I gave her the cautiously optimistic, "Yeah, I'm sure he'll call," while thinking to myself, "Yeah, Right..." Well he did more than call, they dated, he proposed and they now live in Abu Dhabi together! Their pictures are just as amazing as their love story, but as we know there are always stories behind them. Enjoy Jen's I Guess I Do moments in her own words below!
My name is Jen and I met my husband Joe while attending the same wedding in Thailand. Crazy I know! Little did I know that years later, we too would be walking down an aisle. But before making it to the aisle, of course came some I Guess I Do moments...
The Guest List
My hubby comes from a big Arab family, so for them EVERY member of the family is close...even 2nd and 3rd cousins and close family friends from 10-20 years ago. In this culture it's an insult when you're not invited to a wedding. However traditionally, the wedding was more for the parents, as they often organized and paid for the "party". Where as these days, weddings are less traditional and really more about the bride and groom, than the whole family.
So, it took a little coaxing to get everyone on board with how Joe and I wanted to do things. It even took me a little coaxing with Joe. We had a mini-fight over it while my maid of honor and best friend were visiting us the summer before. She had never seen us like that. What a mess. Anyways, with her help we were able to listen to each other and realize we wanted the same thing. Since then, we were organized, for sure, but not over stressed.
Organizing a California Wedding from Abu Dhabi
There were also challenges with organizing from so far away. As we live in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (next to Dubai) we had to be really smart with making the right connections and setting up Skype meetings. I think we really lucked out because we ended up with some AMAZING people on our team! I think fate was on our side from the first moment we knew we wanted to get married in LA.
This was actually a tricky decision as we have family and friends all over the world...took a visualizing exercise on me, and clever by Joe, to realize it was the mountains of CA where we were destined to tie the knot! I could see green everywhere, the air was crisp the sun was shining, the weather was perfect... just felt refreshing and beautiful, everything I had always envisioned.
It was the month before the wedding and I still didn't have a dress. People thought I was crazy! Everyone else was stressed but me. But what can I say...I guess I'm just not that kind of bride!
So my best friend took me, my mom and sister when I was in Tennessee a month before the wedding. For some reason I wasn't that worried about not finding a dress...even though that seemed to be everyone's first question and concern when I told them I hadn't found one yet. And even more daunting to everyone when I didn't seem worried about it. Needless to say, I was right in not feeling stressed about it because I ended up finding the perfect vintage dress off the rack! I think that's the best approach...zero expectations. When you start setting expectations and standards, that's when nothing measures up. Be okay with whatever comes your way... it makes for a much happier bride and ultimately groom!
One Big Happy Family
Note to self... remember what I said about zero expectations? Remember that, especially when it comes to close family and friends. That is something I should have been more attune to. For some reason, in our heads, Joe and I thought it would be great to have our immediate family stay with us in a big house the week before the wedding. We thought it would be fun to have everyone together, bonding, laughing and just enjoying our time together.
Boy were we wrong! Somehow with weddings, families get possessive. Just because we are marrying into another family, doesn't mean we're replacing our own. When different people and personalities get together (especially in one house) it's hard to please everyone - make that impossible! But thankfully all of the tears and tension came before the wedding, and by the time our big day came around, everyone was on board to make sure it turned out beautiful! But that surely didn't happen without some blowups along the way...
While I may have had some I Guess I Do moments leading up to the wedding, there are some good memories from the wedding that definitely outweigh the bad. These are the ones I try to focus on. Here are some of my favorites:
Looking over at my father-in-law as we all relaxed around the pool of our rental house and noticing he had his headphones on and his eyes were all red. He told us a little bit later that he was listening to the playlist we put together for the wedding ceremony.
Our Family Barbeque
Early on in the week we had invited a few friends over to join the entire family for a wedding day "talk through" & bbq since they were a big part of the ceremony. Joey's best friend from boarding school, at whose wedding we met in Phuket, Thailand, would be officiating. He, his wife Joyce and their 3 year old daughter flew in from Hong Kong for the wedding. Our good friends Kim & Glenn Porter, from the LA friend group, were such a huge presence for us... offering kindness, reassurance and help at every turn. They hold such a special place in my heart from that week.
Anyhow, I can remember just listening to everyone chatting, laughing and feeling exciting for the week ahead. It felt so nice to have everyone there and this night was so simple and relaxed. I can also remember this is when I wanted to ask Joey's dad if he would assist in walking me down the aisle (Since my dad had died of cancer when I was 20). Of course I could barely get the words out and everyone else started to cry too. It was a beautiful, but tough moment.
Early Morning Workouts
Exercising in the mornings with Joey, his sister & hubby & their little brother. We're all pretty fit, so we really enjoy staying active and supporting each other in this. I also took Joey's little brother and my best friend to my favorite yoga class in LA. That was a really fun time! Danny (Joey's 22 year old brother at the time) farted in class and my best friend fell to her mat laughing. Classic.
The day of the wedding my mother-in-law and my mom helped me put on my dress and they were both so delicate and kind. I also wore a collaboration of jewelry. My mother-in-law's bracelet & ring, a bracelet from my best friend and my sister-in-law's earrings (that she wore at her wedding) as well as my first necklace from Joey. I think I thought of this as a joining of all the power players in my life and finding balance and peace on this day.
The Entire Wedding Day
The whole ceremony and wedding day was incredible from start to finish. It flew by! With all the lead up, planning, and drama, the actual event goes by so fast. My advice to anyone is to savor each moment, and really take a conscious effort to stop and look around. Connect to all five senses and just take in the beauty, so it doesn't pass you by!
Venue: Diablo Dormido in Calabasas, CA Dress: Vintage Grooms Attire: Custom made in Dubai Photographer: RomaBea Images Videographer: Ning Wong Caterers/Designers/Florists: Kitchen 12000 Cupcakes: Sprinkles Wedding Coordinator: Dana Gabriel Make-up: Sabrina Mae Hair: Blo West Hollywood DJ: Dave Whitcraft aka DJ Dave Dolphin