Well let’s see, where do I start this one out? First of all, Dave and my trip to Florida didn’t go exactly as expected. We had a great time at a bunch of wedding events for my dear friend Melissa, which I’m going to detail below, but there were a few hiccups.
For instance, I wrote most of this post from the Tampa airport on Wednesday night, but I didn’t fly out last night like I was supposed to. After making the two-hour trip to the airport and getting through security, my Mom had to come back to get me about 45 minutes after dropping me off. Not only was my first flight very delayed, but there was a good chance it would get cancelled altogether due to a mechanical issue and I would have missed my connecting flight in Denver and be stuck there all alone without getting back to the Bay Area. Therefore, I ended up changing my flight to Thursday morning. But that meant driving the two hours back home again to my parents’ house. So that’s what we did, and it was a good thing we took that route, because I got a text from Southwest that my original flight ended up being so delayed that it would have made me miss my second flight after all. So I’m glad I made that choice. And of course, Dave wasn’t with me at all through this, because we ended up changing his flight to leave super early yesterday last-minute, so he could make it back to work at a Warriors playoff home game last night. All of this was in addition to the fact that sadly, my older brother was really sick during much of our visit and not really able to hang out much. He made the trip to see us from Atlanta, with a new girlfriend in tow, which we truly appreciated, but as it goes with life, some of our fabulous plans were foiled. Other than that, over the past six days, we spent time with my family and friends and soaked up some Florida sunshine.
But I digress, because the wedding stuff was so good. And there’s a lot to share. I’m going to keep it fairly brief and hit the highlights only.
Friday grooming and shopping
On Friday, I got manis and pedis with some of the bridesmaids and had lunch at the Port Charlotte mall in the food court at the bride’s family restaurant, Nicky D’s. I went with hot pink polish on my fingers and toes and even got gel polish on my toes for the first time. After that, my Mom and I did a little shopping (Dillards — my favorite!), got drinks at Starbucks and I went for a spray tan to bronze up for the big day.
On Friday night, Dave and I hung out at home with my family — drinking wine, catching up and laying low.
Saturday rehearsal, Greek dance practice and party
On Saturday, I went with the rest of the folks in the wedding party to a rehearsal to walk through our roles in the ceremony at a Greek Orthodox church in Fort Myers. After that, we went back to a nice hotel in Punta Gorda, The Wyvern, where many of the wedding guests were staying, and changed into some casual Florida summer-worthy clothes. We joined a big group for Greek dancing practice, which took place in a torrential downpour under a partially covered gazebo at Laishley Park. Once we had learned a few new dances, we all went our separate ways to prepare for the final event of the day — the rehearsal dinner. Dave and I went back to a hotel room with the bride and groom and got ready for the party with them.
The rehearsal dinner party was huge, with nearly 170 guests, at a restaurant called the Captain’s Table in the Fisherman’s Village area of Punta Gorda. They had the whole restaurant rented out, and in that sea of people, I ran into so many wonderful familiar faces during the few hours we were there. It was awesome! (That rehearsal dinner was bigger than my own wedding!)
While this was more of a cocktail party than a sit-down dinner, the very best part was the “open mic” portion, in which guests of the bride and groom could get up and say something about them. I did not plan on saying anything, knowing that there would be a lot of people speaking. But after a little encouragement from a few friends, I ended up popping up to say a few things about my dear friend, Melissa, and her husband-to-be, Neal. I actually really like to speak in front of a group, so I pulled a couple of stories and thoughts out from the past about the bride and told them how happy I was for them. Several people came up to me after-the-fact and told me I’m a great speaker — I chalked it up to my time on the microphone multiple times-a-day as a group fitness instructor. So true!
My Mom was at the rehearsal party with Dave and me as well, so we all went home together just after 11 p.m. or so. I must say, I love having my Mom at these types of events, because she knows all of my friends and is great at a party.
Sunday wedding and reception day
On Sunday, I was up and at ’em early to head to the bride’s parents’ house in my old neighborhood of Deep Creek, where I grew up. The bride had some cute little navy dresses for us all to wear while getting ready as part of our gifts for standing up with her. We also got a monogrammed tote bag, bracelet, monogrammed cup, earrings for the ceremony and many more little goodies. Totally an awesome bridesmaids gift, part of which just may show up in tomorrow’s “Friday Favorites.” Thanks, Melissa!
Hair and makeup didn’t take too long and we all ended up being done in time, which is rare for a wedding. I had a few images from Pinterest picked out to give the artists ideas for what I wanted, and I was pretty happy with my both hair and make-up. More so than the primping, I just enjoyed the girl time getting ready together. We put our dresses on around 1:45 p.m. for a few pictures and were loaded up in the limo with a bottle of champagne just after 2 p.m. to head to the ceremony.
The ceremony was a long one. It was a full Greek ceremony (her husband-to-be converted to the religion), which took an hour from start to end. Even though it was long, it was beautiful. And so was the church where it took place. Quite frankly, I loved the formality of the whole thing, especially how the Greeks do things in “threes,” which is pretty cool to watch in practice. As a bridesmaid in high heels, I was sure to switch the weight of my feet from side-to-side while standing up on the marble surface for the entirety of the ceremony, and it wasn’t easy. My feet were killing me by halfway through!
After the ceremony, the wedding party and our dates hopped on a big party bus, popped open some beverages, and the fun continued. We drove around town to some spots to take photos, we laughed, we danced and we had quite the time. And a GoPro camera strapped to a bottle of the Greek liquor, Ouzo, may have made an appearance. Good times.
Finally, we arrived to the reception site, which was a big Greek events hall also in Deep Creek, around 6 p.m. or so. We went in, were announced and headed to our spots at the head table. Melissa and Neal had a fabulous first dance, they said a welcome speech, and then the feast began.
Because the wedding party came after cocktail hour, we had to request some of the appetizers, and I’m glad we did. Spanakopita is my favorite, and this one did not disappoint. Nor did the salad before the main entree. And the desserts? Awesome!
Melissa and her family put so much work into this Big Fat Greek Wedding (of nearly 300 guests!), and it really showed. There was a huge dessert table, lovely place settings, a fun photo booth and nearly everything was white and sparkly. I couldn’t have been more happy to see Melissa marry Neal, and it was a great time celebrating their union at this well-done reception.
Of course, we all did some group Greek dancing, as well as just a bit of regular dancing. I tried to spend as much time as I could with all of my girlfriends, whom I don’t get to see that often, so was moving around all night. The party raged on until the hours, but we left around 12:30 a.m. or so. And I’m afraid I have no choice but to admit that we stopped at McDonald’s for French fries on the way home (I swear it was my Mom’s idea!). Needless to say, a good time was had by all.
Low-key lazy days to finish out the trip
After a fabulous three days of events, Dave and I both slept in late on Monday, which was Memorial Day. Then we hung out for a bit in the pool, laid low and enjoyed a casual lunch and dinner with my family. Tuesday was much of the same. Even though it was our anniversary on Tuesday, we had some unforeseen family things come up, and weren’t able to do what we had planned. But it was all okay in the end.
Wednesday morning, Dave was up and out before 6 a.m. to head to the airport, and I hung out at home for a while with my Mom and brother. My Mom and I left for the Tampa airport for my failed departure flight at 3 p.m. and returned home at 9 p.m., to eat leftovers and laugh at the whole thing. Then this morning, we headed back out before 6 a.m. to try again.
Moral of the story? My friend Melissa, whom I love so much, had a fabulous Big Fat Greek weekend of wedding celebrations. She looked like a million bucks, I love her husband and her wedding was wonderful. The rest of the trip was not as expected, but included a bunch of family time, which is always a good thing in my book. And then I had to say goodbye and head back to normal life, which just always happens too fast.
Back in action in the Bay Area
Hopefully, I have seamless travel today and make it home in time to change into some workout attire and get to the gym to teach BODYPUMP and a core class in the evening in Walnut Creek. After that, I’ll be unpacking, regrouping and gearing up for BODYATTACK in the early morning tomorrow.
Have a fabulous day, my friends! I’ll see you back here for some “Friday Favorites” in the morning.
Questions of the day
When was the last time you visited your home?
And where do you call home?
What’s your favorite part about weddings?