Rehearsing for the big day

Practicing walking down the aisle

There were a lot of people at our rehearsal and dinner. We had a big bridal party, but we also had several people participating in the liturgy (or ceremony) in some way. The opportunity for family and friends to participate in a meaningful way is one of my favorite aspects of Catholic weddings. It really shows that it’s about families coming together to witness the couple making the sacrament of marriage.

Escorting the parents and grandparents

Thus, along with 5 pairs of groomsmen and bridesmaids, the maid of honor and best man, and parents we had: my grandparents; the flower girls and ring bearer with their parents and siblings; padrinos de lazo (sponsors of the lasso, a symbol of unity); padrinos de biblia y rosario (bible and rosary sponsors); madrina de arras (sponsor of the coins); three readers; a Eucharistic minister; and a couple to bring up the gifts (wine and bread to be consecrated). We didn’t have a specific madrina de ramo (bouquet for the Virgin Mary), but had Vanny take on this role.

When we counted up everyone my parents could expect at the dinner, it was over 50 people. We also invited Sean’s extended family who were in from NY and London to come over to my parents’ for dinner as well.

The wedding coordinators at St. John Vianney, John and Josie, had their hands full with our group. The rehearsal went smoothly once we figured out some logistics (like, preparing the readings and listing out the bridal party — they didn’t receive the form we had mailed in earlier).

The wedding party

On our part, we forgot to pair up the bridal party for the entrances. We had thought of everything else with the ceremony and chosen music, prayers, readings, how we wanted to say our vows, etc, but we’d forgotten something really simple.

We ended up going by height and having my brothers go last since they were escorting my mom and grandparents. (Our parish gives the bride the option of being escorted by both parents or by her father only. I brought this up to my parents and they went with the latter.) Danny escorted Mamá Toni since he’s her favorite. Adrian escorted mom since he’s the baby of the family, and the favorite — according to him. As for height, we knew it would look silly for Adrian to escort Valerie, so we made sure he escorted someone shorter.

The kids of the wedding party (plus their siblings)

The flower girls did well, no surprise. I’d heard from their parents that Asha and Isabelle had been practicing for their roles. Anthony, our ring bearer, seemed a little nervous and withdrawn getting instructions from a stranger. Once I helped him out, he did okay and seemed more comfortable. I gave Vanny and Valerie the job of making sure he remain calm before the ceremony.

Rehearsal at SJV

We went through the ceremony with all the participants and then headed home for dinner to give everyone a chance to get to know each other a little bit. There were a lot of introductions since half the bridal party was coming in from New York. I was even introduced to one of the groomsmen, Andrew, that evening.

Twin time

Dinner was nice even if it was still way too hot out once again. It was probably in the low 90s at 8 pm. Mom and Danny prepped the salad and veggies and warmed up the lasagna from Macaroni Grill. The grilled chicken came from Juan Pollo. Sean’s aunts brought homemade rum cake for some Jamaican flavor. The backyard was set up like it had been for the wedding shower, just with a few extra tables. My mom’s good friend, Sylvia, came over and helped with the decorations.

Gifts for the attendants

Dad gave a speech thanking everyone for attending. Sean and I presented the bridal party and ceremony participants with their gifts. As we introduced each person or couple we added a couple of words about their importance in our lives. Asha and Isabelle loved their Cinderella dresses and became “best friends.” I told them we chose Cinderella since my Grandpa Bartolo used to call me Cinderella and it was my wedding.

Carmen, our planner, came over and briefly met the wedding party before packing up several items for the reception. We asked Carmen to try and place the two bars indoors if room allowed. We didn’t want the bartenders out on the patio for several hours in the heat. The rest of the drinks, water, wine and some other supplies were packed up in a friend’s truck. Sean, Danny and Adrian would handle that on Saturday morning.

Making the favors - Mexican wedding cookies

At the end of the evening mom rounded up some of the bridal party for wedding favor assembly. Lori left the Mexican wedding cookies almost ready to go, but they still needed to be coated with powered sugar. Eric and Isabel opened the bags and got them ready for mom and Adrian to place the coated cookies in them. Everyone else on the assembly line was on ribbon tying duty. We made over 250 bags.

By the time we were done it was past 11 and I was ready for sleep. We left my parent’s house shortly after and checked in at the Embassy Suites where I had the “Cleopatra suite” to myself.


Final wedding Wednesdays: The parents meet

The families meet

One of the aspects of marriage that I’m still getting used to is having a second family. The Campbells are not just Sean’s family, they’re my family too. I just don’t see them very often since they’re in Long Island. Hopefully that’ll change now that we’re married.

Sean, on the other hand, has gotten to know my immediate and extended family pretty well since most of them live in southern California and there’s a party at least once a month. They’ve embraced him as a grandson, son, brother, cousin, nephew and uncle (for the cousins’ kids).

The parents

One of the basic things we hadn’t done pre-wedding was a parent introduction. My parents were curious about his family and asked question. What’s his mom like? What did they do before retiring? I showed them the Campbell’s photos (including some from their wedding Sean put up on flickr). They also got a kick when they found out they were almost going to be twins at the wedding. Despite living on opposite coasts, they had tried on the same dress. Mrs Campbell bought it, my mom didn’t even though it was one of her favorites.

Charlie and his angels

Sean and I planned the parents’ dinner shortly after the Campbells arrived from NY. We wanted to give some time for our parents to meet before the wedding madness began. We picked Lascari’s restaurant since it was less than a mile from the hotel. The group ended up being Sean’s immediate family plus Junior’s girlfriend, Olga and most of my immediate family. My brothers couldn’t make it due to work.

The Campbells

The dinner was fun. There was a lot of laughter as the Campbells shared stories about Sean. Even though Adrian wasn’t present, his name still came up as my mom noted that he and Junior were similar in their attitudes and sense of humor. They became immediate friends when they met the next day at the bachelor party.

Olga and Kenton

The in-laws shared stories about what Sean was like growing up — always reading, rarely getting in trouble. Just like me. Mi suegra (MIL) shared how much she’d like a granddaughter (no pressure) and how we should go shopping together next time I was in NY. My parents were amazed at how many of the Sean’s relatives had flown out.

We ended relatively early since we didn’t want to keep the NY contingent up late.


10 day countdown to September 15th

The final ten days of wedding prep and planning weren’t too hectic. We had enough time to get through our to-do list and pick up any items we needed for the wedding and rehearsal dinner.

Wednesday, September 5th

Making place cards. Ten days to go!

Sean made the place cards. We used cards from the Paper Source. Sean worked off a design from Noma (see below).

Thursday, September 6th

Free teeth polish for brides, courtesy of my dentist

I took up my dentist on the free polishing he offered back in May when he found out I’d be getting married in September. He said he offers it for all his bride and groom patients. I couldn’t pass up anything free that comes with wedding prep.

Greys going away, again

Sunday, September 9th
I met with Andie to get my grays touched up and go a little darker. After flipping through some hairstyle books, I ditched my plan to go with an updo and we did a trial run for the day of.

Lineup for the 15th

At church that evening, I got excited thinking that the next time I’d be there for a service it’d be for my wedding mass. After the announcements, Fr. Ricky (our presiding priest, the one we’ve been meeting with since last July) asked the assembly to say a special prayer for us in our final week or preparation and planning. It was a special and emotional moment.

Later, I had an embarrassing bridezilla moment when I found out the hairstylist Lori hired for some of the bridesmaids would not travel to the hotel. I didn’t like the idea of everyone getting ready at other locations. After explaining my concerns to my parents and Lori, they worked something out to ensure everyone would be at the hotel by 10.

Monday, September 10th
I had planned to take the week off for work but ended up going in to the office since my parents assured me that everything was under control.

Tuesday, September 11th

Work vacation starts.

We figured out some final details with the caterer and modified the day of itinerary. Throughout the week, we tweaked the agenda some more as needed.

Welcome Bags for the Out-of-Towners

We did some shopping and picked up the rest of the items we needed for the out-of-towner welcome bags and assembled them. My parents provided chips, popcorn and granola bars from their pantry. Sean and I bought apples and bananas from Costco and Smart & Final. The mints, gum, and peanuts were from the 99 Cents Store.

Remember how our invitation designer, Noma, made several designs working around the same bicoastal theme? Sean repurposed some of the designs for the welcome note (handwritten), sticker on the welcome bags and local restaurant guide. My friend Gustavo Arellano came through with restaurant recommendations since he’s much more familiar with Orange County.

Wednesday, September 12th

Welcome bag drop off

Welcome bags for out of town guests

We delivered the OOT bags to the hotel in Brea and did some shopping for gifts for those participating in the ceremony (readers, padrinos/sponsors, etc). Sean bought another gift for the groomsmen.

Sean’s parents, brothers and several other family members flew in that afternoon. We’d see them later that day.

Wedding stuff taking over the house

Wedding stuff took over my apartment. It also took over my parents’ house.

Anything you could need in the bathroom basket

Lori made a bathroom basket with anything we could ever need.

Hundreds of cookies

She also made 900 Mexican wedding cookies for the favors. The baking for the wedding wouldn’t end there as she put herself on cupcake duty.

Cupcake maker, Lori

Thursday, September 13th

Picked Up My Tuxedo

After getting my nails done and eyebrows, upper lip waxed, I took it easy for the rest of the day to avoid messing up my nails. Sean had a busy day. He picked up Andrea, one of the bridesmaids, from the airport. Later, he met up with his father and brother to pick up their tuxedoes. I stayed home and read Junot Díaz’s new collection This Is How You Lose Her.

Drinks with My Groomsmen

Drinks with My Groomsmen

That evening, I dropped him off at his co-ed bachelor party and packed for the weekend.

Friday, September 14th

Loading up the car

The morning was interesting since Sean was still recovering from the bachelor party. I stayed in trying to avoid the heat until we had to leave for the rehearsal. We had to change our original plan of checking in at the Embassy Suites in Brea since we would’ve never made it with the traffic. Plus, a few miles in Sean nearly had a heart attack when he realized that he forgot his tux in the closet. At least we had enough time to go back.

We stopped in East LA to pick up the favor bags Paulina left for us at her grandma’s house. My cousin offered to make the favors but she couldn’t have them ready until some of the supplies came in from Mexico on Thursday night with Fabiola (cousin/soloist for the ceremony). I chatted with my great aunts and cousins briefly before heading out to my mom’s house. We got ready quickly and then headed to St. John Vianney for the rehearsal.


Something blue: Dodgers bachelorette outing

Happy place

A few years ago Lori attended a co-ed bachelor and bachelorette party at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. (Ugh, the Angels’ stadium would have an awkward and clunky name.) The couple rented out a luxury box and guests watched the game, ate and drank. Lori thought it was one of the coolest things ever. I was (a) jealous I didn’t go — not that I knew the couple or anything — and (b) couldn’t disagree. I probably said I’d like to do that whenever my time came around.

Cousins on the escalator

We didn’t go that route because Sean’s friends are in NY, plus Dodger Stadium isn’t his happy place and the Dodgers are not his favorite team. Plus, luxury boxes were out of our budget.

Team Cindy & Sean's wedding - bridesmaids

Instead, Lori planned a bachelorette outing that was local, low-key, all ages (one of the bridesmaids isn’t 21 yet), and recession friendly. We bought tickets via StubHub for the LA-based bridesmaides. Lori coordinated carpooling, rides, and our uniforms for the night.

Most of the bridesmaids

Lori made the shirts. Love them.

We wore personalized navy blue and white raglan tees. Before printing them, she asked what I wanted on the shirts.

planning the bachelorette outing

I suggested “La Novia” since it would be less obvious and look-at-me like other tanks/t-shirts I’ve seen for bachelorette parties. Only Spanish speakers would get the meaning behind the t-shirts. I also liked how they were a nod to my love for all things Lotería. (See: La Dama costume idea.)

Sean dropped me off at our meet up point in Elysian Park. It was quite the surprise to Nancy, Vanny, Valerie and Lori in their cute shirts. Even the numbers had some meaning behind them.

Showing off our Raglan t-shirts

I also loved that Lori chose La Novia and Las Damas. Sean left us and we drove in to the massive parking lot. By the time we got to our seats, the game was in the third inning. Isa joined up with us a little later.

Hugging Andre

The actual game could’ve been better. We arrived at the game around the third inning. The Dodgers were already losing 1-0 to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dodgers tied up the game in the bottom of the 6th and the game stayed that way until the 11th inning. We may have arrived late, but still got to watch a full game. [ESPN recap]

Friday night fireworks

Since the game went in to extra innings, we weren’t allowed to go on the field for the usual Friday night fireworks show. That would’ve made for some fun pictures (sans Isa since she left at the end of the game).

With two-thirds of the bridesmaids

After the game we met up with Sean at King Taco for tacos and sopes — way better than Dodger dogs. I think our shirts might’ve garnered more attention there than at the game. We went our own ways after that since the cousins and Lori live in the opposite direction than Sean and I.

King Taco run postgame

I enjoyed my laid-back night out with my Lori, Isa and the cousins. I’ve been to several games with them over the years and they’ve all seen me through important moments in my life as well as really tough ones. With two weeks out, I couldn’t be more excited to have them at my side on my wedding day.

Bachelorette outing

Thanks Lori, Nancy, Vanny, Valerie and Isa for taking me out to the ball game. Love you.


Red, teal (and coral) bridal shower

They did it all

I miss wedding planning. That feels weird to admit.

I miss having a project to work on with Sean and my family. I’m sure there will be other opportunities, but for now everyone is just enjoying the down time until the next big party (perhaps the grandparents’ 70th anniversary?).

I understand now why there are bloggers on sites like WeddingBee who write several dozen posts about a single day, especially if they put in a lot of work in to making it happen.

There were a couple of pre-wedding events I didn’t put much work in to, namely the bridal shower and bachelorette outing.

First up: the bridal shower.

Popcorn favors

Backyard bridal shower

Lori and mom hosted my bridal shower at my family’s house four weeks before the wedding.

Friends and family

As the maid of honor, Lori took care of the invitations and planning out the decorations. Mom planned the menu (pasta, chicken, salad and veggies) and made aguas frescas. The other LA-based members of the bridesmaid team — Nancy, Vanny, Valerie and Isabel — helped out by making the decorations and planning some of the games.

The guests started arriving a little after six. I know they planned it for later in the day to avoid the heat, but it was still warm out.

Group shot with the models

Fortunately, it didn’t keep us from enjoying ourselves with some games. I joined in on a couple of games, but sat out making wedding dresses out of toilet paper. I judged the best dress during the fashion show. I chose the group representing three generations (Madrina Chilo, cousin Paty, and niece Desiree) for design and functionality. Some of the other dresses didn’t hold up as well. And there were some that could hardly be called a dress but got a lot of laughs.

Having fun opening stuff

After the games, I opened gifts. I untied the notes from the mirror Vanny made and checked out the notes. There were some cute drawings, funny and touching advice from women I greatly admire.

Love the drawings and notes

Before everyone left, I took a bunch of photos. Of course.

Cousins and aunts

A few of my aunts and some cousins

Friends and family

The cousins/bridesmaids and friends mainly from UCLA days

Lots of coral

I noticed during the party that there were several cute outfits in coral. I missed that trend this summer, but my friends/cousins looked great.

Many thanks to mom, Lori, dad (for work behind the scenes), Nancy, Vanny, Valerie, and tía Josie for planning a beautiful bridal shower.