Wedding Story (by Joel)
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. Our parents hadn't all met each other before, but fortunately the occasion didn't lead to any last minute wedding objections.
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 (and adopted family members!) joined us. It was hard to find a place willing to seat 40 people on a Friday, let alone St. Patrick's Day, but the setting was perfect. We'd first met at a small park on the beach just next to the ferry dock, within view of Arnie's. 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?), and I went home and crashed (after one last valiant attempt at being a "single guy" by watching "Stripes". I barely made it to the General's House scene.)
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. Then I was told to turn around as she walked up the aisle: 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? There were no cold feet. Well, okay, there were, but that's because dress socks are so bloody thin, and with my half-size-too-small shoes I barely noticed the coldness for the pinching.
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 - so clearly the onus to make this relationship work is on her, right?) - see the "Gingerbread Story" link. Through it all I barely noticed 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 (in my misnomered Ford Escape), where upon arrival, we found the appetizers mostly devoured, and a rather long queue at the bar. Figures.
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 marriage license was signed, she figured she was his legal 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. Jack and Patrice took over for us at that point, and served the many hungry guests. I don't think I actually got a chance to eat any of the rest of the cake, but hopefully I can make up for that next year.
At some point after that, we had our first dance, to Jimmy Durante'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 - of finding Joy together and in one another, 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. The evening ended with, "So long, and thanks for all the fish," from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Katie and I retreated to the room, or tried to do so anyway. Several of our friends were lingering in the bar area, so we sat down for a drink or two. They CLAIMED that they just wanted to finish of their unused tickets. When we got to the room, though, I opened the window to look out at the view and heard, "SHIT, I'm getting brake dust all over my hands." If you don't know Laurie... Well, put it this way, just by hearing that I know exactly who it was and what they were doing. They took it easy on us, though - only toilet paper, soap, and ribbons twisty-tied all over my car. The next morning we took the paper and most of the ribbons off, but I took distinct pleasure in sending my dad in the "Just Married" car down to Lowes that afternoon. Nonetheless, I couldn't quite bring myself to leave the well-intentioned messages on when I went to drop Dave off at the airport. It just didn't seem right.
The room they put us up in was incredible - the Executive suite, with a bedroom and dining room and living room and kitchen, two bathrooms with huge walk in showers, with twin fireplaces and a huge Jacuzzi tub in the middle of the bedroom, and the whole thing overlooked the Boeing Field flight line and the Cascades. The next morning we got up and went hunting around the hotel for friends and family to show just how opulent the room was. The people at the Hilton were really, really good to us.
Eventually we headed back to our house, where Dave, Alison, Megan and Gates (best man, groomswoman, and friends-of-the-groom respectively) had a 5-star brunch spread out in the kitchen (Dave is wasting valuable culinary arts skills by pursing computer science instead, and Alison's coffee cakes were supreme fatty goodness). We had invited some of our out of town family over, to make up for how little time we had to see them the day or week before, and it worked out amazingly well. I was planning on showing up and stressing over everything before people go there, but my friends didn't give me the chance. The food was read, excellent, and plentiful; while the house was clean and already arranged for receiving guests. And on top of it all, quite literally, my brother Scott hopped up on the roof and replaces some of the patches I'd had to make right after we moved in. At least it was a good day for it - warm and sunny on the roof, with a great view of the mountains.
And that was that. We were married. We'd celebrated with our friends, and with our families. We'd shown off our new home to as many as we could, and we were exhausted. Katie managed to go into work the next day, while I was barely functional (and very happy that some of my family had lingered so I could hang out with my nephew for a bit without any stress or anxiety). We leave for our honeymoon this coming Sunday, the 26th, on a red-eye bound for San Juan, and the start of an 11-day Southern Caribbean cruise aboard the Empress of the Seas (formerly the Nordic Empress - appropriate, no?) We'll have pictures of that up soon, too!
Thank you again to everyone who came, and everyone who couldn't but sent their best wishes. It was an extraordinary start to what I have no doubt will be decades spanning marriage. Virginia and Georgia, Aunt Lora and Gina, all helped tremendously with keeping the day running smoothly and getting the reception site and church set up beforehand, and dealing with the small problems that cropped up throughout the day. Stephanie valiantly repaired the buttons on my vest twice, before giving up on it and pinning them in place (I got to see the GIRL'S ROOM! Icky...)
Katie's adopted brother Steve manned the guest book desk, and her Uncle Dick took candid shots throughout the day and evening. We'll make sure to get some of those photos up soon!
Dave cooked a fantastic meal, while Alison made several exceptional coffee cakes - and both were assisted by Megan and Gates jumping in with both feet. None of them had to do it, but they all volunteered, and all we can say is a very sincere, thank you. They made that day work.
My parents provided the rehearsal dinner, and managed to bring my brothers and step-sister, nephew and grandmother, all out to Washington for a week. On top of it, they didn't even make us feel guilty for not having much time to hang out with them.
And of course, Carter and Marilyn. They made the day possible not only through raising such a marvelous daughter (though I wouldn't have minded if she had a little less of her father's feistiness), but also through providing for the wedding day and especially the reception. Marilyn did a great job of being the Mother of the Bride, and we both hope that she was pleased with the day we pulled together.
Thank you all again!