Relaxing by the pool

by Jeff McNeil


This is the view from our first honeymoon trip to Marriott. We are hanging out by the pool having coconut frozen rum drinks and lunch. My wife has had a massage and facial spa treatment this morning and is radiant. I have watched movies and people watched by the pool. Could this afternoon get any better? I don’t think so.

Thank you to those who contributed to the Marriott honeymoon fund. We are enjoying our relaxing time so much!

The List: Table Questions

by Jeff McNeil
  1. What is Jeff and Jenn’s hotel chain of choice? (Marriott)
    Do you know them all?

    Do you know them all?

  2. Where was Jeff and Jenn’s first dinner date? (Salt Creek Grille)
  3. Where did Jeff propose? (West /or/ Hotel Angeleno)
  4. What TV show do Jeff and Jenn watch every night before going to sleep? (Friends)
  5. Name the two things Jenn collects? (Rubber Duckies and Barbies)
  6. On most weekends, Jeff and Jenn take photos of what? (weddings)
  7. Who is Jeff’s favorite Disney character? (Jessica Rabbit)
  8. Who is Jenn’s favorite Disney character? (Donald Duck)
  9. Why did Jeff and Jenn go to Albuquerque? (Hot Air Balloon Fiesta)
  10. Where are Jeff and Jenn going this December? (Paris)
  11. How many photos are on the walls of Jeff and Jenn’s apartment? (123)
  12. What was the first trip Jeff and Jenn took by plane? (New Mexico / Albuquerque)
  13. What was the first trip Jeff and Jenn took by train? (Seattle)
  14. What was the first trip Jeff and Jenn took by boat? (Mexico)
  15. What was the first trip Jeff and Jenn took by automobile? (Joshua Tree)
  16. How many states have Jeff and Jenn been to together? (12) California, Hawaii, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Oregon, Washington, Nevada
  17. What is Jeff’s middle name? (Anton)
  18. Whose car is cleaner? (Jeff’s)
  19. How many kids do Jeff and Jenn want? (One)
  20. What did Jeff and Jenn take photos of on their first photo date? (meteor shower)
  21. Who does Jenn sleep to the left of every night? (David Copperfield /or/ Viggo Mortensen – in a picture frame)
  22. Name two sci-fi shows Jeff watches. (Star Wars Clone Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, Firefly)

The Wedding Play List

by Jeff McNeil
The Dance Music
The Dance Music

For those who have been asking here is the song list for our wedding:

First Dance: “Two is better than one” by Boys Like Girls featuring Taylor Swift
Married Couple Dance: “Always and Forever” by Luther Vandross
Mother/Son Dance: “Hold Her Closer” by Blessid Union of Souls
Father/Daughter Dance: “Stealing Cinderella” by Chuck Wicks
Cake Cutting Song: “Only want to be with you” by Hootie and the Blowfish
Bouquet Toss Song: “Girls just wanna have fun” by Cyndi Lauper
Jeff & Jenn’s speech walk-up: “I want you to want me” by Letters to Cleo
Garter Toss Song: “Love in an elevator” by Aerosmith
Dollar Dance songs: “If I had a million dollars” by Barenaked Ladies, “Brand New Day” by Sting, “Complainte De La butte” by Rufus Wainwright

Jenn’s Letter From the Soul to Jeff

by Jenn

Celtic Handfasting – Tying the Knott

My Dearest Jeff~

From the moment I first met you, I knew you were special.  As cheeseball as the sounds, it is true.  It wasn’t love at first sight but it was something.  You charmed me.  You listened to me, you made me feel comfortable, and you created a sort of fantasy in my mind of what life could be like with you in it.

I will never forget our first outing together.  It wasn’t a date, but it was magical.  It was the first of the many travels we have had and will continue to have and my mother may have thought I was crazy, but you’ll be glad to know she doesn’t think that now.  We didn’t go far but that fantasy you created started to come to life when you took me to Joshua Tree.  I felt like I was in a whole new world.  And actually it was like the land of Aladdin and Jasmin – away from city lights with a view of more stars than I had ever seen before.

And that is what your love has done for me on a continuous basis – it takes me away: from work, from stress, from anxiety – to places of peace, excitement, fun and adventure.  I know I can go anywhere with you, but even being at home and lying in your arms is a place of serenity for me.

I hope we continue to travel the world but always come back to the home we have made together: a happy and loving place where we can grow old.  Though our address may change, my home will always be where you and I sit on the couch to talk about each day’s events, cook dinner for friends and family, and raise a family of our own one day.

I love you Jeff, more than I can ever explain, and I promise to continue to love you and add some fun to your life.  I will do whatever I can to help us “live long and prosper” as Spock would say, because I love you for the nerd that you are.  You may make me cry but you make me laugh so much more.

You are the sweetest man I’ve ever known and no one loves me like you do.  I will return that love as best I can and make you proud.  I promise to support you in everything you wish to do in life: succeed at work, buy a house, and travel because I know you will continue to support me as well.  I need you, forever, and I know this is the start of our forever together.

I promise to love you forever, no matter what happens.  And I promise to remember your love for me as well.  I do promise we will fight, but also that we will get through it.  And most of all I promise to keep living our lives together focusing on what makes us the most happy: setting and reaching our goals, traveling the world, and holding each other close on cold nights.

I cannot wait to start our lives together as husband and wife.  My heart and soul belong to you, Jeffrey Anton, for forever.

A Letter from Jeff’s Soul to Jennifer

by Jeff McNeil

To my love,

3 years, 10 months, 30 days and this morning, that is how long I have known that we were going to be together.  From the clear star lit night in Joshua Tree, I have known you were the girl for me.  I remember that night like it was yesterday, the faint glow over the horizon of Palm Springs and the bone chilling cold of the desert darkness.  I will always treasure that first night together in the back of the Jeep talking and taking photos until the early morning hours.

You and I started our path together as friends with a common passion for photography and it has blossomed into love of photography with a passion for each other.  I adore our photo books you make every year of the places we go and events we see.  It helps to show me how much my life has changed since you came into it.  I am happier than I ever have been, more fulfilled in life and love and most of all more confident in the future now that you are by my side.

I would not change any part of how we got to this moment here in Dana Point.  For I know that everything I was, everything I am and everything that I will be was meant to happen so that I could be with you for forever. I know not what is in store for us in the future but knowing you are with me means that everything will turn out picture perfect.

Over the past years I have seen the image of me in your family come more into focus.  I want to give back some of the love and support your family has extended me over the years.  I want to be part of the fun Uncle Jeff & Aunt Jenn summer vacations that George will take when he is old enough.  I am ready to be part of your family if you will accept me.

From Hawaii to New Orleans, Mexico to Seattle I know that wherever your soul goes, mine yearns follow.  I need you Jennifer McNeil.  I need you like the desert needs the rain.  I need you for all the starry nights we will have in the future.  I will follow you anywhere, and I will be sure to not forget the camera.

I pledge this to you my love, my wife, Jennifer McNeil with all my heart and soul

Jeff

Scott Land – Photographer

by Jeff McNeil
Scott Land

Scott Land

What can I say about Scott Land? www.scottlandphotography.com  I feel that the 3 of us (Scott, Jenn and myself) have spent enough time together over the past few weeks to not jsut have a professional relationship but a good friendship.

I first met Scott at a bridal expo in Newport Beach.  He had a photo booth he was including in his packages.  Jenn loved the photo booth idea.  When we got engaged we thought of some of our friends who could shoot the wedding, but really wanted them not to be working that day.  We contacted Scott and hired him the day we met for lunch.  He was our 1st interview and the one we wanted to shoot our wedding.  As luck would have it, he had Oct 16th open. I am sure that if he was busy that weekend, we might have had to reschedule the wedding.

Scott me with us several more times for brain storming and walk-throughs of photo sites.  All in all I am sure we met up with him 6 or more times.  Each time we felt more open and comfortable with his style of shooting and fun ideas.  Being photographers ourselves we knew some fun shots too and bounced ideas off of each other.

The day of the wedding him and his 2nd photgrapher John, did an amazing job.  I am very impressed with the photos so far.  Scott got some great angles of the ladies and John had some fun shots with the guys.  I can’t believe that he threw his camera in the air to get some photos of the big group of us.  The fun the wedding party was having was because of Scott’s fun photo ideas and wedding party’s willingness to do slightly crazy things.

At the reception Scott excused himself for a short time to edit some photos to put up on a 22″ iMac he brought.  It was fun to show the wedding guests the early day prep and other angles of the ceremony.  I can’t wait to see the reception photos.  After the night was over and he was off the clock, we sat down with him in Salt Creek Grille.  He had a fun full day with Jenn and I.  We felt the same.  It was a great day, awesome photos and I hope to use him in the future for my great photo session ideas.  Anyone know of a large water fountain to re-create the opening credits of FRIENDS?

I am more than happy to provide a glowing referal for Scott. If you want to use him for your event photography, go to www.scottlandphotography.com

Graham Silver – DJ & MC

by Jeff McNeil
Graham Silver

Graham Silver

DJ Graham Silver, www.silvertunes.com, was our DJ and MC for the night of our reception.  Jenn and I hired him through A Night To Remember Entertainment and Gil Sotelo.  Graham was professional at all points of our conversations.  We met him to go over details of the reception, and he came back to us with some suggestions like to place the toasts during dinner so they don’t take up other time for dancing.

Graham’s professionalism throughout the night meant that I could have fun at my reception while he was making sure we were on schedule and having fun during activities we had going on.  It all seemed so short when I look back on it now, 5 hours seems to disappear in the blink of an eye.  Graham and the lighting crew from A Night To Remember made me want to post about how well they made my ideas for the wedding come true.

I was happy with the lighting done for my wedding.  Adding some color to the otherwise white tables.  I hope it turned out good photos from Scott Land.  I am happy to say that I would hire Graham again for a large party in a heat beat.  If you would like his contact information please go to www.silvertunes.com.

Sylvia Fellows – Silhouette Artist

by Jeff McNeil
Sylvia Fellows - Silhouette Artist

Sylvia Fellows – Silhouette Artist

Sylvia Fellows, Disneyland silhouette artist, was a major attraction at our wedding.  She did 85 silhouettes of more than 160 people, some with multiple sittings.  Her skill with scissors and eye for facial characteristics is beyond compare.  I am delighted she could be a part of our fun wedding reception at Salt Creek Grille.

Jenn and I have been getting silhouettes done of us for Jenn’s mother for some time now.  It is an annual tradition to have one done around Christmas for her present.  I was a little worried when Jenn said she wanted a silhouette artist at the wedding, I asked “How does that fit with our travel theme?”  But she assured me it would be a big hit with everyone.  Being that it was our wedding I agreed to hire Sylvia to cut silhouettes at the wedding.

I know Sylvia a little more than the average Disneyland guest.  I always strike up a conversation with her when we go in.  It takes Sylvia only seconds to cut out your facial features from paper.  One time we stayed there for more than 20 minutes talking to her.  She has been doing the Main Street USA silhouettes for too many years to count.  I knew that when Jenn hired her, the guests would be excited to sit and have a cutting done.

I am so pleased with the everything that Sylvia brought to the reception.  I do not think it would have been as fun a time without her.  There were old co-workers getting silhouettes done, couples and friends even the groomsmen and bridesmaids got one done.  Thank you so much Sylvia for making our wedding one of the most memorable for us and our guests.

If you want to get in touch with Sylvia for an upcoming event you are hosting, please let me know.  I would be happy to pass on the information.

We Are Married!!!

by Jenn

Day of Wedding, are those butterflies?

by Jeff McNeil
Woohoo!!

Woohoo!!

There is just enough time to get on here and say the immortal words of Ross Geller, “I am getting married today!  Woohoo!” from the 2nd wedding to Emily.  The scene is where Chandler is in the hotel room and Ross barges in.  He yells the line then exits the room.  Monica comes out from under the covers and asks, “Do you think he noticed me?”

I will see you all today at 4pm for the ceremony with reception to follow at 5pm.  Woohoo!

UPDATE:  After I posted this I realized that I had forgotten my tie clip and that my watch that Jenn gave me has not been re-sized.  I found the nearest FOSSIL store at South Coast Plaza and had my watch re-sized in no time flat.  I then ran around the Macy’s store looking for the men’s accessories area for a tie clip for myself.  I had 3 tie clips for the groomsmen but none for me.  So $25 later I had one that matched the groomsmen and I was on my way to the Marriott Newport Coast Villas.  I was stressed to be sure. But I made it there on time and everything went well that day.

The day/night before with my guys

by Jeff McNeil
Jackass 3D

Jackass 3D

FYI, if this is out of order, it is October 15th, the night before the wedding.

The afternoon of Friday October 15th was something to behold.  Chris (Jenn’s brother) and I went all around southern California looking for a shirt that was pink enough to pass Jenn’s test and just his size.  We went to Macy’s in Laguna Hills, Big & Tall in Lake Forest, Men’s warehouse in Lake Forest, Men’s Warehouse in Santa Ana, JCPenny in Santa Ana, 3 Day Suit Broker in Fullerton and finally Burlington Coat Factory in Fullerton.  Sure enough, the pink shirt that was just his size that was the perfect color was at the Fullerton Burlington Coat Factory, which was in the same parking lot as…. the restaurant we where were going to dinner.  WTF!  We spent hours and hours driving around, trying on shirts and looking at different shades of pink and what do you know… same damn parking lot.  You could see the store from the restaurant’s front door.  I have a video of it on my phone, ask me about it.  I was so beside myself.

After the shirt was found the guys and I went to Amazon Brazilian BBQ in Fullerton.  Man is that place an excellent dinner spot.  If you love meat and have an empty stomach don’t walk, run to dinner there.  The 4 of us had such a great time that I want to go back as soon as possible.  The price was about $25 for the buffet which includes more than 20 meat brought right from the rotisserie to your table and cut there while you watch.  The Brazilian beer is pretty darn good too.  After the dinner we were all stuffed and went to go see Jackass 3D in Anaheim.  I have not laughed that hard in a long time.  I am not ashamed to say that I laughed so hard i cried for a few seconds.  I would recommend you go and see it if you like seeing other people get hurt or do stupid things.  If you like shows like Tosh.0, go see Jackass 3D.

Rehearsal & Dinner with Brother Jon

by Jeff McNeil

The rehearsal & dinner went well.  Everyone showed up for the rehearsal, thanks to Sarah for finding the right freeways to get to our place on time.  We ran through the ceremony twice to be sure we all knew what was going to happen and when.  Brother Jon brought handcuffs for Jenn and I to be bound with.  And he also brought his ceremonial indian head dress to make it all official.  The dinner afterwards was at BJ’s Pizza in Huntington Beach.  It was a nice dinner with all you could eat pizza and pizzokie.  Mmmm.. BBQ chicken and great white.  So yummy.  Jenn and I also exchanged gifts at the dinner.  I got her  custom Barbie doll made to look just like her.  She got me a FOSSIL watch I had wanted for years.  I was so excited about my watch.  Our girls and guys got presents too, but I feel the biggest reaction came from Brother Jon and his autographed Troy Polumalu Superbowl football.  Jon was beside himself when he saw it.  He took many photos with it and I am sure it is on his wall at work being drooled over by his co-workers.  It was a great night, thank you to all who came and participated.  It would not have been as fun without all of our friends and family.

Down to the last few days…

by Jeff McNeil
Jeff and Jenn

Jeff and Jenn

So Jenn and I have been going over the final details of our wedding plans.  The apartment looks like it was the day after Christmas. And I feel a little stressed with all the planning.  Now don’t get this confused with stress about being wed.  I am excited to be marrying Jenn.  I am stressed about the plans for the wedding party/reception/celebration.  The final plans are coming into focus now.  The meals are counted and done, seating has been set and the ceremony, reception and hotel are all 100% in order.  Now all that has to happen is for Jenn and I to show up and start this whole thing off on Saturday.  How fun is that?

I even got some Cajun spiced run from the Old New Orleans Rum distillery that Jenn and I went to when we went to NO last year.  It will be a great pre-party a great ceremony and an awesome reception.  I can’t wait for it all to begin.  Can we just fastforward to Saturday already?

As a reminder, ladies, do not wear heels.  The ceremony site will be on grass.

DJ Graham Silver

by Jeff McNeil

Saturday morning Jenn and I met with our DJ.  Graham Silver has been doing events for 15 years and is a professional DJ/MC.  He sat with us at a Starbucks for an hour to go over all of our hopes, dreams, aspirations, wishes and wants.  We told him the types of music we wanted, mostly 80’s and 90’s.  With some other special songs for the dance numbers.  There will be a honeymoon dance and an anniversary dance so bring your good dancing shoes.

One of the things we talked about was the fact that at every wedding you hear the same songs used for the bouquet like Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”  That song will not be used, we will have a different song for most everything.  Even the last song will be a little different, it will not be “The Last Dance” but Semisonic’s “Closing Time”

We  joked that morning about a DJ we thought was terrible, DJ Self-promotion (his identity hidden to protect him).  At a wedding that Jenn and I shot photos for, we saw him ask a bride if he could take down their photo slide show and put up his own self-promotional graphics.  How unprofessional.  Guess what, last Saturday night while at Salt Creek Grille for a meeting with our officiant, DJ Self-promotion was there working the dance floor.  The music was too loud and cheesy jokes were flowing quite freely. I know our wedding will be better.

Honeymoon Destination #1 – Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa

by Jeff McNeil

 The Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa is our first stop on the year long honeymoon.  It is located outside of Palm Springs.  It is a hotel Jenn and I have stayed at before for our 2nd anniversary.  We booked a jacuzzi suite and spa treatments.  This is also the hotel where Jenn gave me my titanium band which I currently wear.

At the hotel they have a golf course, 2 pools, multiple fire pits, 2-3 restaurants and bars as well as a top notch spa.  Jenn and I had our first couples massage at this spa and it was my first massage ever.  I was nervous and didn’t know what to do.  I went into the massage room with my boardshorts still on.  Jenn laughed, I got even more nervous.  The massages were great and so was relaxing outside in the private hot springs and cabanas.

We are looking forward to going back and perhaps another massage.  We are also looking forward to going to Grill-a-burger (pronoucned Gorilla burger) in Downtown Palm Springs.  It is our favorite burger joint ever.  Also our first burger joint we went to on our 1st activity date.  If you are ever in Palm Springs I highly recommend looking them up.  Burgers bigger than you have seen this side of the Mississippi and with anything you want on them.

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