Maybe it’s because I am a newlywed, but people keep asking me what I want- and what we are doing -for Valentine’s Day. I love my husband, and as cheesy as it sounds, we are constantly celebrating that. A Hallmark holiday- ugh, maybe.
But I think my grudge against Valentine’s Day goes back to Kindergarten. At only 5 years old, I had major anxiety over the holiday because I was so worried, even way back then, that a kid would feel bad about not getting cards in class. I always made sure I had one for everyone. That Valentine’s grudge deepened in 9th grade. Secret Cupid knocked on classroom doors and delivered roses from secret admirers. My heart always broke for classmates left empty handed. I always felt Valentine’s Day was an exclusion holiday. I worried about all of the people who were made to feel unimportant, unloved… and disappointed. It’s a holiday full of expectations.
I think back to Valentine’s past, and one in particular sticks out. I, strangely enough, had a boyfriend at the time (he must have been working) but planned a night out for all my single ladies so they wouldn’t be sitting home feeling bad. I made them each a fun sash with different sayings (“single”, “S.S.&J” single, smart and Jewish, etc.) and planned a big bachelorette party-esque fun dinner and night of dancing. (It is probably a good thing we didn’t have iphones and social media back them because I’m sure the photos would haunt us all!) We weren’t out “looking” for guys, we were out enjoying each other, and that my friends, is when you end up meeting people!
I can remember, just a few weeks before I met Mo, having an epiphany. After a string of unsuccessful set ups and feeling bad about myself (magnified by my 7-years-younger brother’s wedding soon approaching), I paused and looked at my life. It was then that I realized I was happy with who I was and everything else I was doing. I had so much other love in my life and felt I would be just fine being single. I decided to control what I could control. I was just going to work on myself, invest in myself, and do things that made me happy. Focus on all I had, not what I was missing. And that’s when Mo found me.
A 25 year old smart and single lady recently told me she reads this blog and can identify with my bridesmaid life (btw #13 ½ is next month!- more on that later)- and I just want her, and all the single ladies, especially on Valentine’s Day, to embrace being single. Once you meet “the one”, you will pour so much energy into him and your relationship—so put it into you right now. Know your self worth. And don’t be afraid to love. Trust me, you will get over your exes. It takes time. But you will.
As I write this and have flashes of ex-boyfriends in my mind, for the first time ever, I think of each and every one with nothing but love. Seriously. (I never thought I’d think, let alone write that) Yes, I have had a lot of heartbreak, but I have also had so many great loves in my life. I am thankful for that. For the first time, I don’t see any of my relationships as a waste of time, but just as waiting and learning time. Each one got me to where I am now. And it’s true what they say, you learn from each one, grow, and get ready for your greatest love of all. If nothing else, you can always blog about them .
I would always say (and sometimes still do), if I could just see a quick flash of my future, I would appreciate the right now so much more. But I realize it’s about having faith that the best is yet to come, and like my friend Liza taught me, letting life surprise you.
So much has changed this year. Although I was stressed and exhausted, I’ve never been in better shape and health than I was leading up to my wedding. No alcohol, eating so clean, and loading up on water and my vitamins… so… I’ve slacked a little and put a few pounds back on in the last few months… but I’m determined to get back on track—now.
A big part of my journey this past year was getting healthy. Looking back to a post from this time last year, I was in a bad place health-wise. The worst I’ve ever felt about myself. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was getting the right help.
My trainer Geri at Synergy Fitness makes sure I see her for an hour twice a week. My schedule is always changing, and because she is so accommodating and always makes time for me, I am able to get my workouts with her in. She’s always changing it up for me- so yep; I am still sore and constantly challenged. The truth is, I look forward to spending time with her (even if I am in pain for most of it!). We just had our one-year anniversary. One of my longest committed and most fulfilling relationships!
So if you are looking to get back to the gym for the new year- work with someone you really like spending time with, someone that motivates you, and that makes working out work for you and your schedule—and like any relationship, don’t settle.
My goal this month is to put in some more gym time. Geri is constantly encouraging me, okay badgering me, to get in more cardio. I’ll be honest, since the wedding, I haven’t at all. I know if I do, I can get those 5 post-wedding pounds I put on, right back off. Mo and I just committed to get to the gym together for some cardio time!
We’ve also committed to get back on track with our eating.
The other huge part of my weight loss has been my nutritionist Stacy Moutafis. In the past year, I’ve learned some much about eating right and nutrition—and, sit down for this one, I’ve taught myself (with Stacy’s guidance) how to cook and make healthy, nutritious meals…. and stay sitting… I actually now enjoy cooking and get excited about new recipes!
Stacy makes sure I am on track with my wedding maintenance eating plan. My favorite recipe Stacy shared with me is my protein pancake. I joke that it is a life changer, but it really was. I’ve eaten one every single day for almost a year. I take them to work, on shoots, and with me when I travel. Every time someone sees me eating one, they ask me how to make it, so… I convinced Stacy to do this video with me… so I can share it with you!
Click this Protein Pancakes How- To Video Link
Even with putting some pounds back on (I vow to get them back off– so bye bye booze and holiday treats… and hello elliptical)—I am still 20 pounds less than I was last year at this time. It’s not about what it says on the scale, I feel so much better. I am healthier. I am stronger. I changed my body. And, I am able to share this experience and hopefully empower some of you to get healthier for 2015!
(If anyone wants to get going- so many have asked me to connect you with her- Stacy is doing a cooking demo and class on Monday- click for details. I’ll be there with my apron on!)
Cheers to a great year!
Before we could mentally wrap up 2014… we had to unwrap our wedding gifts. We are so fortunate that so many generous friends gave us such kind gifts for our wedding… and we finally had a free day to sit, unwrap and appreciate all of the time and thought that went into sending each and every one (and figure out where to put it all!). And yes, I am embarrassed that it took us so long. I feel like we’ve been in wedding recovery these past four months. It’s amazing how much there still is to do post-wedding!
One of our favorite gifts! Thank you Danny & Lisa
We have our thank you cards almost all sent out- and thank you Adrienne at Ipanema Press for the quick holiday turn around. And, we now have all of our wedding photos—and I can’t wait to start sharing them with you! Our big to-do for January is to choose our albums. That is going to be a challenge! I want every single photo… to remember every special moment.
We were so blessed to have had a very Merry Christmas with our families. This holiday season I’ve really reflected on how many wonderful gifts I’ve received throughout all of 2014- all of the love and awesome days and celebrations I’ve shared with my husband, family and friends. I am so, so grateful and still overwhelmed. (And we are also so blessed that our Golden Retriever Chrissy is still with us and wagging his tail after being diagnosed with cancer and given just a few months– last year.)
DiStefano Christmas on Long Island
Cassara Christmas in Chicago- we toured Vosges chocolate factory!
Cassara Kids – Christmas in Chicago
Like everyone, I’ve had my fair share of challenges this year, but 2014 was the best year of my life. And I’m kind of sad to see it go. I always go back to my favorite quote by Dr. Seuss…
Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
And I am smiling. I am so, so happy I married my best friend- and know we have so much to look forward to.
I think it’s kind of cool that I can pinpoint the best day of my year, which happens to be the best day of my life. Our beautiful wedding day.
As we unwrapped so many wonderful Christmas and wedding gift surprises, I kept thinking of what my friend Liza recently reminded me of–
Let life surprise you.
So that’s kind of my New Year’s resolution- and gift to myself. I’m going to let life surprise me.
Thank you 2014. As we walk together into 2015, I can’t wait to see what what new things this year will bring.
Happy New Year!
… but, as cheesy as this sounds, I truly feel like our new life together has begun. That comes with new priorities… I can’t explain why, but being married does feel different.
Thank you for all of the comments and emails encouraging us to go on a honeymoon- I am so happy we did.
It was pretty much a last minute decision to go away (thank god our dog is doing okay). We went down to Bermuda for 5 days- and that was perfect for us. Minimal planning, a short flight, a beautiful beach, and some much needed rest. I knew I was exhausted, but I didn’t realize just how exhausted I was until we got there… okay got on the plane… and I just collapsed!
After going going going for months, when we both finally stopped, it really hit us.
So thank goodness we had a few days with our phones off and no schedule to keep to really wind down and let it all sink in. We spent the days at the beach and in the pool, and went out to dinner every night.
(and a few drinks!)
a few of these…… led to this! #drunkinlove
I don’t think we even spoke to anyone else until 4 days in!
We napped, we ate, we read, we relaxed and we talked to each other – really talked to each other – about how great the wedding was of course, but also about our life together and what’s next.
Bermuda had some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen
I loved being in this water
- & we loved this infinity pool
Our first full weekend home post wedding, I still have to unpack from not only the honeymoon, but boxes and bags from the wedding. We have a room full of gifts to open, emails to write, loads of laundry, and to-do lists galore (including updating this site!), but there is something so nice about being back to, I guess, our new normal… and getting excited for our next something new.
I keep reminding myself of one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Seuss…
Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
our first selfie as husband and wife!
I truly had the best time of my life- with the love of my life and my best friends & family. I enjoyed every single second. I feel so blessed. We are just so happy.
I have so much to say and share about our wedding… and I’ll do just that when we get back from our honeymoon! Yes, we decided last minute to go to Bermuda. After days of family fun, we are going to relax and enjoy each other.
our second selfie as husband & wife!
So for now, here are a few pictures that my bridal attendant was kind enough to take while we were taking our professional photos.
It’s here. Our wedding day. 8-28-14… the date I’ve been writing over and over again for the past year… and now it’s here.
I’m a BRIDE!
It’s the most perfect day! I prayed that everyone I love would be healthy, my dogs would feel good, and we’d have nice weather– all of my prayers and beyond have been answered! I am feeling so blessed… and so excited!
I’m sitting in my parents’ kitchen. In a few minutes my friends Suzanne and Caitlin will arrive to start with hair and make-up.
I have my something old… my Grandma’s six pence from Saks Fifth Avenue that she wore for her wedding in 1948!
I have my something new… my beautiful wedding dress. Thank you Mom and Dad.
I have my something borrowed… my stunning diamond earrings and bracelet from my dear friend Idayne at Kravit Jewelers.
And my something blue… well, my guests won’t be seeing those!
And I’m ready.
Thank you to all of our friends and family- here from 19 states, 4 countries and all across Long Island- for making us feel so special and loved.
Thank you to our wedding team- Geri and Stacy for working with me for 6 months so I could feel my best today (and I do!), Adrienne from Ipanema Press for doing so much for us, The Echo Agency, Ultimate Class Limos (our friends had the best time on the party bus last night), Flowers By Brian, The Mystic, Dr. Graf & Georgene for making me take some time for myself (my skin feels great!),and of course everyone at Oheka Castle, especially Nancy, Gary, Kathy, and Daniel (I can’t wait to see our cake!).
To my new family, the Cassaras, thank you for welcoming me into your family with so much love.
To my family, thank you for being my biggest cheerleaders and for your constant love and support.
To my Matron of Honor, Diana, and Man of Honor, Thomas– we are so lucky to have so many memories growing up in such a happy home. Thank you for standing by my side today and always.
To my Groom, my soon to be husband, the Love of My Life… I can’t wait to marry you today. Thank you for all of your hard work on this wedding to make it the wedding of my dreams. Let’s enjoy every second! See you on the alter.
And, TO ALL OF YOU…
I don’t know if I will make it back to this blog today… ( but I will post some pictures on my Instagram (http://instagram.com/elisadistefanotv) Twitter , & Facebook! )
but I want to thank you all so much for coming along on this incredible journey.. for all of your kind comments and suggestions… and for helping to make “Our Something New” into something wonderful and an incredible outlet for me during this very special time.
Well, I’m told compromise is key in marriage.
So I guess we are ahead of the game.
After a major battle of whether or not to have a band…. I had my opinion (in this blog) … and Mo had his (in this blog)…
We decided to have both a band and a DJ- and a special guest performer- a win win (win)!
And our band is… The Mystic! They played at Mo’s first charity gala, the Sneakers & Stilettos Basket Ball, the event that we fell in love while planning and the first time we were “publicly” a couple. We love the leader singer Sam- a retired NYC firefighter- and his wife Amy. And they are just so good.
I feel like a groupie. I’ve been following them around all summer, wanting to listen to them as much as I can before the big day!
Our dear friend Echo will be our MC for the evening (he’s the best I’ve ever heard at any party, and I know he can pronounce my name!) & The Echo Agency will provide DJ dance sets in between band sets.
And my friend Kim Sozzi (who has a hot new single out and hits during my club going days) is going to do a special dance set too. I know all of my college and post-college city friends are going to love it!
So now… the actual music. It’s the morning before our wedding and we are sitting here making song lists, going through the band’s list, and thinking about “band” songs vs. “DJ” songs.
The music is so important to us that Adrienne at Ipanema Press (who is an absolute angel and has been unbelievable going above and beyond making invites, place cards, menus, and list after list after list) helped us incorporate song requests into our response cards… and boy, we got a variety of requests… some awesome, some bizarre, and some I never heard of! So many of my friends responded late because they were trying to come up with the perfect request.
My dear friends Vic & Theresa made us list from across the pond in London, and actually tried dancing to each and every song to see which songs are most “dance-able”. It’s funny, some songs I love aren’t that “dance-able”!
And I discovered that although Mo and I both love 80s and so many of the same songs- we also have some music differences. He wants to play songs like “Shout” and “Twist”- and I do not!
We also can’t come up with a cool “cake-cutting” song … and having trouble with parent dances.
So… any requests?
Please help- so I can be on my way!
It’s time to deliver our welcome bags… WELCOME TO LONG ISLAND friends & family…. let the celebrating begin!
( a huge thanks to my sister Diana, sister in law Alicia and Mom for breaking your backs to stuff all of these bags!)
We are 3 days away from officially TYING THE KNOT.
The ceremony is now all set- but the hardest knot to tie remains a mystery!
The bow tie.
I decided to wear a real bowtie! I am ashamed to say that even after 6 years of boarding school and two very preppy private college educations and degrees, I still can’t tie a good bow tie.
YOUTUBE? How-to-tie bow tie diagram? They just don’t seem to work or help. Feel my pain?
I decided to reach out to two friends in town who are very successful businessmen. I figured that they attend their fair share of black-tie events and hoped they could help. I sent them an email after my last how-to online attempt failed. I asked if they knew how to tie a bow tie. They both emailed back almost instantly with two words: CLIP ON.
Little did I know, right around the corner from my house, lived two bow tie masters! My good friend from town Alexis Morledge told me that her two teen sons Louis and Sasha not only know how to tie a perfect bow tie, but will be happy to help me. I must say, I was amazed at their tying talent! (I must also add that they may two of the most bright, polite, and well mannered young men I have ever met.)
Last week I started going over to their house and trying to officially tie my own knot! Lewis said to me, as I was about to give up
Coach … you’re a man, you have to wear a real bow tie! Keep trying.
I got some good coaching.
My soon to be brother-in-law Thomas and I have now been sending photos back and forth of our “practice ties” in full determination of becoming MEN … or I mean… becoming able to tie the knot.
I think it’s about time that I write a blog post, since I haven’t in quite some time (actually, I have only written one other). Elisa has been doing all the work!
It’s time to talk about what the guys are wearing.
Our wedding and reception at Oheka Castle is Black Tie preferred. Many of our friends have called, emailed, and sent texts questioning the exact meaning of …“preferred.”
Here is the proper etiquette (my mother will be proud as she has a book of etiquette readily available on her coffee table at home) and a few definitions:
Black Tie Preferred:
While you are allowed to wear a suit, the hosts expect you to wear a tuxedo (wear suit at your own risk) – askmen.com
Invited guests genuinely unable to meet the expense of buying or even renting a dinner jacket (tuxedo) may wear a dark suit and tie instead. Guests that own or can easily afford a tuxedo but cannot be bothered to wear one should politely decline the invitation. To do otherwise is boorish as it tells the organizers in no uncertain terms that their preferences are irrelevant. This terminology is used by those who want to host a very formal party but do not want to exclude guests that cannot afford a tuxedo. – TheBlackTieGuide.com
We have enjoyed some great stories of friends who have dusted off their old tux only to find out it is now way too small, too tight, and even too out of style! Many friends and family have been excited to take the time to alter, buy, and rent a tux to help make our occasion so special. And of course joke that they are showing up in orange or powder blue.
I actually had my final fitting today at Joseph and Joseph in Garden City.
My custom made J. Ogilvy Tux fit great (I actually had to lose 15 pounds) and was designed by my friend and store owner, Joseph (with of course Elisa’s tasteful discretion). We also spent a lot of time deciding on a white shirt vs. a soft ivory to match “the dress”, and choosing a pocket square color. Final tailoring is being done and we will be ready to rock-and-roll by Wednesday morning.
I even have a special late night apparel change planned for the after hours party.
It is technically now our wedding week!
One week from now I will wake up… married.
To this fine fellow!
My siblings surprised us at our house with some pre-wedding fun- it was such a nice break to have some laughs.
I have to admit, I’ve done a lot more crying these past few days. I’m exhausted. My emotions are off the chart – and it’s so unlike me. I can’t even find the words to describe how I feel. Definitely overwhelmed by the never-ending to-do list, to-pay list… definitely excited for all of my friends and family to finally get here. I still have knots in my stomach over the people I couldn’t invite (but wanted to). On one hand I can’t wait for next week’s events (or rather this week!) … on the other I want to push pause and need more time…. and part of me is just so worried it will all pass by too fast. Mostly, I’m so upset that I’m still so stressed when I want to just enjoy this time. And I have hives. Red blotches will not go with my white dress!
Speaking of, this week I had my “final” fitting at the Wedding Salon of Manhasset. After all of these “visits” to see my dress, it’s so strange that the next time I will see it will be in my old bedroom on my wedding day. I really love my dress. It’s not at all what I thought I wanted going in, but somehow I think it’s perfect for me now.
I still haven’t figured out how to do my hair. It’s long and pin straight. My long time hair stylist Caitlin at Unique Salon is an angel (and the only person who can get my hair to keep a curl!). I’ve been thinking about how to do my hair for months, I’ve been in for two trials (yesterday I went in for a haircut, had a minor meltdown and we ended up doing another trial instead!). We put it all up. She did a beautiful job, but I am not sure if I looked like me. I’m used to having some hair down (but worried curls won’t stay the long day). So yesterday we did a side-ish pony tail, and I felt like me, but maybe too much like me every day? It’s similar to how I wore it for my sister’s wedding (granted, that was 5 years ago). I don’t know.
I’ve been searching for photos, but can’t even find any styles I like- I’m up for suggestions!!!
I had to rush order a veil. I have nothing to put in my hair and since I don’t know how I am wearing my hair yet I don’t even know what to look for (or if I need anything at all)! It felt strange wearing a veil- my TBT this week was the last time I wore one! They asked if I was going to keep it on after the ceremony… surprise, surprise, I don’t know the answer to that either! Did you?
The last time I wore a veil… and the next time!
photo courtesy & special thank you to my fashionable friend Anne Bratskeir for being there to capture this moment!
My dear friend, long time eyebrow waxer, and make up artist for any time I have a special occasion, Suzanne, is doing my make-up. She’s done it enough times – so I’m leaving that up to her! I just know I want a lot of lashes! She also taught me how to apply my fake lashes (here’s my how-to video in case you need help!)- for which I am grateful every morning!
At this rate, I just need to make sure she has waterproof everything- hoping with a little more sleep tonight and a few more things checked off my list tomorrow- the tears will subside and it will be all smiles from this point on!