Wedding Party!

It's been a while since I've posted, but it's been a busy couple of weeks for me. A few weekends ago, Sezzy and I united our whole wedding party (minus one, unfortunately) for our first of hopefully many wedding party events. As I mentioned in a previous post, we planned a box race, which traditionally involves lots of beer and liquor and competitive drinking. Normally, a box race would consist of 2-3 teams competing to see who could drink all the alcohol in their box the fastest and then complete a couple of small tasks, like a LEGO set or a jigsaw puzzle. Prior to the day of the party, we had received some concern over the amount of alcohol in the box and whether those who didn't want to drink much would have a good time. So we put a twist on the traditional game.

Sezzy and I are both gamers. Sezzy sticks to her Wii and DS games, while I'm a hardcore 360 and PS3 kind of guy. Well, anyone that plays Xbox 360 knows that the best part about it is the achievements. So we decided to create tasks and achievements for each team to complete. I found a website that let's you create your own achievements and we printed out a bunch of little slips of paper with the achievements written on them.

We had some great tasks for the teams to complete, such as making over a male member of your team, painting a male member's fingernails and toenails, switching clothes with another team member, and capturing pictures of team members with our three pets. Also included were drinking achievements, such as completing a power half-hour, the team member to complete/win Edward Forty-hands (more on that below), and the team to drink all of their beer/liquor first. Additionally, there were video game achievements, like winning a guitar battle in Guitar Hero, winning a game of Scene It! Box Office Smash, and winning in Duck Hunt. Each achievement was assigned a point value and the team with the highest point total at the end of the night won the game.

Everything was planned out so well. Sezzy and I went out to Five Below and the party store to get cheap props and "drinking hats" (to be worn when taking a shot or chugging) and we stuffed the boxes. We had our liquor connoisseur get us two bottles of Massachusetts' finest vodka, V-One (chilled, no less), to finish off our boxes. We were so ready. We even had a schedule of events for the video game events to make sure that the same team member from each team couldn't compete in all of the events.

Then we started the competition. Let's just say, we were perfect in planning but failed to execute our plan properly. Both teams started with the power half-hour, while a team member from each team started the Edward Forty-Hands competition, which involves duct taping forties to each person's hands. Whomever downs both their forties first wins the game. In less than in hour (or so it seemed anyway), all the alcohol was gone from both boxes. At this point, things got a bit out of hand. My team's bottle of Captain Morgan vanished and we found out that an opposing team member had hidden it, though we got it back without incident. One achievement was to photograph three team members with all three of our pets. Our one cat is mortally afraid of large groups of people, so after traumatizing the pets and not even getting one picture out of it, we decided it was best if we just gave both teams that particular achievement. Then my team's camera disappeared. After threatening the life of my best man, my future sister-in-law determined that the camera was always where it was supposed to be, safely hidden in plain view near our box. After some profuse apologizing on my part, the game was "suspended". See, Sezzy didn't like that people were fighting, but we all patched things up and moved on.

No one was too interested in the game after that, for one because we all just wanted to get along, and also because I apparently couldn't figure out how to start a game of Scene It on the 360, despite the fact that I play the 360 almost every day. In the end, the Green Team (my team) won by 30 points, but that result is disputed due to the Orange Team's involvement in completing our puzzle and the fact that we didn't end up completing any of the video game tasks. It didn't really matter who won, though. Our goal was to have a meet-and-greet for members of our wedding party that didn't know each other in a relaxed and social setting. While it wasn't always relaxed, I think it was ultimately a success. Everyone seemed to have a good time and that's what really mattered. Huzzah!

The next day, the future in-laws threw us a nice, relaxed cookout lunch at their house for our wedding party and close family. It was our idea of an engagement party. Neither Sezzy nor I wanted anything fancy, but we wanted to give our families a chance to sit and talk and get to know each other a little better. My grandparents really hit it off with Sezzy's and they talked non-stop to each other for about two hours. Our friends hung out, ate, recovered from the night before, and made sure to get the nail polish remover ready before too many people got there. While some of our friends held a whiffle ball home run derby, I just kind of soaked it all in. It was a perfect day with just friends and family.

In the aftermath of the weekend, Sezzy and I had to pack for the beach because our vacation was less than a week away. Sezzy's family takes an annual trip "down the shore", to Ocean City, NJ. A bunch of our friends showed up last year, but this year it was just me and her family. And it was nice. We got to have some time to ourselves to relax and talk about wedding plans, which have to soon start getting made. To that point, we are in the process of planning another trip up to State College to look at the newly renovated courtyard area where our wedding will be held. We are getting our guest list put together and my brother's girlfriend is designing us a logo for our Save the Dates. Things are starting to happen, and Sezzy and I are bracing ourselves for what's to come.



I started this blog as a way of getting my wedding-related thoughts out of my head and into another format. I didn't start this blog because I wanted to gain a whole bunch of followers and having a large number of readers isn't really even that important to me. So you can imagine my surprise yesterday when I got an email in my inbox that a comment had been posted on my honeymoon blog post from someone saying that my blog post had been added to the directory on www.honeymun.com. This surprised me a little bit. I guess it was a pretty good post but I never expected random people to notice my blog like that. It's kind of cool to know that I do have more viewers than just my friends that read the blog.

Anyway, since they posted a link to my blog over there, I'll quickly promote them. Their website basically posts stories from around the internet regarding honeymoons. It looks like there are some good resources on honeymoon tips and destinations. Most of the website are professionally done, while others are blogs like mine, but most are dedicated entirely to honeymoons and other travel. So click on over and check them out!


Almost Party Time!

Next weekend is the first time our whole wedding party is getting together since Sezzy and I got engaged. It's also the first time that some people are meeting each other so we wanted to do something fun to get everyone acquainted. So we had an idea. The very first time Sezzy and I hung out with "her friends" (which happened to all be people I went to high school with), we did a box race. What's a box race, you say?

A box race is when you put a bunch of stuff in a box, including alcohol of various sorts, and the first team to complete everything in the box wins. It's competitive drinking at its finest, but it's also a good team-building exercise and a lot of fun to boot. If I can remember back to that first box race, I believe the contents in the box were:
- 1 bottle of Captain Morgan rum
- 1 bottle of vodka
- 1 case of beer
- 1 LEGO set
- 1 jigsaw puzzle

The object of the game is to have your team drink all their alcohol and then complete the LEGO set and puzzle. It was lots of fun and hilarity ensued. My team won (competitive drinking and me go hand-in-hand). We are hoping for the same result next weekend. However, being that most of us are three years removed from college, many of our drinking tolerances are not quite what they used to. Also, some of our friends aren't big drinkers. This was a bit of a conundrum. How can we make the game so that everyone can have fun and not be pressured to drink.

We think we found the answer. After some brainstorming last week, Sezzy had a brilliant idea and we ran with it. Our friends are just geeky enough to think it's awesome too. And while I can't disclose what our idea was, I will leave you with a hint:


Another wedding and planning starts... soon!

As I mentioned in my last post, two of Sezzy and I's best friends got married just over a week ago now. The wedding was beautiful and Sezzy and I picked up some more ideas while we were attending.

The wedding was in New Jersey and while I'm not usually a huge fan of New Jersey, our friends couldn't have picked a nicer hotel and venue. First of all, the hotel was a castle. No, literally... the hotel looked like a castle:

Sezzy and I weren't part of the wedding party so we only went up on the day of the wedding, but we stayed overnight. We weren't going to make the mistake of not staying over on the night of the wedding again. Sezzy and I got in to the hotel around 12:30 and ordered some pizzas with some of our friends. Then it was time to get ready and head out to the wedding, which started at 4:30 pm. We hopped on the shuttle and about halfway there it started raining. The weather was bright and sunny the day before and the day after the wedding, but it sure had to rain on the day of.

The ceremony was at a place called Perona Farms and when we got there, I shook hands with the groom, Josh, who looked like someone just took away his puppy. He was so upset at the prospect of having the ceremony indoors, or rather, not having the ceremony outdoors. Everyone filed into the backup room, the "in case of rain" room, and took their seats. After sitting and waiting for about 15 minutes, the coordinator came into the room and started taking down the flowers. It was getting sunny. Had the storm passed?

After another few minutes, everyone was told to head outside, where it now looked like a beautiful evening. The ceremony was held in a secluded little terrace outside the main building. This was one of five possible locations where a ceremony could be held, but it looks like the nicest and most accommodating to me.

The reverend that officiated the ceremony did an excellent job and Josh and Monika's self-written vows were touching. They performed a hand fasting and a Polish tradition involving bread, salt, and sweet wine. It was a nice touch and it made their ceremony unique to themselves. The end of the ceremony neared and the rain crept back up, but the ceremony finished before the rain started coming down hard again.

Then it was time for the cocktail hour, where the food was quite good and the open bar kept the drinks coming. The featured food included stuffed peppers, lemon pepper chicken, sushi, and alcohol-infused fruit and veggies, among other things. Unfortunately, the cocktail hour was cut a bit short since the ceremony started late, but it was still nice.

Everyone was then ushered into the dining room where we awaited the newly married couple. The band, the Fuzzpops, was already playing when we arrived in the room, and they were quite good. Once the new bride and groom were announced and had their first dance, a server came to our table and took our order. I loved this idea. We didn't actually give a meal choice when we RSVP'ed. Instead a server came to the table and gave us two choices of main course and two choices of salad. They even asked each person individually whether they wanted their steak rare, medium, or well done. What a great idea!

Then there was some dancing while waiting for our food, and more drinks and chatting with friends. Another thing that our friends did differently was the seating arrangement. They had a sweetheart table and scattered the rest of the group of friends around the room. I liked this better than having the entire wedding party at one or two tables and scattering everybody else. We had people we already knew at our table, as well as a few we didn't know. It worked out very well.

The rest of the night was just fun. There was dancing and drinking and pyramid-building. The food was fantastic, as were the drinks. The guys went outside for some fresh air and pictures in between courses and this is when we attempted to build what would have been the largest human pyramid ever built by the BTPBT--a 6-person base.

Unfortunately, we didn't quite make it on attempt #1. We had to go inside and eat after that. We all came back out for attempt #2, but it was then time to cut the cake, so our plan was thwarted. In the end, we didn't get a full pyramid up. However, soon after the cake cutting, we all got a surprise - a cordial cart. Ok, really it was just a moving shot bar, but they called it a cordial cart because it was mostly after-dinner liquers (except for the Bushmills!). Things started wrapping up soon after that and by midnight we were back at the hotel. Some had planned to go to the bar to do Irish car bombs, but Sezzy and I were beat. We ended up going to bed a little later.

The next morning, we woke up and went down to the brunch that the bride and groom set up. We got there early and ate up to cure our headaches. We didn't see our friends at brunch but ended up running into the newly-married couple on our way down to the check-out desk. We congratulated them again and wished them well on their honeymoon and then we were off, back home again.

All in all, the wedding was a ton of fun and Sezzy and I picked up on some things that we liked, giving us more ideas for our ever-nearing wedding. Seeing two more of our friends get hitched got us more excited, but more importantly, we realized that we now have to start planning soon. Like, we actually have to start doing stuff. For our own wedding. It was a little crazy at first, but we are both ready to do it. Our venue gets officially booked in just over a month from now. Our engagement lunch with family and friends is in less then 4 weeks. We started looking at Save the Dates last night. It's crazy. Like, it's really happening. Here we go!


Bachelor Parties

Ok, so I've been slacking. There, I admit it. I haven't posted for 25 days and that's too long. I actually have two posts to put up but I'll start here because I haven't organized all my thoughts for the second.

Ok so, bachelor parties. I've been to two bachelor parties in the last 9 months or so for two good friends. They were the only two bachelor parties I've ever been to, actually. You always see the crazy bachelor parties in the movies, with strippers and kegs and people almost dying. In real life, I don't think many bachelor parties quite live up(?) to that standard. And after being a part of two myself, I don't think I would want mine to.

My friend Nick got married to his high school sweetheart last September. In the summer leading up to the wedding, the guys got together a couple times for some fun. First was a trip to Cedar Point, the best amusement park in the country. This was a "guys only" trip and apparently had been a high school tradition with some of the guys. We had a great time, going to the park for two days and then stopping off in State College on the way back for a night of mayhem at the bars downtown. Next up was white water rafting, on a dam release weekend no less. This was definitely a bonding experience, as we saw two of our friends almost die (quite literally - one got caught under the raft in the middle of a rapid). All in all, though, it was a great time and we all had a lot of fun (I think). That night, we went back to one of the guys' houses and drank our faces off while playing horseshoes, beer pong, and flip cup and building human pyramids. We even got a little surprise when one of our friends pulled out a bottle of (American) Absinthe. It did not make anyone hallucinate and make out with their sisters a la Eurotrip. Last up was a combined trip for the bride and groom, a weekend in Atlantic City. We weren't able to wrangle everyone up, but it didn't matter. We had a great time and everyone ended up making money at the casinos (I walked away up $300 from playing craps).

Nick and Crystal got married in September and it was a great wedding. They had a beautiful venue and a very cool 80's cover band to go along with great food and drinks.

Well, two more friends got married this past weekend, so that meant another bachelor party. It was two weeks ago. Nick was the best man and he did an amazing job of planning everything out while not letting the groom (Josh) know any of the details. A bunch of us showed up at his house as he was getting ready and when Nick showed up, he tossed him a box with a vintage maroon and baby blue Mike Schmidt jersey in it. We were going to the Phillies game, just what Josh wanted. We had amazing seats for the mid-afternoon game. A total of 12 people went and Nick was able to get two blocks of (comp'ed) tickets on either side of the Hall of Fame club, which are the sections behind home plate. One block was in row 21, the other was row 6. The seats in row 6 were so close, you could practically see the sweat beading off the players' necks.

Then it was back to my place since the forecast called for rain. We got pizza, hooked up the 360 and set up the pong table. We drank, played Halo and Call of Duty, and played drinking games. I got to know some of the guys in Josh's wedding party that I didn't know before, which was nice. Josh had requested no strippers, so Nick was nice enough to get him a blow-up doll to accompany him throughout the night. I took quote and pictures, but most of them probably aren't appropriate for this blog so I'll refrain from posting them here. Suffice it to say that we all had a great time and it was exactly what Josh wanted and needed two weeks before his big day. Josh and Monika got married this past weekend in New Jersey and it was a beautiful wedding. But I'll save the rest for a post later this week.

Anyway, my point is that I don't want anything crazy for my bachelor party. I don't need strippers and illicit drugs to have a good time with my friends. As long as I'm with my friends and doing something that I enjoy, it will be a good bachelor party. While watching the Super Bowl with my fiancee and me, my best man told me that he thinks he already has my bachelor party planned. That was a little scary but at the same time, I trust his judgment. He's been my best friend for years now and knows what I like. I'm not going to be one of those people that try to plan my own bachelor party. It's the best man's job and I know he'll throw an amazing party. So here's looking forward to mine in about a year from now.


Registry Event and Updates

Ok, so it's been a little while since my last post. It's still early though! Not a whole lot is happening and what is happening is kind of boring. However, something of note (sort of) happened last weekend. Sezzy and I went to our first registry event and created a registry at Crate & Barrel. It was... fun? (You can read about it from her perspective here).

Look, I'm a guy. I'm not someone who is going to get excited about going to Crate & Barrel. However, it didn't take long and I'm glad I went. It wasn't the most fun I've ever had and it wasn't particularly where I wanted to be on a Sunday from 6-7:30, but I'm glad that I went. I'm glad I went because when we were there, we saw other fiancees that were either alone or with their mothers. And it was kind of sad. I mean, you can't always do whatever you want to do and marriage means that sometimes you make compromises. And it's a shame that some guys couldn't do that for their brides-to-be. Maybe they had a good excuse. I don't know. It just seemed like it was something that both people should be at.

Anyway, we basically spent about an hour and a half browsing and scanning items that we wanted on our registry (I got to use the scanner, which was actually less fun than it sounds). We looked at china, flatware, pots and pans, and the like. I got to pick out a set of knives and a sandwich griller. I know, awesome right? But seriously, it was nice pick out things that we need for when we start our "new life" together. The best part about the event was that we didn't need to pick out everything because we've been living in sin for the past two and a half years, so we already have a lot of the essentials. Actually, the best part was the (allegedly) non-alcoholic margaritas that seemed to have a kick to them. We got differing stories on the drinks. The one saleswoman said that the reason we were so far along so quickly was because of the drinks, while another saleswoman said it was "too bad" they couldn't put alcohol in them. A third saleswoman said that they weren't allowed to try the drinks. We didn't know what to think, but they sure tasted alcoholic to me.

Anyway, we got our registry set up and it's now online for anyone to view. I'm sure we'll be adding and removing items between now and next July but it's a start. Oh and the worst part about the event? The disgusting multi-grain "quesadillas". They were awful.

And now, some housekeeping. We inquired with our venue about doing a food tasting. Apparently, you need to pay for these things (you learn something new every day). However, once we have the venue booked (i.e. we put a deposit down), we can do a food-tasting for any two meals at no charge. Funny how that works, huh?

Also, we are closing in on our bridesmaids and groomsmen box race party! We set the date for June 27, with an engagment lunch at Sezzy's parents house the following day. More details on the box race as the date grows nearer.

More digging on the honeymoon site too. I am leaning more and more toward St. Lucia every day. I love the location. There are rainforests and mountain climbs and the scenery is fantastic. Also, it just feels classy and luxurious, not that that should matter but it kind of does to me. This is our only honeymoon (hopefully) and I want to do it right. But I also want to do it without spending an arm and a leg. I think I may have settled on a resort:

Stonefield Villas

I love this place. It feels luxurious, but it also looks laid-back. It's got an all-inclusive option, which can get pricey, but I think it's probably worth it. And it's way cheaper than most of the other very exclusive resorts on St. Lucia, like Anse Chastenet and Ladera. Plus, each villa has it's own private plunge pool, which quickly became a selling point for me.

Very private

I am in the process of contacting the agents that do the bookings at this resort to get prices on the packages. They have been somewhat responsive and not very helpful so far, but I'm going to keep on them to try and get the lowest price possible.

Anyway, that's all for now. More updates later!


I was right

I like being right. It's almost as good a feeling as winning at something, anything really. So I had a moment of joy when Sezzy IM'ed me this morning and just said "uh oh". When I asked her what was wrong she said she was making an inspiration board and that she was having too much fun with it. And that it proves that I'm right. I still wasn't quite sure what she meant, but then she elaborated:

Sezzy: the red. with the teal...
Me: what
Sezzy: the colors
Me: what about them?
Sezzy: they look good together
Me: ah ha!

Sezzy likes the idea of teal as one of our colors. Not the primary color because too much teal can be overwhelming. But touches of teal. I don't really get involved in all this stuff because I don't really care all that much what colors we have at our wedding as long as it's not ridiculously gaudy. I let her handle these things because the bride is supposed to (I think). So rewind about 2 months. I was considering having my youngest brother be the ring bearer and I was trying to figure out a way to distinguish him from the other groomsmen. I thought having him wear a different color tie or something would do the trick. When I suggested red, Sezzy made a face and said "red clashes with teal" and basically passed my suggestion off as stupid.

So now, she put out an inspiration board on her blog and I get to brag because she adores it. Check it out here. It's full of win.

I love being right.


Honeymoon stress

So don't ask me why, but I'm already planning the honeymoon. I know I don't have to worry about this at least for another few months, but once you start looking at destinations and resorts... well, it's hard to stop. I guess I'm just dreaming of an amazing vacation since Sezzy and I haven't been on one since Hawaii in 2007. It was expensive and we really couldn't afford it, but it was incredible. It was the first time either of us had been to Hawaii so we were awe-struck with the beautiful views of the mountains and the gorgeous beaches. We snorkeled with sea turtles, went on a waterfall hike and found the location where ABC films "Lost". So how do you top that?

Yup, that's us in front of a piece of the fuselage from Oceanic 815, being used as a tent by one of the survivors (Sawyer, we think)

Well, let me tell you. It's not easy. Hawaii is one of those places where, when you get home you immediately want to go back. I can't remember the exact number, but the one tour guide told us that well over half of the people that come to Hawaii return at some point in their lives (I think it's something like 70%).

I, of course, want to try to find a place like Hawaii, a place that takes our breath away. At the same time, though, we are trying to find a place where we can sit around and be pampered for the entirety of our vacation. When we went to Hawaii, we tried to cram everything into our 5 days there. We snorkeled, went to three luaus, went on two hikes, drove around the entire island of Oahu taking pictures, went on the historic tour of the Pearl Harbor and the city of Honolulu, and went to a Polynesian theme park-type-thingy (kind of Polynesian Epcot without the actual rides -- it's more fun than it sounds). We barely had any time to actually go on the beach. Not that the beach where we stayed was particularly impressive, but it was a few notches above all of the other beaches I've been to. Basically, we had no time to relax. For our honeymoon, we want a place to relax for 5-7 days since we will be running around so much prior to the wedding.

So my first thought is... Caribbean. Neither Sezzy or I have ever been to the Caribbean and I have already heard that it's incredible. My boss tells me that St. John and Tortola are awesome. Sezzy's mom dreams of Turks and Caicos. My grandma loves St. Thomas. My boss' friend thought Jamaica was great. So how do I choose? Well, the first thing I did was perform a Google search on "best honeymoon destinations". I found an about.com article listing the "50 best honeymoon destinations." Of course, #1 was Hawaii. Dammit. I guess if we hadn't gone to Hawaii two years ago, this would be easy. Number 5 was Fiji. I had never even thought of Fiji or any of the French Polynesian islands before but I've heard they are amazing.

This place will cost you between $2000-3000 per night. At least it's all-inclusive...

I soon learned that Fiji is only a great destination if you have lots of cash to spend. Most of the places I looked at cost a minimum of $5000 for 5-7 nights, all-inclusive. I think that most of the all-inclusives in Fiji included only meals and no alcoholic beverages. Well, ok... I guess Fiji might be a location to consider for an anniversary... maybe our 25th, since that's probably when I'll actually have enough money to book a vacation there. That pretty much exhausted the options for a Pacific vacation, so it was time to look at Caribbean destinations. (I also looked at Tahiti, but the prices were comparable).

I looked at the top 50 list some more and didn't see too much that I liked. Italy was #2, but we decided that we didn't want to do Europe because we felt like we would be wasting a chance to sightsee if we just lounged around for a whole week. Anguilla was #4, St. Lucia #6, followed by Mexico, St. Bart's, Jamaica, and France. I've heard Anguilla was nice, but after further examination I learned that it's also expensive. Most of the accomodations there are privately-owned villas that, of course, are not all-inclusive (which is another thing we are looking for). We don't want to do Mexico, especially since it's going to be in summertime, when all the teens and college students vacation there. St. Bart's is the same story as Anguilla and it's even more expensive. Jamaica seems nice but the island itself seems a little crazy for a honeymoon. Jamaica is home to the Hedonist resorts (look it up but beware: some of the sights are NSFW), which kind of bothered both of us. I somehow stumbled across a link for the St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

This place looked amazing. The Grenadines, for those that don't know, are the southernmost islands in the Caribbean. St. Vincent is located just west of Barbados and the island chain stretches south, almost to Trinidad and Tobago. I searched a little deeper and found the perfect resort: Palm Island Resort on Palm Island. Palm Island is just one island in the Grenadines, but the entire island only has one resort. The island itself is only 135 acres and 5 beaches. It's literally located in the middle of nowhere. Palm Island Resort is an all-inclusive resort that looks just spectacular.

That's the whole island, all 135 acres of it

One of the rooms at the Palm Island Resort

In a word, it looks... relaxing. Of course, it's pricey, and for two reasons: 1) it's all-inclusive, and 2) it's a pretty swanky place. The quote I got from the sales rep was $4060 for the "Palmview" room, and that includes air transfer to and from the island, accomodations, all meals and beverages (including alcoholic), and non-motorized water sports. Not a bad deal, I guess. All we would need to pay for is the flight to Barbados, which runs about $580 per person. It's still expensive, though. I asked the rep if maybe a 5-night would be cheaper. Turns out, it's actually more expensive because the all-inclusive price includes air transfer from Barbados. See, you can't fly directly to Palm Island. You have to fly to Barbados, then take a puddle-jumper to Union Island, where you are "whisked away by golf cart to the nearby dock to meet the Palm Two for the 5 minute boat ride to Palm Island." I can safely say that I've never been whisked away by a golf cart, but anyway... the problem is that the puddle jumper that takes you from Barbados to Union Island, that flight costs $412 per person! That's right, it's almost as much as the flight from Philly to Barbados. What a rip! This, of course, turned me off to the idea of Palm Island somewhat.

So I kept looking, knowing that I at least had a quote from a destination. I looked at other islands in the Grenadines, but it turns out that it's hard to find an all-inclusive resort on most of the other islands. It seems like there are a few resorts that dominate this location and the rest of the accomodations are private villas which are way expensive. The other island that I looked at, Canouan Island, is a little bit bigger and a little more industrious than Palm Island. This island has a golf course and casino to go along with its two resorts. The prices at the resorts, though, are astronomical (no surprise, since one of them is Trump-owned). Oh and neither of the resorts are all-inclusive. So I kept looking. Sezzy sent me a link to someone's blog on weddingbee that showed pics of possible resorts in St. Lucia where the blogger and her fiance would be staying. I was floored.

I never realized St. Lucia was so breathtaking. The one resort (which is out of our price range), features astounding views of the Piton Mountains and the ocean. The resort is incredible. Each unit is called a "sanctuary" and every unit in the resort has it's own private infinity pool. Take a look:

Oh yeah, it's open air too. The beds come with mosquito nets, but this one doesn't have one for some reason

There are no TVs in any of the units at Jade Mountain and cell phones must be on silent while in the resort. The resort is all-inclusive, but... it costs between $850-1000 per night for the cheapest room. They had deals where you would get your 5th night free or your 7th night free, but even then the total came out to between $4000-6000, depending on what type of room and if we wanted the "Romance Package" or not. It was tabled for a future trip. I also looked at Anse Chastanet Resort, which is owned by the same company. It was... just ok, I guess. I wasn't blown away by it, especially for how much it costs.

Not really feelin' the odd art and the feel of this room

We pretty much ruled this resort out. Another resort listed in the blog was Ladera Suites. This one is pretty nice and not too overly expensive, while still giving off a high-class feel. Check it out:

Mosquito nets required!

Each unit comes with its own private plunge pool and they have affordable all-inclusive packages as well. We like this place and it's still on our list. The last place that the blog post mentioned was Stonefield Estate Villas...

Every unit is a private villa with a...

Private plunge pool!

Wow. This place is awesome. Not only do the rooms resemble the previous two resorts I listed, but they are their own private villas and they're cheaper! The resort offers a couple all-inclusive packages, including one that only includes lunch and dinner and one that included premium beverages instead of non-premium. And it's pretty reasonable, from what I've seen. The AI Meal plan, which includes 3 meals per day and all beverages by the glass is $165 per person. If you figured that dinner would probably cost at least $50-75 per person if you got a full dinner, and that drinks average about $10 per drink, this is a good deal. We had to cut back on the drinking a little in Hawaii because we didn't have an AI plan. With this, we could just drink all day and not have to worry about running up a tab. The rates were fair, with the cheapest room coming in at $230 a night. They also offer a honeymoon package, which includes: private in-room dining (awesome); basket of local fruit and bottle of champagne; $150 anniversary coupon, a sunset cruise (eh); tour of the botanical gardens (sounds cool); tour of Sulphur Springs, the world's only drive-in volcano; Soufriere Waterfall experience (rainforest hike); $100 resort credit; full hour body massage for two; complimentary airport transfers; and all taxes and government charges. At 7 nights, it's a pricey $5958, but it can also be customized for a 5-night stay. If you go just by the nightly rate, it would be about $4250 for 5 nights, but everything would be paid for. Everything except the flight. The thing with Hawaii was that, while we paid much less than that for the actual trip, we spent the difference on food and drink and excursions.

So while we are still deciding, we have a couple of places in mind. We have plenty of time to make reservations and it's not even possible to book a flight that far in advance at this point. I really shouldn't have started this whole process so early because now I'm going to be neurotic about it for the next 15 months but oh well, what can you do? I'm sure I'll have a follow-up to this post in another couple of months when I find a different place that I want to go.



Hey all. So I realize it's been a while since my last post. There are many reasons for this, but the main reason is that nothing has really happened regarding the wedding planning since my last post. We have now exactly 16 months until the wedding and to be honest, there isn't much planning happening these days. We have our venue and our wedding party, and now it's time to relax a little. Plus, I've been ultra-busy at work and now I'm sick (thanks to my lovely fiancee), so that doesn't help. But I'll give a quick update on how things have been going since my last post.

Wedding Party
Technically, this didn't happen since my last post, but I haven't really posted anything on this yet so I will here. We finalized our wedding party about a month ago. After much deliberation, I decided to include my brothers as groomsmen instead of ushers (my other brother is working on getting ordained by his church so he can officiate the ceremony). It expanded the wedding party by one person on each side, but who cares? We have 6 groomsmen and 6 bridesmaids, with 2 ushers. The final wedding party is:

Best Man: Kyle
Groomsmen: Matt (college friend), Joe (brother), Matt (brother), Hicks, and Nick (both college friends who I also went to high school with)
Ushers: Hags and R-Dot

I don't think the wedding party is too big at 6 apiece either. All the guys were excited to be in the wedding, which is good. Beyond asking them and giving them minor details, I haven't contacted them or set up any outings (guys generally don't do that) but I hung out with my best man for the Super Bowl and he said he already had my bachelor party planned. We are planning a wedding party box race as a meet-and-greet for any members that don't know one another. This should be interesting, because my two brothers aren't "of age" yet. So the question is... do I include them in this or not? My one brother is already in college and the other is entering this Fall. I want to include them since it's wedding party-related, but I have a moral dilemma in knowingly letting them participate in drunken debauchery.

So we put our names down for The Penn Stater in good old State College, PA for July 3, 2010. We liked it enough to at least be put on the "wait list" which really isn't a wait list at all. All you actually wait for is the day when they can officially book the room for you, since they can't book more than a year in advance. Either way, we are excited about the possibilities of a State College wedding with all our friends. We are planning a downtown bar tour on the Thursday before the wedding, with the rehearsal dinner at the Nittany Lion Inn the next day, and the wedding Saturday at the Penn Stater. That Sunday, July 4, there is something called 4th Fest, which we basically discerned as being just fireworks. But hey, who doesn't like fireworks? Also on the 4th will be a brunch at the Penn Stater for anyone that wants to hang around. We are mucho excited and there is a food tasting event coming up sometime in April that we may make the trip up for.

Wedding Bands
We are starting to look at wedding bands at this point. Sezzy wants a channel-set band to match her engagement ring, which makes sense. A channel-set band would look good with the engagement ring. Something like this:
As for me, I'm liking the titanium and tungsten bands. Both are strong metals, but the titanium will scratch, whereas the tungsten will not. I would probably go with the tungsten over titanium in this case because they look very similar and I would want one that didn't scratch. Either way, they are uber-cheap. Here's a titanium band:

And here are four different flavors of tungsten bands:

I don't think I'm crazy about the real dark variety of these bands, but I like the top 3 ones above. They look so cool and there's so many different ways that they can be made. And the best part? All of these rings are under $300, which leaves more money for things like the...

Initial planning has begun and I think I know where I want to go for the honeymoon, but I will post this separately because I have lots to say about this.

So I guess there were updates to give. I just didn't give much thought to it since we haven't really been focusing on it recently. Our two friends are getting married in May so they are entering the stretch run. The groom's bachelor party is coming up in early May and their wedding is Memorial Day weekend, so we are getting ready for that. Which brought up a funny point... so far, everyone in our circle of friends has been picking holiday weekends to get married. Our one couple got married on Labor Day last year, our other couple is doing Memorial Day this year, and now we are doing July 4 weekend.

Hey, it's easy to remember, ok?


Venue Hunting (cont.)

So I mentioned in my post on Friday that we were going venue hunting over the weekend. We went to State College to look at the two Penn State hotels to see if we liked the setup and I have to say, we were impressed.

We were escorted around the properties by a woman that we'll call Hope and she couldn't have been more helpful. We met her in the lobby of the Nittany Lion Inn, where we stayed the night before, and she showed us around the premises. First, she took us to the Boardroom, which was the smaller of the two places where they would normally hold a reception. It was... ok. The room currently was set up for a field hockey banquet, but we got an idea of what it would look like for a wedding. It was kind of small and the ceilings were low, but the walls had sections that were cork where you could pin up pictures or other such things. She explained how the bar would be in a separate room just outside the main room, which was kind of nice. The room would have soft seating and would serve as a nice little hang-out area for people who wanted to get away from the action for a bit. With a dance floor and band setup, the room could hold about 200 people (but it looked a little tight).

The Nittany Lion Inn from the outside

She showed us this room because unfortunately, it's the only one at the NLI that's available on our (now pretty official) date of July 3, and also because our wedding probably won't be big enough to have in the Ballroom, which is for weddings between 250-350. Apparently they used to let you use sections of the Ballroom, but they don't do that anymore. That's too bad because the Ballroom is much nicer than the Boardroom, with high ceilings and a ton more space:

Nittany Lion Inn Ballroom

Nonetheless, we continued onward. Next we saw the Alumni Lounge, which was basically a medium-sized room that connected with another room about the same size that had a real fireplace. It was nice. We were thinking that it would be a good place to have a rehearsal dinner. It felt very homey and intimate. Then we sat down in the restaurant onsite and talked about the packages and what they included. We were blown away by how much the package included. Here's the list:
  • 1-hr. cocktail reception following the ceremony with butlered hors d'ouevres
  • Champagne toast
  • Three-course meal with choice of soup, salad, appetizer, and entree, and three flavors of Creamery ice cream
  • Wedding cake (huge value)
  • Room rental
  • One night suite rental
  • Linens (white)
  • Personal day-of event planner
There's probably some that I'm forgetting, but even so, this is pretty good for the price. The base price does not include the open bar, but Hope told us how to figure out the cost per person with the open bar, tax, and gratuity tacked on (it's basically between 90-130 depending on whether we want NLI or Penn Stater and whether we want served or buffet style dinner). We left the Nittany Lion Inn feeling less than overjoyed, though. It wasn't a bad place, just not quite what we had in mind. Here are some positives and some negatives:

+ More elegant venue, felt more classy
+ Hotel is located closer to downtown, making for easier access to shopping/bars
+ Could do everything right at the hotel
+ Bar in separate room with soft seating
- Wasn't crazy about the Boardroom and the fact that we couldn't rent out part of the Ballroom
- No place for an outdoor ceremony due to the lack of space
- Didn't get quite as much for the money, but still a good deal

So it was on to the Penn Stater, which is a much more modern hotel that serves mainly as a conference center.

The Penn Stater from the outside

We seriously weren't expecting much out of this hotel. We weren't crazy about how modern it looked and we just didn't think it would be as intimate. We also didn't like how it wasn't close to campus. It is located in a section of campus known as Innovation Park. It isn't within walking distance to downtown, but Hope assured us that their Hospitality Services had shuttle service to anywhere within a 3-mile radius, which was a great feature. We are planning on having a bar tour with wedding party and VIP two nights before the wedding. With no way to get back to the hotel, we were concerned. Alas, we can let them know how many people and at what time we need picked up and they will come and get us.

After a few minutes at the hotel, our attitude towards it changed. True, it wasn't as intimate and it wasn't nearly as elegant, but we actually came to like it more than the Nittany Lion Inn. Hope showed us the room where our reception would be held. It was a large room with a very high ceiling. The room (Dean's Hall) itself at least looked a lot bigger than the Boardroom at the NLI. She showed us where the bar would be set up and where the dance floor would be. Also, this room came with lighting included since the ceiling wasn't all that attractive. They drape the lighting down from the ceiling from the center to the walls and it looks pretty nice. The room was also much more plain, and this allows us to customize more than the NLI because the colors really come out in the carpet and walls in the Boardroom. She showed us the area where the cocktail hour would take place and this also looked very nice because it included an outdoor patio area where guests could walk around and smoke or whatever. Being that our wedding is going to be in July, this was almost a must-have.

Now the downfall. Yes, they can do an outdoor ceremony. No, it isn't the best-looking location. The pictures that she showed us had the chairs and "altar" area set up right outside building. It looked like graduation or something. Not formal at all. We think we may be able to work with the space, but we aren't entirely sold on the outdoor location. We feel very strongly about having an outdoor wedding ceremony, so this is a very important part of our decision process. However, they are planning on renovating the space and adding a stone wall and fountain so we'll see how that goes. I think we will be able to make it look nice. The only other negative here is that they charge a small fee for use of the site but it includes chairs, so it's all good.

Next she showed us some of the guest rooms. This is where we were really blown away. The guest rooms were spectacular. Hope showed us all the different room types and we especially liked the large suites for bridal/groom's suites for the wedding party. Each of these rooms came with two double beds and a pull-out that also looked like a double, a soft chair and TV and they were huge!! Here is a pic of part of a suite:

Suite at the Penn Stater

There was also a "hospitality area" which is basically like a small lounge to hang out in when there aren't events going on. We could just picture friends and family hanging out with each other, eating cookies or watching TV.

Hope then took us downstairs to show us the bar and Orchid Room, where the day-after brunch would be held. This is an extra cost, but it's a nice thing to have. Since everyone is coming in from out of town, having a morning-after event like that leaves open the option of staying an extra night instead of driving home late at night and it gives everyone a chance to catch up with the bride and groom after all the craziness of the wedding day. The best part is that you only pay for what your guests consume, so there isn't any wasted food or money. Positives and negatives:

+ Dean's Hall was bigger than the Boardroom and we liked the high ceilings
+ Outdoor area for cocktail hour
+ Possibility of outdoor ceremony site
+ Awesome guest rooms
+ Hospitality area
+ More included for less $$$
- Outdoor ceremony area was not as elegant as we would like
- Small fee for outdoor ceremony site

One of the best aspects to the wedding packages here is the day-of event planner. This comes included with the wedding package. They basically assign a planner to you on the day of the wedding that takes care of all the details of the wedding day. Hope explained to us that if anything goes wrong, we will never know. For instance, if the server drops the wedding cake on their way out, we won't ever know. If it's a half hour til the reception is supposed to start and the band or DJ hasn't showed up yet, we won't know. They take care of everything for us and they try their best to make our day as stress-free as possible. Which is fantastic, in my opinion. I know that I'm going to be a nervous wreck and Sezzy probably will as well, so this little thing is very valuable to us.

All in all, we left favoring the Penn Stater for the reception, but we are thinking we will do the rehearsal dinner in the Alumni Room at the NLI because of the intimate setting. If nothing else, this trip pretty much solidified our decision to have the wedding in State College. It's a special place for both of us and we really both feel like it's been a second home to us. We put our names on the waitlist and now it's up to us to decide just how we can make the space look like us. Hopefully, we can think of some creative ways to make the ceremony site to our liking.


Venue Hunting

Our venue hunting process began a couple weeks ago, but we will be touring our first venue tomorrow. The Nittany Lion Inn, one of two hotels owned and operated by Penn State, is the venue. We have high hopes for the possibilities associated with having a Penn State wedding, so we are crossing our fingers with this one. Sezzy used to work as a banquet server at the NLI so she knows a bit about the place already (she met James Earl Jones there, too). They nice facilities and an extensive menu.

Hopefully we can pair up some of what the NLI offers with what the Penn Stater, Penn State's other hotel, has to offer. The Penn Stater has a package that lets you host your rehearsal dinner in a private suite at Beaver Stadium! How cool is that?? They even put your name on the scoreboard (kinda cheezy but still awesome at the same time). I'll post how the tour went post-weekend.

Website: http://www.pshs.psu.edu/


What now?

Ok, so you're engaged. What now? I've never been engaged before so I don't know how this works as a guy. Of course, my fiancee immediately went into planning overdrive . If you're like me, you probably thought that you didn't have much to do or even have much say in how things are going to play out. However, for me at least, this isn't the case. There are some things that the groom is responsible, albeit not nearly as much as the bride and her family is responsible for.

First thing's first. You need a wedding party. But before you determine who is in your wedding party, you have to determine how many people you want to be in your wedding party. This is a decision you need to make with your bride-to-be. We are planning on having 5 people in each of our wedding parties, including the best man and maid of honor. The hard part is deciding who is important enough to be in your wedding party, of course, but more on that in a future post.

Ok, so you have your wedding party, now what? Time to relax a little, right? Not if you're me. Sezzy started looking at venues about two days after the engagment, which is good I guess. Her parents are going to be paying for a good portion of the wedding, so we have to find a place that meets our needs and their budget. This can be very tricky and as the groom, it puts you in kind of a tough position. You know what you want, but if it doesn't fall within the budget, you can't really argue too much because you're not the one footing the bill. Anyway, Sezzy and I are looking at places in State College, PA because we met at Penn State and both graduated there and it still holds a special place in both our hearts. Plus, they have some very cool packages up there. There are two Penn State hotels: The Nittany Lion Inn and The Penn Stater. Both places look nice, but if you want an outdoor ceremony, it looks like you have to do The Penn Stater. One of the packages (I can't remember which right now) lets you rent out a suite in Beaver Stadium for the rehearsal dinner, which is AWESOME!! You get your name on the scoreboard and everything. We also looked at a few places locally (head on over to Sezzy's blog to see pictures) and there are some nice places but most are expensive and some have venue fees associated. It's crazy how expensive weddings are.

Now, in order to pick a venue, you need to have a date. While we still haven't set a concrete date, we know within a few weeks when we want to do it. Our original date we had considered was June 19, 2010. It's a nice date because our dating anniversary fell on the 19th of the month as well. Also, it's soon after Sezzy is done teaching for the year, but it only gives her about 1-2 weeks once school is out to finalize any last-minute details. Well, this date was shot down because her aunt and Godmother won't be able to make it that day because of graduation parties (her son is graduating from high school in '10). Ok, how about the following weekend? Well, I wasn't crazy with that weekend because the 26th, which is the following Saturday, is the exact day I started dating my high school girlfriend. Don't ask me why or how I still know that, but I do and it bothers me. The weekend after that is July 3-4, which is no good. Or is it? Think about it. Sure, it's a holiday. But it's a holiday that's generally associated with partying and having a good time. What if we had our ceremony on the 3rd? Everyone who wants to make separate plans for the 4th could still keep those plans, and if anyone wanted to stay around I'm sure we could find fireworks wherever we held the wedding. And the best part is that everyone will likely have off work on the 5th. We filed that away and we are taking it into consideration. The following weekends would also be fine, the 10-11th, 17-18th, etc. but the weather starts getting stifling hot around that time. Thus, we are still deciding.

How about a guest list? This has been tough. We wanted to hash out a preliminary guest list just to get a rough idea of how many people we were going to have to account for. We got to 200 almost effortlessly. We want to keep it around 200 and not much higher, but you have to draw lines somewhere in order to keep your guest list a decent size. You have to ask yourself lots of tough questions like: whose children should we invite? and for whom should we include "and guest"? Our general rule is that if the person in question is living on their own (i.e. not in college or living with their parents anymore), it's courteous to invite a guest (unless it's immediate family). Generally, inviting children is a must for close family and friends. We had to cut out guests and children for some people on our lists or else it would have swelled to over 250.

What's next? How about deciding what to wear? Are you going to wear a tux or suits? How about your groomsmen and ushers (if applicable)? Yes, this is your responsibility. While your fiancee may have her own thoughts on what colors she would like, you have a say in that and once the colors are decided, you have to pick out the attire for your side of the wedding party. Personally, I like the idea of myself and my groomsmen wearing tuxes, but the ushers will wear suits.

Ok, now we're on a roll. Details about the big day are starting to fall in place. But there is still so much to do. You need to figure out what to do with out-of-town guests. In some cases, everyone is an out-of-town guest. For instance, if we have the wedding in State College, everyone will be out of town. We will probably reserve a block of rooms in whatever hotel we have the wedding in, in this case. Transportation also has to be arranged. In some cases, the hotel may be far away from where the ceremony is held, or the reception may not be in the same place as the ceremony. One thing to consider is that some venues charge for parking. Will you cover the parking yourself or will you make your guests pay to park?

More men's duties:
- Obtain marriage license (very important)
- Purchase gift for the bride (also very important)
- Purchase groomsmen gifts (again, very important)
- Plan the rehearsal dinner (can be done with bride-to-be, but generally this is paid for my the groom's family)
- Prepare a toast for the rehearsal and a speech for the reception
- Plan the honeymoon (can be done with bride-to-be, but generally this is in the hands of the groom)

The marriage license is obviously very important (you can't get married without it) and finding someone to officiate can often be tricky. I am going to try to have my brother officiate the ceremony, so that should alleviate a lot of headaches. Also, the groom is responsible for the officiant's fee. You must purchase a gift for the bride. This is usually a piece of jewelry, a bracelet or watch, etc. Purchasing gifts for the groomsmen is very important as well. They put a lot of time and effort into the wedding planning and it's a nice gesture to get them all something that suits their personality. My friend got custom cufflinks for the groomsmen in his wedding and they were awesome. The cufflinks came in the form of dice, CD's, and stormtrooper helmets, among other things. The rehearsal dinner can be planned by both bride and groom, but the groom and his family are responsible for paying for it. The groom has to have a toast for the rehearsal and, generally, a speech for the reception. And of course, the honeymoon. You want to make sure to book a romantic getaway for your new bride.

So that's it. More than you thought, huh? Yeah, me too. And as of today, 23 days after we became engaged, we have none of these things done. Of course, we still have 17 months left, but it's always good to get a jump on things so you don't end up on one of those Bridezilla shows. Guess we better get moving.


The Bling

Ok, enough of the schmaltzy stuff. This whole engagement thing has changed me somehow and I get spurts of emotional outpouring like that. Time to get down to business.

This post is all about the bling. The process that I went through is probably a little different than what most people go through, but the picking of the ring was the pretty much the same. My fiancee's family has a longtime friend that does jewelry on the side. He used to run a jewelry store with some friends, but had to close it and now just does it on the side. He has made rings for Girl's parents before and he gets them at huge discounts. That is the part of my process that was different. However, picking out the ring itself is the part that is pretty much always the same.

I knew that I wanted to propose shortly after our friends got married on Labor Day. I started casually looking at rings toward late September-early October. I started seriously looking toward the end of October. I had a few criteria to work with:

1) She likes round-cut better than princess
2) She likes the 3-stone settings with accents
3) I can only get a solitaire if it's Tiffany

Well, ok. Personally, I like the look of the round-cut diamonds better too and the 3-stone settings are nice. Solitaires are too plain (she really only said the bit about Tiffany because she didn't want a solitaire). She also said she wanted it to be over 1 carat T.W. but that she didn't want it to be too big because she has small hands. It's actually a valid concern. If a girl with small hands has a giant rock on her finger, it doesn't look right. I was happy when she said this because size=money (that's what she said, literally).

So what I was targeting was a round-cut, 3-stone ring with accents, with total weight being between 1.5-2 carats. I found the perfect ring on a popular jewelers' website (withholding name):
This was it. This was the ring I wanted to get for her. It was perfect. Plus, this particular one was on sale. So I went to our family friend with this picture and said I wanted something like this. It was 1.5-carat T.W., white gold, had side stones and accents, the whole nine yards.

While he couldn't match the price, he was able to upgrade the quality of the stones considerably. He actually went to the store and looked at the ring and said "yep, the quality of the stones I have is much better than what is in this ring." He explained to me the whole process of obtaining stones and to make a long story short, the jewelry stores generally don't ask specifically to see each stone before picking them because it costs them extra. They will tell the diamond broker that they want a bunch of G color stones and they dump them out on the table for them. This increases the chances of getting a stone with a large flaw in it. The rating system also doesn't always take into account the flaws when rating the clarity. All 4 of the stones he showed me were the same clarity, despite the one having a giant flaw that spread throughout the entire stone.

Anyway, so I went over to his house to look at settings and loose stones. This is the part of the experience that you won't get by going to a chain jewelry store. He showed me about 5 settings altogether, two of which I liked. Then he showed me 4 different stones of varying size and color. The sizes were .5, .6, .7, and .84-carat. He showed me the stones in 10x magnification to show me the imperfections in each stone. The .5 and .7 stones were nearly flawless. The .6-carat, the size I liked the most, had a huge flaw in it and he said he would never recommend selling that stone to anyone. The .84 stone was a K color and looked yellow compared to the other stones when he did his color test for me.

Then the mountings. The two that I liked were both 3-stone settings with accents. The first was small, with total weight around .61. The second was much bigger, with total weight at .94 carats. The second one was dazzling even with no center stone in it. I liked it, but it was much more expensive. Well, I wanted a .6-carat center stone to make the whole thing around 1.5 carats. The .7 was too expensive and the .5 was too small. I said to him, "is there any way you can try to find another .6 that doesn't have a huge flaw in it?" Keep in mind, this is a week before I'm set to pop the question. He said he would see what he could do. He called me the next day and said he found a .6 stone that was nearly flawless, came in at E color (D is the best, colorless) and he could put it in the ring right away if I gave him the go-ahead. I did. And the ring turned out awesome. Here it is:

My advice: follow your fiancee's requirements as best you can because it's her ring and not yours. Make sure you set your budget so that there is some wiggle room (I went up about $800 from my original budget). In the end, you may need to make a judgment call. Oh, and it's nice to have friends that can give you a beautiful ring for almost half price.


I'm engaged!

Hello. I'm not sure how much interest this blog will generate, but I figured that some people might find it interesting to hear about the wedding planning process from the groom, rather than only hearing it from the bride. The name of the blog is a little lame, I know, but it's an off-shoot of my fiancee's wedding blog, which can be found here. Her tag on her blog is sezzy, and she always refers to me as simply "Boy", hence the name "Sezzy's Boy."

Ok, enough of the intro stuff. Time to get right down to it. Well, my fiancee and I recently got engaged, on New Year's Eve actually. It was a momentous occasion and a monumental achievement for me, and for our relationship. And all of our friends were there to witness it. We had people over for New Year's Eve and to watch Penn State get blown out in the Rose Bowl the next day. We had lots of food, lots of drink, and lots of fun.

Fast forward to around 11:30 pm: I had been downstairs playing Rock Band with some friends and I came upstairs to see what was going on with everyone else. Sezzy seemed a little down but she wouldn't admit to being upset. She gave me some lame excuse that I don't even remember anymore, and I knew that it was time. She had been waiting for long enough. We hit our 4-year anniversary back in November and we have been living together for over 2 years now. She was expecting it to happen on every special day for the last year, and especially since our friends Nick and Crystal's wedding back in August when I told her that I "think I might want to do this with her some time." She was disappointed on our anniversary and on Christmas, even though she kept egging me on, saying she knew I wouldn't do it on Christmas.

The truth is, my intention was always New Year's Eve. It's her favorite holiday, higher on her list even than Christmas. But I wanted to keep her in suspense. I wanted her to think that I wasn't going to do it so that it would be a complete surprise. And it was. She went downstairs after I talked to her and I went up. The time was about 11:45, 15 minutes before the ball dropped, signaling that yet another year had come and gone. I got the ring, which I had just obtained earlier in the day, out of my top dresser drawer and took a deep breath. Then, when I heard her come back into the kitchen, I called for her to come upstairs, cool and collected. I stood at the foot of our new bed as she walked in and then I got down on one knee and asked the magic question. The look on her face was a rare mix of joy, relief, adoration, and a touch of anger for making her wait so damn long, raw emotion. Then she started crying and somewhere in there said "yes". After a couple of minutes of admiring her rather impressive ring and catching her breath and composing herself, she asked me if I was ready.

Of course I was. Her sister and Maid of Honor, Becky, was the first to know. She called her to the landing when we were halfway downstairs to show her the sparkle on her left ring finger. The next to know was our good friend Crystal and after that, everyone gathered 'round. There were hugs and handshakes a-plenty after that, but hey--it's almost 2009. Let's pour the champagne. We toasted and watched 2008 expire and continued our night for hours more. The phone calls to ecstatic friends and family members started soon after midnight. My first call was to my mom's cell, but there was no answer. I called my two younger brothers: one was at a party, the other hanging at home. The latter said mom was asleep but he would try to rouse her. In the meantime I called my older brother.

He was out west for the night, at the UNC-UNLV game in Reno, Nevada (it wasn't yet midnight out there yet). I told him the good news and he congratulated me. Then I asked him a very important question: would you officiate our wedding? My brother is very active in his church and has considered leaving his job to pursue formal training in religious studies. He has gone on mission trips to India and Africa, and is planning another one in New Orleans in February. We just figured, who better to officiate our wedding than someone who is so close to us? He was honored and said he would check with his church when he got home from his trip. When I hung up, I still hadn't heard from my mom. So I thought I would try to call her again. And my brother was right: she was out cold. Barely audible and barely coherent (just because she had gone to bed at 10 and had a cold, not from drinking), I told her the good news. She didn't seem enthused, but she was barely awake. I told her I would call her tomorrow.

I was a little upset over the conversation with my mom, but it was understandable since she was woken out of a deep slumber. I needed to get my spirits up so I called my best man and best friend Kyle. New Year's Eve happens to also be his birthday, so he was out celebrating in Philly and already had a load on. But he was hilarious. He was maybe more excited than I was. After telling Sezzy that she was the second luckiest girl in the world (the luckiest, of course, was the girl that eventually marries him), I wrapped it up with him and went back downstairs.

The rest of the night kind of blends together, but I remember lots of picture-taking, some shots, and lots of congratulations. We finally caught our breath the next day and despite Penn State looking awful in the Rose Bowl, our good mood couldn't be spoiled. We were engaged. It seemed so strange to say at first and it still kind of does. But it also feels good. And I accomplished my goal: she was totally surprised.