Anniversary #1

Spot the bunny!

Spot the bunny!

Today marks one year since Sergey and I started our journey as a married couple together! We celebrated yesterday by taking a stroll around the House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, the location of our wedding, utilizing Janine’s iPhone so he could be there virtually. On the stroll, we saw a special one-eared baby bunny happily munching on blossoms in a flowerbed, which I’m sure is a good omen for our coming years of connubial life. My mom also found a special omen there: a quartz heart-shaped fragment embedded in a concrete panel in the new visitor’s center.

And now spot the quartz heart!

And now spot the quartz heart!

Speaking of the visitor’s center, it was my first visit to the House of Worship where we didn’t head downstairs beneath the main auditorium to go to the bookstore and visit the cornerstone placed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá over a century ago. This time, from the parking lot, we entered the low, prairie-style building. Inside, the top floor affords a view of the majestic white dome of the Mother Temple of the West and opens onto a quiet courtyard. Browsing through the informational signs posted on the walls, I learned a few new things about the construction of the temple, which was a great decades-long undertaking by the young American Bahá’í community. For example, Louis Bourgeois, the architect, had for years dreamt of building a temple to the Truth—and then he became Bahá’í, enabling him to wed his personal ambition to the Bahá’í community’s goal of building a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. When he designed the complex motifs that cover the temple, he laid out 70-foot long sheets of paper on his studio floor and drew them full size. Pretty impressive!

View of the visitor's center from the courtyard

View of the visitor’s center from the courtyard


Our second year of marriage now begins with setting up a household. Let me say, I have reviewed roughly several thousand comforter options, several hundred shower curtain and dinnerware possibilities, and dozens of towel and sheet color permutations. I even spent some time considering shower curtain hooks. (For the first months, there might only be two fully outfitted rooms in the apartment: the bathrooms. After all, the furniture in there is already installed.) Sergey has done his part helping me choose these goods and others, among them a coffeemaker, which provoked much soul-searching about what exactly we want from our coffee. All in all, I am hoping that our careful research will ensure our goods last for many years so we don’t have to go shopping again for a long time!

It is hard to believe a full year has gone by since the day we said our vows—but time flies by when you are having fun!

Fish love:

Fish love: “kissing” koi at the Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford, Illinois

As promised

That took a little longer than expected, but I was just trying to build some anticipation for the release of what shall no doubt be a box office hit.  It helps to be married to an IT guy–thank you, Sergey, for making the groom’s cut of the wedding video (a collaboration of Dianne’s filming and Mike’s editing).  Without further ado, here it is!



Gettin’ hitched, part the last

Let us return to a day in the distant past: August 9 in the year two thousand and fourteen.  I had slept poorly due to a late night involving preparations and cake from my friends (delicious!); Sergey had slept poorly because I came to his room around midnight to give him a condolence card, waking him up.  He deserved some sympathy for marrying me, after all.  Despite the little sleep, I woke up fairly early thanks to my nerves and began to get ready.  This entailed thorough facial depilation, which took longer than expected.

I was running late, which not surprisingly caused me to do something quite dumb: attempting to carry my weak hotel coffee out of the bathroom with a handful of other supplies to be packed up.  Oh, and I was wearing my very white dress at that point.  You know what happens next: the coffee sloshes and dribbles down the skirt of my dress, to my absolute horror.  I ran to dab it off with napkins, and thankfully my dress had apparently been weatherproofed (and coffee-proofed) because most of it beaded on the fabric and came off.  But there was still a wet stain on the slip beneath the lace.  Poor Jasmine had to reassure me about ten times that it wasn’t visible before my panic was even slightly alleviated.

After a flurry of hair arrangement and last-minute packing, we were off like a herd of turtles.  We met Sergey, resplendent in his suit, waiting patiently in the hotel lobby for his belated bride, and then sped away to Wilmette in our vanousine.

Once there, it was a series of hugs and greetings.  Uncle Terry handed me my beautiful bouquet and I wrote out the pronunciation of the Russian vow and stuck it between the flowers.  Soon enough, it was time to take our seats onstage and enjoy the program, introduced by the Petersens, with music and readings by various dear friends.  And then came the vows.  I think we got double-married by saying the vows in two languages–that’s how it works, right?

I could give a run-down of the rest of our day, but I’m pretty sleepy, plus this is one of those times when images say it better.  I’m going to now attempt to post the beautiful video Mike put together of the photos he took.  So grab a coffee, put on your white dress, and sit back and enjoy!

Gettin’ hitched, part 4

So, after the flurry of preparations, we headed to the Chicago area–first Sergey, to meet his friend Vadim, and then my parents and me.  Our goal upon arriving in Skokie was to get the marriage license ASAP.  We found the county clerk’s office, an expansive building housing courtrooms and various offices, and after returning our electronics (apparently prohibited) to the van and de-belting for the metal detector, we went inside.  We found our room and joined the line of couples waiting for licenses.  Finally, it was our turn.  The lady behind the counter did not seem to find her job romantic at all as she embarked on a long list of questions apparently designed to determine our capacity for trivia questions, like “Where was your mother born?” and “What is your social security number?”  I guess we passed the test, because we got the license, woohoo!  License to wed!

License to wed!

License to wed!

Soon after that, my parents left, and Sergey and Vadim went to a baseball game to marvel at its slow complexity (they managed to withstand one hour of three), and I waited in the hotel for Dianne to arrive.  Actually, I fell asleep long before she came and accidentally locked her out of the room, but don’t worry, we eventually had our reunion, and then the next day were joined first by Faye and Milly, and then by Addie and Safiyyah (Sadia came a bit later).  And thus began our Mount Holyoke reunion.  Seven sisters, three days, one Windy City.

So what makes it onto the travel itinerary for these womyn?  Let me tell you: a museum honoring social welfare activism (Jane Addams Hull House), a giant ferris wheel–and then fireworks, the Art Institute, an outdoor opera concert, a glass balcony hanging over the city, and more.  As for the tastebud tour of Chicagoan cuisine, our first day together, we indulged in deep dish pizza.  I think I know why this style is mostly constrained to Chicago; Faye gave it the review, “I feel like there is a giant cheese ball sitting in my stomach.”  Vadim, on the other hand, started with cheesecake and moved on to the pizza.  Well, some friends enjoyed the cheese ball effect, but perhaps it is no coincidence that we lunched at a vegan café the next day.

I must say, it’s pretty nifty to have friends who delight in both the swing ride at Navy Pier and in analyzing historical museum displays, who make a surprising beeline for the paperweight collection at the Art Institute and appreciate the tale of Salome as told through the music of Strauss.  I guess that’s why these ladies are my friends and have been for five years.

Reflections: our group visits Cloud Gate, better known as the Bean, in Millennium Park.

Reflections: our group visits Cloud Gate, better known as the Bean, in Millennium Park.

Speaking of the Art Institute, I was disappointed to leave its glowing galleries after only several hours.  Before departing, Sergey and I visited the special exhibit on Magritte together.  Surrealist paintings watched us from the black walls with disconnected body parts juxtaposed with strange objects and nonsensical labels.  Sergey found it all quite disturbing and concluded of Magritte, “This guy was sick.”  Then, I gave Sergey a desperate whirlwind tour, whisking him through all the Impressionist (“It’s nice but blurry”) and Renaissance galleries at a near jog.  Then it was time for us to leave our friends to revel at the artistic treasures as we boarded the train back to Skokie.  There was, apparently, a wedding to prepare for…

Gettin’ hitched, part 3

One of the classic flying machines that frequents the Leonardo da Vinci airport, I assume.

After a day of travels and a stop in the da Vinci airport in Rome, where we breakfasted on the finest pizza and cappuccinos of Italy, Sergey and I arrived in America.

It was remarkable to see the Wisconsin countryside veined with creeks and rivers stretching out beneath our plane in undulating hills of green–so much green after the scrubbiness of Israel!  How was this luxuriance possible?  For Sergey, the landscape reminded him of Moldova.  For me, the amount of space and the cleanliness took some getting used to.  It wasn’t quite reverse culture shock, more like terrain shock.  Why weren’t there any strays using these wide streets as litter boxes?  And there are birds besides sparrows, crows, and pigeons?  Was Target always so super huge?

We had a week and a half to spend with my family in Hometown U.S.A. before heading down to the Chicago area.  While we had a few allocated “fun periods,” much of our time was consumed with final preparations for the wedding.  There were so many important decisions to be made.  For example, after our contact person for our reception location revealed that they had only black tablecloths to offer, which would have been great for a funeral-themed wedding, we had to add that to our Party City list.  It took a surprising amount of effort to settle on the purple tablecloths, probably because Mommy and Sergey spent half the time convincing me that sparkly confetti was an unnecessary addition to our decor.  But…but…sparkles?

Thankfully, the key aspect of our decor, the centerpieces, was decided on before we returned.  I recall back in May feverishly considering various centerpiece options as I scanned records in the office.  Birdcages or feathers to go with the bird theme?  How about feather-coated birdcages holding live singing doves?

Luckily we decided on a more classy alternative: three-tiered stands covered with colorful cupcakes and topped with a spray of flowers, which my uncle generously arranged.  After finding a cute Wilmette bakery called Lawrence Deans online during my initial investigations, I spent the next few months contemplating which flavors of their selection I wanted at the wedding (all of them).  Especially the rose-pistachio ones.  In the end, we ordered a mere 132 cupcakes in 11 flavors, chosen both for their deliciousness and their colors.  You can see the results below.

A dream realized.

A dream realized.