Jason got home from his bachelor party around 1:30 am. Jeremy and I were sleeping in the one air conditioned bedroom, so Jason took the couch that I had made up for him. I woke up Sunday morning bright and early to a sickly Jason (too much drinkin’) and a disheveled house (we had let it get pretty awful). I spent a good hour cleaning up the living room and shoving our mess into Jeremy’s room to contain it behind a closed door. My lovely bridesmaids arrived at 7:30, my good friend and hairdresser arrived at 8 am, and my sister happened along with my glue-on fingernails shortly after. Jason left with Jeremy right around then to head over to Donna (bridesmaid) and Gabe (groomsman)’s house to get ready with the boys.
While Angie and I hid away in my bathroom getting all of my waist-length hair curled and set, Stephanie, Donna, Elka, and Sam got themselves mostly ready in my living room. We were in a bit of a hurry there at the end to get all of our dresses and necessities packed up into the cars to head to the chapel, but we got there almost on time. We were supposed to get there at 9:00 so that we could finish readying upstairs while our guests arrived between 9:30 and 10:00. We got there at a quarter after (thank goodness the only other people there were my grandparents), flew upstairs, finished our make-up and hair, threw on our dresses, and were ready by 10:00. Unfortunately, a VIP wasn’t yet in attendance. Jason’s mom was stuck in traffic about 50 miles away. We waited, and eventually she arrived. Then we realized that neither Jason or I brought our wedding bands from home. I thought it was his job and he thought he had texted me (which he kind of did, he typed the text message, but didn’t hit “send”). He and one of the groomsmen, Zach, drove at break-neck speed the two miles around the corner from the chapel to our house and returned victorious. The ceremony began at 10:35.
My bridesmaids and flower girls had gone downstairs to line up with the groomsmen and even though I was up there alone for less than 10 minutes, it felt like forever. The hallway and grand staircase was not air conditioned, so I had to stay in the bridal suite until I heard my entrance music. The walls leading around the curved staircase were mirrored, so I kept trying to peek out to see the crowd. But every time I tried to spy, the bridal attendant standing at the top of the stairs would shoo me back into my room. I could hear my uncle’s bellowing voice and my son’s very small voice piercing through the mumbles and murmurs. Finally, I heard Jake Shimabukuro’s instrumental rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, the music we chose for Jason and our parents to enter the chapel to. Then, Apocalyptica’s haunting cellos playing Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” for the wedding party (if you knew our friends, you’d understand our music selection for them). Finally, it was my turn. I chose the traditional “Bridal March”, but a simple and pretty version by Carys Owen and Huw Williams instead of the standard pipe organ. The attendant motioned to me to start my descent. My bouquet of gardenias and dark purple lisianthus was pretty and smelled glorious, I was calm as a cucumber, I was ready. I rounded the turn of the staircase and saw my grandfather. He offered me his arm and told me I looked beautiful. My eyes started to sting.
We walked the 15 feet or so to the bottom of the aisle. Everyone stood, it’s more than a little humbling when that happens. All of our friends and most of our family were there and they were all standing up for me. The chapel was small, so everyone was real close together and as I made my way down the aisle with my grandfather I couldn’t hold back the tears. Thank heavens I didn’t really get going. I would have been horrified if I had been a sobbing drippy mess. I had a lot of happy tears that just couldn’t be contained, so I let them go. I was smiling and kept looking from one side of the aisle to the other to see everyone. I saw Jason at the top of the altar. I’d seen him dressed up before, but he was just downright handsome that day. He was smiling at me too. I kissed Papa’s cheek and he handed me off to the love of my life. I can remember every detail of the ceremony. It was lovely. My mom and Nana were a little weepy but smiling. During the candle lighting ceremony we played Crimson Ensemble’s instrumental of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love”. I teared up during our vows but my heart was full, I’d never felt it so full.
When we were pronounced husband and wife in front of all of our cherished family and friends, I felt amazing. I truly didn’t expect it to be any different than the way I had felt about Jason all the time we’d been together. I didn’t know you could fall in love with someone all over again during your wedding. We’d dated for 22 months and lived together for about half of that time. I knew we were in love, and I knew we were going to be happy together for the rest of our lives, I just didn’t know it could feel so different after saying our vows together. My heart was already full to bursting, but that morning it grew bigger and I fell deeper. As we headed down the aisle to The Troggs singing “Love Is All Around”, everyone was clapping and smiling and congratulated us as we passed.
The ceremony is crystal clear and plays very slowly in my head, but once we were ushered from the end of the aisle outside for photos, the rest of the day is a blur. I had forgotten to eat breakfast and hadn’t had anything to drink all day, so the bright sun hitting me was a shock to the system. We posed with our friends in the pretty gazebo. My son wasn’t having any part of it and went off to run around with my two friends from high school, Kerstin and Mike. The three of us have some kind of crazy bond. We were really close in school, drifted apart for a few years, came back together just like time never passed, drifted again, back together. It was a great thing to have them at our wedding. After we’d taken only a couple of shots outside, and then posed for a few inside, the coordinator rushed us all upstairs to get ready for our entrance to the reception room.
Rush, rush, rush. She was on a schedule and we weren’t going to miss a beat. We circled the dance floor, Jason’s best man Mike gave a really great toast, and I had the only liquid I would have all day – a flute of champagne. The food was very good, but with everyone coming up to our table to talk, I didn’t get to eat until my plate was cold. The DJ was just as rushed as the coordinator. As we visited our loved ones, he kept poking us along to get around the room in a hurry. Before long, it was already time for the bouquet toss. I had always thought that was the last thing you do before running off for the honeymoon, but whatever, it’s cool. Our good friend (and mistress of our Renaissance Faire guild) Terri caught my bouquet and was thrilled about it. Mike had better make an honest woman of her now! Two seconds later was the garter toss. Again, a little early I thought, but we’re easy. After the expected whooping calls and teases, my high school friend Mike caught the garter and wore it on his arm the rest of the day. Yes, in this one paragraph there were three Mikes. Three separate and significant Mikes. One is Jason’s longest friend. One is Terri’s fiancee. And the other is one of my oldest friends. All different people – we like Mikes.
With our next breath we were ushered over to cut our cake. It was gorgeous too. Four layers with dark purple lisianthus cascading down. Two layers were chocolate and two were white, all with raspberry filling. It was tasty, but I really would have appreciated some water, or iced tea, or even some more champagne to go with it. It’s thirsty work being a bride. After the cake there was a whirlwind of dancing, visiting, chatting, and more dancing. We did a “longevity of marriage” dance. Jason and I were the first couple booted off the floor for being married less than 5 hours. Then Donna and Gabe took the fall for less than 5 years married. Of the three couples left standing, my mom and step-dad had 9 1/2 years, uncle and aunt had 18 years, and my grandparents were the big winners with 52 years. The DJ embarrassed the pants off of Nana and Papa as he did a mini interview with them asking about how they met, their first date, when they fell in love, etc. My uncle poked fun at me and chided “You know Nana’s going to kill you, right?” She doesn’t really appreciate being the center of attention, but she and Papa were real troopers and answered all the questions in front of the crowd. I cannot clearly express how much it meant to me to have my grandparents dance at my wedding. I have so many fond memories of my childhood of them jitterbugging in the living room in pajamas. When Nana’s arthritis hit her knees pretty bad 10 or so years ago, she and Papa stopped dancing. Nana has since had both knees replaced with fancy new titanium joints and they were back to showing everyone up on the dance floor – it brought yet more tears to my eyes.
It didn’t feel like two and a half hours had gone by, but suddenly my family was standing and getting ready to take their leave. My mother gave me a stunning pearl and precious stone mother’s ring. My father had given the pearl in another ring to her a long time ago and she it reset with birthstones for Jason, Jeremy, and I. It was a very special moment and we both cried a little. Our friends and I danced to another couple of songs and posed for some snapshots and then suddenly the party was over. There were only about 75 people in attendance, so when half of them left, the room emptied out pretty quick. It seemed that we had barely finished thanking everyone for coming before we were making our rounds again to say our good-byes. By 3:00 our car had been loaded up with every gift, flower, leftover favors and cake and we were on our way home.
After he unloaded the car, Jason couldn’t wait to open our gifts, so my sister Sam stayed and wrote down the tally as I went through the cards and Jason unwrapped the packages. We have some very generous friends and family. We were blessed to receive such thoughtful gifts and sentiments. After surveying our pull, we changed clothes and had barely settled in for a break, but before too long it was time to take Jeremy over to his father’s house for the following week. I quickly packed an overnight bag for us and after we dropped off Jeremy, Jason and I headed down to Huntington Beach (a whopping 12 miles from our house) to the Hyatt Regency hotel for our one-night honeymoon. The concierge upgraded us for free from a garden view room to a much nicer room on a higher floor with a sweeping view of the beach. After checking in, Jason and I took the hotel’s shuttle to downtown and wandered over to Duke’s for a delicious steak dinner.
The next morning we woke up with the sun and indulged ourselves with breakfast delivered via room service. Jason had his favorite eggs benedict and I had a fabulous continental spread while we indulged again and watched a pay movie on our huge tv. We figured that since we weren’t splurging on the typical week (or longer) honeymoon to some foreign country, we’ve live it up for a day at our local beach resort.
Though the reception is still a wonderful blur to me, our wedding was fantastic. Everyone remarked on what a beautiful ceremony we had and how nice the facility was. I am so glad that we chose to “do it right” (by our standards) and have a real wedding. I cannot thank our friends enough for participating in our celebration. It really feels as though we started off our new life together on the right foot with lots of love and support and a little luck in our pockets.
Many thanks to our friends who took so many photos at our wedding:
Photos by Stephanie & Toby
Photos by Danny
Photos by Andee
Photos taken by guests with our disposable cameras
Coming soon, Robyn & Christian’s photos. I need to re-upload them and then they’ll be posted. They got some great shots!