It happened. We stood where we were supposed to stand, turned when we were supposed to turn, and repeated <mostly> what we were supposed to repeat. Carter did his best to make it difficult by putting everyone in tears, but Pastor Jeff made up for it critiquing the gingerbread making abilities of the bride (or was it the groom? I just don't seem to be able to keep that one straight).
The events of the week began on Tuesday, when Joel's parents (Loren and Zaidee, Chris and Don) came into town and spent the evening with Katie and me at her parent's home for dinner. I put the lack of humiliating "I remember when" stories down to jet lag.
On Friday, everything became suddenly real when we went to the church to begin festivities. Maybe it's just my unfamiliarity with the church, but the feeling of walking into the sanctuary was a bit terrifying. Even with just a few family members sitting in the pews, standing up there in front of Jeff, with Dave and Alison standing beside me, and Katie standing there with Stephanie, Monica and Beth - it felt like a bloody job interview. After the rehearsal we went to Arnie's for dinner, where several other out-of-town family members joined us. Afterward, Katie went to her parents for the night (I would have thought that purchasing a home together last October would have meant that the cat was out of the bag on that one, but who am I to wonder why?)
On Saturday, Katie went off with her bridesmaids to do girly stuff, while I went to the Totem for one last breakfast as a free man (no strippers involved) with a few friends.
A few hours later and it was time to head to church. I left a bit late, and forgot to get gas first. As I was at the pump, I sent Katie a quick text message. "Don't panic. On the way. Forgot gas. Marry you soon." As it turns out, I wasn't the one holding things up as the keys to the church had been somehow forgotten. For the rest of our marriage, it can (and WILL) be known that I was there on time, while Katie was late. Katie was ushered in (away from my not-too-seriously prying eyes) to the daycare room (where apparently they forgot to provide grown-up chairs), while I waited with the ushers, best man, and groomswoman in another room. Everyone's tuxes fit fine, despite my painful shoes, and I was sent to the alter for sacrifice (read: pictures). I was told to stand with my back to the pews, and not to peak as Katie came in behind me. I wish I could tell you just how beautiful she looked, and just how lovely her dress was, but I'm a guy and I can't be expected to have any verbal communications skills, so we'll just have to leave it at this: For the rest of the evening, I saw nothing else.
We spent a few hours taking pictures (after stapling my cheeks in place), and then it was time. Dave, Alison and I snuck into the room behind the altar by way of a back door out of the church. I like to think that it looked like I was making good my escape, but everyone there knew how whipped I was/am, so they likely assumed I was doing what I was told. Dave and Alison kept telling me to stop fidgeting and calm down, but I swear I wasn't that nervous. Anxious that everything be right and that it all came off without a hitch, and trying to make everything as prepared as I could, but not nervous. I mean, have you met the woman I was marrying?
So I muttered to myself the Shepperd's prayer. Alan Sheppard, that is - "Please God, don't let me screw this up". Then we stepped out to the side of the altar, and the bridesmaids came up the aisle - followed, appropriately, by Katie, escorted by her father. When he reached the altar, he refused to follow our well-rehearsed plan and instead gave a short speech. The rest of the wedding was made somewhat difficult by the fact that every woman I could see was crying (and Carter wasn't far from it himself). I think the only reason I didn't is that I didn't know he was going to speak, so I spent the entire time thinking, "when am I supposed to step up? What's going on? Why don't I have Katie's hand yet? God, I hope she doesn't get angry at me..."
The pastor then began the ceremony that Katie and I (mostly Katie) had worked to put together, including the readings performed by Katie's dear friend Amy. The one that meant the most to Katie and I was written by Louis de Bernieres:
Jeff also added his sermon, that made clear how important it is that Katie learn how to make gingerbread (I already know how to play the slide-trombone, if poorly). Through it all I barely remembered that there was anyone else there with us - I was so nervous about it during the rehearsal, but once I saw Katie, she was all I could see. And I only barely hesitated when I was supposed to add, "and listen" to my vows. Barely.
After walking down the aisle, we waited at the bottom of the stairs for our friends and family to stop by and say hello. Then I noticed them. Man, but there were a lot of them. Hopefully they'll give me a little more time to remember all of their names. Well, names I mostly have, from looking at guest lists for the last several months. Faces, not so much. I'll get there, though - I promise. When the last guests had passed, we drove to the Hilton for the reception, where upon arrival, we found the appetizers mostly devoured, and a rather long que at the bar.
As far as I can remember, the reception went rather well. I don't remember tasting the food - at that point I was still dreading the inevitability of the first dance. I do remember that just as we sat down to eat, the bride and groom wedding topper took a tumble from the cake. True to form, the bride survived entirely intact, while the groom lost a leg, the opposite foot, and his hand. I'm suspecting that once the license was signed, she figured she was the primary beneficiary, and helped him to "take the plunge".
At some point after that, there was the cake cutting. We started by cutting a piece out directly under a supporting pillar, but we got better. I'm pretty sure I didn't smear any cake on her face, because I'm pretty sure that if I had, I'd be single again.
At some point after that, we had our first dance, to Frank Sinatra's "Make someone happy." There are two possible interpretations as to why we chose the song - either the message was one we had a particular fondness for and found appropriate, or Joel realized it was only 1:52 long. Take your pick. The only thing I'm disappointed about is that we didn't get any video of it. We'd practiced it so many times, but I've never actually seen it. I think one of our friends may have captured a clip or two on his camera, so that'll be cool. If so, I'll make sure to get it up on this site soon.
The rest of the night is a blur of awkward dancing (there's no other kind for me), socializing, and trying to make sure we got pictures with our friends before they left. We got many, but sadly not close to all of them.