This summer I made it a point to go to as many Forest Park festivals as I could, but at the beginning of October I had my own: Wedding Fest.
Initially, we only planned to have the bachelorette party at House Red on Thursday and the wedding itself at Molly Malone's on Saturday. However, when Coral opened, we enjoyed it so much we decided to add a Friday night dinner there for our out-of-town guests. Wedding Fest was born and I was delighted to have the opportunity to show off Forest Park to friends and family.
My girlfriends loved our night at House Red. It was a much more unique experience than hitting the bars in downtown Chicago. We were able to talk, be silly, and learn about wine. The evening at Coral had a few snags. As a new business, they still have some kinks to work out when it comes to serving large parties. A couple orders were forgotten and some food came out cold. But despite this, my aunt from Missouri said it was the best Thai food she'd ever had.
Of course, the most important event of all took place at Molly Malone's. In the last couple weeks leading up to the wedding, people kept asking me, "Are you nervous?" to the point of annoyance. I was not nervous at all about getting married. I had no doubts about my husband, no cold feet.
Then suddenly, the day before the wedding I was a bundle of nerves. But it had nothing to do with my relationship. Rather, everyone kept telling me, "Something will go wrong."
My friend's son got married two weeks before me and the reception hall had triple booked, so they had to move the reception two days before the wedding. Total nightmare. Suddenly I couldn't stop thinking about the many things that could go wrong for me: the food, the music, who knew what else.
I went into the rehearsal at Molly's on Friday with a typed list of instructions for them, but I still worried that once I handed off control something would fall apart. What can I say? I've done event planning myself and I'm a bit of a control freak.
However, as soon as I met Sandra, the manager of Molly's, and she promised me in her beautiful Irish accent that everything would be perfect, I believed her. She asked all the right questions and addressed my concerns before I even brought them up. She even found out which side the woman was supposed to stand on when walking down the aisle.
The only surprises that I had at Molly Malone's on my wedding day were pleasant ones. Sandra brought me and my bridesmaids a complimentary bottle of champagne before the ceremony began. We also found three additional types of vegan appetizers added to our buffet at no cost. This is a prime example of why supporting community businesses pays off - they actually care about you.
Here's the one thing that went wrong (if you can even call it that). A bossy relative started ordering around the photographer and part of the family to pose for photographs during toast time and also butted in as the groom and I tried to feed each other cupcakes. I gritted my teeth and shook my head at Sandra, but she just smiled, eyes bright and said in that soothing Irish brogue, "Don't worry about it, honey."
And I smiled back because nothing could ruin the day she'd helped to make so perfect for us.
Stephanie is the author of "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" and "Ballads of Suburbia." She's a proud Forest Parker who holds a master's in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally at the Beacon Pub and loves to hear from people through her Web site www.stephaniekuehnert.com.