The Gondolas on a Gondola

 I’ve been dying to share a photo of the Gondolas on a gondola ever since I became a bee and my wish has finally come true!

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Here we are on our gondola. I think the gondolier on my icon is way cuter than this guy.

Mr. G and I spent 10 days in the beautiful country of Italy and had a great time. We ate delicious food (and I drank tons of wine) and visited Rome, Florence, and Venice.

Our first stop was Rome. We arrived at the airport and were picked up by a driver our travel agent arranged for us. Our driver spoke English and pointed out a few sites and gave us a bit of background on major landmarks such as the Coliseum on the way to our hotel. I’m so glad our travel agent suggested getting a driver rather than taking a taxi as we were able to have a quick tour as soon as we got into the city.

We stayed at the Hotel Baubino 181 during out stay in Rome and I highly recommend it. The hotel was gorgeous, and the staff were extremely kind. Moreover, it’s in a great location as it is within walking distance of the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon.

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Mr. G at the Spanish Steps which was a five minute walk away from our hotel.

So what did we do in Rome? We went to all of the big site-seeing spots such as the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon (which is awesome and free!), the Vatican museum and St. Peter’s Basilica. All of these sites I highly recommend you visit if you are going to Rome. Just be sure to be cautious of your surroundings and belongings as many sites, such as the Trevi Fountain, are incredibly crowded and one could easily be pick-pocketed.

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Mr. G throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain

 We ate some of our best meals in Rome during our honeymoon at restaurants such as Edy, Ristorante caffe da Claudia, and the Pizzarium which was featured on an episode of No ReservationsMr. G also wanted to eat at a really fancy restaurant in Italy and found an English friendly restaurant in Rome called Il Convivo. Let me tell you, this place was fancy. How fancy you ask? The men and women get different menus. The menus for women don’t have prices on them. The menus for men do. That was definitely a new experience for me. The food there was amazing (I still think about their fried zucchini flowers), but the atmosphere was a bit uptight.

We also ate gelato almost every day while we were in Rome. There is a great place right near the Pantheon!

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Eating some amazing gelato near the Pantheon.  I got caramel flavored gelato and it was so rich and delicious.

Is anyone honeymooning in Italy? What sites are you interested in seeing?

Trashing the Dress

The first time I’d ever heard of a trash the dress session I thought to myself, “That’s pretty weird. I’d never do something like that.” This was one of the many somethings that I said I would never do before I got engaged: I would never fold a ton of origami cranes for my wedding. I would never care about chairs. I would never trash my dress. Well, you can probably tell I ended up doing all of those things that I’d said I would never do and loved it!

Making the decision to trash my dress was spur of the moment. It was the morning after the wedding and Mr. G and I were packing up to go to Italy. I’d been putting off thinking about what to do with my dress after the wedding because I knew it would be a hassle. Should I get cleaned in America and have it shipped back to Japan? Should I be passive- aggressive and “accidentally” leave it at my mother’s house so she could just take care of it for me?  I had no idea what to do until I took a look at the dress.

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It was disgustingly dirty. The dress had been through two weddings so the train was a bit ripped and the bottom of the dress had turned gray and black and had random streaks of electric blue. The gray and black had obviously come from the rain we endured while we took our couple photos, but I still have no idea where the electric blue came from. I took a look at the dress and figured that the cost of having it cleaned and shipped to Japan would exceed the actual cost of the dress and I decided to trash it. Then I had a stroke of inspiration. I looked out of the window and saw the beach waiting right in front of me. Images of Mrs. Airplane’s trash the dress photo shoot came to mind and I decided to go out into the ocean and get a few pictures of myself in my wedding dress before I threw it away. I asked Mr. G to grab his camera (this was a typical point- and- shoot digital camera so the photos aren’t of superior quality) and we walked out to the beach and started shooting.

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Although it was November, the water was still warm and Mr. G and I had a pretty good time taking the photos. I did get a few stares, but not many. I mean this is Florida, seeing a woman swimming in her wedding dress is nothing compared to the craziness that Florida has to offer.

Trashing the dress was a great experience and I’m so glad I did it. Are there any brides out there who plan on trashing their dress?

 

That’s Amore: The Details

I absolutely love detail posts and I’m so excited to share with you a few details from our American wedding!

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Mr. G’s suit and shoes. Mr. G went with a gray pin striped suit and pink pocket square. The condo where we stayed had all sorts of cool decor and our photographer took this shot with a vintage jukebox from the condo.

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I love this shot of our rings on our welcome card!

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My bees charms on the necklace I made from my grandmother’s ring. 

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My necklace that the hive helped me choose.  You all have amazing taste!

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My brother made this sign for our ceremony seating.

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A shot of one of our ceremony musicians. We had a violinist and cellist play music while guests were being seated as well as for the processional.

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Our guests were given a flute of champagne to enjoy before the ceremony started.

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Our aisle was lined with flowers in glass jars that hung on shepard’s hooks.

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Once the ceremony was over our guests headed inside to the escort card table that was decorated with origami cranes I folded months earlier. (You can also see a bit of the DIY fabric board I made as well.) Our escort cards were made by the Etsy shop Simplyoney. The owner Gail was great to work with.

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Our reception table had our flower arrangement and an info card about the bride and groom on a DIY cork stand. 

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Our wedding cake on the dessert table with the dessert table banner I made. My stepmother also added a few teapots to decorate the table.

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Our dessert table had all of our favorite treats such as cake pops, gummy bears, and Reese’s Pieces. We also had clear Chinese take- out boxes our guests could use to take some treats home.

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We also had cupcakes (key lime and chocolate) as well as a groom’s cake. The groom’s cake was a mint chocolate chip ice cream cake- Mr. G’s favorite.

What do you think will be your favorite detail at your wedding. Already married brides, what was your favorite detail at your wedding?

All photography by Courtney Ortiz.

recap icon

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

A quick guide to Japanese wedding receptions.

My bouquet toss was an epic fail.

I change my dress. 

Our guests ate and drank.

There were tears. 

We had a receiving line.

We had an after-party.

We tried to have a zero wedding. 

We head to America!

We receive some great OOT bags.

We have our rehearsal dinner. 

We get ready for the wedding.

We pose for a few photos.

We jump into golf carts.

We have our ceremony.

We use streamers to end the ceremony.

I try to use the bathroom in my wedding dress. 

Taiko!

We get the party started!

The food and cake.

 Junkanoo!

 

 

That’s Amore: Junkanoo

It was a bit difficult to dance in my wedding dress so after an hour or so of dancing I changed into my blue dress. My stepmother changed her dress as well.

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Everyone dancing to the “Electric Slide.” Can you believe that Mr. G had never danced to that song before?!

Before I knew it, it was time for our sendoff. The plan had been to have a sparkler send-off for me and Mr. G, but my stepmother had another surprise for us– a Junkanoo!

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A junkanoo is a type of street parade from the Bahamas (I think the closest comparison would be the second-line that takes place in New Orleans). My family is Bahamian- American and my stepmother thought it would be a good idea to celebrate Mr. G’s family”s culture at the beginning of the reception with Taiko drummers and celebrate my family’s culture at the end of the reception with a junkanoo. The junkanoo dancers came out in beautiful costumes and got everyone dancing. I was shocked that my stepmother had surprised me again!

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Towards the end, they got everyone in a conga line and we danced around the hall and then outside toward our waiting limo.

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We posed for a photo, said goodbye to everyone, got into our limo, and that was the end of the Gondola wedding reception!

 

Well not really… We planned for Mr. G and I to have our send off quite early (at about 10pm) because we knew we would be seriously jet lagged and probably wouldn’t be able to stay up dancing all night. We figured we would have an early send-off and if we still felt like dancing we would just go back inside and dance. Mr. G and I were totally exhausted, however, and just headed straight back to our condo after the wedding reception .

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I think this photo is a good illustration of how tired we were.

We left, but our guests kept on dancing for a few hours more! I now have all of these mysterious pictures of guests doing things I have no idea about.

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What are they looking at?!

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Did I miss the creation of a new dance move called “fix the tie?”

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Why did my photographer take a picture of shoes?!

How are you celebrating your culture at your wedding? Does anyone have any unexplained wedding photos?

All photography by Courtney Ortiz.

recap icon

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

A quick guide to Japanese wedding receptions.

My bouquet toss was an epic fail.

I change my dress. 

Our guests ate and drank.

There were tears. 

We had a receiving line.

We had an after-party.

We tried to have a zero wedding. 

We head to America!

We receive some great OOT bags.

We have our rehearsal dinner. 

We get ready for the wedding.

We pose for a few photos.

We jump into golf carts.

We have our ceremony.

We use streamers to end the ceremony.

I try to use the bathroom in my wedding dress. 

Taiko!

We get the party started!

The food and cake.

 

That’s Amore: Food and Cake

Let’s talk about the food at the reception!

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I do the same dance whenever I see yummy food. Image via buzzfeed.com

We had a buffet style dinner with various stations set up throughout the dining hall such as a beef carving station, a pasta station, and then some main entree stations with hamburgers, hot dogs, and BBQ sandwiches. I liked that the various stations were spread out throughout the hall because no station had a long line and guests were able to get their food quickly.

So let me get real with you for a minute, I didn’t 100% love the food at the wedding. Now don’t get me wrong, the food at our wedding tasted delicious. I just don’t feel like the food matched the event. Early in our wedding planning process, Mr. G and I wrote the things that were most important to us and for Mr. G it was food. When it came time to delegate wedding responsibilities Mr. G was in charge of choosing the menu. I initially wanted a sit down, plated dinner with something like steak or fish, but Mr. G wanted a buffet with lots of his favorite American food.  He worked with the caterers and came up with a menu that sounded very good.  I was very excited about the pasta station and I was looking forward to having classic American food like BBQ chicken. At the actual wedding, however, the carving station and pasta station fit in very well, but the hamburgers and BBQ just didn’t seem to fit the vibe and seemed too casual. Either way, the food was great. I just wished that I had a card or message at the American food station explaining the reasoning behind our choices. For example, “Mr. and Mrs. G really wanted to celebrate being back in the States by having some classic American food at the wedding.”

One thing I had no worries about was our wedding cake. Now you may remember that there was a little drama with my American cake. I had gone the cheap route and found a very inexpensive baker who was extremely rude. Her business closed (no surprise there) and I had to find another baker about two months before the wedding. I was lucky to have found Jenny who bakes and makes beautiful cakes. We had a three tier cake– two tiers were lemon cake with lemon curd filling and one tier was chocolate cake with chocolate filling. The cake was amazing! It was very moist, fluffy, and delicious.

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Our wedding cake at our dessert bar. Mr. G was in charge of choosing the decoration for cake and chose sunflowers, my favorite flower.

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I was always the type of person who never cared about wedding cake, but I am so glad that I was able to have a delicious one. It made such a good memory!

Are you worried about having the food fit the vibe of your wedding? Did anyone give the task of choosing the menu and cake over to their significant others?

All photography by Courtney Ortiz.

recap icon

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

A quick guide to Japanese wedding receptions.

My bouquet toss was an epic fail.

I change my dress. 

Our guests ate and drank.

There were tears. 

We had a receiving line.

We had an after-party.

We tried to have a zero wedding. 

We head to America!

We receive some great OOT bags.

We have our rehearsal dinner. 

We get ready for the wedding.

We pose for a few photos.

We jump into golf carts.

We have our ceremony.

We use streamers to end the ceremony.

I try to use the bathroom in my wedding dress. 

Taiko!

We get the party started!

 

That’s Amore: Let’s Get the Party Started

After the spectacular Taiko performance, my brother and Mr. G’s sister both gave a speech.  (As we didn’t have a bridal party, these were the equivalent to the best man and maid of honor speeches). Both speeches were wonderful. My favorite line from my brother’s speech was “Mrs. G’s favorite Disney movie was Beauty and the Beast. Belle, the main character, sang a song about wanting ‘more than this provincial life.’ Mrs. G has the same adventurous spirit which is why she left for Japan to find adventure and ended up finding love. “

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My brother giving his speech. He also had a line  in his speech about how my favorite Baby-Sitter’s club member was Claudia Kishi. I can’t believe he remembered so many little things about me!

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Mr. G’s sister’s speech was hilarious and very sweet. She spoke about how well our families get along and how she is so happy to gain two sisters.

Once our siblings finshed their speeches our dinner service began (more on that later) and we showed a slideshow with lots of pictures of the Gondolas growing up and falling in love as well as video about our life in Japan.

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 A sampling of  the photos we used in our “Life in Japan” video. In Japan, we shop with tiny shopping carts and hang our clothes out to dry on the veranda.

Once everyone had finished up eating (about 40 minutes into our meal) my step-mother gave a quick speech to thank everyone for coming and my father and I did a quick father/daughter dance.

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My step-mother was the real hostess of the night and was in her element!

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My father and I did a quick 30 second dance to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”.

 Once our father daughter dance was finshed the dance floor was open and our guests could get down!

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One of the things I stressed about most when planning the wedding was the reception timeline.  I’ve spent most of my adult life in Asia and have only been to a few American weddings in my lifetime. I was unsure of the order of events and I scoured Weddingbee looking for a general timeline, but every wedding reception is different. Some weddings have various dance sets interspersed with cake cutting and speeches while other weddings have toasts, then eating, and then dancing. I had no idea which timeline would work best for our wedding.  I voiced these worries to my DOC and she told me not to worry because she and the DJ would handle making the schedule of the reception timeline and I could edit it as I choose.  About two months before the wedding I received a timeline from our DOC and DJ which looked a little something like this:

7:00 B&G First Dance – After bride and groom bow guests can have a short dance set.

7:15 Toasts

7:20 Dinner Service

7:40 Videos- Our life in Japan, Slideshow

8:00 Parents of B&G given opportunity to say a Toast

8:10 Father/Daughter Dance

8:15 Dance Set

9:00 Cake Cutting

9:10 Dancing for the rest of the Event

9:50 Last Song

10pm Send Off

As I mentioned before, my step-mother changed most of this because she had a few surprises for us throughout the evening, but we generally stuck to this schedule.

What did or will your wedding reception timeline look like? Will you have a few mini-dance sets throughout out the night interspersed with cake cutting and speeches or have everyone eat, cut the cake,  and then dance?

All photography by Courtney Ortiz.

recap icon

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

A quick guide to Japanese wedding receptions.

My bouquet toss was an epic fail.

I change my dress. 

Our guests ate and drank.

There were tears. 

We had a receiving line.

We had an after-party.

We tried to have a zero wedding. 

We head to America!

We receive some great OOT bags.

We have our rehearsal dinner. 

We get ready for the wedding.

We pose for a few photos.

We jump into golf carts.

We have our ceremony.

We use streamers to end the ceremony.

I try to use the bathroom in my wedding dress. 

Taiko!