Natalie and Paul’s Wedding

If you recall, my friend Natalie got married at the end of December. My whole family went to the wedding. It was the first family wedding of theirs held away from their family church, so it was pretty different.

Here’s some photos:

Our long row of family. Simon ducked out at the last second….

Ooh, I just love that.

I just wanted one cute shot of them, in their matching clothes, as they kept saying they were each others “date”.
I swear, almost seven is harder than almost one.

Look at that beauty. Isn’t that fantastic? One-Take Auntie Livi, that’s what they’re calling me now.

My parents looked so nice….my dad is the dorkiest picture smiler ever. (Yes, Lane, even more than you.)

Ah, but then, just when you’re reading to give up….look what they give you. Everyone looking, smiling and in matching outfits. I just love this photo (and yes, it is in my blog header). Love it, could be my favorite photo of the holiday season.
As I was entertaining the baby (who knew babies don’t care about weddings?) a friend offered to take a photo of us together.

Too bad the baby clammed up around a “stranger” but it is still a lovely photo.

The first dance….

My favorite shot of them.

Father/daughter dance.
The mother of the bride, Kathy, came up to me later in the evening. She told me she was mad because they always do “father” stuff at weddings. She said that she married off five daughters (she didn’t say it like that, I’m paraphrasing) and she wanted a moment. She asked me to come up with a song that she could use to dance with all of her girls. A mother/daughter dance.
I recommended “You are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne.

This is that dance. It was sweet for about 60 seconds, until….

Her five sons-in-law got wind of the idea and bribed the DJ to let them crash the sweet dance. The music changed to ”
I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred and the boys were….um…grinding on their mother-in-law. It was funny, yes, very funny, but I felt bad for Kathy. She wanted one simple thing and was denied that.

“Macca” and Hayden, her daycare boy. Macca is his word for grandma. She is not his grandma, but he calls her that, it’s so sweet. He was thrilled to see her at the wedding.

 This picture makes me laugh. Jamie (the brunette on the floor) is such a lady….

My sister with Colleen, the oldest sister of the bride.
And, lastly, Arionna wanted to dance all night long. But when you’d get her near the dance floor, she’d get nervous. Finally, her mommy got her to dance and she loved every minute.

You can’t tell, but she’s laughing very hard.
It was a fun night and a lovely wedding. We had a good time and the kids were exhausted. Well, not Cam. His other grandma came and got him about 8pm so he could go home and sleep. But Arionna and Simon were wiped out.
And that’s it. All five girls are married. No more family weddings to attend, it’s kind of sad…

Happily Ever After

Congratulations to my dear friend Natalie, who is getting married today, to her true love, Paul.


Natalie, (pictured here, with my brother Zack…NOT her fiancé. ) has been one of my favorite people since she was the littlest of girls and would follow me everywhere. I’ve been her friend all her life and I’m so please to be heading to her wedding today, to watch her marry her best friend.
Congratulations Natalie and Paul!

A Sweetest Find

Many of you won’t know this about me. My mom will.

I hate registries. Hate them. Bridal, baby, whatever. I think they are appalling.

It is beyond rude to come up with a list of things you want and then ask people to go buy it for you. Just because it is socially acceptable doesn’t make it right.

Aside from the rude factor, I think it also sucks all the joy out of gift giving. Wrapping up a package of dish towels and a spatula doesn’t incite me to any emotional reaction at all. There is no spontaneity when you use a registry. No personalization. Nothing about the gift that would remind you of the people who gave it to you.

It is sad. The purpose of a registry was designed to give people  what they need and to ensure no duplicates. Are duplicates really such a problem? Just take one back.

And giving what people need? Let me tell you something, I don’t want gifts that I need. I want gifts that I will enjoy and love. I want gifts that are singular and unique. I want gifts that remind me of the giver or of an inside joke or a special moment. I want gifts that are wholly impractical, gifts that I would never buy for myself.

That is just a smattering of the things that I think about when I choose to give someone a gift. I buy gifts for people when I see them, when they connect, rather than when they are needed. I love choosing gifts for people. I think it is a privilege and an honor to give someone a piece of yourself that they will keep in their homes and their lives. That isn’t ever accomplished with a baking dish.

And, if you are the kind of person that isn’t creative, or doesn’t choose to be, or would prefer to give a practical gift, then cash pretty much always works.

So, given all these reasons, why would you ever shop from a regsitry? I wouldn’t. I don’t.

When my sister got married, she had a registry. One guest (aside from me) gave a gift that wasn’t on the registry. That friend gave them a framed, black velvet, Asian Elvis picture. It is hideous. Truly atrocious. But, the giver in question KNEW it was horrible and included a laugh-out-loud funny note explaining how every new couple needs an Asian Elvis. I think my sister was horrified when she opened it, but now, it is something that they treasure. It is hanging in their home and whenever they see it, they smile and think of Mary. The note is also framed and hanging beside Elvis, so friends and guests can get in on the joke.

I thought that was one of the most original, humorous gifts I’ve even seen. I can think of people I know who would appreciate a gift like that.

Some of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten were unique and personal. When I graduated from high school, Kelly gave me $10. But not cash, instead it was in casino poker chips, so we could go together and play blackjack. This came after the hours we spent in my kitchen, learning blackjack with my older brother.

When I graduated college, Mindy and Tom gave me a pillow. A pillow? Yes, a pillow. It was made by Mindy and crafted out of old, unusual neckties, including some of Tom’s. That is one of my favorite gifts I’ve ever gotten, and it has traveled with me to DC, to the Czech Republic, and now is in my own home.

These are the gifts that I remember, the gifts that have meaning, and they couldn’t have come from a registry.

Well, that was quite a rant, hmm? Why am I telling you this? Here is why.

My friend, Meg, and her newly minted husband, Kevin, got married in January. I was invited to the wedding, but unable to go. It was unfortunate, because it sounds amazing. When I got the dreamy, romantic, literary invitations (which I loved and would like to blatantly plagiarize one day) I knew that theirs would be a dreamy, romantic, and intellectual gift. It just suits them.

It didn’t take me long to come up with the idea of naming a star after them. Dreamy? Check. Romantic? Check. Intellectual? Check.  Seemed perfect to me.

I went to the International Star Registry (and I just realized it is called a “registry”, I guess this is the only kind I like!) and chose a constellation. This took some work on my part, there are trillions of stars out there. I wanted something in the Northern Hemisphere, (they shouldn’t have to travel to Uruguay to see their star) and something that has a great story. I looked at ALL the available choices and then researched the mythology behind the constellation.

I ended up choosing Cygnus, the swan. There are several myths as to how this constellation came to be, but the one I liked best is the story of Orpheus. He is considered the father of song. He was legendary musician and poet. He fell in love with a woman named Eurydice. On their wedding day, she was tragically killed. He traveled to the Underworld and asked Hades, the God of the Underworld, to restore his love to life. He then played a song to Hades and his wife, Persephone. The song was so mournful and beautiful that they were moved to agree, which was the first time that had ever happened.

They restored her life, on the condition that as they were leaving, he could not turn back to look at Eurydice until they at gotten fully to the surface. He tried, but he wanted nothing more than to see her face. When he reached the surface, he looked back, but she hadn’t gotten there yet and she disappeared forever.

He vowed to never love another woman, and held true until the day that he died.

Upon his death, for keeping his vow, he was cast into the heavens and reformed into the constellation of a beautiful swan. The swan, historically, sings a mournful song, just before death (Swan Song). That is how Orpheus became a swan. Next to him, formed the constellation of  Lyre, in honor of his wife, for whom he had created his most beautiful songs, on his favorite lyre.

That’s how I ended up choosing Cygnus as the constellation for Meg and Kevin, then I renamed it after them, “Kevin and Meg, A Sweetest Find”. The name was chosen to honor their blog, that tells the story of their love. The star kit was being sent directly to them at their new home, along with a typed card that should have borne the message I wrote about how I chose their constellation and my congratulations to them as they start their new life. And, obviously, my name.

Then, this morning, there was a new post on their blog.

Imagine my surprise to find my gift FEATURED on their blog. Evidently, the fine folks at the International Star Registry forgot to include my thoughtfully worded card and poor Kevin and Meg have had no idea, in all this time, who this gift was from. Thank goodness for technology that allowed them to create that post and for me to answer in kind.

The gift is from me and it made my day to see it featured on the blog.

It is funny that my carefully researched, chosen, and executed gift ended up being a mystery.

This is a very long way of saying that I hope they enjoy that their love is now permanently ensconced in the sky. That they can always look up and see a reminder of their wedding and their love. Now, that’s what I call a gift.


To my friend and fellow librarian, Meg, who married her love, Kevin on Saturday. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be there, from the preparations I’ve been avidly following on their internet love blog, My Sweetest Find. It sounds like the wedding and reception were just beautiful. I can’t wait until I get to hear the stories and see the photos.

But Meg and Kevin are currently romancing in Spain for their Honeymoon.

When they return, we’ll get together and I’ll hear it all!

Until then, I wish you both much happiness and joy.

Synchronicity: Tom & Mindy Version

Here’s a bizarre little story for you.

My friends, Tom and Mindy, got married June 4, 2005. It is one of the coolest weddings I have ever been to, mostly because it was a surprise.

Yep, a surprise wedding. I got an invitation from them, to attend their housewarming party. They had moved into their home in April. The invitation said that they were doing a pinata and, if I remember right, a group photo of everyone, so they were insistent that we all be on time.

I never thought anything of it. I just made a point of being on time.

The party was good, lots of fun. At the designated time, they told everyone to gather on the lawn for the photo. People headed out that way.

Suddenly, Mindy and Tom came out of the house–all dressed up. Tom was in a suit and Mindy, well, she was in a white dress. They announced to everyone that instead of a group photo (which I think we still did…) they were throwing a wedding. Just then, a large bus came around the corner. Everyone piled on the bus and away we went. We took a nice driving tour through St. Paul and ended up…in Mounds Park, a half a block from their house! The bus was a ruse.

There was a minister waiting at the park and Mindy and Tom had a beautiful ceremony on the bluffs, overlooking the St. Paul skyline, at sunset.

It was gorgeous.


Unfortunately, that’s the best electronic photo I have of it. I was still in the days of film cameras back then. But that’s the newly legitimized Martell family, just moments after. Clayton was just over a year old.

There were hugs and kisses and congrats all around. Then photos galore.

Then it was back on the bus to head back to their house for the reception. I remember that on the bus, there was talk of Obbs for a cocktail, but it was vetoed for whatever reason.

Eventually, everyone was back at Tom and Mindy’s house for the reception. Food, excitement, and champagne toasts in their backyard. (No pics…Curse the analog ages!)

Again, I must say, one of the coolest weddings ever. Pulling off a complete surprise for all your friends and family? It’s impressive.

Let’s flash forward to the present day:

One of the blogs I follow is for a photographer, Michelle Tanner Photography. (Yes, that’s her real name!) She did some photos for me last fall (blog forthcoming) and I keep an eye on what she’s doing.

Yesterday, she posted this story. For those too impatient to read the links, it is the wedding story of her clients, who threw a surprise wedding. I don’t know these people, but I like reading stuff like that–and the surprise wedding feature captured my attention.

If you read the story on the link, you’ll find it to be remarkably similar to the story I told above. This young couple had a surprise wedding at Mounds Park in St. Paul. The bride made her own wedding dress. (I’m pretty sure Mindy made hers). They had their reception at Obbs Bar.

What are the odds that the only two surprise wedding stories I know both happened at the same location as both couples live in the same area?

So, yesterday I sent the link to the story to Tom and Mindy. I figured they’d like knowing they’re trendsetters.

Today, I got an email back from Tom that said: “What’s even stranger is that we met the couple in the pix at our neighborhood progressive dinner last year.We talked to them later in the evening for quite some time.

Mindy thinks we may have even told them our surprise wedding story…
Isn’t that nuts? So the only two surprise wedding stories I know might have been inspiration!
That’s enough coincidence to last me for a while, hmm?