Ever since we graduated from college, Neera, Janet, and I have gotten together once a year for a girls' weekend. In 2007 we went on a Caribbean cruise, in 2008 we went to Savannah, GA, in 2009 we went to Santa Fe, NM, and in 2010 we got together for New Years' Eve in Austin, TX (and brought along all of our significant others). This was year five (our 2011 trip, even though it's technically still 2010). It's a really exciting year because we're currently all engaged, and we're all getting married this summer (Jeff and I in late May, Janet and Dan in July, and Neera and Shreyas in August). We're attending and/or in each others' weddings, and it's really exciting to plan things together and talk about the joys and challenges of wedding planning.
This year, since we're all saving up in preparation for the weddings, we decided to save a bit of money by traveling to Urbana-Champaign, IL, which is where Neera lives right now. That way, we'd be able to see her place (Janet has visited briefly, but I'd never seen it), and we could save a bit of money on hotels and eating out.
Janet flew in from Boston, and I was coming from DC. There aren't many flights into Bloomington, IL (which was a nearby airport Neera suggested), so Janet and I ended up meeting up in Detroit and catching the same flight into Illinois. We chatted the whole flight - it's so fun to see Janet - and we rarely get the chance to just talk. When we arrived, Neera was there to pick us up.
We headed straight to dinner - we got tapas at a place in downtown Urbana. The food was good, and they had a great Sangria.
After dinner, we went back to Neera's place, changed into pajamas, and just hung out. We showed each other the sample videos from our videographer websites, and looked at Janet's florists' website. Eventually, we decided to watch a movie - Sense and Sensibility. I'm usually really good at staying up late to watch movies, but I was really tired, and even an hour into the movie new characters were being introduced, and I gave up. But as far as I can tell, the story is almost exactly the same as Pride and Prejudice, so it's ok.
The next morning we got up, had coffee, and started flipping through wedding magazines (we'd picked them up on the way home after tapas the previous night). It was fun to chat about all the decision that need to be made, and hear how other people are thinking about them. Which things are you splurging on and where are you cutting back? Are you going to have flower girls and ring bearers? What's the schedule for your wedding weekend? How did you pick a photographer? How do you coordinate decorations and things so that you have a cohesive 'style?' Do you have a theme? What kind of bridesmaid dresses are you thinking of? What traditions are you incorporating? Are you planning to give our welcome bags? And a million other little things...
Before we knew it, it was afternoon. We were getting hungry, so we got ready and went out to lunch at Olive Garden. It's been a long time since I've eaten there, but it used to be my go-to place in high school, and it was fun to go back. Plus the soup and salad lunch is a great deal!
After Olive Garden we headed over to the mall and did a little shopping. It was actually great for me - I found a few really cute sweaters, which I've been wanting, and I got a pair of black pants, which I really needed. (I used the gift certificate my brother gave me for my birthday - thanks, Brian!) It's nice to have some new things to wear, especially since Jeff and I still don't have access to the clothes in our apartment. (Also - did you know that The Gap and Banana Republic give a 15% student discount? Awesome!)
Eventually we got tired of shopping and decided to head home. We made a stop at the grocery store to pick up ingredients for dinner, and then we went home and made home-made pizzas (Neera made the dough from scratch!) and chocolate chip cookies (from pre-made dough). And we had champagne and raspberries.
For the rest of the evening we chatted, looked up more wedding things on our computers, and half-watched a bunch of episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress." We talked some about the difficulty of life planning when you have two motivated, career-oriented people in a couple. It's so difficult to make decisions about where to live, and its even hard to think about how to go about making those decisions. It seems like it's something more and more couples have to think about. As we got more tired, we turned on Sister Act and watched some of the best songs before eventually calling it a night.
On Sunday, we got up relatively early, got ready, and headed to brunch at a really cute little place in downtown Urbana. We shared a couple different breakfast burritos and some whole wheat pancakes. The place had cinnamon coffee, which was really good and reminded me of the holidays.
From there, we went to Lowes hardware store, where we spent a long time in the paint section picking out all sorts of color swatches to use to thinking about color palettes for our weddings. It's really helpful to have some concrete examples of different shades to be able to see how things look together. I think Jeff and I want to have yellow as our dominant color, but we're thinking about gray, blue, or purple shades to compliment it. The yellow is so bright and fun, and I think we can make it a little more formal by pairing it with some more muted colors. Still deciding, though!
From there, we headed off to the airport - as always, the weekend flew by, but it was great that we got to spend so much time just hanging out with the three of us - this is definitely a tradition we want to keep up!