Planning a wedding in San Diego…(Part 1)

First, this is not an all-encompassing list.  My planning was targeted, expedient and…awesome!  I had a pretty short timeline and I wasn’t interested in endless options so with my friend Mr. Google (why male? unclear), I looked up places and started emailing.  Yelp was actually a really big help.  I always use yelp slightly warily because there are definitely some outliers personality-wise on there.  The two in particular are the impossible-standards-folks who are closely related to the overly-sensitive-to-any-percieved-slight-by-the-service-industry types.  Sometimes they are one and the same!

Anyway, SMS and I wanted to elope.  That went over like a fat kid going over the high jump.  My Mom said, in a slightly squeaky voice, “Why would you want to do that?”  I quickly backtracked on the plan and SMS and I decided to have a wedding.  We didn’t know exactly what we wanted initially, but the size was soon fairly high due to extended family being invited so we had to scrap our initial idea of hosting a reception in a smallish restaurant.  We were also on a really short timeline because we really want to get married and if we didn’t do it the weekend of the 8th, I was really unsure when my parents would be available again.  In addition, I’m out of here in August and we were pretty set on getting married in San Diego.

Basically, I wanted easy.  I didn’t mind doing internet research, writing emails, checking out a few places and, of course, tasting cake!  But, I wanted to have a place where I didn’t have to worry about the logistics of getting rental furniture, dance floors, coordinating vendors and trying to create a fantastic party from scratch.  I wanted a place where this was something they did on a fairly regular basis, but wasn’t completely cookie cutter (e.g why hotel ballrooms and the military facilities were out, although don’t get me wrong, the views from the military reception sites are gorgeous and they’re inexpensive from what I hear).

Enter The Ultimate Skybox.  I am in love.  I found the site, looked at the pictures and immediately crossed my fingers.  Most of my inquiry emails went something like this: “Hi, I know this is almost crazy to ask but do you have availability on Sat, June 8 of this year?  My fiancé and I were going to elope until the Moms said no so now we’re trying to organize a wedding fairly quickly.  If by chance you do have an opening, I am very interested in your location/catering/make-up appt/etc.”

Amanda wrote back right away and shockingly, they were free!  Well, technically, the room had a hold but it was from another couple who had two dates reserved and took the other one.  HOORAY!  The next available Saturday after this one was in September 2014!

So now that the venue was set, it was on to food.  The Ultimate Skybox will only work with specific vendors for food and furniture rentals.  The list of approved caterers in approximately 15 and we went with Wild Thyme based on awesome Yelp reviews, excellent menus and reasonable prices.  We later had a tasting at their location to finalize the menu and it was awesome! (Phew!).  Jeanna has been wonderful to work with although sometimes it takes her a few days to answer emails either because of her days off (Mon and Tues) or because I think events are slightly proritized based on the timing (i.e. an event a week away is getting more attention than one several weeks away).

Speaking of answering emails, I’m shocked how quickly people answer their emails.  The Ultimate Skybox staff in particular is borderline ridiculous!  Pili is all over it in terms of the timeline and floor plan and that entire staff is incredible.  Again, Wild Thyme is a little slower but definitely within timely range.  If I were more stressed, it might bother me more but really, they’re a very busy company.  And we had a great face-to-face meeting with notes at the tasting session.  I do recommend the tasting/meeting in person to go over details with regards to the food!  Although really, we’ve met with everyone I think face-to-face at some point in the process.

Ok, that’s enough for now!  Part 2 to come…

We got married!

My wedding was awesome.  I know people likely (and should) say that about their own wedding but I had the best time.  It was so much fun and it seemed like everyone there agreed!

I woke up on my wedding day around 6.  I laid in bed until 7 and then got up.  I unrolled the yoga mat from the hotel room and stretched for a bit.  Then I showered, changed and decided to text my friend Carrie.  She is a Williams friend and by herself.  Our other college friend who would make it later was still en route.  So Carrie and I walked to Little Italy, went through the Farmer’s Market and had breakfast near Café Zuccaro.  It was a great morning!  It was so fun to catch up with Carrie, get a great walk and have a pretty zen-like start of the day.  I would have hung out with Brady but she needed some time to get ready, write her speech and pick up some snacks from Trader Joe’s (her idea!  And a wonderful one!).


Time started to speed up a bit and I realized I had to get back.  We walked back to our hotels.  I dropped my bag off and headed over to Va Va Varnish where the Messmer ladies were getting their nails done.  I treated Mom, Nicole, Meg and Brady to manicures and pedicures in a super-cute salon that had the back area reserved for us.  The place is decorated like someone’s chic living room and it was really a lot of fun to hang out, relax and get my nails done since it had been awhile.  Linda also hung out with us but didn’t get her nails done since she has someone locally.  At one point, I looked at the clock and saw it was 12:15 and thought it was crazy how in less than 5 hours, I’d be on my way to the venue.  


After my nails were done, I headed back to the hotel for hair and make-up.  I stopped at a flower shop to fill a 36 inch balloon for the photos.  It was an idea I had that I hoped would work out and the balloon did make it into some of the photos.  I had a few “detail-things” that I hoped would work out and most of them did- the balloon, the matting around the wedding poster for people to sign with purple pens, and my hair accessory.  One detail that didn’t work out was that I meant to buy envelopes and cards for people to write little notes since we didn’t have a formal guest book but instead, I bought 40 envelopes only.  Amanda pointed that out and I said, “Well, I guess that won’t work.”  And it was totally cool!  At no point during the day was there a detail that would make or break my wedding and everything worked out really well.  (Obviously, that excludes the fact that if the vows hadn’t gone well or the groom didn’t show up, THAT wouldn’t have been so great.  But I had a lot of confidence in that working out!).


Mish was there when I came in- she was early and I was right on time.  She did an AWESOME job with my hair and I felt really beautiful.  During my hair session, Lois swung by with the bouquet and Brady went down to the lobby to pick it up.  The bouquet was GORGEOUS!  There were the most amazingly fragrent roses, lavender, cool purple filler, mums and succulent-like plants.  Unreal.  It was handtied and absolutely perfect!  Keely did my make-up and I felt pretty awesome.  Brady had her hair and make-up done as well.  Around 3:30, Willa showed up for the photography.  She did a lot of still shots and some action shots.  At 4:15, we headed down for the first look, which was a little silly but then the photo shoot was a lot of fun.  It definitely helped to dissipate some nerves!  Initially, I was kind of revved up but then I settled into our groove.  Mark looked wonderful- super handsome in a gray suit, darker gray shirt and purple tie.  His boutonniere was awesome and he just looked great!

We walked to the fire station, Hard Rock hotel doors, train tracks, Park at the Park and the Gaslamp.  People called out their congrats and it was a lot of fun.  Then Mark and the photogs headed to the venue while I took the long way.  I ran into Laddie and Carrie, got cheered on by the outdoor patio crowd from a local bar and was jubilantly greeted by most of Mark’s cousins who had been hanging out together at a bar across the street.

I went up the elevator and went to the back hallway where I was supposed to wait.  I said hi to the caterers, who were whipping up awesome foods.  They promised me a to-go box which I’m sure was phenomenal and I FORGOT at the end of the night.  (That’s ok.  I had the food at the tasting and a little on Saturday).  My sister came back after a few minutes and then my Dad.  And then it started!


Mark and I had chosen “All I Want Is You” by U2 as played by the Vitamin String Quartet.  Brady went first and apparently that got everyone to realize that the wedding had started!  My Dad and I started walking up the aisle and…

It was the most magical moment of my life.  It was so amazingly moving and beautiful to see all the love, affection and excitement in all my family and friends’ faces.  Everyone was so excited and it was for OUR marriage/wedding!  I really feel badly for guys that they never get to experience that incredible consuming feeling of surrounding love.  It was amazing.  


I got up to the front and looked at Mark, who looked amazing.  The chaplain welcomed everyone and then my Dad gave me away to Mark.   I know that it’s a pretty patriarchal action but honestly, in the wedding, it was just a special moment of transition and ability to have my Dad be part of the wedding.  Mark and I stood in front of the chaplain, listened to the readings, said our vows, exchanged rings and kissed!  It was completely wonderful.  I couldn’t stop smiling and I was so, SO happy.


Afterwards, Mark and I walked out to “Love on Top” and did a little twirl at the end.  Then there were lots of family photos which got to be a *little* much at the very end but overall went really smoothly and efficiently thanks to our pre-planned groups list that Willa had us draw up. Then there were a few more couple shots and in no time at all, the cocktail hour was almost over.  Where were the sliders?!  (Eaten by others, ha ha.  We did get to try the beets/blood orange/burrata spoons, yum!  And although we didn’t drink much, apparently people were really throwing drinks back, which is awesome!).  

Mark and I moved inside and Dad gave a really nice welcome speech/toast.  Then, the dinner stations were open (people started before the welcome which was good since it brought people in).  Dinner was a hit!  The steak was delicious, people thought the taco idea was awesome and the paella got rave reviews.  Dinner went for awhile (time was slightly fuzzy that day since there were no clocks around although Amanda was running a tight ship behind the scenes) and then it was time for the toasts.  Rip had a really nice toast welcoming me to the family and really saying lovely things about Mark and I as a couple.  Brady had the most amazing, cutest, moving toast.  She started crying at one part and I almost did too!  John had a brief but great toast that led everyone in a formal toast.  I can’t quite remember what I was drinking- I think I had champagne in a non-flute?  I really can’t remember.  


After the toasts, Mark and I cut the cake with my Dad’s Navy sword.  Well, it’s sort of mine now but it’s really awesome and I was so happy to include it in the ceremony.  There was definitely no cake smashing- I don’t think we would have done it either way but we definitely talked about it beforehand.

Next, we went into the dances.  Mark and I had taken a lesson so we danced to “Lovely Tonight” by Josh Radin.  The DJ played a different version than the one we had practiced to but Mark’s iPhone to the rescue.  After, Dad and I danced to “You Make Me Feel So Young” by Frank Sinatra and Mark and Linda danced to “Over The Rainbow/Wonderful World” by Iz Kamakawiwo`ole.
Then, the dancing started!  It was an awesome dance party for the next few hours.  I can’t remember what Mike played first, but after about 20-30 minutes, my cousin Jimmy tripped over the wire and stopped the music.  Everyone boo’d.  Mike and Jonny took advantage of the time to switch up the DJ set-ups and Jonny tore it up with his set.  He was amazing!  He started with “Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones, which I never would have thought of for getting the dancing going.  Other songs he played were the old Ray Charles song leading into Kanye’s “Golddigger” (awesome irony for a wedding!), Gangnam Style, Kei$ha and so many more that I can’t remember.   I sort of hope I can get a setlist from him but if not, that’s ok. [I’ve remembered a few more! “Get Lucky by Daft Punk, “Treasure” by Bruno Mars, “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, “I Love It” by Icona Pop)

After about ½ hour, Mike took back over and continued the awesomness.  “Ring My Bell” and other songs played.  Brady and I danced to Rhianna and after awhile the crowd thinned, but Mark and I had a great dance to Beyonce “Love on Top” and “Lay Up Under Me.”  Then, I had Mike switch to more downtempo music b/c by that point, pretty much everyone was hanging around the bar or the firepit/couches outside and catching up.  The late night snacks of donuts and savory popcorn hit the spot.  People really, really liked the donuts!


Then, Mark and I left around 11:30 with the top tier of our cake, flowers, gift cards and stuff.  We forgot the to-go bags which I didn’t even realize until the next morning.

It was the most perfect, amazing day of my life and I am so happy and feel
so incredibly lucky and blessed!

Wedding Week

I took off the week before our wedding and it was wonderful.  While it meant I couldn’t take the week after off and go on a “proper” honeymoon, it was so nice hang out and not have to work.  With the exception of the three times I went in for a few hours at a time; that definitely was a lesson that if you really want a vacation, stay-cations don’t cut it!

But after our lovely Newport weekend, SMS and I were in town Monday.  I went into clinic that a.m. and then relaxed in the afternoon.

Tuesday was a highlight because Brady came into town!  Hooray!  We hung out with our no-book book club friends on the rooftop of my apartment.  They’re a great group of women and it was a lot of fun to catch up, especially since they hadn’t seen Brady in months.

On Wednesday, we had sister day!  We did a few errands in the morning and went to Kitchen 4041 with SMS for lunch so he could meet Brady.  Lunch was delicious- I think Brady’s steak sandwich won for most incredible meal but I had an excellent fish dish and SMS had the short rib ragu on gnocchi.  But Brady’s sandwich was borderline sublime.  After lunch, we went out to Del Mar for sister spa day.  It was a great spa in Del Mar that I had gotten a Groupon to use.  We had facials and massages and both were incredible.   The women who worked there had skills and the setting was awesome!

Afterwards, I thought about it for a fraction of a second and decided to skip out on Japanese.  Brady and I went to Blue Ribbon Pizzeria in Encinitas and had delicious pizza and tuna crudo.  We got the Signature, which is my all-time favorite.  Ricotta, lemon zest, basil, mozzarella…amazing!

Thursday, things got a little busier.  There was a graduation ceremony in the morning that I had to go to- boo!  Ed and Meg came in and the four of us grilled on the apartment rooftop.  The view totally amazed Ed and Meg and it was fun to hang out.  Then we went downtown and met up with Joe and Nicole.  It was really great to get together with the four siblings.  Mom and Dad came in late that night but decided to go to bed and meet up with us the next day.

Friday, wedding-eve!  Mom and Dad had some appointments at Balboa, we all met for lunch, the rehearsal was at the Ultimate Skybox and the Hail and Farewell took place.  I didn’t get too badly roasted during the video and it was fun to bring my whole family.  Grandpa and Dusty also joined up for the Hail and Farewell and it was really a great time.

Next up…Wedding!

Kick-off Weekend

Rose Garden, San Diego (actually from two weekends ago!)
SMS and I had a wonderful weekend!  We “reserved” the Newport duplex awhile back and headed up Friday for a fun weekend at the beach.
It was a great weekend with lots of things to do but not too crazy or rushed.  We arrived Friday night after a pretty smooth ride.  We went to Bear Flag for dinner and had some great poke, fish tacos (that they left the avocado off of, boo!) and grilled artichoke.  We had a delicious bottle of wine and ate at home.  The next day, we went to Eat Chow for breakfast, followed by a conference call with our DJ.  Our DJ is Mike Sincere and he seems really mellow.  I think his music will do the talking, not to be too sickly aphoristic about it.  But I AM really excited.
After the conference call, we headed out to Gulfstream with Dick, SMS’ grandfather.  It was a great visit and a delicious lunch.  We shared a grilled artichoke and then SMS and Dick had the smoked salmon plate, which was a large fillet that was still moist inside rather than jerky-like through-and-through.  It was delicious!  I had a seafood gazpacho that was delicious although honestly, I may have coveted the salmon once I saw it!
After lunch, SMS and I had a dance lesson to figure out something for our first dance.  We went to Orange County Wedding Dance and had the most amazing experience!  I know no one reads this blog and I’m going to post a glowing Yelp review because they were incredible.  SMS and I had a 90 minute lesson and now we have a simple routine that will make our dance enjoyable, rather than awkward and interminable.  While the adjectives are a little over-dramatic, I was definitely uneasy going in without a plan during a dance where all eyes are on us and now I feel much, much better.  SMS was into it too and even asked for an extension of the lesson so we could solidify things.  I am so, so happy because that was one part of the night I was a little unsure of in terms of how it would go.

After our dance lesson we headed back to the house and tried to meet up with Marty, but he had decided not to come to the beach.  So we went to a DELICIOUS Italian restaurant (Cucina Alessa) and had a dinner of little plates!  Grilled artichoke made an appearance again, as did burricotta (mix of burrata and ricotta) and prosciutto.  We also shared a pear-gargonzola salad and olives.  We split a tiramisu for dessert and just had a really nice, pleasant dinner out.

The next day, we were off to Catalina Island!  I’ve wanted to go for several years and I bought 50% off Groupon tickets for the ferry out of Newport Beach.  I’m glad we went.  It was a sunny gorgeous day while NB was cloudy and cool.  The town was cute and we biked everywhere on the cruisers we brought over.  We had a great time and while I don’t really feel the need to go back (it’s really quiet and slow), it’s a place I had wanted to visit!

Avalon Harbor, Catalina

So handsome on his fixed-wheel cruiser, wearing a TESLA
shirt, ha ha.

Lunch with tasty butternut squash soup!

After we got back, I cleaned up at the house while SMS studied, then we drove back to SD.  I was a little tipsy so I was a sleepy passenger since our waiter at dinner was quite generous with the wine (Raymond cabernet sauvignon) and only charged for one glass of cheaper stuff!  At Eat Chow (yeah, we went back!), we had cheesy tots, grilled artichoke and shrimp ceviche.  It was delicious!

Weekend fun!

At the baseball game- I need to get more sleep!

This past weekend was great!  SMS and I joined a few of our friends at the Padres game.  Aaron is also going to Japan and he too has his San Diego check-off list.  We had great seats, especially for only $13!  We could see the Ultimate Skybox from our seats and we also went to Hodad’s.  The burger was fine and the toppings delicious but I’m fairly certain that’s my one-and-only time there.  Even though it wasn’t the original OB location, I am fine with that!

On Saturday, SMS and I met Chaplain Feagle, a really nice, warm former Navy chaplain who lives in Pt Loma.  Afterwards, we went to Reglan Public House which was a delicious craft brew and hamburger place.  SMS didn’t have a burger the night before so we split a burger, sweet potato fries and grilled corn.  Yum!

Then we did a bunch of errands to get ready for SMS’ party on my rooftop.  We made oven-fried carnitas and pollo asado.  Both dishes were great and the party was a huge success.  SMS’ friends are so nice and engaging.  There was lots to talk about and even though it was a party of work friends, it didn’t seem like there was too much shop talk!  Everyone loved the view and the whole venue was just really awesome.  We stayed until about 11, which was great since the roof/lounge technically closes at 10.  But we were allowed to stay, probably because it was all very mellow and no music was playing.

Oooo, just a note on the carnitas- even though it’s a pain to de-pith, the orange salsa is totally worth making!

View from the West side of the building
with the airport in the distance

On Sunday, I felt great although sleepy- I had taken a gamble and actually been on call Saturday because I wanted the middle weekend in June off rather than split it with Chris.  I met up with Tawnne for some shopping and lunch at Fashion Valley.  We had lunch at True Food Kitchen, which was a delicious healthy option.  We split a scramble and the Farmer’s Market salad, which had the freshest peas and fava beans.  It was so good.  Then, we proceeded to spend too much money before finally calling it a day.  Afterwards, SMS and I walked through Balboa Park and through the rose garden, where I’ve been wanting to go for weeks!

Healthy breakfast/lunch

We had dinner at Azuki sushi where I figured out that the simple sushi and sashimi were best.  I got a fancy roll but the sauces distracted from the absolutely amazing quality of the fish.  So next time, simple is better.  We’ll definitely be back- it’s delicious and SMS loved the place.