We hit the ground running after touching down in Chicago on Thursday night, stopping for a quick dinner at L's parents' before leaving to make L's appointment at a salon called Mario Tricoci. I bought some coffee while L was preened by the stylist. When I came back, L looked fantastic, but we shared a laugh as her salon-done do simply didn't groove with the army-green pants and "Brooklyn" t-shirt she had worn that night in anticipation of hanging out with her friends in the city.
On Friday we attended a wine tasting and sale. If you can, picture the Barney's warehouse sale, only in a room not much bigger than a high school classroom, with shopping carts snaking around the middle and cases of wine stacked impossibly high, and you'll have an idea of how crowded it was. The floor was wet, a combination of the winter slush and spilled wine that probably wouldn't smell too good at the end of the day. There were so many people tasting and carting away so many bottles of wine that the term "fire sale" would have been appropriate had it not been fourteen degrees outside.
We drank from small medicine cups and selected one red and one white for the wedding. L's dad bought a number of cases which the store's staffed loaded into his car. I can only imagine how many people drove home drunk from that sale because, like in most suburban towns, walking home was not an option. Had the police set up a checkpoint down the street and administered breathalizer tests to every other driver who left the store's lot, they could have ticketed enough people to fund the town for decades.
Friday night we drove to Milwaukee. It was a cold and gray outside, and most of the cars on the road were covered with salt. By the side of the highway the Mars Cheese Castle, along with a some fireworks warehouses and a few adult bookstores,heralded our arrival in Wisconsin. We passed a sign showing the time and temperature: five degrees below zero at five o'clock. I suddenly understood the appeal of destination weddings in Florida or Hawaii.
That night we ate a delicious home-cooked meal and had a lot of fun playing with the two cutest kids on earth at L's sister's and brother-in-law's home before going to sleep. But with a three-year old in the house excited to play with her Aunt L, we didn't need an alarm clock to wake us up and after a few jumps on the bed we were downstairs getting ready to go. I foolishly ate breakfast before L, her parents and I left for our first cake-tasting appointment. Barely fifteen minutes after finishing my bagel and banana we were sat down at bakery number one for our first few slices of cake. We liked what we tasted but knew that with two more tastings to go it was not time to make a decision.
As we drove through Milwaukee and its environs to our next appointment signs reminded us of the nation's newest obsession: low carbs. From Subway and Wendy's to Burger King and A&W, each restaurant advertised new Atkins-friendly menu options. But we were on the opposite of the Atkins diet: eat as many carbs as possible. (Can we call that the Snikta diet?) Although 2004 will find me training for the New York City marathon, I don't know too many runners who carbo-load ten months in advance of the big race.
By ten o'clock we were at Simma's Bakery, which even a few readers of my site had recommended. We were not disappointed. Free coffee accompanied some of the most delicious cake I've ever had. Irina, the bakery's owner, told us we could come back if we needed to narrow down our choices. I joked with her and asked if we could come back after dinner.
Other couples were there for tastings. No one asked them for proof of engagement and it hit me: with so much free cake being offered with no questions asked, our nation's hunger problems could be solved if everyone simply paired up and walked into bakeries pretending to be engaged.
We then drove further out to a salon where L had a test run of her makeup. There wasn't much for anyone else to do for the hour, so the rest of us sat around reading magazines. I happened to pick up a copy of People magazine with a cover story on American Idol judge Randy Jackson's recent gastric bypass surgery. With more food in store for the afternoon, I wondered how long it would be before I was a candidate for the surgery.
L looked beautiful when the makeup artist was done with her but once again we had to laugh at how made up she was for an afternoon of running around Wisconsin. Talk about contradicitons. With bags under my eyes and wind-dried skin, L and I must have looked like quite the odd couple.
Amazingly, we were all a little hungry after L's makeup appointment. Our stomachs were getting used to eating and probably started to wonder why it had been so long since our last meal. We stopped for a light lunch.
Our next appointment was with a woman who ran her own cake baking business from home. As much as we enjoyed her cakes, I think we had alread decided on Simma's before we got there. We thanked the woman, complimented her on her cakes and left.
Our last real stop of the day was with the florist and it was by far the longest. I knew about centerpieces and bridal bouquets and even flowers on the chupah but never really thought about everything else we'd need. Flowers for L's bridesmaids. Boutonnieres for my groomsmen. Stuff for our moms, dads and my grandmother. Thankfully, the woman who helped us was very patient as we discussed this all in front of her, going down a checklist item by item to see what we needed. She was very accommodating, getting up to bring us samples and answering every question we had. We might have been there for two hours, but then again I was under the influence of so much sugar that it could have been any amount of time.
After dinner that night with the entire family, we drove back to Milwaukee. I drove back with L's brother-in-law who told me the fight against weight gain was impossible while planning a wedding, what with all the travelling, parties and meals with family. I'm doing my best, but one weekend in Wisconsin undid months of running and yoga.
Thankfully Sunday was a low-cal kind of day. We met with Barb, the caterer, but only talked about the menu and didn't taste anything. For any of you who have planned a wedding, you'll know how great it is when you meet with someone who, for lack of a better term, simply gets it. Barb gets it and she left with us feeling like the weekend had wrapped up successfully.
We packed up our things and loaded up the car for the trip O'Hare Airport. Of course, there's one thing you can't leave Wisconsin without having: frozen custard. We made a stop at Oscar's, sailed through the drive-through and enjoyed our chocolate-caramel-pecan custard as we headed back, catching an early plane and making it home in time for the last few minutes of the Super Bowl.
Today I woke up very hungry. I'm doing my best to tell my stomach to slow down, but I think it's a little confused, like an addict who suffers from withdrawl after going cold-turkey. I'll hit the gym tomorrow to work off the calories, but I know it's only a Sisyphean task. There are only three weeks before we head back to Chicago for two wedding showers.Posted by The Groom at February 2, 2004 06:24 PM