March 21, 2013

Life is sweet, love is sweeter

The wedding festivities have officially begun!

On Friday afternoon, all of the lovely ladies who make up my half of the bridal party gathered together for one last fling before the ring. These girls are busy saving lives, educating our youth, crunching real estate numbers, and...baking cakes? (Love you, Meredith!) But seriously, how incredible that six people can be so selfless as to rearrange their busy work and school lives to spend the weekend with me. I'm still speechless and so thankful. Don't get me wrong, living near Brad is wonderful, but I forgot how perfect life feels when laughing with my best friends.

All of the weekend events were a complete surprise to me and planned entirely by my family and friends. It was a very welcome change to not worry about any of the day's details. We started off at Renewed Spirit Spa with manicures, pedicures, and massages for all. After a few glasses of champagne and a blissful massage, Despi's massage therapist came out and said to us with an ear-to-ear smile, "She's toast!" We laughed as each of us came out in the same dream-like state with noodles for legs, lion's mane hair, and the goofiest grins plastered on our faces. Needless to say, we all really needed and enjoyed an afternoon of pampering and complete relaxation.

Beautified bride and bridesmaids

Next we indulged in one of my favorite cravings from college: Clara's basil cream chicken tortellini and a jolly rancher cocktail to drink. YUM. More lovely friends from college met up with us here to join in on the fun too, and of course I donned the classic bachelorette sash and tiara overdosed in glitter. Afterwards, we headed to a hotel suite big enough for all of us and did what all reunited girlfriends should naturally do to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of one of the crew. We jammed to 90's feel-good tunes (primarily NSYNC), played "pin the junk on the hunk", and guessed who bought me each set of cute new lingerie. I loved every minute of it and would not have done it any other way. What I appreciate most is that my friends know me so well and love me as I am; they knew I did not want to be taking shots at the bar from strange men and completing embarrassing scavenger hunt tasks. It's just not who I am. Instead they tailored the night to be exactly as I would have planned it myself. You know the day has been perfect when it ends with three snuggled into a bed for two, carefree and chatting until the wee hours of the morning.

 "You are the bikini to my bottoms"
With my happy-meter completely full, could things possibly get any better? YES. Anyone who knows me and/or my family knows we are planners and detail perfectionists. Even though I know this to be true, the bridal shower my mom and sister Whitney planned for me brought me to tears. The loft my parents live in above their restaurant in downtown Lansing was completely transformed into a beautiful cupcake themed party for 30 of my closest female friends and family.

The transformed loft

We snacked on heart shaped sandwiches and brightly frosted cupcakes while Meredith and Aura earned top marks for knowing the most about us nearly newlyweds. My bride's luck even came through for me with a near perfect guessing game estimate of 78 for a jar full of 77 colorful cupcake papers! My handsome fiancé joined the party (late...typical Bradford) to open gifts that will soon help make our first house together feel like a home. We all know and lovingly accept that Brad is chronically late, but his poor timing was actually quite comedic this time. I had just opened a fun cocktail shaker with built in drink recipes and said to the beautiful (inside and out!) gift-giver Lauren Blaine, "I so wish Brad was here, this was the one thing he put on the registry and really wanted!" As if we had planned it, he walked in at that exact moment. It is in situations like these that rather than wishing he had been on time as I had begged him to be the day before, I love learning to embrace the unexpected laughter of life. On a more sentimental note, we also received a handmade picnic quilt from my Grandma Marge. As the entire room was oohing and awing I was choking back tears feeling like the luckiest granddaughter in the world. It is something so special that we will cherish for the rest of our lives and as our family grows. The day's laughter, sentiment, and loads of generosity left us positively overwhelmed. It is a very rare treat to have so many of the women and girls you admire and love the most in one room celebrating a special occasion together. We are so blessed.

 Stitched with love

  My nanny girls

Now all we need are those handsome groomsmen

Either due to a cupcake sugar high or simply an emotional high, we headed back to New York feeling on top of the world. Thank you to everyone who helped make my weekend so extraordinary. To my mom, Whitney, Meredith, Aura, Despi, Michelle, and Erin: everything was absolutely perfect. I could never say thank you in a way that would express it to match the enormity with which I feel it. I love you all!