This school year was pretty challenging for me. It was a little harder for me to apply myself because of all the friends that I have made and I couldn’t help but wanting to hang out with them all of the time. 

My classes were amazing, except for geometry and chemistry, of course. My geometry teacher was a kind man, but the whole year he was generous with rewarding me with my grade and I should have learned more than I did. Still, I will definitely be prepared for the ACT. Chemistry well, that was just a struggle and a half. As much as I tried to buckle down, it didn’t exactly work out…

I would not say that high school is competitive; maybe competitive to achieve good grades in order to be granted privileges from your parents, but not anything Olympic like…

Peer pressure is easy just say no and stick to your gut feeling. I have had to make the decisions to lay off of Facebook and texting in order to study, which is probably the hardest challenge so far.

I value advice from my parents, even though they don’t always tell me what I want to hear. But I know that they are advising me in my best interest. At the same time I like confiding in my friends and asking for their opinion because I feel like they would be on more relatable grounds, more able to understand me.

I have taken on new responsibility – a JOB!!!! I’m a lifeguard at Hartigan Beach and a proud employee of the Chicago Park District.

I am in swimming and water polo and I absolutely love training hard and long tiring practices! They make me feel accomplished and BA once I’m done with them (: I feel as if I have a one up on everyone, like, hey, guess what I did at 6 am while you were sleeping?

Melissa & Jerry

When I first met Melissa and Jerry I could sense right away they had a strong bond and connection. But when I learned that Melissa lost her father a year ago just 2 weeks before their wedding my heart melted. I, too, lost my dad 16 years ago and to this day I miss my “shorty” to pieces, but I know he’s with me every moment. So Gino and I (Gino having lost his father too) both felt we had to pay some sort of special tribute to her father during the ceremony.

When Gino landed the perfect location for Melissa and Jerry’s wedding, the Brooklyn Bridge Park, I thought “historical, vintage, outdoors” can’t get any better than this. Then Marisa got an email from Parks and Recreation that there was a sink hole there due to weather. She told me right after she received the news; after all, I was sitting right across from her. But she didn’t forward the email to Gino right away because she wanted to tell him in person that afternoon when we all met up. OOPS! Not a good idea. Next time Mother Nature decides to rain on our parade, alert Gino ASAP. But thank the wedding gods above for Pebble Beach!

In the scene where the balloon escaped from my hands and flew away, I really was mortified, I wanted to vomit. You didn’t see it on camera but I looked at Marisa and gave her look like I “God I wish I were you right now!” We did manage to get another balloon – yeah! When it was time for the ceremony to begin, I was in charge of the “munchkin” wedding party. It’s funny because whenever there are kids involved in a wedding party, Gino and Marisa always say, “Sandy will handle.” When the moment came of letting go of the balloon dedicated to Melissa’s father, we gathered her mom and sisters around. It was such a touching moment for all of us. They have a great story to tell…and will continue to add on to their story (hopefully having little munchkins of their own).

Lisa and Ross

Lisa is a serial marry-er with 3 marriages already under her belt and the 4th counting. One thing Ross said about Lisa is that she changes her mind often. Really!? Lisa has such a magnetic personality, so full of life, so beautiful, what man wouldn’t fall in love with her? I hope it stops here with Ross because he’s such a sweet and down-to-earth guy. Gino put me in charge of decorating the wedding venue, which I so love to do. I didn’t want to go overboard with the decorations because the rooftop’s backdrop already provided such a beautiful setting.

On the day of their wedding Gino and I had a quick pow-wow on how he envisioned the layout of the space. He was literally climbing over every piece of furniture trying to convey his “vision.” Meanwhile I was chuckling to myself thinking, “Wow, you are like King Kong the Wedding Planner right now!” But I stayed focused. Marisa wasn’t present because she was working another wedding. But I certainly had everything under control. In moments like this it’s good to have Marisa there because Gino is sometimes like the Tasmanian Devil. He throws out idea after idea, so if I happen to miss something, Marisa will catch it and vice versa. Once again, Mama Sandy took control of the ‘tween wedding party. I love that part!

Overall, Lisa and Ross’s wedding was so magical from her dress, to her walk down the isle with her son Anthony and even to their “special” dance. It certainly was their “New York wedding moment.”

I love getting to know my couples and really getting into the nitty gritty of how they met, how they proposed and the special things they share. Melissa and Jerry are my borough couple.

He’s from Queens, she’s from Brooklyn and they decided they wanted an outdoor themed wedding in NYC…now that’s a CHALLENGE! It broke my heart that a year ago they had to cancel their wedding two weeks before the date because Melissa’s father passed away. I lost my father too and immediately felt a connection to her. My first priority was to incorporate Melissa’s father into the service …I didn’t know how but I was hell bent on making it happen. So I started brainstorming with the girls about possible locations and how to personalize their wedding. THEY ARE not the couple you find on top of the cake, THEY ARE hip and cool and slightly edgy. They like vintage cars and steel structures (well New York has a lot of that) hmm…OK!

Well we were so excited; we FINALLY nailed her wedding location. In NYC you practically need a permit to go to the bathroom, and trust me I’m a New Yorker; it can be a lot of red tape getting the perfect location legally locked down. Melissa and Jerry were going to be married with the most beautiful view of all of New York City. Then we got the e-mail about the sink hole… helloooo?! I’m a wedding planner I didn’t even know what a sink hole was and I still don’t but someday I’ll Google it. All I’m thinking about now is plan B. BTW, seriously I had no idea there was a pebble beach in Brooklyn, and I used to be a NYC tour guide. At the end of the day it wasn’t THEIR first choice and it wasn’t their second choice, but it ended up being the PERFECT location for Melissa and Jerry’s wedding. More importantly we got to pay tribute to her father, and I have to admit part of me was thinking about my dad when we let those balloons go. It was a very emotional moment for everyone.

Congratulations, Melissa and Jerry!

Lisa and Ross, what can I say, I LOVE THIS BRIDE! Even though it was her 4th wedding she acted like it was her 1st …good for her! Whether it was selecting her wedding dress, location or flowers, she never made a decision that she didn’t change later. When she finally settled on the right dress (I still loved mine Lisa!!!) the right flowers and a flawless hairstyle, she got it all right. Here’s a new Gino rule: if you are a guest at a wedding, don’t RSVP on Facebook as most brides are too busy to check their page! So when the day finally arrived, Lisa had a big surprise, there were 25 more guests, ugh! I seriously thought that the fire Marshall was going to shut us down, and I think I lost 5lbs worrying about it. This was a wedding with a lot of beautiful moments. I think one of the most touching was when Lisa asked her son Anthony to walk her down the aisle. She might have been married before but Anthony loves and believes in his mom and so do I. Lisa and Ross’s wedding vows were very real, they spoke from their hearts and I don’t think you got to see but everyone got really emotional … even the waiter cried! To me what really makes a wedding intimate is when you can stand there in front of the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with and all of their guests including that fire Marshall and speak from the heart!

I know Lisa finally found her soul mate; I could feel it …couldn’t you?