Friday, June 28, 2013

The Groom's Side...Finally, The Wedding!

"Let's sail away, on the ocean blue. For you are meant for me. And I am meant for you", read the invitation. On Saturday, June 22, 2013, Kathleen and Trevor stood in front of their family, friends, hundreds of beach goers...and the ocean, and declared their love and intentions. At times, the spray of the waves pounding the rock jetty behind them, lightly misted the wedding party, causing the bride to flash her brilliant smile as her bridesmaids dressed in the pastel colors of the sea lined behind her.

Beach conditions were perfect. It was as if all the weather gods had lined up to put on their best show. Brilliant blue skies, a light breeze and perfect June temperatures all blended to make this wedding one to remember. As the bride's flowing white gown swept along the beach, it was the groom's turn to smile as he watched her come down the sandy isle. As his mother, I have been witness to most of the expressions on his handsome face over the years. But this day was different. The excitement of his first home run, the intensiveness of his first varsity tackle, or even the pride he displayed shaking the Dean's hand at his college graduation, paled in comparison to this long awaited moment. No, this was the look of a joyful man, a man trying to catch his breath as he realized that all that he wanted in life was now walking toward him on her father's arm.

He anxiously watched as she approached, and extended his hand to the man who had guided her to his side. I watched my son as she slid

her hand into his, slowly close his eyes and exhale..."for you were meant for me".

...and he did, as his groomsmen cheered him on!
All the planning, the partying, the shopping, the traveling, the saving, the spending, the phone calls, the mailings and blogging, had culminated on this day, this time, this gathering in Ocean City, NJ.

Family and friends had started to arrive days earlier, in planes, trains and automobiles to help celebrate their support and love for this union. The minister spoke her wise words, the bride and groom had each chosen a cousin to read warm and witty selections...and then Kathleen and Trevor recited those time-honored vowels that never seem to get old. And with the declaration of marriage and a wave of her, Rev. O'Donnell proclaimed them married. "Trevor, kiss your wife!"

I must admit, that by the time we got through the receiving line and ready to board the trolley, the two of them were downright giddy! Watching them laughing while drinking champagne made me realize why this is such a great couple...they're friends. They've got this!

The wedding was not only beautiful, it was perfect. There aren't many days that you can look back to in your life and use that word. But this day was perfect.

Now, I can't speak for the newlyweds, but when I walked into that reception and realized that almost everyone in this world that I love and care about,
was in one place - at the same time, I was overwhelmed. For most of my family and friends, this wedding had the added expense of travel for some, hotels for all. But attending was never a second thought. And I love them for that.

After everyone feasted on New York strip steak and sea bass, the party got started! Some of my favorite pictures of this day are below. Take a look!

Kat surprised hubby with short dress and a hot dance to "I know what  boys want"!

Dads can be funny at the oddest times!

I'm getting married!

When was it decided I was wearing a ring?

Hey Mom, won't be bringing home laundry anymore!!

"Let's sail away on the ocean blue", the invitation began. And it's such a lovely thought. But in life, the seas won't always be calm, but as long as you have a steady hand to hold, the ride's a  whole lot easier.

And as the Groom's brother Kyle, the best man, toasted,
 "May only the good winds push your sails through the journey of life"

Here is to the good winds, Trevor & Kathleen! 

Photos by anyone who posted on Facebook!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Groom's Side Part X, Finally, The Rehearsal Dinner "I've got this...I think"!!

The deck...once totally submerged in the bay!!
It is just a week till the big event and everything is coming into play. Reading back over the last several Groom's Side postings gave me relief that falling into one of life's sinkholes early in the process, didn't alter my perspective. In fact, since then, we have covered everything from workouts, white teeth, Hawaiian shirts, alligator wrestling, bachelor parties, Spanx, funerals and showers! This blog has been a fun ride and now we are taking it home to the one responsibility that every wedding source researched, every website, expert, family member and friend, agreed was the groom's parent's responsibility...the rehearsal dinner.

Not that it has happened yet, but we are ready! And it wasn't the slam dunk I thought it would be. Let me explain. First, the wedding is being held on the beach in the summer seasonal resort known as Ocean City, NJ (I clarify this for the readers who have been following from England, Ireland, and Dubai - Hi!), okay, anyway, the bay side restaurant that both the bride and groom and been to and loved was heavily damaged during Hurricane Sandy last October. The turbulent bay crashed over the bulk head, collapsing the deck and wiping out the entire ground level. It was rumored that they wouldn't be re-opening until at least July, obviously too late for June gathering. And why every message I left on their unanswered phone was not returned. So the search began...and this is where I began to panic.

Calling several shore area restaurants I was given the same answer - they do not offer a dinner or catering package for a large bridal party (there are 36 of us) in June because they would be sold out on every Friday night through July, so basically, why bother. However, if the wedding was being held in August, they would have been more than happy to accommodate us. Come on! Are you kidding me? I have to admit, I had never thought of this scenario. I even called a food writer/critic that I know from a large Philadelphia newspaper for suggestions. He gave a few, I called and emailed, no response. Working my way down the southern NJ coast, no phone number was left untried. Sleepless nights and a turning stomach led to me to believe that pizza and beer delivered to the beach after the rehearsal, might be well received by a young wedding party?

And then, after several weeks had past, sitting in work at my desk, my cell phone rang with a number I didn't recognize. I usually don't answer at work, but so glad I did. "Hi, this is Ed, the head chef of Baia's restaurant, I heard you were trying to get in touch with us. How can we help you?" I swear I heard music from the heavens! Could they help? Would they help? Of course! Their goal was to re-open by Memorial Day and would be more than happy to hold our event! He immediately faxed over a menu and two weeks later the bride, the groom, his father and I were on our way down for a tasting. It was amazing!
Baia's beautifully restored...just in time!

As the four of us sat around sampling our menu choices, I told them about my desperation of almost having to order pizza delivered to the beach after the rehearsal. Trevor and Kat, looked at each other, then back to me. "There is no rehearsal, it's a beach wedding."


No! The rehearsal dinner has to follow a rehearsal. Right? The New York Times may have told me to "show up, shut up and wear beige", but it also told me to arrange a dinner to be held after the rehearsal! "But, we'll still need a place for the wedding party to gather before the wedding, so this works" my son added trying to get the shocked look off of my face. Has my family invented the groom's side "night before the wedding gathering dinner"? No. A few weeks later, the bride and her event planner decided a short rehearsal run through on the beach would be best. So the Phelps/Emhof Rehearsal Dinner is back on and tradition survives. Whew! Stay will be posted!

Next up: The Wedding!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Groom's Side Part IX...A year in the making.

Hands soon to be joined in marriage!
There are just three weeks left to the day we have been planning for! And one month less than a year ago, I started  "The Groom's Side" as a side blog to the ever growing "Kitchen Clatter", shortly after my son proposed to the love of his life. I thought  'this will be easy, so much to write about' was anything but. After the milestones, such as the engagement party, dress shopping, shower planning and so forth, there were large periods where not much was going on, wedding wise, and my topics were getting slim. Add to this, a national monthly bridal magazine started following The Groom's Side and was intrigued with the concept and wanted to see twelve posts before buying the complete package.Yikes! Twelve?

 So now, with just 20 days to go, here's part one of a retrospect of where we've been on this journey. So much has changed in my personal life, In looking back,  I was anxious to see if my perspective had altered as well. I was hoping that what had become a painful autumn for me, did not reflect in what was meant to be a tribute to my son and his fiance. Additionally, several thousand people started joining us along the way, commenting on things like what I should wear, the beautiful bride and handsome groom, beach weddings, and how to get a pair of Spanx on without killing myself. I have made so many new "friends" through this blog, all of who are waiting for the grand finale, that I feel an obligation to see this through!

So let's take a look back...

Groom's Side Part 1 was baby steps into the wedding world. I tried to examine the responsibilities of the groom's parents and wasn't getting much help from the so called "experts". There definitely seemed to be some ambiguity on what was expected of the groom's parents. "Rehearsal dinner" kept coming up, but after that, there was no clear direction offered. So I kept searching. Next up? What to wear.

Groom’s Side Part II "Show up. Shut up. Wear Beige" I remember reading this on a wedding site sponsored by the New York Times, and laughing out loud. “Your little boy is all grown up and is getting married. Now you're not just Mom, you're the Mother of the Groom. There's a traditional saying about what the mother of the groom is supposed to do – Show Up, Shut Up and Wear Beige.” What? And then it continues, “While mothers of the groom don't really need to wear beige anymore they still need to shut up. I know this may be hard to hear, but it's true." 

" As 'show up, shut up and wear beige' is still resonating in my head, I quickly switched websites and found this on; “The groom's mom should only compliment the gowns to be worn by the bride's mom and bridesmaids, not overdo or outdo them”. Well no problem here. As a non-speaking, non-intrusive mother of the groom dressed in beige and blending in with the sand at a beach wedding, it would be hard to “outdo” anyone. Maybe I should just put on a wet suit and quietly snorkel in the nearby waves. Do they sell beige wet suits? The out-dated and insane information from a trusted website made this blog one of my favorites."

Groom’s Side Part III…The Engagement Party! The bride's mother, the bride and myself, pulled off a great party even in lieu of the threat of violent storms! A planned garden party was moved indoors and could not have gone better, prompting me to write the following:
Beautiful cake made by Jean, bride's mom! 

"I told my husband on the way over that as a co-host, I was going to try hard to mingle and not let the different factions of people segregate into their own areas. But as is typical of human nature, as soon as introductions were made, the younger bridal party gathered on an enclosed back porch, the bride’s family congregated in the kitchen, and my family and friends took to the living room where my sisters were discussing my need to wear false eyelashes to the wedding, and my friends were discussing 50 Shades of Grey. Both topics of conversations that, I am sure, were not taking place in the kitchen….or on the porch. Maybe some things are best left the way they are." I ended that blog with describing the love between Trevor and Kathleen;  "The love in their eyes gave me comfort. Both sets of their parents have combined marriages of over 70 years, so the ground work has been laid. Compromise and humor will get them through most everything.......and the four of  us will always be there for anything else!"

Life happens. Shortly after the September engagement party, I found out that my close to 40-year old marriage was suddenly ending. Completely shattered, I had to pick up the pieces and find  a way to keep things going. The magazine interested in buying the complete series had mentioned the humor and writing style as a condition of purchase. My sense of humor had completely shut down and my laptop sat unopened for days. After a short period of mourning, I prayed for the strength to refocus. I so wanted not to be a victim, but rather a strong woman that both my sons could be proud of. They were my motivation in keeping myself standing and moving. Bob Marley once said "It's amazing how strong you can be when strong is your only choice."...and it was.

Next up? How the Groom's Side moved on!