September 28, 2009

Mini-Moonin' It - Rainy Day Fun (Part 3)

You can't always have great weather, and that was the case this summer in the Northeast. We got so much rain that we didn't know what to do with it all. That was most definitely the case during our final days in Newport.

So what's there to do in Newport on a rainy day? Tennis, anyone?

Mr. Swan and I took a trip to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I can pretty much appreciate most sports and love live tennis. Mr. Swan and I have even had one of our most fun outings ever together at the U.S. Open. I think that it had a lot to do with the martinis they were serving, but the tennis was good too!

Here's Mr. Swan at the street entrance. You have no idea that you're about to walk into this.....

There were quite a few exhibits and items that you definitely can't find anywhere else.

The outfit Roger Federer wore when he won his 15th Grand Slam title. He's got some really huge feet!!

Some great memorabilia from the Battle of the Sexes match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973.

A painting of the amazing player and humanitarian, Arthur Ashe

A visit to Newport isn't complete without venturing out to its many historic mansions, the most famous being The Breakers. All I can say is, "WOW!" I didn't realize that this kind of opulence existed in the U.S. I'm talking Louis XIV Versailles-style, peeps.

Here's the outside..not bad for a summer "cottage"

We couldn't take pictures inside, but here's a taste of what you can see:

The Great Hall

Mr. Vanderbilt's room (His wife slept in a different one....)

That's me in the backyard :)

There are several lovely mansions besides The Breakers including Marble House. Marble House was built as a present from William Vanderbilt (brother of Cornelius, the one who built The Breakers) to his wife, Alva, who would divorce him a couple of years (or so) later after it was built. Oh well.

Here's Mr. Swan in the Marble House driveway.

This structure in the backyard is a replica Japanese tea house. Alva Vanderbilt used to hold women's suffrage meetings here.

Now it's a cafe for guests to enjoy.

In all we had a great time in Newport, rain or shine. There's quite a bit to do (and I didn't even talk about the food we ate!!). Like I said in my first minimoon post, do a mini-get-away after the wedding. It's a special time, and you'll appreciate having the moments relaxing with your honey.

Will visiting museums and/or historic sites be a part of your honeymoon experience?

September 22, 2009

Mini-Moonin' It - Wine and .....More Wine? (Part 2)

As you can see from my last post, we spent a lot of time on boats our first couple of days in Newport; however, Newport has other places to experience that don't require a lifevest or cause seasickness. I'll show you a few that the Mr. and I had a chance to see.

One thing that I failed to mention before was that SIL and BIL Swan were kind enough to give us a little basket of minimoon cheer for our time in Newport. In addition to the sail boat trip we had (and other cute gift basket items), they also gave us a gift certificate for a tour and tasting at Newport Vineyards. Yes, that's right. While it's not Napa, Rhody has got its own little wine making area right next to Newport in neighboring Middletown and Portsmouth, Rhode Island. In addition to Newport Vineyards, Greenvale Vineyard is just a short drive from the heart of downtown Newport.

One of the winemakers checking on some Cabernet

Being the foodie that I am, it would be awfully whack of me not to make some wine suggestions. Personally, we liked the whites the best, particularly the Great White, In the Buff (cool name ;)), and the Riesling. Newport Vineyards also makes this great, crisp Rhody Coyote Hard Cider.

After the vineyard trip, we had a nice lunch at the Castle Hill Inn. The Inn has a great lawn right on the water where you can relax with a drink and a nearby patio where you can eat their fabulous lunch and dinner options. We recommend the chowder, the lobster roll and the Cobb Salad.

Pretty view, huh?

We could sit and watch the boats go by while sipping some cocktails.

MIL and FIL Swan actually ended up going to the Castle Hill Inn a fews weeks later, and they witnessed a marriage proposal right there on the lawn. I wonder if the lucky bride (or groom) has discovered Weddingbee. Are you out there? :)

September 21, 2009

Mini-Moonin' It - On the Water (Part 1)

I thought that while we're waiting for my pro pics from Dante Williams that I would share our mini-moon to Newport, Rhode Island.

As I mentioned in my initial post, I was not completely sold on the idea of Newport, but as I researched all that the area had to offer, I was pretty excited to get there. We packed a lot into about five days, and yet it didn't seem rushed at all. I highly recommend a get-away after the wedding however small or modest it may be.

During our first two full days in Newport, we spent quite a bit of time on the water. Mr. Swan grew up sailing a lot with his family as well as coming to Newport, so it was like reminiscing for him. Our first few days included a trip to the Newport area's second beach, which is technically in Middletown, Rhode Island (but, hey, who's counting?).

A few hours later we took in a sunset cruise on the Amazing Grace tour boat and admired Newport's world famous harbor and learned a little bit about its history.

Well, what did we see?

Fabulous boats

Anybody wanna buy a boat? This is the Athena, apparently one of the largest sailboats in the world, and it will only cost you well over $100 million dollars. That's all! :)

Interesting Sites

A private family home out there all by itself

Hammersmith Farm
Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis' childhood summer home

This is a historic house that's now condos. I'll live there!

Fort Adams, which is now used as a state park and some Navy housing.

Mr. Swan and I also got a chance to tackle sailing on a former America's Cup 12 meter racing ship called the Heritage courtesy of SIL and BIL Swan.

The great thing about the ship was that we even got help out sailing the boat.

Here I am having just finished helping to hoist the sail.

The Mr. and I had a great time.
Here we are with the Newport Bridge behind us.

Will you or did you spend a lot of time near the water for your honeymoon?

September 8, 2009

Taking the Long Route

Around the time that this post will go up, I will be celebrating another birthday as well as my first month as a newlywed. As one of the older bride bloggers in recent memory on Weddingbee, I figured that I would talk about being a slightly older bride. I've definitely appreciated Miss Star's posts about being a younger bride (here, here, here, and here). Since I've got a couple years on her (okay, like, a whole lot more), I thought I would also provide some perspective on the other end of the spectrum. I know that I am not the oldest bride/newlywed ever on Weddingbee, but I think being a bride marrying well after the national average of 26 years old for women in the U.S. has some specific joys and challenges. One of my primary motivations for writing this post is that I often feel like sometimes there is this sense that there is a self-destruct button when one turns 30, especially for unmarried women. Well, I am here to let you know that I been to the mountain top, and the view is fine. :)

How did I get to be slightly older bride? I don't know because I surely didn't plan it! I actually didn't meet Mr. Swan until I was 28. I spent most of my 20's without so much as a boyfriend. I definitely went on dates and had some significant romantic entanglements, but I had not had any long term committed relationships since my early 20's. Actually by the time I met Mr. Swan back in late 2005, I had not even had a date for about eleven months!! I was at the point in my life where I didn't think I was going to get married, and to be honest, I was pretty okay with it. I had definitely made my peace with the idea of not being married and was relishing a life of complete, adult freedom. None of my friends were married or engaged; my family is not full of married people; and so I did not have what I like to call a "culture of marriage" surrounding me.

Granted, I think when and how you get married is a product of a lot of different social forces. I think it's a function of where you live, your social groups, life choices; you name it. Based on my quick, unscientific sociological research, I am probably a pretty prime candidate/statistic for later marriage: (1) I have lived most of my life in the Northeast, which regionally has a later marriage rates; (2) I've lived in major cities almost all of my adult life; (3) Women with a college degrees (or more education) do marry but on average a few years later than those who do not; and (4) for what seems to be a variety of sociological reasons (someone can write a book on this topic, and I think they are) Black women are the least married group with only approximately 52% married by the time they are reach 30 (contrast that with apparently approximately 81% for white women and approximately 77% for Latinas). I was a stat, and I didn't even know it.

Being a slightly older brides has its joys and challenges. Here are some observations from this side of the age spectrum:

Pressure (or pity) from Family or Friends - I have been pretty lucky that Mommy Swan, my other family or friends have never really made me feel inadequate because I was single through most of my 20's. I can't say that's true for many women that I know. Whether through pressure or passive-aggressive comments from family (and perhaps some friends), many women have to deal with a society that subtly tells them often that they should be married preferably not too early but also not too later either.

Pressure from Within - I feel we all judge ourselves a lot. I know I am probably my worst critic. I think women especially give themselves a hard time about what they should be accomplishing by when and how (I do this constantly about my career), and I know that the "Oh no, I'm not married by 30!" conversation has happensed at some point for many women I know. Whenever I mentally start down this path, I try to remind myself that I am at the place where I'm supposed to be when I'm supposed to be there. It doesn't always help, but it stops my internal least for a little while.

Starting a Family - As you can tell by simply adding one to my age in my profile, I am now 32. I will be the first to say (especially since I have no choice) that there's nothing wrong with having kids in your 30's. While I agree that women shouldn't take their fertility for granted, children born to slightly older women can still be healthy and happy. This is all to say that I already know that I am going to be slightly older mother than the national average (although not here in NYC based on some trips to the park), but I am okay with that. Mr. Swan and I recognize the life shift that will happen once we have children, and we want to ease into it. We know we don't have the luxury of waiting for a very long time. Well, actually, we can wait, but we are well aware that there are some possible consequences for doing so. When I get worried about being an older mom, I just think about Michelle Obama.

She looks pretty good for having two kids when she was in her mid and late 30's.

A Little Bit of Experience Under the Belt - I am sure that anyone getting married is happy with the timing of their choice, but I do feel that getting married a little later has allowed me to have experiences that I am glad to have had. I've traveled a ton, lived alone (and loved it), worked hard and learned a lot about myself. I think you can definitely enjoy and grow from many of these same major life events while being married, but I think having done so on my own will bring a little sumthin' to my relationship with Mr. Swan.

Anyway, I just wanted to represent for the brides "gifted with a few extra years of life" out there in Bee Land. Regardless of our age, I think we should be happy that we've found people to share our life!

September 3, 2009

The Next Life

Doesn't it look like there's a mummy in my garment bag?

Well, my lovely dress is having a rest, and it has been sitting on the futon in our office for the almost four weeks that I have been married. Honestly, I don't know what to do with it. I know that I need to get it cleaned, but what should my dress' next life be?

There are obviously quite a few options for what I can do with my dress post-wedding:

1) Preserve It - I always have the option of keeping my dress for my daughters. I have to admit that this option is not really too appealing to me? Why? Well, Mr. Swan's family tends to produce male children. JUST KIDDING! :) But seriously, that's a consideration, no? I may just not have any daughters at all. The one daughter I may have may not like my style; and hey, my style may be out of style by the time she's ready to get married. Another practical consideration: where am I going to put it? I do have a nice sized closet for a New York City apartment, but my dress will take up a fair amount of space that I'd like to use for clothes I'll actually wear. Plus some of the costs of professional preservation have surprised me. much? Hmm...

2) Sell It - The semi-capitalist in me wants to just sell my dress. It will create the space in my closet that I need and maybe I can make a little moola in the process! I will say that I am pretty intimidated about the selling process. Do I use Craiglist, Once Wed, Bravo Bride,, Ebay? There are so many options. Am I missing any? I'd love to know if any of you have used these services and which was most user-friendly for you.

3) Donate It - I like the idea of my dress not only helping out another bride, but also possibly helping out a larger cause. I'm definitely considering Bridal Garden, a great used gown store whose proceeds go to local educational charities here in Brooklyn. While I may not get the financial reward from this option (well perhaps a tax credit), I think that my gown will bring some happiness to a lot more people than I will ever imagine. Bridal Garden will allow me to help my actual community. That said I don't know if they want my David's Bridal dress (everything there was a bit more designer when I visited), but maybe they're not picky? Also I know that Brides Against Breast Cancer is a popular option, but I am not sure if they are active in New York (correct me if I am wrong, my people). I would be even happier to donate my dress to them as my aunt died of breast cancer several years ago. I missed her at the wedding.

What are you planning to do with your dress after you get married? Have you thought of any options that I have not?

September 2, 2009

A Tale of a Hair Trial - A Sigh of Relief and the Final Product (Part 3)

When we last left me, your worried heroine, I was NOT at all happy with my hair situation.

I had a rought draft, I was not happy with the real run through for a variety of reasons, and there I was practically a week before the wedding stressing about what to do with my hair. At this point, Mr. Swan stepped in. During the process he had had opinions about the wedding planning, but I was definitely surprised with how strong of an opinion he had about this.

"There is NO way that you are leaving your hotel that morning!" That's pretty much a direct quote from him. A'ight, Mr. Swan. Rock on wit ya bad self...I hear you!

Fair enough, Mr. Swan, but how was I going to find someone who could do my hair in the way I wanted and make it to my hotel room for that morning with essentially TEN days left before the wedding? I had some ideas of where to call, yet I was worried about the price and working with someone new. After some discussion and encouragement from Mr. Swan, I decided to reach out to Khamit Kinks, one of the oldest natural hair care salons in New York City.

I have only been to the salon once before, and while it tends to be on the pricier end of the spectrum, the salon is also known for its professionalism. At this point, I not only needed professionalism but a miracle! I wasn't disappointed. From the moment I talked to Taeisha, the manager, to the morning of the wedding when my lifeseaver, Andre, showed up to work his magic, I was completely amazed by how smooth everything went. I was so grateful, happy and most importantly, I was relaxed on my wedding day!

How did it all work out in the end? Well Andre is a bad ass. Remember this pic that I have posted in many a hair post? HE was the stylist that created it!

In the end he got a little cheeky with my final style. What do I mean by that?


Yes, that's right! My hair is in the shape of a heart! How cute is that? :) I don't know how he was able to make it look so elegant yet cute all at the same time. Andre also did a variation on the style by actually braiding my hair before putting it up (no wonder I was sitting hunched over for so long!). I think you'll get the idea with this picture.

Here's me walking down the aisle veil and all:

In the end I spent WAY more money than I intended on my hair, but what I did realize is that depending on the situation, it's really important to get the most professional person you can find that will give you the least stress on your wedding day. You want to be able to trust the people you hire to be your wedding helpers/vendors. If you can reduce your stress level and if looking a certain way is important to you, find a way to make sure that it's a smooth and close to flawless process for you.

In the end I cheated, but I did what was best for me.

Is there anything for the wedding that you spent more money than budgeted but don't regret/won't regret?