Posts Tagged ‘wedding’

I’ll write a few posts on our wedding planning, but let it be known that I’m not one of those women who has pictured my wedding since I was a little girl and thinks wedding planning is SO fun and exciting. When we first got started I had no idea what I wanted and found the impending process to be really overwhelming. Now we’ve taken it one step at a time and I’m feeling much calmer. It’s a lot of research, discussing logistics, and writing emails. To me it resembles work more than fun, but getting another component checked off the list sure is satisfying.

However, one thing that has made the process more bearable is that all the people I’ve communicated with are so nice. To most people this would seem natural– of course the vendors are nice; they want me to pay money to use their catering, their venue, etc. But living in Estonia has dramatically lowered my expectations for employees of the service industry.

This was a dinner with actual good service that I need to write about!

While customer service here has been getting better year by year, it’s still a far cry from what you would find in North America or England. Sub-par service has its roots in the Soviet era, when surliness was the norm and nobody was expected to be polite to somebody they didn’t know. It was enough for restaurants servers and hostesses to show up for work– they didn’t actually have to serve anyone. I’m not speaking from experience because I never visited Estonia when it was still a part of the Soviet Union, but I’ve heard stories of clients being turned away from a restaurant being told, “We’re full”– when the restaurant was clearly empty. If you were lucky enough to be seated, more than half of the items on the menu might not have been available that day.

Today, the situation has improved. The cashier at the grocery store will generally say “tere” (hello), but she won’t make small talk. Workers on the floor at a pharmacy or clothing stores might approach to ask if you need help finding anything. And servers in restaurants will often smile and even come by the table after you’ve gotten your food to ask if everything is OK (when I first came to Estonia 5 years ago, this was never done). There are also plenty of crappy experiences to be had– woefully untrained servers who lack skills (like opening a wine bottle) and have no idea regarding what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Quick example: in January of this year I was at a pub and the waitress came to tell us our table was reserved and we had to move. We then had to transfer our own drink glasses and several plates of food to another table, with no help from her. It was so awkward and embarrassing, and we didn’t even get an apology.

Not my wedding dress!

Sorry for the long preface, but being accustomed to experiences like that really makes me appreciate how friendly and helpful people in the wedding service industry have been. The girls in the bridal shops were sweet and respected my wishes (no puffy princess dresses!). The caterer we chose responded promptly to my dozens of emails with questions and requests to make changes in the menu. I don’t know if the people in this sector are nice because they believe in the whole “this is you day and it should be special” thing, or because so much money goes into weddings (OK, I’m not that naïve– I know it’s the latter), but either way they’ve made this process that I was dreading much easier. And for that I am thankful.

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A new year

At the beginning of 2011 I made the following food and blog-related resolutions. Let’s see how I did, shall we?

  • Cook from my cookbooks. I did try some new Jamie Oliver recipes this year, but in general a lot of my recipes still came from the internet, not books.
  • Eat dinner at the table at least twice a week. Total fail. We att at the kitchen table when we had company, but other than that we sat and ate together at the table very rarely.
  • Try eating vegan for at least 5 days and raw vegan for at least 3 days. I kind of fulfilled this one. You can read my adventures in raw eating starting here, although I didn’t go full raw because I didn’t need added stress in my life. I never did the 5 days vegan, even though I think that one would be easier. Not sure why I never got around to it!
  • Visit at least six new (to us) restaurants/bars/cafes in Tallinn. Success! We actually visited a ton of new places this year and found some new favorites. I’m really happy we broke out of our restaurant rut!

But now… what to do this year? Here are a few food- and blog-related goals that come to mind right now; I may add more later.

  • Try eating vegan for at least 5 days. I didn’t do it last year but I’d still like to try!
  • Prepare something for our wedding reception in September. I’ve mentioned this goal to J and he said I shouldn’t do it. Perhaps in the week before our wedding when I’m tearing my hair out I’ll agree with him, but right now I feel that I’d like to prepare something like cookies to add to the dessert table or share as favors. I love cooking and baking for people so much that it just feels right to have something homemade to share with our guests.
  • Write blog posts in Estonian and in Finnish. This ties into my overall goal to spend more time working on both languages.

I honestly can’t think of anything else right now! I usually have an idea of what kind of new cooking or baking project I’d like to attempt, but I haven’t had any inspiration recently. Any suggestions? And are you tackling any kitchen goals this year?

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A New Hampshire wedding

On Labor Day weekend of this year, J and I attended a very special wedding in New Hampshire. It was special not only because it was my first time being a bridesmaid, but also because I’ve known the bride since we were 12, when we bonded in Latin Club over our mutual love of Les Miz (oh yes, we were so cool it hurts). The couple lives in Columbus, Ohio (we went to visit them and their giant dog last year!) but they chose to have their wedding by Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, and for good reason– the place is absolutely gorgeous.

Another reason the wedding was so special is because two of the other bridesmaids were also high school friends of mine and the bride’s. It was so great to see them, chat and catch up– like a mini reunion! We met the groom’s friends and sister the day before the wedding and after the rehearsal we all had lunch together– everyone was so warm and friendly it was almost like one big group of old friends. Later that night was the rehearsal dinner, where more fun conversations ensued, as well as some touching speeches and the giving of beautiful gifts (all purchased from Etsy) to the families, bridesmaids and groomsmen.

First course at dinner– yum.

Dessert– for some reason I didn’t photograph my entree, oops!

Bright and early the next morning, us ladies gathered for hair and makeup. Despite the early wake-up call it was so much fun, and I appreciated having several hours where it was just us girls. The hair and makeup ladies were so great, gushing over all of us, “You have great hair! Oh my gosh, you have gorgeous hair! I love your eyes!” etc.etc.

I loved my hair too, when she was done with it!

The morning was so incredibly relaxed (no stressed-out Bridezilla here!) that after we were all made up we even had time to watch the first 20-30 minutes of “The Princess Bride” before getting dressed (although we briefly contemplated delaying the wedding when we found out the bride has NEVER SEEN “The Princess Bride”. Horrors!).

The bridesmaids wore green!

The ceremony itself was short, just like the couple wanted. I cried. They are just so happy to be married :). After formal photos, guests were invited to change into whatever they liked– the couple wanted the reception to be informal and fun. Us bridesmaids decided to stay in our dresses, but I did trade my heels for flip-flops.

I love love loved the tables in the water!

They offered a selection of microbrews during the reception– no crappy beer here :). I started with this Sea Dog Wild Blueberry, which I loved– it had a hint of blueberry without being sweet or artificial tasting. Very well done. And that right next to my beer is the wedding favor– a delicious cookie in the shape of the couple’s dog, Muncher!

And dinner was amazing. It started with a bowl of New England clam chowder…

and then came the main event.
Oooh yes. You know I love my seafood! I can’t remember the last time I ate a whole lobster, but the groom made sure to come around to each table and give a quick tutorial on what to do. We were pros in no time and it was so delicious (and messy, but thanks to a bib and a thick cloth napkin my dress actually stayed clean!).

Although the couple’s Great Dane and two cats couldn’t actually be there, they were beautifully represented on the adorable wedding cake! When the cake was first cut I was too stuffed to try it, but after dancing for a few hours I snagged a piece and it was great– tasty and moist, even after sitting out for a while.

I know this post has gotten long, but it was just such a great day. I was honored to be included in a celebration that truly reflected the bride and groom’s personalities and during which they themselves seemed to be having so much fun. Isn’t that how it should always be? I may have even shed a few tears the next day when we had to leave and head to Montreal, the next stop on our trip. Now I think I need to start drilling my friend for tips as to how to plan a flawless wedding :).

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Impossible not to

I’ve never given much thought to the British royal family, but it was impossible not to get a little swept up in all the excitement of the royal wedding today. I’m glad I live in a time zone that’s two hours ahead of London, so I didn’t have to wake up ridiculously early to watch coverage or anything. I was able to check it out in the middle of the work day (everyone at my work was watching!), seeing the most important moments– the bride’s arrival at the Abbey, walking down the aisle, the vows, and later also their kiss. I have to say that I particularly enjoyed the moment when Kate was walking down the aisle and Harry turned around to get a look at her and then whispered something to his brother, who was dutifully facing the altar. That was cute. Now if, years from now, somebody asks if I was watching when Will and Kate got married, I can say that I was. (Fun fact: If it ever comes up in trivia, I can answer the question “What day did Diana marry Prince Charles?” in a heartbeat, because it happens to be the same day my brother and a good friend of mine were born, July 29 1981).

Anyway, all this talk about the royal wedding (and the royal wedding digestive biscuit cake!) had me craving digestive biscuits, which have long been a favorite of mine. So I picked some up after work and had my own little wedding cake-inspired snack — a digestive biscuit with a bit of Nutella. Mmm… a very sweet day, indeed.

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