Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Grand Theft Floral and Plumbing 911

Despite my personal faith in love and commitment having been torched, salted, run through a wood chipper, and used as mulch in a graveyard, I still love weddings.  It makes perfect sense, planning a wedding is like planning Christmas or Thanksgiving but on steroids with a hundred times the emotional volatility.  Basically a bride a week before her wedding is equal to a Stephen Andrew Jones every day.  So I get weddings.  Some people may not lose sleep over 10 vs 12 hour votive candles BUT I DO. 

I've often been asked why aren't I a wedding planner? Well, the short answer is that it would kill me.  Quickly.  My two speeds are 0 and 5000.  For instance, my garden.  My garden is a disaster of thistles and probably a hidden isolationist nation at this point.  I've given up like three years in a row now and I haven't even looked at it since June.  There's no baseline maintenance or even decency to be had.  So how, one might wonder, is it possible that I've given other domestic tasks full-blown obsessive attention? Tunnel vision.  When I'm hyped up on an event high, you would think I've done bath salts.  I can lift couches, sleep for three minutes and work for 23 hours, and drain the bar of wine and still make puns in rapid succession.  And then I need to sleep for a week and barely have the energy to load the dishwasher.  If you watched a commercial for an anti-depressant backwards, you'd get the idea. Luckily, I know myself well enough to know that I couldn't sustain my pace if I were a wedding planner.  I would probably plan ten exquisite weddings and then drop dead at Michael's grasping floral wire and shunning someone for buying fake flowers. 
But the good news is I am a good friend to have when you're getting married.  I'm happy to loan access to my tabletop library, arrange flowers, do hair, and manage everyone.  Weddings are chaos and you need someone unphased by the hurricane of silk and floral foam and drunk relatives. 
This story starts on June 25.  It was a Thursday night and I, with the help of my family, was hosting a dinner for 25 to celebrate my cousin's upcoming wedding and for everyone to meet her fiancé.  A lot of the Ohioans would not be there for the wedding, so we wanted to make it a really nice dinner with a little more pomp than usual.  Long story short, I fucked up.  I didn't leave myself enough time for the actual cooking and was about two hours behind schedule. I still served dinner on time, but had lost my time for fluffing and details.  And was very stressed.  As anyone who hosts parties knows, this stuff will happen.  All in all, everything still went really well and I had a good time.  One thing I insist on is dropping the anxiety when the first guest arrives.  A panicked host is poisonous, so I just had to drop it. And have less garnished platters than I planned. 

Though the planning was thorough, I still veered off course.
Buuuuut the next morning I woke up feeling disappointed in myself.  I went out and got my coffee, got home and finished that week's episode of RHONY, and tried to focus on what went well. 
I happened to check BuzzFeed about five minutes after the Supreme Court decision had been read.  I was stunned and thrilled and giddy.  For something that seemed inevitable, I was shocked at just how deeply surprised I felt.  There were, of course, a lot of rainbow flags on display that day.  But my purest moment of joy was watching the American flag dance in the wind.  It was a great weekend.
So let me just clarify in advance that I'm not actually related to any of the people I'm going to write about.  They are my best friend's family.  But she and I have been friends our whole lives, and I really am just as intertwined with them as real family. 
On Sunday, I got a group text from my aunt C1 that she and her longtime partner, C2, were planning a wedding celebration here in Ohio.  They live out of state, but graciously knew it would be easier for friends and family to attend in Ohio.  Though the wonderful SCOTUS news had lifted me out of my dinner-gone-awry depression, I was still eager to throw myself into a new event.  This was just the thing.  I excitedly told C&C that I would be their gay on the ground and run errands and manage things here.  The wedding was to be at C1's brother and sister in law's house (my best friend's dad and sort of my dad too). 
I happily claimed floral duty, volunteered some food, and would help set everything up. The bulk of the food would be dropped off by a caterer, and another aunt knew and event planner to help run things on the wedding day, setting up buffet tables, manning the bar, etc. 
The floral budget was tight, so some flowers were bought, some were gathered
from friends' gardens, and some were straight-up stolen from a neighbor.
On Friday, the house was bustling with activity. My workspace was the quiet garage,
conveniently among the chilling wine.  
For impact upon entry, I placed small vases on each step. And in each lite above the front door.
You can see the way the tent attached to the house through the living room.
                                        

Rainbow flags aren't my style, but the altar arrangement had ROYGBIV
all represented.  I didn't mention this to anyone, and am not sure anyone noticed;
which was my intent. Also, my blue and white bowl served as
something blue
The event planner certainly has an eye for cute details and was great with keeping the dirty glasses from piling up.  I don't think she was properly briefed and understood the scope of what was expected of her, so it was a little bumpy.  But my read on the situation was that was more on us than it was on her.  I tried to jump in and help her without taking over, which is very hard for me.  Looking back, I wish I had been a little more aggressive in setting up the buffet tables myself, because the flow was wrong.  My first priorities were the things for which I was responsible.  So I left the event planner alone, and disappeared into the bedroom for hair and makeup.  I was excited because I knew my friend, Anna, would be the perfect fit for this family.  Anna excels in doing beautiful makeup that still looks like her client.  You know how some (many)  makeup artists transform everyone into a drag queen, regardless of their personality? That is not Anna.  She can do high drama, but she can also do subtle and simple--which is so much harder. Hair and makeup on a wedding day is one of the best moments in the day.  It's fun, relaxing, and the brides must stop moving.  This round of hair and makeup was even better than usual.  Family had started to arrive, so there were about eleven of us squeezed into the bathroom laughing, gossiping, and probably getting stoned from all the hairspray in tight quarters.  Our photographer for the day was our host's ex wife (and my #2 mother).  Finished with my work, I went out to the kitchen to get a glass of wine. I returned with a bottle and some news.  Water started leaking from the ceiling in the kitchen.    


C2 has the most beautiful truly silver hair. I wanted it to be soft, swept,
and bulletproof.
She told me the next morning, not a hair was out of place. 
This family was in the wedding business for generations, but C1 is in the medical field.  So while most of us are totally at ease with all the crazy shit that goes wrong before a wedding, our brides were not.  They took it in stride, but were certainly a little stressed. We were cracking up and trying to remind them that this is the kind of stuff that makes a wedding.  They shook it off and we made a plan.  And then we sent the ex-wife photographer out to get a photo of her ex-husband on a ladder in his suit with a bucket catching water from the ceiling.  He was probably not terribly amused, but I think he'll be okay when he hears how much the thought of that situation lifted the brides' spirits.  We got the water stopped and thought we were ready to start the ceremony.
And then the water started coming out of every light fixture in the kitchen and random spots.  By this time, the house is full of guests and some of us had to circulate and pretend nothing was wrong while still mentioning don't use the toilets please.  I couldn't stop giggling and probably looked like a maniac running between the bridal bedroom and the flooding kitchen, pouring wine that people were drinking too fast considering they might need to pee in the street.  I hope someone got a photo of me holding a wine glass to the hostess's lips as she had buckets in each hand, dressed to the nines. 
I know an emergency plumber, so I dialed his number, handed the hostess's buckets to a cousin, ushered her outside to chat with the plumber, and went into the bedroom to let the brides know we'd be ready to start soon.  Thankfully, the ceremony was to be in a tent.  So I thought we could handle whatever plumbing problem we had during the ceremony and be back on schedule for the reception.
Well, the plumber said there was nothing he could do--just turn off the plumbing above the kitchen, turn the water main back on, and cross our fingers.  Mercifully, that worked and was the last of our leaks.  The ceremony started, and we sailed from there.  It was momentous to feel this partnership become a marriage after so many years. 


My favorite part of the day was after the reception had calmed down, and the OSU game was put on, I went back out in the tent to cool off.  A small herd followed me, including the brides, and there was hysterical laughter and dancing, rapid refills, and a collective sigh of relief.  I was pestered about when I would get married, Aunt B and I argued about the attractiveness of the Property Brothers (I don't see it), and I noticed C&C were dancing.  C1 had changed out of her beautiful ivory and sand colored wedding ensemble, and C2 was still loving wearing her dress that she said she'd never want.  It was so sweet and pure.  So obviously I whipped out my iPhone obnoxiously and took a photo. 
I'm glad I did. 

38 comments:

  1. Love this post. Being a "gay on the ground"...kind of like a Navy Seal but with better color coordination and eye to fine detail. Love it! I'm sure you are the only one who noticed the dinner decor and arrangements were not to your very high expectations, but I'm positive everyone, including you, thinks the wedding was one amazing event. Such gorgeous flower arrangements! And you are right, the plumbing leak will be remembered fondly in years to come. Congrats to the happy couple!

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    1. Haha absolutely! Thank you! It just frustrated me that she didn't have a grasp on the flow of the buffet! But you're right, in the end it didn't *really* matter.

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  2. Stephen Andrew to the rescue. You are good at so many things.

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  3. Love the description of "11 of you squeezed in the bathroom probably getting stoned, with all the hairspray being used". It so describes scenes in bathrooms all over the world (especially on big days or nights)... Den xxx

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    1. So true! It was so much fun. And what great energy to have woven into the day.

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  4. absolutely adore this stephen. you are such a great storyteller. i feel like i was there! in culinary school my favorite teacher always told me that catering was such an important job. she told me that no matter the occasion, it was v v important, so important that they hired a caterer. well i wished she'd never told me that b/c i took my work soooooo seriously. didn't matter if it was a wedding or a poker party. it was a v stressful job. your floral arrangements are stunning. i think you put more flowers into one vase then i did in all of A & B's wedding. lol

    you are awesome. i need a haircut sooo bad. x

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    1. Thank you so much! Omg why haven't you gotten a cut yet?? Oh I know what you mean about catering. It is so so consuming and painfully hard when you do it the right way. I was completely obsessive about every component and making everything myself. As I'm sure you were too. Haha The flowers for A&B's wedding were beautiful! But you're probably right. That altar arrangement was almost three feet tall and probably weighed 75 pounds. I just can't help myself!

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  5. I luff the flowers! Luff the Bullet proof hair.

    Basically luff the lot and wish you were MY gay on the ground.

    x

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    1. FF, I will be your GotG all day, everyday! Thank you!

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    2. Faux Fuchsia-regarding SA- would we work out some kind of joint custody arrangement?

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    1. PS I forgot to tell you that after my mom read my post and the comments about my grandmother, she told me my great grandfather was a commodore! I knew so many things about him, but never knew that. I will have to post about him sometime.

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  7. The hair is great. Congrats to the 2 C's. Flowers exceptional. Story telling perfect. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. I read every word. You are me in a younger male form! Honestly, the part about planning it down to the minute and then time getting out of hand so that you can't do the perfect finishing touches...and then dropping it when the first guest arrives---but berating yourself the next day...lol

    Loved the brides' story. OMG about the water...always something like that. I had about 50 people coming one time for a buffet dinner and my husband said HERE (from the top of the stairs) and dropped a canister that had POWDER in it (I am talking about quart jar sized..and it went all over EVERYWHERE. OMG- I wanted to KILL him. Vacuum, dust (kinda) and I am covered with the crap (AND wearing black) when the first guests arrive. I excused myself and went to change, plastered on a smile and dead-eyed my husband for the rest of the night....lol We survived.

    You need to post MORE stories, Stephen! xo Diana

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    1. Oh he was no hero that day! Ah! So not only are we partners in bittersweet crime, but we are both too hard on ourselves with entertaining! Laughing at the thought of you going from lovely, beaming hostess to giving your husband the death stare. Hahaha that is SO me. Thank you so much for reading. I always intend to make my posts short...but...it never happens. Thanks again!

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  9. Love your stories, and this one has such a sweet ending. Love those flowers up the staircase: a stroke of genius!!

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    1. Thank you so much! His house has high ceilings and lots of two story space, so I placed a lot of flowers very high throughout the house for max impact. I think you get so much more bang for your buck when you put flowers in unexpected places. I always, always put flowers in the bathroom too!

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  10. Love! And btw . . . you are a Housewives watcher? Oh why oh why don't you live near me. I could see watching parties and hysterical commenting. Also, I kinda had tears squirting out of my eyes thinking about you getting the news about the ruling. On my end, here in Minnesota, I worked very hard a year or so ago getting our local legislation to not change our constitution to read "marriage is between a man and a woman." I made millions of calls and convinced just enough people that it would be "forever" before any decision like legalizing marriage would be made. Ooops! I lied! Ha! I love thinking about all of those (let's face it) bigots reeling as the world gets right around them. I adore you Stephen Andrew and all you make right.

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    1. Thank you for all your hard work! It seemed like it would take forever! I love housewives but really love Ladies of London! Thank you!

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    2. I am embarrassingly obsessed with Caroline Stanbury. I want everything she wears although her budget is beyond. Dreamin'!

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  11. I love that you are All IN or not at all, why go halfway? And the title of your post is hilarious, I'm thinking Grand Theft Floral what does he mean, but haha! My friend Christopher is into all things floral and he steals things from people's gardens all the time. He's also the landscape designer of choice in my neighbourhood so he knows exactly what's out there. You two would get on like a house on fire.
    I do LOVE your stories and I feel like we were all there with you because you tell them so well, you really are a huge talent SAJ. XO

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    1. Haha that is so true. I wish I were more moderate but am not holding my breath for a change to occur. Oooh what an advantage to have planted the gardens so you know what to raid when!

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  12. Our son was married in June. I could have used your help! Loved the story, water leaking from the ceiling and outlets would have sent me over the edge. :-( Gorgeous floral arrangements as always, simply elegant.

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    1. I hope you'll do a post about Joel's wedding! So exciting! I'm sure it was a ton of work to get your incredible garden ready! Thank you so much!

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  13. Love your nod to something blue, very clever. No bride couple want rain on their wedding day, let alone inside. My stomach was in a knot just reading your blog. I love flowers in the bathroom, make me feel like I am in a luxurious hotel. FYI roses in my bathroom right now.

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    1. Thank you! Haha yes I said that about rain, too! Flowers in the bathroom are such a nice touch and so easy, considering the scale can be much smaller. Love that you keep roses in your bathroom! A little luxury and beauty goes a long way in our everyday, doesn't it?

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  14. Absolutely perfect in every way, from aesthetics, to sentiment, to raucous humer.

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    1. What a lovey compliment! Thank you so much!

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  15. You are so talented AND hilarious. Organized, too - love all the labels on the tableware! I'm with you on the Property Brothers - I don't quite get the attraction, and I usually like tall, dark & handsome types.

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    1. Well thank you thank you :) oh I started off so well with that June 25 party but it derailed in the end! But it was still a very nice dinner and it seemed most appreciated the nice china vs just everyday stuff.

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  16. Stephen Andrew, You're amazing! Love your posts! They're such a joy to read! Best wishes, Pammie

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  17. Where to start here? First of all, I love this story, start to finish. Second of all, holy smokes, you are an amazing floral arranger (I'm certain that is the wrong word). Thirdly, fantastic hairdo you done did there. Fourthly, I love you for knowing an emergency plumber. And lastly, and possibly most critically, the Property Brothers are ick. I'm all for a guy who tries, but I'm not sure you're supposed to look like you tried so darn hard. Plus, I find them rather annoying. And you just know that the one (I have no idea which is which, but the normally dark-haired real estate one) is completely OCD. I don't know why I know that, but it has to be true.

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    1. Thank you thank you! I just don't get it with the Property Brothers! And they do the same shit over and over again!

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  18. Hilarious! You are fabulous and a brilliant story teller. Love your writing. Your floral arrangements are gorgeous! We all need a gay on the ground! I'm sure you are so loved by your friends and family with your knowledge, and quick wit!

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