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Archive for the ‘Wedding Whirl’ Category

There is one other thing I kind of really wanted for our wedding.

You might not know this about me, but I love jazz.  You might not know this about me because I didn’t even know this about me until I moved to NYC.  You see, I have a mixed history with music.  I played the flute from fourth grade onward, retaining a delicate and undistinguished hold on a second string seat (practicing never figured high on my priority list).  While I liked to be “in the middle of the music” during our concerts, I didn’t like other concerts.  I remember a high school class trip to a Vivaldi symphony where I fell asleep.  I remember enjoying a No Doubt show that my brother Jarrod took us to, but there is usually a level of “required” enthusiasm at these things (jumping and shouting and doing things when the lead singer says to) that I didn’t like very much.  Also standing, there is way too much standing  all around with live shows.  Who wants to pay $30 to stand for 4 hours?  While I like live music if it’s a Jason Mraz-wannabe, I’m never the one who seeks it out.  If you say “have you heard of the Shins?”  I would say “weren’t they mentioned in Garden State?”  When everyone else had to have the iPod, I was content with the manual management of my collection of 17 CDs (90s gems, like Pearl Jam, Live, Radiohead, Rusted Root–those were the days).  You get the idea.  I’ve never been a music enthusiast.

Something I did discover and love in high school was swing dancing–there was a brief craze for about a year, and then it died off, leaving me tapping my toes in the ashes and wondering where everybody went.  Classic swing music is, of course, basically all jazz, but I didn’t make the connection.  I thought I liked dancing.  I’m not sure why I thought this, because I don’t really like to dance under most other circumstances.

It turns out that I just really liked the jazz.  And being flung around in the air while listening to jazz is pretty fun too.

I started going to jazz in the city* because there are a lot of cheap or free shows, and I relish things with the words “cheap” or “free” in them.  (I took all my cues from a most venerable tome: The Cheap Bastard’s Guide to New York City.  You’ll be able to spot it in the bookstore because the man on the cover is bending to pick up a nickel…)  I would find myself enraptured, listening and bobbing happily in my seat for hour-long stretches before remembering to whisper with whichever thus-marginalized friend had accompanied me.

Anyway…the point, the point.  Despite the fact that we were quickly approaching and exceeding our wedding budget, I really wanted to have some live jazz at the wedding.  I puzzled for a moment over who might know some viable starving artists.  I proposed rustling up a quality act from the ragtag melange of subway musicians, to which Matt swallowed diplomatically and said “well…um..love, there will be children at the wedding.” He didn’t love the idea of untested strangers sharing our big day, even if they were bassoon-toting.  Ok, good point.

I ratcheted things up a notch and emailed my old roommate, Katie (now a proud resident of the city of London).  Katie was my jazz enthusiast buddy in NYC–though “buddy” is really the wrong word; “guru” is more on point.  Katie was a serious jazz musician in high school and even studied at a conservatory for a few years post-high school before deciding to study fashion.  She knows about 98% more about jazz than I do.  Whereas I would say “well this…song is upbeat and fun,” she would say, “this is (someone more obscure than Ella Fitzgerald) doing (something more specific than “improv”).  That harmony line is SO romantic.”  To which I would say “absolutely” and order another round of martinis.

While I have no idea what kind of money jazz musicians make, I suspected in my gut that it was more than I was offering.  But, my offer was still more than 3 people would make baby-sitting for 4 hours, so I was hopeful.  In less than a day, bless her soul, Katie rustled up a drummer she knew from her creme de la creme days of jazz, and he just happened to be alive and well and part of a lovely NYC trio with regular gigs.  So, not starving, but apparently happy to help a friend of a friend.  I went to see them play at their weekly gig as the melodious live music at Sprig, a fancy NYC bistro (in the Lipstick Building, which I had never heard of!  Apparently the top has a slant-cut like a tube of lipstick).  I went up and met the group during one of their breaks, and they couldn’t have been nicer.  Anthony, my contact, sat and chatted with us for several minutes, and he told me the group would be willing to learn music for the ceremony if they don’t already know it.  And he assured me that they can play anything, which Katie had said as well.  I booked them on the spot.

Ballet shoes, jazz groups, this wedding has already been so fun and a real blessing.

*New Yorkers or visitors: My fav spots include the free Sunday night show at the Harlem American Legion Hall, the $3 cover show every night at FatCat in the West Village, and $5 cover/food nights at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in the Time Warner Building.

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We were on an engagement photo shoot.  It was a very serious mission.  Serious, I say, because I am not very photogenic.  You might think I’m being polite, but I’m not very polite either.  By contrast, Matt is super-photogenic.  He always has the same happy smile on his symmetrical face.  How annoying!  For example, this is the worst picture I could find of him in the whole shoot:

What’s wrong with this one, you say?  He’s just closing his eyes!  He’s even still smiling!  Exactly…I’m telling you, that’s the worst one I could find.

By contrast…here is me looking…well…stoned?

mildly drunk?

Struggling with aphasia?

Girly-running…

Terrified?

Ok, the last one isn’t that bad, and it’s kind of funny.  My family and Matt can attest that the only reason there aren’t hilariously worse examples is because our friend Albert is a gifted photographer.  🙂

Anyway, given my limitations, you can understand our delight to find our zip drive peppered with these gems:

At least my fishy face is superior…

Matt went in for a kiss on the very first shot and Albert joked “this is disgustingly romantic already!”

Beard-testing…

Back off ladies!  I have the bling…

How did we get in this nutshell?


A romantic silhouette:

Close inspection…

Our feet are just as lovely…

Yo’ mamma…

Ok, I forgive you…

And off we stroll, happily ever after, and in search of iced coffee…


(I was going to include one scandalous one, but it’s just too scandalous–poor Albert!)

And now, it’s time for second breakfast, so…I’ll put the rest on Facebook if I can figure that out.  Ciao!


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Blockheads

Or, technically speaking, Bloch-heads.  That’s right.  Performance-types go nuts over Bloch shoes.  People who know what they’re talking about will fork over serious cash for tap shoes, ballet shoes, tango shoes, jazz shoes (do these exist?  I’m making things up), and anything else Bloch can dish up.  All this I have learned since getting engaged.  Why, you ask?

You see, I’m a pretty laid-back bride, as far as brides go.  I’m not laboring under some fixed, life-long vision of how my wedding day has to be, and that makes everything a lot easier.  I’ve been approaching wedding planning like a tulle-frosted version of my regular life—research, find the weak points, strike quickly, and save as much money as possible while getting most of what I want.  Within three weeks of saying “yes”, I had a few bridal magazines, my dress, the venue, the ministers, the caterer, a photographer, a save-the-date template, and I knew which flowers I wanted in my bouquet.  I’ve been having a great time, actually.  By 2:30 on August 20th, I’ll be married to my best friend and that’s all that I really care about.

There is one hitch in all of this un-finicky-ness, though.  I do have one wedding vision that I feel I must carry out, and it is this:  I have always wanted to get married in ballet shoes.

I’m not sure why.  I don’t remember any Cinderalla-and-her-nuptial-ballet-shoes tale holding me spellbound as a little girl.  While I know that lots of people do get married in ballet shoes, lots of people also do all sorts of things I don’t feel strongly about (like dancing, getting married in a church, and having wedding cake).  Whatever the reason, I just knew I wanted ballet shoes, and I would not be ignored.  By me, that is.

Now, I don’t know the first thing about ballet shoes.  So, I asked my friend Amelia, who is both uber-fashionable and a ballet dancer.

“Where should I look for ballet shoes for my wedding?”  She didn’t skip a beat before saying “Bloch.  They are this amazing London dance shoe company. They make the best, most beautiful ballet shoes.  You have to find them and buy their shoes—they are amazing.”  I didn’t need to be told twice.

The trouble was, Bloch was nowhere to be found.  I went online and looked up “Bloch ballet shoes” and got links telling me their NYC shop had closed a few years ago.  Blast!  (As the English would say).  Then, I dug a bit further and learned that Off-Stage Dance Company was carrying Bloch.  Great.  I scribbled down the address and was on my way to 34th street.  Except that store had closed too!  It had been replaced by Capezio Dance.  They were willing to order Bloch shoes for me from London, but I couldn’t see or try them ahead of time, and I’d be obligated to buy them whether I liked them or not.  That seemed silly.  Resigned, I decided that I might just have to keep my eye out for regular, non-Bloch ballet shoes.

Then, one fine spring day, I was trudging back from my storage unit, which is conveniently located on 12th avenue and 28th street.  (If you’re not from NYC, that was a bit of sarcasm).  It’s basically a day’s worth of exercise to hike out there with a load of stuff and trade it for a different load of stuff.  On the way back, I saw a sign for a sample sale.  “Why not?”  I wasn’t in a rush, they had pictures of some cute ballet flats, and I’ve never actually been to a sample sale before (“sample” doesn’t always mean cheap after all).  I took the elevator to the third floor and started poking around.  They had beautiful clothes, of the silky, draped variety, but I was more interested in the shoes.  There were piles upon piles of ballet shoes!  I started pawing through them, and flipped one over.

The inside said “Bloch.”  I almost yelped aloud.

“Excuse me, but, er, are these Bloch ballet shoes, like, the Bloch ballet shoes?”  I asked the slightly-too-cool-for-school sales lady.  She looked up, annoyed, and said in the sort of lovely British accent that makes one forget they are being condescended to.

“Why yes, you see, we handle all the PR for the brand in the US and that’s how we have the product.”  She said “the product” like a froofy person would say “jean” instead of “jeans.”  Speaking in singulars is the new cool.

“You’re kidding!”  I said.  “You know, oddly enough, I’ve actually been looking for you guys.  You’re hard to find!”  She stared at me sadly, assuming the nuances and positioning of the fashion world were beyond my doddering, bucolic grasp.  “Do you have anything in size 9, do you think?”  I asked, switching gears.  She perked up at this concrete question, and got up to rummage through shoes in colors like ‘gun’ and ‘petal.’

“I doubt it,” she said as she worked, “the sale’s been going on for days now and the sizes tend to go.”  She said “the sizes” but the flutter of her hands indicated she meant the “ghastly, huge common-people sizes.”  (Hey, I’m a 9, but I’m tall!)  “Oh, well, now wait, here is one.”  She sounded surprised, but produced a lovely pair of burnished gold ballet flats.

I put them on.  It was like sliding my feet into a fine chocolate truffle (or how I imagine that would be…feet-sized truffles being hard to come by).  The material felt like a fusion of the best bits of silk, leather, and suede, and the heel padding was generous.  At first, I thought they were too loose, but the sales lady showed me that the tie strings operated like “proper ballet shoes,” and if I tied the bow up front more tightly, the heel would cinch up.  They were little works of art.

I flipped them over to find the price:  180 dollars.  My heart sank.  I had never spent that much on a pair of shoes, and my frugal self wouldn’t let me.  Then, I realized that they didn’t have the pink “sample sale” sticker like the others did, so I asked the sales lady how much they were going for.  She picked up her calculator.

“Well, they retail at $180, they wholesale at $85, but…” key-clacking, “I can do it for $58.”  Hooray for sample sales!

A few minutes later, the youngest member of the Bloch-heads was walking home with a pair of ballet flats tucked under one arm and a sense of triumph tucked under the other.

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(the good people of Miss Perfect Woman.com have posted a number of my wedding planning bits–check them out!  http://missperfectwoman.com/?p=883.  They’ll appear in slightly different form on this blog.)

We had been engaged for 2 days, and Matt and I both agreed that our biggest wedding priority was to have as many friends and family in attendance as possible. The question was:  where?

I didn’t feel tied to the tradition of getting married in the bride’s home town (Littleton, MA, c’mon, have you been there?), so we were free to consider any location that made it easy to bring people together.  Even though I had been living in Manhattan for years, I was cowed by infamous NYC wedding prices and it had never occurred to me to take a New York wedding seriously.  Matt didn’t have a strong preference on location either.  Burdened by brilliance and a zest for hard work, he has crisscrossed the country for school and work, accruing pockets of friends in Boise, San Diego, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis.  My favorite people take up space in the Boston area, all of Pennsylvania, San Fransisco, LA, DC, Florida, Texas, NYC of course, and there’s even a bright star way out in Maryland.  So…you see the problem.  Even the cleverest Venn diagram would have us getting married in Pittsburgh and eating in the Midwest somewhere.

We did the only logical thing:  went out for a drink, got ourselves a cocktail napkin, and sketched out the US, marking stars to represent who would be coming from where.   Our napkin quickly became a candidate for Starry Night Reprise, and our most promising location choices seemed to be DC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or New York.  As we talked through the options, considered flights and driving distances, rental cars and level of difficulty, one option seemed to crystallize for both of us.  New York City.  It was the only place that made sense—most people flying in from all around the country could get a direct flight to NYC, and they wouldn’t have to rent cars or drive for hours after landing.  Plus, many friends could drive in, and my hoard of local friends already had “hotel rooms” (we call them apartments) and could pitch in along the way.

My heart skipped a beat as we both stared at our cocktail napkin decision.  The idea of marrying my best friend in my beloved city felt so right.   An NYC wedding it would be!

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14 Dresses

“Um, Matt, can I use the car and driver tomorrow from 10:30 to 3:30 for an, um, errand?”

All along, I had secretly been planning to buy my wedding dress in China, but I was too old-fashioned to start looking before I had a ring on my finger.  As Matt and I got engaged only two days before I had to fly home, this left me part of the next day—about 4 hours—to look for a gown.  Since wedding dresses could take months to order and alter back home in NYC, and we were getting married just three months later, I knew I had to make these 4 hours count.

As you won’t get any pictures of today’s story, here is one to tide you over:

Before setting out that morning, I used Google Translate to look up “wedding dress” in Chinese.  As Chinese brides traditionally get married in colored dresses, though, I wasn’t sure the concept would translate.  Nonetheless, with the magic words–“jiéhūn lǐfú”–scribbled in my trusty notebook, I set off on my quest.

Our driver, Wan Ming Hua, a lovely man who speaks hardly any English (resulting in drives that start with nǐ hǎo ma? (you are good?) and are punctuated with wide smiles), drove me straight to Luo Hu Commercial City.  This place is like a huge mall, except that the shops zig-zag in labyrinthine mazes and are often no bigger than walk-in closets.  I arrived, paper in hand, smiled, and said “jiéhūn lǐfú?” to the first worker I saw.  My query was met with a polite stare and the offer of a spangly hand bag.

I tried the next person, adding gestures implying a long skirt and saying “Měiguó” which means “America.”  This sprightly young shopkeeper said “Ahhh!” and jogged me through a string of hallways until we arrived at a shop with–amazingly–American wedding dresses.  Except that I had to squint at them through the dark glass because the shop was closed.  He pointed at a chalkboard in the doorway with a phone number and gestured for me to call it.  I punched in the 8-digit number on my Chinese cell phone, said hello, paused, and handed it to the man.  He presumably said something like “hey, you have a sassy America here and she wants to buy your dresses.”  He signaled to me that her arrival would take 40 minutes.

Worried that a Hansel and Gretel-type fate would befall me if I left the spot, I walked slowly away, taking mental note of landmarks along the way–lime green pants in window, white shirt fluttering from door jamb.  With another application of my jiéhūn lǐfú spell, I found a second shop boasting America wedding dresses.  5 of them.  In total.  I tried on a few (in a tiny dirty closet) but they looked used to me.

I got an iced coffee to console myself, and then tried to make my way back to the first shop.  After striking out four times, I hit the lime green pants, white shirt corridor and found the shop.  The owner was there–a slip of a girl with loose curly hair–and her gowns were gorgeous.  All 9 of them.

9 gowns might not sound like much, but I discovered a marvelous secret.  Sample American wedding gowns in China (which are taking off as a fad, albeit slowly) are all size 6 and trail to about 5′ 10″.  I am size six and 5′ 8″; throw in some shoes, and it’s as if every dress was made for me!  (Chinese ladies are thin and short almost as a rule, but relish their high heels.)  The shopkeeper pulled a simple curtain around me to make a dressing room, and she helped me into a number of her gowns.  Her mother materialized out of nowhere and assisted as well.  She pulled out the third or fourth gown, and it looked just like what I had envisioned in my head.  “I try this?”  I suggested.

The test shoes the shop keeper offered me (my dirty street shoes had been stashed somewhere safe) were no less than 5-inch cork heels, turning me into a 6′ 1″ beaded-organza-ed wonder.  Despite my comical shoes, the dress hit us all as I rose to my now-towering height.  This was it!

While I grinned like an idiot, curious shoppers from the hallway peeked in to see the Friendly Giant-Bride surrounded by her Lilliputian assistants.  From my lofty vantage point, I declared “Hen hǎo, wǒ yào!” which means “very good, I want!”

I had grabbed 2000 RMB that morning–about 300 dollars–figuring that if a dress was more than that, I’d just get it in America.  This dress, which I fell in love with immediately, had a price tag almost twice that amount.  But you never know in China.  “Duōshǎo qián?” I asked (how much is?), and by some odd miracle, the mother punched “1980” into her calculator (a common way to show the price in Shenzhen).

To this day, I don’t understand how this happened.  I had purchased an iced coffee for 20 RMB, leaving me with 1980 RMB, her exact asking price, in my wallet.  Nothing more, nothing less.   “I think you make beautiful bride,” the shopkeeper said, taking my money.   Then, they stuffed the dress into a duffel bag, and it was mine!

 

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Funny story…My sister-in-law works in PR and she sent me a media request yesterday for proposal stories.  I sent in a mildly edited version of my last blog entry, not expecting to hear anything from them.  But, they published the story in like 14 minutes!  I then wondered to myself who “they” were and looked more closely at the publicity request.  So…for better or for worse, I discovered that our “Shanghai Proposal” is now posted on MissPerfectWoman.com (which turns out to be a site for modeling and acting that also runs a relationship section…While I’m not opposing to entertaining aspiring models and actors, somehow that wasn’t our target demographic.)

Check us out:  http://missperfectwoman.com/?p=843

Sometimes my life makes me laugh.  🙂

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I like to think you’ve noticed that I haven’t posted in over a week–and while some might mutter and point to laziness or poor time management, I prefer a rosier, more literary explanation, like the classic “dramatic pause before a proposal story” device…

First let me say that leading up to the proposal, I had a couple of occasions for the mini-heart-attack-because-you-think-you’re-being-proposed-to.  In the most dramatic, we were out at a surprisingly cute Italian restaurant, and Matt leaned forward and said “I had my driver stop after work and I picked up this” and he started to pull something black out of his pocket.  A rush of heat spread across my chest before I realized it was an iPhone.  An iPhone!  Who cares!  Where’s my ring?  (I didn’t say that, just what I thought in the moment.  I have since cajoled Matt to download Wurdle and I now love the iPhone).   Another time, we were walking along the water by our apartment, it was a beautiful black night and the flowers smelled lovely.  I felt Matt fumble around in his pocket and I had another surge before realizing he was just getting a tissue.  After these two false alarms, I tried to tell myself to stop thinking about proposals and just enjoy our time together.  (I wasn’t that successful, but it was a sound adage).

Fast forward a few weeks.  It was an auspicious, sunny, downright hot Shanghai morning–at least, we discovered as much upon exiting our hotel.  (You see, I had taken the lead on hotel hunting for our long weekend trip.  Pickings were slim but I was able to book us a perfectly serviceable Chinese hotel with free breakfast.  The only drawback was that all of their rooms with windows were taken…)

Consequently, we both blinked a fair amount as Matt pushed open the lobby door.  As the haze focused into discernible objects, I spotted Lawson’s, a Japanese convenience store, across the street.  It was like a small ray of heaven.  I hadn’t seen one since my 2009 Japan trip, on which I had enjoyed many an emergency bottled coffee fix at this chain.  I declared as much to Matt, who nodded, lingered a moment, and then said “uh, love, I don’t think I am carrying enough money.  Why don’t you go and find some coffee and I’ll run back upstairs?”  Far be it from me to object to a boyfriend who wants to carry a lot of money.  Go, load up!  I said.

15 minutes later, when he still hadn’t resurfaced, I called and asked him to bring the sunblock.

9 more minutes later he called to say he couldn’t find the sunblock, but was coming over to join me.

I found this 24 minute search for sunblock and cash a bit suspicious.  Matt rarely forgets to do anything, much less to supply his wallet for a day trip.  But, I dismissed it as a sign of an imminent proposal because I couldn’t imagine him forgetting where he put something like a diamond ring.  I mean, how many places could it be?

Mystery unsolved, we headed off together for the Yu Gardens–Shanghai’s most popular tourist attraction, according to the good people of Foder’s Travel Guide.  After a good deal of wandering and quizzical map-flipping and squinting in the bright sunshine, we found the bazaar that purportedly led up to the gardens.

What the guide book didn’t say is that the streets around the Yu Gardens are twice as popular as the gardens themselves–Matt and I were like flinching salmon pointed the wrong way in mating season.  No one appeared to want to go inside the gardens, just to mill around making a lot of noise while buying jade and pearls and birdcages and snacks and postcards.  We shoved ourselves into the teeming mass of non-garden-goers, and eventually popped out at the Bridge of Seven Bends.  Happily, we were crushed up against a European tour group, enabling us to learn that this bridge twists 7 times to fool the spirits, who apparently can’t make right angles.  Like crocodiles.  (Actually that turns out to be a myth).

Finally, spirits averted, we and the tour group tumbled as one into the Yu Gardens.  It felt a little bit like landing in Narnia.  All was quiet.  Birds were chirping.  Footbridges and pagodas spanned tranquil reflecting pools.  Rock garden mazes twisted off into secret corners.  We hadn’t wandered far before a narrowly constructed lady invited us inside for a free tea ceremony.  She poured teas good for indigestion, menstruation, cancer, and gangrene, if I remember correctly.

The gardens were perfectly lovely and romantic.  It would have been an all-around un-benighted day, except that I was not feeling so well.  As I have alluded to before, mysterious, low-grade stomach trouble is par for the course in China.  In America, if you’re planning a romantic day, you pack a picnic, some wine, maybe breath-mints.  In China, you chuck all of that and focus your romance kit around Advil, Pepto-Bismol, Immodium, and packs of emergency toilet paper (public restrooms often don’t have it!).  Luckily, Matt knows how to do romance in China, and his backpack was well-stocked.  Consequently, I kept rummaging around in it for various remedies through our stroll.  After a few such instances, he re-packed it to put all the things I would need in one front pocket.  This re-org should have tipped me off, but Matt is always doing sweet things like that, so I accepted unawares.  (Yes, unawares is actually the proper adverb form)

At one point, despite the cure-all tea, I leaned woozily on Matt and asked if we could sit down for a minute.  The thick heat wasn’t helping any.  I was eying up the nearest rock wall but he said “I actually saw a nice pagoda back that way.”  It was a pretty wood and stone structure with climbing vines and flowers twisting through its support beams.  Flopping down on the bench, I fanned myself, snuggled into Matt’s shoulder and closed my eyes.  At one point, he said, “hey, are you closing your eyes?” and I mumbled yes, but that I was ok, I was just resting.

When I opened my eyes, Matt was down on one knee with an open ring box.  I was halfway through being startled when he said “would you marry me?”  With a shriek I said “yes!  But I have cramps!”  Then we laughed and Matt put the ring on me and we held each other for a few minutes marveling at it all.  When I tried to stand up, I discovered that my knees were shaky.  And…I felt completely cured.  “Hey, I don’t feel sick!  You…you shocked me into health.”

Then we took these photos:

This is me re-enacting my surprise for the camera:

This is me casually posing on the street so passersby can see that I’m engaged:

and here is a close-up of my wrinkly knuckle!  (just kidding)–Matt did such a good job on the ring–he had it made in Hong Kong and it was just perfect.  It’s hard to tell that it’s not just one massive lump, but it’s a center diamond surrounded by a ring of accent diamonds.  🙂  (accent diamonds–that’s right, unmarried men, file that away)

Then I asked him what it had felt like to be carrying the ring around today, and he said “it was fine except that you kept digging in the bag!  That’s why I put your things in one pocket.”  Ahh…  The poor man.  He had moved the ring into his pocket (while I was in the bathroom), but I give him so many impromptu hugs that he had had to keep moving the ring depending on what side I was walking on so I wouldn’t feel it!

A few minutes later, Matt said “there’s one more surprise.  This morning, while you went to get coffee, I packed up all of our stuff, checked us out, and we are going somewhere with a window!”  That’s what the 24 minutes were about…any man who can pack me up in 24 minutes is a keeper!

It turned out to be an amazing hotel–if you upgrade a bit in Asia, you really cross over into luxury.  Marble floors, huge stylish flower displays, thematic decorating, pools, fitness, sauna, massage and spa, several restaurants, a rooftop bar, fantastic views of the Bund (the posh section of their waterway), the Shanghai Pearl tower and the Bottle Opener building.  Matt has surely spoiled us both for all time.

The next morning, the free breakfast was unending and sumptuous–carving stations, men making omelette, a bar with 15 different fresh-squeezed juices (I think we tried 7 between us), breads, cereal, bagels, lunch foods, fried rice or noodles to order, eggs made to order, pancakes, coffee that made me want to cry.  It was amazing.

“Matt–do you see what this is?”  I waggled a crisp yellow circle.  “It’s a hashbrown.  A deep-fried hashbrown.  Do you know how long it’s been since I had one of these?  I know I already said I’d marry you, but if there was any question, this breakfast has utterly sealed the deal.”  And I gave him a kiss.

“Err, thanks?”  he said.

And that’s how we got engaged.

(bonus tip:  you can make friends with Matt Schneider on Facebook and see our entire engagement album)

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