Thursday, November 19, 2015

Meet the Vendors: The Places

There are so many things I have to write about that happened on Saturday, at my WEDDING. The people, the vows, the dress, MY HUSBAND!! But until I can figure out how to put words to all of that, I figured I'd take the chance to rave about my vendors because dammit, we had the most all-star, kick ass crew of vendors in the whole entire world.

So today, we start with the places.

Our ceremony and reception were held at Anodyne Coffee Works in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Throughout the planning process, when I told people we were having our wedding at a coffee shop, I got more than a few strange looks. A coffee shop? I'd return their wonder with a smile and a nod because I knew, from the very first time Tom and I stepped in the place, this was no ordinary coffee shop. The cream city brick against the warm wooden floors, the cozy yet spacious area, the stage, the tables, it was all we needed to make our big day perfect.

When Lindsay, the event coordinator, told me she had gotten married there before she started working there I felt a pretty big sense of comfort. She's been the bride and the planner, she's gotta know this place like the back of her hand! And then she showed me her 17 page PDF she assembled for her wedding and I was sold!

The space is amazing for a wedding, there's room for everything without feeling cramped, the staff was incredibly accommodating and helpful. No matter a guest's preference they could experience our wedding however they chose. Tearing up the dance floor? Plenty of space. Comfortably at their seat? Still in view of any excitement taking place. Near the bar? Tons of standing room along the gorgeous built in bar.

There's a separate room where the caterers were able to set up dinner allowing for comfortable traffic flow. Three private bathrooms, helpful for a bride who needs some assistance using them that night. Plenty of storage space to house decorations, bridal party stuff, etc. And, my husband's favorite part, a ping pong table in the "staging area" to keep the groomsmen busy as guests arrive.

This amazing venue is becoming quite popular, so the ability to snag a date will likely become harder and harder. Their policies are evolving as they become a coveted wedding venue, but Lindsay was great about explaining any updates/changes.

Next up, where we stayed, The Iron Horse Hotel.

I feel bad for any bride who stays somewhere else on their big day. From the moment we walked in the door, every single employee made certain we felt like the most special people on the planet. (Note: there were THREE other bridal parties staying at the hotel that weekend so it's not because we were the ONLY bridal groups.) From the first second we pulled up, the valet team grabbed a cart and instead of rolling their eyes at all 60 stems of flowers they helped unload, he asked about my wedding, what we were doing with the flowers, and told us the weather was going to get better!

The hotel itself is GORGEOUS. The minute you walk in the lobby it's freaking stunning. The rooms are spacious, well decorated and feel luxurious. The staff at the front desk were friendly, helpful and accommodating no matter what crazy request we threw their way (and we had a few!). They had tea delivered to our room when my Husband wasn't feeling well after our reception. They delivered stools for the makeup artists, extra towels required by having 10 girls in a room at one time, chairs, tea, coffee, all with a smile and a quick step.

Every time they saw us they asked how things were going, what we had planned that day, how we were feeling - things they didn't have to take a vested interest in, but DID. On Saturday when we showed up with 7 and wanted brunch, they scurried to find a table for us and continued to treat us like royalty.

Aside from being the location we got engaged, had our first look and stayed on our wedding night, Iron Horse has confirmed a hundred times over their spot as THE place to go for something special.

Still to come... The Eats, The Beauty, The Clothes

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Little Village

It's 6:35 on the morning of November 14th. I'm watching the sun come up over Lake Michigan and couldn't sleep another second. Today I am going to marry my best friend and quite frankly this is like all 31 of the Christmas mornings I've lived through all wrapped up in to one. And, even better, because I'm a grown adult and the bride, no one can tell me I have to stay in bed until it's light out!

However, this post isn't about him, or our wedding. There will be plenty of those. This post, my last a a single woman, is about all of those people who got me here. I spent a good chunk of my late twenties single. If you were one of the fortunate few to find your love earlier than that, you may not know what it's like to navigate the choppy waters of dating as an adult. But I can tell you, you do not sail that ship alone.

I am amazed, humbled, overwhelmed and overjoyed when I think about all of the people along the way who have shaped me, changed me, pushed me and kept me afloat when I just wasn't sure I could do it alone. They came in the obvious ways, my family, my friends. They came in less obvious ways, teenage girls I coached and then watched become amazing young women in their own real world life. In conventional ways, like coworkers who became lunch buddies who became best friends. In grounding ways, my little bodyflow family who kept me motivated to change physically and in doing so mentally. In, what seemed at the time, crazy ways, my internet strangerfriends who became mainstays in my life in no time at all.

Looking back, every single one of those people were so deliberately placed in my life to give me exactly what I needed when I needed it. At the time, all I wanted was to find the man I would marry. I'd beg them for answers, cry on their shoulders and curse the universe for being so cruel to me. But I realize now, I never could be where I am in this very moment on my wedding day without each day with each one of those people. I grew, I evolved, I took the occasional step back and I learned. And then, in just the right moment, I was the me I needed to be to take the chance on a stranger from Jefferson, to fall in love and to finally know I was right where I needed to be.

So thank you, to every one of those people. Thank you for pushing me and for pulling me. For having hope when mine was wavering and strength when mine was tired. It was a sometimes trying journey to get here, but it's filled with so much love and joy and help.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes that and more to raise a single 30 year old woman. So thanks for being my village. Can't wait to see what's to come.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Water in my Whiskey

Last night because Tom had the night off, I agreed we could take a trip to, what he refers to as "his Disneyland", Costco.

On the way there I called to tell him I was leaving work and while COMPLETELY obeying traffic laws and driving slowly to a red light, some lady in a van put her hand up to her ear making a phone motion and then did the most obnoxious and insulting impersonation of, apparently, me on my phone. It was one of those moments where my stomach drops and I can feel my face flush because a) I hate feeling like I've done something wrong. B) I DESPISE being made to feel like I'm doing something wrong when I haven't at all. C) Why do you have to be such a bitch? I mean, I don't know you, so maybe you're not one. You're driving a minivan so I assume you've got kids. Maybe they kept you up all night and you're exhausted. Maybe your boss was a dick and it's been a long day and I just happened to annoy and offend you personally by being on my phone? Whatever your reason, don't be a B maybe? Because I didn't actually do anything to you. So, just...stop?

At any rate situations like this make me irrationally upset because I am, to my very core, a people pleaser. And as much as it drives me batshit crazy, I apparently even seek to please strangers. And when I've done something to be scolded I cannot control my immediate, biological response of sadness, frustration and anger.

But, also, whatever ya big B, I'm going to Costco with my love and we're going to buy enough paper supplies to last us MONTHS and even you and your stupid face you're making can't stop that.

*fast forward to me pulling into the Costco parking lot*

I'm behind a woman in an SUV and we're entering the lot where there are two lanes, clearly marked on the road and by a sign. The right most lane is for turning right. The left most lane is for going straight. She's in the right lane, I'm going straight. Until she sees a close parking spot and then we're BOTH in the straight lane and I'm slamming on my breaks. I honk my horn as if to say, "WHOA! Someone's over here!" because that's what you do to alert someone who's enclosed in a vehicle separate from the one you're enclosed in.

She pulls into her spot, I find one two spots closer (because karma, I assume). As I get out of my car I see her, her two teenage sons (who look like troublemakers but who am I to judge) just GLARING at me. Um, I'm sorry, are we not adults here? So I say "is there a problem?" and her son says "what the hell's your problem honking at her like that?" To which I respond "Um, you cut me off. You were in a right turn only lane." And she yells "I didn't have my damn signal on did I?"

Pause. Okay ma'am, first of all a right turn only lane pretty clearly indicates a right turn is happening. The fact that you failed to use a signal does nothing to prove your case as a driver in the right. Also, no you weren't using a blinker, perhaps you should consider that. Also, FANTASTIC lesson you're giving your, what I can only assume are soon-to-be behind the wheel sons. Good luck keeping them out of jail for road rage related charges.

They continue to stare me down as they walk into Costco as I get more and more flustered about by the situation. I can feel my face turning red as Tom gets out of his car. I explain what happened (he was in his car right behind me) and he confirms I was right and she was wrong. He also encourages me politely to let it go. It's okay, she's not worth my time and also, "hey! We're at Costco!" (possibly forgetting that makes him a different level of happy than it makes me).

Between the phone lady and this chick, I'm at my limit of just plain old DICKS in the world. I'm frustrated with society as a whole and I can't figure out why all these assholes are ganging up on little old me. As we're walking in I stop and just ask to take a quick minute to explain why it frustrates me. He obliges, confirms again that I was right and that it's all okay. He slowly (without my realizing) continues to walk us into Costco, grabs a cart (still ensuring it's all okay and yes, again, I was right) and meanders over to the TVs. He starts looking at them, talking to me about the differences, what he might want to do in our next house, how this one is 4k and that one is curved. "Hey what size is our TV in the basement? What about the one in the bedroom?" We're 2 aisles deep in the TV section when I realize what's happening. "Hey! Are you shiny objecting me right now?! Did you just pull a textbook toddler distraction play on me?" I squeal.

"I am waving the hell out of my hypothetical keys, hoping you'll see them and want to play" he calmly states as we're walking past the big screens. "huh, you got a teething ring in your pocket, too? I'm getting kind of hungry." I responded, realizing he had won.

It was in this moment (and in many, MANY other moments we've had in our relationship) that I realize how lucky I am to marry this man. I am so ridiculously fortunate that when I go into a fit of Type A, control-needing rage that, instead of running scared (as he'd have every right to do), he not only tolerates me, he finds ways to fix it. Ways that I assume he has fine tuned over time that don't offend, upset or insult me in my illogical, irrational state.

He is many things to me, in this specific instance he is the water in my whiskey. When I've got a bite and am ready to kick some ass (usually over something unnecessary) (and honestly I could never *actually* kick some ass) he comes in, calms things down, and makes everything better, smoother and overall more enjoyable.

Also, he's going be a great dad -- by then he'll have had plenty of practice.

Also, also, PSA: no matter how shitty your day is, just don't be a dick to people who don't deserve. And definitely don't be a dick in front of your kids. Ok? Thanks.

Monday, August 10, 2015

#HappilyEmreyAfter: The Bachelorette Party Edition

aka #SweatingfortheWedding.

This past weekend was my bachelorette party and I almost couldn't write this post because I had the hardest damn time putting words to it.

On Monday, before the party, I had written an email to the lovely ladies on the invite list telling them how ooey gooey I was already getting inside thinking about how much this weekend meant to me. I have been repeatedly blessed over and over and over again with what can only be described as a bunch of baller ass women. And when I thought about what it would be like when the majority of those baller ass women were all under the same roof for a weekend celebrating the fact that I found the love of my life...whoa, the waterworks were on and there was no sign of them stopping.

 Friday I picked up my favorite Texan from the airport and we piled into a car and made the trek north to Door County. The group's timing couldn't have been more perfect as the entire caravan of vehicles all arrived within minutes of each other. A car full of Internet Friends, a car full of Minnesotans pulled in shortly after we did. We stayed in an adorable house with enough space for 14 of us to sprawl and enough counter space for the plethora of booze and snacks that accompany a group of well planned drinkers/eaters.

Amy handed me a "Future Mrs. Clay Matthews" wine glass for drinking. Mel and Rachel handed me a gun holster beer coozy. My MOH Gina was turning our kitchen into a Chipotle so I could recreate one of my favorite meals ever for dinner. (Seriously, right down to the salsa options, she NAILED it.) We cued up the playlist, poured drinks and it was happening... MY Bachelorette party. It started to feel a little surreal. (BUT, I had locked it up and hadn't cried, NOT EVEN ONCE!) Here's where the locking failed and I cried, but only a little! 13 of the coolest people I know, my closest friends all gathered around a table and talked about how they met me, funny stories we had together and how they met/know/got to know Tom.

Now, I know these people pretty well so I had a pretty good idea of how the weekend was going to play out. I know there would be a lot of fun. I was certain there would be music and dancing. I even had a pretty good inkling that there would be delicious food and hella planning that would turn into the most well executed bachelorette party ever. What I could not have possibly imagined or prepared for was the overwhelming feeling of awesome that happened over and over throughout the weekend. I would be going along, talking and hanging out and all of a sudden it would hit me like a ton of bricks. Individually I have known each of them and we have forged a friendship, built memories and connected. But to see those individuals connected was one of the coolest things EVER.

I also could have cried (and did when I got home--you're welcome ladies) over the thought and consideration that went into this weekend. They thought of EVERYTHING. Meals, snacks, drinks, coozies, bride accessories that didn't include penises, EVERYTHING was exactly me. And every time I turned around, someone was doing something thoughtful. I have never felt so spoiled in my entire life. 

I am so incredibly lucky to have found my partner for life. I'm even luckier that he's also my best friend. But lucky doesn't do justice to the fact that I was carried by this incredible group of women until I found him. I am so unbelievably thankful for the planning, hard work and thought that went into this weekend. Every single detail was perfect and I'm just so freaking lucky to have you all.

Monday, July 6, 2015


365* days ago, I met Tom. 383 days ago, I wrote this post. One year later, all of it is still true. He made me smile bigger and laugh harder. He has more than won my heart. He's kept my heart happy, my tummy full of butterflies and forever in his hands. A lot has happened in 365 days. We've moved in together, we've met each others families and we've gotten engaged. In 13
0ish days we'll be getting married.

Much like the post I first wrote about him, he still leaves me pretty wordless. Sometimes when I think about it too much it kind of blows my mind. He's my very best friend. He keeps me on my toes. He challenges me in a way I've never been challenged. 

One of my good friends got to meet him for the first time this past weekend. She's seen other boyfriends come and go and has a pretty good gauge of ghosts of Angie's dating past. She said to me, "Ang, Tom is really funny. And he challenges you. In a totally different way than the others have. And you put up with it way more than you ever did. 366 days ago, if you could have asked me "How would you like your friends to describe the man you're going to marry?" I may not have been able to give you that exact answer but that is so much of what I had hoped for during all those single days. Someone to make me laugh and make me better. 

He encourages me, supports me, tolerates me and loves me. He has a calming way about him when I've gotten maybe a little too high strung. He rolls with the punches when I'm planning to the minute. He even knows when I'm about to get cranky and forgives what I might say when I'm hangry. 

We haven't been together all that long, we haven't even known each other all that long. But in 365 days we've navigated our way through living under one roof, planning a wedding, death, job changes and so much more. He's my best friend, my love and my everything. 
I can't wait for the rest of our lives. 

*Disclaimer: I wrote this post on Saturday but didn't post it until today because blogging is hard... 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Adventure, Round 2.

Ok, better late than never on this. The last few weeks have been a little crazy. (As evidenced by the THREE different suitcases we have in the bedroom right now that have been used over the course of the last 3 weeks and not yet unpacked but more or less redistributed to the next one. I swear, this weekend I am doing laundry.)

My future sister-in-law had this waiting for me when we arrived. We're both becoming Mrs. Emrey in 2015!

There was a second part to this vacation story, which was really the entire cause of the vacation story. Tom's brother Troy and his (now wife) Chelsea got married! We arrived in Paso Robles, CA Saturday afternoon and as we drove through the quaint "Main St." downtown area, I knew I'd be just fine settling in here for the next 36 ish hours. (Note: when the entire vacation covers 3 cities in only 96ish hours total, no stop lasts for too long!) It reminded me of a smaller version of the Napa Valley/Sonoma area--but more of a well kept secret. There were vineyards and wineries everywhere you turned, adorable antique stores, cute little restaurants and when I saw the barbershop (called a barbershop) complete with the red, white and blue spinny thing? I was sold. This girl LOVES Small Town, USA. 

Fortunately on this leg of the trip we had little to worry about as the schedule and lodging were all figured out. The bride and groom rented an adorable brick house just off Main St. for their bridal party and families to stay at. It was really nice for everyone to be all in one place, specifically for me who knew NO ONE upon arrival. I met Tom's family (including 2 brothers, a soon-to-be sister in law, a stepmom, her fiance and a handful of complicatedly related relatives). Thankfully, everyone was awesome and we got along right off the bat. We changed clothes and ran off to the rehearsal dinner. The wedding was held a favorite winery of Troy & Chelsea's and we weren't on premise for more than 10 minutes before we were offered wine. That's my kinda place! 

Saturday we took the groom and his men (thankfully they allowed a female to tag along) out to breakfast at Cowgirl Cafe (me, still in heaven). We leisurely ate and I realized just how lucky men have it on the day of a wedding. Following breakfast we took care of a couple necessary errands including a hair cut (thanks to a text from Grammy insisting Tommy get his hair cut for the big day) and a stop to meet Mother of the Groom at a vineyard. Look, when mother of the groom says she needs a wine drinking buddy, you're not just going to let her drink alone!

The wedding was beautiful, relaxed and clearly Troy and Chelsea - which I could already tell, even in only really knowing them for about 24 hours at that point. By the time the reception hit, I felt like I had made best friends with at least half of the guests...and probably also the bartender who knew my order before I was even within reaching distance of the bar.
My fiance was the life of the party and I beamed the entire time to be the lucky girl on his arm.
When in wine country...

Managed to snag myself a seat at the head table with the other Emreys.

First dance: Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" (you KNOW there were tears).

Tommy gave a hell of a Best Man speech (there was laughter and tears--despite him not recalling anything he said). There was dancing. There was drinking. There were even bats for a brief period of time.

Apparently there was an afterparty at the house we were staying the dining room which shared a wall and was right outside our bedroom door. Tom and I, being basically professional old people at this point, popped in our ear plugs and were out like lights before midnight.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Adventure, Round 1.

As I mentioned yesterday, Tom and I just got back from our first real vacation and adventure away together. That alone could give you a little set of nerves. Will we travel well together? Can we hit some road bumps and work through them together as a team instead of against each other? Will he still love me after a potential travel related meltdown?! (I've been known to have them on occasion. Last minute travel plan changes don't really go over all that well with my Type A, control freak tendencies. Go figure.)

Well, we passed with flying colors. We were traveling rockstars and handled everything together and in stride. Our flight arrived at LAX at 5:00, also known as rush hour, in a city known for slow moving traffic at any time of day. We shuttled to our rental car where we experienced our first little win of the trip. Tom had been talking about getting a really cool car since the wedding location took us four hours north of LA and there were some scenic routes to be traveled. Specfically, he wanted a convertible. Financially Responsible and Practical Angie (or Buzkill Angie, depending on who you asked) had reserved a "premium" sedan for the comfort and price. As we walked out on the lot, Chad, our friendly Enterprise associate, asked if we'd be interested in an upgrade. I hesitated, Tom responded with a resounding, "YES!" (One I'm certain he had been holding in since we went wheels up in Milwaukee.) Then Chad asked THE question, "Would you be at all interested in a convertible?" Before I could ask about cost, Tom asked if he could hug Chad. We were clearly not Chad's first good cop/bad cop duo because before I could even form words, good ol' Chad informed us the "premium" inventory was low, so the convertible would be ours at no additional charge. You win, Chad, you win.

From this moment on, when Tom mentioned "his girl" this is what he was referring to.

So we climbed into our new ride for the weekend, me beaming for not spending extra money and Tom proudly behind the wheel of a Camaro.

Our trip had us doing more than a flight there and back. We spent Friday night outside of LA in Glendale where Tom is originally from. I got to see where he lived growing up, where his family lived and his favorite spots in the area. Having only ever dated people who lived near where I was from, it's been a LONG time coming for me to get to see his life pre-Wisconsin. We swung through his old neighborhood and snapped this quick pic from the view outside his grandparents former house on the appropriately named Wonderview Dr.

View from Wonderview Drive.

We had dinner with his brother (only the 2nd family member I had ever met!) and second dinner (which because of our short time frame actually IN Glendale was required in order for him to consume all of his favorite meals) at Tommy's. Note: He still loves me even though I denounced the chili on top of his burger from Tommy's, something he's been raving about since our very first date. He'll keep me around, even if I order chili-less burgers from Tommy's. #TrueLove

Saturday morning we stopped for an all to brief visit with Grammy before we were on the move again. Traveling about four hours north to Paso Robles, CA where the wedding festivities would be held. We also made a stop for lunch at Del Taco, another of Tom's MUST HAVES while in CA. (I was again not as impressed as he was hoping and yet he didn't kick me out of the car!)

He's only smiling because this is before I mentioned I didn't care for Del Taco.

Time constraints meant we couldn't travel up the coast which bummed Tom out quite a bit, but I thought the drive was stunning. We saw mountains, valleys, hills, flat lands and vineyards. My most frequent long commute is from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, so as long as there's SOMETHING to look, it's a more scenic route than I'm used to!


More mountains!

Prairies AND mountains!

We also learned the harsh reality that in May in CA those overcast skies will open WIDE up in no time at all and it will go from 55 to 85 in a matter of hours. Also, you will be in a car without sunscreen and NOT A SINGLE gas station will have any for purchase. Which is how we both ended up with some less than ideal... burn lines? We're too red to even think of calling these tan lines. Fortunately, at the 3rd stop, my forward-thinking fiance thought to grab aloe vera. Because despite not having a DROP of SPF anything, that gas station did have aloe vera, which was beyond appreciated later that night.

More to come in Round 2.