Nataliya Topchiy and Brian Rector, July 17, 2010
So I’m happily writing and posting stuff on eatsforone and it is Wednesday evening and Brian calls, “Natasza and I are getting married on Saturday. Do y’all want to come?”
So Carol works it to get off work on Friday and we leave for Reno at 9:20, grab lunch at Jack in the Box and get to Brian’s a little past two. Immediately, they are all over us. Natasza wants Carol to go hair and nails and cake and stuff with her. Brian wants me to go suit shopping with him. He wants a linen suit, preferably cream, and Men’s Warehouse is having a sale.
Finding Men’s Warehouse was not exactly easy, even with Brian’s superphone. We walked into the largest mall I’ve ever seen and asked questions until we found it at the exact opposite corner of the Mall. Along the way, Brian stopped at an AT&T kiosk to say his phone wasn’t acting right. Guy rebooted and everything was fine. Except this Men’s Warehouse was a tiny tuxedo rental place. There was one linen suit hanging on the wall. The nice lady directed us to a real Men’s Warehouse in the strip mall across the road. Not a great start.
We came out of the mall at the same time as a short woman with pigtails (and very large bazooms, I noted). He asked her about Men’s Warehouse. She said she used to live around here… didn’t know about Men’s Warehouse, but there’s a Joseph A Bank at The Summit – south on Virginia, past where I-380 crosses over.
Men’s Warehouse is in a concrete block, stand-alone building off to the side of the strip mall. It has a modest storefront and inside a rack of six or eight Calvin Klein linen suits. They were very white and none in Brian’s size, we learned. The salesman walked Brian around and showed him other suits, but nothing remotely interesting. B asked where else we could go and the salesman mentioned Burlington Coat Factory.
So we headed to The Summit, WAY south on Virginia Ave, a large outdoor shopping center with Macy’s and Dillard’s and generally upscale stores.
Carol: Natasza and I are plying the strip centers of Sparks. We go to the Bakery closest to the house that Brian mentioned to check out a wedding cake. Oops, $48 and probably wouldn’t be ready by Saturday noon.
Picture this: Natasza doesn’t drive, so she hasn’t done much shopping in Sparks or Reno. I have driven around, but never shopped for bakeries or had my hair done. Hadn’t even thought about it. The Internet isn’t much help in dealing with neighborhood bakeries and hairdressers.
Working our way across town to a bakery recommended to Brian, we found a wonderful little Austrian bakery with all kinds of tempting pastries. And yes, they do wedding cakes and can have one ready by Saturday noon. Natasza described her dream cake, white and light with whipped cream and strawberries between the layers. The price was a bargain $20.
The cake deal done and while ‘the boys’ were away, Natasza showed me her dress and asked me to help her with her veil and head dress. The dress laced up the back with broad silk lacing through fabric loops, quite lovely and the current style in wedding dresses. Natasza had made the veil and it was to go on her head with a circle of flowers. She had yet to try fitting it to her head.
On the way to Joseph A Bank at The Summit, we spot Patrick James. Brian never heard of Patrick James, but I had been to their store in SF at the urging of the Kruk and Kuip, the Giants TV broadcasters. Nice store. Guy there was a pro and dressed great and had a beautifully trimmed beard, but had no linen suits. So Brian is chatting him up and trying other stuff and I’m thinking he needs the suit TOMORROW, and at the very least, the pants will need to be hemmed. The guy says, “Try Joseph A Bank and Dillard’s and I’ve heard that Banana Republic sometimes has a linen suit… kinda goes with their look.”
At Joseph A Bank another, older pro – Mr. Five-by-five, greeted us. He was very good and helpful, but… same song, second verse. We popped into Banana Republic; when we finally found the sales lady she says, “We didn’t get a single linen suit this year, but if you’re near Sparks, try our store at THE LEGENDS… they have last year’s stuff.” (Imagine that… it’s a couple miles from Brian’s house… or in Nevada terms, a stone’s throw away.)
The Men’s Suits area at Dillard’s was deserted. We wandered around and saw hundreds of dark suits. Not looking good, and by now it’s well after six o’clock. A guy walks into the area finding stuff for two other guys. “You need anything?” he shouts across the suit racks.
“A suit,” says Brian.
When the guy comes over, Brian says, “a cream, linen suit.” Guy pounds his forehead with his fist, “ummmmmmm, I can make one up for you.” He disappeared into the back room for a couple minutes. We wait. When he came out, he motioned us to follow him way over to the casual coats and slacks department… linen coats, hemmed linen pants, even linen vests, all in a light cream color with a faint herringbone pattern. We have found THE ANSWER – at Dillard’s.
Back home, Natasza and I prepped baby artichokes I had brought from SF. C and N had stopped at a supermarket and bought salmon for dinner. Brian grilled those and we had a lovely dinner. Suit bought, cake ordered; all that’s left is hair.
SATURDAY, Wedding Day
The limo was to pick us up at three o’clock at the Vista Restaurant, a five minute drive away – Limos are not allowed to pick up at private residences – the morning was open for hair, nails, pick-up-the-cake and Brian’s list of errands.
Carol: I was ready to dial the phone at the stroke of 9am Saturday morning. I located hairdressers in the yellow pages and – working from the end of the alphabet – marked those nearby. My first call was no answer. The second – X Centric – could take us at 10:30. Sherry cut and styled Natasza’s hair and explained how to put the veil on. I had my nails done. What a find… luck runs our way.
Brian planned bouillabaisse for lunch Saturday. He said its so easy, he has it often. As it turned out, it was a “Recipe Redux” Amanda Hesser does in the New York Times Magazine from time to time. I had made the 2010 version: Olive Oil Poached Cod with Saffron Blood Orange Nage. Brian’s go-to is the 1904 Bouillabaisse. We went and got some fish for it and I walked back from Scolari’s Supermarket — It is possible to walk in Sparks — while Brian went off on his errands. I started prepping… time passed and nobody came back from their stuff. Little did I know I’d be cooking lunch alone in a strange kitchen with a deadline. Soup was great!
We piled into Brian’s Sabaru – me and C in our wedding duds, B and N casual, with their respective outfits – secret from each other – in big bags. About half way down the block, “Oops, I took the wrong sunglasses, have to go back,” said Brian.
“No, you can’t go back, it’s bad luck,” said Natasza. Brian was not swayed, and went back, but he did leave the motor running while he popped in for his glasses.
Brian had bought the Summer Sizzler Special Wedding from the Arch of Reno Chapel – Limo, flowers, boutonnière, DVD of the ceremony, photos (12 wallet, 3 5×7 and 1 8×10) and of course, the wedding.
At three, there was no limo. We wound up waiting 20 minutes while nervous Natasza paced up and down.
Soon enough, we spotted the white, stretch limousine – Arch of Reno on its side – turn into the Vista parking lot. Carol and I made the mistake of entering the limo first and climbing into the rear-facing seat. Old people are not built to do that.
First stop was the courthouse to get the marriage license. I dreaded climbing out, but the driver told us we couldn’t go into the courthouse – only the wedding couple – he locked us in the car, but he did leave the AC running. The license procedure takes only about 15 minutes. We watched three other couples arrive in limos, each time their guests were shooed away from the courthouse door.
From the courthouse, we turned up Virginia Street, downtown Reno’s main drag. Stopped at a light, we saw the Silver Bells Wedding Chapel, in my mind’s eye, what a Reno wedding chapel would look like. Not ours. Further up Virginia, the driver stopped at the curb and opened the door. The Arch of Reno Chapel occupies a storefront in the bustling heart of downtown Reno.
Once inside, Brian and Natasza went to change, Carol helped Natasza and I wandered around. From the front reception area where flowers are pinned on and money changes hands, a glass case of tiaras, garters, BRIDE and GROOM ball caps and other wedding tsotchkes lures the prospective couples. A long hall leads to the dressing rooms and an office in the back. Off the hall are two chapels, one large with Christian trappings; and one smaller without religious décor. They seemed continuously occupied.
Once ready, the minister took Brian and Carol into the larger chapel. His assistant asked if I would escort the bride. I glanced at Natasza, she smiled and took my arm and we were off down the hall. At the door, we waited a few seconds until the Wedding March boomed out of the sound system. I escorted Natasza to her place beside the groom.
The minister was a big man, bald, with suspenders and a tie. He seemed genuinely interested in Brian and Natasza and had made the effort to learn enough to speak to them personally. He’s extremely good at his job of producing a happily married couple in about 15 minutes. We learned that he has been married 55 years and each year gives his wife a red rose for each year of wedded bliss. With the price of roses these days, that can add up. At the end of the ceremony, he gave Brian and Natasza each a red rose.
After, we changed out and chilled out at the house, where Natasza changed into a brilliant red dress that she made for herself.
We went to La Strada in the El Dorado Hotel for dinner. Brian and I had been there and treated ourselves to the Chef’s special three course tasting menu. It was excellent. We did that again; Carol too. Natasza ordered the Quail.
We started with Ukraine Champagne. The sommelier was VERY interested in that. He knew a little about Ukraine wine. Brian told him where it was from and gave him a taste.
The woman who did Natasza’s hair happened to be in the restaurant and stopped by to say hello. Small town, Reno. The meal and service were excellent. We finished with the wedding cake… light and sweet and wonderful. That could describe the whole day.
Thanks, Brian. Thanks, Natasza.
Brian and Nataliya will celebrate a church wedding in Kiev in early October, 2010. Hope you can come.
For many more wedding photos, click here.