We're back from our trip to New York City and it was WONDERFUL- super fun, super fancy, with lots of time with friends and still plenty of hours of just the two of us aimlessly rambling around the city and eating something delicious every two hours. While we missed the kids like crazy and can't wait to take them to New York, for our first grownup getaway, it truly could not have been more perfect.
Things started out a little stressful. As I noted in the last post, the dress I'd rented from Rent the Runway didn't fit, so I packed a suitcase for NY that didn't include anything to wear to the wedding Sunday night. Then, as we were pulling out of our driveway at 6 a.m. (precisely on time; amazing how much easier it is to do that when you're not pushing three kids out the door with you) James realized he had a flat tire (roofing nail!). Luckily our nanny could give her extra car seats to my parents (we'd planned to leave my car for them) and we switched our stuff to my car and took off for DFW.
The flight was great and right on time, and James didn't even grip the armrest like he was personally responsible for keeping the plane aloft. He's really improving. We hopped in a cab at La Guardia and gave directions for our hotel only to have me panic partway there and give instructions to go straight to the Rent the Runway store instead. Not having a dress was really stressing me out, particularly when the person I talked to at RTR said they were out of most of their stock for the holiday weekend. It was 95 degrees in NYC and the RTR store didn't seem to have functioning air conditioning. Everything took forever and they didn't have anything in my size when we arrived (stress!), but after stalking the returns I found 4 in my size and simply decided I would love one of them. I settled on a cobalt blue gown that was long, simple, and gave me an hourglass figure I do not actually possess- plus I could wear shoes I already owned and happened to bring with me plus the accessories I'd already rented, so we were done! Except the computer system is terrible so it actually took another 45 minutes to exit, but luckily there was a tiny pizza place next door that James was able to eat at for extra shopping stamina.
Now, confident that I would not be attending a very formal affair in the maxi dress I wore on the plane, I joyfully stepped out onto the NYC streets, new designer sunglasses on, $10 Ross maxi dress ready (SO many compliments on that; at least 10 from total strangers; Ross Forever!), and gold sandals totally inadequate for the walking we were about to do, but we were HERE and we were ready to seize the rest of our day! We marched up 5th Avenue from 17th to 38th, pulling our suitcases behind us and feeling really weird about not having to keep any small children out of the street. I love cities SO much I was grinning like an idiot the entire walk, even as I sweated through all my clothes (95 degrees!) and my arm went numb from pulling my suitcase. So much energy! It's like being plugged into an electric socket and I glowed pretty much the whole time we were there.
Once at the hotel we changed into new, non-sweaty clothes and wandered back down 5th, stopping for an ice cream cone dipped in rainbow sprinkles (me, obviously), more pizza (James), and ultimately finding ourselves in Eataly near the Flatiron building at 23rd. It had been 15 blocks and 25 minutes since our last meal, so we got a table and I had the best homemade burrata and sliced prosciutto of my entire life- including when I was in Italy- and glass of champagne (a theme of the weekend). James had pasta and a million slices of bread and both of us were very happy. He took a Nutella crepe to go and we ate in Madison Square Park. Or he did, I just watched because Nutella is gross. We wandered back up 6th to return to our midtown hotel (The Refinery- fabulous), collapsed in our bed and watched HGTV and napped. You can probably guess who did what.
The casual Rehearsal Dinner was at 7 at Park Avenue Tavern where our friend Dave and his fiance Rita had their first date, so we walked over there and got to see some swimming friends we hadn't seen since our own wedding. It was so fun to chat and catch up, enjoying free drinks and snacks and the giddy knowledge that we could stay out as late as we wanted. After the dinner we went back to our hotel with our former UT swimming crew and I got to be a VIP for the first time ever by using my room key to cut the line to the apparently VERY popular rooftop bar at our hotel. Obviously, everyone was very impressed with my connections. The rooftop was fab and there was more champagne and lots more chatter and laughter.
I love these people.
We went to bed late and woke up as late as I am capable. The wedding wasn't until 6:30 so I used some of your suggestions and we grabbed a cab down to Chelsea Market for some brunching. It was AWESOME- at least 2 city blocks of restaurants and all different cuisines. I had a lemon, sugar, and butter crepe (breakfast!) and the best rustic Italian sandwich ever (I was very into homemade mozzarella and melt in your mouth prosciutto on this trip). James ate everything- I stopped keeping track. Properly fueled we headed out and went up on the High Line to walk back up towards our hotel. The High Line is wonderful- what a fabulous idea and use of space. It's a garden filled walkway built on old railroad tracks above the city. We loved strolling along it, watching the cars underneath and admiring the flowers and buildings all around.
We exited at 33rd and decided to ramble around Central Park, so we grabbed another cab to jump us up another 30 blocks and entered the park about Central Park West and 62nd. We did Bow Bridge, Bethesda Fountain, Belvedere Castle... just tons of walking and some sitting and enjoying... it was perfect. We ate popsicles and decided we were fueled enough to walk back to our hotel. We meandered, me forcing James to take a picture now and then, James trying not to shudder at how many people were everywhere.
We found a noodle house that looked delicious so we headed in there for James to eat three more plates of food just in case the fancy wedding food didn't fill him up (an absurd concern, as you'll see below). We got back to the hotel in time to rest for a bit and then it was time for my Blow Dry on the Fly appointment through Blow Dry bar. I booked through their app and they send a stylist (Lucy! who was awesome) to your hotel for a blow out, curl, braid- whatever! It was amazing and so great after a day full of walking to just chill in the room while someone else made my hair look far better than I am capable. After that I just had to do my makeup (thank you youtube videos) and don my rented dress with rented jewels and fill my rented purse with ID, lipstick, and a credit card and I was ready!
At 30 minutes out James jumped in the shower and put on his tux. I had never seen him in a tux before and it was a moment for me.
We headed out of the hotel in our rented finery, ran into our friends in the lobby, and walked our block and a half to the wedding at Gotham Hall.
I had never been to a Jewish wedding before, so I was brimming with excitement, curiosity, joy for our friend, and joy at us being dressed up and OUT and ready to party. The wedding could have been a dud and I still would probably have loved every minute, but oh holy hell it was the most extraordinary event I've ever been to and truly, other than my own wedding, the most fun-filled too.
We started out in a cocktail hour- full bar, passed drinks, passed hors d'oeuvres. It was a good start. I liked the drinking pre-ceremony and James liked the variety of tiny foods that involved steak.
Next, we were ushered into the hall for the ceremony. I found this fascinating and very beautiful. The family was so much a part of the ceremony- both sets of parents stood up by their children throughout and the visual of that was very powerful. It was a less about the couple- I didn't find the creation of their union to be as poignant or tear-inducing as I often do (in part because the rabbi had been flown in from Israel and the whole ceremony was in Hebrew so I wasn't sure when they were actually married or what the vows said), but I loved the feeling of history and generations. It felt less like a creation of a new family and more of a joining of two families together to form a new branch. I found it lovely and felt honored to be there.
After the ceremony we were back in the large cocktail room- now with a second story opened up- and two full bars and FIVE different cocktail buffets. A giant sushi table with chefs making sushi as fast as we could eat it, bottles of sake for the taking, and endless sushi and sashimi. A table of lamb sliders and toppings. A mashed potato bar. A fresh pasta stations with toppings and grilled vegetables. More passed hors d'oeuvres. James was in heaven with a stack of sushi on his plate and bottle of sake in his pocket.
I snuck a peak through the 2nd story cocktail lounge curtains into the reception hall below. Oh boy.
When the reception hall opened back up, the party really began. They had a huge band that was amazing and played all my barre songs. Two more bars. Tables of food in case you got hungry between courses. A four course dinner. Flowers so big I texted my friend across the table to chat because we couldn't see each other through the plumage.
The bride and groom were radiant. We already knew Dave was a great dancer and his bride was a perfect match. The dancing was nonstop the whole night. So often with sit down dinners the energy lulls and never recovers, but they kept the band playing hits and people just popped up from their table to dance between courses while the next was set out. After the meat course, more tables were set up with salamis and breads, and a carving station of something I never bothered to identify. We danced. We drank. I discovered a bartender who made excellent Mexican martinis and the house tequila was silver Patron.
We danced a lot.
And when we wore out our men, we ladies danced with each other instead.
The dessert course began and it was an ENTIRE ROOM of six separate dessert buffets. A chocolate table. A pastry table. A table of tiny cakes. A crepe station. A gelaterie.
I was REALLY excited about this room.
There was more dancing. I don't think the bride ever sat down. The families were giddy with joy. All four parents were bogeying down and the endless cousins were always on the floor. It was a party first and an elegant formal affair second and the combination of the two- and being in the city, without kids, and with friends we hadn't seen in years- made it feel magical. Like I was Cinderella. An apt analogy given that I bundled up everything I was wearing into a bag and dropped it at the front desk on our way out this morning to be returned to RTR.
After 6 hours the party was still going strong as everyone went upstairs to the after-party area with cigar bar, another full bar, and more food. At 1 a.m. we finally had to tap out, hugging and kissing our friends goodbye and giving our best to the bride, groom, and their families. We emerged from Gotham Hall to find the city still vibrant and bursting, with a steady rain to reflect the lights all the more. My shoes were broken, my feet swollen. We limped home, a giant smile on my face as I lifted it up to the rain and walked hand in hand with my love back to the hotel.
At 9 a.m. the next morning we were heading back to the airport and our life in Fort Worth. To our 3 kids we had missed terribly, and our newly broken AC unit and the stresses of James's changing job that we had not. But I'll remember forever dancing till I dropped, singing and laughing till I was hoarse, and walking home in the rain and city lights holding James's hand.
Living a fairy tale.
For a weekend anyway.
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