So how did the Golden Heart ceremony go?
Well it was huge, intimidating, lovely, fun, funny, nerve-wracking and amazing all at once!
The afternoon was lovely – I left early from Nationals so I could “primp” (a huge plus to living near this year’s Nationals event!). I took a nap, which I NEVER do. (But I was in “primping” mode now!) Then I got up, took a shower, took my time with my hair and makeup, and finally put on my gown. I couldn’t remember languishing in my vanity area like this since. … my wedding day??? Probably something that long ago! Or maybe Prom. Homecoming? Whatevs. It was so fun.
I actually really loved wearing my gown– it was surprisingly easy to walk in (since it was now hemmed), and even easy to sit in (rather wrinkle-resistant). Rene helped me pin up my hair on one side with my sparkly new barrette, and I loved putting on my new bling earrings. Rene and her boyfriend took a bunch of pictures of me, which I thought was cute, because I’m usually the one taking dance pictures of the kids. (He held my purse and shawl as “prop man,” and Rene took the photos.) Then Chris got ready in about five seconds flat (looked amazing in his tuxedo and vest!), and joined me for a few photos. (The kids agreed he looked “fly.”)
Here’s us (the light kind of washed me out, here, but the dress looks good!):
And us again, closer up:
(Btw, excuse my horrible tan lines! What was I thinking going to Lake Tahoe just weeks before I was going to wear a strapless gown??? Obviously not something I do very often and I was woefully unplanned-out on this matter. I decided to wear my hair down instead of up to cover up what I could with my hair, and then brought the dress’s matching shawl to cover up what my hair couldn’t. … Sheesh. … I need to learn to be a better diva! )
Anyway, after pictures, we whisked off to Anaheim! (I tried to “glide,” to no avail.) Nathan told me I looked like Cinderella, and — since we were running late — I laughed and said we were rushing off TO the ball.
The ballroom was open to the finalists about a half hour early to make sure we were all seated before the main doors opened. The tables were beautifully set, with more delicious desserts in the center (as if I needed any more! Dress. Needed. To. Zip.) and fruit trays. (By now I couldn’t eat a thing anyway! But WATER! I needed water!) I was a little star-struck, seeing quite a few New York Times bestselling authors like Nora Roberts and Kristin Higgins wandering around (they were either up for RITA awards or were announcing our categories), and I was a little awestruck at the largeness of the room. I folded my little list of names, stuck them in my purse, and actually dreaded the idea of winning. …
The ceremony itself was fabulous. Victoria Alexander was a most-charming master of ceremonies, introducing each segment of the show with a film montage of romantic moments in movies – “first looks,” “first kisses,” etc. – Superman, Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, all our favorite romantic moments were there, all set to music and shown on those huge screens. It was adorable. In between Victoria Alexander’s presentations were the announcements of winners for various categories, where they presented just like the Academy Awards: They’d name all the finalists, splash your image up on the gargantuan Jumbotron (see top photo), have a drumroll, open an envelope, (“… and the winner is. …”) and announce the winner! It was SO exciting. And I was SO HAPPY for all my fellow finalists who won! When they called my category, I couldn’t breathe, with dread that I might have to give a speech, and when they announced our winner, Talia, I was thrilled! In fact, after that, I was truly able to enjoy the show.
We were so happy for everyone who won. We had all become so close in this short time — it really didn’t even feel like a competition. It’s hard to explain, but I know my fellow Firebirds finalists would agree with me.
After the ceremony, there was lots of hugging and congratulating, then we all made our way over to a really cool after-party held by Samhain in one of the ballrooms. … I got to introduce Chris to a number of my new friends (and he was one of the only men there! Go Chris!). They had a swanky set-up with hors d’oeuvres, more desserts, an open bar, dancing, balloons, music, party favors, and more. It was a fabulous place for all of us to touch base one last time, squee over how great we all looked in our gowns, congratulate our boa-wearing winners, and give each other big hugs until we’d see each other next. …
Horrible tan lines aside, what a night!
What a week!
What an entire experience, really. …
I’ll never forget it.
Next up: How the Golden Heart was a game-changer for me, and where I am now in the writing process…