A Big Fat Greek wedding and some Florida fun

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.

Nicky DsSome lovely ladies and my grilled chicken salad.

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.

Rehearsal dinner at Captain's TableRehearsal dinner shots of me with my two BFFs.

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!

Rehearsal dinner outsideSome of my oldest and best girlfriends and me and my Momma in front of the waters of Punta Gorda.

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.

Melissa's wedding dayAwkward selfies and a beautiful bride walking down the aisle.

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. 

Melissa's receptionSome of my favorite photos of the day include those taken while I was wearing a feather boa — a prop from the photo-booth.

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's reception funGreek dancing, dollars thrown in the air, my place setting and a taste of the 12-foot dessert table.

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?

Ashley signature



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  1. I LOVEEEE your black dress that you wore to the rehearsal dinner! Gorgeous. I also love seeing fitness bloggers all dressed up – It’s something we rarely post on our blogs πŸ™‚ I consider home to be Iowa (where I grew up) and the last time we were there was in February! Chicago is my second home and I am excited to visit over Labor Day weekend. So glad you had a good time minus the hiccup in flights and illnesses. Safe travels today!

    1. Thanks, Becky! I scored that dress at an Off Saks for like $75 and it’s French Connection! And yay for your trip to Chicago over Labor Day. Will baby Dean be ready for that one or are you going alone? And yes, it’s always nice to get all cleaned up out of gym clothes! Happy Thursday!

  2. Safe travels home today! So sorry about that darn delay yesterday. Hiccups are the worst for us planners!

    And ditto to what Becky said above! Obsessed with the dress you wore to the rehearsal dinner! Perfection.

    1. Thanks, Court! That dress is a recent find at Off Saks. French Connection and only like $75. Total score! hahah!:) Happy Thursday, my friend!

  3. LOVE your outfits! Especially the boa… really ties it all together! Seems like such a fun wedding–one of my goals in life is to go to a Greek wedding and an Indian wedding (receptions–those can be some loooonnnggg ceremonies!). But in general, I just adore weddings with friends!

    1. I’d also like to experience an Indian wedding one day. I’ve done two Greek weddings and they are quite big and full of fun traditions! But I agree, all weddings with friends are fun. Happy Thursday, Susie! πŸ™‚

  4. Looks like a fun wedding weekend despite the hiccups. I really like the blue color of the bridesmaid dresses. I last visited home over Memorial Day weekend, which is northern New Jersey for me. I live in Connecticut about an hour north of them so I’m still very close, but full weekends there can be rare.

    1. Hi Traci, It’s good you aren’t terribly far from home, but I understand it’s not always easy to get away to go. Hope you’re having a lovely week so far, lady. And yes, I liked the blue of the dresses too. Seems like light blue looks good on everyone! πŸ™‚

  5. How fun! So glad you had an awesome time, that wedding sounds like so much fun! I’m also glad you got some relaxation time. That blows about the airport/flight issues. That’s why I get so much anxiety when flying.

    1. Hi Carissa! Something always happens with travel, so yes, I can see why you’d be anxious. I’m pretty calm, but I don’t enjoy it! Hope all is well with you, lady!:)

  6. I love Greek weddings! I have a lot of Greek friends, and their weddings are the best. The dances they do are so much fun and get everyone involved! Luckily they’re all pretty easy to pick up, and I always have so much fun πŸ™‚

    I still live in the same city where I grew up (Pittsburgh) about 20 minutes from my parents house! I love the city and can’t imagine living anywhere else πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Gretchen! Ohhh sooo jealous you live so close to your family! I wish! And yes on the Greek dances, some are easier than others heheh! πŸ™‚ Hope you’re having a great week!

  7. I’m so sorry to hear about your travel hiccups and your brother being sick, but I’m glad there were plenty of highlights to make up for it! You looked beautiful in your pretty dresses! That necklace (Rocksbox, yes?) goes perfectly with that little black dress, and I adore that light blue dress you wore for the wedding…that color looks great on you!

    1. Thanks, Ash! And yes, Rocksbox for the big statement necklace. I bought that one, because I loved it so much! Yes, my time at home was good, in spite of everything that happened. Hope your week is going well! πŸ™‚

  8. Sorry to hear about the travel hiccup πŸ™ But hey – one more night at home! Love all the wedding pics – you looked gorgeous. This makes me even more excited for the two weddings I am in this summer!

    1. Hi Sara! Yay for being in two weddings! I’ve got one more wedding to attend this year, but I’m not in it. Hope you’re having a great week, lady!

    1. Hi Megan, We don’t have any good Dillards anywhere near me in the Bay Area, which is quite sad. I LOVE Dillards so much. I bought three dresses and basically wanted everything while I was there. The sales are SOO awesome too! Your Mom is a smart lady! πŸ™‚

  9. Really fun! I have never been to a Greek Orthodox wedding so my knowledge is limited to the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. You may have convinced me to go for a spray tan. πŸ™‚ It gave you the perfect glow for the wedding! Good luck getting home safety. Home for me is NJ and I hope to visit this summer at some point!

    1. I really like getting spray tans, Lauren. They can be a tinge orange, but I don’t mind it heheh. To me, that’s better than pale. I went to Zoom Tan for this one, which is a chain. πŸ™‚

  10. ohhh Love me some weddings! It would be hard to choose my favourite part-mostly the food and dancing but if the food isn’t great it’s SUCH a let down lol….after being in 4 weddings two summers ago, there is something special about being IN the bridal party..just getting dolled up and feeling like you’re part of something special…just nothing like it! Looks like a blast πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Fiona! I agree, that the wedding is more special when you’re in it. But it’s also a little less stressful to just be a guest. I like it both ways. But for a great friend, I DEFINITELY want to be a part of all that fun in the wedding party. Yay for weddings! Four weddings in one summer? That’s expensive. You’re a good friend!

      1. That wasn’t including my own wedding! πŸ˜‰ I’m in one this year too-trying to convince the bride to use a dress I’ve already worn..lol.

  11. Sorry to hear about your flight delays but at least the wedding stuff was lots of fun! You and the rest of the girls (the bride, obvs) looked so so pretty. I especially love your makeup!

    I hope you make it home today without any issues!

    1. Hi Sarah! I’m in the Denver airport right now, so things are looking good that I make it back in time to teach my class hehehe!

  12. What beautiful pictures! Glad the wedding was so great – sorry about all the foiled plans, no fun. What an amazing wedding, I’ve never been to anything like that before! Actually, I can’t even remember the last time I was at a wedding. All of our friends got married a long time ago and unfortunately, some are now divorcing! I guess I call Colorado home, that’s where I was raised. But, we haven’t lived there in 18 years with the NAVY moving us all over. The last time we went back and visited our families was 2 years ago! Way too long. I miss family. But, my kids are older and in school and 5 plane tickets add up real quick. We will be going to see them in a couple of months before we move to Japan, so that will be fun.

    1. Hi Melissa, My Mom grew up with her Dad in the Army, so she moved around a lot. That’s pretty cool you’re moving to Japan. Your children will be so cultured and exposed to a ton of experiences. Very neat! Glad you get a trip back to your home in Colorado soon!

    1. Thanks, Sue! So you’re a Greek-in-law? hahha! And that dress is from Off Saks – a recent cheap purchase! Love it! πŸ™‚

  13. Great pictures! I feel you on the traveling mishaps. I’m from the Chicagoland area, but have been living in El Paso for the past 3 years (hubby is in the army). Very rarely can we find a direct flight home that correlates with our work schedules, and we always have delays or cancelled flights with our connecting flight. We went home last week and had delays each way, but it is what it is. It’s always hard for me to say bye to my family…I’m such a baby!

    1. Hi Kim! Oh I cry EVERY single time I leave home. My Mom and I are those weeping/hugging weirdos at the airport. It never fails. And travel is tough, but I will continue to go through it to make it home! Sorry you had delays in your latest trip. Darn! Hope you have a nice night!

  14. Wow, looks like a fantastic wedding! Everyone looks to be having such a great time and I love all the wonderful pictures! Thanks so much for sharing, I absolutely love wedding festivities and what could beat a fun time in florida?!

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