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Category Archives: Palm Beach

Five Minute Fridays: Ordinary. Or not. Apologies in advancce

by SweetMidlife

I should look like this all the time.

Leslie here!


I know that the word is “ordinary” but I saw the prompt and suddenly Liz Phair’s “Extraordinary” jumped into my head and then I knew I would be writing about that, and not about being “ordinary.” As my creative muse Shawn Colvin once wisely sang, I’ll say I’m sorry now.

Actually, I’m not sorry, because “extraordinary” is just a version of “ordinary.” It’s from the Latin, meaning, “more” or “turbo,” or “really, really pumped up.” It’s a wonderful word, because it’s so simple – the extraordinary version of you is you, plus more. It’s not somebody else, with someone else’s weight or hair or profession. It’s the extra-pumped version of you, building on the base of your own fabulousness, your own awesome, your already existing cool.

All you need to do to be extraordinary is to gird yourself in your reality, take a big breath, and reach. High. Strong. Away. Be grounded in the you, in the reality, but multiply that. Say “What more can I be and still be me? What rungs of awesome have I not climbed?”

I went to a public event last night, like I do for my job, still wearing really beautiful makeup I had had professionally done at the NARS counter at Lord and Taylor in Boca Raton, and I got so many smiles and hugs, but no one said “You look especially pretty tonight” like they did at work where they know I’m a schlub sometimes.

These people who have seen my face in the paper where I am a columnist just assumed that I look like this all the time, that the ordinary me is the extraordinary me. And why shouldn’t she be?

I am extraordinary, like Liz said.


Five minute Fridays: Fall

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!


I am a clumsy runner. The evidence is all over my knees, because I am also an easy scar-er. Which is to say that my toned legs are also covered in the fading reminders of spills taken on city streets, on the concrete trail that overlooks the insanely huge house on Palm Beach, just a hop, skip and jump over the Intracoastal Waterway.

So I fall. But I know how to fall. That’s something my daddy always told me – “Learn how to fall” which means more that you know how to catch yourself. I fall so much now over the sidewalk, my own feet or ill-timed attempts at voguing while running (don’t do that) that my body now instinctively folds over itself, my hands automatically dropping to catch myself as I scrunch in to avoid impact on my knees, on my chest.

I know what I am doing but my fellow runners and dog walkers don’t know that I do. All they see is this not young, not small woman taking a sudden violent spill on the sidewalk – I’ve had cars slow down and shriek “Are you OK?” But by then I’ve always popped up like a middle-aged whack-a-mole.

“I’m OK!” I say, sometimes while bleeding, and then I keep running.

You are going to fall. Learn how to fall. Get up. Smile. Dust off the blood. Keep running.


What a dog taught me about gratitude, or “Yay! Grass!”

by SweetMidlife
Stop and smell the grass. Or rub in it like a sweet crazy dog.

Leslie here! I don’t have a dog, but I have become close to two of them, Kira and Doubleday, the canine children of my friends Libby and Adam. My husband and I had the pleasure of sitting for them while their human parents went to Key West for New Year’s weekend. The time with them clued me on not only on the world of doggie drama – brief squabbles over who gets the best floor pillow and Kira clocking Doubleday’s extra food – but how it’s possible to stop, drop and literally roll into life’s simple pleasures without the world stopping in its tracks. In other words, nobody’s gonna die if you take a minute and smell some flowers.

Or some grass.

Enter Doubleday.

Libby and I took a walk with the doggies on the Intracoastal Waterway yesterday, on one of those delicious Florida winter mornings that feels like a temperate spring that make people want to move here. Kira, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, was on my arm, and is a pretty chill walker. Pit bull mix Doubleday, on the other hand, always runs outside as if she has never seen outside before – she glances every which way, smelling the air, feeling the ground under her and getting so overwhelmed by all the exotic wonder that she sees every single day that she can barely stop her little doggie head from exploding.

It’s hilarious. And it was especially awesome yesterday, when, mid-walk, Doubleday just dropped to her back and started rubbing herself from side to side in the grass, like a little gray fur-covered pendulum, her tongue hanging out dramatically and her ecstatic panting seeming to say “OH MY GOSH! IT’S GRASS! DO YOU KNOW GRASS? HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THIS BEFORE? WHERE DO THEY MAKE THIS STUFF?”

This dog gets walked every day, in the same place. Nothing here is completely new to her. But Libby says that at least once a walk, her sheer puppy joy at the simple pleasure of rubbing in the grass takes over and she just cannot help herself.

I’m about to sound like an Afterschool Special here, but don’t you think we can learn something from this goofy lovely dog, who doesn’t care what’s happening as long as she can lose herself in the wonderfulness of a moment? Of course we can. I’m going to start posting Doubledays of the Day, small ways in which we can shut down our day for a few minutes, without hurting anybody, and let life in.

Today, I took five minutes between writing stories to make a cup of tea. Tea is underrated. And it’s the most chill time of my day, even if I have to get up to make it.

Do you guys have suggestions? Bring them on! And go smell some grass!

Today’s reason I’m glad I got married: Airport pickups!

by SweetMidlife

Don't need this no more!

Leslie here!

I didn’t drive till I was 22 – the kindness of strangers and the ease of public transport helped me survive- but in the nearly two decades since then, I have paid that karmic debt back by being the queen of the ride giving. Need a designated driver? I’m there. Need a lift home from a party? Leslie’s taxi at your service! I have particularly been pressed into service as an airport transporter, largely because I was part of a network of single women who didn’t have local family or a significant other to automatically assume the duty.

But after a while, in the sunrise/sunset thingamagic that is life, things change. A lot of my mutual airport hook-ups moved away, meaning that they were now going to airports, and I no longer had anyone to reciprocate when I needed a lift. That’s particularly problematic when I’m hitting a further-away airport – the local one is ten minutes from my office, so if need be I can park there and cab it. But I’m not paying for a cab for 45 minutes, and the rail service, while available, is sometimes not convienent (read: running when the heck I need it to).

So, in the spirit of the old beer commercials, I gotta give today’s Bride at 35 Nod of Excellence, which I made up several words ago, to Mr. Legally Contracted To Pick Me Up From The Airport, otherwise known as my husband. (I know that’s probably not in the law, but that was 100 percent in my wedding vows, up there with always taping our soap operas and never punking on him.)

“If I fly out of Fort Lauderdale instead of Palm Beach, will you take me to the airport and pick me up?” I asked Scott.

“I’m almost insulted,” he said. “Of course. We’re married. Are you kidding me?”

That’s what I like to hear. I asked because I never had anyone who thought it was their duty to take me anywhere, although my sister usually does the duty when I’m on her end. I actually had a guy break up with my via text message when I was out of town but still pick me up from the airport the next day because he’d promised, making him only half a douche. And when I visited Oil Rigging Guy, my least-favorite mistake, he picked me up, but couldn’t take me to the airport because he was working. Supposedly. That guy was such a liar I sometimes think he conjured his own existence up with false memories and crocodile tears.

But my husband is a stand-up guy, and a man. A real man. The kind of man who watches fashion shows on TV because I like them, who gets insulted at the mere implication that I’d have to ask him for rides when of course he’ll give them. He’s the best man in the world, and I waited all this time to have him. And get free rides to the airport.

“Say Yes To The Dress: Bridesmaids”…an open letter

by SweetMidlife

Dear jealous heifer skanks...umm, the cast of “Say Yes To The Dress: Bridesmaids”:

Have you lost your fricking minds?

Let me back up a little and give you the consideration that the testiest of you have not given your bride friends, at least on camera. Having watched the first two episodes last week, and taping the second two tonight because I like pretty wedding crap, I have come to one of three conclusions. I’m leaning towards the thirds:

— You’re victims of horrible vicious edits and should sue.

— You’re misguided little girls who think it’s funny to be awful on TV, and are playing a character to get more attention.

— You’re miserable little jealous twits who are not worthy of the friendship that got you into this wedding and on this show.

Yeah. The third one seems much more likely, especially since even if you’re faking for the camera, you don’t mind looking like a miserable little jealous twit.

As we have addressed before on this blog, both Lynne and I have been bridesmaids (I’m gearing up for my ninth stint down the aisle as a supporting player) with brides of all different styles. And we both have dresses that we love, like OK and, in two cases (at least for me) didn’t love at all. But never, ever, ever have we pitched a giant, bratty fit in the middle of a store and, like a particularly odious chick from last week’s shows named Nikki, insisted that we were just as important as the bride.

No. You. Are . Not.

In the old days of Roman tradition, bridesmaids were ten women dressed identical to the bride to confuse the evil spirits who had presumably come to the wedding to curse the happy couple. So, evil nasty bridesmaids who aren’t being used as evil spirit bait, doesn’t your job seem better?

Here’s what you need to know: This is not about you. This is about your friend, or your cousin, or your sister, or your sister-in-law and her special day. That does not imply that she should be holding you hostage in your bridesmaidhood and forcing you to wear something horrible that cost more than your car payment. If the bride is being unreasonable, or if you just can’t afford the dress that’s picked, you have every right to say no. And if she is your friend, she will understand.

But once you agree, you must understand your place. You are not there to be the star of the show, or make your perfect fashion statement, or to show everyone what your favorite color is, because, and you must listen to me…IT IS NOT YOUR WEDDING. If the bride is a good person and she wants you all to wear the same dress, she will take you to a fitting and have you try on dresses and not pick anything that the majority of the bridesmaids will not look great, or at least good in. She will not want you to look awful, or stupid, or to go broke and have to eat ramen noodles and bitterness for the next year.

If she is a good person, she will take your comfort and budget into consideration. And, again, if you think she is being unreasonable, tell her respectfully that it’s out of your league. But you can not expect her to change her wedding colors because you don’t like them. You can not hold her hostage to your pettiness, your whims and your threats that if she does not love the dress, you won’t be in her wedding.

Because if you do, and she is not a pushover, or being made to have you in her wedding by family pressure, she will slap you with a sample dress and tell you to get the hell out of the salon, out of her wedding, and out of her life. And even if she’s being pressured, she needs to get some bridal courage and tell her family NO.

This is not the 80s or even the 90s, when they didn’t make bridesmaids dresses you could wear again. Maybe to an 80s prom, like I did with one of my mother’s dresses, or ironically at one of those hipster 80s proms now attended by people who weren’t alive then. But now, most of the dresses I see are appropriate for other cocktail parties or formals. And if you never go to cocktail parties or formals, or the dress is in a color you just don’t do, suck it up. If you agreed to be in this wedding, suck it up.

My sister and I, because we’ve been through this, and because we were both getting married in our late 30s and aren’t of the opinion that our friends live to be our slaves, told our bridesmaids that they could pick their own dresses, with some parameters – Lynne’s just had to be brown, with some sort of orange accent for her fall wedding, and mine had to be somewhere between pink and purple. I didn’t care about the length. I just wanted them appropriate for a Palm Beach brunch wedding and not to look like they were about to voulez vous couchez avec them. You know?

So clearly, there were some women in my wedding who do not usually wear pink or purple. But they know those are my favorite colors, so that was no negotiable. And they had every color in the pink-purple spectrum to choose from. So I couldn’t help them if they were passionately opposed to those, like, 87 colors. Within that huge, wide spectrum, they all found something within their budget and comfort zones and they all looked hot. Even Jason the Bridesman had a purple tie. Hotness.

My friend Stephanie, who was one of my girls and whose matron of honor I will proudly be in the spring, actually sent us all a paint sample strip and said “Wear one of these colors of blue.” Seriously. How cool is that? Most people look good in some sort of blue. My friend Nikki, another bridesmaid, said “Wear a red dress in this fabric.” Cool. My bridesmaid/wedding planner Kiki had us go play in a bridal store until we picked pretty black dresses in a shorter length. I have worn mine three other times. Paid for itself.

Of course, this is not always the way a bride works. But all of the brides in the first couple of episodes were nice, reasonable people being literally shamed publicly for the honor of having picked these women to stand up for them. And I’m talking about some of you. If you hate the girl, don’t be in her wedding. That simple. I will tell you the same thing I tell wedding guests who get all put out that the couple won’t deign to get them drunk for free by supplying an open bar, or a bar at all – If you don’t love these people enough to forgo alcohol for three hours, don’t go. And see someone about your alcoholic douche issues.

What it means for you is that if you can’t put your petty transparent jealous skank face away for a few months and wear a dang dress, you aren’t worth it. And you need to ask yourself why it makes you feel good to humiliate this woman you’re supposed to love.

My guess would be one of the following:

— You have no idea how you come off, and are as horrified as the rest of us when you watch yourself.

— You suck.

I am leaning toward the second one.

The best wedding advice I took: Shutting up and listening

by SweetMidlife

This is not from my wedding pictures.

My sister Lynne asked you guys for the best advice you’d gotten as a bride, and advice you didn’t want to take that turned out to be good. I have similar stories – as an older-esque bride, I’d had a lifetime of planning weddings in my head, without any wedding actually in the offing. By the time the real thing came along, I had to learn to let go of some of the stuff in my head that didn’t fit my reality. I also had to, as Lynne did, shut up long enough to listen to people who loved me and knew better.

Here’s what I learned:

— I had this idea – and like most of my ideas, I thought it was brilliant – that my big wedding party photo would be of me and my 87 bridesmaids walking down toward the beach in our dresses and sunglasses. I wanted us to look fierce and cool like in that tracking shot in “Reservoir Dogs” – because who doesn’t want their wedding pictures to remind people of a bloody Tarantino movie?

I was all prepared for the shot, to come between the ceremony and the reception – I even swiped my mom’s shades as my “something borrowed.” But something nefarious got in the way of this shot I wanted so desperately – the wedding starting about 25 minutes late. By the time we too individual photos with each member of the party and assembled for the group shot by the pool, we were all ravenous and so were the guests (who started eating without us. Bad tacky bad.) So Nathaniel, our beloved friend and photographer, very gently said “So…that beach shot?”

And I knew that what he was sweetly saying was “Babe…you gotta let that go or your guests will start eating your bouquet.” I said “It’s gonna take a long time?” and he said “Yeah.” So I sighed, looked at the people I loved and at all of the photos we already had, and decided against it at that moment.

— The other best piece of advice I got was from my bridesmaid-planner-guru The Kiki, who knows that I am not an organized sister. She suggested that I buy my Thank You cards before the wedding, so that when I cam back from the honeymoon, they’d all be there. She also suggested I address them beforehand, and  actually got a good amount done, Not all, because I’m me. But it was a crazy time saver.

How about you guys?

The Bride35 Bad Day Special: The Breathalyzer and the Damage Done

by SweetMidlife

Leslie has been baring her soul and the lintiest regions of her dating closet to make you guys feel hopeful, and hopes that you’ve had some chuckles, and some inspiration. I have saved, for this Valentine’s Day weekend, the worst one in my arsenal, the dating experience that would make an amateur dater either turn to the nunnery or just hide in that linty closet eating Pringles and Dinty Moore soup, rocking back and forth and collapsing, exhausted on a pile of “Sweet Valley High” novels.

It’s the saga of Breathalyzer Man. Get a snack and a drink and sit down on something comfortable, because it’s a son of a gun.

Read the rest of this entry »

Yet another Bride at 35 Inspirational Bad Date!

by SweetMidlife

Her date did not turn into a werewolf. That was the best thing about him.

Last week, we brought you the ridiculous but somewhat inspirational story of Leslie and her ex boyfriend, Oil Rig Man/Guy (his name changed throughout the story but his status as a lying cheating loser did not). We told this story as a reminder that even in the midst of bad dating choice, The One could be around the corner.

Unfortunately, in this next story, Leslie couldn’t see the corner past her revulsion with a chap we’ll call Ebay. Even though she was 33 during her brief, brief association with this clown, this is a good one because it:

Read the rest of this entry »

Indian destination weddings: Upscale twists on tradition

by SweetMidlife

To me, a small wedding means less than 50 guests; a large wedding is north of 150. But the other day, over drinks with my friend, upscale Indian wedding planner Amen Pawar-Larosa, she mentioned her “very small” Indian wedding in her native England, one of three nuptial celebrations she and husband Derek had.

“So how many people did you have at that one?” I asked.

“120,” Amen said casually, as if she was saying “Well, just me and Derek and my cousin Jerome.”

Clearly, we’re working with a different ruler when it comes to Indian weddings. This was particularly interesting to us at Bride At 35, because there’s an even greater expectation of marrying young in this culture than in the mainstream American one –  “It’s between 25 and 30, nothing older,” Amen says of the brides she helps with her wedding planning company, Pawar Inc.

So we like Amen’s concept because Pawar, Inc., like this blog, is about making tradition beautifully, uniquely your own – “To marry tradition and modern style,” she says. She got her start working for another planner who happened to book an Indian destination wedding – the bride met Amen and saw a kindred spirit, “which helped seal the deal.” After helping several similar brides, Amen decided to hang her own stylish shingle. She’s even seeing non-Indian brides, like singer Katy Perry, having Indian weddings, which she sees as not an appropriation of a culture but a celebration.

Here’s what you need to know:

— Amen wasn’t technically a Bride at 35, but given cultural equivalency, she might as well be – “To be married and have children by (the age of 28) is so expected,” she says. “My mum would get invited to so many weddings and wonder why I wasn’t getting married. She tried – ‘I have a nice guy coming to meet you!’ It was not happening.” Amen eventually married an Italian-Catholic New Yorker named Derek Larosa (They had three ceremonies: One with the Justice of the Peace, the Indian wedding in England and a blessing by Derek’s pastor in New York).

“We wanted it to be about us, but we saw how things were affecting our parents,” she says. “So we had these awesome parties and said ‘Do whatever you want to do.'”

— Why Indian destination weddings?: Well, why destination weddings, period? Brides want something beachy and probably warmer than their home town, both improving the scenery and cutting the guest list. Where the average guest list is somewhere around 300 for Indian weddings, Amen says, the destination weddings she’s seen host around 150. Although Miami has become a haven for these, Palm Beach, with its swanky hotels like the Breakers and the Four Seasons, “is a hidden gem that no one knows about,” she says. “The beauty of it is that is that you can cut down the guest list. The thing is, that these are well-to-do families, and they hear ‘The Breakers’ and bring the whole family. You think people aren’t going to come, but it’s a good assumption that more will than you think.” (Ain’t that the truth?)

— Many upscale hotels on Palm Beach have Indian chefs already in-house, “but nobody knows this,” Amen says. Well, they do now!

— Traditionally, if the wedding is held in the bride’s home town, it’s a several-day affair that includes an entire community, where the bride’s parents pay for everything. She says that the biggest adjustment has been trying to convince fathers that since “it’s not in their hometown, they don’t have to feed everyone for every meal the whole weekend.”

— Amen says  more and more of the weddings are keeping some traditions but bringing some new twists, like having one partner of a different religion or race,  decreasing the guest list and more – “A lot of these brides grew up in America. They love Louis Vuiton.The ceremony keeps the family element and blends those element with the latest, hipper styles.”

— I have never met an ethnic person who didn’t believe that their ethnicity is traditionally…tardy. Seriously, black people, Cubans, and apparently Indians have a self-recognized reputation for not starting things on time. Amen says that timeliness is the number one obstacle at the weddings that she’s planned – “Indian Standard Time!” she says, laughing. “Keeping everything on time is the priority. With hair and make-up being done I need everyone to be on time. I run a tight ship.”

Today’s Bride (over) 35 of the Day: Leslie Streeter Zervitz!

by SweetMidlife

Part of what we want to do here at Bride At 35 is to show, in words and in pretty pretty pictures, what being an older bride can look like. And for Leslie, who got married February 28, two months shy of of her 39th birthday, that looked like a pretty day in Palm Beach, Florida, where she was 20 pounds heavier than she wanted to be and, in some pictures, wearing Ugly Cry Face.

However, she married the man of her dreams, Scott Zervitz, who she met in high school and found again on Facebook, in front of a collection of friends and family of every type (black, white, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, agnostic,atheist, young, old, medium-old, well-moisturized and ashy.)

And it’s still her favorite day. Here is what it looked like, in photos by Nathaniel Corn and Nerissa Miller, our official photographers, and other friends and family. Enjoy and see the possibilities!

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