Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The SCs in SC: First impressions

After a few days of post-wedding recovery in Pittsburgh, Mr. Snow Cone and I hopped on a plane to head down to Charleston, South Carolina, for our much-awaited honeymoon.  When deciding on a destination, we decided we wanted good food, good weather, and a schedule that allowed for a decent amount of flexibility and control on our part.  Suffice it to say, Charleston nailed all three of those top priorities (minus one relatively sizable exception...).

We got off the plane at Charleston's quaint airport, which was a bit cozier than most airports I've encountered in my various travels.  Fortunately, the cozy airport size translated to short lines everywhere, which meant we had rental car keys and luggage in our possession very shortly after landing.  An easy 20-minute drive from the airport placed us right in downtown Charleston!  Right away, we could tell Charleston was a special city.  For most places in the United States, the term "downtown" conjures up images such as this:

Image via Planetware

... which is not quite the same as downtown Charleston.

Everything in Charleston looked a little bit brighter, a little bit smaller, and a little bit warmer than most other "downtown" areas, which immediately set Mr. Snow Cone and myself at ease.  Driving through the city was a breeze, and we easily made our way to our hotel for the evening - The Planter's Inn.  Right away, we were greeted by helpful staff who welcomed us by name, congratulated us on our recent wedding, and assured us that they would take care of all of our needs while staying in their hotel.  We pretty much nodded our heads in agreement and prepared to be pampered.  Not a bad way to start the honeymoon, eh?

We dropped off our luggage and decided to grab a bite to eat while waiting for our room to become ready.  It was at this point that we made our first, and probably biggest, mistake of the honeymoon.  In Charleston, there's no such thing as grabbing a bite to eat.  Everything is so mind-blowingly delicious that you grab dozens of bites, feeling happy but stuffed after each and every meal.  The first stop on our gluttony getaway?  Charleston's famous Hyman's Seafood.  We'd received multiple recommendations to stop by Hyman's, so we didn't hesitate to pop in for lunch when we discovered it was about 30 yards from our hotel.  We opted to do a 5 seafood platter combo, which looked a little something like this:
Image via MrsFixIt's DPReview page

The menu billed the 7 seafood platter as enough to feed two people, so we thought that by going with 5 seafoods, we'd have a nice, light lunch.  Wrong.  We gorged ourselves on crab cake, crab dip, hush puppies, fried oysters, shrimp and grits, swordfish, and amberjack.  Mr. Snow Cone and I were pretty much stuffed to the gills (haha, get it?) and we still had a hearty amount of food left on our plates.  Despite our less-than-perfect showing, the food was glorious.  I kid you not when I say that thinking about the fried oysters and hush puppies automatically gets my salivary glands going.  It was such a nice, casual, and delicious way to kick of what would ultimately prove to be a superb honeymoon.  

Have you ever had any surprising or exciting first impressions at a vacation destination?  Any vacation food memories that makes your tummy go pitter-patter with savory nostalgia?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A barely post-wedding post-wedding chop

My hair grows at a pace that makes a snail race look like the Indy 500.  I've always kind of hovered between chin-length and shoulder-length, which made growing my hair out for the wedding to be quite the undertaking.  But, by George, I was going to have as much hair to work with as humanly possible.  I didn't want my hairstyle selection to be limited by my insufficient length, so the entirety of our engagement was devoted to growing my tresses out.  The finished product?

The Snow Cones, two days before our wedding!
Photo courtesy of BM E

This was easily the longest my hair has ever been.  My plan was always to donate it to a wig organization, since I knew that long hair wasn't really my standard. A few months back, I started to measure how much hair would survive the donation and realized that it was going to be short.  So, I decided that I'd have to tough out the long hair for a few more months post-wedding in order to be left with a manageable length after lopping most of it off.

Enter the hottest and muggiest July I have ever experienced.  Every day was like its own individual form of torture, and the hair covering my neck added an extra helping of sweaty grossness.  I was miserable, and I frequently let Mr. Snow Cone know about it.  I think I complained one too many times, because he opted to put his foot down.  Knowing that we were headed to balmy South Carolina for our honeymoon, he realized that escaping the heat and humidity wouldn't be happening for a long while.  Apparently he wasn't hepped up on the idea of having his wife complain about her hair and the heat for the duration of his honeymoon.  Weird, I know.  He declared that my happiness was more important than the length of my post-chop hairdo, so I was to cut it and cut it fast after the wedding.

Rather than put up any semblance of a fight, I listened to his reasoning.  And then picked up the phone and called my lovely hairdresser friend to set an appointment for 10 AM the day after the wedding.  I waltzed into her swivel chair, a whopping 11 hours after our reception ended, more nervous than I expected to be.  I had always set my sights on donating the minimum of 10 inches for Locks of Love, so that's what she measured to.  And then she paused and asked me if I really wanted to do a full 10, given how short the end result would be.  I decided to compromise and donate only the minimum of 8 to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program.  I figured an extra two inches of length would be worthwhile, plus, in my mind, a donation is a donation, right?  Anyhow, enough with the chit-chat, here's the finished product!

It is short but it feels amazing.  I'm still getting the whole styling thing down, but I'm still quite pleased with how it turned out.  Truth be told, it's probably a wee bit shorter than my ideal length, but that's the best part about hair - it grows.  In no time (hopefully), I'll have some more hair to play with and I'll get back to my typical styles.  Having hair that's a little on the short side so that cancer patients can have hair period is a sacrifice I'm OK with making.

How soon after the wedding are you cutting your hair?

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

A surprise post-wedding state of affairs

In general, I don't think I'm a very emotional person.  My default is pretty happy, and my departures from this status quo are usually fairly brief and relatively infrequent.  As a result, any considerable display of emotion is a marked departure from my norm.  Which is exactly why the day after the wedding has been far more difficult than I ever could have imagined.

When discussing the emotions swirling around weddings, you generally discuss whether or not you'll cry during the walk down the aisle, or during the vows, or during the toasts.  No one discusses whether you'll cry on the day after the wedding.  And most definitely no one discusses whether you'll cry more than a decent amount on the day after the wedding.  But I'm here to tell you that it can happen, because it did to the Snow Cones.

We woke up completely energized and content on the morning after our wedding.  We enjoyed a nice, casual brunch with our out of town friends and then opened our thoughtful wedding gifts with our families.  We packed up the car to head back to Pittsburgh, and we were all of about 4 feet from the curb in front of my house when the tears started to fall.  That was about six hours ago, and they continue to come and go, completely out of my control.  I couldn't put my finger on what was causing my tears; part of it was because I had hard good-byes to faraway friends, part of it was because I was unbelievably happy with our day on a whole, and part of it was because weddings evoke an absurd amount of emotion and there's an inevitable amount of emotional diarrhea that happens.  Wedding day was all of the happy, day-after-wedding-day was all of the "Wow.  That actually happened.  What now?"

After spending the better part of the afternoon sniffling, here's the best comparison I can make.  Getting married, and the day after the wedding, feels very similar to the sensation that I experienced when my parents said good-bye to me immediately prior to my freshman year of college.  Realistically, you know that there is so much excitement and development coming into your life in the coming days and months.  Despite that cognitive realization, there's still a highly emotional component to it all, too.  There's the distinct feeling that something big has changed, and it's not ever going to revert back to the way it used to be.  On some minor level, it's a bit sad; life as you know it is now life as you knew it.  On a much more major level, it's exhilarating; rarely do you have an opportunity to experience such a significant change. 

Maybe I'm an oddball, but I cried the day after the wedding.  Regardless of whether that's an expected response or not, it was my response, and I hope to never forget this amalgamation of emotions, since it's very likely a once in a lifetime experience.

Did you experience any surprise wedding-related emotions?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"You never stopped smiling"

2000 cookies, 44 bobby pins, 14 bridal party members, 3 blisters, and countless hugs later, we're married!

Leading up to the big day, everyone kept echoing that at least one thing would go wrong, but I wouldn't mind.  In my head, I always scoffed at that piece of "advice," assuming that, minus the weather, anything that went awry on the wedding day was totally preventable.  Ergo, if something did go wrong, it would be directly related to poor planning or an egregious oversight on someone's part (most likely my own).  However, now that I've enjoyed each and every moment of my wedding day, I can confidently state that, sure enough, things don't always go as planned.  However, that doesn't mean that it's because of any one person's error.  Stuff happens; it's just life. Here's the magic of it all: even when something goes wrong on the big day, you won't mind.  It won't leave even the smallest dent in your euphoria.  And, looking back, those little blunders are permanently cemented as part of the entire wedding day process.  Without them, your wedding day wouldn't really be your wedding day, you know?

To say that our wedding day was the most enjoyable and special day in our lives is still an understatement.  The entire day was filled with powerful surges of emotion at every turn, and I am honestly awed at the mere recollection of it all.  I'm still in shock that it's all come and gone, but then I toss a casual glance at my left ring finger and so much of our special day comes flooding back to me.  

Just to leave you with a little taste of what to expect of our wedding photos, here's a quick snapshot from our post-ceremony bus ride.  It's not necessarily the highest-quality image you'll ever see, but I think it encompasses our wedding day pretty well - gigantic smiles, overflowing excitement, and two madly in love newlyweds.

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Snow Cone!
(photo courtesy of BM K)

The title of this post is a quote from a message from one of my dearest childhood friends who unfortunately couldn't attend the wedding - she informed me that everyone she spoke with told her that Mr. Snow Cone and I "never stopped smiling," which I thought was a perfect representation of how I remember the day.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

You make it easy

Just a few minutes ago, the grandfather clock downstairs chimed the twelve o'clock hour, denoting the official start to our wedding day.  I'm laying in my bedroom in my parents' house, the same room in which I spent countless hours on the phone with Mr. Snow Cone during the early parts of our relationship.  The exact same physical space, completely different mental spaces.  Nine years ago, I'd lay on my bed, discussing the day's events with Mr. Snow Cone.  Now, I lay on my bed, trying to wrap my head around the fact that I am preparing to marry the greatest individual I've been lucky enough to have in my life. 

This past week has had its ups and downs, to say the least.  Fortunately, the ups far outnumber the downs, and I have absolutely no doubt that two days, weeks, months, or years from now, the ups will be what stand out in our individual and collective memories.  It sounds trite, but I find myself wishing more than anything that I could bottle this emotion to keep in my possession - every important person in your life is in the same place at the same time, unbelievably excited for you and for what's to come.  Every little blunder and oversight regarding seating charts and head counts become nothing more than a distant memory; it frankly becomes embarrassing to realize that you wasted as much time as you did agonizing over the "problem" before coming to your solution.  All of that seems simply petty in comparison to the true, undeniable electricity that runs through your veins in the hours leading up to the wedding day. 

To Mr. Snow Cone: I know my indecisiveness can drive you up a wall, so you of all people should appreciate the gravity of this statement - choosing you to be my partner in life was the easiest decision I've ever faced.  I may struggle with picking eggplant versus plum and other frivolous details like that; but when it comes to picking the person I want to share the rest of my life with, it was really quite the no-brainer.  You are better for me than I'll ever know, and I can only hope to make you feel the same love and adoration that you infuse into my life on a daily basis.  I'll see you at the end of the aisle in a few hours.

For the very last time,
Miss Snow Cone

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Paranoia happening para-now-a

One week to go!  I keep getting asked if I'm ready, or if I'm nervous, or if I'm excited, or if I'm stressed.  The answer?  Yes to all of the above.

However, I think the most appropriate summary of my thoughts and emotions at this point is worried.  I'd even go so far as to say paranoid.

Everywhere I look, there are ample opportunities to bugger up the wedding day.  I've been doing my best to grow out my fingernails and clear up my skin, but sometimes stress gets the best of me and I succumb to the urge to pick.  As a result, every little pimple and hangnail has me convinced that our wedding photos are going to have a dapper groom and a big fat pile of imperfection standing in as the bride.  On a similar note, I got a teeny, tiny blister yesterday, and I'm now positive that this will lead to nothing but pain and agony on the wedding day, which will also have an awesome effect on the quality of our wedding photos - a dapper groom and an imperfect, grimacing bride.  Ecstasy.

I'm also hyper-nervous about safety, health, and well-being.  I woke up two days in a row and felt a slight sickly feeling brewing in my throat, so it took no time at all for me to self-diagnose myself with the early stages of laryngitis, or strep throat, or bronchitis, or all of the above.  In my weakest of moments, I'm sure I won't even have the vocal strength to utter my vows (Mind you, I feel 99% fine.  That blasted 1% is majorly screwing me up).  I was taking the stairs in our apartment building, and I honestly looked at my feet and thought to myself, "Do not trip and fall down these stairs.  That would be very, very bad for the wedding."  See?!  Every day tasks like walking from point a to point b have devolved into wedding-happiness-death-traps just waiting to engulf me.

Beyond the entities I can control, I'm worried that all of my lovely bridesmaids will show up in Pennsylvania, only to realize that one lucky lady has neglected to pack her dress.  Shoes and jewelry we can scrounge up, but a dress?  I don't think so.

The good news is that I'm heading to Johnstown today to bunker down and getting this wedding show on the road.  I'm hoping that if I just immerse myself in a couple dozen small tasks, I'll be too distracted to be paranoid.  Ideally, the end product of these next few days will look something like this:

Anyone else face wedding-week paranoia?  Any tips for avoiding anxiety?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Miracle in a bottle

Now that the wedding is getting absurdly close, I've been doing my best to nail down my DIY make-up based on my professional consultation.  I feel like I'm getting the hang of the application basics, but this recent stretch of scorching days has left me feeling a little less than confident about my make-up's staying power.  There's probably a decent chance that our August wedding day will come with high temperatures and even higher humidity, so suffice it to say that I'm very eager to fight off the melting make-up mayhem.

Fortunately, I think I may have found my miracle in a bottle.  Or, more specifically, my model in a bottle.

Image via

A few months back, I was asking a family friend who had recently gotten married if she had any general wedding day tips.  Among others, she specifically stressed buying this "model in a bottle" stuff that is intended to lock your make-up look in place for the entirety of the day.  It's supposed to withstand hugs, kisses, sweat, tears, water, and pretty much any other environmental mishap.  I made a mental note of her suggestion and then promptly did nothing about it.  Then, during my make-up consultation, Julie also stressed the importance of this product.  I figured that if two completely independent sources offered the same suggestion, it was worth investigating.  The best deal I found was at Spa Alana - $18 with free shipping, so I took the plunge.

According to the bottle, all you have to do is spritz your made-up face and keep your eyes closed for 20-30 seconds to let the sealer dry.  I decided to give this spritzer a trial run today, and here are the results.



I'm definitely pleased; this is by far the most presentable I've looked at the end of a day since the temperatures decided to hover above 85.  I'll still probably utilize some oil blotting sheets to keep any excess sheen away, but I consider a little extra peace of mind to most assuredly be worth $18.

What's your go-to wedding make-up product??

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted.)