marriage 101

Marriage is defined as an intimate or close union. Today marks 4 months since that intimate union.

Still, it feels like yesterday. Very often someone asks, has anything changed? Possibly fearing that through the commitment of marriage everything does inevitable change. Other than feeling more settled and better understanding what it means to be part of a self-designed family, nothing has changed. And that is the way I would like to keep it. How exactly do I plan to do this? By doing exactly what we did beforewe were married.

1. spontaneous dates (even just an apero after work)

2. romantic getaways (another trip to the Loire perhaps?)

3. love notes (most often left behind on my way to a girls night…)

4. sweet nothings via text (a modern version of the above)

5. speak about everything & laugh often

Most important and obvious of all, never take each other for granted. Creating this union, whether married, paxed, or simply commited on your own terms, is one of the most beautiful gifts of life.

I’m sure as the months turn into years I will have a few more to add to the list…

at last

At last, the wedding song. Did we have one? Not officially.

Many months ago when the fairytale began, my Italian and I happened to be in my hometown of Westhampton Beach while the great Etta James was performing. She being one of my all time most loved singers. Me being ecstatic to see her perform live, to say the least. And yes, she sang At Last.

This could very well have been our wedding song, as it is for so many, but instead it remains discreetly in the soundtrack of our love story.

What the wedding singer did perform was a Napolitan classic, requested by my dear friend Maria, a Napolitan girl herself. Not planned yet perfectly timed, Ti voglio bene assai became our song.

Here, where the sea shines
and the wind howls,
on the old terrace beside the gulf of Sorrento,
a man embraces a girl
he wept after,
then clears his throat and continues the song:

I love you very much,
very, very much, you know;
it is a chain by now
that melts the blood inside the veins, you know…

He saw the lights out on the sea,
thought of the nights there in America,
but they were only the fishermen’s lamps
and the white wash astern.
He felt the pain in the music
and stood up from the piano,
but when he saw the moon emerging from a cloud
death also seemed sweeter to him.
He looked the girl in the eyes,
those eyes as green as the sea.
Then suddenly a tear fell
and he believed he was drowning
I love you very much,
very, very much, you know,
it is a chain by now
that melts the blood inside the vein you know…

The power of opera,
where every drama is a hoax;
with a little make-up and with mime
you can become someone else.
But two eyes that look at you,
so close and real,
make you forget the words,
confuse your thoughts,

So everything became small,
also the nights there in America.
You turn and see your life
through the white wash astern.

But, yes, it is life that ends
and he did not think so much about it
on the contrary, he already felt happy
and continued his song:

I love you very much,
very, very much, you know,
it is a chain by now
that melts the blood inside the veins, you know…

I love you very much,
very, very much, you know,
it is a chain by now
that melts the blood inside the veins, you know…

homemade traditions

One of the most memorable chapters of my life took place on a recent sunny day high up on a cliff, overlooking the Mediterranean. Throughout our Greek island-hopping honeymoon (many adventures which I will soon share), thoughts of our wedding left me feeling warm and somehow, complete. All the many months of planning this international affair (with the aid of a certain gracious Italian sister and uncle), were well worth it. (Originally we were tempted to elope!)

As so well articulated in my Italian’s speech, our love story is a cross-cultural one, with roots in the US, France, Poland and of course Italy. This was represented by our mix of friends and family as well as in our celebration.

We enacted the beautiful Italian tradition of the groom greeting the bride at the door of the church and handing her the bouquet. (What a moment!) The church service was a religious tradition which we had both grown up with. No bridesmaids or groomsmen but rather, four witnesses to acknowledge our union.

Being covered with congratulatory cries of “Auguri!” and rose petals was a moment to cherish.

So many other details set the scene, each proving how much love and care was expressed by all.

Compositions of pale blue hydrangeas mixed with white roses and a touch of lily of the valley, representing innocence on the sea (my interpretation), carefully selected by the local florist.

My bouquet of white roses and white ranunculus composed by my mother, flowers being one of her passions. (This designer mom also made my veil!)

Following an apero, a 12-course meal began (Italian style), filled with tastes from the sea. Apparently an Italian wedding is not a good one unless the guests have eaten more than enough.

The meal ended very sweetly, with a local dessert wine, sciacchetra, expertly concocted by my Italian’s father (with our names on the label – surprise!)

The cake was a special (secret) recipe from the local pasticceria, delicious! My Mom lovingly crafted the ceramic couple to top it off. Perfect.

What my Italian and I were happiest with in the end was all the fun that was had. Evident in the singing and even, dancing! Someone once told me Italians don’t dance at weddings. Certainly we challenged this tradition. The revelry began as the sun set beyond the cliffs. And it went on, and on…

Only to arrive home to the final surprise – a bed filled with rice. Another Italian tradition.

queen for a day

On June 11th, I will be a married woman. A madame. For this one day, I will feel like a queen.

What exactly does that mean? I have been thinking a lot about what happens in the process of ‘getting married’, other than a lot of chaos, planning and stress. Followed of course by much celebration and excitement. (Looking forward to that part!) In preparation, if one can actually prepare for this new chapter of life, I have been speaking with the experts. Namely, my married friends. (Wise women!) One of them, Andi Fisher, put me in touch with a real marriage expert, Alisa Bowman. Several months ago she sent me a copy of her book Project: Happily Ever After, and I read it eagerly. She tells the story of ‘saving your marriage when the fairytale falters’. Did I need to read this? No, though I am living what truly feels like a fairytale. But why not live ‘happily ever after’, even before the actual wedding? (I do recommend this book for any married women.)

As I ingest all the advice and prepare for festivities to commence, I also picked up Elizabeth Gilbert’s follow up to Eat, Pray, Love, her latest book Committed, all about the history of marriage and her own personal journey. An insightful read which I am indulging in mindfully.

But as I tend to believe, life proves the greatest teacher and I will soon enough discover for myself what it means to be married, and the many feelings that come with my madame status.

Until then, I plan to cherish every moment along the way. With friends from as far away as Seoul, Dubai, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, New York and New Jersey… Paris, London, Florence… The world (my world) is meeting in Monterosso, Italy to celebrate life and love. This is the meaning of it all.

confetti confessions

Planning a wedding in Italy I have been learning many of the traditions. Aside from the fact that you don’t dance at Italian weddings (a tradition I plan on breaking), I am looking forward to our ‘traditional’ Italian wedding and all the customs that come with it, with a few nuances of our own.

One particular tradition I am very fond of is Confetti. (Not at all the paper confetti we are accustomed to in the US.) Italian wedding confetti are white candied almonds bundled into personalized little sachets of five almonds, representing the qualities that must always be part of the new couples life: Health, Fertility, Longevity, Happiness and Wealth.

I had the sweet privilege of tasting the many flavours of these candied almonds. A few of my favorites included white chocolate, toasted hazelnut & pistachio. Is it possible to overdose on these sweet treats? Yes! In the end we opted for the traditional almonds.

Each of these little bags are then distributed to anyone that the family, in this case the groom, has known throughout their life. And in a small village like Monterosso, that means nearly everyone! In turn, those people (roughly 300) often give a small gift or gather at the church to admire the bride and groom. I too gave a few away to those I knew would appreciate this custom.

Confetti is also distributed at other momentous occasions, varying in color depending on the celebration. White for the Wedding, the First Holy Communion and Confirmation, pink or blue for Baptism, green for Engagement, red for Graduation, silver for 25th wedding anniversaries and gold for 50th year of marriage. (Many more almonds to be tasted and shared in the years ahead…)

Where did the Confetti tradition originate? We can thank the  Ancient Romans.

 

best in show

On a recent trip to Genoa, I was lucky enough to attend the Euroflora which takes place once every four years. Considering I am currently on the quest for wedding flowers, it was perfect timing! My Italian too was excited to indulge in this international flower festival, even more so when he saw my face light up at the sight of so many flowers, beginning with exotic orchids in every color imaginable.

My all time favorite, the classic white rose.

The delicate beauty of anemones.

My new love, the ranunculus. Elegant & simply gorgeous!

Yes, flowers do make a woman happy. Now… how to choose?