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I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this here before, but once upon a time, I was a deejay. I worked at weddings, mostly, with the occasional birthday party or prom thrown in to mix it up. Like any job, there were things to love about it (getting to play music at parties, a nice little extra paycheck) and things to hate about it (lugging heavy equipment on a hot summer day, and terrible hours for someone who sees nothing wrong with being in bed at 10 p.m.).

Whenever I’m at a wedding, I feel a little wave of nostalgia for the days when I ran the party, but in general, I don’t miss it. In fact, until this past weekend, I don’t think I really grasped what I missed about it, but now, I’ve got it. It’s the moments the photographer misses.

Now, if you’re a photographer at a wedding, you’re focusing on the big shots and hoping to grab some of the fun stuff as well, but you can’t be everywhere at once, you know? And if you’re a member of the family or the bridal party, you’re pretty focused on the bride or groom or your dress. If you’re a really close friend of the couple in question, you might be paying a lot of attention to the details you helped them choose, or the other members of your tight-knit group.

But when you’re a bit of an outsider, like the deejay is, you see it all for what it is. You see the emotion flood across the bride’s face as she steps onto the dance floor with her new husband, and you see the way that changes when she dances with her father and then, her friends. You see the way the mother of the bride glows (or glares, in the case of some of the divorced parents I saw) as the father/daughter dance takes place. You see people letting loose with the dance moves, both good and bad. You see a groomsman working up the nerve to ask the bride’s sister to dance. You see the boy dance a song with his grandma and allow her to hold him close for a moment after the song finishes.

Last weekend, we were in upstate New York for Jared’s cousin’s wedding, which was gorgeous. And I didn’t bring my camera, since I wasn’t checking bags and had no room, so, naturally, the venue would have been exquisite for some great shots. Next time, I guess.

But, since I only really knew a small handful of people there, it was easy for me to sort of revert to my old deejay ways and really, really people watch. Man, I missed it. I caught those moments that maybe nobody else did, and while I don’t have the pictures, I remember them vividly enough that many days later, they’re still making my heart smile.

And it made me realize that it’s not only at weddings when those moments occur (although there are plenty more there than at, say, the movie theater). They’re all around us, all the time. And if they make you feel happy the way they make me feel happy, I hope you take the time to notice them.

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I’m currently at the beach (well, inside at the moment, but there’s sand and ocean and sunshine about 20 feet from where I’m sitting), and I’m here for a good friend’s wedding. A good friend for whose bachelorette party I whooped it up so hard that I still have boo boos (but it was totally worth it).

And, of course, I can’t help but think about my own beach wedding a little over five (wtf, FIVE?) years ago, and what I would change. Not a lot, honestly. We had an amazing group of friends and family, a fabulous location, and my dress was perfection (Jared looked pretty snazzy, too). It was a good party. The only thing I wish I could change is how I handled things — I was SO stressed beforehand (and I had a number of very good reasons, but still), and I held onto a lot of the frustrations and disappointments for years afterward. Hell, I’m still a little pissed that there were carnation pink bows all around, because that is not tropical.

Ahem.

Anyway, at this point, I really am thankful that it was such an amazing event, and I know my friend’s wedding is going to be just as fabulous. And, if you (or someone you know) is getting married sometime soon, I wanted to point you toward a really cool promotion going on.

My friend Little Debbie (okay, it’s Deb, but she’s petite and cute and I just think Little Debbie suits her. Sue me) is an amazing artist/jewelry maker (omg who wants to buy me this?), and she’s part of the Ever After Wedding Market, which is hosting the Ever After Bailout Giveaway. You just browse the site (which you’ll want to do anyway, trust me), leave a comment on the giveaway post (NOT HERE) about which of their items is your favorite. The winner gets a subscription to Martha Stewart Weddings plus a tone of coupons from Ever After vendors. You have until May 15 to enter, so be sure to tell your bridal friends!

And if you’re not getting married, probably you should still check out Blazer Arts (Little Debbie’s company).

Photo: aaronlockwoodphotography.com

Okay, I’ve been back since Friday, and I know I’ve been avoiding you. And I’m sorry. I just have SO MUCH to say, and I don’t even know how to start. So I won’t.

In fact, I’m just going to shoot you on over to Polka Dot Bride, a blog I frequented daily while writing for AisleDash, and for which I have done a guest post on tuxedos. You might have already read it at AD, but Ms. Polka’s got a fabulous site, and I highly recommend you check her out.

I PROMISE I’ll be back with pictures and stories (ohmygod, cab drivers and subway crazies!!!). Soon!

Yahoo! As it turned out I was all psyched out for NOTHING. Well, at least for very little. I am in charge of telling everyone when to go. And herding the bridal party into a little room at the end. And the crazy-ass complicated but super gorgeous bustle. But that is all.

Which is good, because apparently I’m hungover from the rehearsal dinner festivities and my brain feels kinda fuzzy and purple (I swear I didn’t have that much to drink! WTF?). I’m going to the gym now to try to sweat it out. You might think going for a jog is a better idea, but there’s always a bathroom nearby at the gym, and that sounds like a good idea right now, lest my breakfast decide it doesn’t want to stay put.

Tonight is my friend’s wedding rehearsal and dinner. The rehearsal starts at 4, and the plan is to be half an hour away for dinner by 5:30. I am in charge.

That is all I know.

Well, okay, I know a couple of other things, like who’s in the wedding (it’s a small wedding), and someone else is in charge of music (at least I’m pretty much positive that is the case, and if I’m wrong, I might just throw up multiple times), but other than that, ZIP. Except that I’m in charge.

At least I’ve done this before (you know, at MY wedding, when my original officiant didn’t bother to show up, after which I FIRED her ass — you CAN fire a reverend, just so you know), so I feel confident. Or at least I DID until we had this conversation at dinner last night:

J: So, have you found anything else out about the rehearsal.

K: Yeah, be there at 4. Eat afterwards.

J: But, aren’t you, like, RUNNING it?

K: (feeling first hints of panic) Uh huh, but I just tell them when to go down the aisle. Easy peasy.

J: You sure you know what you’re doing?

K: *dies on the spot*

At least I’m NEW Kristen. Kristen who doesn’t get stressed about everything, who has life in perspective. But apparently the big, important stuff can still get me riled. Who knew?

For as many weddings as I’ve been in (seriously, at least 7 or 8 hundred of them), I haven’t been to a lot of super wild and crazy bachelorette parties. I’ve been to fun bars with a group of girls where we’ve had way too much to drink and danced until our feet hurt, and I’ve done the low-key, drink a bottle of wine or six with the gals while we hang out and reminisce. But I was a novice to the phallically-focused type of bachelorette party. Until this weekend.

One of my very best friends is getting married, and her sister (who is several years younger than we are) planned just such an event, and to be honest, I was nervous as hell. I mean, Strippers! and Shots! Plus, I didn’t really know the exact plan, and that’s not normal for me. I usually know everything, in large part because I try to plan everything. Go ahead, call me a control freak. I’ve been called worse.

Anyway, we had such a ball — we went to a gay bar in Jax called The Metro, and started the night off with the funniest drag show I’ve ever seen. Okay, so I’d only been to, like, one (maybe two — I was drunk a lot in college, so I can’t be sure) before, but STILL, this was hilarious. And then, it was on to The Dancers In Banana Hammocks.

I don’t generally think of myself as prudish at all, but jeez o petes, when we walked in and I saw things dangling and swinging (covered, but barely), my head turned into a tomato. However, as it turned out, the people in this club were some of the nicest people I’ve come across. Well, at least the nicest bar working people I’ve come across. Possibly because they were hoping to get some of my dolla dolla bills, y’all.

I’ve got to say, despite my initial hesitation, I think that this was a fantastic place to have a bachelorette party (so did some other folks — there were two other bridal parties there when we arrived). There were cute, well-dressed boys who weren’t trying to steal any of us away, but were perfectly friendly, and good dancers (you could tell who the straight boys were — they just stood along the wall and watched because they lacked the cojones to get out there and bust an uncoordinated move. Pansies.). What about you guys — have you had a gay bar experience?

And, since I’m writing about the gay bar (Gay bah!), I have to include this video, courtesy of my girls Courtney and Holly, because they are NUTS.