The World Cup!

As I mentioned in my wedding recap post, (it was) the World Cup! Our livers and social lives had a tough month, but we were expecting it. We didn't prepare for it particularly well (I rode my bike to and from the final - you should see the bruises we've got), but we were expecting it. After all, as I mentioned, we're a soccer-loving family. Don't hate us, but our teams of choice are Manchester United and Barcelona. These choices have deep-seeded roots that make a lot of sense, I promise we're not just assholes (though, honestly - who could think we were after the seasons those two had? Ugh).

But our first loyalty is, of course, to our national team.

 Even Beorn is an American Outlaw.

We've been to a handful of US games together, mostly (for me) Gold Cup matches in Chicago, surrounded by fans from Central America. I have a soft spot in my heart forever for Honduras, because their fans were my favorite at the games we've been to at Soldier Field - even when they lose, they sing, they congratulate the winning team's fans, and they are happy and awesome.

It wasn't always this way. These are two of the first photos I can find from our early-morning trips to the Highbury to watch games - 2008 or 2009, I'm not sure. But I grew up hating playing team sports (I still have a major problem with them, which is why I'm an endurance runner and was a gymnast - our children, should we ever have any, will be equally encouraged to pursue solo and team sports, because, let's be honest - team sports are the absolute worst if you aren't very good at them), but I've always been fond of baseball and American football (my dad used to take my sister and I out at halftime of Packers games and teach us how to throw a spiral - I am, no lie, still really good at it), and The Husband wasted absolutely no time when we started dating teaching me how to appreciate soccer. And I do appreciate and enjoy it, very much.

Now, I am not a morning person. I have a never-really-got-off-the-ground blog entitled "Guinness for Breakfast" which I intended to chronicle the exploits of a youngish American woman just starting to understand and appreciate international soccer, which was me when The Husband and I started dating in 2006. He had just returned from the World Cup in Germany (no, really. He went to the World Cup in Germany) and as a big fan of a few major football clubs in Europe, when we started dating he wanted to share this global phenomenon with me. Unfortunately (for me), this involved me waking up at the crack of dawn to go to The Highbury at 5:00 AM to watch Manchester United. It is a testament to how much I liked him that I actually got up early enough to make myself semi-presentable and awake at 4:45 AM regularly, for months, to watch soccer with my boyfriend and his friends (and a testament to how awesome they all are that they put up with, nay - welcomed - me), a game I didn't understand at all at first.

It is perfectly appropriate to blow your nose on a Liverpool flag. (Sorry, Darragh.)

Seriously. It took me a year and a half of my now-husband patiently explaining it to me, weekly, to finally understand the off-sides rule in soccer. It's completely, obviously, nothing like football, but it is a bit like hockey. When I figured that out, it clicked.

We had a great World Cup. Our livers and stomachs took a beating, but it was worth it. I mean, look at this awesome mess.

This is how I watched the US / Ghana game. Lame. Couldn't get off work. Luckily, my friend Liz sent me videos and pictures of singing and chanting and awesomeness.

We checked out The Nomad!

 And the Upper 90!

But we spent the bulk of our time at The Highbury. In our neighborhood. Because we love it, and we've gone there forever.

And just... everything was great. We believed.

...and then I washed, wrung out, and hung up my Outlaws bandana until next time. Probably next summer. Gold Cup, yo.


That Wedding Recap

The last few weeks have flown by in a delightful haze of eating and drinking and merriment.

We got married. It was perfect.

Everyone says that on your meticulously-planned wedding day, something will go wrong and you'll just have to go with it - nothing went wrong. Not one thing. I mean, things went wrong, but they were fixed so quickly we didn't even know it happened until days later because we have the most incredible group of friends and family in the world.

Look at these beautiful people! (This post is going to be very, very photo-heavy. Most photos, except where noted, are courtesy of the fantastic Fornear Photo, our official photographers.)

It's been a busy few weeks (we're a soccer-loving family and it's the WORLD CUP GUYS... we toyed with the idea of going to Brazil for the World Cup as our honeymoon, but thought better of it for a number of reasons... I think we made the right call), but I really do want to get a write-up of the wedding down while it's still relatively fresh in my mind.

For both of us, wedding weekend officially started on Thursday before our Saturday wedding. I worked until 8 pm on Wednesday night (my usual schedule, but that seriously felt like the longest shift I have ever worked), but The Husband and I were both off work on Thursday and Friday. And thank goodness we were - we had a ton to do both days. For about a month leading up to the wedding, our dining room looked like this:

SERIOUSLY MAKE IT STOP! (How cute is Beorn, though?)

... after about a week of this, I was starting to lose it. I just wanted my dining room back. We kept hitting the boxes with the tennis balls Beorn likes to chase down the hall. We use the dining room table for stuff! Not that we regularly eat meals at our dining room table (more often we wind up sitting on the couch using the coffee table), I just can't stand having that much clutter around. Add to this mess the issue of still having stuff from our attic sitting around (this is what happened to our attic), and I felt like we were in the middle of moving for about five months. Yuck.

Thursday morning and afternoon we were able to get all this stuff off the table, most of it dropped off at Best Place at the Pabst Brewery, our reception venue. Our super-awesome venue coordinator, Kimberly, took all of it for us and set everything up on Saturday, since due to other events scheduled in the same space, we wouldn't have been able to get in to decorate ourselves until 3:00 on Saturday (not an option when our ceremony started at 3:30, though we would have liked to do it ourselves - Kimberly is a rock star). We ran all over creation on Thursday getting last-minute things. I decided on Thursday morning I needed yellow flowers to put in the beer bottles we were using as table numbers. Why I decided that this was required two days before the wedding is a mystery, but I was able to run to JoAnn's, where they must know me by name by now, and pick up enough for all the tables. I also ran to Goodwill and finally donated some of the stuff from the attic we'd been meaning to get out of our way for months - since everyone was going to be meeting at our house on Saturday for pictures, I decided we needed to finally get it out of there so we'd have room for 35 people in the house.

Thursday night, The Husband's best man had arranged a not-really-a-bachelor-party for anyone who was in town (most of his groomsmen were coming from out of state) at a lake house, and by the time I left for the lake with his wife on Thursday evening, I was feeling pretty damn good about the whole wedding. Everything that needed to be done had been done, there was nothing left to do but relax with friends and celebrate (and put together the reception playlist, which was the very last thing that was giving me mild panic attacks every hour or so).

We had a totally awesome time. (All the insanely awesome photos here are thanks to Adam Horwitz.)

And the following crappier photos from later in the evening are courtesy of me.

Thursday evening there were Feats of Strenth. There was a giant fire. There was a makeshift photo booth and an epic battle between two of our photographer friends. There was Ennio Morricone. It was totally awesome.

Friday morning everyone who was left at the lake house sat down with some way-way-way-too-strong coffee and crowdsourced the heck out of our reception playlist.

Friday afternoon, our wedding party and parents helped us decorate South Shore Pavilion and stock the fridge with our receiving line beer, which we finished about 2 hours faster than I expected. I was shocked (shocked and thrilled!) when we arrived at South Shore Pavilion and discovered that not only were the chairs set up perfectly as I'd asked, but they were also WHITE! Last time we were there and saw a wedding set up (well over a year ago) the chairs were plain brownish-gray metal folding chairs. I couldn't believe how awesome the space looked with just a few extra touches. I mean, when you have Lake Michigan as a background and the most incredible wood ceiling, you don't need to add much.

 After heading home quickly to change we booked it back to South Shore for the rehearsal, and grabbed a receiving line beer for ourselves while we waited for everyone to arrive. Traffic was, apparently, awful. Note to future brides that should've been obvious to me but didn't occur to me until Friday afternoon about 2:30 - Even if you're getting married, the rest of the city will still have Friday rush-hour traffic and if you start your rehearsal at 5:00 you're gonna have a bad time.

I'm only posting this picture that my mom took because I really, really liked my rehearsal dress. There are only so many socially acceptable times for a woman to wear a white dress that aren't her own wedding. Mine kind of looked like a toga on top but I think that added to why I liked it so much.

Our rehearsal dinner was held at Mader's, a Milwaukee institution since 1902 and quite possibly the most famous German restaurant in the country. And if our wedding was nothing else, it was very us and very Milwaukee and Mader's was a good place to start. If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of Milwaukee's historic Third Street, go to the Knight's Bar at Mader's and order yourself a lager and a giant pretzel. Bring a friend to help with the pretzel. No, really. It's the best pretzel in Milwaukee, probably Wisconsin, and it wouldn't surprise me if it was the best on the planet, but it's also bigger than the steering wheel of your car.

They also gave John and I some sweet beer steins to keep! Aaaaand I thought I had a photo of them, but evidently not. Trust me, they're sweet.

Saturday morning I woke up early and met up with my good friend and brideslady Liz, who brought me a coffee addressed to "The Bride." (Which made me feel pretty awesome - speaking of The Bride, I was thisclose to walking down the aisle to L'arena, so.) Delicious. We went with the rest of my bridesmaids for hair and makeup appointments before coming back to our house to meet up with the guys, our parents, and our photographer.

My parents were skeptical about the whole "everybody meet at our house to go to the venue about two blocks from our house" plan (so skeptical, in fact, that they booked a hotel room for us to get ready in despite my many protestations that we wouldn't need it - we didn't), but they were won over relatively quickly once they arrived at our place. Having our (awesome built-in-1913-101-year-old) house packed full of friends and family, having a drink with everyone while we got ready, watching the Champions League final, sharing our house with far-away friends who hadn't seen it... it was just the perfect "official" start to the day. I was full of anticipation and nervous excitement the whole morning and didn't really feel like the wedding got started until John and I were together. I'm glad we kicked it off at our apartment, the first place we ever lived together.

Our first look was out on our balcony. Please to ignore the dead plants.

At one point all the kids on our block came out and started taking pictures of us and the trolley we rented. This was as we first noticed them doing that - these kids. Totally adorable.

I might have mentioned that the bouquets and boutonnieres were all made of origami lilies I folded from duplicate back issues of comic books. It was a ton of work, and it was totally worth it.

The ceremony itself was at South Shore Park Pavilion, a city park about a five-minute walk from our house, right on Lake Michigan. John surprised me on Wednesday while I was at work by calling and asking me if it was okay if he hired a bagpiper. We'd been going back and forth about our processional music for months (I couldn't justify L'arena... I mean, The Bride in that movie kills... everybody) and I couldn't make a decision. I've been saying months (and, in fact, years before I even know I'd be getting married) that if I could afford a bagpiper it would be super-awesome to have one at our wedding, but didn't even seriously consider it. I cried at work when he called me because it was, again, perfect. Totally amazing surprise, and went well with our mashup-of-styles-that-almost-doesn't-make-sense wedding.

Our friend Tiffany took two of my favorite pictures of the ceremony of my sister adjusting the train of my dress before my dad came back to meet me and walk in, and of The Husband and I kissing right after walking out of the ceremony.

John and I met on a high school church youth group canoe trip to the Boundary Waters. Our officiant was the pastor who led our youth group at that time and led those canoe trips (hence the canoe paddles on the arbor). One of the first things we did after getting engaged was ask if he'd be willing to officiate our wedding, and I can't imagine someone else doing it. Apparently while he has officiated other weddings of former youth group members, our wedding was the first time two of us married each other. Win. (Full disclosure - I totally had a crush on The Husband when I was 14 on that first canoe trip. If you had told me then that we'd get married 18 years later, I probably would've been even more awkward around him.)

We had a receiving line in a little off-room from the ceremony space, which involved everyone getting in a big line, receiving an old-school Milwaukee beer from one of our wedding party members (we had Miller Lite, PBR, Schlitz, High Life, and... maybe some Blatz? We also provided Sprecher Root Beer and water for non-drinkers and wine for those who aren't fans of beer). We were planning on handing out the drinks ourselves, but our wedding party jumped in to play bartenders and passed drinks out while we visited with everyone, and it worked much, much better.

My dad and I. 

I love that our photographer caught this moment when I first saw a good friend I hadn't seen in years. He's getting married in August and I can't wait.

I decoupaged my shoes with comic book characters - both DC and Marvel, to symbolize two awesome things becoming one. (No, really. I'm not joking about that. I have, in the past, made separate pairs of Marvel and DC shoes, because it didn't seem right to mix them - for this pair, it did.) They were semi-falling apart by the end of the receiving line, but I'll fix them up and wear them again, because they're my best comic book shoes yet. If anyone is interested in a how-to, I can put something together.

My family plays a lot of Scrabble! When you have two J names, you have a lot of points. I included the "Welcome to Bay View" sign because most of my family is not from the city of Milwaukee and this was their first trip to the neighborhood we love so much.

Our reception was held at Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery (or... just "Best Place"). The people there are totally amazing. As I mentioned before, Kimberly, the event coordinator, is sweet, helpful, and bent over backward to help us out - we love her and she is a lifesaver. Every single person we met with there was totally down with making our day a success and as easy for us as possible, while maintaining the chill, low-key vibe we were going for.

Dancing with my dad.

Neither of us are really big dessert people, but we do love pie. We got our pies from a local restaurant we love (go there for brunch!!) and they were a huge hit. We had three flavors - Key lime, Milwaukee Mud (chocolate), and Peach raspberry. I hoped that would cover just about everyone's taste. Yum.

 There was an issue with my bustle, but who cares? So I took a selfie.

What a doof. Seriously, every picture I have of us dancing together I have a ridiculous smile on my face.

 We had amazing food. We danced our asses off. We were surrounded by incredible people we love dearly. Life is very, very good.