then the owner of the cafe came out and said he was from Marietta and went to college at Georgia Southern. I mean, really.

So I’ll leave you with pictures, even though they don’t do any justice to the beauty and fun we had there. These college peeps of mine, god, I love them so much my heart wants to burst. Taamy and Dave, we love the hell out of you.

♥,

VB

Panama

This last month has been exhausting. There’s been a lot of traveling, a lot of stress, and a lot of heartbreak. There’s also been a lot of joy and hope, so let’s start with the first story and make our way through the rest later.

The weekend after our Bach party (as in 3 days later) we flew to Panama for a friend’s wedding in a remote location off the coast called Bocas del Toro. My father’s side of the family all still lives in Panama City, so imagine my surprise when I ended up being the first in my entire family to visit Bocas. I’m such a world traveler.

On the flight from Atlanta to Panama, we got upgraded to First Class and holy shit I don’t think I can ever go back to being a regular citizen. That was legit. AAAAAANND I totally forgot that my friends’ gelato company, Honeysuckle, is now served on first class flights on Delta, so that was definitely fun and filled me with pride at how cool my friends are.

We sat next to two gentlemen that were THE definition of the odd couple, talking extremely loudly, making each other laugh, and just genuinely becoming friends. It was a much older white man who was super overserved with wine (as we all were) and a SUPER tall black man who, as we learned later on the flight, used to play for the Atlanta Braves in the 70s and was roommates with Dale Murphy. How cool is that??

My cousin picked us up from the airport and drove us to our hotel around 9:30p, which gave us just enough time to shower and fall asleep only to get up at 5 am to make our flight to Bocas. We got into the cab, told the driver Albrook Airport, and took off.

About 30 minutes later, I had the feeling that something wasn’t right. I had purposefully picked our hotel because it was only 15 minutes from the Albrook airport, so I signaled to Timmy to tell our driver, and lo and behold, we were one exit away from the WRONG AIRPORT. So we turned around and proceeded to take one of the most dangerous drives back in order to hopefully make our flight.

I had neglected to tell Timmy about driving in Central and Latin America. It’s really fun when you think about it: lane markers are really just suggestions, traffic lights are there for funsies, pedestrians get dropped off on the side of the highway, including school children, and the emergency lane is really for when you want to go faster. Timmy, bless his heart, almost had a heart attack.

And I just laughed quietly to myself.

We ended up making our flight by about 20 minutes. Thank god it was a small airport and not the international one, because we would’ve been screwed. And I had amped myself up to have a good ole, knock down drag out fight about payment since the driver was the one who messed up, but he charged us fairly and all was good.

We landed in Bocas after about a 45 minute flight and wow. What a cool freaking town. It’s laid back (think: not rich and glamorous resort living), friendly, and cheap. We stay on Isla Colon, the main island, which was about a 15 minute water taxi ride away from Bastimentos, where Jasmin and Todd were getting married. Our hotel was ADORABLE and definitely worth it.

We immediately found OUR spot, a teeny little bar restaurant with a surf/dive shop in the back. This town is clearly a surfer’s town, as everyone was unkempt, sun bleached, and suuuuuuuper laid back (read: high). This place served the BEST FISH TACOS EVER. No, I’m not kidding. They were amazing, and we went back again before we left for a repeat meal.

hell yes

The day of the wedding, we decided to take a day trip to Starfish Beach. We took a $35 cab about 30 minutes through the jungle to the other side of Colon. This was not a fun ride. The streets are “paved” and very very very hilly. It’s a miracle I didn’t get sick.

From our drop off spot, we took a water taxi about 5 minutes to the beach and OMG. This place. Unbelievable. It’s called Starfish Beach because there are starfish EVERYWHERE. You’re not allowed to pick them up but you can touch them underwater. It was just so cool.

We were pretty hungry when we got there but knew that the wedding was a few hours away, so we decided to split a meal at one of the little restaurant/shacks on the beach. There were only about 100 people on this remote beach, with a few spots to get food and drinks. We had brought the beer (which was like 85 cents for pretty delicious beer) and ordered a lobster with creole sauce from a dude who spoke perfect English. Then the coolness started.

We were told to go pick our lobster. Here we are thinking, “Oh from a tank. Cool.” Nope. FROM THE WATER.

Then we’re told to take a seat. Here we are thinking, “Ok, one of these tables.” Nope. THE TABLE IN THE WATER.

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Then he brings out the food. Here we are thinking, “This will probably be pretty good.” Nope. THE BEST LOBSTER I’VE EVER HAD.

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We clearly highly recommend checking this place out.

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The only time we were taken advantage for being tourists was on the water taxi over to Bastimentos to the Red Frog Beach Resort for the wedding. We didn’t get an itinerary in our gift bag, so I was going by the wedding website which said the wedding started at 4:30p. Knowing how long it takes Timmy to get ready (AGES), I said 4, so he’d be ready on time. We boarded the water taxi, paid the driver, and headed out.

First, he lied and said English was his first language even though it clearly wasn’t. Then, we stopped for gas (without telling us first) and asked for more money (which we didn’t give him). Then he dropped us off at the wrong dock at the island even though there were only 2 and I clearly didn’t know which one we were supposed to go to (side note: the resort is the only thing on that island. He clearly should’ve known). Thankfully, he was still close enough to come back and pick us up because at this point, Timmy and I didn’t have any more cash for a new water taxi. Silently and clearly disgruntled, he drove us to the other marina and HAD THE NERVE to tell me it was because my Spanish was so bad that he didn’t know where he was going.

F*%k You, sir. Clearly, you’re an idiot.

Finally we end up getting to the resort, which then entailed a golf cart ride to the actual wedding location, and by the time we arrived, it was 4:17. On time, right? Wrong! Apparently the wedding had been moved up to 4p, so we were late. AND YOU ALL KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT BEING LATE.

The Bride and her bridesmaids were already at the top of the stairs and I can’t even explain how bad that feels. We did it once before for a wedding in Beaufort, SC where the church was surrounded by 25 other churches and we got super confused as to which one we were supposed to go to. We ended up running into the church right before the bride, and I do mean, RIGHT before the bride and I’ve never felt so bad in my life.

Cue a second time doing this in Panama. We apologized profusely and explain what our taxi driver did (which apparently happened to a few people at the wedding too), and ran down the stairs only to be seated about 4 minutes before the wedding started.

Whew.

After the ceremony, they served fresh coconuts and I drank that sucker down in record time. We made our way over to the cocktail hour which was in a really cute hut overlooking a spectacular view.

And it was also in direct sunlight with no fans. I’m not going to lie, I don’t think I saw anyone use napkins for anything other than wiping off the profuse amount of sweat torentially downpouring from every inch of skin. Welcome to life on the equator. Thank god we were all wearing white.

The party moved back to the ceremony site where we ate, danced, and caught up with old friends. I heard someone say that I was Todd’s oldest friend present at the wedding, which just made my heart warm. I’ve known that dude since 1st grade, and he’s been solid ever since.

We were able to get back to our hotel much later that night so Timmy could shower. And then in the morning he showered again. And then he showered after breakfast. He took 5 showers in 18 hours. I’ve never laughed so hard at someone being unable to control their bodily perspiration. Did you realize that knees and ankles can sweat?

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We made it back to Panama City where my cousin took us on a whirlwind driving tour of Panama. I hadn’t been back to Panama in over a decade, since my Abuelita’s funeral, and holy shit, this city is insane. It looks like Dubai. The entire downtown looked NOTHING like that the few times I came to visit when I was younger. It’s really incredible.

We got dropped off at our amazingly beautiful Marriott for a quick snooze and another shower for Timmy, and then we were ready to meet the family for dinner. We went to a restaurant in Casco Viejo, which is the oldest part of Panama that they’ve beautifully restored. It looks a lot like Viejo San Juan, with its cobbled streets, white walls, and beautiful architecture and plazas. This was Timmy’s opportunity to meet nearly all of my dad’s side of the family, and I was so happy we were able to fit in a quick visit. It’s been so long since I’ve seen them, and it was so so so fun. And Timmy was a HUGE hit (when isn’t he, really). All in all, it was a fantastic but too quick 4 days.

Thanks and congratulations again to Jasmin and Todd! You gave us a reason to come to Panama to celebrate your love. We both couldn’t believe how gorgeous Jasmin looked (not that it was surprising since she’s already beautiful), I mean really stunning, and Todd couldn’t have been more happy to have all his friends and family in one place. We love you guys! Panama, we’ll be back, don’t you worry.

♥, VB