Oh the places we'll go! Part 3

Honeymoon... Africa. Why not.  And we were deep into the bush of Selous.  Deep into southern Tanzania surrounded by some of the most pristine beauty I have every seen in my life.  People gasp, their eyes widen with delight, and they often oohhh and ahhh in delight after hearing about our adventures.  Yes, it was THAT amazing.  Yes, we DID see the animals.  And actually, yes, the "tent" that we stayed in was exceptionally beautiful, while being both luxurious and rustic at the same time.  But all the while, our surroundings reminded us of where we were, and we were able to stay in the moment.

We always knew that we were being watched, and that added an element of mystery (and often unease) to the trip...


We learned that we could easily become fodder at any given moment...


Being still and quiet often had its advantages...



The definition of beauty defied imagination...

And we were able to say that we went off into the sunset...


Oh the places We'll Go Part 2


Selous... Southern Tanzania.  It was winter, and as the sun warmed our skin and the ground below, our feet crunched on the fallen leaves, and gave us the impression on fall in New England.

We were greeted by warm smiles and cool face towels.

We were met morning, noon, and night with exceptional views of the lake.


We were offered live entertainment at a moments notice...


And were introduced to the locals...


And this was only on day one!  

After sundowners and dinner we were escorted back to our tent by an Askari under a clear dark sky and we searched for the Southern Cross all the while peering into the night for what might come out.  We looked out into the night, waiting and listening for what might come... waiting for the next day.

Oh the places we'll go! Part 1

It was the first of many things.  The first time in several years that we had gotten away for a substantial period of time, the first time to East Africa, the first time on safari, and perhaps the most important - the first holiday as a married couple.  I started the planning with Zanzibar and worked my way from there.  It sounded exotic, and like a place that I might like.  I knew few people who had ever traveled to the island renowned for its spices and once ruled by the Sultan of Oman.  From Zanzibar, the sensible place to go (we quickly found out) was Tanzania.  We also learned rather fast from an amazing British Travel Company that we should go south.  

South? I asked?  But what about the migration?  The wildebeest?  The Serengeti?  

Do not worry, I was told, go South, go to Selous.

Selous?  What the hell and where the hell is Selous?  

Oh, it is wonderful.  It has the largest population of wild dogs and it is about 55,000 sq km (the largest game park in all of Africa).

Well, that was all fine and good, and lovely that it was the largest game park in all of the African Continent, but that also meant that there was a diminished chance of seeing the lions, the rhinos, the BIG FIVE!  

But, I was told... there were wild dogs.

I spent some time looking at the camp where we would be staying and quickly decided if nothing else, we would have some lovely lie-downs, and I would be in Africa, on safari, in style.  We were going to stay in a proper tent that zipped up and down and an outdoor shower, and since it was located on a lake, I would see crocodiles.  

OK - and then, then we would get to Zanzibar.  The Spice Island.  Beach, sun, and more beach.  I started to get excited, I started to plan, and to pack.  The list of shots was long...meningitis, tentanus (mine had run out), Hep A, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, and of course the malaria pills.  But none of this mattered.  We were looking forward to the adventure of a lifetime.

It did not hit me until we were on the 12-seater airplane flying from Dar es Salaam to the middle of the Tanzanian Bush.  


The little plane lifted off and left the city behind.  The 30 minute flight took us over lush green fields, hills, valleys, and the like and as we flew further south, the landscape started to change.  Since it is winter in sub-saharan Africa, the landscape had hues of pale greens, yellows, and browns.


and so it began...

It is in the bag...

There are those moments, and they seem to occur at the most inopportune times.  The middle of the night, the middle of a meeting, or when I am teaching a fitness class.  I start to think about the guest list.  Do we have everyone counted?  Did everyone really receive an invitation?  What about the people who never RSVPd?  Did they actually even receive their invitation?  And those gift bags... the ones that we are going to leave in the hotel rooms.  What about those?  They have to be just right, and that is why the UPS truck has been making daily stops at our apartment.  No, not with wedding gifts but with box upon box of items that will go into the bags for the guests.  I probably wrote down the items to be placed in the gift bags at least 15 times, with little (if any) variation each time.  And truth be told, I am sure that I will do it again!

So after a ton of feedback from friends and family I compiled the list for the gift bags and the candy bar...

What, you ask, what do I plan on actually putting into those gift bags???  Well, I want something that I would want in a gift bag.  What would I want to see if I opened up a bag after a flight across the country to a wedding???

I would probably want to have some kind of energy bar in case I did not have time to eat...


Since I love to run, I would want to have a map of the Charles River so that I knew how far I was going...

(Image from Marathon Sports)

I would probably want something to munch on after that run...

(Image from gotribe.com)

and would of course need to be hydrated!

(Image from from Nestle Waters) 

And because I would be in town for a wedding, I would need to make sure I was staying awake at all times!

And of course... there are those simple little extras...


But these are just some ideas that have been written down dozens of times on endless pieces of paper.  I still have 3 wks to deepen my relationship with Mr. UPS!   

The Runaway Guests

I carried the box with a slight sense of trepidation.  I knew that something might go wrong.  The invitations have been carefully resting in the Cranes box for several days now - stamped, stuffed, and ready to go, and all the while I have been waiting for the perfect moment to send them out to our guests.  They were going to fly off to exotic locations like Pasadena, London, Granada, and the Canary Islands.  Lucky little invites...

I questioned whether I should put them in the blue post box at the end of the street or be a bit more official about it and walk into an actual post office and mail them there.  I double checked each an every invitation for the proper postage, I had already placed a hidden number on the response card that would correspond to a huge spreadsheet that I created on the off chance someone decided to RSVP without indicating their name.  The labels were measured - yes MEASURED to the 3/8 of an inch- on each and every envelope.  All of the details that needed to be taken care off were checked off of that grand wedding list that people everywhere use.  And with all of that behind us, I felt confident, although a bit nervous, that all 69 of the invitations could finally go into the mail and make their trip.  And that is when it happened.

I walked down my street, the invitations safely tucked away in a box, the box neatly placed in a bag, and there were 3 buses slowly making their way down Washington Street.  I could have taken any one of the three buses, and I decided to pick up my pace and reach the bus.  Not more than 6 steps into my attempt to make the bus there was an explosion, a bang, and cream colored Cranes envelopes scattered all over the ground. No...no, no no.  This could not be happening.  Everything just stopped.  I heard some laughing from across the street, and 3 or 4 people just walked right by me as if I did not even exist.  My wedding invitations were strewn around the sidewalk, and no one cared except for me.  Why should they?  The event really mean nothing to them.  I ran back and forth trying to pick up the pieces and pull myself together. Luckily not ALL of the invitations hit the ground, and as I frantically picked these treasures up, and young man cam over and helped me.  I wanted to start sobbing and say "Do you know what these are?  These are my wedding invitations.  You are helping me with my wedding!" But I doubted that it would really matter that much to him at all.  I thanked him profusely for his good deed, and he offered me a smile.  It was a smile that I needed more than anything at that moment, because at that moment it was really the last thing that I could manage to do.  

It was very much a moment from some kind of film that might star Reese Witherspoon or Jennifer Lopez or perhaps Sandra Bullock as the leading lady. Except if it was a movie and if it did happen to them, it would be very different.  You see if it was a movie they would have sat and cried, they would probably NOT be marrying the man they really and truly loved (which is what is happening in my instance) and they would end up falling in love with the man who helped them pick up the invitations.

At the end of it all, I collected myself (and the invitations) and brought the invitations to the post office.  I counted them all one by one.  68.  There were 68 out of 69.  One was missing.  I will make another, I have already requested a new label from our designer, I already know to whom I need to send the missing invitation.  Perhaps they will receive 2 invitations, perhaps only 1.  I hope the runaway guest ends up finding its way to a proper post box and home...


The Heart of the Matter

I suppose we are not really following what "most" people consider tradition.  You see originally we had an idea of renting a house in Spain and inviting about 20 people and getting married there.  However that idea was quickly dismissed and we are now onto an entirely different adventure.  Not better, not worse, just different.  That being said, we are doing our best to incorporate as many elements as we can from our original idea.  We still have a small concept.  Yes, the guest list has grown from 20 to about 120, and the location is national versus international.  But we hope to still capture the intimacy of the original intent.

All of this aside, I find it fascinating that as intimate as a wedding is, everyone has an opinion about how and what should occur in June (and I mean everyone!).  

I was recently asked by an almost stranger about my wedding plans.  When she found out that I was not going to be married in a church, a slight gasp escaped from her lips.  When she heard that there was no wedding party, she seemed utterly confused.  And at the mention of no sit down dinner or wedding favors she simply said, "Well...that is unique."  Yes, thank you, it is unique and rather fabulous.

Everyone has an opinion, and while some are really better left unsaid (although they make for great stories) there are some that I have taken to heart.  These are the opinions from my dearest friends.  Many of them have told me time and again how important it is to do what we want to do.  To not have the wedding that other people want us to have but to have the wedding that we want to have.  I do not want to look around on that day or think about that day in the weeks, months, or years to come with any regrets, and at the rate that we are going I do not think that will be the case.  At the end of the day it is about celebration, love, and our friends and family. (Oh, and it is kind of about the cake too...)  But most importantly, whether the guest list is 2, 20, or 120, it is about the two of us.

Dancing, Celebrating, and the Big Day

OK - so it really is not a secret that I am getting married.  And to my closest friends and family it is not a secret that I love to plan.  I have in fact always loved to plan and never been afraid of events or parties.  In fact, when I was quite young, I planned a surprise 20th Wedding Anniversary for my parents.  They, of course, had to pay for the event, but I managed to find the caterer, pick out the perfect guest list and people actually came to the house, my parents where indeed surprised (in a good way) and it worked!

So now I am planning one of the most important events ever, and it is less than 6 months away.  Last fall, when I bought my first 2 Bridal Magazines, I did so with trepidation.  You see, I am rather superstitious.  I have never purchased a bridal magazine before last fall.  I chalked it up to bad luck.  When I placed the magazines down in front of the cashier it was almost as if I was buying pornography or the like.  Don't get me wrong - I have danced my fingers over the pages of such magazines thousands of times before, but never, ever had I actually laid down cold hard cash for the stuff!

So with the magazines - and yes, I only bought 2 because I quickly realized that once you buy 1, there is very little content that differs from one to the next - I started off of my planning adventures.  There is the layout of the event, the colors, and the atmosphere...


(image from www.theknot.com)

A decision to find a color that will coordinate with the theme, the room and the invitations that will pull the whole event together...

(Design by Katharine MacIntyre Navins, Tallow Studio)

The flowers, the music, and the cake... and then there is the decision of the first dance, if dancing is something that you choose to do...

(image from https://www.fortnet.org/tfc/Pictures/tangoOutline.gif)

However, it is all too easy to become caught up in the planning and loose track of how and why you started on this journey in the first place.  In the end, the flowers will not last, the rentals are returned to their rightful owner, and the crumbs of the cake are swept up from the ballroom floor.  These items are all secondary to the celebration.  The celebration of being with the most amazing man in the world, the man who came into my life and quite literally saved it.  The man with whom I will spend the rest of my life dancing and celebrating.


Let them eat cake

It is all about the cake, really it is.  I do not care whether the flowers match the table clothes, and I am relatively indifferent to spring rolls versus coconut shrimp. What really matters to me is the cake.  I can honestly say that I remember just about every cake from every wedding that I have been to.  I know what I like and I know what I don't like... I do not like whipped cream frosting, I do not like fruit fillings, fondant can make or break a cake, and as for buttercreams, well there are so many different kinds out there that you really have to taste them, to let them melt in your mouth and slip down your throat to know if they are the right kind for you.

Boston has no shortage of cake stores, and everyone and anyone is more than willing to offer up their opinion on what you should get and where you should get it.  Whether it is Italian buttercream, Swiss buttercream, or a meringue frosting, people like to tell you what to do.  I quickly learned to give a gentle nod and small smile and say "OK", and then carry on.  People love to give opinions.  Whether they want you to work with Party Favors, The Icing on the Cake, Jenny's Cakes, Montillios, or  Cakes to Remember, you should be able to find something that you like. However, if you are anything like I am, finding the perfect cake is not that easy.  I have become so good at knowing exactly what kind of frosting that I like, that upon seeing the frosting I can tell whether or not it is worth the extra calories, or minutes on the stair master.

Sweet, I like the slightly sweet sugary frosting that does not remind me too much of butter.  It has a simple, uncomplicated flavor, and your fork keeps going back for more, even if you try to resist.  You are unable.  The cake can come in different shapes and sizes.









(all images are from The Knot www.theknot.com)

But in the end it really comes down to taste.  I need the wedding cake to stand out and have that WOW factor for me.  I have had people tell me what I should do for the wedding and people have told me what my guests would probably like regarding the wedding cake flavors.  But this is my cake, not theirs, and in fact, I plan on giving the caterers STRICT orders to wrap up every single last slice, tier, and crumb so that I can carry them all home with me.  I want the flavor of that night and all of its sweetness to last forever.  After all, this is coming from the Queen of Tarts.


Lune de Miel

I love adventure, and I love to plan.  I am in full planning mode as I write down notes of colors, fonts, and frostings for our upcoming weddings.  Aside from the marriage (which is so very much more important than the wedding) I am head over heals excited about the trip.  Honeymoon.  Lune de miel.  Whatever you want to call it.  It will starts in a place called Selous, named after Frederick Courtenay Selous (1851-1917), and yes, he was British and a big game hunter.  Selous Game reserve is in fact the world's largest game reserve and filled with birds, elephants, hippos, lions, wild dogs, and, well, you get the picture?  Right?  No you say?  OK, maybe this will help...

from (https://www.adventurecamps.co.tz/selousinfo.htm)

Yes, there.  Now you know what it is that I am talking about.  Greatness and nothing less.  While on safari, I found out that we will be staying in tents above a hippo pond, which made me wonder if we will see anything like this...


Following the frenzy of the open terrain in Selous, we are heading to the open seas and the Spice Island also know as Zanzibar.  I do not expect that we will have much of an agenda, except maybe a run down the beach,

Ed Vulliamy, The Guardian

a tour of the spices,


and an introduction to some new friends,
Tanzania - Zanzibar - Prison island - Schildpad

Yes, I think that we can rest assured that adventure will come in all shapes and sizes.  And I cannot wait until I can fill pages with my own photos!