My Cousin’s Big Fat Lebanese Wedding

October was a busy month. We had a ton of fun but it was crazy exhausting. Starting with my birthday on the 5th we had obligations every single Saturday night through the middle of November. ::yawn:: I’m tired again just thinking about it.

But beyond the birthdays and Halloween celebrations two very exciting things happened in our family. My dear cousin Kelsey got married to her college sweetheart Kyle. I love them both so very much. Kelsey is so warm and smart and thoughtful and Kyle is such a sweet and funny guy. Thanks to the football schedule Michael wasn’t able to go to the wedding with me so Tracey was my date. It was a blast just being with my sisters, mom, grandparents and cousins.

IMG_4102

I got to see this moment with Kelsey and her dad Kit (my Mom’s first cousin and a really great human being) just before she went down the aisle. It brought tears of joy and sadness to my eyes.

IMG_4098

I am so happy for her and Kyle that they get to spend the rest of their lives together. They’re going to have a blast doing so. I know we had a blast celebrating with them!

IMG_4138

And then the following weekend we packed up the car, all piled in and headed to the border for Michael’s cousin Kifah’s wedding in Canada.

After leaving late and stopping 1.1 million times we finally arrived to the rehearsal dinner. Hours late. We were so out of it I took no pictures.

But that night we stayed up late catching up with our cousins Fadi and Diana and my BIL André while the little ladies played with their cousin Mila. Knowing we had to wake up early and be dressed up fancy all day did not deter us from staying up late, drinking Crown Royal and solving the world’s problems. Well, except for D, she’s pregnant with their second baby, and she was the only one smart enough to get some rest.

We woke up at the crack of dawn anyways (thank you tiny human alarm clocks) and got all dressed up for the wedding at noon.

Cedella had been trying to wear her black sequin party dress and matching black patent shoes for weeks before the wedding and I wouldn’t let her. (Of course now that the wedding is over she hasn’t attempted to wear either piece since). She looked so pretty and grown-up. My precocious darling three-nager.

And Isora in her pink fluffy ruffles and white bow. I die from the cutemess.

IMG_3611

Iz and Mila had a very similar style of dress on. It’s so cute to watch two little people navigate all those ruffles.

IMG_3616

Mila and her gorgeous mother Diana. Totally stunning. Beauties inside and out.

IMG_3624

Izzie and Izzat. I love this picture. The girls were all properly obsessed with their older cousin. And he was so sweet and attentive and caring towards them. He is such an incredible young man.

IMG_3621

Cedella and Aunt Jacqueline the Mother of the Groom. This woman has the biggest heart and the biggest smile. So much love for her.

IMG_3628

With her Teta Hilda. My darling and stylish MIL. The girls adore their silly and playful and fun loving Teta. And so do I.

IMG_3629

How beautiful is this picture? I need to frame this one asap. Cedella just loves her grandparents so much.

IMG_3630

And so does Isora. She fussed for Teta during the ceremony and wouldn’t stop until my MIL was holding her.

IMG_3637

The most excited flower girl EVER.

IMG_3643

The beautiful bride Fatene and her father.

IMG_3644

How to keep a three-nager occupied during a boring-old wedding ceremony? Fruit snacks and camera phones. Works every time.

IMG_3645

The four of us in our fancy gear. We fancy up rather well if I do say so myself.

IMG_3651

The Mansour Boys. A seriously good looking crew.

IMG_3664

After all the “I Do’s” we had the chance to grab a cup of Double Doubles from Tim Horton’s and go back to Fadi and D’s house for naps and a rest up for the big night. But soon it was time to put our gowns back on, drop the kids off at the hotel with the babysitter and head over to have some adult wedding fun.

We walked into the reception hall, shots were waiting for us, the bar was open, the room was bathed in purple light and the incredible hors d’oeuvre table was waiting. Time to party.

My Aunt Jihan, MIL Hilda and me, feeling as good as we look.

IMG_3667

My FIL John was in his element. Surrounded by his cousins, brothers, sons and all of the ladies in the family. I’ve never met a person beside myself who truly enjoys a wedding like my FIL.

IMG_3678

The happy parents….Aunt Jacqueline and Uncle Mansour.

IMG_3680

The happy couple. Kifah and Fatene. The were absolutely glowing.

IMG_3682

Fadi delivered a perfectly funny and heartwarming speech to his older brother. Well played Fadi.

IMG_3693

And Uncle Mansour, who recently had a health scare, delivered a speech in Arabic that had everyone in the room crying. I’ve never wished I understood the language more.

IMG_3695

The love of a mother for her son.

IMG_3698

And the second the DJ says GO! the dance party begins. Everyone rushes the floor for their chance to dance with the bride and family.

IMG_3705

My FIL John is a fierce debke dancer. He loves to lead this traditional Arabic dance as often and as wildly as possible.

IMG_3709

John dancing with Fatene for the first time.

IMG_3714

And Michael’s first dance with Fatene.

IMG_3717

My loves, my aunt Sabah and her daughter, my cousin Talia. These two ladies mean so much to me and my girls. Though I think Talia and Michael have some big bro/little sis issues. 😉

IMG_3720

There are no pictures of me dancing because we were so busy enjoying ourselves. We ate and drank and laughed and visited. And then we drank and ate and danced some more. It was SO much fun. At some point we had danced and walked so much I made Michael go get my flat shoes, and normally I hate doing that, but it was that necessary to keep going.

I had not met the lovely bride before the day of the wedding so while I was so excited for the two of them to be getting married I really wanted a chance to talk with her. Her sister gave a heart wrenching speech about how they are physically separated and how guilty she felt for not being there to help her sister plan and prepare for her big day. When that speech was over I really wanted to welcome Fatene to our family and let her know that despite the miles she has many sisters now…all of the Mansour women, to be there for her where her family cannot be. She really opened up and said some lovely and sad things. I know that we will be quick friends when we get the chance to spend more time together. And I can’t wait for all of us cousins to raise our children together.

At around midnight we went back to retrieve the girls from the babysitter in the hotel room. And this is what we found. Three sleeping angels.

IMG_3723

The next day we went visiting at Jacqueline and Mansour’s. And there was food from the second we walked in to the second we left. Meat pies and zataar and labneh and tons of sweets and wedding cake. But more importantly we had more time to spend with our lovely family. And these little cousins got more time to play.

Cedella has such a deep affection for Izzat. They spent so much time together while he visited and she misses him now that he’s returned to Arizona. Thank god for Skype, right?

IMG_3725

Cedella (age 3.5) Mila (age 2) and Isora (age 1.5). They are the perfect age to grow up as the best of friends. God I wish we lived in the same country!!

IMG_3727

Their faces and their love for each other is priceless.

IMG_3740

Being goofy with their Jiddo as usual.

IMG_3736

Isora never met a calendar or photo album she didn’t love.

IMG_3745

Though it was truly a whirlwind weekend we had such a great time. The hospitality of Fadi and Diana and the entire family knows no bounds. It’s so amazing to have cousins that you love but that you get along with so well and enjoy as friends. Our visits are too few and far between. Can’t wait to see them at Thanksgiving!!

Two Years Ago…

Today’s our second wedding anniversary.  Two years ago we joined hands and committed to spending the rest of our lives together in front of our family, friends and community. Today that seems so very far away. I want to be back in that moment. I want to be in love and elated. I want our happiness back. Every day gets a little better. We’re working on it. But good god is it hard.

I’ve been working on our wedding album on Shutterfly.com for the past couple days. It really was the most elegant, beautiful and fun wedding I’ve ever been to. Our guests still tell us that it was the best wedding ever. Since I have never posted wedding photos, and since they are so present in my mind, here are many highlights that many people haven’t seen.

We were married on a brisk yet sunny day at a beautiful reception hall called The Colony Club right in downtown Detroit behind the Fox Theater. In it’s previous incarnations it was a ladies club, a police officer training center and a library. That’s right, the library was housed where the ballroom is now. And about 38 years ago (give or take) a young engineering student set his sights on one of the reference librarians. That student was my father, that librarian, my mother. And so it came to be that we were married in the exact same room where my mother and father met. And to say my dad’s presence was felt that day is an understatement.

So together with 200 of our closest friends and family, and with our dear friend Sterling doing the honor of performing the ceremony, we took our vows and agreed to spend our lives together. We are incredibly blessed by the people in our tribe. They came from Arizona, Florida, D.C., Chicago, Canada, Mississippi, South & North Carolina, New Orleans, Maryland, New Jersey, Cleveland and all over the state of Michigan.

The ceremony was short but sweet, the cocktail hour was swinging (thanks to Gino Fanelli’s Red Hot Sugar Daddies), the dinner was delicious and the reception was full of drinks and dancing. It was an absolutely amazing spectacular wanna-do-it-all-over-again kind of day. One we will forever remember fondly…

 With Mom & Sisters
 With Mom
 A little help from Jef
 The Aisle
 The Tables
 Loved this hair piece from Etsy
 The loveliest bouquet
 Perfect staircase
 My Dad ‘walked’ with me down the aisle
 Perfect place to hide a cocktail
 The synth ties the guys wore
 Centerpiece
 Picture of my Mom & Dad’s wedding 
 Head table all aglow
 Winter tree centerpieces
 Cutting the cake
 And choking
 A kiss
 Michael during his brother’s toast
 Cheers!
 Two of my oldest and dearest Niki & Robyn 
 My sisters Erin, Jilnar and Tracey
 Michael has known these guys since 3rd grade. But Amie & Kate – my girls!
 Pete, Radfan, Nicole, Rajin, Mike & Steve. The Fun Table
 Marta & Iesha. Lovely ladies
 Our first dance 
 Dancing with my brother to ‘Dance with my Father’
 My gorgeous sisters
 Michael’s sister & brother Jilnar and Andre
 Oops! Did I do that?
 Frozen in time
 The Hustle
The Debbke 
 The cutest girl in the room – my cousin Milan
 One of my bestest friends Jen sharing a laugh
 Love me some Natalie
I gave the toast at Kristyn’s wedding and made her cry
so she returned the favor. In a good way.