Growing up, my mother would tell you that all I really ever wanted to do was have parties…not just any run of the mill party but lavish parties… So those that know me were never surprised when I had children of my own that parties would soon follow…oh yes, lots of parties and the majority of them had to be theme parties with elaborate details. Today, my husband would tell you that for me, it’s all about the details, right down to the tiniest detail. Is the napkin folded into an intricate, Origami style art piece that reflects my theme? You bet. Are the accessories I’ve chosen paired perfectly with their surroundings? Absolutely. Do the guests feel as though they’ve stepped into another place or time upon arriving… I hope so. It’s my goal…my desire… It brings me great pleasure to see those around me marveling at the aspects of a great party, right down to the smallest detail…like a good book that draws you in.
Fast forward with me to grown up children and an oldest daughter’s engagement…the hunt for a wedding venue that would fit our budget. Yes, that’s right, a budget…a budget that was well below that of what the Internet considered to be the “norm” for a wedding of the times. The challenge was before me. Create a spectacular wedding for my daughter and her fiancé…one they would be happy with…or even more daunting, one that I’d be happy with. The task at hand would have been far simpler had all been left up to me but as you might surmise, I had to consider the wishes and fantasies of two other individuals when planning this gala affair. You guessed it, my daughter and her significant other wanted a say in what their wedding would look like…go figure. Fortunately for me, my daughter was easy…she handed me the reins and felt comfortable in my ability to pull off the perfect wedding day for her. I’ll take that as a compliment and presumed she’d been happy with all those childhood parties growing up…Perhaps she really did trust that I wouldn’t ridicule her by forcing her to dress up as yet another princess. However, upon sitting down with my soon to be son-in-law, I realized there would be two of us running this show. It quickly became clear that he had his own vision of what this wedding would resemble and budget constraints were not exactly in the plan. Luckily I’m the creative type and work best under pressure, with little sleep. My husband begs to differ on that scenario but since this isn’t his blog, we’re not allowing him to weigh in on the topic. Now back to the groom’s small list of must haves….”There needs to be a 1940s vibe, a Frank Sinatra, Rat Pack sort of feel….we’ll need a live band, an open bar and a cigar bar thrown in for good measure. We should have table names, instead of numbers and they should be named after famous artists of the era… Like Louis Armstrong, Fred Astaire, Dean Martin, etc.”. Wow, “is that all?”, I asked, somewhat surprised at his list. “I’d like the guys to be in fancy, pin stripped suits with custom ‘peekaboo’ ties…the kind you’d flip the bottom upwards to reveal a pin up model of the times”, he added. I could continue but in an effort to keep this piece from becoming a novel or at the very least, a guide to what a 1950s theme wedding should look like, I’ll stop here. I think you get the idea of the assignment I was tasked with.
I worked diligently over the course of the next eight months to bring to life this fancy and yet fun wedding. I knew the ball was in my court and I had much to pull off. After all, this was my first daughter’s wedding and I very much wanted her to be thrilled. And, as for that new son-in-law, I’d have a few tricks up my sleeve for him too… Like a 1940s trolley for photos and transportation to the venue…A fun photo booth with whacky props from decades gone by… Custom CDs for guests containing all the great oldies but goodies that were played throughout the evening… Oh, and that vintage candy bar, complete with chocolate cigars for those who didn’t wish to cut their life short by smoking.
In the end, this fairytale wedding was just that and my new son-in-law and I bonded over the experience. Except for the lookalike Frank Sinatra impersonator that I’d hired to show up and surprise them at the reception, I think he’d agree that this wedding exceeded all his expectations.
Long ago, after struggling to raise three young daughters single-handedly, I had all but given up on the idea of “prince charming” really existing. In fact, had you asked me back then, I’d of told you that all men were likely “frogs” and regardless of how many times you kissed them, odds were they’d stay “frogs”. Fast forward a decade… ok, let’s make that nearly two decades or 19 years to be exact when I was about to walk down the aisle with my new “prince charming” of nearly three years. Yes, the girls had all but grown up and departed when I got the brilliant idea that just maybe a “storybook ending” with a handsome prince charming, albeit an older one with white hair, was still possible. Imagine my soon to be husband’s surprise when I dragged him to a character artist at Disneyland to sketch us as a princess kissing a frog with a crooked crown perched upon his head. His confusion didn’t last long once the wedding invitations arrived and he read in bold text, “Cheryl Has Finally Found Her Prince”. I know what you’re thinking….How sweet is that! This year will be ten years since that “frog” became my real “prince charming” and while he’s not always amused to be the subject of my humor, he just takes it in stride. In fact, if you were to ask him what the secret to a happy marriage is… he’d likely smile and say, “Suffer in silence”. The moral of my story you ask… sometimes that frog is really just in disguise as “Prince Charming” and when you finally do find him, I know just the place for you to have that “storybook” wedding.
Footnote: The logo for our company, “Once Upon a Fairy Tale” is from our actual wedding invitation, circa September 2, 2006