Thursday, November 21, 2013

The big day

I can't begin to tell you how honored I felt to be a bridesmaid in my sister's wedding. I mean, I had a horrifying blemish on my face and she still let me be a part of the festivities. The day flew by and I'm struggling a bit to remember details. Saturday afternoon was a complete blur. I was at my sister's house and there was quite a flurry of activity. The kids were running around like crazy. A make-up artist came and went. My sister had her hair done. I picked up my mom from the hotel where she was staying and brought her back to my sister's house. Oh, and I also picked up my nine-year-old nephew from a Lego club meeting.

We all needed to be at the winery by 4:00 p.m. for pre-wedding photos. My sister headed over at 3:00 to get her gown on while the rest of the bridal party got ready at her house. The limo that was shuttling us to the winery was a 1964 Rolls Royce, which was very cool.  My youngest sister and I got dressed downstairs.  The main goal was to keep her two-year-old son from touching us once we were dressed. Toddlers, as you may know, are inherently sticky.  Shortly before we left, he found a bright blue marker and used it to give himself some eye shadow.  Pretty!  I also helped my daughter get into her flower girl dress.

Before we knew it, the limo had arrived and it was time for us to head over to the winery (just a few miles away).  My sister, daughter, nephew, and I piled into the back of the vintage vehicle.  The driver asked us, "Is this everyone?"  We nodded.

We'd driven about a block when my cell phone rang. It was my brother-in-law (or at least he would be my brother-in-law in about an hour). "Um, would you like to come back for your mother?" Doh!  We drove back around the block and picked up my mom.

We arrived at the winery and promptly marched outside for family photos. It was chilly and a little drizzly, but I'm sure it could've been worse. The real fun was when our fancy heels started sinking into the mud. Meanwhile, the bride and groom's two-year-old son was running around like a madman, refusing to pose for pictures. I sure hope the photographer got some good shots in spite of the chaos!  I have to say that the bride looked absolutely stunning. 

The ceremony started just after 5:00.  It was getting dark, which was a bit worrisome. We lined up at the door inside the winery, as we had been instructed.  In the distance, we could see the guests seated in front of the ruins. Frank and I were first.  We walked carefully across the grass (he knew my heels were sinking) and then paused at the start of the aisle. Once the wedding coordinator gave us the thumbs up, we headed up (down?) the aisle towards the dreaded stairs.  I spotted a few familiar faces in the audience, including my Aunt Shirley, who looked amazing after having lost 200 pounds recently. Yowza! When we got to the steps, I grabbed Frank's arm, hiked up the bottom of my dress, and hoped for the best. Moments later, all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen were on the stage. Since there was no best man, my niece (maid of honor) walked down the aisle by herself. Instead of a bouquet, she held a single yellow rose in honor and memory of the best man, Brian.  Then my daughter (flower girl) and nephew (ring bearer) came down the aisle together.  We are talking maximum cuteness here.

Finally, we were all assembled on the stage, which was lined with candles. I realized I'd forgotten to bring a Kleenex. Ack! We all watched as the Rolls Royce circled the winery and then drove towards us. My sister got out and made her way across the grass. My dad and my stad helped her along (yes, she had two escorts). Once she was on the stage, the ceremony began. The groom's stepdad served as the officiant. It had gotten dark and he struggled to read the vows. The groom's mom saved the day and leapt up behind him with a flashlight.

As John read the solemn words, the bride and groom's son climbed up on to the stage and proceeded to run back and forth behind us.  The stage area behind us had wooden flooring and I think he liked the noise his dress shoes made as he ran. I struggled not to laugh as I could hear "thumpthumpthumpthump" and then "thumpthumpthumpthump" again as he turned and ran back the other way.  Finally, the babysitter managed to tackle him and get him off the stage. My other toddler nephew also caused a minor ruckus during the ceremony but I think this is par for the course when you have two two-year-olds at a wedding.

Thank goodness we aren't Catholic.  The ceremony was sweet but brief. I held my breath as the rings were retrieved from the satin pillow - I'd tied them correctly!

Moments later, we all convened inside the Barrel Room at the winery for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. I had to sit down for a few minutes to give my feet a break. At that point I think I was willing to knock my eighty-year-old grandma out of the way to procure a seat. I also think I got winded just watching the babysitter chase the bride and groom's son. I told my brother-in-law that whatever they were paying that poor girl, it probably wasn't enough.

At around 7:00, we all headed upstairs to the main part of the winery (which was closed to the public by that time).  Everything was just beautiful. The lighting was perfect and the tables were decorated beautifully.  I think it all turned out just as my sister had hoped - elegant and classy. The photo montage I had created was playing on a couple of big screens.  The buffet dinner was excellent. They served a vegetarian lasagna that seriously changed my life.

After dinner, the DJ started cranking out music and all the kids headed straight to the photo booth. Of course there was a first dance with the bride and groom. Then they each danced with their moms, too. Eventually, it was time for the official toasts. The groom's friend Whitey (no lie - that is what everyone calls him) gave a toast, standing in for the best man.  I must say he did an absolutely perfect job. He first offered a toast in memory of Brian.  Brian's widow was there and I know the whole evening was an emotional challenge for her. I hope she could feel the love that was in that room for her husband. His presence was deeply missed.  After that, Whitey went on to offer some light-hearted quips about my sister and her new husband.

Then it was time for my niece to give her toast. My niece is fourteen and probably has not had a lot of practice when it comes to wedding toasts. She stood up and sang a Taylor Swift song called The Best Day. I mean to tell you there was not a dry eye in the house. I scooted over to sit closer to my mom so that we could bawl together.  When she sang the line "I have an excellent father" she looked right at her newly minted stepdad. I seriously thought my heart might explode.  I am SO proud of my beautiful, brave niece.

The rest of the evening was filled with dancing and wine and mostly appropriate things going on in the photo booth. It was great to be with family.  We all live so far apart and are seldom in one room together.

I hope the wedding was everything my sister wanted it to be. I am so very happy for her. Plus, I'm excited to have such a wonderful brother-in-law.  As the reception ended, the bride and groom headed off in a limo (as my teenaged niece dryly noted: "They are going to a hotel. Whatever. Ew.") and I headed back to their house. I was scheduled to babysit their son in the morning. I wasn't sure I had the stamina after what I'd seen the babysitter endure during the wedding, but I was determined to keep him alive until his parents got home.

So there you have it. A full recap of the big shindig. I hope my blemish and I did not cause any embarrassment.

Rehearsal dinner

Maid of honor and bride at the rehearsal dinner

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