Chief Operations Officer of the Big Day

We have a Miami-based wedding planner! It probably goes without saying that planning a wedding from 1,059 miles away has had it’s hurdles.  In order to make our, and our moms’ lives, more serene we have decided to enlist the help of Carmen Becerra, Professional Wedding and Quince (the Hispanic version of a sweet sixteen) Coordinator.  And since a wedding is something of a “treintañera” (second anniversary of your sweet sixteen), we are confident she will be a great plus to the team.  She helped put together my cousin’s wedding last year, which ended up being a complete BLAST, so we are very excited to get her on-board.

A Miami Wedding Plan is Born

The operation plan is starting to come together!  We have a date, and a location for the reception!  We are very excited about this location.  Charlie went to high school a block away, and the view is incredible.  Before Christmas, we will be celebrating at Key Biscayne’s Rusty Pelican.  Rusty Pelican will be closed from July 1 to December 1 for a complete remodel.  So, our fingers are crossed that Murphy’s Law and the Miami Municipal Laws of Construction Tardation do not apply and they open back up 16 days before we’re set to celebrate.  If not, the reception may be held at… well that’s just not an option.   This is the view facing west from the room:

Reception: What about Hot Wheels?

What happens when two kids from Miami get engaged and start planning a wedding?  The stream of consciousness goes something like this: “What is the last day of hurricane season?”  “November 30.”  “I don’t want to sweat my (body parts) off.”  “Is there a way of getting croquetas involved without being tacky?”  “No.”  “There will be a salsa band.”  “Done.”  One of the nice things about having the same home town, is that it makes most of the decisions pretty easy.  Such as venue…

Jokingly, albeit prophetically, before we were officially dating, we decided over a few beers while having mint tea with macaroons, that we would get married in Miami at two places we remembered fondly from our childhood: the ceremony would be at Don Carter’s bowling alley and the reception would be at Mark Twain’s Riverboat Playhouse (hereinafter “Riverboat”).  For those of you who did not have the fortune of having your 5th birthday at Riverboat, it was a  great place to have birthday parties in a dusty old warehouse that was converted into a Dixieland-themed indoor-playground which featured skeeball, a large ball-crawl (bazinga!), and an animatronic dog/bear band with a mechanical Mark Twain that put on a show, the same show, every 10 minutes.  Charlie, with his masters work in robotics, was deathly afraid of the robot dog band… weird, right?  Anywho…

Just like when we got engaged and I forgot who I was supposed to call, once I sat down to start searching for wedding venues, I forgot all of the ones I had saved in the mental “matrimony material” folder.  So, I began the search at the first place I could think of that would work for the both of us: Mark Twain’s Riverboat Playhouse.  I knew the place had shut down in the 80s, but… let’s just see, you know, because, maybe there’s a viable reception venue there now? Right?  Nope, it’s a humungous liquor store.  And Don Carter’s is an Office Depot.   Where do kids in Miami play now?  Maybe the Miccosukee Casino near Krome Avenue has a Chuck E. Cheese inside.  Afterall, Krome is the new Kendall.

I guess we’ll have to find a respectable place to have a wedding afterall!

Did I mention his brother was in the bushes?

I explained that the engagement began with a stroll through the High Line park in New York City.  The High Line is a new park that was created from an old 1930s elevated rail system intended to keep freight trains off the streets.  For those of you in Miami, this is like if they shut down the Metrorail, and made it all an above-ground park, except for a park that you don’t have to worry about people mugging you at gunpoint.

It turned out that Chris, Charlie’s brother, and his girlfriend, Tanya, had been hiding in the bushes taking pictures of us, paparazzi-style, with sunglasses and a zoom lens!  Ultimately, there were too many people there to propose, as you’ll see from the pictures.  It was awesome to have Chris and Tanya be a part if it, even if I didn’t know they were there!

Engaged? It’s, “comprometido” and “propuesta de matrimonio.”

We’re engaged!  Charlie popped the question on Sept. 18, what was our one year and 9 month anniversary.  It happened in New York City, starting with a stroll and a park bench at the High Line Park and ending with Charlie on one knee at 60 Thompson Hotel.  We called our parents first.  On my end, Merle answered the phone first, and said something I don’t even remember.  Probably something about Charlie being a lucky guy, then he explained that my mom was on the other phone with someone who must have been less important than me, because he yelled something like, “Mercy, get off the phone NOW, Jennie is on the phone and needs to speak with you!” And then my mom said something I don’t remember in the background about that other person on the other line that was in the way of my spreading the good news as fast as I wanted to, until she finally picked up and I got to say… well I don’t even remember what I said, but whatever it was it prompted the foreseeable, but 28-years-in-the-making, “Oh my goodness, congratulations!” and then other words I don’t remember because my heart rate was somewhere near the speed of sound, so maybe I just stopped hearing.  Fortunately that didn’t prevent my tear ducts from working on the requisite tears involved.

And somewhere in the background Charlie was sharing the news with his mom, and from what I could tell his mom was saying something about a new daughter-in-law.  More tears.  So, who’s next on the list?  I can’t remember. We couldn’t remember.  Apparently the adrenaline makes you forget who you know, who your family is, and who your friends are.  You know you’re supposed to call people, but whom?  And, in what order?

So I started with the letter “A,” A is for abuela!  Right!  So, how do you say “we’re engaged” and “he proposed” in Spanish?  My brain was barely functioning so I went to the most reliable source in language translations, not wanting to mess this one up, Google.  Everything was happening so fast, it turned out I could barely read Google let alone English too!  No English or Spanish, no bueno!  Unsatisfied with my search results I defaulted to the universal language of jewelry, a language my grandmother knows well, and went with “Charlie gave me a ring!” Somewhere in the background I heard Charlie explain to a new person, “She said yes!” As if there was any doubt I would say “yes”?  The rest is really a blur.

By the end of the day, all of the important people had been contacted, a Gator game was watched at a BBQ place on the Upper West Side, we had celebrated with family and friends with dinner at Dos Caminos and drinks at the Russian Vodka Room which had some scary Russians awesome vodka.  It wasn’t official until the Facebook relationship status had been changed from “In a Relationship” to “Engaged.”  This alerted all of our  people who aren’t going to be invited to the wedding friends of the good news.  One of Charlie’s ex-girlfriends Facebook friends even wrote, “Congratulations, you’re one of the best!” This isn’t too far from the truth, because he is THE best, and I am a very, very lucky girl.  Now we just have to plan a wedding in Miami…