Our First Disappointment

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

It was bound to happen–the first time we get our hearts set on something, the both of us, of course it’s not going to work out.

Sure, we were able to make several decisions–at least the broad strokes–pretty early on and with minimal drama (when, the basic guest list, that sort of thing). But many bits of the wedding hinged on one very important factor: Where.

Once we had the theme in mind, a wine-themed wedding held at an actual winery seemed like just the ticket and we knew the perfect one: Lakeridge Vineyard and Winery in Clermont, Florida, just outside of Orlando. Sure, it would mean everyone would have to travel–but for our out-of-towners, flying into a major city would be so much simpler for them. Plus, my brother just bought a house about half an hour away from the site of our dreams so we had the perfect crash pad for planning visits and the fam would have a home base for the actual event.

To the Internet I went, searching to see if weddings had been done there, before (since their website didn’t say anything about them specifically). Turns out that some gorgeous weddings had been held there, judging by the photographers portfolios I found, and might actually be an affordable location. *swoon*

Collage of images from Lakeridge Winery

Sources: top photo, Pilster Photography; bottom photos, Sandra Johnson Photography

But, then the dread started to creep in. There was a link to a Facebook fan page of the wedding planning branch of the Winery. That didn’t work. Nor would a search retrieve it. And the websites that referenced the location were all months or years old.

So I screwed up my courage and just sent them an email already. And the reply came back quickly. Too quickly.

“I’m sorry, but we’ve recently made the decision to stop doing weddings at our location.”


(no pun intended)

Oh, Lakeridge, you were the destination wedding of our dreams but it was not to be. We won’t hold it against your wine and I’m sure we’ll stop by again on some trip or another. But we’ll miss the wedding we could have had there.

Still, there’s always plan B, right?

Whatever that was.

Did you have a location plan go south on you?
How did you recover?



Wedding At Sea

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning
2x2 grid of images of cruise ships

all images via stock.xchng (1,2,3,4) | photography by linder6580, coopgreg, taureq, OwnMoment

This “destination” wedding (well, really a multi-destination wedding) idea was another one we considered during the pre-engagement period where we could dream and theorize in private. While being “at sea” is usually a bad thing in a relationship–euphemistically speaking–when it means your world is on one ship with just about every whim catered to you, at sea sounds all right to me!

The Road Trips circa 2009 | Photography by Carnival Cruise Lines

The Road Trips circa 2009 | Photography by Carnival Cruise Lines

Mr. RT and I took a cruise vacation a few months before moving in together. Among other things, it was a nice trial run of sharing the same space 24/7 and–thankfully–we didn’t want to murder each other during or after the experience. We actually enjoyed being around each other constantly for a week. Score one for togetherness!

We loved the cruise, the floating resort-style vacation is exactly our cup of tea and we spent loads of time lounging in our room just chilling out and relaxing instead of feeling like we needed to be onthego all the time.

So what about a cruise wedding?!

The Pros:

  • Beautiful locations, just think of all the great photo ops!
  • Once you’re there, you’re there, and many of your needs are provided for.
  • It’s like a wedding and a honeymoon all in one!
There’s really something to be said for the idea of unpacking only once for a week spent travelling your chosen corner of the globe. And if you pick a port you can drive to, there’s virtually no luggage restrictions (this is great for bringing home souvenirs, just pack an extra duffle to carry them all home in so you don’t have to buy one in port–not that I’d know anything about that). The staff is very accommodating and, wow, do they love to spotlight the honeymooning couples for the shipboard activities.

The Cons:

  • In most cases, you can’t truly get married at sea anymore.
  • A cruise wedding can be price, between the wedding package plus your stateroom, and many don’t really provide a full reception, it’s more a cake and champagne affair.
  • Your friends and family are, effectively, on your honeymoon with you.

Ship’s captains lost the right to perform marriages at sea quite some time ago. These days you’ve got a couple of options: have a ceremony in your port of departure before embarkation or arrange (either through the cruise line or a private company) to have your ceremony on one of the port stops during the trip. The latter is a bit of a roll of the dice, though, as weather, mechanical failures or who knows what else could cause that particular port to be skipped or re-routed. For that reason in particular I’d suggest arranging a destination-port wedding with the cruise line as it’ll be easier to get a refund/rebook for the next port than if you use an outside company.

And speaking of bookings, the price of your ceremony package doesn’t always include the price of your stateroom, so you’re looking at at least two lump-sum fees, which may make this a less affordable option than previously thought. Some lines do offer discounts, however, if you’re booking a certain number of rooms (8 seems to be a common minimum), so if your friends and family are “on board” with the idea, you may all be able to benefit from the experience. Of course, if you’re more interested in a private honeymoon, having friends and family with you on the ship–no matter how big it is–might be a little too close for comfort by the end of the week.

So, while a cruise wedding was a fun idea at first, it didn’t make the final cut. But a cruise honeymoon–as cliche as it may be–could definitely be in the cards, right honey?!

(Seriously, we were <this> close to picking the Cruise Ship icon, we love them so much.)

Would you use your vacation time to go away on a cruise-ship wedding adventure as a guest?
And would you risk your wedding date being postponed or cancelled thanks to Mother Nature as a cruise-ship bride?

Destination: Wedding

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning
2x2 grid of images of Nashville, Las Vegas, New Orleans and a map with a magnifying glass

all images via stock.xchng (1,2,3,4) | photography by veralu, chadwood, allergyfre, illustration by lockheed

In the early stages of planning–no, make that pre-planning, dreaming and wondering–I thought that it might be interesting to do a destination wedding. Not necessarily to a passport-requiring tropical destination, just somewhere in the middle of our spread-out network of family and friends.

Mr. Trips is from Nebraska and his immediate family is still there. My family is spread out with key figures in Florida, New Jersey and Louisiana. What centrally-located city would provide a major airport, enough hotel space, plenty of venues and vendors and enough interesting stuff to amuse those not involved in the wedding minutiae?


And you know? When I first mused this aloud to Mr. Trips, he already knew the answer which makes me wonder if he’d pondered the same thing, himself, for a hot minute before throwing it right out of the window.

As fun as it would be, it’d be a bit of a haul for everyone, we know absolutely no one in that town so we’d be flying blind and planning long-distance–not a comforting idea–not to mention what it would do to our budget. Tallahassee may have an artificially inflated cost of living due to being the capitol city and having 2 major universities and all that, but at least we know the territory!

Another destination we considered and unconsidered was New Orleans–while beautiful and one of my favorite places on Earth, it’s also very close to home and our small, intimate wedding would very nearly double in size just for the fact that it’d be rude to return to my home state and not invite all of my family that lives within an hour of the Crescent City. We’ll talk about guest list decisions later on, but I didn’t want to have to sneak my wedding into even such a gorgeous place as the French Quarter.

Then there was Vegas–wedding capital of the world, right? Granted, we’ve said we wanted to go back there one day (our 3rd weekend together and first Valentine’s was spent there as part of a meetup for the site we met on), but a Vegas wedding didn’t really feel like “us.” Though, really, fall seems to be their slow period (we found out as we planned a February mini-convention–busiest month of their year, apparently).

Ultimately we decided to stick closer to our current home. While that didn’t completely rule out destinations up to, say, 4 hours away, it did increase the likelihood that our local friends will be able to make it to the party without too much fuss.

Did you consider a destination wedding?
What were your reasons for picking one (or not)?

Little Lessons from Big Cakes


The first wedding cake I ever made was a bit of an architectural nightmare. Not because the bride wanted a conglomeration of little cakes but because I was living in student housing and we had a mini-stove with a half-sized oven that wouldn’t hold anything more than 12″ wide.

The bride and groom chose a private city hall ceremony and there was a surprise reception being thrown by her office-mates, one of which was a friend of Mom’s. So Cindy said, ‘Just do what you think would be good, I’m sure it’ll be fine.’ Not words the decorator hears often (if ever!).

This was during my basket-weave phase so paired that with pale green vines and leaves and some pink roses. It took a few nights, total, to build all the pieces and then it was the day to deliver the cake. Downtown. At lunchtime.

You know, I’d never before noticed how steep the road was at that first light leaving my street.

Stopping as slowly as humanly possible did not thwart gravity and, yes, one of the base cakes slid off the back seat and partially under the drivers’. I pulled into the nearby gas station, panicking as I threw open the doors, and surveyed the damage. You know what? There’s approximately 4 inches between the floor of the car and the bottom of the seat, just slightly shorter than my base cake. The damage was minimal and fixable.

I drove the rest of the way going no more than 20 mph. Downtown. At lunch. With the seat pushed as far back as possible, one hand on the steering wheel, the other stretched behind me to avoid any further gravitational issues that might arise.

Just because this was my first wedding cake doesn’t mean I was totally unprepared–I had icing in parchment bags all ready to go, the necessary decorating tips; I could and would fix the mistakes. The basket-weave proved easy enough to repair, a few vines needed re-piping and a rose was taken from the back of the center tier to replace the one that the seat smooshed.

Everyone loved it and I had a bit more confidence when the next cake request came in.

My First Wedding Cake, circa 1998

* * *

This story was on my mind because this weekend my baby brother is getting married to his high school sweetheart and I am coming out of my cake-retirement to do the wedding and groom’s cakes. It’s a destination wedding at a just-far-enough-away beach to necessitate renting a place down there for the weekend and doing half the baking and all of the decorating on site.

I’ve learned something from every one of my cakes, I’m sure this one will be no exception. Here are some past lessons:

  • Always bring extra icing–a little of the sweet stuff can smooth over any obstacle.
  • A spatula, pair of scissors, tape and confectioners sugar should always been in your toolbox.
  • Place tiers in sturdy, over-sized boxes and seat-belt them in before starting the car.
  • There is no such thing as too slow when you’ve got $300 of cake in the back seat.
  • Bring a helper.
  • Take a picture of the cake after it’s set up–for your book and to prove that when you left it was still standing (didn’t happen to me but it has happened to others).
  • Leave plenty of time to assemble the cake and do any finishing work before the wedding is due to start (especially if you’re also a bridesmaid!).
  • Ask to see the topper ahead of time. If the florist is bringing it, make sure they know just how big the cake is (or isn’t–I delivered a cake for 50 only to have the florist plop a foil-wrapped [classy!] package of flowers on top that was 2/3 the height of the cake).
  • If you’re stuck on a design element after 16 hours of decorating, take a break, take a shower, it’ll come to you.