Four Left Feet

July 30, 2008

The other night I caught TLC’s new wedding series, “Rock the Reception” on TV (it currently follows the already popular “Say Yes to the Dress” in the channel’s wedding show lineup, showing at 8:30 on Tues. and Fri.).

The gist of the show is that soon-to-be-married couples work with a pair of professional choreographers (Tabitha and Napoleon D’Umo from Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance?”) in order to surprise their wedding guests with a showstopping first dance. In this particular episode, one couple chose to dance to MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This,” while the other shook their groove thangs to Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love.” During both dances, as anticipated, the wedding guests’ reactions went from jaws dropped in shock, to mouths covered in awe, to clapping along and hooting and hollering.

This made me think of my own first dance. It didn’t go off quite as well. At all.

My husband, Mike, and I chose a version of the song “When the Stars go Blue” performed by the Corrs and Bono (yes, that Bono) for our first dance. It is a lovely song, harmonious and flowing, with the two “lovers” singing romantic lines to each other–the perfect song for a wedding. I saw a video for the song in which, during an instrumental break, Bono and Andrea Corr glide across the stage together flawlessly, proving how beautiful a dance to their song could be. We were sold.

Throughout the remainder of our wedding planning, neither Mike nor I gave much more thought to the first dance. We had a song picked out and we knew when we wanted it to be played (following dinner–and after we’d had a glass of wine or two to loosen us up). What more was there to worry about?

The big day came, and as the reception was about to begin, the wedding party was announced. Everyone pranced into the room, hand in hand, with Mike and I bringing up the rear. This moment is a wonderful part of your wedding, when you and your beloved stand up as a newlywed couple, in front of all of the people you love most (who are clapping and hooting for you).

All of that happiness disappeared completely when the DJ decided that he would start playing our first dance song right then and there–before we sat down, before we ate dinner, and most importantly, before we had cocktails. We looked at each other in horror and then Mike shrugged at me, as if to say, “Well, I guess we have to do this.” He grabbed me and we started to sway back and forth, high school dance style. (Have I mentioned that my husband is 6′ 4″ and I am 5′ 2″? This small obstacle only added to the other, bigger obstacle in our way: neither of us could dance.)

Mike tried to turn us and we got caught up in my dress. Around the same time, my veil started to come loose. At one point it was hanging from my head and the next thing I knew, it had fallen to the ground. I glanced at it, wondering if I should pick it up, and Mike grimaced at me: “Just let it go.” I snarled my face up and looked back at him: “Okay, fine.” So much for marital bliss–things were going downhill at a fast pace. I patted my disheveled hair and continued to “dance.” The horrific show went on and on. How long is this *&%# song? I wondered. After what seemed like an eternity, it was over. We certainly hadn’t rocked the reception, but our adoring families and friends played along, indulging us with kind smiles and more clapping. I sighed in relief and we started to shuffle toward our table, when a new announcement stopped me dead in my tracks: “Stephanie will now join her father Jim for the Father-Daughter dance.”

Mike darted from the dance floor as I grabbed my Dad’s hand. I wasn’t ready for another round of humiliation. But after a few seconds, I realized that something had changed. I was dancing! We were dancing! And it wasn’t half bad! As I relaxed and smiled at my Dad it occurred to me that having two left feet isn’t a huge problem, as long as your partner could dance–it is when you put four left feet into the equation that you get into trouble! Mike’s successful Mother-Son dance only confirmed this.

So, now I share with you the wisdom I gained from this experience: if you and your husband- or wife-to be cannot dance, CONSIDER TAKING A LESSON OR TWO. If not, you could be at the receiving end of this question, that was asked of me almost a year after our first dance (about our first dance) by a good friend of the family: “Yeah, what was that anyway? That was pretty bad.”

For more on local dance info: http://www.whatsupmag.com/sep05/lookinggood.shtml

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Annapolis is for Lovers

July 23, 2008

Who needs Vegas when you can honeymoon in Annapolis?

Sure, those of us who live here know that Annapolis is a romantic city, but now we have proof that out-of-towners do too! A group of New Yorkers recently voted Maryland’s capital as their honeymoon destination choice over other popular options (including a Caribbean cruise and Las Vegas) as part of Saratoga Race Track’s inaugural Race to the Altar promotion. In the promotion, the public is invited to help plan a couple’s ceremony and reception by voting on various wedding amenities over the course of two months (July and August). From July 10-21, the TV viewing audience voted on a honeymoon destination for Waterford, New York couple Jim Barbetta and Michelle Mattiske–and the Annapolis package that the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau (AAACCVB) created took the cake!

Here’s the skinny on the Race to the Altar promotion according to a news release from AAACCVB:

AAACCVB President and CEO Connie Del Signore says while the newlyweds will be enjoying the sights and sounds of Maryland’s capital city, her organization will be calculating the value of the free advertising the destination received as a result of the promotion. “The Conference and Visitors Bureau is consistently on the lookout for promotions that will help to expand the reach of our marketing efforts in key feeder cities. When we piggyback our advertising efforts with promotions such as these, we are able to drive home our message to millions of people that we otherwise wouldn’t reach.” So, when Albany, New York-based event sponsor, Yankee Trails World Travel, solicited the destination marketing organization’s involvement in early June, AAACCVB Vice President, Communications Susan Steckman was quick to create the winning honeymoon package.

Race to the Altar is being publicized on the New York Racing Association’s (NYRA) closed circuit TV, whose simulcast reaches more than 4-million homes in the New York Metro area. It is broadcast to 38 U.S. states, 27 locations in Canada and 11 countries. The event is also being publicized on the 24-hour news station, Capital News 9; via the Times Union (largest area newspaper) voting website, http://www.timesunion.com/saratoga; through a promotional ad in Post Parade, the official race day program; and via an on-site display at Saratoga Race Course on wedding day, August 31.

Television spots specifically promoting the honeymoon portion of the promotion aired July 10-20 on networks including: Oxygen, LMN, E!, Style, Food, Travel, Lifetime, and Tru TV. The commercials aired in the Albany DMA, which includes Albany, Schenectady/Amsterdam, Troy/Clifton Park, and Berkshire, Massachusetts. They also aired in the Saratoga/Queensbury DMA.

In addition to complimentary roundtrip airfare via Southwest Airlines, the Annapolis honeymoon package offers the newlyweds their choice of accommodations: the Harbor View Inn of Annapolis Bed and Breakfast, the Loews Annapolis Hotel, and The O’Callaghan Hotel Annapolis. It also features a host of activities including sailing lessons, a kayaking adventure, a personalized walking tour of the Historic District, spa treatments, dining experiences, gift baskets, and gift certificates from 13 AAACCVB member partners.

The Race to the Altar promotion kicked off earlier this month when New York Metro Area residents were invited to cast their ballots for the wedding couple. Each week leading up to the ceremony, the viewing audience is being asked to vote on a select aspect of the wedding. Voting on the honeymoon destination took place July 10-21. In the weeks ahead, the viewing audience will be voting on the wedding dress, invitations, the reception site, tuxedos, bridal hair style, and rings.

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In the last editor’s letter I wrote for What’s Up? Weddings (http://www.whatsupmag.com/weddings/wedding-features/0308-editor-letter.aspx), I referred to myself as the perpetual bride.

The reason I get to enjoy this status is that I never had to go through the planning withdrawal that brides often experience after their wedding. It’s true! After months and months of all-consuming wedding planning (at least they were in this control freak’s case), the big day finally arrives and everything comes to a screeching halt. No more phone calls to make, no more appointments to schedule, no more fittings to attend–it’s over. (Yes this is actually a bad thing for some!)

When I returned to the office after my own wedding and honeymoon, our debut issue hadn’t yet gone to print, and, as managing editor, it was right back to wedding land for me. The issue did well and we began work on the second. And so, here I find myself today (almost a year later)–still planning, researching, talking to florists and photographers, drooling over cakes and gowns, discovering beautiful new venues, and sometimes just thinking happy wedding thoughts, in general. It’s not a bad gig, this perpetual bride thing–and much less stressful after you’ve already gotten married!

Through this new wedding blog, I hope to share tips, information, stories, photos, ideas, and all of those random wedding thoughts that go through my head with all of you “real” brides-to-be (and your families, and friends, and hubbies-to-be, too). Check in often to read new online articles, web exclusives, and blog entries, and please let us know what’s on your mind too–we’d love to hear your own great ideas and stories. Now, down to business…

Tip # 1: Although things may get a little crazy during the wedding planning months, take time to enjoy your engagement. It is a special time for you and your partner and will be over before you know it. Support each other, spend time together, have fun, and enjoy the ride!

(And I won’t mind if you come back to visit when it’s over!)

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