Labor of Love



Erin & John McKay
June 7, 2014

My readers might think that I have been on a hiatus, but I assure you that I have not been on a vacation. I have been on a mission, a labor of love. I have been in labor three times. The birth of my son, the birth of my daughter, and more recently, the birth of my daughter’s wedding!

I have neglected the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Adventure and blogging in general, but I have incorporated many of the strategies to meet my goals of living a less stressed life.  I realize that even tho’ I’ve taken a considerable break, our author, Dr. Carlson, is whispering in my ear, “Don’t sweat the small stuff Barb, it’s going to be okay.”

Remember that chapter about the In Box? Well, not only was the In Box overflowing, but the Out Box was cranking away at lightning speed. What to do when everyone and everything demands your personal attention? You give yourself permission to step back and tackle the demands at hand in order of their priority. For me my top priority is family.

After my last post, I had 2 months…2 MONTHS to prepare for our daughter’s June wedding. As a caterer, we (no my husband) decided that we would cater the food. How is it a caterer cannot call another caterer? I’ll tell you why…EGO! I decided, by taking my own advice and following the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff strategies for a less stress, more enjoyable life, that I would not let his decision frazzle me too much. As long as he would take TOTAL control of the food preparation, cooking and staff, I would go with the flow. So with the catering taken care of I now faced the daunting task of turning an eighty year old country club pavilion, into a thing of beauty, not only for the reception, but for the ceremony as well!

From my youth I remember the pavilion as the center of many an outdoor community affair, but after decades of neglect it was showing wear and tear with just a glimpse of a more opulent time. So why did we select this venue you might be asking yourself. Well for several reasons. First and foremost was the location. One and a half miles from our home and two miles from our restaurant. With breathtaking, sweeping views of valley and mountains, a beautifully manicured golf course, and plenty of parking, the semi-outdoor building offered shelter (in case of bad weather), tons of room, clean bathrooms and was easily accessible for our out-of-town guests. Oh, and most importantly, we could cater there without having to use the country club’s caterer. Perfect!

If I had $10.00 per hour for every hour that I spent online looking for the appropriate theme, decorations, flowers, classy but disposable dinnerware, decorating ideas and so on, well, I’d have several hundred dollars…and my eyes would not still be bleeding from staring at the laptop.

What I finally came up with was to create an indoor garden within the cavernous structure, and because there were many birds flying and chirping about, I figured that they would blend right in with the theme. I called a local landscaper, Ed Kopec from Edwards Landscaping, who just happens to rent advertising billboard space on our restaurant property. With fingers crossed, I pitched a proposal to him that perhaps, and only if he were in agreement, that I would swap advertising rent for his landscaping services. Much to my amazement, and as I held my breath, he was more than happy to make the deal! We set a meeting date and met on a very chilly spring morning to survey the area. Ed thoughtfully brought his designer, who also just happen to have interior design experience and they carefully measured and discussed what they could do to create a “partition of greenery” to separate the “chapel” from the dance floor and dining areas. They would also landscape the area around where the entryway canopy would be erected. They told me the names of the flora and fauna that they would be using and asked if that was satisfactory to me. Satisfactory? Anything I thought, anything to turn this sows ear into a silk purse! My heart leapt with joy! Another turn of luck happened when the “powers that be” decided to paint the towering ceilings, build an attractive wall to hide the kitchen facility and give the place a sprucing up. Too bad the new shades didn’t arrive, but at least the old battered ones were removed.

Next, the florist. Heather was a doll. She quickly captured what my daughter and I were trying to create for the wedding. Lovely varieties of soft colored flowers and greenery in vases that I had made from wine bottles. (Don’t ask). I thought, if I can save a buck or two on vases, why not? My friend, another Ed, who owns a glass and tile business  quickly cut the necks from the bottles and voila!, the repurposed bottles were now country vases…at no charge! Heather arranged for an isle runner, designed and prepared large bouquets on pedestals to flank either side of the altar, boutonnieres for the groom, best man, ushers, fathers, and corsages for the mothers and grandmothers. My daughter’s and grand daughter’s bouquets looked like a creations from a Martha Stewart wedding magazine, and we couldn’t have been more pleased.

Other friends also chipped in. One provided lanterns with candles, so that saved me another buck or two. Another friend from childhood baked the cake for the ceremonial cutting and a groom’s cake as well. Two ladies from our catering staff made the fresh strawberry shortcakes for dessert. I had an all volunteer crew step in to help set up the afternoon prior to the event! They set the linens on the table, placed the candles, set the silverware and helped unload the rented crystal. With the seating in place, tables adorned with linens and candles, the bar areas set up like mini-pubs, the landscaping crew busy at work, and the chapel in place, the dream was now becoming a reality!


Gosh, I almost forgot the sound system! I called on the skills and resources of another good friend, John, a retired electrician, who lugged in and set up the sound system for the ceremony that included the keyboard piano, the microphones, amplifiers and monitors for the minister, judge, readers and guitarist! Wow, what an amazing feat. He also lugged it all out after the ceremony was over. God bless John.

I would like to step back and talk a bit more about the indoor garden. The afternoon before the wedding was D-day. Deliveries and set up. Ed’s crew showed up on time with four or five large dump trucks loaded with trees, shrubs, flowers, mulch, equipment and so much more. They patiently waited for the owner to arrive to begin instructing them on their individual duties. Ed was a tad late, and apologized that he was held up at another job. I said no worries, because it looked like they were also going to another site after completing our project. Ed said, “Oh, no. This is all for you!” My eyeballs instantaneously sprang with tears; tears of disbelief, joy and gratitude! The men unloaded tons of materials and went right to work. Mats were placed first, then the potted trees, roses, flowers and shrubs. Next, everything was watered, the mulch was mounded around each planting and decorative stone pavers were placed end to end to create the lovely garden path and partition. They did the same at the entryway, and now the magic for this long anticipated wedding was set!


With all the activity, details, and emotions, sometimes wedding days can become a blur, but not this one. It was the most joy-filled, beautiful, blessed day that I have ever witnessed. The florist finished her decorating at the pavilion, delivered our flowers to our home, and our stylist, Trisha, (a former employee) arrived to do our hair and makeup. Everything was on track. Months and hours of preparation and planning was now complete. Our catering staff was doing their thing, the bartenders and DJ were setting up, sound system and sound check completed, the bus to shuttle the guests was making its rounds from the hotels, and the men were suiting up, all handsome and happy. The bride, well the bride was a vision of beauty. I cannot say more.

My bother, an ordained Presbyterian minister and the groom’s father, a retired New York supreme court justice, co-officiated the service. Every reading, song and message carefully thought out and personal. Once the ceremony commenced, and as I looked around, I saw many tears of emotion as guests dabbed their eyes. “Damn, I thought, I forgot tissues!” Oh well…Don’t sweat the small stuff.

One last note. My deepest appreciation goes out to one very special lady who held my hand, or should I say we held each other’s throughout the whole process. My deepest gratitude to Cece from Irem Country Club for going above and beyond what her formal job title is. Without her diligent oversight, I couldn’t have pulled this off.

Kisses from AuntiesSo you see, sometimes it does take a village. It takes friends, family and associates with special talents, skills, resources and love. Lots of love.


Mother of the bride

Mother of the bride

It’s good to be back!


Next week we’ll resume the adventure and assess how far we’ve come!







  1. It was beautiful. Beautiful blog, beautiful wedding, and beautiful bride and handsome groom. It was a delight to see one of my former second graders get married and be so happy. We were so honored to be part of your celebration.

  2. StressLess says:

    Thank you Bev, we are honored by such good friends!

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