Sideways, Bunches Style

After the wedding was over I think we all breathed a collective sigh of relief . . . more for my sister than anyone else.  I know that after our wedding, a huge weight was lifted off our shoulders–it’s not everyday in your life that you plan a huge party for all your closest friends and family.  It’s a lot of pressure.  If you’ve done it, you know it.  But once it’s over, the memories are awesome.

Anyways, now it was time to visit WINE COUNTRY!!  I’ve always wanted to tour California vineyards, and my sister was all about it (the last time the 3 of us were in CA together, she and Mr. Bunches had a very romantic trip together touring wineries and driving along the coast.  Yep, just the two of them.  Tasting wine.  Sight-seeing.  Together.  Without me.  Not that I’m bitter or anything . . . ). 

But before we got our wine fix in, we had a chance to actually spend some Q.T. with our California family members.  So, in true typical CA style, we hit the boardwalk . . .

Working the Boardwalk

Struttin'

. . . and strutted our stuff.  Seriously, all we needed was an 80s boombox and we would’ve been golden.  Especially with Erin’s day-glo kicks ;).  Love my sis’ style! 

But sadly, the visit was much too short . . . we got to snap some family photos and then we had to say goodbye.

Sisters

E and J

And look who was nearby . . . Uncle Tree and the gang.  So of course, they hopped in for a quick shot:

Family Time

Once we said our goodbyes, we headed to wine country (after a quick stop first at the estate to drop off my sis’ new hubby).  Since we were there, I grabbed a few pics of the view–killer, right?

Finally, we actually got in the car and headed to Solvang for our very own Sideways adventure . . .

Sideways

And no, despite the resemblance, that is NOT Vacation Bunches

For those of you that haven’t been, Solvang is basically what I’m going to term Dutch-Adorable.  It’s kind of like visiting Disneyworld, minus the rides and cartoon characters.

See what I mean: Dutch-Adorable, right?  Yeah–totally.  That last building in the pictures above is a public restroom.  Shocking, huh?

Anyways, we took a spin through Solvang and then headed out of town towards wineries–they’re basically everywhere, so no matter which road you go on, you’ll eventually run into some.  Our first stop was Rideau Vineyard.  It was sort of like going to your grandmother’s winery–it had fake grapes hanging from the ceiling, floral tablecloths, puffy-paint t-shirts for sale–you get the idea.

Rideau Tasting

The tasting was $12 for 6 tastings, you couldn’t share a tasting (everyone had to get their own), and you didn’t get to keep your glass; just the memories.  Needless to say, we didn’t buy any of grandma’s wine, but it tasted pretty good.

Next, we headed on, but we barely made it a quarter mile before I spotted the teensiest, tiniest horses I’ve ever seen in my whole entire life (cue dramatics)–I had to get a better look, so I made the poor Mr. pull over.  The picture doesn’t do them justice, but the baby horses didn’t even come up to my knee!  They were like pocket ponies–you could just put them in your pocket and carry them around . . .

The ranch (Quicksilver) had just closed, so we didn’t get a chance to get near them, but oh my goodness they were cute!  All of us (we had friends with us too) were squealing in glee and doing our best to make horse-calling noises to get them to come closer, but we had no luck (clearly, we had no idea what we were doing b/c the horses didn’t even look at us).

Okay, so back to our Sideways tour.  Our next stop was Firestone (yes, for those of you who are Bachelor fans, that would be Andrew Firestone.  I know, I know–we need to start watching less trash on tv), but on the way, we had a special moment . . .

Remember this?

Well, we all but had to restrain ourselves from hopping the barbed wire and doing our own reenactment.  I’m not kidding–these hills were alive.  That’s right–alive with the sound of music.  (Cue soundtrack here.)

Los Olivas Wine Hills

Got the song in your head now?  You’re welcome; I know from writing this post that it will stay in your head for about 2 days.  Again–you’re welcome.  The countryside was just so dang beautiful.  Incredible.  And Firestone was impressive–it was huge, and very much more commercial than Rideau had been.  Again, it was 6 tastings for $12, and another $2 if you wanted to take the glass with you.  The Mr. and I split a tasting and then bought a bottle of the 2007 Cabernet . . . ya’ know, ‘cuz we’re classy like that. 

It was getting late, and so we hurried on to try to fit in one more tasting (the vineyards all close around 5, which seemed ridiculously early to us, particularly because every one we went to was packed with people–the entrepreneurs in us were smelling opportunity: maybe we should buy a vineyard and be the only one open until 8?  We’d clean house!  Oh yeah, except that we just moved to Buffalo–doh!).  Up next: Fess Parker.  And, of course, since none of us are that old (sorry older readers), we didn’t even know Fess Parker was a person, let alone this person:

Fess Parker

(To be totally honest, only just now in writing this post did I learn that Fess Parker was the King of the Wild Frontier.  That makes the whole ‘coon hat thing make more sense.  Yes–lightbulbs are going off.  Got it.  I wasn’t in my most observant frame of mind, if you catch my drift, when we were at the winery.  Oh, and now, you’re welcome for having that song in your head . . . )

Fess Parker Winery was by far my favorite; now, whether that was because I had just tasted 12 wines and was feeling goooooood, or whether it was because it was noticeably more relaxed then the other vineyards, I’m not entirely sure.  But you probably have a guess, huh?  Anyways, the tastings were encouraged to be shared, they were only $10 for 6 wines, and the glass came with it!  And that was kind of a big score, because check out how cute the glass is:

Fess Parker Wine Glass

Yeah, that’s a COON HAT on that glass.  Just like this one:

J and J at Fess Parker

Gotta’ love it.  We had a great time there, and the Mr. and I bought another bottle to add to our collection.  This time, a 2008 Pinot Noir (so yeah–I’m entirely guilty of buying into the whole Sideways movie thing of how great Pinot Noir is; I used to be a big Merlot fan, but since that movie, I stopped drinking it.  Way to have a backbone, huh?  Apparently I’m a total sucker for what basically boils down to good product placement).

While the wine and atmosphere were the tops, the icing on the cake was the backyard . . . the Mr. and Jen apparently not only share a love for all things Disney (both being alums of the summer intern program), but also for green grass:

Grass Lovers

Don’t you just wonder what he’s thinking? 

Mr. Bunches and Grass

No?  Well, I do . . . he never ceases to fascinate me.  So yeah, nothing can really compare to tasting good wines, the company of great friends and family, and ending your day in soft grass staring at this . . .

Blue Sky

Sigh.  So nice. 

Image of Sound of Music from here.  Sideways image from here.  Fess Parker image from here.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

My big sister’s wedding went off swimmingly . . . the sun shone brightly, there were no surprises, and all was well.  Since they were super smart and got lots of pictures done ahead of time, they got to practically head right over to the Canary Hotel for the reception.  And of course, that’s where all the fun stuff was–eating, drinking, and dancing (not necessarily in that order)!  So my sister and her husband (ack–it sounds so crazy to write that for the first time!) made their way over to the reception courtesy of their pedi-cab driver (read more about how the pedi-cab was decorated here):

Pedicab

The roofdeck at the Canary Hotel looked beautiful . . . all that planning and scouring of the Internet that my sister did in preparation really paid off.  From the overall look . . .

 

Party View

. . . to the centerpieces, candles, and burlap table runners . . .

 

Wedding Centerpieces

. . . to the homemade table numbers (these were apparently quite a pain initially; but all was well once my sister and her M-I-L realized how wonderful glue guns were.  They basically solve all problems; kind of like how Windex cures everything . . . quick: name that movie!) . . .

 

Centerpieces

. . . and remember those last-minute escort cards (detailed here)?  Well, they did their job and looked good in the process . . .

Escort Card

Again, the real photographers will hopefully have much better shots of everything, and since I was so caught up in making sure I was having a good time (I had to prioritize, ya’ know), I forgot to take all the pictures I was planning to take, so again–thank you, thank you, thank you to my sister’s friends for providing all these photos. 
 
Since Josh has a bit of a thang for penguins, his mom was able to get these sweet cake toppers for their classic cake:

Wedding Cake

I kind of love how chunky they are; and since we’re on the topic of chunky things . . .
 
CHUNK
 
(okay, really, I just needed to get a picture of Chunk somewhere on this blog–that curvacious girl has ruined me for all other pugs!  Oh Chunk.)
 
Alright–back on track.  Once we got to the reception, we had one focus: food.  Well, okay, there may have been one other focus: drinks.  Drinks was easy, but with food, we had a strategy.  See, Mr. Bunches and I have been to our fair share of weddings lately, and we’ve learned that the best place to stand and chat is near whatever door the passed hors d’oeuvres were coming out of.  And that’s exactly what we did (along with Uncle Tree and my cousins–they’re no slouches when it comes to food strategies).  So we got to taste everything: beef skewers, brie & spinach puff pastries, spring rolls, you name it–if they made it, we ate it.
 
Of course, eventually it was time to find our seats and to welcome the new couple as they performed their first dance as H+W.  They did great.  Spectacular.  It was really a DWTS moment.  She had sequins and glitter, and he had stretchy pants . . . can’t you just picture it?!  Sublime.  Okay, well maybe it wasn’t quite like that.  But you had a cool image in your head, didn’t you?  You’re welcome.  I figured since I didn’t have any pictures of it, I better give your imagination a good jumping off point.
 
But no, it was just beautiful.  And once they sat down, and we all sat down, that’s when we felt it: the first raindrop.  At first I thought maybe someone at our table just had a lisp or something, but no–it was a rain drop!  Apparently their dance was so amazing and sparkly and jazzy that the rain gods decided to reward them.  With rain.  Light at first, but then pouring!  Can you believe it?  The average rainfall for Santa Barbara is only 1.21 inches for the month of April–the entire month!  (We get that much rain in Brockport at least every day.)  So what were the odds?!  Of course, my sis was a little distraught at first, but everyone was great–the hotel staff quickly brought out towels and umbrellas, the DJ was a rockstar and kept playing theme appropriate music (we were hoping that It’s Raining Men would make an appearance, but it wasn’t in the cards; shucks, huh?), and the Best Man even got on the dance floor and performed his own special rain dance. 
 
Rain Showers

My sister’s good friend, Shona, pointed out that rain on a wedding day is a good thing–it’s a sign of fertility!  Yay babies!  So all in all, the rain only lasted for about 20 minutes, and then this happened:

Rainbows

See that beautiful rainbow?  Well–there were TWO of them!  Doubly lucky.  And it looks like my sis may have gotten her own little pot o’ gold Josh:

Pot of Gold

I can’t wait to see these pictures from the photographer–I’m sure they’ll be stunning:

Lucky Rainbows

The hotel staff was amazing and quickly changed out all the linens, reset all the tables, and made everything beautiful yet again.  The sky was clear the entire rest of the night, there was no wind, and it was the perfect temperature–it really couldn’t have been better.  Which, of course, meant that there had to be dancing:

Why exactly is it impossible to look cool while you’re dancing?  IM-POSS-IBLE.  But it was fun regardless–lord knows that me and the Mr. like to get our boogey on. 

One of the best parts of the night was when my biggest sis arrived to the reception . . . of course, it only reminded us that we were missing the youngest sis, but we’ll see her soon enough at her own wedding.  For now, there are 3, but in August, there will be 4:

Is it obvious that I’m practically kneeling in this picture?  I kind of feel like Big Bird when I’m with all the sisters (especially when I’m in a yellow dress 😉 )–one of these kids is definitely not like the others.

Okay, so that’s all.  Finito.  The end of the greatest wedding yet (take that William and Kate).  But our travels weren’t over–soon I’ll post some details about our wine trip from the day after the wedding, and then Vegas baby.  Yeah.

She Does! He Does! JOY.

After much preparation and practice, the wedding day finally arrived.  Oh happy day (and, coincidentally, Happy Earth Day, since it shared their April 22nd nuptial date).  Just an fyi–this post is going to be pretty picture heavy to satisfy all the family requests–and thanks so much to my sister’s girlfriends for sending me their pics so soon!  (I have something special planned for all those pics, but more on that later.)

First up: Alcohol.  What else, right?!  My sis’ good friend, Punkie, gave her a bottle of champagne from Mumm Vineyard, so Doodles did the honors to start the glamification session off on the right foot . . .

Wedding Day Champagne

Wedding Day Champagne Toast

Next up was hair and makeup at the estate by the future sister-in-law, aka all-around magic-maker, Bre.  Basically, she’s a genius and she made everyone look beautiful for the big day:

Wedding Makeup-The Beginning

Major Concentration

Hair Time

Of course, it wasn’t only time for the grown-ups to get ready . . . the flower girl was all sweeted up too!  Don’t you just love that dress?!  (From Etsy seller SweetPlume.)

Kira Gets Ready!

But the most important dress was just for the bride . . . doesn’t she look angelic?  Sigh.  My big sis.  I may have cried.  A little.  But not so much as to ruin Bre’s magic.

Sigh.

Now it was time for the veil . . . again, Bre to the rescue:

Wedding Veil

Then we were off to the races (of course we were running a little late–I mean, Bre had to work some serious MAGIC–not on my sister of course, but most definitely on me 😉 ).  The bride and groom had planned to see each other before the ceremony in order to have that first look captured when he laid eyes on her; and so they could have a moment with just the two of them.  Plus, they then had an opportunity to get lots of pictures out of the way so they could get straight on to partying after the ceremony.  Now, for all those first look shots, we’ll just have to wait for pictures from their photographer, but here’s one of the bridal party:

Bridal Party

And some random family and friends’ shots while we all waited around:

Shocking! Non-awkward Teenagers!

The Bunches

Cousins

Mira!!!

Family Shot

Once all the pictures were done, and the guests had arrived, it was GO time!  Again, forgive me a little for a lack of pictures here since I was busy walking and standing (all that practice really helped, except who knew I’d be so shaky from nerves?!), and Mr. Bunches was the official videographer, so he was sans camera as well.  But with 2 professional photographers on site, I’m sure there will be great pics to come.  For now, though, here are some shots taken by the other guests:

MOH and Best Man

Luckily, I had the best man to hold onto . . . otherwise, my heels could have been disastrous.  And thank goodness my mom had the bride to hold onto!  We thought she’d cried it out at the rehearsal, but clearly not . . .

MOB and Bride's Entrance

And true to form, Uncle Tree gave quite the performance . . . from laughter (and maybe some drooling?  I’m not quite sure what he’s doing in this shot) . . .

Wedding Laughter

. . . to complete solemnity . . .

Vows

. . . and a little singing and dancing thrown in for good measure.  His rendition of The Jungle Book’s Bear Necessities almost stole the show:

Bear Necessities

That is, of course, until Josh’s kiss major smooch really stole the show:

Wedding Make Out Session

Everything went off so smoothly and it was such a fantastic ceremony.  I can hardly believe that my sis is all growed up . . .

New Adventures Await

What was especially amazing, though, about their big day was that it started out pretty overcast, but right before the ceremony started, there was a break in the clouds that allowed the sun to shine through!  And it kept on shining throughout the entire ceremony, only to go back into hiding once they finished their walk out.  I think it was a sign  . . . just like the other weather signs that came later that night . . . I’ll dish all the details about that and pics from the reception tomorrow.  But for now, some more bride and groom eye candy:

Love

True Love

Practice Makes Perfect

Once all of the last-minute crafting was taken care of, it was time for the Wedding Rehearsal where we practiced walking . . .

Uncle Tree Walking

and standing . . .

Standing Practice

Pretty important stuff, right?  Luckily for my sister, Uncle Tree had the whole walking thing down on his first try, and he really showed the rest of us how it was done.  Phew, huh?

But let’s back up a few hours to when we were getting ready for the rehearsal . . . see, my sister’s future M-I-L had rented the most amazing house estate in the hills of Santa Barbara, and we got ready for both the rehearsal and the wedding there (plus, it was the ideal spot for the rehearsal dinner that she hosted for all the wedding guests).  Here’s the view from the 6 foot high window above the master bathtub:

Estate Picture Window

For those of you that have seen either the Bachelor or Bachelorette (yes, we watch that trash show in our house), the estate was similar to something you’d see on the show (especially if you could see the size of the bathtub–I think one of the prerequisites for that show is your willingness to make out in some sort of tub).  So of course, we had to have our own Bachelor/ette moment on the master bedroom balcony (did you think I was going to say bathtub? Get your mind out of the gutter!).  No–the moment we were going for was all about feelings–you know the type: really important feelings about love, laughter, joy, blah, blah, blah; the kind of feelings that you can only have while looking longingly in the distance:

Mr. Bunches' Bachelor Moment

Mrs. Bunches' Bachelorette Moment

Bride's Bachelorette Moment

Sidenote: I wonder if Mr. Bunches was thinking about the one that got away . . .

Ashley H and Mr. Bunches

Yep, that’s Vacation Bunches with the next Bachelorette, Ashley H., in Vegas!  I know, I know–he literally has sunshine coming out of his butt everywhere he goes.  Joke’s on her though–he hadn’t showered in days when she leaned in for that pic!

Alright, back to the walking and standing practice.  True to form, my mom was a tearful mess–it was a good thing she had my sister to hold onto, because otherwise, I’m not sure she would’ve been so successful with the whole walking thing:

Mom Crying

Of course, she wasn’t the only one getting teary . . . I’m pretty sure that Josh’s mom was just as caught up in the moment:

M-I-L Rehearsal Crying

In the end, everyone did great; I think my favorite part was their walk out of the rehearsal . . . gotta love the beauty queen wave and rockstar bouquet raise:

Rehearsal Exit

Once we finished up at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, off we went back to the set of the next Bachelorette estate for the Rehearsal Dinner.  It was a low-key barbeque and everyone was invited.  There was pool time . . .

. . . Toast time . . .

. . . and of course, the best time of all: CAKE TIME!

Wedding Rehearsal Cake

The best part about that cake was how excited the groom’s nephew was to get his hands on that big yellow bird on top . . . I don’t think anything jazzes up a five year old quite like animals made entirely of frosting:

 My sister also took this opportunity to give everyone a little welcome gift (since everyone was staying at hotels all over the city, it would have been nearly impossible to have these bags waiting for people when they checked in).

Wedding Welcome Bag

Besides the typical water and granola bars, my sister thoughtfully included a pre-stamped Santa Barbara postcard for everyone (like me, she likes to mail herself a postcard when she travels–that way, you always have a little keepsake that’s conveniently dated for when you took the trip).  The welcome bag also included some Easter treats (since she was getting  married on Good Friday).  So fun, right?

Easter Eggs

All in all, the rehearsal went off without a hitch, and everyone had a great time.  Of course, the cake didn’t fare so well . . .

Stay tuned tomorrow when I’ll post some pics from the BIG DAY!

Awkward Question Time

After our brief stop in Ventura, the Mr. and I finally arrived in Santa Barbara and I’m pretty sure we brought the sun with us.  Okay, or maybe it was a typical Southern California day where it starts out all overcast and then by 10 AM or so, the sun is shining like no other.  Maybe.  Or maybe we just bring sunshine wherever we go . . . you decide.

Santa Barbara
The day before the wedding, my sis and fiance went down to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse to take care of all the paperwork (getting the marriage license and whatnot), so we got a chance to poke around:


We even went up in the clock tower for views of the entire city all the way out to the ocean (it’s completely FREE, but it closes daily at 4:45 PM–just an FYI for any of you interested in checking it out on your next trip).  The wedding was held on that raised patch of grass that you can see in the next picture–I made them pose next to it for posterity (I’m pretty sure at this point they were regretting their decision to ask me to tag along and take photos, but really, I was under strict orders from the family to capture every moment, so their opinions no longer mattered 😉 ):

Rehearsal Day View

The weather was sublime–warm, but not too warm, and so much sun!  The Mr. and I were soaking it all in–since moving upstate, our vitamin D levels haven’t been holding up so well . . . (on a related note, my spray tan ended up being fantastic–no Oompah-Loompah look for me!  I decided to not shower it off before getting on the plane in order to maximize the darkening, and since it didn’t smell that bad, I don’t think I bothered the other passengers too much.  I left the plane a different color than when I boarded, but it helped me seamlessly fit in with all those Californians; plus, I decided to wear a yellow dress, which I’m sure would have looked hideous if I had been my normal ghostly self).

After hunting around for where to actually get the marriage license, we finally landed on the right spot (the Hall of Records in case you were wondering).

Santa Barbara Hall of Records

They then filled out some online paperwork . . . Note: this part could be awkward for people who don’t know each other very well since there are questions about prior marriages, age, children, etc. (and if it is awkward, this might be a good time to ask yourself: am I making the right decision here?  Just a thought for ‘ya).  But of course, with these two, no awkward moments at all (although the name change decision got a bit dicey . . . some last names are just the pits, ya’ know? 😉 ):

Applying for a California Marriage License

Then came a bit of waiting . . .

Waiting for Marriage License

They took an oath, signed some stuff, and $87 later . . .

They had a marriage license!

The Handing Over of the Marriage License

Uncle Tree ceremoniously handed it to them since he’d be performing the actual nuptials the next day (we like to keep things official in our family).  Now that all that paperwork schmaperwork was taken care of, it was time to get our craft on . . . more on that tomorrow!

Mawwaige

So I completely stole the post title from my sister, but I just love that scene.  When the Mr. and I got engaged, I just kept saying that to him over and over again . . . “Mawwiage–Mawwiage is whah bwings us twogether twoday.”  I guess after that I’m lucky he even went through with our marriage, particularly because he had never seen Princess Bride back then, so he probably just thought I was totally crazy.  But don’t worry, I made him watch it . . . it wasn’t love at first sight for him, but he’s warming to it.
 

But on to the reason for the title: my sister got HITCHED!!  That’s right–she’s a married woman now, and we only just got back in town from a whirlwind trip to California, Las Vegas, and everything in between (literally).  The wedding was absolutely stunning–it was held on the grounds of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, which may sound strange to you, but to anyone who’s been there, they get it.  The setting was G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S!  See for yourself:
 
Santa Barbara County Courthouse

 And the reception followed at The Canary Hotel’s rooftop:
 

Canary Hotel Rooftop
 I’ll post more details soon, but here’s a teaser photo of the couple on their big day:
 
The Happy Couple

Princess Bride pic from here.

Ventura: Check!

Ventura Pier

We made it to California!  Although, note to self: flying into LA is absolutely insane.  I know we’ve only been in Small Town America for just over a month, but apparently we have completely forgotten how crazily crowded big cities can be . . . and on a Wednesday night at 11 PM!  Don’t these people sleep?!  I mean, doesn’t everyone else go to bed at 9:30?  Yeah, you don’t have to say it: we’re old.  And sort of boring.  But we like it.

We woke up this morning in Ventura (at 6:45 am, ‘cuz that’s what old farts like us do), and we walked around the town, grabbed a bagel and headed to the beach.  And yes, it was just us and some old surfer dudes at that hour. Oh, and some homeless people (they at least have the right idea–if you’re going to be homeless, do it in Cali).

With those views, you’d think that all was well with our morning walk, right?  Wrong.  Everything was fine until Mr. Bunches had a little (and I emphasize the word little, although he would most likely disagree) food-related accident: basically, a mini-cream-cheese disaster.  We had grabbed bagels and cream cheese from a sweet little bakery on Main St, Savory Cafe, and apparently Mr. Bunches wasn’t aware that when you put cream cheese on a hot toasted bagel, well, it melts.  And in this case, it melted all over his shoes.  His 2+ year-old running shoes.  Yeah, I don’t know what the big deal was either.

But overall, Ventura was quaint and if we had more time, we I would have liked to poke around downtown in all the local shops . . . but we’ve got a wedding to get to!  Next stop: Santa Barbara!

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