This weekend was one big celebration. My bridal shower was Saturday afternoon and my bachelorette party was Saturday night. I wanted a low-key bachelorette. I don’t understand why some people celebrate the lifelong commitment of marriage by getting trashed and doing trashy stuff. But I will admit that it might be fun to prance into at least one bar all decked out in bachelorette party gear and let some stranger buy me a drink or two. So we determined we might do that the week(end) before the wedding. Bachelorette and bachelor parties are typically much closer to the wedding date, but we attempted to pick a date that would work for all of my bridesmaids. That almost worked.
Meredith flew into STL from Boston on Wednesday. We were both super excited to see each other for the first time since I visited her in October and she was eager to do some maid of honor stuff. Thursday my mom made homemade apple oatmeal and then we took a day trip to Columbia to visit our alma mater. We ate late lunch at the Olive Cafe. I had never made it there during college and always wanted to go. We split various yummy Greek platters and got some baklava to go. We paid tribute to our old homesite on Circus Avenue, which has now been bulldozed to make way for an apartment complex that is already partially built. The Circus needed to be knocked down. The foundation was buckled and cracked and the house was falling apart. But we had two years of fond memories there, and it’s sad and strange to see it gone. Meredith commented that it’s almost better that way. Someone else lived in it our senior year, and it was worse to have strangers in “our” house than to have it plowed over.
The Circus isn’t all that has changed. I saw Mizzou’s new student center when I came to Columbia for homecoming, but Meredith hadn’t seen it. It is ridiculously nice, just like the new bookstore that we got to enjoy for the last part of our college careers. From there, we had to go see Hudson Hall. It’s connected (and a mirror image of) Gillett, the dorm we lived in our freshmen year. Hudson has been gutted and renovated and the Gillett side is getting the same treatment but isn’t done yet. It was so strange to wander through the dorm where we met five years ago. We were like strangers in a place we’d never been before. It is unrecognizable and naturally way better than what we had back in the day. Meredith looked around sadly and remarked “this is not my university.” Downtown, City Hall and the new parking garage are done. The Underground Cafe, formerly the Artisan, is closed down. We comforted ourselves with a familiar college staple: Sparky’s ice cream. It hasn’t changed. Even our usual checker, Tony, was working. We eventually met up with our friends Aaron and David who still live in Columbia. Had drinks at the Ragtag, went to the magic tree, and ate dinner at Formosa before driving back to St. Charles. Even the magic tree is different. Apparently Will Treelighter’s neighbors got fed up with the whole ordeal every Christmas, so now the beloved magic tree is located in Cherry Hill Plaza. The lights of the plaza somewhat diminish the impact of the tree. Oh well, at least the tradition endures.
We managed to use most of Friday just hanging out. We did get gear for the bachelorette party and ate dinner at Fazoli’s with Shannon.
Saturday was the big day. Well, not the big day, I guess, that one comes in March. But it was the big day of this weekend. Meredith and I donned purple sweater dresses — we had unwittingly each bought a purple sweater dress from JCP for the occasion, but they weren’t the same. My bridal shower was at a room in Immanuel Lutheran Church in St. Charles. The hosts: my mom, stepmom Jane, sister-in-law Amy and Aunt Eva, did a wonderful job. Around 30 people attended. There were gorgeous purple table cloths with purple lamp candles, confetti, and little favor bags.
Aunt Eva knows I don’t care for regular cake, so she ordered a sheet cake-sized chocolate raspberry cheesecake. It was epically awesome.
I embarrassed myself in a game where Michael had answered questions in advance and I had to guess his answers. I got most of them wrong. But some of them could have had multiple answers. It was a good thing they were hard though, because for every question I got wrong I gave a prize to one of my guests and I got a prize for each correct answer. It would have been pretty boring (and rude) if I had won all the prizes. We played another game that was pretty sweet. My mom had written a story about how Michael and I met and eventually got engaged. The story was printed with fill-in-the-blanks and the answer key was all Beatles songs. Guests had a certain amount of time to insert the correct Beatles song title into each blank to complete the story. Everyone who got them all right got a prize (except me, I had enough gifts coming).
They also put together a cookbook for me and my guests provided their favorite recipes to get me started. Between that and all of the awesome kitchen gifts I got, I hope I’ll be a good cook. I’ve been practicing a little bit, but the real finesse of cooking only comes with time and experience. I was particularly excited about getting a hold of some of Oma’s German recipes like Rouladen and Zwetschkenknodel. But I’m well aware that possessing the recipe doesn’t guarantee I’ll be able to make it right. Only time will tell. One of the gifts I got is limo service for up to 14 people on my wedding day. I’m super excited about that because I didn’t want to have that added expense on the wedding budget, but now Michael and I and our wedding party can all ride together.
After the shower, Meredith, Shannon and I bought snacks and drinks for the hotel. On learning that Sara, my 15-year-old bridesmaid couldn’t make it, we stocked up on pre-mixed margarita and mudslides. Then we stopped by the reception hall so they could see what it looked like. We met Amy and checked into the DoubleTree hotel in West Port to put on our party garb. I wore a fake tiara from Target’s kids’ dress-up aisle to which Meredith had sewed toule for a veil. I also had a pink bride-to-be sash. We all wore black feather boas with silver tinsel. Hey, if you can’t dress ridiculous at your bachelorette party, then when can you?
The surprise portion of the party was a trip to the historic Bissell Mansion in STL for a murder mystery dinner. I had mentioned to Meredith once that I thought it’d be cool to go to one, and she booked it for me. We were each assigned small speaking parts in the goofy play that was a spoof off of Miracle on 34th Street with Chris Kringle on trial for murder. A three-course meal and two glasses of wine per person were included with the show. I’ve always wanted to go to a murder mystery dinner theater and it was a blast. Then we headed back to the hotel for drinks, snacks and games. Poor Amy and Shannon both had to get up early on Sunday, but they stayed up with us pretty long. Meredith and I kept the party going when they went to bed by moving to a vacant conference room down the hall. We played Would You Rather? and Taboo. Most people would say it was an extremely tame bachelorette party, which was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t need to go crazy to have a good time with some of my favorite girl friends. I had a great night with three of my bridesmaids and can’t wait until I get to have all five bridesmaids with me for the wedding.
Thanks to my wonderful family and friends, I had a great weekend of celebration. Now it’s time for writing thank-you notes and doing some last-minute Christmas shopping.