Friday, September 10, 2010

Busy Bee: Packing, DJ, Cake, Flowers, Church

The past week has been absolutely insanely busy, busier than I've been in a long time. Ed and I had four vendor meetings over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday, and we interspersed those meetings with packing. Fortunately, the packing wasn't as terrible (nor did we need as many boxes) as we thought. Between vendor meetings, we sorted through my clothes, books, etc; acquired boxes from the nearest UPS store; packed and taped everything; and dropped off four boxes with nothing but books at the post office, and the remainder of my belongings (two large boxes and one small box), at FedEx. (So thankful they give Ed a rather sizable discount; we wound up paying a quarter of what shipping 118 pounds of my life via 2-Day would have normally cost.)

And then there were the vendor meetings. On Monday night we met with a DJ, whom we both liked very much. He was receptive and didn't seem interested in pushing anything we don't want; indeed, he'd e-mailed us an exhaustive 15-page questionnaire that covered every option that we might want. We booked him the next day, so that's one less thing we have to worry about. Of course, we also don't have the time or ability to fly back and forth to Pennsylvania to do in-depth searching. We liked the guy, so we booked him.

Before we left for Europe, we had had an appointment at Louie's Bakery, but despite having made said appointment, the staff didn't know were coming, so they didn't have a strawberry cake ready. Their cakes were good, though, so we made an appointment for a few days after we came back.

Things did not go well.

What I want is fairly simple: strawberry-flavored cake with some manner of chocolate icing. I made it clear that I did not want strawberry filling (I hate goop with the passion of a thousand burning suns) or big strawberries surrounding the cake or anything along those lines. Instead, we were given vanilla cake with completely tasteless strawberries pieces in it. This was an improvement over the previously baked and disposed-of version.

Apparently the baker hadn't thought I wouldn't want a pink strawberry-tasting cake; she thought it too moist, so made the vanilla cake-based version. I don't know where the cake had been stored, but it had obviously not been refrigerated and had been sitting out for a long time. It tasted horrible, like it had been tossed in the trash and then retrieved. Gelatin had been used to flavor the cake, but there was no strawberry taste whatsoever; it tasted spoiled, and I could barely even eat more than a few bites of it.

We hightailed it out of there and decided, despite how busy we were, to drive through Emmaus and across Allentown to check out the Village Bake Shoppe, which seemed to be referenced all over the place, and which a baker friend of my mother had recommended. We weren't expecting to accomplish anything other than get information but hoped to get a few questions answered. Big question number one was whether they make their own fondant. The folks at Louie's Bakery apparently buys theirs, and it was implied that it wasn't all that good, but Ed wants that smooth white look, so fondant is a must. The lady at Village Bake Shoppe didn't think they made their own fondant, but essentially said she just helped roll it out, so she didn't know too much about it, but she allowed us to sample some, and I was suitably impressed. We got a price sheet; I asked if they made strawberry cake, and went into a mini-tirade about what I didn't want, and I was told that yes, they could do that, so the next time were back in the Lehigh Valley, we'll make an appointment.

We also had appointments with two different flower vendors. Once again, I was wary, because I had a few ideas of what I wanted: no roses, but either wildflowers or a few stems of either lilies or sunflowers for my bouquet, and mixed-and-matched flowers for the centerpieces in different vases. Well, at Mary B's, the owner, Sherry, gave us some really good ideas, and helped us put together a really interesting centerpiece that included sunflowers, spray roses, delphinium, and hyacinth. (There may have been a few others in there; Ed wrote down what we came up with.) Together, they look really interesting, especially if we use vases that have the same basic design but slightly different shapes, and flowers that are the same breed but different colors (each centerpiece would contain the same flowers, but in different colors). We're still waiting on the estimate. We also chose a bridal bouquet and bouquets for the bridesmaids, corsages for our mothers, and boutonnieres for Ed, the groomsmen, and our fathers.

We were able to tell Rose at Phoebe Floral what we wanted in terms of the bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres, but we had her work on a different idea for centerpieces, namely wildflowers. We got an estimate yesterday, but we'll wait to see what Mary B's estimate looks like, and probably asking a few more questions of the Phoebe Floral people. (I want to know what her vision of the wildflower centerpiece looks like, for one thing; I would also like an estimate of a similar centerpiece that we had worked out with Mary B's, for comparative purposes.)

The next big To Do item is making an appointment with my parish priest, Father Carley. In impeccable timing - and I hasten to add there's no way this could have been known - Ed proposed a few days before Fr. Carley was leaving for a five-week vacation back home to Ireland. (No matter where I go, I find me an Irish priest.) Of course, right when he would be home, Ed and I would be in Europe for two weeks, but we'd been assured by the woman working at the rectory that we still had plenty of time, and not to fret. I called this morning, and of course, since this weekend is their Fall Festival, everyone's extremely busy, but the woman remembered having met us, and passed on my message to Father Carley, and said if we didn't hear from him by the middle of next week, to call back. So at least that's in the works, too.

And that's what I'm most nervous about. In the nearly two months we've been engaged, we've chosen a date and managed to book a lot of vendors - including the church in Pennsylvania - before even talking to Father Carley. I hope all the pre-Cana planning goes smoothly, but the complete lack of knowing what to expect is making me nervous; I don't know how Ed's not having been Confirmed will affect any of this.

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