My brother Zach’s college graduation from New York University had come quick, and it was the perfect time to go back to New York City before the hot summer days were upon us. So a weekend trip in early June of 2012 was met with some jam-packed days and cocktail-sipping nights. Upon arrival we checked into our suave NYC hotel right in Times Square and started the trip off right with dirty martinis at a posh neighborhood tavern. We ventured south and met Zach and his girlfriend Liz at one of their favorite local Indian restaurants where the food is cheap and authentic, and the atmosphere can’t be beat. We haggled for free appetizers and ate round after round of delectable Indian cuisine until we could no longer… sitting happily under the thousands of red lights strung ornamentally from the ceiling. It was a gay old time. We cooled our spicy pallets on some beers at the nearby McSorley’s Ale House before getting late night cheesecake goodness and turning in… tomorrow would be a big day.
We woke to a gloomy day and anxiously headed over to Yankee Stadium where the New York University Graduation would be held. It was my first time at the Stadium which was exciting, as was the bevy of parents and the many students, all gleeful their accomplishment and openly optimistic of whatever would come next. A sea of purple graduation caps colored the stands of the commanding Yankee Stadium… the band played and the commencement begin. The inspiring and heartfelt speech by US Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor was the highlight, and soon we were outside searching desperately for our graduate among the thousands of people waiting to congratulate the class of 2012.
Zach was found with some of his friends, and the standard congratulatory photos were taken in his obnoxious cap and gown. The subway was too crowded to even describe, so we gave up, walked a few blocks, and settled at a local sports pub where we scored a table and scarfed down sandwiches, waiting out the crowd. We were finally able to take the subway back downtown, and passed the day walking around Times Square watching street artists and snapping photos.. we visited our favorite staples of the area, playing the ultimate tourists and not caring whatsoever. (I even took a photo with the infamous “Naked Cowboy”) We ventured further out towards Canal Street and at last, Little Italy… our favorite! I just love roaming the streets of Little Italy, smelling the homemade pasta goodness and taking in the scene… it has so much character it is like you have stepped onto the set of a movie. We did this until our stomachs were growling, which we satisfied with an amazing meal at one of my Dad’s favorite restaurants. Yum!
The next day was undoubtedly my favorite. Having gotten recently engaged, I was amidst baby’s first steps of wedding planning, and had been on the dress hunt. Previous years had me hooked on the TLC reality show dedicated to the art of the wedding gown… Say Yes To The Dress. I had spent hours online looking at various gowns and realized the overwhelming task this can become: white or off-whites, beaded or lace, A-line or fitted, train or non-traditional... it was no small feat! So it was perfect timing that we were heading to New York, home of KLEINFELD BRIDAL (the high-end fashion boutique for wedding gowns known round the world… and also home to Say Yes To The Dress), which houses the best designers and unique looks that even Chicago’s finest boutiques do not carry. So without ever having tried a dress on, I thought, what a better place to start? And I innocently booked an appointment.
So back to our third morning… I woke up and readied for the adventure ahead… my first wedding dress shopping experience! As we saw the tall glass doors of KLEINFELD inviting us in, I was admittedly nervous… like I was meeting the president or something. The place did not disappoint. Immediately upon entering, the place exudes confidence with its elegant décor, high ceilings, and plush furniture. Everything beige and white – the stars of the show (the gowns) line every wall, gleaming under perfect lighting and exaggerating their competing flare. The place was exclusive, appointment-only, and had only a few brides trying on gowns at once, which added even more class. A thick wad of printed photos in hand, I was overly prepared for the task ahead having researched my ideal fit and favorite designers. But would KLEINFELD have them? Of course! Little did I know this would be my only dress shopping experience, as just the second gown I draped around my body would be it. I had secretly hoped it would be “the one”, as it was by far the front runner in all my online preparation. One look in the mirror in this Lazaro ball gown and I was done for… fighting tears and breaking out into a rash of excitement – god I was girly. I tried on several more just to make sure, and in the end could not have been more confident. I was ecstatic to wear my choice once again and stand gloriously in front of the full-length garnished mirrors on a carpeted pedestal, my parents and brother looking on in approval and adoration. I was a bride!
Unable to wear off my excitement the rest of the afternoon, we shopped around and took a tour of Zach’s NYU classrooms where he learned the art of acting, TV and film, etc. Our sweet tooth was satisfied as we stopped for over-priced cupcakes at Billy’s Bakery, and ran into an assistant to Martha Stewart who was picking up pounds of homemade frosting for her show. We enjoyed the gorgeous day walking the parks and meeting Liz’s parents who were in town for the graduation as well. Our group of seven dined on flatbreads and bruschetta at an unassuming Italian spot before heading to a fundraiser event for Zach and Liz’s theatre troupe. The night of drinking and socializing was topped off with cheap slices of thin New York-style pizza.
The next day would be the smaller graduation ceremony for the Tisch school of theatre. We dressed up and walked to the nearby auditorium where the names of each graduate were called, and onstage they went to receive their diplomas… a paper invitation to the real world. After a long day, we had yet another celebratory dinner, this time at the highly anticipated Fig & Olive… and what decadent cuisine it was!
Our final day offered another gorgeous day of sun – we took full advantage. Jumping on the subway to Brooklyn, we met Zach and Liz and set out for the afternoon. To the gorgeous parks it was… we made it through several long stretches of Prospect Park, and onto the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. We climbed trees like kids and gawked fondly at the colorful scene of never-ending flower beds. This city can be over-the-top, dirty, and unrelenting. But if you look closely, you will find a little bit of magic.
For the full album of this trip, click here or visit the Photos Page.