First, it was very big. There were hundreds of guests. Every single living relative of mine was there. Lots of catching up to do with cousins from Minnesota, cousins from Massachusetts, and all kinds of other people from several different states. It was somewhat extravagant. The locations of the ceremony and reception, the band and other music, the food, the cake, the dresses, the little touches...
The ceremony itself was surprisingly okay. Bob is Jewish, of course, and so there were some Jewish flourishes such as the breaking of the glass and some Hebrew. But Pastor Eric from my old church (progressive Lutheran) handled the ceremony. We had to usher, my brothers and I, and we kept quite busy. Whew. Wearing a tux the whole time. The dress was huge. All of them were. There was a mini-orchestra there and a real harpsichord. Anyway, it was sort of a blur and everyone was just looking forward to the reception. Well, I was anyway.
To the reception. First, the music. There were three sources of music. First, there was a decent rocky/jazzy six piece band which played for a while (and sang sometimes). That was lots of fun. Then there was a DJ playing a wide variety of stuff (including requested Chemical Brothers) and getting the crowd into a frenzy. Finally, my father and my uncles went up on stage and played several songs--sounded phenomenol.
The food was unbelievably good. Not since the VIP treatment at the Mavs game have I had access to such a vast variety of simply amazing cuisine. I wish I had a few days to fill my stomach several times. The cake was pretty voluminous as well (though nothing like the twenty-foot tall cake Eli had at her wedding!), and maybe I'm just a kid, but I really really liked it! It had quality, thick, zingy frosting and light fluffy cake with blueberry slices. Mmmm. There were two bars.
There were so many people there to talk to, I didn't know where to start and how long to stay. Cousins, uncles, old friends from church, old friends from school, other relatives, odd people from my mother's work or my father's work or Stage West or just in general. I saw lots of people I haven't seen in a long long time and tried to make it around to talk to most of them, but didn't really make it. It was some of the most fun I have had in my entire life.
About halfway through, I went and changed out of my tux and into my dressy corduroys and a dress shirt with a tie. At this point I started drinking and dancing. I danced the night away. There were some group dances, some fast dances, a slow dance or two, and then a bunch of festivities to do with the bride and groom. We had to carry their chairs around (while they sat on them). Poor Rachel was too tired to dance (she's lost twenty pounds since her near-death illness and hospital stay and is still very weak). I did get to dance with a multitude of small children. They were the best as they couldn't tell I have little in the way of dancing ability.
What can I say, I truly believe, when you factor in my father, my uncles Doug and Lowell, my cousins Brian, Karin, and Justin, and a bunch of friends, not to mention my sis and new brother-in-law, that I have the greatest extended family I could imagine. Just fun to be in the same room with. We should have weddings more often, eh?
I got to see Korina, who I've known since she was two years old, twenty-one years ago. She's now married and has a beautiful (and wondrously well-behaved) baby--she turned out great despite her wretched father, her mother's death, and Andy's failures. We also had a couple famous people, including the director/producer of the television show Gilmoore Girls (never seen it) and some actor I'd never heard of (Bob's father lives in Los Angeles and is a mover and shaker).
My toast went something like this: "when I first met you at Shakespeare in the Park and you were touching my sister's leg... well, it kind of pissed me off. Now that you've married her, I'm okay with it". I added bits about how I think he makes her happy and I'm pleased how 'together' his life is and good luck and good job and stuff. I was going to mention something about how he better take care of her because people who lay a finger on my sister in anger usually end up filing police reports against our family (see Charles), but I thought better of it in the end. Then I congratulated my lil sister on a great catch (hehe) and wished em luck and all that. I was into the booze by then a little.
Bob and Kris left in a luxury horse-drawn carriage to their hotel, a place called Etta's Place in downtown Fort Worth. We of course got to pelt them with rice (actually they told me it was birdseed--it was wrapped in little silk roses so I couldn't see it until we flung it at them). The reception was pretty much over at this point (it had lasted many hours).
I went and stayed at my mother's place (Friday and Saturday I'd stayed at a hotel). Brian and his fiancee, Sarah and Rob, Karin, Tim, and the kids, and Lowell and Mary-Ann were all staying there. I had to sleep on the floor, but at least I got to sit around chatting with my relatives until about three in the morning. Man I just love those people, so decent and down-to-earth. Wish they could have stayed a little longer.
On the Saturday before the big show, we had the big rehearsal and a big lunch at some big restaurant that I can't remember the name of, but it was by far the biggest lunch party I've ever been part of. Then that night alot of us went to my mother's house for dinner and a get-together, and there were maybe sixty or seventy people there at one time. Many presents were opened. Frisbees were thrown, and dives were made. That was fun all by itself. Then on Monday the remaining relatives and friends got together again. Food and talking mostly. Fine by me. I found myself absolutely cherishing these times. Any one of these people being in town would be a big thing, but they were ALL here. And I got to ride a '99 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Nomad.
Monday morning mother and I drove back downtown to get a car we left and to pick up Kris and Bob from Etta's Place. I got to see the 'hotel', which is a $189/room/night place. It was something out of a movie. Maybe Secret Garden. It has these great secluded patios, and they come and make whatever food you order and you get to eat at these outside isolated tables. The room itself was gorgeous, and I got it in my head that I might spend the money I got from selling books by staying there one night (the money actually went to pay down my tux and shoes).
The honeymoon was a two-parter, in Jamaica (of all places) for the first week, and in Colorado and Utah (the state they live in) the rest. After they got back from Jamaica, they were in town for a day (to open a plethora of additional presents), and we got to see the video and pictures--snorkeling, saltwater fish, hang-gliding, awesome waterfalls, etc. The place really does exist. Go figure, I guess it's the nearest tropical island.
This wedding really was once in a lifetime. My sister will never have another big wedding (trust me, not this big), and my brothers' weddings will likely be different, seeing as how they are guys. Friends' weddings won't see me so involved in everything. And my own wedding? Haw haw haw.
To think I actually dreaded this thing. As it happened, it was the perfect cap to the semester. I think the opinion was unanimous, this was a rockin', damn fine wedding and reception. My mother's plans were brought to fruition splendidly. I heard numerous comments about this being the best wedding a person had been to. There was much rejoicing. I hope I remember the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings from that weekend for a long time. And you know? It actually felt good to usher, to wear a tux, to be the third closest relative to the bride, to dance with females young and old, to firmly shake the hands of many great men, to see a group of people I haven't seen in years, to peer out over a large crowd of people, knowing it is comprised of people I know and (in some cases) love.
Okay, what about the big question. Was it worth the money spent? I was critical of the expenditure from the very beginning. Make no mistake, this was an expensive little wedding (though nothing like how the *rich* people celebrate). The hall, the reception building, all the awesome catered food, the huge cake, the photographers and video people, all the tables and elaborate decorations, the ornate carriage, the band and the DJ, and all the clothes, must be in the $50,000 range. Maybe it was less; and the cost was spread around a little and put on credit a little.
Honestly, it was an awe-inspiring piece of work, and I'm glad they made it what it was. Given that nobody really went into debt here, and the money seemed well-spent, and it was a very memorable day and night for hundreds of our dearest friends and relatives, and the bride and groom will never forget what it meant... I'd say, grudgingly, it was worth it.