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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Perfect Place

Thirteen years ago today, I got married. The ceremony, a full nuptial Mass, took place at St. Joseph's Church in Babylon, New York. It was the parish my husband had grown up in and where he'd attended elementary school.

I have such fond memories of the day even though it wasn't exactly how I pictured getting married. I'd always dreamed of a Christmas wedding. If you've read my book, Santa Brought a Son, you can get an idea of what I'd imagined my reception to be. But I have no regrets over the wedding we did have. I still can't believe it all came together as well as it did.

Our wedding planning was rushed. We'd gotten engaged right before Christmas, the night before my husband flew back home for the holidays, but my future father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer so we decided to forgo a long engagement and get married sooner rather than later so he could attend.

After Christmas, we flew back to New York to get the planning underway. We knew, due to the circumstances, it would be a small wedding. First on our To Do list, find a location for the wedding reception. We knew that could be the hardest thing to find given the short timeframe.

Oh, boy. Talk about an adventure. I felt like a stranger in a strange land, a west coast girl trying to plan an east coast wedding. No offense intended to anyone who lives there! I always pictured wedding coordinators to be like Martha Stewart or in the movie Father of the Bride or our own beloved Belle Mackenzie of The Wedding Belles. I quickly learned there was no stereotypical wedding coordinator. At least on Long Island.

Early that day, we entered a lovely place with beautiful reception rooms. A man in a sharply tailored suit escorted us into an office. He sat on a big leather chair, behind a large wooden desk, clasped his hands together and leaned toward us. "You look like a nice couple. What can I do for you?"

My heart slammed against my chest. He looked and sounded exactly like the Godfather. I kid you not. I thought at any minute there'd be guns pointed and bullets flying overhead. This was not the type of wedding coordinator I had in mind. My fiancé, a born and bred New Yorker, saw nothing strange about the situation. No, instead he laughed at me. I quickly realized I needed to change my expectations. I also learned that people talked who talked really fast and loud weren't angry or upset. That's just how they spoke.

Over the ten hours or so of searching, we found some nice reception places, ones that could handle a wedding party of our size at short notice, but none that made me think, "this is it!" Soon, it was dark and we were tired. We just wanted to pick a place. But one named remained on our list so we drove north to a little village called Stony Brook.

Somehow we made a wrong turn. Not surprising given the hour and the fact we hadn't eaten dinner yet. I saw a colonial white house with white Christmas lights and a big red ribbon tied around it. Right then, I told Tom that's where we were going to have our wedding reception. He said the place wasn't on our list. I said I didn't care. He started getting worried, but turned around and pulled into the parking lot anyway.

The first thing I noticed when we walked inside was a white grand piano with lights and Christmas decorations on it. In the dining room itself, the décor was romantic and charming with lots of chintz and pink. My favorites! (This was at the time when I would devour the latest Laura Ashley Home catalog as soon as it was published.) The place was called Country House Restaurant, and they did wedding receptions. I couldn't believe we'd stumbled across the place. The manager handed us a folder full of menus and information. He also said they provided the floral centerpieces for the tables and could do the cake, too. Less work for us! We were sold. We knew we'd found the perfect place for our reception. And on April 2, 1995, the reception was just as romantic, just as wonderful, as I imagined. Unfortunately, one guest was missing. We weren't quite quick enough with the planning, but we both knew my husband's father was with us in spirit and toasting us with a champagne cocktail.

If you're married, where did you have your reception? Was it hard to settle on a place? If you aren't married, where would you want to have your wedding reception? Any dream locations that you have in mind?

Melissa M

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Anonymous Tori Lennox said...

Hah! I was right. *g*

Happy anniversary!!!

I've always thought a reception at a cool museum would be fun.

April 2, 2008 at 7:10 AM  
Anonymous Amy Addison said...

Happy anniversary!

April 2, 2008 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

You were right, Tori! And thanks. I've been to a wedding reception at a museum before. It was very cool. You could eat, drink, dance and check out all the exhibits!

And for those who might wonder about Tori writing she was right, I asked readers of my person blog to what had happened 13 years ago in my life then posted a link here to see if they were correct or not!

Thanks Amy! As for selling my first book, which was one of your guesses, that happened in November of 1997. I wrote about it ten years later on my blog on the anniversary of getting the call and even posted emails that I'd sent to friends and loops that day! It was so much fun to look back on it all:-)

April 2, 2008 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Sarita Leone said...

Happy Anniversary! I thought it might be your special day. Congrats, and I hope you've got a romantic evening planned with your hubby.

Um...funny thing, how small the world really is. I'm from Commack, LI! Don't live there anymore, but it's where I grew up. I laughed out loud at your description of the Godfather wedding guy! Fuggedaboutit!

April 2, 2008 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Brandy said...

Happy Anniversary! I remembered the First Published post, so knew it wasn't that. *G*
We had our reception at a nice clubhouse, the pool was lit for the evening and looked lovely. It wasn't large, or even traditional, but we didn't care. *g*

April 2, 2008 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Myrna said...

Happy Anniversary! That sounds like such a lovely plce to have a reception.

What I remember most about looking for a hall when I was getting married was that so many of them seemed to have red flocked wallpaper. Maybe it was because we had limited funds, and the places we could afford thought that red covered a multitude of defects in the walls, but after weeks (that felt like months) of looking, I was just tired of red. And then we wandered into a hall that was on the small side and not much to look at on the outside, but inside? It was all cream and a cheery yellow (golden), very warm and inviting and light. That was it. I chose the hall based solely on the color scheme. (Well almost. They also had great food).

Unfortunately, I drove past there a couple of years ago and it had been converted to a barbeque restaurant and then last year it was torn down altogether. Still, I have wonderful memories and photos. I've never regretted that choice. And the funny thing is that normally I love red and wear it a lot. I think I was just destined to have my reception at that place and maybe that was why I held out for the gold. Or so I like to think.

April 2, 2008 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Thanks Sarita, Brandy and Myrna. We've got a babysitter for the kids and are going out for Thai food tonight! Yum!

Sarita - glad you could understand my shock at the mafioso wedding planner.

Brandy - your wedding must have been lovely. Though the question that sprang to mind...did you guys jump into the pool?

Myrna - that's so funny about the red walls! Sounds like you were meant to have gold! I hear you on how things have changed. The church were my parents got married burned down. I found out the priest who married us left the priesthood and got married himself.

April 2, 2008 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger catslady said...


My daughter and I are in the midst of planning her wedding - we found an historical hotel nearby (too bad it's not Christmas because it's decorated so beautifully then - you would love it) and they're getting married in a gazebo (compromise - groom wanted the woods lol).

April 2, 2008 at 4:26 PM  
Blogger Dru said...

Melissa, I had to laugh at the godfather experience. I've run across many and you have to go with the flow. I'm glad you have a lovely wedding.

If I got married, I would like to have my reception on a cruise ship. This way everyone can have fun after my party.

April 2, 2008 at 4:26 PM  
Blogger Marianne Arkins said...

LOL at the Godfather!

We were flat broke, so had our reception in the school cafeteria that was part of the church and paid a guy who catered part time to do the food and the cake (he did an AWESOME job). My BIL was the DJ using our stereo and our CDs.

Hey... I think it's less the wedding than the marriage, you know?

April 2, 2008 at 5:10 PM  

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